School of Speed Decorating Begins 9/9


Hope you’re having a magical summer! So excited to share that in a few weeks the School of Speed Decorating will be in session. Woohoo!

As you know, I recently relocated to Minneapolis. And yes moving is a big, big challenge. There are the basics, such as finding a new dentist, doctor, grocery store, Target, gym, hair stylist, etc.  But then there is the question, Where do I put this stuff?  Luckily, editing and arranging is easy for me. I like to think of myself as an artist— I look for the natural beauty in a space and figure out how to let it shine with the proper decor.

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Can you relate?
For the past decade I’ve been solving decorating dilemmas such as:
• Does this sofa work?
• What color should I paint this room?
• The kitchen is horrid, what should I do?
• The foyer feels cramped and cluttered… any ideas?
• What should I do with the floor?
• Which tile should I buy for the backsplash?

Teaching is one of my favorite things. Love it. Love providing solutions that work. Over the years I’ve gotten Speed Decorating down to a science. I’m so incredibly grateful I’ve been able to share my secrets on NBC, CNN, NPR, NY1, New York Times, New Yorkerand many other publications. Joy! I’m thrilled to be able to help others have an EASY time figuring out how make each room work beautifully.

With autumn right around the corner, many of us get the urge to change up the decor and get ready for winter. For some that means moving and really, moving is the perfect time to create a new vibe in your home.

Wanted to tell you about my client, John, a bachelor, who was über-stressed about his upcoming move. I helped him assess what he had, told him what to donate, what to keep, and most importantly, where to put it in his new home. Room by room we updated his decor using mostly what he had and also purchasing a few key items, i.e. a sofa and custom shelving, to give the room an upgrade and truly reflect his lifestyle: classic, successful, creative, sophisticated.

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Are you moving?
Or do you have a friend moving in the next few months or so? Give the gift of Speed Decorating to make the transition so much easier. The School of Speed Decorating is loaded with fun, practical tips to make a new home fab.

My intention is to help as many people as possible have a beautiful home that they love. The School of Speed Decorating is my dream come true — an online way to provide decorating solutions to each student.

Here’s to everyone loving their home!

With Love + Gratitude,
Jill

Click here to register for School of Speed decorating which begins on 9/9

Today I’m Celebrating


Today I’m celebrating. Birds chirping. Pink sunrise. A fresh spring breeze. The hint of blossoms and new leaves unfurling verdant green.

Mister T is 5 months old today! Hooray!

Mister T is 5 months old today! Hooray!

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Maximilian celebrating his bro’s 5 month birthday this morning.

Today I’m celebrating my little Truman is five months old. What a whirlwind this has been. Did I mention we moved to Minnesota last month? We unexpectedly relocated for Michael’s new job. Did I mention I moved to an enormous house sight-unseen? I moved here trusting Michael’s photos that the house would be okay. Can you imagine? April 1st we arrived to a yard covered in mounds of snow at the end of a cul-de-sac. The playground in the backyard, buried in snow. It’s been a month of snow, snow, snow. Oh and record-breaking cold. Welcome. Welcome to my new life in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Today I’m celebrating another day of warm, sunny Spring. I am hanging onto the hope of this day because it’s all I’ve got. And I know that this is all we are ever given, the promise of a day. Just this day. That’s it. So I’m going to live it as fully as possible. Today I’m celebrating the joy of my little Truman who is calm, happy, and peaceful (unless, of course, he’s hungry or needs a diaper change). He started sleeping through the night at 8 weeks. Bless him.

Today I’m celebrating a day of new adventures. Uprooting my career and life in New York City is something that I still can’t quite fathom. I think I’m still in shock. But it happened a month ago. Today I look for beauty in this incredibly uncomfortable journey. Step by step, day by day. I’m not sure how often I’ll be blogging or when I’ll be taking on new projects. This is my creative sabbatical. This is my time to incubate and explore. Today I’m celebrating that I have the opportunity to do this.

Here are some things I’ve been celebrating and I wanted to share with you:

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Truman turned 4 months and he really didn’t mind the snow!

A very frozen Lake Minnetonka in April.

A very frozen Lake Minnetonka in April.

Spring in Minnesota looked like this.

Spring in Minnesota looked like this.

Found this snow Buddha on a walk through the hood.

Found this snow Buddha on a walk through the hood.

Well, then this happened. A new Ford pickup. First time for everything. Maximilian named our truck, McQueen.

Well, then this happened. A new Ford pickup. First time for everything. Maximilian named our truck, McQueen.

