Category Archives: Uncategorized

Be Brave: Mix Lots of Patterns

I’m always dreaming of what to do next in our little apartment in Chennai, India. It’s functional but not “finished.” What finishes it? Layers! Layers of patterns, layers of colors, layers of textures.

Because we have to take things for the apartment in suitcases on an airplane, or try to use our time as efficiently as possible in India, and find things in India, I plan in advance. I do mock-ups in Photoshop to see how it will look. One area I’m playing with is the living room sofa area, and the wall behind the sofa.

Juju hat India apartment

I have those five pillows waiting to go to India. So I’m moving toward a color palette of neutral tones with dark browns and black. As I’ve written about here previously, India isn’t easy for me. The heat, the traffic, the loudness — it might be exciting at first but it does wear me down after awhile. So I’m shooting for a soothing atmosphere in our apartment. And to me, that means neutrals.

So how do you punch up the interest with neutral colors? Patterns!

You can see I mixed patterns with the pillows and rug. I really want a large zig zag basket from The Baba Tree Basket Company. The zig zag lines balance out all the curving lines in the other patterns.

I run out of steam for the wall though. I thought about finding a juju hat for texture, stick it on the wall against a painted block of color, and call it a day. Super fast and easy wall decorating. Use the extra time to go to an ayervedic spa.

But I got restless, thinking that isn’t ENOUGH. But what to do? I love arches and India is full of Mughal arches. I’d love to find a set of carved wood arches. Install them on the wall. And paint patterns in the arches, maybe with big Modello stencils like this one, shown in the mock-up below. What you’d get is this:

India Apartment Living Room

Ah. That feels right. Regal. Worthy of all the pattern that you can find in India! I may be on the hunt for carved wood arches!

I forget where I found these arches — I “shopped” online and forgot to make note of the source, but it was a single arch that I copied to make three in Photoshop.

If you want some inspiration for mixing lots of prints and patterns, visit my Pinterest board about mixing patterns. I’ve been debating how to give advice on mixing patterns. I put things together until they look pleasing to me (and I know what’s pleasing to me might not work for everyone!), like this patchwork pillow I made for our India apartment:

Finished Patchwork Pillow

But I’ve never put the process of how I mix patterns into words or conscious, planful thoughts. It might be interesting to try to get it all out of my mind, onto paper. I’m working on it!

Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What topics interest you?

Don’t Read My Blog While Driving

Do you think that’s a crazy headline? Who would do that? Well someone has! Someone recently commented and said she read one of my blog posts on her phone, while sitting at a red light.

What?! It’s just design, decorating and paint here. It’s not that important. I am happy you are reading here! But please visit while sitting in a chair, couch or bed. Please don’t read while sitting in a car, even at a red light.

You may know me here as a decorating and DIY blogger. But this blog is not my job. My full-time job is … guess it! … preventing distracted driving! I work on preventing distraction from technology like our cell phones and dashboard infotainment systems. I’ve worked on traffic safety for 20+ years and distracted driving for the past 7 years. I’ve reviewed about 600 fatal and serious injury crashes involving cell phones. These crashes really do happen. A lot. So I was shocked to see someone read my blog while driving.

This month, April, is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Nearly everyone knows it’s dangerous to use phones while driving.* So why do people still do it? A lot of people think it won’t happen to them.

And a lot of us are trying to squeeze things in while driving because we’re too busy. We brag about our busy-ness. “How are you?” “Oh, soooo busy!” You know how that conversation goes!

Personally I love that my car is an escape. It’s an escape from the electronic communications coming at me 24/7 from my phone, computers and TV. Research shows listening to music is not very distracting to us (as long as you’re not lip-syncing on video while driving like Sam and Nia, don’t even get me started!) and if music helps you be less stressed or bored while driving, that’s good. I have great speakers and an amplifier in my car and it sounds like a concert hall. It makes driving easier. I protect my time in the car as time to re-charge my energy. It’s a time to take a break from all the communicating.

Why not “Take Back Your Drive” this month? Put the phone away and just drive. Drive more peacefully. Try it for 30 days. You may find there are benefits to that! A lot of skeptical people try it, then find they’re more rested, creative ideas pop in their minds, and if you’re driving with children, it’s a time to connect as family.

