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Welcome to our daily journal of what is happening in the world of your Cozy Chic Designers. Join us for articles, tips, pictures, and advice. Click below to see some good examples of what we can do for you!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Fireplace Decorating that is Hot! HoT! HOT!!

<-----Fireplace before Redesign

Fireplace after Redesign ------->

As I sit here writing this it is pouring outside. The sky is brooding, cold and dark. Nestled in front of a blazing fire, in a snuggly chiar with a hot cup of cocoa, I am warm and toasty. My feet are propped up on a raised flagstone hearth of a fireplace that my Dad, Ted Chancellor, built years ago at his "Beach House."

Fireplaces set the scene for good times. This one is special to me. It hold an abundance of memories-- of family gatherings, of quiet times with good books and fireside chats with old friends. There was even one winter weekend when my Mom and her grown daughters spent time together in front of a warm fire reading "The Auctioneer" aloud-- as we each knitted sweaters.

The fireplace is, or surely should be the focal point of the room that houses it!
One of Cozy Chic's most popular decorating services is the "Redesign Appointment -- where we reposition the furniture and accessories famlies already own to transform their space with style." As we do this, we find that the fireplace area of the home usually needs some help to become the attention-worthy focal point it was meant to be. How easy it is for a couple of framed family photos placed on the mantel, to become a collection too crowded to be enjoyed. This happens because those cute kids keep getting older, events keep happening, photos keep getting taken -- and what better place to display them than the unused flat surface of the mantel! Before long, it is "hard to see the forest for this trees!" This is where we apply one of our tried and true decorating principles-- "Less is Best!"

In Redesign, we use solid decorating principles to achieve a coordinated look that flows together well. When considering the area of the fireplace we look at all of the parts--the hearth, the mantel, the firebox and the wall above--as a single unit. Then we view it as a part of the whole room to create a harmonious, beautiful "big Picture."

Decorating Principles

1. BalancE

In decorating, "Balance" refers to equal distribution of "visual weight." An object may be "featherweight" but if it is large, tall, bulky or just looks like it would be heavy, it carries "visual weight." The "visual weight" of accesssories needs to be taken into account as they are placed in the home. To achieve a comfortable look, "heavy" objects can be offset by balancing them with other "heavy" objects or with multiple smaller ones. You don't want, for instance, all of the heavy looking items to be placed on just one side of the mantel or the hearth or the wall.

In this "after the redesign" photo, the "visual weight" of the vase and flowers on the right of the mantel is balanced by the candlesticks to the left of the fireplace.


While variety is the spice of life, in order to achieve a comfortable "go-together look" or "flow," objects that are displayed together need to have a common denominator. The unifying factor could be a decorating theme, a repetitive color, or a common material. Stand back and look at the fireplace, the mantel and the hearth all as one piece--then think about how you can not only bring unity to the fireplace setting, but also unite that setting with the rest of the room. Color is one of the easiest unifying factors. Our "after" shot carries a punch of orange in the orbs on the mantel, the candles on the hearth and the flowers in the pictures.

3. Scale

Scale refers to proportion. A large fireplace with a massive hearth and mantel would best be coordinated by using a large piece of art on the wall and placing some items with girth on the hearth and mantel. Likewise, the items above a small mantel should be smaller and in proportion to it. A rule of thumb is that the decorating items placed on the wall above the mantel should cover the space approximately 2/3 of its length.

4. Peaks and Valleys
Another way to add interest to the fireplace is to choose decorating accessories with varying heights. In decorating rooms we look for height in windows, screens, trees and the larger items of furniture. The opposing low points come from the seating and the smaller accessories. We are careful not to place all the high items on one side of the room because, not only does it interfere with good balance, but the peaks and valleys created by a variety of heights is more interesting. This is also true that a variety of heights enhances the collection of items, and is more entertaining to the yes.