Love the Walker. Love the sculpture garden. Love that the snow melted.

Love the Walker. Love the sculpture garden. Love that the snow melted.

Discovered another sculpture garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. 1100 acres of BEAUTY. So inspiring.

Discovered the sculpture garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. 1100 acres of BEAUTY. So inspiring.

Jellyfish have no heart, no blood, no blood, no brain and so beautiful. Saw this at the aquarium.

Jellyfish have no heart, no blood, no blood, no brain and so beautiful. Saw this at the aquarium.

We love Gale Woods Farm. We saw three lambs being born. We've been going back to visit. They're getting so big now! Beautiful!

We love Gale Woods Farm. We saw three lambs being born. We’ve been going back to visit. They’re getting so big now! Beautiful!

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We celebrated Spring at The Heart of the Beast’s May Day Parade in Minneapolis — loved this wild explosion of creativity! Hallelujah all the snow is gone and it’s sunny!

An Unexpected Discovery at the New York International Gift Fair


For once I gave myself permission to just wander around the New York International Gift Fair this year and see what inspired me vs. the usual hustle to see it ALL…home decor, textiles, colors, trends, styles and select my fav new things.

For once, I thought, big whoop! I’m just going to selfishly walk around guided by the whim of inspiration. And oh boy was I surprised at what I discovered. For starters, I didn’t even make it to see most of the home decor. I breezed through the umpteen sheets/bedding/pillow collections. I loved exploring the kids’ area because the designs are so imaginative and fun. I meandered through the show and found 5 surprises…in no particular order… this is just how I wandered through the design aisles at NYIGF 2013:

#1 fav thing: Rocker JewelMilary. It was fun to meet Victoria Bekerman and check out her jewels. I love this necklace. In fact, Victoria was wearing it at the show. It’s fab. I like the way the vintage brass rings are almost like prayer beads & the chain rocks.  Wear a v-neck T, throw on this necklace. Done.

#2 fav thing: Glittery Gold Jewelry. Marian Maurer handcrafts her jewelry in 18K gold and her work is stunning. (Note: I was not able to buy any jewelry because this show is for the trade only and I’m in design, not jewelry retail. Which is probably a very good thing — no retail therapy allowed — just sparkly inspiration.) Her latest creation is a tiny gold name necklace. I love the font which she handcrafts herself. Gorg! My birthday is in a few weeks so I may have to request this beauty.

Gold name jewelry#3 fav thing: Tattly. It was really fun to meet design star Tina of Swiss Miss fame. I love her blog and have fun following her on Instagram which typically involves being a mom of 2. Anywhoo. Her Tattlys rock.  She gave me  a butterfly temporary tattoo and a stash to share with my toddler.

#4 fav thing: Be open to random interactions: I met another interior designer on the shuttle back to Grand Central. Turns out we were taking the same train so we rode together. On the train ride, I learned she’s a mom of 4 boys wanting to figure out her next steps and how to take her business to the next level. I told her she should open a store with her mother-in-law. Turns out that’s exactly what she wants to do. She was so excited that I told her that. I could see tears in her eyes. She said that was her dreamTina at Tattly. She totally lit up. It was so exciting to help her brainstorm ideas for her new adventure.

#5 fav thing: Trust intuition. It’s amazing what magic happens when you toss out the agenda and allow life to happen exactly as it’s meant to. Did I make it around to see the latest in home decor? Nope. But did I connect with artists and designers and creativity? Yep! I love that I could inspire and be inspired just by simply following intuition. What a fab way to be reminded of the most important things.

2013: MY YEAR OF NO RESULTIONS


Hope your 2013 is off to an amazing start!

Birth announcement

baby boy
I’m not sure if you noticed but I haven’t posted on my blog for awhile. I’ve been …. busy. Baby Truman Miles was born on 12/8/13 at 2:31am. I thought I’d zip right back into my blog but then I really didn’t want to— instead, I savored the holidays with my new little darling baby and my family. I checked out of work and checked into being with my family. It was fabulous.

