Freshen your decor for summer without spending a dime

I’ve been living in Lausanne for a month and a half, and I already feel the need to redecorate. Since we’re only here for eight months, I’m not willing to put any money into the apartment, seeing that I won’t be able to bring much back with me. I decided to freshen up the existing decor with things I brought with me.


I have scarves, sarongs and pashminas, loads of them. I picked three gauzy, fringed numbers, all with a similar salmon-y pink color–one striped, one solid and another with an ethnic print on it–to wrap these lime green pillows on the couch.

Green pillows

Scarf pillows

For all three of these pillows, I placed the square green pillow in the middle of the scarf, sarong or pashmina, then followed these same steps for each one.

Wrapping the pillow in a scarf

I wrapped the pillow like a present, folding in either side widthwise.

More wrapping of the scarf

Then I folded the long sides of the scarf around the pillow so that they overlap at the center of the pillow.

That's a wrap

I knotted this one at the back. The striped version is knotted in the front, and the ethnic print is knotted in the front as well, but I tucked the ends in to hide the fringe and make it more about the large-scale design. To summerize the brown leather modular sofa, I used my lightweight gray scarf as a throw under my refashioned pillows.

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My scarf decorating didn’t stop in the living room. This is my very boring dining table.

kitchen table

Nothing says summer like a crisp red, white and blue palette, so I set a patriotic table with an elegant spin.

Bracelets and tea towels

These red-and-white tea towels came with the apartment. I used a few gold bangles I packed as napkin rings and my favorite royal blue-and-white striped scarf serves as the tablecloth for this summer soiree setup.

A patriotic table

The last room in desperate need of a refresh? The loo. It’s white tile and lacks any storage. Luckily, I brought my collection of pretty floral toiletry bags and double-sided adhesive squares (I brought pictures from home and knew I couldn’t hang anything on the walls).

toiletry bags

Now these colorful cases corral the things I need to keep handy by the sink–hair ties, a comb and cotton facial pads–and add a pop of vivid print to the bathroom.

Bathroom storage

Make a simple, inexpensive window treatment

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a project I had done. I made a pelmut box to hide vertical blind hardware that we couldn’t remove in a client’s rental.

A neutral and bright living space

And I promised you the how-to instructions. Truth be told, I lost the pictures of this project somewhere in our move. Luckily, my mom wanted to make a pelmut box for her laundry room, so I walked her through the steps, and she took photos. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best!

* You will need one piece of large foam-core board. You can get it at Michael’s or Target. I think the thicker stuff works better for this because it makes a more substantial final product.
* Quilter’s batting (the kind you can roll out)
* Hot glue
* 1 piece of poster board
* 2 small 1.5-inch L brackets
* 2 small flat straight brackets
* 5/8 yards of fabric (home decor fabric that is at least 54 inches wide)

Supplies for pelmut box

Instructions 1 for Pelmut Box

1. Decide the length, width and depth that you desire for the pelmut box. This one is 44 inches long, 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. Mark measurements on the foam-core board. Remember to add at least one inch to the length of your window for a bit of overhang. And measure for the two sides (how far you want it to come out from the window).
2. Cut the foam-core board using a utility knife.
3. Because my mom’s pelmut box needed to be 44 inches long and foam-core board is typically 30 inches long, we needed to add a 14-inch piece.
4. Hot glue the seam.
5. Add two flat brackets for additional support and glue in place.

Pelmut Box instructions 2

6. Hot glue the sides at the seams.
7. Cut the batting to cover the entire pelmut structure.
8. Wrap all sides and hot glue in place.

Pelmut instructions 3

9. Cut the fabric to size (enough to wrap the entire pelmut box), wrap and adhere with hot glue.
10. Cut the posterboard to cover the back of the pelmut box (you want to hide the unfinished edges), three pieces all together–one for the length and one for each side. The pieces should be slightly smaller than the pelmut box frame. Wrap the posterboard pieces in fabric and secure with hot glue. Then glue each of the pieces to the pelmut box frame, unfinished edge to unfinished edge.
11. Measure the length of your completed pelmut box, then hang L brackets on the wall, ensuring the brackets are level.

