Tag Archives: pottery barn

Tips and Hints for your Outdoor Winter Décor

outdoor decor

Because your home should look as good on the outside as it does on the inside.

Yards look so sad this time of year, especially the backyard.  The grass goes brown and the trees are mostly bare. Add to this, the persistent gloom of cloudy grey skies.

But – that doesn’t mean you can’t fight the gloom with a little strategic outdoor décor. I’m not talking about a massive makeover. I’m just thinking about simple things that can make your front door more inviting. And everything I’m going to suggest would work great whether you live in an apartment, condo, or a single-family home – simply adjust the size and number of items for the space you have!

When thinking about the ‘curb appeal’ of your home, what do you want people to see? If you want the front door to be more inviting, get yourself an evergreen wreath. The Greeks and Romans used wreaths to celebrate just about anything worthwhile. And guests like the welcoming symbol of an evergreen wreath. Take a look at the different wreath designs on Etsy or something simple like this preserved laurel wreath I found on Wayfair.com

Maybe you have a big planter near your front door that you fill with floral annuals in the summertime. But it’s cold out now and it’s empty. Fill it with Birch branches or even wood logs. You don’t have to actually have a fireplace inside for the look to be inviting outside! A friend of mine went to a flea market and picked up an old tin bucket that she placed outside. She used it to place some branches and twigs to give her front door a nice rustic look.

For the backyard patio, friends of mine just added some small potted evergreen trees for color. That gave another friend a great idea. She added a few pine cones to the patio table along with some large hurricane lamps – like an airy large glass lantern or a more contemporary lantern style – both from Pottery Barn.  You can also place these hurricanes by the front door for extra warmth in the evening.

Now, the question – what to put into the lanterns? Real candles or electronic ones? I like the electronic “flameless” candles from Pottery Barn. Yes, nothing beats real candles; real flame is beautiful, but real candles require some maintenance (messy melted wax anyone?) and they’re not always safe. “Flameless” candles are battery powered and – for the most part – just need to be switched on. The technology that produces the random flickering – in my opinion – is very realistic.

Either way, candles in your lamps add a nice cozy feel to any patio or entry. They add nice intimate low light when you have a cluster of them in the corners of your patio, or even inside the house. And the newer ones also last a lot longer – some will go for 100 hours or more. Pick multiple sizes of lanterns and candles and place them in clusters – never an even number. And, look for different styles of hurricanes for visual interest.  Everything doesn’t always need to match!

I just wrote a blog post about outdoor dining during the winter months – you know: firepits, outdoor fireplaces, pillows, baskets of blankets, and s’mores. Read it for more outdoor décor ideas.

All you need now for your outdoor dinner party is to serve your guests a lovely evening aperitif to get the night started. Stay cozy, warm, and most of all, enjoy!

How to Prevent a Holiday Party Nightmare

Candle Holders from Pottery Barn

Five things you can do RIGHT NOW to prepare for any holiday gathering – for the rest of the year!

The whole group was coming to my party. I was so happy that I found myself literally grinning from ear to ear every time the doorbell rang. People were in such a great mood and everyone was engaged in conversation. The atmosphere in the room was lively, people were laughing, it couldn’t have been better. But then, to my horror, I realized that I wasn’t ready. Worse than that – nothing was ready!

I had no drinks to serve.

My dining room was a mess.

None of the food was ready.

I was in a complete panic. Then I suddenly realized something else that stopped me cold in my tracks. I was still in my swimsuit and I reeked of sun tan lotion! And, even worse than that, I had an inflatable swim ring around my waist? Whaaaaaat? Seriously? I don’t even sit out in the sun much less use suntan lotion or an inflatable swim ring!

That’s when I woke up and sat bolt upright in bed.  It was all a horribly bad dream. I laughed. Of course. If you’ve ever wondered what a nightmare looks like to a home entertainment expert, this would be it. I’d been so busy this summer. I’d been up north, back east and in between. With that kind of schedule, who has time to think about the holidays?

But now, I am. In fact, part of this blog was written right after that silly dream – well, let’s call it what it was – a nightmare, okay? Now, this is my warning to all my fellow home entertainers – the time to prepare is NOW.  The holidays are literally, right around the corner. As a friend of mine is fond of saying: The trick to preparation is getting prepared now.

There are FIVE simple things you can do – today – to get your home prepared for the holidays.

ONE: Start with easy-to-do accent changes: change out the couch throws for heavy knit ones and add a few accent pillows that say, “here come the holidays” like this pillow and this one from Crate and Barrel. You don’t have to start with the ‘jingle bells’ thing just yet, but nice warm colors will help set the mood just right.

TWO: Think about the “welcome beverage” you will be serving at your parties.  Bring everything into the seasonal spirit with sparkling wines; Gruet and Schramsberg are always favorites in my home! And don’t forget the pomegranate seeds. Then stock up on beautiful reds, like these bottles from Long Meadow Ranch or Davis Estates. Speaking of bottles, don’t forget to put your favorite vodka (Chopin anyone?) in the freezer.

THREE: Remember your candles. My summer setting is always ‘white and bright.’ It’s time now to change up to softer colors to match the couch throws and pillows. Keep those simple candles (for fall white or ivory) but change out the holders to pewter, silver or soft gold.  The softer color of metals create a softer light – like these from World Market or Pottery Barn.

FOUR: If you have a mantel or fireplace, change décor but keep it light and simple. If you have centerpieces or runners for your coffee table and dining table – it’s time for a change. Think “autumn leaves.” Like this basket setting from Pottery Barn.

FIVE: Maybe this is on the top of everyone’s mind, but the music list is always good to figure out long before the guests arrive. Time to put away Elvis and bring back Frank. Well, maybe it’s the opposite for some folks, but you get the idea.

Want to go the distance? I even change out some of my framed pictures – ones of my family and friends on easel backs and some on the walls. Store away the pictures of beach parties and put up the ones of camping trips in autumn and ski trips to the alps. You’d be surprised how this simple switch will change the “feel” in your home.

The point of this exercise – don’t wait until the week or days before the first holiday party. Start now and set the canvas. You can add the finishing touches later. Besides, you’ll have plenty of other things to worry about before your guests arrive. Everything you do now will look like you really took time to plan things out. Taking these steps now will also help you enjoy your party that much more and you won’t be waking up from a nightmare like I did!

Have fun!