If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went, but please don’t comment while driving! ;)


* Nearly everyone knows texting while driving is dangerous. Most people still don’t know that hands-free talking and voice control features are distracting! If you’re curious, click here to learn more about all that.


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What topics interest you?

2016’s Theme: Living Offline

I saw something on Instagram that made a lot of sense. Don’t set a New Year’s resolution! Instead …

Set a theme for the new year


Now I’m a believer in SMART goals, definitely at work where accountability is crucial. But in other areas of life, maintaining accountability for everything 24/7 can get tiring. And sometimes a focus on a single SMART goal can make you lose sight of the big picture.

For example, losing weight is a common New Year’s resolution, right? A lot of people vow to lose 15-20 pounds by spring, when we peel off the winter layers and feel more exposed. (It’s really easy to hide under sweaters and coats!) But what if you don’t lose those 15-20 pounds? How do you feel? You feel great if you do lose them. But if you don’t, you shouldn’t have to feel like a failure, like there’s something you didn’t achieve. Why not set the goal with more room to achieve it, something more aligned with a big picture. Like, “live healthier.” To achieve this goal, there are many things you can do daily:

  • You can eat more healthy foods.
  • You can sit a little less, move a little more.
  • You can do more things that make you feel happy.
  • You can get more sleep.
  • You can get outside and breathe fresh air more often.

All these things help you live healthier. You can take a different step every day toward the goal. If you really want to build in more accountability, write on a calendar daily — write what you did that day that fits the theme. You get the variety of having different ways to become healthier. And you may find that you also lose weight by living healthier! But your goal is broader. More like a theme

How to Set a New Year's Resolution

Living with a theme and broad goals is more likely to lead to a sustainable lifestyle change. You make little changes in different areas of your life, and over time, they add up to big change. If one of those little changes drops off, it’s okay, you’re still doing the other changes. That’s a success! When we feel successful, we’re more likely to keep doing what we’re doing. This is why the idea of a New Year’s Theme really resonated with me.

So what’s my 2016 theme?

Living Offline

Oh yeah, I get the irony.

I got the theme idea online, on Instagram. I’m writing about the theme online, on this blog. But after this post, I’m logging off! I’m not going to mindlessly visit Pinterest or Facebook or blog analytics. While there are many life benefits we get from being online, there’s a whole life to live offline too. I’m afraid we’re forgetting that between smartphones and laptops and tablets and all the time they demand from us. But it’s our choice to let them take over. Read that sentence again. It’s our choice. Those of us old enough to remember life before 1995 remember a life with no internet at all. Cell phones were car phones. The fact that cell phones are still used in cars is another issue — if you’d like to know what I do with my workdays, I work on preventing cell phone distracted driving including hands-free. Yes hands-free is not risk-free! When we literally can’t put our phones down, it’s a problem. Life shouldn’t be lived through a phone. Or a computer screen. I don’t believe that’s really living all that life has to offer.

Offline, I want to move around more. Sitting can kill you. Yes it can. Go Google it (but not for too long!). I want to fix up more things around the house – like DIYs that actually involve plugging a tool into an electrical outlet. I NEED to get on airplanes more often — big jets and our little four-seater airplane — and go places. I want to paint more. I want to go big with that. Today I’m assembling a 40″ x 50″ canvas, to finally paint an idea that’s been mulling around in my mind. It’s time for it to flow out through the paintbrushes. First, I’m gonna test it on small canvases. I want to paint our kitchen cabinets. I want to build a large patio wrapping around the sunroom on the back of our house.

All these things are Living Offline. Maybe I’ll build the patio. Maybe I won’t. Heck, maybe we’ll finally sell our house this year instead, which we’ve been talking about for years. That’s a big idea and big work. I’ll get some of these things done. And I’ll surely do other things I haven’t thought of yet. By December 31, 2016, I’ll have a whole long list of things I did offline in 2016. That will be a big success!

So … what is your theme for 2016? What change do you want to make in your life?


Did you like this post? Don't miss out on more:

What topics interest you?