Faith Builders

March 22, 2016

Easter or as my Pastor calls it Resurrection Sunday, is fast approaching and I see people being more open to teachings from the Bible.

I am so glad that the Bible speaks about all aspects of life, including our dwelling places.

In Deuteronomy 6:9, it says that believers are to write God’s commandments “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”

One modern way to do this is with art and décor. Here are two ideas…

FOS Art FOS Chair Jeremiah Vertical Jere

As you celebrate the glory and joy of the risen Savior on Easter, capture the season by hiding His word in your heart and displaying it in your home and office. This is a great faith builder.



Sprucing up with glass

April 10, 2013

The weather is warming up in southern Ohio. Now is a good time to update your home’s decor to welcome the Spring season.  Since my budget is tight, I am holding off on the big project I hope to complete in the future.

In the meantime, I am doing some low cost Spring spruce ups by adding a few accessories made of glass.  I think the transparency of bottles, jars and other items can add a fresh feel to rooms. The color can be vibrant or subdued.

The sparkle of glass reflects light and brightens all kinds of spaces and it is easy to find. Think stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Pier 1, Hobby Lobby or JoAnns Fabrics. Here are some examples from our home. I hope they give you a few ideas for your home.

This grouping of bell- shaped jars filled with shells, reminds me of the beach. (Which I live no where near...) The grouping is now sitting on our kitchen table.

Three bell-shaped jars filled with shells, remind me of the beach. (Which I live no where near…) The grouping is now sitting on our kitchen table.

This beaker like jar came from a large grocery store. It helps to hide the cut-out for the cable box wires.

This beaker like jar came from a large grocery store. It helps to hide the cut-out for the cable box wires.

Home-ista Kelly

Sea glass bottles come in many shapes and sizes.

Sea glass bottles come in many shapes and sizes.

I have seen several version of of table lamps with a glass bases. Tar'jay has them and so does TJ Maxx along with home-ista favorite Pottery Barn.

I have seen several versions of table lamps with a glass bases. “Tar’jay” has them and so does TJ Maxx along with home-ista favorite Pottery Barn. Mine are circa 2001 Home Goods.

An inexpensive piece of beveled glass can protect and add shimmer to a wood (or wood-like) table. Pier 1 is a great source for glass table tops.

An inexpensive piece of beveled glass can protect and add shimmer to a wood (or wood-like) table. Pier 1 is a great source for glass table tops.

Let me start with a simple statement. The way you position your furniture is key to making your space function well. And it is a huge part of making the space comfortable and attractive.

I was recently visiting a new neighbor of mine. Sherry Grzanka moved to Ohio from Nashville with her husband and two sons about a year ago. Sherry is a true Southern Bell. She loves the home. Ironically she injured her arm a few weeks after moving to greater Cincinnati and despite her best efforts to get the family room arranged, she was not still thrilled with the layout of the space.

After we talked about the room for a few moments, I said, “How about we just tweak a few things.” She said “Sure, let’s do it.”

Before: The Love Seat and Leather Chair
are across from the TV

Before: The sofa is not yet facing the TV. It’s perpendicular to it.

Sherri’s spacious family room is open to the kitchen. Surveying the space, I asked Sherry what the room was primarily used for. She said, watching TV and entertaining. In the before picture, a love seat and club chair were positioned in a “v” shape directly across from the television. The longer sofa sat perpendicular to the TV. So I said, let’s try moving the sofa directly across from the flat screen so more people have a front-on view.

With the sofa now parallel with the TV, we made an ” L” by moving the shorter love seat to now be perpendicular with the TV. This created a more balanced room. We also moved a red accent chair that had been in the front corner near the TV to the back corner. We made this area a secondary focal point by hanging the artwork that had been leaning on the mantle on the wall where it could connect with the red of the chair.

The brown leather chair, which originally formed a “V” with the love seat was now in front of the room near the TV. This allowed all of the brown leather to be in a cohesive unit with accents of color added in. (I suggested the Sherri buy a red throw blanket to go on the brown leather chair in the future.)

After: The brown leather furniture forms a cohesive seating area for watching and conversing.



We finished by positioning the various side tables and bringing two larger lamps from a different room. Though the moves only took 15-20 minutes, they made a world of difference to the function and feel of the room. And Sherri’s son Jack, seen “enjoying” the sofa agreed with this sentiment.

