Fun and functional family playroom!

This young family had just moved to Wilton in the middle of the pandemic with their newborn and a 3 year old. Their request was pretty simple – turn the living room into a fun playroom for their young sons. As I walked around the house, I started to like that plan less and less. The living room was beautiful, large and light filled but far away from the kitchen and it was right off the foyer meaning everyone visiting would be seeing all the toys etc. There was a smaller family room with a TV right next to the kitchen that I felt was better suited for the playroom as kids would be likely to stay close to all the action (and snacks!) than wonder over to the other side of the house. After some hesitation, my clients agreed. Here’s what we were working with: faux finishes on walls, no lighting, dated furnishings.

Here’s the after: there’s a small sectional for the whole family to hang out on, instead of a coffee table I used a train table (still waiting on storage baskets to go underneath) and 2 separate but matching colorful area rugs define separate play areas. It has enough color to feel fun for kids but not too loud for adults.

I proposed moving the TV above the fireplace and replacing the ornate mantel with something more modern. New coat of paint and this so looks so much better!

Funny side note: the very bright 3 year old son was obviously thrilled to see this room, he loved the ladder, the teepee, his art station etc but then he turns around and goes: “And the new mantel! I love it!” I kid you not. I think he may have a future as an architect.

Behind the sectional are different toys and the play kitchen which we took out for the photos. There’s a large chalkboard section so I am hopeful that kids will doodle there and not on the walls but just in case we made sure the walls were very washable. And there’s his arts and crafts and lego section.

Do you love it? We sure did. We’ll be sharing a basement redo for teenage boys rec room soon, stay tuned.


Photography: Katie Kinsley Photography

Gift Guide For The Ladies!

If you haven’t bought gifts by now, your only chances are local stores as the ground transportation has basically slowed down so much that it can take weeks for something to arrive. Shop local, support local! Here’s our beautiful and practical gifts for the women, affordable and more significantly,  special items she’ll fa-la-la-love, I guarantee there’s at least one thing here you’ll love to wrap up for her.

Next best thing to a big warm hug would be this stylish and warm vest from Snappy Gator. Great for paddle, tennis or hiking your dog. Cute with workout leggings but chic enough to be worn with white shirt and jeans. – this one is a no brainer. Comes in black and light blue camo. I also loved a cashmere sweater which has Love Wins embroidered on it. They’ll wrap the gifts and run it out to curbside for you. $178 Phone: 203.761.773

I’ve played tennis off and on for two years and I am not alone, it’s an increasingly popular sport and since Covid even more so – tennis racquets sales have doubled. My husband doesn’t know this but he is gifting me this monogrammed Oliver Thomas tennis bag from Signature Style. It comes in black, green camo, blue camo, and gunmetal. $175 includes monogramming.



There’s nothing more relaxing and stress reducing than a soothing massage by Amy Tobey at Amy’s Healing Arts. She is also incredibly great at working on overworked muscles and sprains. I wouldn’t mind receiving a gift certificate for a massage there. Wouldn’t mind at all. $100 for an hour. Gift cards available at

A few years ago my bestie gifted me a beautiful photo of my girls that I framed and still treasure. I also received a cute photo ornament of my puppy! Tiffany Shelton from RSKS Photography takes absolutely stunning photos and she is currently running a holiday 20 minute special for 5 digital images for $150. I would get them printed (at home or at CVS) and pair with these chic faux crocodile frames from the Open House Gift Shop, prices vary from $55-$95.

Nod Hill Soaps has an array of goodies, my favorites are her fragrance diffusers (I have two dogs and would love for the house to smell nice, thank you) and lotions. My fave scents combos are Nantucket Breeze (smells like summer, the kind you have in Nantucket), Oranges and Roses (holiday-esque) and White tea and Jasmine (sophisticated Park Avenue vibe). You can online order and do a quick pickup from her store across from CVS. Holiday gift box including soap, lotion and bath salts $58.

