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3 ways to make sure you enjoy your garden during winter

18/12/2009
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It’s definitely winter. Days are shorter. It’s cold outside and you want to stay inside, warm and cozy. But when the sky is blue and the sun is shining, you feel like you should go outside for a bit. The only thing is, your garden currently looks like nothing. It’s grey, sad, depressing and really does not invite you to go out. What can you do about it? In this article I propose 3 tips that will help you transform your garden into an enjoyable place in winter.

The first thing to do is to bring color in your garden. With flowers and plants. There are quite some species that are blossoming in winter and do not suffer from the cold. Take for instance the cowslips, the pansies (see picture), the winter roses, the hamamelis, bergenia, camellia and hellebore.

You can for example associate different colors and thereby create a beautiful harmony. Use rather warm colors, like the colors from the trees in autumn, yellow, red, brown. Try to plant in your garden some trees that do not lose their leaves, so that they stay green and your garden looks nice. If you have a balcony or a terrace, you can also play with the colors of the pots, use here some warm colors as well and make a nice combination. Between the colors of the flowers and the colors of the pots, you can play quite a lot already and get a very colorful balcony! If you have nice relaxing chairs to sit on as well, you can use some colorful cushions to add even more color.

My second tip is to bring some light outside, so that the garden becomes the continuation of the living room. When it’s dark outside, you switch on the lights inside of course, but you can switch on some lights outside as well. And your living room seems immediately much bigger. You can for instance use solar lamps that load their batteries during the day and give light when it’s dark. You can also use some standard outside lamps. Or even some lamps that you can use as pots for plants (see picture). And at this time of year, you can also use Christmas lights and decorations. With a cozy garden set, you won’t hesitate anymore to come and enjoy your garden and the winter sun!

My third tip is to be able to hear a nice music… The birds singing. Even if you only have a small balcony, you can still hang a little bird house. With some seeds, nuts and a fatty ball, you will attract some pleasant visitors! We have one in our garden, and last year we got a couple of titmice which got a little one. It’s so nice to look at and to listen to. With a bit of food you can also attract lots of other sorts of birds, like robins and finches. Those lively birds contribute to a nice atmosphere and a pleasant environment with their singing and flying around.

Click here to listen to its song

I hope you will be able to use my tips for your garden or balcony and that you will enjoy it even more in those cold days. Send me a picture of your garden after changing it and I will publish it on my blog!

The 3 things you absolutely need to know before you prepare the baby room

27/11/2009
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You are pregnant. For the first time. The future baby room is still the laundry room. You need to turn it into a baby room and you don’t know where to start. Which pieces of furniture do you need? What do you need not to forget? There is so much to think about! I will tell you in this article what are the 3 most important things that you need to know before you start.

You don’t know yet how it’s going to be when the baby is here. Maybe you thought maybe already about how to prevent him from falling down the stairs or putting his little fingers in the plugs, but how can you make sure that your baby is safe? How do you make sure that you can take your much needed rest without worrying about him? How do you make sure that he does not get to grab all your stuff? How do you make sure you can enjoy your parenthood? I will help you and explain the 3 most important ones:  safety, flexibility and use of colors.

Safety is the most important concept. You go to those baby shops and you see everywhere all those small safety features that you even did not know they existed. For the electrical sockets, for the corners of the tables etc. Yes you really need those, and much more actually. Normally you planned a table or a chest of drawers where you will clean the baby and change his nappy. Make sure you have everything available on the table: the nappies, the babywipes , the clean clothes , the special cream for the nappy rash etc. But the baby should not be able to grab any of that himself (otherwise it goes directly to his mouth of course!). Because once you started changing your baby, you can’t stop and go get something you forgot. Within a few months, your baby is already able to turn! The chance he may fall down is far too big. And it becomes bigger and bigger as your baby grows. When he is then able to sit down, make sure he can’t hit a hard wall or a beam above or behind him.

You probably already have a coffin or a baby bed. Make sure it’s stable (a Moses basket resting on a stand could still fall). Make sure all the bars are well fixed (I mean it, my daughter started going out of her bed which was lacking only one bar, she was 2 years old and could walk, but still…). Make sure the bed does not get stuff with all sorts of teddy bears and small toys that could be dangerous. Think about something with a cord, or something with small parts that could be removed. Some babies are quite entrepreneurial… Nice for later, but not really handy yet!

A baby room can become full very quickly. Make sure the floor stays empty and that all the toys are not loose but in a basket or a drawer. Imagine if you walked across the room with your baby and you hit a toy on the ground, and fell with your baby. You really don’t want that!

Flexibility is the 2nd most important concept. Within 2 to 3 years, your baby has become a toddler. You need even more space to store all his stuff, even more toys, more teddy bears… You need another bed already, because he does not want to sleep in his little bed anymore. He wants to grow (and you to recognize it!) He also wants to do more and more himself. Like choosing his clothes, dressing up himself, removing his clothes, hanging his jacket etc. You can help him, for instance with a xx that you would put at his height. If you thought of those things before, then you don’t need to change the room and the furniture so much, just the bed maybe. You can also add a chest, to put away all the toys. Maybe a small table and small chairs to sit on, like mummy and daddy.

And now the 3rd most important thing: the use of colors in your baby room. It does not seem so important, just pick a color you like! But actually it is not that simple. The colors you like might not be the best to use for the rest of your baby. And his sleep is for him the most important thing. And you can help him! Make sure you use soft and calm colors. Avoid for example busy prints on wallpaper. The room should be light, but you should also be able to make it completely dark when it’s time for him to sleep. You can use for instance special blinds or curtains that block the light. Feng-Shui says that the best colors you can use for a baby room are soft colors (but you don’t have to use blue or pink!).

To end this article with a good Feng-Shui tip: make a connection with your inner child, use it and enjoy it when you prepare the baby room. This great energy you are generating will create a good basis for your baby room.

I hope I was able to help you. If you have any question, please send them to me, together with a picture or a plan of your (future) baby room. I will definitely try to answer it!

The home office of…

26/11/2009

Maurien

…is also the laundry-room en the room to put the things you can’t put anywhere else!

The main advantage is that the room is really bright, and the walls are light so it adds to it. The disadvantage is that when you sit in a messy room, the mess reaches your mind as well. I’d rather not think about that poor printer when the washing machine starts wringing… So tidying up comes first on the to-do list!

 

The desk seems big enough to me, I can see that 2 people are using it. However I don’t see any closet or book-case where all the stuff could go in, and which could then be closed. I see no personal stuff on the pictures, on or close to the desk, like a nice moodboard where to get inspiration from, or frames with family pictures. Because it makes it so much nicer to sit there and work.

What I also see is that the besk is positioned in such a way that the person sitting has the door in her/his back, and the other one has the door on his/her side. Although it’s difficult ot get it perfectly positioned, I would still suggest to give it a try and to place it so that at least one person sits with the wall in her/his back. It feels much better to sit like this and allows the person to see who’s coming in! For the 2nd person it’s more difficult, he/she ends up with the door or with the window on his/er back, I would suggest the 2nd option, and then to be careful with the sunlight coming from the window, and maybe to use a blind to prevent issues with the computer screen.

 

Peter

… is likely to be a place where he does not stay very long. It is pretty neutral and I don’t see any personal stuff. It makes it pretty anonymous.

What I see as well is that he does not seem to have a closet or a book-case to store the papers and magazines that are now lying on the gorund, and there are only 2 blocks under the desk. My first suggestion would therefore be to put a closet behind the desk or on the side, so that Peter can use it easily.

My 2nd point is that the desk is in the entrance of the house, and I don’t see any separation (fixed or mobile) between his office and the living-room. When he sits there and the kids are not home, that’s not an issue, but if he sits there when the family is around, I bet he has difficulties to concentrate and make phone calls.

However, he already sits with the wall on his back and has a good overview of the whole house. The idea would be to place a room divider on his right side.

The light only comes from the ceiling, I don;t see any other lamp on or close to the desk, so I wonder if he has enough light.

I would make this home office a bit more personal, by adding more pictures on the wall, or a notice board, and maybe as well put a nice and healthy plant in the corner.

How long will it take to sell this house?

19/11/2009

Here below you will find some pictures of a “ready for sale” house.

The entrance has to be free. Free of everything that usually sits on the way and blocks the traffic, like boxes, garbage bags, grocery bags etc.! It needs to be inviting, bright and completely empty.

We haven’t taken everything away, a kitchen is a room where you (or whoever cooks!) spend generally quite some time, so you can leave some stuff. However you can’t leave too much either, otherwise it becomes too personal and prevents the potential buyer to imagine himself in this room. The picture shows the most important items: space to store all your stuff, the kitchen range, a big counter and the bright light from outside.

This lounge was really too full, and too red as well. We took out the deck chair, the children stuff (otherwise, if the potential buyer does not have kids, he or she will think that this house is not for him or her). We changed the lamp shades for more neutral ones, and removed the rug to show the beautiful wooden floor.

