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The 5 Key Elements to a Wildly Successful Housewarming Party

You finally did it: You bought that new house you’ve been dreaming of. After you close escrow and settle in, celebrate this new beginning with your nearest and dearest by hosting a housewarming party. Make it a memorable fête by following some of these tried-and-true tips:


Set the tone of your party with a unique invitation that clearly lists the party details. Include the formality of the event, as well as what type of food and drink will be served. While emailed invitations through websites like Evite and Paperless Post are popular, a custom-printed invite mailed the old-fashioned way is sure to get guests’ attention.


Cater to the design of your home and choose a theme that showcases your favorite details. If it’s all about the backyard, choose an afternoon BBQ or garden party for the theme. If the kitchen is to die for, host a more intimate affair like a wine and cheese tasting party held in the kitchen.


Skip the run-of-the-mill party store decorations and let your interior design shine. The idea is to show off your home in its pure form. Make sure to put the finishing touches on each room well in advance to avoid rushing crucial design decisions. Hang artwork and framed photos and add personal touches with keepsakes and monogrammed accents. Enhance the ambiance of each room by strategically placing flameless LED candles inside. Create your own fresh floral arrangements to match each room for an affordable indulgence.

Hang strings of lights outside to illuminate the backyard and help the party flow outdoors when the sun goes down. Set up a living area in the backyard for guests to relax. Create the ultimate indoor/outdoor living setup by adding an outdoor TV and surround sound speakers. Splurge on a new outdoor couch and plush chairs topped with plenty of pillows.


Create a playlist on iTunes or Spotify that’s appropriate for the theme of your party. If throwing a classy cocktail party, make a classic jazz vocal blend. If planning an afternoon BBQ, feature an all-American playlist complete with Hank Williams Jr. If you run out of time to make a playlist, the genre-specific music channels on cable TV are an effortless option with just enough variety.

Food & Drink

Catering is the ideal option so you can socialize with your guests without stressing about the food. But if catering is out of the question, plan ahead and choose hors d’oeuvres that can be prepared a few hours ahead of time so you have plenty of time to clean up before the guests arrive. Put a family member in charge of keeping the serving platters stocked so you don’t have to be interrupted during your tours and mingling. Spread food on tables throughout the gathering areas — a tray of grilled scallops wrapped in prosciutto on the breakfast room table and taleggio flatbread on the sofa table. This will have guests covering all grounds and happily mingling.

When it comes to drinks, consider the preferences of your guests. Provide wine, beer, tea and water, as well as a specialty cocktail like a mojito or a margarita. If hosting a early affair, like a weekend brunch, a mimosa or Bloody Mary bar are great DIY options.

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Temporary Decals for Permanent Style

Sometimes, adding decor to our homes can be more difficult than we think. Strict apartment guidelines, the constantly changing tastes of children and teens, and the fear of ruining paint or not liking something can often prohibit our longing to add anything decorative to our walls.

Removable wall decals, such as the ones featured on Trendy Wall Designs can add artwork, color, and visual interest to any room, for a space that is both visually appealing and a representation of your own unique style.

kid-tranquility-tree-amb1Nurseries are the first place that you may want to consider adding wall decals. Fun animals, dreamy clouds and anything that will mentally and imaginatively stimulate your newborn can be added with the simplicity of a peel-and-stick decal. Children, of course, grow, and so do their tastes. A 6-year-old little girl may want to move from barnyard animals to princesses, and that can be as simple as peeling off the previous decals and adding some new ones to fit her style. Maybe your teenage boy has thoroughly grown out of the dinosaur theme you created with wall decals in his childhood bedroom, and wants to move on to some cool skating decals. That too, can be just as simple.