5. Less__ ____! (is best!)

Mantels often become the resting point for collections, knick knacks, momentos and other objects. Because the flat surfaces in most living/family rooms are relatively limited, mantels tend to gather more than their fair share of "stuff." It bears repeating that "less is best." Art objects can be best appreciated if there are not too many of them clamoring for attention. It is better to rotate the art (and photos) into and out of the display, giving each its turn for attention. If you have an interesting, unusual or ornate fireplace and mantel, you may want to simply use the architectural design and detail as the "art"-- letting it stand alone without additional adornment.

6. ()dd nu^^ber$ (1-3-5)

There is an old stand-by rule of decorating...that odd numbers have the most appeal. Remembering that "One" is an odd number--sometimes the best "arrangement" for over the mantel is one striking piece of art.

A fireplace stacked with wood and a basket stuffed with pinecones on the hearth make a heart-warming winter display--but what about springtime and summer? How about bringing the freshness of the season inside by placing a basket of ferns in the empty fireplace.

As I enjoy the beauty and color in the dancing flames, the crackle of the burning logs, the smell of the oak and the warmth of the cocoa-- I am reminded that it's all about atmosphere! Cold winter nights give us a good excuse to slow down, snuggle up and enjoy!

(This is a condensed version of an article which will be featured in the January 15 2011 issue of the Vacaville Magazine. There you will find additional decorating guidelines specifically for fireplace areas)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Holiday Table...Make It Cozy, Make It Chic!!

The holiday season is such a wonderful time of year! Think back to some of your best holiday memories and I would venture to guess that they were centered on the people gathered around your dining room table! There is just something special about the magic of a congregation of friends and family together around the table, embracing past traditions and making new memories.

In today’s society, eating together as a family as a daily practice gets interrupted with our abundance of activities and overflowing schedules, so the festive meals during the holidays take on extra special meaning. If you are blessed with the opportunity to host family and friends around your dining table this year, slow down and savor every minute of your time together. You can even use your time dressing up the table and preparing the meals as memory-making opportunities! To help you we’ve listed our 6 easy steps to a beautiful table setting below:

1. It all starts with choosing the right the table.
More dining room tables are purchased during the fall than any other time of year. If you will be purchasing a new dining room table this year and are trying to decide which table best fits your needs, there are three things to consider.
• Shape
Making the decision about which shape table to buy is probably one your easier decisions. The shape of the table should be based on the shape of your room and the number of people in your seating requirements. Generally, rectangular tables are more efficient, as you can seat more people around a rectangular table per square foot than you can any other shape of table. However, certain layouts and rooms will require round or square tables for ease of passage or access.
• Versatility
Next, you’ll want to think about the versatility your table provides. Does the table have leaves? If so, do they need to be stored separately? Can one person easily extend the table?
• Material
Once you have found a table to match your versatility needs, then you’ll want to decide on the material out of which the table is built. Wood? Glass? Stone? Metal? Consider your eating area as you make this decision. If you have a home with wood floors, wood furniture, and exposed wood beams, you may want to break up the consistent use of wood with a glass table. Likewise, in a setting with chrome, leather and concrete, you may want to use a wood table to add warmth to the room.

2. Choose a "theme” for your table.
The word “theme” does not imply that your table decorations should be juvenile or over the top. Rather, the theme should invoke a mood or feeling for your diners. You may choose a festive Christmas table of lime green and red plaids, with black and white accents to invoke a casual dining experience of light-heartedness and whimsy. Or, you may go for a more monochromatic color palate, using different shades of creams and whites to create an elegant and sophisticated dining experience. Each of these themed settings creates a distinctly different feel. So put some time into thinking about what mood you’re shooting for. To help you decide, you can look for inspiration almost anywhere. Some of the most common theme choices are based on colors, patterns, shapes, specific achievements, holidays or events.