2013 joie d’vivre
When New Year’s rolled around I realized that I didn’t want to set any new goals or resolutions. I’ve been hyper-overachieving and goal-focused for years. 2013? I wanted to try something different. So the only resolution I have is to not have any resolutions and instead simply feel joy each day.

my year of no resolutions
So now that we’re settled into the year — this is the last day of January, I’m thrilled that I’ve kept my resolution of no resolutions. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling. I’ve discovered that joie d’vivre isn’t about being an ecstatic superhuman-mom. Some days I really don’t feel JOY after being up all night with my newborn. Are you kidding?! Add to that the demands of a toddler, plus work, etc. I’m doing my best to just keep it all together. So does that mean I’ve blown my resolution of no resolution of just feeling JOY? Not at all. What I realize is when I’m not feeling the joie d’vivre, I simply have to ask myself, what do I need to feel a little better? Sometimes that’s a nap. Sometimes it’s delegating work tasks so I can go to the history museum with my toddler. What a relief to have only one focus this year!!! I know it’s only been a month but I’m excited to see how this (for me) radical shift in thinking will play out in 2013. For once I’m not checking my goal spreadsheet all the time. It’s not about achievements — it’s about who I’m being. And I am confident this is enough.

a year of change
What has opened up to me is that without even trying, projects are coming to me easily and effortlessly. Each week new prospects are calling with decorating or staging projects. I’m thrilled with my clients and being with my family. Oh, and I have a very big surprise that I want to share with you too. My husband just got a new job for a hedge fund which will require us to relocate by 4/1… to Minneapolis, MN. WOW! As we had been looking for a new home I never dreamed that new home would be in Minneapolis. Lots of changes for 2013!

Thanksgiving: FOOD and GRATITUDE!


In honor of Thanksgiving, I am thrilled to present this guest post from my friend Lisa Adams, an actress and personal chef. I needed a little inspiration in the kitchen this week so turned to Lisa for advice. Here’s what she said, “In the kitchen, I find I get to tell stories. Making things up as I go along or interpreting someone else’s recipe, I am speaking to your senses. I am speaking to your soul. I cater special events as well as drop off weekly meals for families. It is an honor to cook for my clients. Some I have been feeding for the past 11 years and it is my pleasure to contribute to their nutritional wellbeing.”

Being 37 weeks preggo I’d love for her to cook this up for me this week! Thank you Lisa for sharing with us today…

I am lucky enough to be part of a Gratitude group here in New York City where we email a list of things for which we are grateful every day. This has been our practice for nearly 4 years. So when Thanksgiving season comes around we are already 10 months into our year of Thanks. This makes it really easy to focus on the Giving.

ImageMy childhood memories some include hand traced turkeys and construction paper pilgrim hats, but they mostly include FOOD! My family participated in the Knights of Columbus Annual Turkey Dinners at my hometown church in Joplin, MO. We were always on some committee: cooking, serving, cleanup, or delivering turkey dinners to shut-ins. Coming together as a family to give all those years ago created a thread of generosity that runs deep with me today. I am so grateful to my parents for providing those opportunities for my Sister Jules and me each year.

(Photo: MarthaStewart.com)

Nearly every year, the actual Thanksgiving holiday was spent seven hours away in DeQueen, Arkansas at Ms. Ora K. Adams’ house aka Mamaw (pronounced Maa’ ma) As a little girl, the drive was endless. I can make myself carsick just thinking about those twisty roads and hills we traversed to get there. We were always rewarded with the loving and delicious fruits of Mamaw’s labor. Looking back, the food really wasn’t all that special, but the tradition of the smells and tastes, and the ritual of sharing them were special indeed.

(Photo: David Loftus)

The highlight was never the turkey; it was the wishbone that my Sister and I wished upon. (To this day she still tries to cheat when we snap them.) There was gizzard gravy with hardboiled eggs that I hated but was one of my Dad’s favorites. There were plates full of Parker House rolls with sorghum and butter, traditional cornbread stuffing, we ate the famous green bean casserole, canned cranberry sauce (my favorite!) Libby’s pumpkin pie with cool whip, and chocolate cream pie finished our feast. Looking back, I don’t think the menu ever changed. My Grandmother passed when I was 18 and that Thanksgiving was the last time we saw her.

(Photo: MarthaStewart.com)

As a personal chef in NYC, I have created my own food culinary traditions for my clients. In fact, I have prepared the same meal for a very special family for the last 12 years. It is my favorite meal of the year to prepare because of these traditions I have created and shared. The preparation actually ‘stirs’ up those childhood memories and I offer up my time in the kitchen to Mamaw as well as my parents and Sister. I am my very own Knights of Columbus committee of shopping, cooking, cleanup, as well as delivery.

(Photo: NoRecipes.com)

I’d like to extend a warm thank you to Jill for inviting me to her blog space and community. Also in the spirit of thanks and giving, I’d like to thank you for indulging me in my treasured memories by giving you a recipe from my NYC Thanksgiving menu! Perhaps it will inspire your own holiday meal.