These kids growing up will also hopefully one day go on to college. Dorm rooms can often seem like tiny prison cells, and it is obviously against the rules to repaint the walls. Sometimes posters don’t cut it- and you don’t to risk having to pay extreme dorm damage fees because your young adult went a little overboard with their duct tape and posters, and accidentally ripped some paint off in the process. Decals can make any dorm feel a little more like home, even when one may be miles  away. Some wall decals even come with magnetic, dry-erase, or chalk writing capabilities, making it perfect for any student.

square-dot-decalsThe same problem goes for certain apartments. Some landlords refuse to let their residents repaint or hang anything from the walls for fear of damage. Though this may be very frustrating to new renters who would like their space to be a little colorful and fun, there are solutions, and Command hooks are not your only salvation. Wall decals can make any room feel like there is new wallpaper, paintings, and creative murals on your walls,making the space your own. Easy to peel off, the wall decals will also ensure your landlord’s happiness when you finally upgrade to a home where you can exercise more of your creative freedom.

Letting your personality and design taste show  may be difficult, especially with the rapidly changing tastes of children or the strict guidelines of college dorm rooms and apartments.Wall decals may be your saving grace in allowing your personal taste to shine through even in the bleakest of spaces.


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Bring New Life to Old Furniture: Reupholster

thumbHave pets, family, overnight guests, and life in general brought some severe wear and tear to your furniture? The solution doesn’t always have to be to pour thousands of dollars into redecorating a room. Consider reupholstering your furniture.

Reupholstering furniture can be the perfect way to liven up and change a room you’ve grown tired of, all while keeping the shape and lines of the furniture you had originally fallen in love with upon purchasing.

Most companies, such as Dr. Sofa, offer free online estimates to what your costs will look like depending on the piece of furniture. You are also free to look at their online selection of hundreds of fabrics, or look into fabrics that you have taken interest in from other sources, and purchase enough to cover the pieces of furniture you have selected.

Remember, not all furniture has to be the same pattern. Matching in color schemes or choosing complimentary colors is sure to give you a vibrant and chic look, like you had an interior designer come in and design your home. That old furniture will look brand new with new stuffing and new life added to it.

With any extra fabric, you can make accessory throw pillows to go around the room to further make the fabric and pattern of the furniture pop.

It is the perfect solution for any antiques purchased, any hand-me-downs through the family, or any hand-offs to college students or kids setting out for their first time.

Reupholstering furniture may be your first step in revamping your home, and in saving money.


Photos Courtesy of


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9 Artful Tips for an Easter Makeover

Easter is a moveable feast. It is an ancient holiday celebrating Spring, fertility, Passover, or all of the above. This year, however you choose to honor Easter, use it is an opportunity to transition your home for spring and prepare for a stylish Easter dinner. Spring colors aren’t limited to just feminine pastels. Bold colors — including black and white — accented with greens and yellows, can easily be incorporated into a sophisticated and modern Easter makeover for your home. Refresh with these springtime design tips a few weeks before guests arrive:

floral canvas

Framed Fabrics

Add a boost of color to walls by swapping photos or artwork in the hallway for framed fabric swatches in Easter-inspired prints. For a sophisticated look, select understated spring textiles like black and white floral’s or geometric patterns in seasonal colors that pop. Short on picture frames? Better Homes and Gardens suggests clustering the prints together on a gallery wall using different-sized canvases covered with fabric.

Full Bloom

Nothing adds brightness and cheer to a home like a vibrant display of flowers. Take advantage of the seasons floral abundance with beautiful spring flower bouquets that can be used as dinner table centerpieces or to dress up an entryway.

Bouquet of Branches

For a grand dinner table centerpiece, arrange a bouquet of blooming branches in a tall glass vase. Look for branches with small, elegant blooms like pussy willow or forsythia. Finish the look with a slender chartreuse ribbon tied around the vase.


cake stand


Domed Displays

Use a glass cake stand with a domed cover to display limes, lemons and clementines, or arrange a cluster of restful succulents. Shop at Williams-Sonoma for a cake stand that can also double as a punch bowl.

Spring Mantel

Decorate a fireplace mantel for spring by draping it with a eucalyptus garland. Alternatively, bring the outdoors in by displaying all-natural elements atop the mantle. For example, in addition to greenery, a driftwood candle holder creates a breezy springtime ambiance.