I’ve been really into layering oversized sweaters and cardigans this winter as I am always cold. This cute poncho from the Local Soul would be great for all your Zoom calls, throw it over anything really and you’ll look pulled together in 2 min flat. Loved the soft warm color and it comes in grey also. $65

I also liked these cute booties and those shearling sneakers!

Holiday Home Tour of 2020 and a video link

Covid seemed to either make people really enthusiastic about decorating or make them too depressed and exhausted to even think of it. I am always of the thought that you must carry on the best you can and while we can’t control what’s going on with this pandemic, we can control (and decorate) our environment. And think how sad it would be to sort of cancel Christmas. No-no-no-no! The way we celebrate holidays and traditions that we carry on make us feel safe and secure even when the world is topsy turvy. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it and as long as it feels authentic to you and your family.

On to the holiday tour, all photos by talented Katie Kinsley Photography


Every year I swear I am done with live trees, putting on the lights take forever and they are so much harder to decorate than artificial trees but can’t beat real though. And while you decorate the artificial tree so much that the tree is barely visible, it really is just a canvas, with the real tree I actually want to see the branches and its shape. I just used a LOT of red ornaments in different sizes (4″ and 6″), gold glitter stars and red bows. Love it – so simple and classic.

Magnolia and pine garland around the fireplace and i added some gold leaf picks and gold glitter stars.

Trumeau mirror in the foyer.

I fa-la-la-la loved the family room mantel this year. It actually looks even better in person. The red ribbon brightens up the greenery even when not lit.

Breakfast room

Dining room has our fake tree and all the ornaments from our travels, friends and family, kids handprints, ornaments with puppy photos etc.


Watch a short holiday video of our home here!

Learn how to make perfect bows for your trees, garlands, planters and gifts.

Happy decorating!




Holiday Decorating with Wilton Woman’s Club

I inherited my decorating bug from my mother, our house was always decorated for holidays and she had a knack for coming up with really creative and beautiful ideas. I love the fantasy and fun of holiday decorating and transforming your home every year.

Here’s a link for the video for the Wilton Woman’s Club:


Normally I use a seasonal floral arrangements here but came across these cool white and gray pumpkins at Stew Leonards and loved them. Few in the back are on acrylic risers to give the arrangement some height and dimension. If you do not have risers, use an empty glass vase turned upside down. Some greenery or white mums (deer ate mine ugh) and fairly lights completes it. Add some mice, crows or spiders for Halloween.



I love creating different tables capes and collect different types of placemats, napkins, china. While we are not entertaining in 2020 (thanks covid), it is fun to do this with your family, to set up a special dinner for them, to make a memory. We couldn’t go trick or treating with our friends or go to parties like we normally would but we sure can have a really fun dinner! Both my daughters have been enthusiastically coming up with menu ideas: Melanie wants to make deviled eggs as an app and Olivia found a pasta recipe with tomato sauce and meatballs that look like eyeballs! I can’t wait.

Centerpiece is made of magnolia branches, I believe Earth Garden in Wilton has them, protea flowers (use any dark blooms) and pheasant feathers (ordered these from Etsy). Little dark pumpkins, pomegranates from Stews/Stop&Shop.

Placemats are from Open House Gift Shop: Michaels; plates with gold trim not available but similar ones available at Kohl’s, Wayfair, etc.; napkins and Halloween crackers from William Sonoma, tortoise shell napkins rings vintage, check Ebay or Etsy or here, crystal glasses Ralph Lauren, tabletop gargoyles similar here, silver candleholders similar on sale here, spider rings here.


Measure first, then purchase and buy more than you think you need no matter what size fireplace you have. This type of garland only works when you mass it together and don’t forget lights (gold, orange, yellow), floral wire, and common hooks (stronger the better).

Garlands: here, here and here, different color scheme but if you like black and white this is so cute, great price on this 2 pack here. Velvet pumpkins and gold pears and apples from Pottery Barn, individual picks, stems and bush pick from Michaels here. Pheasant feathers from Ebay.