Here are a few principles that might come in handy, if you want to do some rearranging:

  • You might have to do the actual move to see if it will work.
  • If you can’t do the move without help, try to draw the floor plan from eagle eye view on a sheet of paper. Draw your current arrangement on one sheet and your new proposed plan on another. Compare to see if  the new arrangement has the potential to be an enhancement.
  • Sometimes you need to get rid of something. Less furniture might be better.
  • If you are watching TV in the space, consider centering the sofa directly across from the TV. Place a sofa table or attractive bench behind the sofa to add “jewelry” to the back.
  • Place coffee or accent tables so that each seat has a spot to place a beverage or book.
  • Artwork can bring focus to an area. It’s a great way to share your personality.

    After: Close-up of the Red Chair

  • Pillows and Throw blankets are ways to tie colors together and they are comfy for lounging.

If you would like ideas on how to rearrange a room in your home – please let me know.

Get your furniture groove on…

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. The red wreath in the first photo is now adorning Sherri’s front door.

It’s near the middle of summer and I just finished one of my goals. I have finally dressed my dining room for the warm weather. It actually took a lot longer than I had planned. But I did it and I am thrilled.

This seasonal change was actually quite simple. Only two areas have been affected. The dining chairs from Pottery Barn are now wearing their stone hued linen slipcovers as opposed to the cardinal red brushed-canvas ones from Autumn and Winter. I am so grateful to have two sets, because they are easy to change and really affect the mood of the space. (If you catch a sale, slipcovers can be reasonably priced.) It usually takes me 30-40 minutes to change all six chairs if I take the time to iron each cover before I zip it on the seat.

Warm Weather Look

The time stealing culprit was wall of curtains. As background, last Spring I saw some beautiful, but simple brown linen at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I knew it would co-ordinate perfectly with the stone slipcovers. I needed a fair amount and placed an order using a coupon to get a good deal. And then… I got busy and never sewed the curtains. So all last spring and summer my poor dining room – looked like a person wearing a turtleneck sweater at the beach. It almost happened again this year. But four weeks ago, with resolve, I set up my fifteen year-old Brother sewing machine on the dining room table, and commandeered the space to measure, cut, hem, iron and sew seven panels of joy.

For full four weeks, the room was filled with linens scraps all over, scissors, thread, and pins on the table, with a yardstick and unfinished panels on the floor. The ironing board and iron became like an ugly piece of furniture. Some days got to sew for only a few minutes. And there were many days that I didn’t sew at all but by the grace of God I got eventually them done and they look good.

Cold Weather Dining…

So… if you have a seasonal decorating project that you had hoped to execute, don’t give up. Keep fighting to get it done and then enjoy your accomplishment, even if it happens a full year later. (And I promise to share the simple process I used to make the curtains in the future.)

Hugs- Home-ista Kelly

Here are a few ideas for Warm Weather Pick-Me-Ups:

• Put a pot of Mandevilla “Sun Parasol” on your deck or front porch.
• Roll up the wool rug in front of your door and put down a cotton or jute one.
• Take the placemats off of your table. Let the surface be free – just use coasters for the beverages at mealtime.
• Replace the hand towels in your bathroom with summery ones.
• Take all artificial flower displays to a storage area until late September. Go au’naturale or use fresh flowers judiciously.

I have to admit that autumn is my favorite season. But summer is second and the change from cold weather to warm can be a great time to refresh the decor in your home. I like to add pops of color with accessories. They are typically not expensive and they are easy to execute. Maybe some of these ideas can work for your home.

Live plants in bright cache pots add healthy oxygen to the air and beauty.

Dried flowers can also add color and texture and ironically they don’t seem to collect much dust. Brightly hued glass bottles can add shine with the color. These can be found in many places, like TJ Maxx, Meijers, Michaels, Hobby Lobby for very little cash.

Throw blankets or quilts are useful eye candies. Just keep the weight of the fabric in mind when choosing a textile to drape over your bed or sofa. I have recently seen an all-season wool which had an element of shine. Bamboo is a new trend for throws and blankets. It is lightweight and made of easily renewed sources.

Accent rugs can be changed with ease and they add personality to utilitarian spaces.

Candles add color and a fresh scent if you choose ones with perfume or natural aromas.

Colorful dish towels add zest to the kitchen. And if you have an open floor plan they might even connect colors from the kitchen to the adjoining spaces.

I hope one or more of these ideas will help you brighten your space.

Happy Almost Summer! Home-ista Kelly

For many people around the world, the week leading up to Easter is a time of reflection and great meaning. Last year, I felt of bit of conviction that I didn’t have any noticeable displays to herald the season, like I typically do for CHRISTmas.

Hmmm… didn’t the birth that we celebrate at CHRISTmas happen specifically to enable the Resurrection commemorated at Easter?

I almost felt a sense of lament that I did nothing to acknowledge Easter.

And then God gave me a simple idea that gave me peace and joy. A few days before Good Friday, I bought several yards of tulle netting. I arranged it along our staircase like garland the Thursday night before Good Friday. I choose red to symbolize the sacrifice that Jesus had made on cross. It was a reminder of His love and His obedience, even unto death.

It was simple, inexpensive, and easy to do. Yet, it was immensely important to me. My kids asked why I did it and I explained that I just wanted to acknowledge Christ and His meaning our lives. They said they liked it.

So at the risk of sounding like I have it all together, because you and I both know that I DON’T – I am praying to start a revolution of people who do “Holy Week” decorating for their homes and businesses.

“Dear Lord, we praise You because You are gracious and kind and merciful. We are thankful for countless blessings. We are most grateful for the incredible gift of salvation. During this upcoming week, may the hearts of your people be more closely knitted to Yours and may we glorify You in all we do, even in decorating our homes to celebrate this season. In the Name of the Risen Christ we pray. Amen.

May you feel the gravity and joy of this season…

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. Bunny rabbits of any kind are NOT what I’m talking about.

P.S.P.S. You could use white tulle, to represent the purity believers have because of Christ’s work on the cross, or purple silk on a door wreath to show allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Reader Becky Keating shared how she adorned her dining area for Passion week. Thanks for sharing.

Becky’s Adornment for Easter

Another Home-ista…

January 13, 2012

I haven’t known Debbie Warwick for a long time, but I like her a lot. We are kindred spirits. She too is a home-ista.

We first met back in 2007 at a Sherwin Williams paint store. She was shopping for her newly built, painted lady Victorian style home. I was trying to confirm the paint color for the Wilson Tribe’s attic construction project. We struck up a conversation and discovered that both our families were new to the community of Mason, OH and we both had sons in the 5th grade who were transitioning to public school from Christian schools. We exchanged business cards and planned to introduce the boys. Ironically, we didn’t see each other again until our sons were playing on the same football team. By the grace of God, Kyler and Seth had become friends at school, even though their moms were so busy with other pressing needs – that we never introduced them.

Deb is an interior design student at Sinclair College and I asked her if she would share some of the things she’s done in her own home. She said yes and we set a date for me to visit.

Upon my arrival, Debbie led me to the open plan great room, kitchen and dining area. It was readily apparent why she and her husband Randy had chosen this site for their family home. Outside of two large windows was a scenic wooded park and the view included a large attractive stream. It was early spring and the trees were still waking up from winter. The sight really shows off God’s handiwork and has got to enhance the day-to-day activities of cooking, dining, studying and relaxing.

A tall stone fireplace was in between these two windows. Debbie said this spot was one of her favorites places to spend time with her family or to just have a quiet moment. A bar-height counter is situated across from the fireplace where the four kiddos ages 19 to 11 can eat a meal or just hang out together. The kitchen is well appointed and allows those who are preparing the meal to look out into the larger room. How cool is that?

When I speak with fellow home-istas about their dwellings I always listen for things that I can reapply. The Warwick home is great example of style combined with graciousness and warmth. Here are some concepts that you might put to use in your abode…

I mentioned the beautiful windows. They have deep wells that create a place to sit. She used colorful pillows on these “seats” to make them more comfortable for lounging and to add a little blast of color. The result is a beneficial semi-private space within a larger room.

If your home doesn’t have this feature, like mine doesn’t, you can reapply by placing a bench (or toy box) that is close to the width of the window, parallel to the window. Add a few pillows or a soft throw blanket and it can become a cozy little haven for reading or reflection.

  • Debbie’s great room is generous in size. She had the wise insight to purchase furniture that can be rearranged to meet the changing needs of her family. She demonstrated this right before my very eyes. When I first arrived she had two leather club chairs sitting in front of the fireplace, ski-lodge style. The dining room table and chairs were on the far end of the room. Within ten minutes she flip-flopped the layout and positioned the dining table and chairs in front of the fireplace and the club chairs and matching ottoman went to the far end of the room, creating a great conversation place or spot for the siblings or Debbie’s mom to play board games.

In our homes we might reapply this concept by moving furniture and accessories within a room from one spot to another to meet different needs or to just make the space more attractive. Instead of having a sofa table sit behind a sofa, which is against a wall, place the sofa table behind a loveseat that is open to the adjoining room. It can then act as somewhat of a room divider.

We can also move items from one room to a different room altogether. For example, I recently moved a tall storage shelf that had been in my daughter’s room, down to the living room. This unique pyramid shaped metal shelf went from corralling toys and games, to being a handsome display for books and collectibles.

You can enhance the appearance or function of your home by repositioning side tables, sideboards, chairs, lamps, artwork, storage baskets, candle holders, plants, pillows, etc., from one location to another.

Lastly, I noticed that Debbie’s color scheme on the entire first floor was anchored in warm buttery tans and taupes that were complimentary from room to room. These hues work well with the scenic views that bring the ever changing outdoors into the space. Her approach of having a color pallet that is in harmony from one room to the next, makes it easier to move things from one place to another to increase interest without creating visual discord.

By wisdom a house is built,

and through understanding it is established;

by knowledge its rooms are filled

with all kinds of precious and pleasing treasures.

Proverbs 24:3-4 are two of my favorite Bible verses. They reminds us that we can learn (from God directly in His word and by prayer and from other people) how to pull together a beautiful and well functioning home.

If anyone else has ideas and tips they want to share, please let me know. I’d love to interview other home-istas to hear about the things you are learning and doing in your homes as a way to inspire, teach and encourage myself and others.

Grace & Peace,

Home-ista Kelly

A Few Decorating Ideas…

November 19, 2011

The celebrations of Thanksgiving, CHRISTmas and New Years – are times when many of us choose to share our homes with friends and family. And because we want things to be comfy and “perty” it is a good time to do some decorating.

Actually this is not correct. Budget allowing, any time is a good time, to do a bit of decorating spruce-up, because a comfortable and attractive home is a wonderful blessing to enjoy.

I think it is fun to visit the “showroom” of a local store to get ideas. Retailers are great at laying out room motifs that look appealing and feature new and interesting combinations. Warning: if you are an impulsive shopper, leave your checkbook and or debit/credit cards at home. Do take your “camera phone” to capture the inspiration, so you can plan how to reapply in your dwelling before you make the purchase.

I recently went on an inspiration field trip at a store called Merridan. Its home office is in Louisville, KY and it recently opened a new store in greater Cincinnati. Merridian has unique furniture, case goods and accessories that can help us home-istas express our style. On my last visit, the design team allowed me to take some photos to use as examples of ideas we might make use of during the holiday season.

Set up your furniture so that people can talk to one another.

I know – people want to watch TV. Still, especially on Thanksgiving, it is great to encourage people to interact in a meaningful way by setting up the furnishings so they can talk while watching the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys.

One way to do this is to have a sofa facing the TV and then chairs perpendicular to the sofa. The furniture is in an L shape. If the chairs are pull slightly away from the wall it might make the space more cozy and allow people to chat without yelling. In this picture the described arrangement would have Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Wide Receiver on screen just opposite the sofa. The coffee table would be great for a game of Monopoly.

The same type of L shape can be done with a sofa and love seat or sectional.

Give your family and guests a place to put a beverage.

I love the way end and small accent tables give us a place to set a snack or book. These cool little tables are connectors that bring pieces together and they are often reasonably priced and add “personality”. If a table is used on both ends of a sofa you want to make sure they are either the same or at least visually balanced. If one goes between two chairs you have lots of flexibility.

Use the color and patterns of accessories to add visual interest.

Color blue pillows paired with white and brown pillows make for a relaxing spot to lounge, talk, or take an after dinner nap. While the vibrant area rug in this seating display, adds  a texture that cozies up the space. Similarly, the diamond patterned rug in the picture above adds energy because the harlequin configuration causes the eye to move around the whole area.

Bring in some items found outdoors or made of natural materials to remind us of the wonder of God’s creation.

Clip a few live branches from your tree and display in a glass vase...

Different sized glass baubles are displayed on a recycled glass tray

Please let me know what ideas you are using to “tweak your decor” for Thanksgiving. Post a picture so we can be encouraged and inspired.

Happy, getting ready…

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. The Merrdian store in Cincinnati is located at 12130 Royal Point Drive, which is off of Field’s Ertel Road. The website for more information is

P.S. P.S. I did get a little something for myself… I have been hoping and praying for a new dining room table. I’d had the old table for about 16 years. My sweet, sweet husband got it for me as a belated birthday gift. To be financially responsible I am re-using my old chairs. I am so grateful… Thank you God 🙂

When dear friends, Adam, Heather and their two young sons, came for dinner a few years back, Adam paid me a huge – but unintended compliment. I heard him say to say to his wife, “This is a really nice house. You know what’s missing… the clutter.” I had to laugh, and I admitted that a lot of the clutter had been corralled in anticipation of having them as guests.

Ironically every time I do a “de-cluttering clean sweep” of mostly mail and un-filed papers, but toys, clothing, and kitchen contents are included too, I confirm that I want to live with less clutter more of the time.

As you prepare to have guests for Thanksgiving, this is a great week to purge the visual noise that makes your décor less vibrant. The picture below is my kitchen desk/workspace and I’ll use it is an example of some principles that might be helpful.

First think about how a space needs to function. My desk the hub where I think, dream, pay bills, work, write, etc. The key items needed are my laptop computer, phone, and office supplies. The desk is also my five-year old daughter’s favorite workspace where she uses the computer, draws pictures and does “homework” She needs crayons, markers, tape and place to put all of the finished artwork. My teenagers also do homework, Facebook and check their fantasy football stats here too.

Keep in mind how to you want to area to feel -which will affects the choices for how it looks. The desk is part of our kitchen and I want to feel organized, hopeful and welcoming. The layout of the space along with the colors used, textures, are the vehicles that help create the feeling. I basically have natural materials in neutrals with a few splashes of a burnished red.

Now, move (or get rid of) the non-essentials. This is usually the toughest thing to do. But, I do not need really really, to have my high-school yearbook or two board games in this space.

You will have to identify a permanent new “home” for the items that are being “relocated” and those that stay.

For the items that will remain, find permanent homes that make the items look as attractive as possible.

I think my laptop is pretty on her own. But the magazines needed a to be de-emphasized so they are on the left in the woven basket. It’s an open container so they are easy to access, but it looks neat.

Koah’s crayons and markers are in a red lidded-box from TJ Maxx. It looks great and adds a pop of my accent color, and she can move it to where ever the art is happening. I repeated the red by spray painting a wooden “K” from Hobby Lobby. I used picture-hanging putty to attach it to the tile.

The large brown woven basket with the lid is a great place to “temporarily” stash stuff like unopened mail, school papers, recipes to try, keys, or whatever needs to be hidden. However we have to go back and handle its contents daily or it might be “out of sight, out of mind” which will cause another set of problems. (Both woven basket were purchased at Pottery Barn and I suspect similar ones can be found at Target, Crate & Barrel, Pier One, etc.)

Most of the items that get hidden in a de-cluttering sweep have permanent homes outside of the kitchen in a four drawer metal filing cabinet or in binders that live in the cabinet above the desk.

Use your space creatively to store what you need. Half the cabinets above the desk have binders. The other side has dishes and serving pieces. I put plastic organizers in the drawers to make it easy to find, tape, pencils, post-it notes, my label maker, etc.

Important side note – clutter thrives like weeds in a garden – because we are all so busy that we rarely take the time to purge, sort and put away the “stuff” when or before it comes into the home. Once a permanent home is identified, I can usually manage the clutter if I commit to spend 15-30 minutes handling stuff daily.

So… force yourself to take time daily – to corral the clutter. Maybe you can put things away before you go to bed. Or set the timer for 20 minutes and address mess after dinner. Purge before you head out for work. Or regularly plan to have guests and purge before they arrive. Just joking…

More on décor next time…

Happy De-Cluttering

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. My desk is not this neat the vast majority of the time! But, if needed I can clean sweep it in about 90 seconds