Decorative Hardware

Exchange metal knobs and drawer pulls on dining room furniture for vintage green, pink, yellow or white porcelain hardware. Make the look more organic by varying the textures and colors.

rainbootsBud Vases

Sprinkle miniature white ceramic pitchers and vases throughout the house and fill them with spring blooms like hydrangeas or simple sprigs of baby’;s breath. For a grouped display, stack hardcover books in varying heights and place vases on top and in front for added depth. For a more antique look, use teacups or depression glassware.


For a burst of color in the entryway, fill two or three tall, galvanized buckets with daffodils or display show-stopping red tulips in a pair of sunny yellow rain boots. If you are so fortunate, you could even showcase newly blossomed flowers from your own garden!

Floral Textiles

Infuse your home with ornate floral prints on cushions, throws, tablecloths or tea towels. Use vibrant, nature-inspired colors and designs like lilacs, peonies and wildflowers. Don’t be afraid to mix and match prints, as long as at least one color threads through them all to unite the design. Look to Architectural Digest’s Pinterest board for beautiful floral inspiration.

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7 Ideas for Decorating Under the Stairs

For homes with unused space under a stairway, it can be a challenge find a way to actually use that space. Leaving it bare makes that awkward angular area distracting, but you probably couldn’t do anything functional with that space either, right?

On the contrary! There are numerous ways to make that odd-shaped void beneath your stairs functional and useful, and perhaps even a focal area in your foyer, entryway, basement, or wherever else your stairway leads. Read on for seven decorating ideas for utilizing that untapped resource under your stairs.


One way to make the space under your stairway useful is to create storage by building drawers and shelves. It can be a place for guests to hang jackets or purses, where you put discarded or dirty shoes, and an accessible place for hats and umbrellas on rainy days. In the home pictured above, the shelves look very deliberate and at-home as if they have always been there rather than being added later. The space’s utility also makes it much more attractive. Image via Houzz.


Hidden Closet
stairs02The owner of this home chose to install a hidden closet under the stairway. When closed, none of your guests would ever know that you have storage space beneath the stairs. It could be used as a coat closet and to store seasonal items like holiday decorations, or for things like your vacuum and broom. Not only does having secret storage prevent guests from accidentally finding your cleaning supplies and Christmas decorations, but it’s also just plain fun. Image via Houzz.


Wet Bar


Depending on the room in which you have your stairway, it could be appropriate and useful to build a wet bar or a butler’s bar in the space beneath your stairs. This would be a great way to not only fill that awkward space, but to put something functional and useful there that’s also a great focal area and conversation piece. By installing a wine fridge and a sink, you’ll have everything you need for entertaining guests in what used to be empty, distracting space. Image via Houzz.


Cozy Reading Nook


Another great use for the space under your stairs is to make it a picturesque reading nook. This home features a bench containing drawers for storage and covered with a plush cushion and pillows. The space is incredibly cozy and inviting, any bookworm’s dream retreat. Image via Houzz.


Child’s Play

stairs05If your stairway leads into a basement or playroom, you could turn the space under your stairway into a fun, playful space for kids. The owner of this home turned the wasted space under the basement stairway into a playroom that looks like a little house. With a window, Dutch door, and even a little roof, the space is now unique, functional, and sure to delight any child. Image via Houzz.


Powder Room

stairs06If you can access the space beneath your stairs from the rear rather than the side, there’s nothing more functional than a half-bath or powder room. Although you may think there’s not enough space, you’d be surprised; you need only enough space for a toilet and small sink such as in this modern homeImage via Houzz.


Office Enclave


Another great use for the space beneath your main stairway is making a miniature office space. Having a desk there, like an accessible and convenient satellite of your main home office, allows you to work without being isolated in your office. If your home can’t accommodate an office, this allows you to use the space beneath your stairs and have a desk for work, writing, or other important tasks at the same time. Image via Houzz.

For more inspiration for your home, go to Modernize.