3. Pick coordinating linens.
Decorating a holiday dining table is ironically similar to getting dressed in the morning. The table linens you choose are like your clothing, through which you will express your sense of style. The linens’ color, pattern and texture will all build on one another to create your overall “look.” Now if you are like me and like to bargain hunt, practicality in your linen purchases is going to be of the utmost importance. Just as you have your wardrobe basics, you’ll want to strategically purchase several basic linen items that will create the base for your holiday table arrangements. Choosing linens in neutral beiges or creams provide you a great a great foundation on which you can build upon for multiple holiday arrangements, yet not spend a fortune. From there, all it takes is a few accent colors and unique pieces to spice up your table. You’ll save a bundle, but still be able to achieve a variety of looks.

4. Make the centerpiece the focal point of your table.
The centerpiece should be exactly that! It is the center of everyone’s attention at your holiday table. Thus, it is important that you find the perfect fit for the look you are trying to achieve. Centerpieces can be something as simple as a bowl of orbs, or as complex as an intricate floral arrangement. It’s simply a question of personal preference and desire. As you choose, you’ll also want to keep in mind the size and durability of the centerpiece.
• Size
When dressing a table that is just for aesthetics, the size of the centerpiece can be much larger and more dramatic, than one over which tabletop conversation will take place. In the latter, you will want to keep the size of the centerpiece well below eye-level so that conversation is not interrupted by the décor. Typically, you need the centerpiece to be tallest in the center and picturesque from all angles. Bowls, trays, candles and greenery are some of the most common choices for centerpieces, but there are endless options when you use a little creativity.
• Durability
Regardless of the size and shape of the centerpiece, you want to make sure it can be easily picked up and moved when it comes time to grab your napkin and dig in! One very practical option is to use a decorative serving dish as your centerpiece. It is functional, durable and decorative at the same time, which saves you cash and saves on precious tabletop space!

5. Make your settings beautiful.
When it comes to making a beautiful holiday table one of the most important rules is to know the proper way to set the table. Do you remember where the bread plate and the dessert fork go in formal setting? If not, brush up by studying Emily Post’s recommendations on setting the table. Once you know how you’ll set the table, you’ll want to layer each setting with placemats, chargers, plates, bowls, and stemware to provide a visual array of height and colors. Again, choosing a fairly neutral color of dishware allows you the option to accent with deeper colors and textures for varying holidays. Sometimes, simply switching a charger and napkin ring can bring a whole new feel to a table arrangement and only costs you a fraction of the price of a new set of dishware!

6. Embellish!
Finally, every good outfit needs a bit of bling! In our dressing analogy, the table embellishments act as the jewelry that give your table a little sparkle and shine and provide the impressive “wow factor!” For an elegant, formal affair, this may include adding velvet slipcovers to your chairs, place cards at each setting, and clever little party favors to drive home the theme. An additional embellishment that will get your guests talking is folding your linens into clever shapes or objects to coordinate with the rest of the table. No matter what theme you choose for your table, there are easy ways to embellish to make your table arrangement the talk of the party!

Now you’re ready to make your holiday table something you’ll remember for years to come. By following these few simple rules and preparing your table in advance of the holiday, it not only takes some of the last minute rush out of the preparations on the big holiday, but it makes the dining area festive and creates an expectation of a wonderful time coming. In our busy world, we can all appreciate a relaxing meal with friends and family. Strive to make more of your meals “holiday beautiful” this year. You’ll find that beautifully decorated tables can make every meal a feast of good taste!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Great Event Last Night!

    Janet, Anna, and Jen....
    Last night marked the beginning of a new decorating series we are doing in conjunction with our local Pier One--and what fun it was! We taught class participants all about how to decorate tables for the holidays.....

    1. Choose the Right Table

    2. Create a Theme

    3. Pick Coordinating Linens

    4. Make the Centerpiece the Focal Point

    5. Layer Your Place Settings

    6. Embellish!

    The highlight was definitely the segment Anna taught on how to fold napkins into holiday items--pumpkins, Christmas trees, snowflakes and turkeys....everyone walked away with a little tidbit for how to "wow" their guests this holiday season!
    Join us again next quarter for another fun class....and the best part--it's FREE! See you there!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    A Trip Down the Hallway by Janet Davison

    I grew up with a love-hate relationship with hallways. As a child I served a fair amount of “time outs” at the end of our hallway, but it was there that I discovered what fun cotton socks and a hardwood floor can be.

