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Happy Saint Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013

So the story goes that VHeart-Shaped-Islandalentinus secretively married  soldiers who were forbidden to marry during the High Middle Ages.  For this he was thrown into prison.

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.  It is a holiday based on love or the thought of a potential love.  As a kid I knew I was loved when I received a box of conversation hearts.  You know the ones I am speaking of,   pastel colors with little sayings on them.  I still go out and buy myself a box of them every year and smile as each one is read and passes my lips.

Whether you have a significant other or not you can still feel the love by giving to others.   If Valentinus risked being thrown into jail for love, we can at least put ourselves out there to put a smile on someone’s face.

With that I am sending a little love to you.


















Illuminate Your Interiors with The Next Generation of Light Bulb

September 19, 2012

3M LED Light Bulb

From incandescent to fluorescent bulbs most of our homes are saving energy with the new standards.  My big question is what are we suppose to do with the compact fluorescent bulbs, known as CFL’s, when we are through with them? I know they are supposed to last longer but in my opinion the cheap ones don’t last that much longer than their incandescent counterparts.

Most people I know simply throw the CFL bulbs in the trash, but should we?  Are there not harmful chemicals inside of these bulbs?  The whole point behind the CFL was to save energy thus have less impact on the environment.  Do they really have less impact on the environment?

Next generation of lighting is the LED.  LED’s are light emitting diodes. They have been around a long time.  Scientists have been working on this generation of household lighting for a while.  The 3M Company came out with their LED light bulb this summer and it is supposed to mimic the feel of an incandescent bulb.   Isn’t that fantastic?  I don’t even want CFL bulbs in my bathroom. It really changes the coloring and I’m afraid I will leave the house looking like Bozo the Clown.

So what is the drawback of these bulbs made with light emitting diodes? Well the cost will be about $25.00 dollars per bulb.  Before you start to grumble they last 25 years and they cost less than $1.70 per year to run.  I can think of a couple of places I could use these with the satisfaction of knowing I won’t have to drag out a ladder to change them for another 25 years.

I don’t know what the impact on the environment is to make these bulbs or to discard them.  I will leave that up to you to do your own research.  I do know we need to start thinking of products from their cradle to their grave and the impact that will cause.  From a design stand point I am glad to see our interior environments may again bask in the glow of more natural looking lighting.

Thank you credits


Pioneer Press



How Can Remote Control Blinds Save you Energy and Money?

April 16, 2012

Hunter Douglas Country Wood with Power Tilt

Buying remote control blinds seems like an oxymoron when it comes to savings.  How can a device that cost you money up front, and takes a current of some sort to operate possible save you money? 

Remote control blinds are actually great for saving you money.  They can operate with a hand held device, a non wired and wired wall switch. 

So how is this going to help?  Many windows in our homes are hard to reach and therefore are left either opened or closed because they are just to darn high.  Oh, there are poles that you can purchase to reach these high areas and where do you put them? How easy and simple would it be to just hit say, a wall switch on the way out the door to shut all the windows in a room or in all the rooms at the same time?  

How about optimizing on natures light patterns.  In the winter most of us want to capture the suns heat and in the summer we want to pull our shades against the scorching aspects of the sun.  

Most of us work outside of our home, so how do we accomplish this you ask?  There are devices to help with this.  Your blinds can be hooked up to a timer.  This timer can tell your blinds to raise or lower, tilt, or open and shut  to the specific times that you pick. You can also use a device that adheres to your window pane that picks up on the solar energy.  It has a summer mode and a winter mode to effectively control your blinds. 

With non-hardwired devices, blinds can accommodate not just a few select homes but all of our homes. It is amazing how technology has raised the bar to meet the everyday consumer’s needs and budgets.

Hunter Douglas Luminette Powerglide 2.1 Platunum Technology

Hunter Douglas Silhouette Powerrise 2.1

Easter Egg Dyeing the Natural Way-No Harmful Dyes

April 6, 2012

Here we are and it is already Good Friday.  With that in mind I would like to talk about egg dying.  This was one of my favorite holiday projects to do with my kids when they were young.  Easter colors are so fun and the eggs were so beautiful. 

In all the years of eye dying I often though I would like to dye my eggs with natural dyes made of vegetables or fruits. My friend years ago showed me some eggs her mother dyed by wrapping the eggs in onion skins then boiling them in a water bath.  She never said how her mom secured the skins or if she even secured them at all.  The beauty of this process is that they are cooked and dyed in the same step. 