If you do not want to decide/do a theme for your Christmas decor, I still suggest that you decide on a color scheme such as green and orange, or green and red, or maroon, gold and purple – endless options, and then use those colors throughout the house. Keep to the same style also, rustic Americana w logs and plaid doesn’t go with glam silver ornaments and shiny silver. Ornaments are really inexpensive these days and you use ribbon in your decor to add some color and texture. I prefer wired ribbon as it handles better.

I wanted to do something different this year so I decided on assembling an ornament garland. I ran out of ornaments pretty quickly, for something like this you want to use at least 400 ornaments (SHATTERPROOF) and get them in different sizes from 3″ to 6″. I tucked in some dark green ribbon to tone it down. There’s an excellent tutorial here: Sullivan Owen.

I think this is going to get removed to decorate the evergreens by the front door. But it was something different, girls loved it, I learned some new tricks and I do think it will look stunning outside. You will make mistakes, some things will break, and you will change things around. Sometimes the next day! Keep the scale and proportion in mind and decide well before Christmas what you are going to do and then buy what you need. This is not the type of thing to tackle a day after Thanksgiving, you will get discouraged and stressed out, Planning ahead makes all the difference! For some more inspiration, here’s a post on our holiday decor from last year: My Christmas Home Tour 2019.

Thank you WWC and Happy Holidays!



New Home Trends Post Lockdown

Buyers looking for homes are going to have a different set of priorities than before COVID-19 era.

KITCHENS: kitchens and bathrooms sell the house, we all know that. But while socially distancing and only doing take out if that we have all spent much more time in our kitchens than before. Cooking several meals a day, preparing snacks, using kitchen island as a makeshift study area for kids, etc. Buyers will be looking for a spacious open kitchen layout with lot sof natural light, energy-efficient appliances, easy to clean counters and cabinets. Pantry space is in high demand as some of us have turned linen closets or basements into corona-closets where we store extra food items and oh, all the toilet paper. One of the best things I did was take on the drawers, clean it out, insert dividers and will it all sorts of bars for kids for an easy snack. An extra fridge or freezer is always nice but especially now when we are all trying to limit trips to grocery stores.

HOME OFFICES: not everyone can skip going to office but for those who can having an home office is more important than ever. Many companies are looking into having employees work from home for foreseeable future and even predicting they will work from home 2-3 days a week in the future. Highspeed wifi is crucial. Perhaps there’s a guest room that doesn’t get much use which could serve as a home office (with a pull out couch for those visitors) or unused dining room that would add more functionality to your home as a dedicated work space.

GYMS: We are not going to public gyms or taking classes so having a home gym is really in high demand. Usually it’s in the basement but at a recent home I worked on we turned an unused guest room on 3rd floor into gym. Floor mats, wall mirrors, Peloton or treadmill, weight bench with free weights and yoga mat. Adding a smart TV would be great as lot of people are streaming their workouts. Whatever you do do not have a stationary bike in your bedroom. Noone is looking for a master bedroom/gym combo.

OUTDOOR AREAS: private outdoor space with play areas for kids are in high demand. Not only is everyone looking for trampolines and zip lines etc, many are taking up gardening and maybe even trying to grow some vegetables and herbs for the first time. When you are considering selling your home, take a critical look of your outside space – how can you make it more attractive? Adding a firepit area is a doable weekend project.

PLAYROOMS: designated space for kids to play in has always been a must for families but much more so now. Buyers are looking for an organized well lit space where kids can have separate craft and study areas. Many are adding TVs in those rooms so that kids can watch their shows while parents work or use family room themselves. Separate and well thought out zones are increasingly important.

MUDROOMS: the entry area from garage to the house has become more important than ever. Removing shoes before coming in, dropping off all packages, having a designated area for purses, backbags, chargers, and bug spray/sun screen and all that Lysol.


Mudroom by HDS Design

FUNCTIONALITY: now that people spend pretty much all their time at home, they need spaces that work for their family. If you need help figuring out how to best use your home, give us a call for a consultation! Contact us at or at 203-434-3745.


How to set up children’s space during COVID-19.

Now that we know kids are not going back to school this semester and potentially will spend more time studying from home in the fall, let’s look at some strategies for setting up a more functional space.

Home Office: something you need to get creative.