    In our house we have a hall.
    Tho’ it isn’t wide, it’s tall.
    And I’ll tell you, ‘cause I’ve tried,
    You can slip and you can slide!
    You can seek and you can hide!
    You can dip and you can glide!
    You can leap and you can ride!
    You can trip and you can fall.
    In our hall.
    Janet Chancellor, 1963

    Needless to say, our hallway was empty! Today, as a decorator, I appreciate the unique space a hallway really is. Designed as a public passageway between the private spaces in the home, the bedrooms and bathrooms, hallways have architectural features unlike any other room. What other room is taller than it is wide? Has multiple doorways all in a row? Flaunts no windows and, normally, no furniture? Leaving room for vision and imagination, hallways are a decorator’s delight!

    Here are some dos and don’ts in making the hallway a special place of interest in your home.

    Paint –

    I often say that paint is our least expensive, most effective decorating tool. Use paint to camouflage the architectural design of the long, narrow space of a hallway.

    • Because of the lack of windows, hallways tend to be dark. A coat of a pale color paint can not only make them brighter and more interesting, but can provide an excellent background to make the hallway art stand out.

    • Because darker colors visually bring walls forward while lighter colors push walls back. Paint can be used to “square-up” the long narrow space of the hallway. Keep within the same color family and paint the end wall in a deeper hue than the long side walls.

    • In order to reduce the “chopped up” appearance that sometimes happens when there are dark doorways and light walls, consider using either white for the trim colors or using the same light color of the walls on the doors and moldings.

    • Keep in mind the constant traffic that hallways sustain and use Gloss-finish paint rather than Matte-finish for easier clean-up.

    • Hallways are not the place for large portraits and big wall hangings which tend to make the area appear narrower. There is no better place, however, for a gallery grouping. Group art that is intended for up-close viewing – such as photographs, collections, detailed paintings and prints— grouped together at eye level.

    • Do not decorate every wall. Leaving some empty spaces allows for “breathing room”.

    • Mirrors are another excellent decorating choice, not only do they multiply the natural lighting, but by reflecting light reflect on the other decorative pieces, mirrors will make the space appear larger.

    Do something unexpected—
    • Install picture ledges to display framed art. Placing artwork on ledges, and leaning it against the wall makes it easy to switch the pictures in and out. In this way, the walls can be updated and kept fresh and interesting, without creating new nail holes.

    • Wainscoting and crown moldings give architectural interest.

    • Stenciling adds flavor and drama to hallway walls. For a minimal cost, you can scribe a favorite quote above your gallery wall – or centered on an otherwise empty wall. Look for stenciling that is removable. One popular quote used with family photos comes from Cesare Pavese,
    “We do not remember days, we remember moments”

    • Many trips down the hallway happen at night – from the bedroom to the bath. For safety sake, it is important to have adequate lighting in the hallway. The narrowness of the space makes lamps and sconces a poor choice. Better lighting options can include overhead lighting that can be turned off and on at each end of the hallway, the natural light of a skylight or track lighting with directional lights to draw attention to your décor.

    • Consider the traffic pattern, and if there is room, place a table lamp on a small piece of furniture at the end of the hallway. This is a great way to light up the dark end of the hallway and to add softness and ambiance.

    In all practicality, a hallway is simply a route to journey from one part of the house to another but with vision and imagination, you can make this unique space a fun place to express your personality, tastes and interests.
    Another quote aptly scrolled in a hallway might be
    “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    By Janet Chancellor Davison
    Cozy Chic Design & Home Staging

    Sunday, February 28, 2010

    Does Your Family Room Need a Rescue? By Jen Griswold--Vacaville Home Stager/Interior Redesigner

    Often I get asked, “What do most people hire you for?” And the reply is always an easy answer. Hands down, our most common job is the redesign of a family room. Along with the kitchen, the family room is “the heart of the home.” It is where families spend the majority of their time when they are home together. It is usually designed to appeal to each member of the family and it is where just about everything happens: TV watching, children playing with toys, reading, lounging, collection displaying, and more. All that activity usually comes along two of our dreaded nemeses: messes and clutter. Once you have messes and clutter in front of you, it is hard to see past them to the potential that lies beneath. That is often when our business, Cozy Chic Design, gets a call.