Text by Jane Blanchard  

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From The Design Floor


Maison & Objet continues to be one of the most important design shows to attend in Europe, coupled with the fact that it takes place in one of the most dynamic cities in the world. Inspiration comes from experiencing Paris and the exhibition. Each year, M&O presents three lifestyle trends, reflected and narrated with product from vendors at the exhibition. Although somewhat ethereal, these trends do trickle down, as we have seen from seasons past.

One trend selected, the most literal of the three, referred to the influence of sports paraphernalia in all aspects of design. ironically, the United States has been witness to this trend for the longest time, so much so it is hardly a trend at all. With the branding of sports teams, and the fanaticism of fans, objects for the house abound in references to the equipment, uniforms, and environments related to the athletic endeavors of our heroes on the playing field.

“Coupling” was the second trend presented. Objects collected to reflect this trend were really a continuation of a trend that appeared last September, namely “Please Disturb”, which focused on the deconstruction of objects. More specifically, this trend focused on the interpretation of ordinary objects reconstructed with a dual appearance.

And lastly, “Private Obsessions” highlighted the most obvious visible trend- the collecting of objects, a passion of many designers and their clients. Throughout the show, objects are presented as collections but rarely make it to the home that way. But for the passionate few, collecting is a way of like.The focus on one object, in all its aspects, created visually stunning, graphic displays.

Beyond the formal trends presented, each attendee has the ability to form their own opinions and conclusions as to the next wave of influences. Most obvious was the lack of color shown by many vendors.

January 20th to the 24th, 2012 is the next exhibition when the show is even bigger! Fabric editors from across Europe and the world show their wares at Maison and introduce their latest collections. If you want a jump start on your inspiration, Paris in January is the best place to be.

This post was originally profiled by Kravet Inspired News

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Three Projects To Turn Home ‘Blahs’ Into “Oohs” & ‘Ahhs’

As the cool winter months bring us indoors, is your home feeling warm and inviting – or giving you a case of cabin fever? If it’s the latter, don’t fret. There are many simple and inexpensive updates you can complete to give your home a quick pick-me-up, allowing you to enjoy every minute spent inside.


The kitchen table is the hub of the home – where we dine as a family, do crafts, homework, play cards and board games. So it’s important to make this everyday staple a welcoming area for you, your family and friends. But is your wood tabletop looking drab or stained? Or is your metal surface chipped? No matter what wear and tear you may have inflicted on your table – you can easily update it with a quick coat of spray paint.

Directions: Remove any seat cushions from the chairs and thoroughly clean all table and chair surfaces. Once dry, spray all surfaces with your favorite color of Krylon Dual Paint + Primer spray paint. Since Dual is both a paint and a primer, you can complete your project in one simple step, and half the time. Once you’ve sprayed all areas and the surfaces are dry, you can re-attach your seat cushions, or create a new look with updated fabric and enjoy your refreshed kitchen activity center.



Lighting fixtures can increase the ambiance to any room – but replacing them can cost hundreds of dollars. With a little elbow grease, $20 and less than two hours, you can update your existing ones with a more attractive – and popular – finish.

Directions: Cover your work area with newspaper and disassemble the fixture. Clean the pieces and tape off areas that don’t need to be painted. Following the instructions on the label, apply aerosol indoor/outdoor primer followed by the new paint in your favorite color and finish. Once dry, remove the tape and reassemble your impressively updated focal point.



Are you sick of staring at dull, dirty or chipped register covers or light switch plates around your home? A simple paint update can give any room an instant pick-me-up.

Directions: Remove register covers or light switch plates and place them on newspaper. Sand the surface lightly and wipe clean. Clean all pieces to remove any built up dust and grime. Following instructions on the label and apply a number of light coats of aerosol primer, followed by a few coats of gloss or metallic spray paint. Once dry, reinstall and enjoy.

With just a few simple home projects, your space can feel fresh and new in no time at all. For more information on Krylon products, visit or

ARA Copyright 2011

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Sheer Artistry

When Rachel Kapner graduated in 1990 from Roger Williams University with a major in Fine Arts, she was poised to be a fashion designer. Her affinity for fabrics and textiles, and her artful sense of style, had her contemplating attending the Fashion Institute of Technology. She had a change of heart.