You will most likely need some storage items. Online ordering takes longer but most stores still do it and Wayfair and Hayneedle ship pretty fast. You can also find a lot in Walmart or Home Depot, if I have to go I shop during bad weather as there are less people out then. Wear a mask and disaposable gloves and most importantly, measure and write down what you need so you don’t need to go back several times.

  1. Set up areas for play and study, ideally separate spaces. The designated study area can be a desk in their room, playroom or at the dining table. It’s fine to utilize different areas of the home as kids will prefer to move as much as possible and not be cooped up in one room all the time.

    Photo credit: HGTV

    If you can’t separate study and play areas, do what this creative New Canaan mom did and hang sheets or curtains up to defince spaces.

  2. If the kids study in the kitchen or at the dining table, have a basket for each child to put away their books etc at the end of school so the space doesn’t become cluttered and your house doesn’t feel like class is in session.
  3. Clear out toys and books that your children have aged out of or have no interest in. Give away or sell on tagsale sites, you can do contactless pickup from your front door. Kids play more when there is less to play with. You can also pack away some toys for now and rotate them back later.

    Photo credit: HGTV

  4. If the children are more than 2-3 years apart in age, set up separate play areas for them and group their toys there.
  5. Buy them headphones if you haven’t already. These from Amazon are inexpensive and work well.
  6. Clear off the floor space as much as possible so they can play and run around. My youngest is constantly hanging off of the gymnastics bar and my oldest is throwing the basketball into the mini hoop hanging over the door. This was the layout before Covid shutdown. Now the sectional has been moved against the wall to the right, gymnastics mat and bar are in the middle of the room, play kitchen shelving is now used to store craft supplies and craft/study table is on the left.
  7. Make the kids clean up before they leave the space. This will go on for another month and a half, you are not going to be tidying up around the clock. This is somewhat hard to implement but in our house it goes something like that: I yell from the top of the lungs: Put away the ipads and clear the room!!!!!!! Sometimes they do it.
  8. Ask for your kids input: what works, what is difficult, what do they need. My oldest is playing with non-sticky slime while listening to all kinds of Zoom webinars, my youngest takes frequent movement breaks and both love having their favorite teddy bears on the table.

We are lucky to have a large playroom and both kids have desks in their own rooms also. Playroom has 2 desks which for some reason they are not using and prefer to use a large craft table which is an old dining table. I purchased 2 adjustable height swivel chairs for the table and each sits at the end of table, leaving plenty of room for books, laptops and notepads. I highly recommend getting swivel chairs, especially if your child has trouble staying still for awhile.

Flash Furniture Contemporary Horizontal Line Design Adjustable Bar Stool with Chrome Base


Few products from Ikea that I have found helpful.

IKEA TROFAST Storage combination with boxes

IKEA TROFAST Storage combination with boxes: I used a label maker and labeled the pullout bins.


IKEA TJILLEVIPS Basket for storing toys.

IKEA MOSSLANDA Picture ledge

IKEA MOSSLANDA Picture ledge: these come in different lengths and are great for storing your child’s favorite books in narrow areas. Longest is 45″ so mount 5 or more on the wall.



IKEA FLISAT Children's desk

IKEA FLISAT Children’s desk: width is 36 and depth 29, fits into small spaces and height is adjustable. Paper roll doesnt come with it but Ikea sells those also. Make sure to get a trash can also where all the used paper can go.

I hope you’ll find these ideas useful. Let me know in the comments what creative solutions have you come up with when homeschooling kids, it may help others. Hang in there – I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.



Easter baskets for tweens!

You may think it’s too early to worry about Easter baskets, but the rate Amazon ships these days, I couldn’t get some of the items I had my eye on.

There’s some fun candy out there!

Bunny Farts

Trolls Candy Canes

Popcornopolis multi-cone packet

M&M Easter eggs, 12 count

Hatchimals candy eggs filled with jelly beans and stickers

Girly gifts: my daughters and 8 and 10 and they are really into play makeup, bath products, lip balms etc.