    Over the course of the many family room redesigns, my decorating partner and I have noticed five similar decorating faux pas emerge in a good majority of homes. The following are the most common decorating problems we see in many family rooms:

    1. The walls are the wrong color.

    As designers, when we assess a space the first thing we look at is wall color. The wrong color can have a huge negative impact, while the right color can really make a room come together. The color choice should be based on the color palette of the furnishings, as well as on the mood you want to inspire in the room. In my home the family room serves as a place to nestle in for the night and enjoy a good movie, play a children’s game, or to just lie on the couch and watch a movie. The room on its own is fairly dark without artificial light, so to combat the shadows and invoke that “comfy, cozy” feel I want, I painted the family room in a creamy beige with a hint of gold in it to lighten and soften the darker corners. Together with my accent colors of white, hazel and a little black, the room has a very calming and relaxing feel.

    2. The furniture is not arranged around one focal point.

    Once you have the wall color right, the next major item to look at is the furniture arrangement. The pitfall we see over and over again in houses is that the furniture is incorrectly arranged because there is a lack of a defined focal point. Many times in a family room, the natural focal point is the fireplace. However, with the inception of flat screen TVs, there is now some focal point competition in the room. What do you arrange your furniture around -- The TV or the fireplace? The easiest way to solve the problem is to marry the two together by placing your TV above the fireplace. However, if that is not possible because of heat or wiring problems, then pick whichever is the most important and arrange everything around it. Or, think outside the box, and if your room is large enough, create two spaces that give due attention to each focal point.

    3. There are not enough natural outdoor elements in the room.

    The next error commonly made in family room is forgetting to add a touch of life. Almost all rooms can be improved by adding some greenery to them. You can find plant-life in any style, shape or texture. Add faux greenery if you don’t have a green thumb. And if you aren’t a plant person you can add rocks, twigs, wreaths, or pine cones. Any way you do it, by bringing some of the outdoor elements inside, you’ll add a layer of ambience that makes people want to come, sit down and share in your family room experience.

    4. The room has nice accessories, but the room still does not look “coordinated.”

    Finally, what most clients need help with is in proper placement of their accessories. Many people have purchase beautiful items for their room, but cannot figure out how to place them together harmoniously -- upon a shelf, table or wall. They need some help making their room come together. The art of placing accessories can not be easily explained in a short paragraph. It requires some instruction on what is pleasing to the eye, and practice with accessories to get the hang of how to repeat the process over and over again.

    5. Homeowners think that buying something new will “fix” their room, rather than finding the answer in rearranging, repurposing and reusing good items they already own.

    Most people do not have it in their budget these days to completely redecorate an entire space. However, we find many homeowners continue to acquire things in the quest to make their space better. We recommend you stop spending your money on “things” and invest it in decorating education where you can learn a 5-step process to decorating that will help you beautify EVERY room in your home and many rooms into the future.

    For homeowners interested in attending a one-day course to learn more about how to “do-it-yourself” the next class on the “Art of Redesign” will be held on March 27th from 9 AM-2 PM here in Vacaville. You can call 707-447-0977 for more details or to register for the course. The class sizes are limited so that each student gets plenty of hands-on practice and instruction. Each attendee will walk away from the class with the confidence to recognize and fix what is wrong with their own family room and how to help others fix theirs!

