The New Year is an opportunity to re-focus, re-prioritize, refresh and renew. We’re especially excited that COVID-19 vaccines are on the way! But they’re not here just yet.
Since we’re spending so much of our time indoors with technology, it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves, and each other. Here are some tips that will help you relieve mental fatigue, and start the new year off right.
Clear the Clutter
Nothing feels better than a clean, organized home! Utilize filing cabinets and drawer separators to keep your stuff tamed, and surfaces clear of clutter. Have a system for filing mail and pocket items when you come in the door. When your eye sees fewer items on tabletops and counters, you feel calm.
Avoid Bad Habits & Build Good Ones
We all have them, and you probably know which ones are plaguing you right now. It’s more difficult to change a bad habit once it’s become an actual habit, so stop it before it gets there. First notice that something isn’t serving you, then observe how this habit is triggered. Interrupt the cycle, preferably with a more positive action.
Limit Screen Time & Take a Break
Since our workdays can happen at any hour of the day now, or any day of the week, and our phones and computers are constant reminders of work that needs doing, it’s important to take a break from that work. The best way is to physically take a break from screen time itself. I recommend adding that into your calendar as if it’s an appointment with yourself.
Set & Defend Your Boundaries with Office Hours
We used to go into an office, and that defined our workday. Having a clear delineation between work time and personal time is critical to mental health, so set specific office hours and days, and communicate those to your colleagues and clients.
Watch for Digital Fatigue & Get Support
Information overload, digital or mental fatigue can manifest in ways you might not expect, such as making mistakes, showing up late for meetings, and checking social media too often. To fix it, notice how you feel. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, either from a friend, a therapist, or a hotline, if need be.
Create Physical Space to Work
Since we’re all working from home, it’s important to create a separation between our workspace and our home lives. If you have to work from your sofa or kitchen table, make sure to clear those spaces off once you’ve finished your work. Set your papers or computer aside, out of view.
If you’re lucky enough to have room for a dedicated home office, make it beautiful. Accent your space with plants, artwork, and gorgeous collectibles. Design it with quality furniture that reinforces good posture. Make use of natural light. These are all things that will help relieve mental fatigue, and start your new year off on a positive note.
Create a positive space with Kimball Starr Interior Design! She designs homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation.
I see a lot of less-than-ideal designs, as an interior designer. Sometimes the idea is good, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Here are a few trends I wish would go away, and what we should replace them with instead.
NOT: Form Over Function
Chairs you can’t sit in comfortably. Vessel sinks, which are hard to clean and not user-friendly for those who are short, have disabilities, or are seniors. Barn doors that don’t block light, sound, or smells, like a door should. And my personal bugbear, centerset faucets. These are just a few examples of the trends that result when we place art or appearance above the functional use of a space.
HOT: Simple, Good Design
Simplicity is not actually simple. It’s the result of hundreds of considered choices along the path of designing a home for the people who will live there. Choosing quality is always in vogue, whether it’s quality materials or quality craftsmanship, so take the time to research, and you won’t be sorry.
NOT: All Matching or All One Style
All-white rooms, or any space with all-one color that isn’t layered or textured to provide a sense of rhythm, harmony, and balance. In a similar way, buying a living room or bedroom suite in identical legs, finishes and colors doesn’t guarantee good design, it guarantees boredom, and the same will happen if you use all midcentury modern furniture (even though we love that style, used sparingly!)
HOT: Eclectic Selections
Select pieces individually, to reflect your personal style and taste, and tell the story of your life through your surroundings. It’s important that the shapes and lines and colors still work together, but you don’t have to discover every piece of furniture at the same time. Choosing just the right pieces is part of the fun of designing interiors!
NOT: Toxic Materials
We used to design to make things last as long as possible, which is still true to a certain extent, but we’re thinking more holistically now. Reduce man-made unhealthy materials such as vinyl wall coverings, which aren’t good for the environment or for us.
HOT: Earth-friendly Materials
Wool, cotton, leather, linen, and even alpaca textiles are all great materials that age beautifully with use, and don’t off-gas – especially important now that we’re spending even more time than ever indoors. Wood, stone, and bamboo all develop a patina that naturally increases with time. When your space becomes more beautiful as you use and enjoy it, you’ll feel even better about investing in your home.
Update your home with Kimball Starr Interior Design! She renovates homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation.
I’d much rather be on a tropical holiday than stuck in the cold and rain, wouldn’t you? If you want to create your own tropical escape at home, here are some ideas to borrow.
Style elements to adore: Tropical plants wall mural, tufted upholstered chair
Style elements to adore: Dark wood blinds and furniture, woven floor mat
Style elements to adore: Pineapple-inspired wallpaper, island bed tray
Style elements to adore: Bahamian pink and green cane furniture and wooden shutters
Style elements to adore: Tropical wood walls and ceiling, gauzy curtains and striped rug
Style elements to adore: Rattan furniture and pendant lights
Style elements to adore: Grand bed netting and coffered wood ceiling
To create your own tropical getaway at home, ask Kimball Starr Interior Design! She customizes designs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation.