These eggs were dyed using this method.   Cotton string was wrapped around the eggs to secure the skins in place.  This left a nice pattern on the one egg.  If you wanted to bring up the color I would suggest rubbing them with a tiny bit of vegetable oil and you will see more of the marbling effect.

If you don’t want to experiment on your own the Better Homes and Garden online has put together a nice collection of recipes using vegetables and fruit.

Is Your Small Bathroom in Need of a Manicure? Part III

March 27, 2012

 Are you wondering what this picture to your left has anything to do with a bathroom design.  You would be surprised as to how powerful this picture along with some other tricks can help you find your style.

Click our clients name, Jim and Sarah to see how we outfitted their small powder room.

As I have said before finding your design style is going to take
a little digging.  For this we need to go deep.  What style is your style?  How do you want your room or home to look?  First off,  if  you are only planning on redoing one room it will have to reflect the style of the rest of the home so it won’t feel out of place.  If you plan on re- doing all the rooms, well you have a full menu choice, so where to begin?    Pick up your shovel, here we go.

  • Make a list of wants and needs.
  • Describe in a paragraph or two your description of your
    family and/or yourself
  • Collect concept pictures.  These don’t have to be linked
    to a product. These are pictures that move you in some
  • Now make a list of descriptive words that connect to the
    pictures for example: Natural…Clean…Bright…
  • Write a paragraph that describes the new place.  This is
    most helpful as it makes you really think about the space.
    It also puts it out there.  I am a firm believer in once it is
    out of your head and down on paper it is easier to
  • Collect pictures of the items you want to put in your
    space keeping in mind they must always fulfill your
  • You may put in one item that is maybe, a little off, or out
    there. It will add curiosity to your space.

Is Your Small Bathroom in Need of a Manicure? Part II

February 2, 2012
Is Your Small Bathroom in Need of a Manicure? Part II

Do you want to save money on your re-do?  If you’re not skilled in construction I might suggest destruction. This simple skill can save you money and get rid of any daily frustrations.  

 Here are some easy steps you can take: 

  • Remove wall accessories and plugs.  You may have to cut lip off of the wall plug and push it into the wall.  This will keep the hole patching to a minimum.

    Remove lip of wall anchors and push into the wall

  • Unscrew face plates being careful not to touch any metal on the inside of the electrical boxes. I zapped myself once and luckily I had a screwdriver with a non conductive handle so all that happened was a gigantic spark.

Remove faceplate

  • On plastic wall paper you may have to score the wall paper to ready for steaming. In some cases the plastic layer peals off to reveal a paper layer that may have to be steamed off.

    Wallpaper score device. Roll device around on paper making little score marks

  • Steam the area or use a chemical product found at most hardware stores for loosening the paste.  Scrape with a putty knife being careful not to gouge the wall. Also be careful not to over steam as this will take the paper layer off the sheet rock.

    Steaming the wallpaper and scraping with a putty knife


  • Remove floor tile.  The mastic holding the tile down may be dried out that it no longer held the tile to the floor.  Removal in that case quick and easy.  If not there are tile scrapers that can be purchase or possible rented to scrape the tile off the floor.

    Tiles in this case removed easily


  • Leave the lights and plumbing to the experts. There would be nothing worse than electrocuting yourself or flooding your home.

Check back on future blogs to see the solutions and results to this small problematic bathroom.

Is Your Small Bathroom in Need of a Manicure?

January 29, 2012
Outdated Bathroom

 Does your bathroom look like 1980’s came for a visit and never left?  Do you need extra storage?  Does your small powder room need to function large? 

Well I hear you.  This tiny bathroom had to be updated to function better and of course


, bring it into the new millennium.  It is also the main bathroom used by summer pool guests so being user-friendly is a must. To save money the floor plan remained the same so that major pipes would not have to be moved.




  • Eye appeal
  • Needs more storage for guest and homes occupants
  • Existing cabinet doors open into toilet with little access to cabinet
  • Easy entry to towels and lotions for pool guest
  • Wall hooks
  • Deep sink to rinse out bathing suits
  • Make the room seem larger for claustrophobic guests
  • Up-date plumbing and light fixtures

Tiny Bathroom has Tiny Function


Small Tile Leeds to Hundreds of Grout Lines and Dirt Collectors


Cabinet Door Almost Inoperable Due to Placement of Toilet


Tips and solutions to this design dilemma will be featured on  several future blogs.