This kids bedroom was far too dark and too busy as well. In order to make it lighter we used white curtains and white bedcovers, and then added pink orchids and cushions to give it a bit of colour.

This master bedroom was a bit too dark. Therefore we used white accessories to give it more light. We then used cushions and the plaid to give it a little bit of colour, otherwise it would look too sterile.

Apart from tidying up… A room needs to have a specific function, so this one became a spare bedroom. We accessorized it with 2 bedside tables, 2 assorted lamps. We used a white bedcover and pink cushions to compensate for the busy wallpaper.

How do I turn my home office into a great place to work?

02/11/2009

Maybe you work for an employer who lets you work from home from time to time. Maybe you are a freelance consultant and you only work from home to do your administration. Maybe you are self-employed and work from home. Maybe you even give workshops at home and you receive customers at your place. Although each situation is specific and different, for all of them it is important to turn your office into a nice place to work.

Do you have your own office space in a separate room? When I started my own company, the only place I could place my desk was in a corner of the living-room. It may have been a nice corner, but it was nevertheless in the living room. My husband has a practice at home, and we have 2 young daughters who like to play in that same living-room, make loud noises and run around the table. So, how do you think I enjoyed the experience? A few months later, I finally had a Eureka moment and found a nice solution. I put the girls in the same bedroom and could therefore use the small bedroom (where the little one was previously sleeping) as my new office. My oldest daughter wasn’t too happy about it, but I definitely was! Finally some quietness, peace, concentration, focus, my own space, it was so great!

The furniture is what defines the function of a room. If there’s a bed it’s a bedroom. If there’s a dining table then it’s a dining room. But it happens often that some rooms have a double function, in which case there will always be a primary and a secondary one. The spare bedroom for instance is often used for other purposes. Or the desk comes in the bedroom. Or maybe even fitness appliances… It is possible to combine those of course, but then you need to be able to draw a line between them. If your desk is for instance in your bedroom, make sure you don’t see it when you go to bed, and that the computer and the printer are off. Use therefore a draught-screen or a beautiful curtain for example.

What colors do you like? My office used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom. When we decorated it for her, we used beautiful wallpaper with flowers and butterflies. You know what? It’s still there. And not because we hate putting the wallpaper, as we like the DIY stuff quite a lot, but because I like it soooo much! It has a white background, and some touches of colors, light blue, orange and purple. Light blue gives rest, purple helps you to focus, orange gives you energy. Exactly what I need to work efficiently!

So what colors do you like? Which ones give you energy, which ones do you avoid? It is important as well to have things around you that give you energy because you like them, because they are nice to look at. Pictures of your family members, nice souvenirs you took back from travelling, fresh flowers, a vision board or a mood board, an inspiring quote, etc.

What kind of furniture do you need? (Apart from a desk and a good chair). First of all it is important to have enough space, on your desk and in your closet; so that you can fit everything you need to have in your office. Of course, if you have a separate room, you can easily close the door and forget about it. Although, even then, you will agree with me that a cleaned up desk (and office) always gives a good feeling. If you don’t have a lot of space in your closet, you need to regularly check what you really need to have at hand and what you can put somewhere else, in another room/closet. (And if you need more advice on that you need to ask a professional organizer!)

Where should you put your desk? It seems pretty simple, but it is not always the case… Feng-Shui says that you have to be able to see (when you are sitting at your desk) the door so that you can see who is coming in. The reason is that it just does not feel comfortable when somebody sneaks into your office and surprises you… Feng-Shui also says that you should not sit facing the wall; otherwise it feels like you have an obstacle in front of you. But that you should rather sit with your back to the wall, so that you can feel protected and safe. You also have to take care that the light (from the window) does not come from behind you otherwise it may disturb you because of the reflection on your (computer) screen.

If you send me via email before 20th November a picture of your home office, you could be winning a free advice on how to decorate your home office, which I will then publish on my blog (together with your picture)!

New artists on the Exclusif Deco webshop!

25/10/2009

I have the pleasure to announce that Exclusif Deco enriches its collection of unique and original decoration articles with:

– beautiful wall panels from Nancy Wallart (Impressions du Sud)

DECOR PANNEAU ANIS-petit

– exquisite dance drawings from Edgar Jansen who can like noone else capture the movement of the dancers.

Tango Couple

Have a look on http://www.exclusifdeco.com/en!

Exclusif Deco in the media!

15/10/2009

These articles were written by Laura Elsman (www.elsmanproductions.com) for the Dutch decoration magazine Thuisleven, in September 2009.

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