  • Butter Roasted Turkey
  • Port Wine Gravy
  • Blackberry Brandy Challah Bread Stuffing with Apples and Sage
  • Traditional Cornbread Stuffing
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Pear, Ginger, and Cranberry Chutney
  • Sauteed kale and spinach with Caramelized Garlic

(Photo: GalloWebCentral.com)

Port Wine Gravy

  1. After roasting your turkey, reserve all of the pan juices and browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Separate the pan juices from the fat by pouring them into a degreasing cup with a spout at the bottom. If you don’t have one, you can pour the drippings into any container. Chill the drippings in the container, and then scoop off the congealed fat and set it aside.

Add ½ cup of the reserved fat to a skillet. As it melts, whisk in ½ cup flour and create a roux. Stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Generously salt and pepper this mixture and slowly whisk in ½ a bottle of port wine. Keep whisking to smooth out the lumps and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

  1. Add the reserved juices, and 4 cups of chicken stock. Or if you can find it, demi glace will make it extra decadent (like the port isn’t enough!) Taste and add more port if you are inclined and continue simmering about 10 minutes to thicken. Taste again to see if it needs more salt and pepper.

A couple of tips:

You can swirl in a bit of butter right before you bring it to the table to make it extra glossy and smooth.

Lumps? Strain them, no one will know.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

You can find out more about me at LisaAdamsInNewYorkCity.com

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Thanks Lisa! I’m so hungry just dreaming of all of these savory dishes… I especially love green bean casserole. YUM!

Confession: My Terrace Tragedy


So, I have a confession… remember the NBC terrace makeover I did last spring? The results were fantastic, if I do say so myself. One part of the makeover involved planting arborvitae trees because they are so hearty and drought-proof. Well, here’s where happened. Apparently, they couldn’t withstand weeks of scorching summer heat, and I saw in mid-August that 4 of the 6 trees were already dead. The Bleeding Heart? Dead. Oh these poor, poor things.

My recommendation when you have things die on the terrace or in the backyard — get rid of them immediately. It’s much worse to have to look at the skeleton of a tree to remind you what a shoddy job you did of taking care of it. So, at this time of year, what on earth can you do to fill the hole where the dead trees or plants used to be? I spoke with a master gardener and got some tips. I used to be against mums because they look so “funeral.” I’ve changed my tune as long as they are arranged appropriately.

I’m excited to share some ways to arrange flowers with fall style. The best part? These arrangements should look pretty good until January — at least that’s what the master gardener told me. She said to wait until early spring to plant new trees, and for now it’s kale and mums and cabbages (try mixing in parsley, too). Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Here’s to the art of arranging fall containers…

Modern Rustic Glam in the Dining Room


As I watch the leaves change color this season,  I’m inspired to keep changing things up in the home. This week, why not  concentrate on your dining room?

I recently met with a client who wanted to make some updates in the dining room area of her loft. Her chairs were old and shabby and stained. She’d had them for years and they’d served their time. The dining room table, which was used as a buffet for large family gatherings over the years, was also in need of updating.  We decided to go for a new one that made a sculptural statement. 

The overall theme for the room? Classic but with an artistic twist. In other words, modern rustic glam.

Here are a few examples… let’s get those creative juices flowing!

A “slab” rustic table. Even its imperfections are perfect.

                  
                   
Now, on to dining room chairs. Pick chairs that are light so you can easily move them to another room in the house for entertaining and that will accommodate the shifting needs of the room. Big and clunky chairs have no place in the dining room.
 

Modern yet classic. And more importantly? Lightweight.

Love how this looks like a marshmallow!

And what about this fab light fixture to brighten things up?

Shopping tip: This is a great time of year to update the decor in the dining room because many stores are changing up their showrooms, which means many things are on sale. Woohoo!

You’ll be ready for holiday entertaining!

Letting Go (The Redux)


If you read last week’s post, you know that I’m in a “letting go” phase at the moment. I’ve decided to embrace the changing of seasons by re-organizing my home, which I suppose is in part to my pregnancy and a little thing known as “nesting.” Pregnant or not, though, the freedom that comes with getting rid of clutter is so liberating and good for the soul! I highly recommend it. 

This week, I’m concentrating on the kitchen, foyer and bathroom, and I wanted to share a few tips and photo inspiration (courtesy of Houzz) with you.

Kitchen: Autumn is the perfect time to clear out the pantry and remove expired items. Begin with the fridge for instant gratification. Then, move onto the cabinets, one at a time. Remove everything. Wipe each shelf and drawer. Wipe down the front of the cabinet. If that seems like too much to handle at once (we’re all so busy, I know!), allot 15 minutes a day by organizing one drawer at a time… or, what about tackling that space above the fridge… yep, you know what I’m talking about.
 