Lip Smacker Party Pack set is great for filling eggs or simply stashing a variety into their baskets. You get 8 for $9.43

Da Bomb bathbombs come in a variety of colors with a little surprise in them. There’s a black one that supposedly really does dye the water black. Mostly very good reviews with several noting that these don’t leave the residue on the bath.

I think they would also love these cute Nightgowns with pockets.

And since we are in a quarantine situation with no clear end date in sight I focused on different craft ideas.

Leisure Arts has different diamond art set, there’s a huge variety but make sure you pick the beginner kits.

Tattoo pens

Stabilo fine liner pen set – these have such great reviews, even adults use these for drawing.

Scented fluffy slime with charms – need I say more?

Shimmer and Sparkle rock art – comes with rocks, gems, paint etc. I love the idea of them decorating these rocks and then us finding homes for them in flower beds outside.

Hope you got some ideas and can get your Easter basket prep done now!



The Days of Seclusion: Plans for the week(s)

How are you my friends? It’s been awhile – work all of a sudden got really really busy and I haven’t blogged in ages. Hats off tto you working mamas, it is so freaking hard! I have been a stay at home mom ever since the girls were born, basically a decade. I had always stayed active, gardening, taking care of kids as my husband works very late hours, volunteering, working here and there as a stylist or decorator but working every single day and most weekend is a different ball game entirely! It was a huge adjustment for everyone, and I really hadn’t yet found a good balance before this COVID virus came and halted everything. Our oldest had had a postnasal drip beginning of March and of course both my husband and I picked it up. His seems to be a cold but mine progressed to bronchitis. Luckily I was able to get my meds and while I am still dead on the couch with a pounding headache, I am hopeful that this will be over soon. Cause I have ton of stuff to do at home and I want to get to it already!


I relied a lot of Trader Joe’s frozen foods while busy at work. I can’t wait to actually cook. I stocked up on vegetables and herbs and insane amount of garlic. Also, I ended up buying this book after seeing him cook on YouTube some of the recipes. They all looked delicious.

He talks about basic skill sets you need to have, I am a fairly competent cook but still haven’t successfully poached an egg, so I’ll find this useful I am sure. Ramsey covers cooking for crowds, cooking in advance, cooking for 2 and I really liked his pasta recipes. I alreadt made the butternut squash hummus with pita chips. It wasn’t bad, I used a lot more lemon and seasonings but the family liked, suprisingly even the girls. Got to warn you though that all his measurements are in metric, I ended up buying this measuring cup to help me along.


My other favorite cookbook is Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat – I guarantee this will make you a better cook. She discusses how to build flavor, how to put recipes together and what is absolutely essential for correct techniques. Great gift idea also.


I know its only March but there is a ton you can do right now. I had hoped to use the quiet dormant months of January and February to plan out my garden but alas the best laid plans. I have sworn to stop lollipop gardening – buying one pretty plant because I couldn’t resist and popping it down somewhere. You must, repeat after me, always buy in 3s and then stagger them in your beds. Ideally you’d also use no more than 3 colors per bed for continuity.

Here are the March garden chores by Wilton Garden Club’s president Nancy Greeley:

– Cut back dead foliage from perennials (if not already done the prior fall).
– Cut back evergreen or otherwise-persistent perennial foliage. Leaves of European ginger (Asarum europaeum), Helleborus, and Epimedium, for instance, will soon be replaced with a fresh flush. Yes, the plant will do just fine even if you leave it on, but many with early blooms will look better without all the nasty old foliage.

– Prune bushes — roses, hydrangeas, boxwoods, hollies, etc.
– Clear out fallen branches from garden beds.
– Rake debris carefully off beds that hold earliest bloomers first, like where bulbs are trying to push up through leaves. – Cut down ornamental grasses right at the base. Mice and other garden undesirables find them to be a cozy nest, so get rid of them.

-Empty bird houses and wear gloves while at it.

– Put up peony hoops.
– Order bulk mulch and begin to mulch gardens. – Repair fencing and raised beds.
– Sharpen tools.