Rachel joined the team at her mother, Dorothy Goldberg’s successful wallcoverings and design business, which she began with two partners 15 years earlier.

After all, she would still be employing her creative talents, and through the media of fabric, textile and color, transforming spaces into special places, turning rooms into refuges.

Now Chief Designer and President of Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors, Rachel has helped to create one of the premier design firms on the east coast, serving clients from New Jersey to Florida.

With 14 talented employees, including a team of award-winning designers, the New Providence, NJ-based, full-service interior design firm handles everything from custom window treatments and handcrafted custom upholstered furniture to lighting, and of course, designer wallcoverings. In fact, Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors boasts one of the largest libraries of fabrics and wallcoverings in the state.

After all these years, Creative Wallcoverings is still a family affair. Rachel’s husband, Gary Kapner, joined the firm 12 years ago as Vice President/General Manager, and Rachel’s mother — who started it all — continues to work part-time.

We recently sat down with Rachel to chat about the design business.

What advice do you offer to clients when you start work on a project?
Rachel: One of the things I do is ask clients to clip photos of interiors they don’t like.

That’s interesting. The advice is usually to clip out photos of things you do like . . .
Rachel: That’s helpful, but it’s also good to know what a client has a strong reaction against – for example, birds on pillows, particular colors or prints. From there we can work on what they do like. Another important consideration is to discuss the budget right away. This way, we can create a look that will work for the client’s pocketbook. What’s great is that in the last five years, manufacturers have been producing lines at different price points, so people can get the look they want for less.

Has that created more flexibility for you as a design showroom?
Rachel: Well, it certainly gives people more options. We have an extremely talented group of designers here. We love what we do! Our clients may not be moving, but they’re definitely updating their interiors.

Sounds like you’re busy . . .
Rachel: (chuckles) I have boundless energy. Today I was up at 4:30 a.m. and did some paperwork and got organized for the day. Now I’m on my way to Sea Girt to meet with a client. And then I’m back in the office. I have three client appointments in the evening, and then I’m checking on orders. I’ll be done at about 10 or 11 tonight.

Yikes . . .
Rachel: My husband Gary, our VP and General Manager, is a huge support. We balance each other perfectly. He’s developed a successful ‘organizational team strategy’, that focuses on service  and attention to detail  from the  onset of a project to its completion. Actually, it’s quite comforting for our clients, and me!

Are you seeing any design trends lately?
Rachel: For a while, the interiors in magazines and in fashion were a bit drab and somber, but now the look is trending brighter, bolder and more colorful. Another trend is that people are getting away from very formal rooms, which were popular in the eighties and nineties. Now, the rooms are still beautiful and elegant, but they’re more relaxed and less fussy. But trends aside, what matters to us at Creative Wallcoverings is our clients’ needs and desires.

Who has inspired your design philosophy?
Rachel: Certainly Mario Buatta, the King of Chintz. He’s notable for employing multiple fabrics in a room, for color, classicism, and comfort – but I’ve edited the look for a more transitional feel. However, my real inspiration comes from my clients.
The process is collaborative. I learn about how they live in their homes and include them in every step of the design work. In fact, I pack away the fabrics I use on a job for a few years. My clients often know one another, so it’s important.
We don’t just do one “look.” At Creative Wallcoverings, we pride ourselves on our versatility.

Do you have a favorite room to design?
Rachel: For me, it’s not about whether it’s a powder room or a family room. It’s about seeing a job through to completion, from A to Z. It’s about seeing the room perfectly executed and installed and looking great. I love that!

If you could live in any house, in any place, where would it be?
Rachel: Definitely Arizona. We’ve vacationed here, and I love it. I just love to be outside, and I love the heat. I’d have walls of windows so I could look out at the mountains and the beautiful terrain. I think we will end up there one day.

Luckily for us, Rachel Kapner is still here.

Creative Wallcoverings & Interiors
560 Central Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974

This article was originally published in ASPIRE NJ Magazine September 2011





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