Bathroom: 2 words – medicine cabinet. A little story for you. My client, Jen, had 6 tubes of toothpaste, 5 bottles of shampoo and an ungodly amount of hair conditioner, q-tips, cotton balls, etc. stuffed into her bathroom. STOP buying all of that stuff! Sure, it’s fine to prepare for a rainy day, but more than one extra of everything really isn’t necessary. We live in a modern society where you can have anything delivered to your front door in a day or two. Thank you very much Amazon. Stop all the extra spending on bulk items (ahem, I’m looking at you, Costco!) and only buy what you truly need.
 
Foyer: This space often becomes the dumping ground for shoes, coats and bags when you enter your home. It’s important to have a place to put everything. Last week, I met a client who had a cat litter box in the foyer. Not exactly a friendly welcome, right? Consider a storage bench or “cubby” to help organize this area. Delegate a basket for each member of your family to keep things separate. You’ll thank me, I promise.
 
 
 

Let Go


You’ve got to make a conscious effort every day to shed the old — whatever “the old” means for you.  — Sarah Ban Breathnach

When I was in labor with my son, the only song I could listen to was “Let go” by Frou Frou. For hours it was… So, let go, let go jump in, oh well, what are you waiting for? It’s all right ‘cause there’s beauty in the breakdown so let go, let go…

My husband can’t listen to that song anymore because it was on repeat for so long. But today, as I see the leaves turning from green to yellow, “Let Go” comes to mind again. Now that it’s officially autumn, I’m reminded again of the importance of letting go. Soon it will be time for the branch to let go of the leaf. There’s nothing sentimental about it, it’s just time. I’m inspired by the turn of the season to shed what no longer serves me. 

In the home, this means going through all of our closets and re-organizing.   If you’re selling your home, let go of anxiety, fear, attachment. See your home as a gift that you’re giving to the next buyer. If your home has a feeling of neglect and disrepair, well seriously, what kind of gift is that? Make sure to present your home in the best possible condition so that potential buyers will want to make that immediate offer. 

Now about those closets… Let go of clutter. Perhaps it’s an old sweater you’re hanging on to and haven’t worn in years. It’s time to gently let go. Begin by going through your closet and dresser. Fall is the perfect time to give away the clunkers that don’t fit, don’t look good, or impulse buys you haven’t worn. Think about a complete closet renovation, or simply start with throwing out those wire hangers from the dry cleaners.  It’s now or never.

Ready, set…. let go.

A little closet inspiration to get you moving, courtesy of Houzz:

 
 
 
 

The Psychology of Staging


In what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked in the world of advertising. Here’s something I learned early on: a 30-second commercial is a total game changer. In that finite amount of time, you must seduce viewers into buying your product or you simply haven’t done your job.
 
Guess what? The same applies to selling a property. When potential buyers step inside, the goal is to grab their attention immediately; you want them to fall in love. The difference between a bad impression and a positive one is the difference between selling the property right away or having a long drawn out process filled with showings and price reductions. And nobody wants that.
 
Property owners who have the most success selling are those who realize their home is no longer their home— it’s a product on the market. Which means the way people live in their home and the way to market and sell a house are two completely different things. 
 
The first step to creating a dreamy “home product” is to define the target buyer. Knowing the ideal prospect is the foundation for staging a property.  This is where the fun begins. It’s called “lifestyle branding,” which basically means thinking about the entire day in the life of the target audience.  Back in the day, when Target (the store) wanted to reinvent their brand to appeal to a younger, more hip demographic, they did massive research — and that’s why they hired me. I worked on calculating the needs, desires, wants, dreams, trends, and habits of this audience. The result is that Target has expanded into an award-winning destination with bold, cutting-edge products ranging from toothpaste to coffee tables.

If you want to sell your property in this market, make sure to hire a staging pro who can guide you with these principles. It’s not about what you like or want, it’s what the seller wants. A stager can gently help you whip your home into showing style. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but what I can promise is that the result will make the grueling work payoff— you will definitely sell your home for the best possible price in the shortest amount of time. Now that is something to be happy about.

Here’s a glimpse of one of my recent staging projects:

BEFORE:

The dining area in this loft was kid-central! Cluttered and un-organized, this area would not be attractive to potential buyers.

AFTER:

We staged this dining area so buyers could imagine entertaining and eating in this gorgeous space. The result? SOLD!