2018 Ideas for Home and Gardens

It’s winter and we’re looking around the house and yard and thinking “this could use an update!”

Let’s face it – 99% of us do not belong to the 1% club. We actually HAVE budgets and bills and timelines so tearing out everything we don’t like and starting over just isn’t an option. To help you know how to get the biggest bang for your buck here are the biggest trends in 2018 in home and garden design from the experts all over the world:

  1. Bolder Colors – unless you’re about to sell your home go ahead and get dramatic with those colors. Here is Behr’s 2018 color pallete:
    behr 2018 colors
    Blues and grays are big this year with a few reds thrown in too. But you don’t have to keep to these colors. If you want a sunshine yellow bedroom, go for it!
  2. Mixed metals everywhere – move over brushed nickel, stainless steel and rose gold. This year just about anything can be used anywhere.  Black is big in kitchen fixtures because it’s dramatic and doesn’t show fingerprints. Gold seems to be the trend in bathrooms. Copper is seen everywhere from walls to sinks to lighting fixtures. If you see something you like go ahead and use it.  There are no rules this year!
  3. Flowers anyone? – Florals seem to be everywhere. Couches, pillows, walls, bedding – there is definitely a trend to bring the garden into your space.
    And speaking of gardens….
  4. Turning homes into greenhouses – there is a definite trend for more plants in the home. People these days are saying goodbye to grandma’s fern and hello to fun and functional plants like aloe, aluminum, indoor herb and salad gardens and creating terrariums. With all the benefits plants bring to a home this is a great trend to embrace. Just make sure the plants you purchase are child/pet safe if that is a concern in your home.
  5. Wallpaper – this has been an emerging trend that is hitting big this year. Forget the tiny patterns and stripes of the 1900’s. Today’s wallpaper can be customized to  be anything you want. Florals are huge (of course) but so is using wallpaper to create an agate focal wall. Very cool!
  6. Extending living spaces outdoors – our homes can only be so big so the trend is on making our yards more functional by providing outdoor living rooms, dining rooms and compact kitchens. None of these have to be big or expensive – in fact, this may be the best way you can update your home.
  7. Groundcovers – there is a plant that grows in my area that has round green leaves and purple flowers in the spring. It has replaced about half my lawn. I’d love to say it was intentional but this is a horrible weed nicknamed “Creeping Charlie.” Why am I telling you this? Because the trend this year is to replace some or all lawn space with groundcovers – low growing plants that permanently protect the soil and look good. I’ve tried to pass this weed off as a “groundcover” but I don’t think anyone is buying it.Time to plant some phlox. It will look so much better than the Creeping Charlie!
  8. Creating quiet places – the trend for water features is still hot, hot, hot but it no longer requires you to create a waterfall, stream and koi pond. The trend this year is on smaller water features, often homemade, in a place in your yard that is off the beaten path (if there is such a thing.) Adding a bench or chair may finish off this space and make it a place you would like to retreat to.
    fountain   images (2)
  9. Edibles, bouquets and more – This year’s trend seems to be all about practicality. We are growing more of our own food. If you like fresh flowers in  the home you are planting tulips, gladiolas, lillies, dahlias and coneflowers. You are thinking about bees and planting flowers you love to pollinate. Plant milkweed for butterflies. Gardens are much more earth-friendly and sustainable this year.
  10. Bring character to your space – gardens these days are becoming personalized, transformed beyond a lawn and border of flowers and trees. Homeowners are introducing unique water features, sheds, play houses, decks, gates, arbors — whatever you can imagine.
    whimsical-playhouse-garden-playhouse-garden-design_12188Purchasing many of these custom items can very expensive but if you are just a little bit adventurous you can learn to build just about any wooden item or structure you like.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these trends. If you’ve found inspiration for a project this year, please let me know. I’d love to year from you!

Maximizing Storage Space

So, it’s back to school time so I’m trying to sort through the summer stuff and the fall stuff and figure out if my kids have enough clothes to make it through the first week without going naked.  (“Do you really need 32 T-shirts? Are ALL of your pants 3 inches too short?  How did you grow 3 inches in 3 months???”)

As the CEO of my home I’m not only in charge of MY closet, I have to worry about the closets of everyone else in the house. My sweetheart is a hoarder who still has T-shirts from high school days. My teenagers like to keep everything they own on the floor. You get the idea. So how do you keep track of everything, keep it clean and in working order, and store it accessibly? I don’t have a super-solution, but I’ve got a few ideas:

  1. Go by the numbers: I’ve found this works for everyone. For my pack rat sweetheart, there is a limit to the number of shirts in the closet. (Hint, it’s less than 125.) For my shopping-addicted teenage daughter (aren’t they all?) it’s “no more than” – X number of T-shirts, shoes, sunglasses, whatever. For my ADHD youngest, it’s establishing a bare minimum of acceptability: X number of clean underwear that fit, X number of pants he can wear to school, etc.

  2. Go with the flow: you know those 124 shirts? Well, there are about 20 he actually wears on a regular basis and he tends to keep them somewhere between the laundry hamper and the dryer. I finally figured out that he likes them out where he can see them, not tucked away in a closet. (As if a closet you walk back and forth in front of is “tucked away”. Go figure.) So he has a standing closet rod in the bedroom for his everyday clothes. The advantage is that if we have company over we can clear it off and let them use it for their clothes. Going with that same logic, my youngest won’t keep anything in a drawer. He can’t see it there so it doesn’t exist. I got tired of seeing everything on his floor all the time, so we put in some shelves for his stuff instead. His folded shirts, shorts and pants go great here. As for socks and underwear? A couple of baskets (suitably male) corral these and still leave them visible enough for his piece of mind. What works for them works for me as long as it keeps things neat and clean and cared for.