I can probably pack away the ski clothes and heavier coats. And maybe see what fun things are hiding in the back of my pantry, read expiration dates etc. Go through the medicine cabinet and toss all random vitamins I have acquired and not used.

Here’s couple of posts on organizing, hope you find these helpful.





Go forth and be productive!



Monday Musings

Hope you all had a relaxing weekend! We had a ton of rain which somehow found a way to our basement – hate spending money on fixing things! Need to get new skylights too and ugh, that’s expensive also. Snuggled in by the fire and watched the Night at the Museum with the kids on Sunday.

  1. Passion fruit – have you ever used it? I love passion fruit, especially in truffles! I remember seeing Nigella Lawson’s pavlova with passion fruit and it looked good but also really green and gooey, not entirely appetizing. I saw some for sale at the Stop&Shop $1.50 each. They look like large plums. I crumbled up some merengue cookies, mixed it with whipped cream and cut the passion fruit in half and scooped it out. They smell and taste fruity and tart.

2. Grammys! It’s usually what not to wear for me, seriously who are these stylists? Is it like a 3 drink minimum job?

Here are some I liked though.

Image result for grammy arrivals"


Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani

Jameela Jamil arrives at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles62nd Annual Grammy Awards - Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 26 Jan 2020

3. Organizing, decluttering and staging for clients: increasingly the work I do as a stager involves massive decluttering. As baby boomers are getting older and down sizing, there’s a crop of companies coming up solely dedicated to help them downsize and declutter. Families no longer necessarily live close to us or they are busy with their own lives, and it’s daunting, not to mention physically exhausting to go through all your belongings. What to sell, what to keep, what to toss – decades worth of accumulations and memories to shift through is no small task. Please encourage your parents to start doing that now. There are wonderful thrift stores that donate their profits to local charities, auction houses that can sell things for you etc.

4. Baby shower – I attended a wonderful baby shower in Gray Barns in Norwalk, CT. My baby shower was at a friend’s house, lovely but casual. The last few I have been to have been really formal affairs with catering, full bar, decorations etc. I mean they are nicer that some weddings I’ve been to! There was a pretty personalized menu waiting on the table, loved the food, lots of crafts for us to do.

How adorable is that cake?

Menu – the burrate was delicious!

The grandma to be and I were dressed alike (I was underdressed which doesn’t happen often) and she looked better! And obviosuly her hair looked better too. 🙂

We all got a super cute umbrella as a going away gift. It even had a personalized tag on it thanking us for coming. So cute!!!

Most Popular Interiors in Fairfield County

Whether you are looking to remodel or to sell your home, this post will showcase what is in amongst buyers and builders in Fairfield County, CT. Here’s a round up of most popular looks in interior design in our area.

Bathroom renovations by HDS Design


-the two-tone kitchens are a major trend in 2020 taking over from previous year’s all white kitchens. Most often it’s the island that gets painted in a contrastic color to create instant visual interest.

-using natural wood as an accent adds warmth and texture. I also love a butcher block island countertop for especially white kitchens as it breaks up the monotone color and looks so inviting plus it is so practical!

-metal windows and doors in black, black accessories and black and white color combos work with the ever popular modern farmhouse trend and are a classic pairing which will stand the test of time. It looks clean and fresh and modern.


Peach's Point - Marblehead, MABuilder Model | Copper Ridge| New Braunfels, Texas


all photos are from Houzz



  • brass is back! Combine it with black cabinets for extra drama! And yes, you can mix metals but if in a small space like bathrooms I would use no more that 3 colors. The bath on the right has all white walls and cabinets, crystal chandelier with brass, black sconces and mirrors with brass hardware – it’s all blended in.

  • modern farmhouse is still very trendy but I would be so careful with it, if you live in a  nice colonial in New Canaan, I am not sure farmhouse is your vibe. It’s all the rage now with every store offering something to that but in few years it will look tired and dated.

all photos are from Houzz


  • color contrast, personally so happy to see that! High gloss contractic trim, darker cabinets or wallpapering the backs of shelves adds depth and interest.

  • serene master suites – keep it airy and restful in lighter tones.

all photos are from Houzz