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    The Warmth of Winter by Janet Davison

    When the weather started to cool down in the fall, Mother Nature warmed us up visually with bright orange pumpkins and an abundance of falling leaves in brilliant colors.
    In December as the weather took on a chill and the days got shorter, we brightened up our homes with the deep hues of the most vivid of contrasting colors – Christmas Red and Green.
    Now, winter has set in. The holiday trimmings have been taken down. We have stored away all the lights, tinsel and ornaments and are deep into a long cold season of gray skies, short days, and wet weather. The absence of vibrant color coupled with the weather can make our homes feel especially cold and can sometimes weigh on our emotions.

    Here are some ideas on how to add warmth to your home this winter and create a comfy-cozy atmosphere indoors.

    1. Create a welcoming front door. Wreaths are not just for Christmas time! Adding a door decoration to your home brightens up the entire area and gives a warm and friendly welcome to your family and friends. Dried flowers, twigs and evergreens with pinecones all make great winter wreaths.

    2. Cozy up with warm colors. As a decorator, my first thought turns to color – our least expensive, most effective decorating tool. When you want your home to embrace and cheer, decorate it in variations of the warm colors – red, orange, yellow – mixed with shades of earth tones. Like the sun itself, these fiery hues visually heat up any space and take the chill off of emotions at the same time.

    3. Arrange the furniture for togetherness.
    Create “conversation areas” by nestling two comfortable chairs together near an accent table. Try pulling the furniture away from the walls and anchoring the legs of the sofa and loveseat onto the edge of the rug. You can make the fireplace the focal point of the room by positioning the furniture to face it. By placing reading lamps on the end tables you will create a circle of warmth and light where you can enjoy many a good book.

    4. Add snuggly textures. Rugs and carpet runners help to counteract the coldness of hardwood and tile floors. You may want to add fleece throws to your décor. When not in use, rather than folding them across the back or arm of the furniture, you can create a more inviting look if you toss them casually over the corner of the sofa or chair. A basket of blankets is always welcome in the winter – as are over-sized corduroy pillows used to enjoy the evening fire. Animal print fabrics make wonderful accents.

    5. There is warmth in the details. Accessorize with books – on shelves, on tables, in short stacks under decorative items. Use an abundance of candles and enjoy the fragrance, light and the ambiance they create. Decorate with fire logs on the hearth and baskets brimming with knitting projects, pinecones or magazines.

    6. Comfort foods. When we are talking family and friends – all things lead back to
    food! Stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal brings back memories of the winters of my
    childhood. Warm hardy meals – crock-pot cooking of stews and soups – hot cocoa --
    home made cookies! Cooking and baking can warm up more than the kitchen.

    7. There is no place like home. Because of the shorter days and early nightfall, families tend to spend more evenings at home in the wintertime. How about leaving a table set up specifically for playing cards, puzzles and board games. You can buy puzzles that come with some larger pieces and some smaller ones, so that families of all ages can enjoy putting them together – together!

    8. Pamper Yourself. Keeping warm is a necessity! Hot bubble baths, pampering
    lotions, flannel sheets, fuzzy robes, soft slippers – make keeping warm luxurious fun.

    9. Happiness is a warm puppy. While puppies aren’t for everyone, this year my daughter brought home a puppy from the SPCA. “Willa” has such an enthusiasm for life and such unconditional love – that I now get it. Happiness is a warm puppy.

    10. Be good to each other. We have no control over the bleak, cold weather outdoors –
    but we can create our own safe haven with a warm and welcoming attitude indoors.

    The warmth of the home and the happiness of the family are more about relationships than color or decorating or projects. When I was growing up there were 8 kids in our family. Because we went to three different Vacaville schools, my mom couldn’t pick all of us up from school, so she didn’t pick any of us up. Rain or shine, we all walked home. On wet cold days, we arrived home to a huge pot of hot lemonade on the stove. It is a winter memory that I cherish. In my family now, my husband makes pumpkin pies from scratch every winter. He shares them with our extended family, neighbors and friends. He just finished making 24 of them.

    It is the spirit that warms the heart and the heart that warms the home.

    Enjoy winter Keep warm!