  3. Make your space do double-duty: we’ve all seen those lovely closet-organizing systems but most of us live in homes built somewhere between 1940 and 1990. Huge walk-in closets just weren’t in the blueprint. So what do the rest of us do? Well, a lot of the closet space we DO have isn’t being used. Even if you aren’t into a total makeover (and most of us aren’t) you can install a second closet rod underneath – I recommend at least half – of your existing rod. Hang slacks beneath shirts or shirts beneath shirts and skirts – whatever works. If you aren’t very handy, these hanging rods will work for some.


  4. Use the floors: for most closets floors are a missed opportunity. If they are filled with piles of shoes, install a shoe rack so you can add in other items. What other items? For my son it’s sporting goods – a big tub full of his basketballs, paintball weapons, frisbees, and whatever else he’s got in there. My daughter has all her “accessories” stored on her floor. Bags, sunglasses, and some jewelry all find a place here.

    coat-closet-clothes-short-longPhoto by Bob Hiemstra courtesy of Real Simple.com

  5. Raise the bed: my last challenging item to keep clean and stored were blankets and other linens. We have cold winters and hot summers, so blankets need to be kept somewhere during the summer. So, I put my bed on stilts. Keeping blankets in vacuum storage bags underneath my bed keeps them clean and makes them easy to find when the temp drops in the fall.

    storage underneath the bed:

I hope these help. What tips do you have for maximizing your closet?

Wonderful Water Garden

The Minnesota Water Garden Society has an amazing tour each summer of some of the member’s water gardens.  This year I saw gorgeous ponds, waterfalls, streams, fountains — you name it.  I’ll try to share a few with you over the next few months.  Here’s my first.


So here we have a beautiful waterfall and koi pond. Very simple and low maintenance.  The plants make this feature so lovely to look at, and the owner says the koi are like pets — they come up when he walks up to the pond, will eat from his fingers, and he’s given them all names.  But there’s more to this garden than just a bowl full of water:


Here’s the pond when you walk around the back side.  You can see a bench to sit on at the back of the path.  One of the best things about having a water garden is the noise of the moving water.  It’s important to have a place where you can enjoy it if your garden isn’t set up close to the house (or even if it is!) I love how tranquil they have made this garden.  Can’t you just see your stress melting away the second you step onto the path?


The owners made sure that beauty wasn’t just around the water garden.  This carved owl sits in the middle of a sunny flower garden on the other side of the property.  I loved that when you were done sitting in the shade, you could spend some time relaxing in the sun!

I’ll share more great gardens soon.  In the meantime, do you have a wonderful water garden?  I’d love to see the photos!

My Parent’s House

So, I’m on vacation at my mom and dad’s. Because of how spread out my siblings are this is the first time in six years we have all been together. It’s been wonderful!  But equally wonderful is my parent’s home. I grew up in a log cabin (well, log home really – and I moved in my senior year of high school.) Let me show you:


Here is my parent’s front porch. You’ll notice they have FOUR (had to cut one out) swings across the front – each seating two people. Yes, there are green things everywhere. My mom can make rocks grow. It’s amazing.


Here is the main floor bath. The walls look like stucco, but it’s a faux paint finish. My mom took drywall compound and sprayed it on the drywall, then smoothed out the top rough edges with sandpaper. The next step was the primer coat, then the light paint coat. Once that was thoroughly dry, she painted the darker coat and wiped it off with a rag leaving it in the crevices left by the compound. Ta-da! Amazing looking stucco bathroom!


Here’s a wall of my parent’s kitchen. My dad found this old stove, then searched for replacement fixtures until he was able to completely refurbish it. So yes – it’s a working stove. Mom even bakes pies in it for Thanksgiving.


Here’s the other side of the kitchen. The guy who installed the granite counter top said it was the largest piece of granite he had ever installed. In keeping with the country look of the home, she has custom bar stools made of oak and cedar, cupboards that are both glass and wood – painted a warm ivory with gold trim and satin nickel hardware. The stove, microwave and dishwasher are stainless, but the refrigerator was ordered in ivory to match the cupboards and to blend in.  Those flowers?  Not from a florist. They came from her garden.  Yeah I know – I wish she’d deliver!


Here is the upstairs loft. My sisters and I put in the carpet. We used carpet samples that had been discontinued, and glued then stapled them to the floor. It gives the room an awesome patchwork quilt look I have never seen anywhere else!


My parents created a lovely rock bench under a pine tree just as you pull into their driveway. What a welcoming look!


Here is a peek into their back yard. The arbor has a chandelier hanging from the center top, a bench on one side and a fountain on the other. Yes, the chandelier can be turned on with the flick of a light switch. In the back is a children’s play set, ample seating for a crowd, and a gazebo with a full kitchen – refrigerator, sink, and barbecue. It is also fully lit, as well as floodlights for the entire back yard so the party never has to end at dark!

So, there is a brief tour of their amazing home. I hope you enjoyed it. Please share photos of amazing homes you have seen (with permission, of course!)