Monday, April 24, 2017

A great beach read

I was so thrilled to receive an advance copy of Slightly South of Simple by my friend Kristy Woodson Harvey.  I have known Kristy and her mother Beth through their design blog, Design Chic, for years and have loved watching Kristy blossom as an author, and an award winning one at that! This is her third novel and a really great read.  I flew through her other two books: Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love; both engaging stories of strong women that you will finish in one sitting....they're that good.

What I love about these stories is that they are both directly and indirectly related to Interior Design.  
The main character in Slightly South of Simple, Ansley, is an interior designer and a widower of seventeen years who raises three extremely different daughters. Secrets are revealed that will change their lives.  The innuendos and references to the design world are fun and the tales of these girls are truly entertaining.

"Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart."

The book launches April 25th and I hope you will support Kristy and order her book here.

Here's a darling video of Kristy explaining her new book.

Congratulations my friend, and can't wait to celebrate the arrival of more books in the future.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tips for creating a stress free home

 I recently gave a talk at my women's networking group, TEAM Win, about living stress free, inside and outside of your home.

If you're not familiar with the decorating principles of Feng Shui (pronounced fung schway), you might enjoy a recap of my notes to help you round out a feeling of positivity, calm and serenity in your environment; be it work, home, yard or closet. 

There really is something to this, so what ever you can do to de clutter and open up the energy in your  home, the better for you and your family.

Jen Dowell Photography

  • Start with a welcoming entry, bringing good energy into the home.  Fix squeaking doors, wash windows, set plants in the foyer-anything that makes you smile when you walk in the door.
  • Clean windows= clear vision and connection to the outside world.
  • Soften angles, no hard edges (block energy); think curves not corners.
  • Clear any obstacles impeding your path through every room.
  • Mix shapes: oval, round, square, rectangle, triangle.
  • Give light to dark spaces.
  • Display favorite items in a prominent spot.
  • Bring nature indoors through greenery, light, natural objects.
  • Create intimate seating conversation areas that invite interaction.
  • Create a balance of light; task, overhead, accent, table, wall lighting.  Use full spectrum bulbs that mimic natural light
  • Have separate rooms for work, tv, exercise; keeping that out of your calm and serene spaces.
  • Work/office space should conceal 'business' behind doors, a screen or drawers.
  • Symmetry = connection to all.  Single items like a single end table, nightstand, etc. point to solitude and not sharing. Decorate for two.
  • In the bed room, position the bed farthest away from the door, but within sight of the door, for a feeling of safety and well being.
  • Have a favorite art piece opposite the bed; the first and last thing you see in bed that brings you joy and inspiration.
  • No family photos in the bed room. Focus on your self and your partner and renewal.
  • Footboards on a bed frame 'block energy and forward progress in life'.  Drape with a throw or put an inviting chaise or chair at the foot of the bed.
  • Use of essential oils elevate mood and behavior.  Calming oils include bergamot, sage, orange, angelica, lavender.
  • A COOL color palette of colors of water, sky, ice and cold make for a calm environment.
  • Less is more.  Clutter free living allows energy to flow freely.
  • Introduce natural textures, not hard and slick.
  • Engage all 5 senses for a subtle and soothing environment
  • Outdoor curb appeal welcomes you home; add flowers, pots on the porch, things that make you smile.
  • Reduce clutter in your yard to welcome you home and reduce stress.
Jen Dowell Photography

Your environment is a reflection of your life and your conscious connection between people, animals, air, water, and soil.  Breathe, declutter, find joy and create a home that makes you smile when you walk in the door; your haven and escape from the outside world.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Blushing Neutrals

It seems with spring in the air the colors of pale pastels and flowering buds and a fresh new color scheme come to mind.  

Here is a current color board we are working on:

Our inspiration began with the pillows in this colorway from Williams Sonoma Home.

Using this color scheme is a great way to morph a beige or gray room into a current version.

Have you used these colors?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Refresh your space for spring

Recently we were featured in an article for "In Prince William", a local publication affiliated with the Fauquier Times newspaper.  We are thankful and humbled by these opportunities.

Here is the article about refreshing your decor for spring:

A good part of the late winter months is spent yearning for spring, since I am less fond of crippling cold weather than I use to be.  I still can't wait for the greening of the grass and turning my thoughts to sprucing up the yard after the grey, less colorful winter months.