What’s old is new again! Retro is back, not only in style, but in clashingly colorful furnishings. Check out these bright interiors from around the web, plus a project of my own.
Style elements to adore: 1970s Lavaliers wallpaper by Little Green Paint Co. and a multicolor long paper storage desk.
Style elements to adore: Hicks Hexagon wallpaper with burled wood drinks cabinet.
Style elements to adore: Patterns galore, on rugs, furniture, and soft furnishings.
Style elements to adore: Orange velvet sofa with a faux fur under multiple pendant lamps.
Style elements to adore: Colored glassware with matching place settings, and coordinating floral arrangement.
Style elements to adore: B&B Italia multi-directional lounge furniture atop a plush crimson rug, contrasted by bright green AV storage and acrylic chairs.
If you want to try retro bright color but don’t know where to begin, Kimball Starr Interior Design can help! She creates personalized designs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation.
We’re entering the holiday season, and having meals together is one way we cement our family and community bonds. If you can’t be together in person, join each other virtually! Here’s a step-by-step guide to hosting a great virtual Thanksgiving, or any kind of group meal online.
Decide how to connect
There’s a cornucopia of platforms and methods for connecting on the internet: Facebook or Instagram Chat, Facetime, Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom are the most used. Whichever method you choose, make sure everyone has the right hardware and software available.
Once you’ve decided on a platform, set the mood by inviting everyone with flair! Whether it’s a fun email or an evite, get everyone excited by making your dinner announcement special.
Be sure to include these key details:
Joining information: Links to the event, dial-in information and access codes
What to expect
If you’re playing games that will require access to a website, collecting household objects ahead of time, or making a centerpiece for a competition, say so!
This is the perfect opportunity to set expectations about timing up-front. Provide a start and end time, and let guests know that if everyone is ready to sign off early or wants to play one more game, that’s okay.
Have a show-and-tell about the food you’ve prepared. What’s your favorite dish? Why did you pick the one you made? This can often bring up family memories of prior Thanksgivings together, and the traditions that made them special.
Toast with a signature cocktail
It’s fun to send out a signature drink recipe, so everyone can feel connected from afar. If you choose to make a toast, consider sending a prompt in advance. Ask guests to reflect on what they’ve learned in 2020, or, there’s always the Thanksgiving standby “What are you thankful for?” which may feel especially poignant this year.
If you want to get really creative, we recommend a centerpiece competition. Anyone who wants to take part can create something ahead of time, then show it off and explain the meanings behind their choices.
Story by sentence
This game is good for mixed age groups with kids. Have one person begin telling a story. After they’ve spoken a sentence or written it in the chat, another person continues the story with their own sentence. Keep going until someone says “The End.” Go alphabetically by first name.
Rose, thorn and bud
This game and conversation starter is especially good for Thanksgiving. Each person takes a turn telling about their roses (things they’re grateful for or what makes them happy at the moment), thorns (a disappointment or a difficult moment from the day), and buds (something they’re looking forward to or hope to do). Keep it to simple words/phrases instead of a long explanation.
Just because you aren’t in the room together doesn’t mean you can’t take a family photo! Get everyone to pose, do something fun and funny, and make a memory to share for many years to come, just by taking a screenshot. This is also a great way to end the gathering on a high note.
Opening and closing the circle
Don’t forget about beginnings and endings. When everyone’s sitting in front of their individual screens, it can be hard to figure out how to settle into a rhythm, and even harder to know when to sign off. Try choosing ways to start and end your virtual dinner so the beginning and end are clear.
For example, you might start with everyone doing a show-and-tell of their food, or the centerpiece competition. To wrap up, you could ask, “What’s one thing you’re looking forward to the next time we do this together?”
Remember: A typical family dinner is only about 20 minutes long, so you don’t have to spend hours online together — unless you really want to. When you set up your virtual dinner, keep it to 60 minutes or less, and try to make expectations clear during the event. “Now that we’ve all had dessert, how about we take our family photo and then sign off?” This ensures everyone has a good time. And that’s something to be grateful for!
Kimball Starr Interior Design is thankful for all her clients and friends in the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation to create a memorable dining space.
The smallest room in the house is a great place to experiment, get wild, add some bling! Here are some inspiring powder rooms and bathrooms from around the web.
Style elements to adore: A wall of metallic mosaic tiles that bounce sparkling light from a beautiful pendant lamp.
Style elements to adore: Cabriole sink legs, gold leaf tiling, and etched mirrors. Notice how each historic design style in gold — French on the left and Victorian on the right — is accented with a purple flower to give it life.
Style elements to adore: Gorgeous freestanding tub painted black, balanced on curved silver-leafed legs. The epitome of elegance, under a modern chandelier.
Style elements to adore: Patina metal vessel sink and curved faucet, contrasted with sinuously marbled walls, singing out refined taste.
Style elements to adore: Art deco double sconce and circular mirror paired with copper-toned wallpaper in a tropical pattern beckons you to imagine traveling through far-away jungles, returning from your adventure, clean and refreshed.
If you want to be daring, try something new, experiment, Kimball Starr Interior Design can create YOUR perfect powder room throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. Contact her today for a socially-distanced in-person or remote consultation.