Pelmut box 022

Finally, glue your pelmut box to the L brackets you just hung. And voila.

Turn your favorite outfit into a design

There’s a reason you have a go-to shift or a favorite ensemble you pull out every time you don’t know what to wear. It looks great on you, you love the colors and the style suits your taste.

The same is true in design. When working with new clients, I often ask them to send me photos of their favorite outfits or pictures of the inside of their closets. That’s because the colors we choose to wear are often our favorite shades, whether we realize it or not.

I have a favorite dress that I don whenever I have to dress up. It’s a one-sleeve coral dress that is amazingly comfortable. I pair it with nude shoes and bright turquoise earrings.

Turn this outfit into a room

It actually served as the inspiration for the bar area in my brother’s house.

Anthropologie, my old place of employment, always does a nice job of putting inspiring outfits together. I love this navy-and-gold combo.


I want to change up my bedroom using this outfit as inspiration. Here’s what I would do:

New bed

No major changes. I would swap my white bedding for a solid navy blue duvet cover, then toss a few decorative pillows on top, including this ikat design. I would add an occasional chair in a neutral animal print, add a rug that’s navy and jute and prop an exotic gold mirror on my dresser.

Have a favorite outfit you’d love to see turned into a room? Let me show you how to incorporate favorite shades and colors into your existing decor. Send me pictures!

Uses for vintage bottles

I recently asked for creative floral arrangements here, and I was thrilled when my friend Cathy, an AMAZING entertainer, responded. Invites to her dinner parties are coveted spots. She’s an incredible cook, but her skill set encompasses way more than the kitchen. She creates an atmosphere and a theme for each party with the creative decor and incredible food. Check out her recipes at Word of Mouth.


Here, she hosted a graduation party for her niece, who finished medical school. Cathy decorated the table with vintage medicine bottles (from ebay), filling some with a few fresh blooms.

I imagine making my own “Poison” labels and wrapping vintage medicine bottles for a Halloween party or creating “Love Potion” labels for a Valentines’ party centerpieces.

Every Day with Rachael Ray Bathtub Gin

For Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, I created a Great Gatsby-inspired party. Instead of traditional party favors, I filled small bottles with bathtub gin (pictured above) and gave guests their nightcaps to go. You can download the bathtub gin labels here.

Bathtub gin was created in people’s homes during Prohibition when people steeped grain alcohol with juniper berries and water. Combine equal parts water and a strong grain vodka in a 750 ml sealable container. Add 0.35 ounces of dried juniper berries and 0.07 ounces lemon or orange peel as well as a little cardamom, cloves or nutmeg. Store in a cool dark place for up to a week, shaking the elixir thoroughly once a day. Before putting it in take-home jars, send the entire mixture through a strainer and then a water filter.

Tell me how you’ve decorated with small vintage bottles. I’d love to see photos.

A Parisian-inspired foyer

Parisian-inspired foyer

An elegant chair, round table, classic mirror, stacks and stacks of fashion magazines and a few edited objects greeted Scott and I when we entered the lobby of our hotel in Paris. I was immediately inspired.

Parisian foyer color inspiration

And meandering through Paris’ romantic streets, we stumbled across this little bistro, which led to my color scheme for a Parisian entryway I would create.

Parisian-inspired foyer final

My little entry starts with a curvy chair and a table that I would paint Cathedral Gray. I would opt to remove the top and replace it with a carrara marble remnant cut to size. Check your local stone manufacturer or distributor. The vintage gold mirror would be hung low, and I’d make simple chalkboard art (just paint glass frames with chalkboard spray paint) to prop on the table against the wall. On the table, I’d place a weathered gray lamp, a faux antiqued bust, a silver bell and an aquamarine Eiffel tower figurine. To light this lovely little vignette, I’d hang a gold French chandelier, of course.

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