My front yard
What can we do to improve our homes inside and out this spring?  If you haven't been seriously 'nesting' during the winter and working on the inside of your home, now is a great time to freshen up your decor.  Whether it's a makeover or just a re-fresh, here are some tips for the inside of your home this season.

 Interior Tips:

Add Greenery.  A feeling of bringing the outdoors 'in' adds life to your decor, not to mention letting plants act as an air freshener and mood lifter.  Plants actually remove toxins from the air and add a 'pop' of the color green that goes with any decor.

Hume Dining Room by PBI,  photo by Jen Dowell
Paint!  I don't know about you, but the smell of a freshly painted room makes me feel happy and clean. If you are content with your wall color, try a fresh coat of semi gloss trim paint. (We love white trim.)  All paint brands have a 2017 Color of the Year that can serve as inspiration for you, such as

Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore's Color of the Year "Shadow" 

 or a warm grey by Sherwin Williams called "Poised Taupe".

Re-arrange your art groupings and create new vignettes.  Oftentimes your rooms will take on a whole new look when you move your artwork from one room to another.  

 Powell Brower Interiors, photo by Jen Dowell
Spring Cleaning:  Throw open your windows and let the fresh air in. Clean your draperies and bed toppings and have your carpets steam cleaned.  Go the extra mile and do extraordinary chores, like washing your windows to brighten up your views inside and out.  

Rearrange your furniture:   As an interior designer one of our most valuable services is lending another set of eyes to interpret your space.  Recreate your space by changing things around. "Float" your furniture towards the center of the room giving your space some breathing room.  Add a few new pillows and accessories; it will give new 'light' to your room and you will either appreciate the things you have or feel a need to make a few more updates.

Outdoor Tips:

Curb appeal and showing some 'love' to the outside of your home makes a huge difference to both your guests and to your family.   Perhaps you need to freshen your paint on the trim and shutters.  Try a new fun color on your front door!  

Pay attention to your entry.  Get a fresh new door mat and a get the cobwebs out of your lights and around your windows and doors.

Fresh mulch in your plant beds and even "edging" them makes the beds look well defined.  

Create a grouping of chairs or seating to make your yard more inviting.  Try an outdoor rug under a dining table and chairs or seating area, for a fresh new look.  There are so many varieties of outdoor, washable rugs these days that won't break the bank.

Small touches like potted plants on your walkways and porches give your home a fresh new look. 


Spring means refresh and rejuvenate!

Friday, February 17, 2017

On the easel

I'm on a painting binge this month!

It's been a while since I painted for myself, as it is customary that I create a hand painted piece for all of my design jobs (leaving my 'signature' behind) with little regard for private painting time.
So I took a turn at the easel in my sunroom this month to see what was inside of me lately. This light filled room is where I love to paint.  Our animals are always close at hand!

First of all, I have needed art over my family room sofa for a long time, and haven't found anything I wanted to purchase, so I painted this 36" x 48" canvas with nothing particular in mind.  I started with a black canvas and what I ended up with was iteration no. 3, just going with the flow of "Spontaneity" (aptly titled).

Here is it in situ:

(My husband is making a 4" wide natural wood frame for it, so it will visually take up that whole wall.)

Here I am in the evening, Nicholas the Shih Tzu by my side, painting Bethany's beagle "Winston" for over her living room sofa.  Again, we haven't been able to find just the right size and color piece, so I created it.

Next on the easel is a canvas using one of my current favorite color schemes; white, chestnut brown and black.   I'm calling this one "Oh William".

Here is a detail, which has drawing detail done over top of the paint.

Here is a progress of a cloud painting, started on a red primed canvas (just experimenting with different colored canvases)...

and the final "Moody Cloud" :

Another day of playing on a blue primed canvas, not knowing where this is going yet:

leading to the final "Whimsy" (nothing like where I started, but a fun journey).

I'd love for you to share your feeling about any one of these.

I'm still finding lots of unused canvases around my house and putting random color on it, then waiting for inspiration and a little time.  This has been so much fun, and very 'freeing'.  

Who knows what will come out of me the next time I sit down at the easel?  I hope you give it a try if you haven't already.  Art is very individual and personal, and it's ALL about the experience.