2011 in review

January 2, 2012

Can you say you’ve filled the Sydney Opera House three times.  Check out our annual report for the Design Without Compromise blog.  Thanks to our readers we can say we have had a sucessful blogging year.  Cheers to you and hope you will keep tuning in for Design Without Compromise.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

So it is a Day before Christmas and All Through the House… There is Total Chaos and You Just Want to Shout.

December 24, 2011

Branches in a Decorative Pot

You have just been informed that Aunt Edna came down with a contagious flu and she was hosting the Christmas dinner extravaganza this year. 

Somehow you were roped in to having the big dinner.  The problem is you are not prepared. Panic is setting in as your house is not as festive as you would want it to be. Face it spending extra money was not in the agenda. 

No worries, there are items around most homes that will make it a little easier on you.

 For years I have scoured my home and yard for items to decorate with.  It has not only saved me money but also time.   I have selected a few I found online to get your creative juices flowing.   

Our feature picture from Iroonie is as easy as it gets. Place branches in a pot and throw on those extra decorations you didn’t have room for on the tree.  This makes a great center piece or can warms an unfriendly corner of a room.

  •  From Free Home Decorating Ideas. If you live in the north you probably have access to Arborvitae bushes.  Trim the bushes a little and use the trimmings to decorate pots, wreaths and candles. By the way they smell great.

Arborvitae Candle Holder

Served up from Real Simple. Do you have extra candy canes, sugar, marshmallows, chocolate chips in your cupboard?  They look great arranged in a grouping and after the meal they can be used to sweeten hot beverages.

Edibles in Glasses

Pine cones are natures abundant decorations.  They not only look great in a glass container but also work great for starting fires in the fireplace. Thank you Inspiration for Home.

Pinecones in Glass Containers

Small Place Style says “Scrabble any one?”  Easy, simple and fun center piece.  After dinner you may want to challenge your guest to a holiday word challenge, only placing words on the board that have to do with the holidays
Scrabble Holiday Greetings


I love this idea from The Inspired Room. Who knew recyled jar candle holders with epsom salts snow could look so good.  This snow will hold up all night and at the end of the evenings festivities you can soak your aching feet in a nice hot water salt  foot bath
Recycled Jar Candle holder with Epsom Salts
Now go forth and create.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Aging in Place, Do you have Arthritis or is your Sofa too Low?

November 1, 2011


Tight Back Firm Cushion Sofa with Arms

This year baby boomers began turning 65 years old.  What does that mean? It means that a huge chunk of our populations is, shall we say, in the winter of their life. Census predicts that 13% of the population (over 39 million) people are or will be over the age of 65 in 2011.

 More than ever this population wants to stay in their homes as long as possible. No one wants to feel like they are a burden to others.   Taking an assessment of your present home may reveal the possibility of doing just that.

Here a few of many suggestions

  • Converting an unused room on the main floor of a two-story home into a bedroom
  • Buying new upholstered furniture with firm seats and tight backs for ease of getting out of
  • Changing out sockets on table or floor lamps so they may hold a larger watt bulb. You can also get more light at a much lower wattage if you convert to fluorescent bulbs
  • Converting a main floor closet into a bathroom
  • Moving laundry from basement to main floor access
  • Installing roll out shelving in kitchen cabinets and reorganizing items
  • Changing plush carpeting to firmer flooring for stability underfoot
  • Painting walls the opposite tone from flooring for better wayfinding
  • Lighting stairwells

 Sometimes small changes can make the biggest impact.  I recently picked out a new sofa for my Mom who lives in New York State. I spoke with her on the phone right after delivery and asked her if it was easier  to get off the new sofa compared to the old one.  There was a pause on the phone and she said, “I am up on a ladder.” “What the heck are you doing on a ladder, get off,” was my reply.  She then hesitated and blurted out, “For 20 years I thought I had bad arthritis, if I had only known it was my sofa.” She was now sitting high instead of in a hole. No longer does my mom have to do the rock and roll shuffle to get up and out of that way too low, way to soft sofa. She now can get up with the dignity she deserves.

 Oh and by the way my mom who is in her 80’s still works full-time and is my hero and mentor for aging in place.


Convert Closet into a BathroomEasy AccessMain Floor Laundry


Roll out Shelves


Main Floor Laundry

Thanks to the Following: