DIY And Autumn Fun…With Color!

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Living in Phoenix and close surrounding areas in Arizona, we always experience a slow transition into fall. As we ease into the new season and the warm days get cooler, the slow transition of colors and textures begin to appear.

Many of you know that color is my passion, and I use color to speak and express…to tell a story. Here is another opportunity to let the brilliance of the beautiful autumn colors do the talking. You can take the richest colors we have from nature to enjoy a new mood in your home. Many DIY tricks revolve around color.

One of the places to begin this change of statement is at the front door. And don’t neglect your back or garage door if that is where you enter your home every day. Your entry area is a perfect place of introduction of the new season and we can carry the theme inside, too.

We certainly can look to the usual wreath to hang on the doors as well as bring out pumpkins in all colors, shapes and sizes. Who said you can only make one pumpkin for Halloween. Start early and keep going until Thanksgiving. You can create your own pumpkin family.

A great way to highlight this is with lanterns, which of course show up so much more at night. They will give charm and interest to your home as well as a warm glow…a great way to welcome guests into your home. You can get lanterns in all sizes and shapes. Certainly now is the time to burn candles outside since the weather is cool and they won’t melt!

Find some autumn colored leaves, either go up north and pick your own or go to the craft stores for fabric versions, and scatter them near your entry door. It’s fun to walk on them and feel the symbols of autumn under foot.

Inside your home, place those cute little pumpkins around. You can give each one its own design with paint or magic markers. Include the sink areas in bathrooms and kitchen, bedroom night tables and family room book shelves and fireplace mantle. Decorating with them will bring you a smile.

Mix silk leaves with real ones and place them on tables and shelves under and around accessories and lamps for accent all around your home. Decorate your dinner table with these and other natural symbols of autumn. Treat yourself to a new set of fall colored placemats. For fun, get them in different colors and color change them from place to place each night so you have variety at every meal. Your dishes and flatware will look new, too!

Since fall fashion has its own color palette, play it up. Most color schemes can handle a pumpkin colored pillow or vase placed carefully to accent a room. Or you may have your favorite color for the season. These simple DIY decor tricks make inexpensive seasonal statements. Then you can put them away and save them until next year. I have an orange lamp I bring out October 1 until December 1 and keep in the closet the rest of the year.

Just remember everyone can create a DIY experience and what better time to do this than NOW! Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Invitation: You are all invited to Fall Furniture and Fashion Week at Feathers Custom Furnishings November 6-10. I will be a keynote speaker November 8, 9 and 10 and I will give you half-off discount on YOUR DESIGN IQ PROFILE when you mention this article and CITYSunTimes.

Create Your Own Personalized Style

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By Barbara Kaplan –

If you read my column regularly, you know what a great advocate I am of personalizing your interior spaces.

Lately, I’ve become aware of the growing trend of another kind of personalizing. It is with monograms, both in the fashion and home industries. You see it on shirts, blouses and sweaters, belts, bags and jewelry.

In the home fashions industry, you’ll find monogramming on towels, blankets, bed sheets, picture frames, diaries, stationery and glasses with matching pitchers (which I remember receiving as a wedding gift). If you like to camp, you’ll be happy to know monogrammed sleeping bags are in.

Personalizing is an old custom. When I got married, my mother gave me several tablecloths that she had embroidered when she was a young girl for her wedding trousseau. These handmade items are truly treasures. I also have a pillow case with my grandmother’s initials.

A few years ago, I gave myself a birthday party and invited a few friends to Las Vegas for a long weekend. To each friend I gave a body wrap towel with their name embroidered on it. Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of those friends asking for another party because her wrap was looking a bit shabby from all the washing and she wanted a new one. I didn’t realize at the time what a beautiful memory I was making for my friends to use every day. I only knew I wanted my friends to know how special they were to me.

Last year, for my holiday shopping, I bought dish towels color-coordinated to my client’s kitchens, and had them embroidered with their names.

I also had a personal symbol embroidered on each towel. For instance, if they loved cats, I had a cat embroidered and added the cat’s name. If they loved golf, I added a golf motif. My clients said they experienced joy using a dish towel!

In the workplace, personalizing your space is more difficult because it may need to be subtle. To accomplish this, you can use personalized stationery, pens or picture frames – all of which are widely accepted in offices and on desks. If you select your favorite colors for these items, you are personalizing them even more. The subtlety may only be known by you.

When people are identified with the things in their lives that have special meaning to them, they feel validated. Identifying with our most personal spaces is one way to do this. A personal stamp has been placed on our home or belongings. This can be important both personally and professionally.

Living in a space that says “this is me” makes us feel good. We can belong and be real. We can let go of the stresses of the day and sink into comfort and tranquility. Then the creativity inside of us can be released.

We are all creative – whether it’s the way we cook, communicate or relax. But first, we must feel safe and comfortable to tap into that place inside ourselves. We can carve out our personal monogram when we express our individuality through creativity.

Place your signature in your personal spaces. And always remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU DO!

Decorating: Improve The Home And Relationships

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Why are women expected to know how to decorate a home? Traditionally, when a woman gets married she is expected to be the one to decorate the home. Even before she is married, she may feel the responsibility to be the homemaker and therefore the family decorator. Bachelors are considered inept in this area and always seeking help with buying and making furnishings decisions.

Well, this isn’t true! This has not been my experience in my practice. In very many cases, the husband has been very involved and in several cases taken over the project and worked mainly with me. I am not sure why, but one answer may be that I always engage the husband and actually insist he be part of the first or second meeting with me. Once this happens, he becomes more comfortable and the mystery of decorating is dissolved and the fear becomes minimized or completely removed. He is now experiencing the process and therefore appreciates his wife’s efforts and feels important to her and to the process.

I have seen it many times: connecting in this way strengthens relationships and brings couples closer. Contrary to what sometimes is said – that building a home or decorating can be stressful – when everyone feels important to the project and that their input is valued, the project improves and so does the relationship.

There is another benefit. This collaboration has also proven to result in a distinctive design outcome because both people bring their taste and style to the project resulting in a one-of-a-kind blend that is unique to the couple. I like to call this 1 + 1 = 3. They have now created a “look” that is solely theirs. We don’t want to live in someone else’s taste and style, particularly if we really don’t like it, but when there is discussion and we bring in the three elements of the Bajaro Method: understanding, accepting, allowing; then there is harmony and the project can move forward. It also results in a happy outcome when the project is completed. It will eliminate mistakes and needless expenditure.

On the other hand, the single person has the opportunity to totally express themselves in his or her most personal environment – the home. It’s important before beginning to make decorating changes or choices to explore your taste, separate from what you grew up with or have become influenced by through friends or media. Then you can create an environment that is truly yours and in which you feel connected and comfortable.

The most important thing to remember, when decorating for yourself or with someone else is that it has to “feel right” and to recognize when it doesn’t. You may not know why, but your feeling is real and you must listen to it. If it feels right you will love your design choices and feel happy living in the space you created.

Always remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Do It Yourself With Barbara Kaplan

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Letting Go To Grow!

By Barbara Kaplan –

Q: Is it true when you let go of things or clean out closets and cabinets that you attract new things into your life?

A: Oh yes! This can be an exciting time, a time for change and growth. Part of being an interior designer, the part that I love, is the approach I use in my practice. Many clients hire me to change their environment, and I have joyfully witnessed a change in them as well. This happens because the inside of us and the inside of our homes can be connected.

Your question speaks to a new beginning. My passion in life is about healing environments. We are either healing or hurting. A healing environment is all about choices, your choices for you.

When you are ready to clean out your closets and cabinets, you are symbolically clearing out yourself. Feng Shui and Bajaro Method are built on that concept – our environments reflect how we choose to live. If your homes, offices, drawers, desks are full, cluttered and disorganized you may feel the same way inside. We are actually taking care of ourselves when we take care of our personal spaces.

I believe that interior design is about your “interior.” We attract and create what we feel. If we feel as though we need to hold on to things, chances are, those feelings are expressed in our actions with our possessions.

We are creatures of habit and get comfortable in what is familiar. Most often we don’t notice the piles that accumulate around us until one day we decide to do something about it.

Here’s a helpful hint: take a virtual tour of your home and do it with a camera. When you look through a third eye, you see things you might otherwise miss. It is also possible that you notice some things that you like and have overlooked.

Once we begin the clearing out process, we are taking action and opening to new possibilities, new things and people. Most of all, we have to make the decision that we need change.

We all have that closet, drawer or pantry that we dread going into because it is a reminder of what we have to do. We know it represents the four letter word “mess.” It’s probably the last place we would like to be, but this is where you need to begin. Once the wheels of cleaning are in motion, we find we can’t stop until it is done. It gives us a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

Don’t forget cleaning up the yard and garage because they are the first and last places we see upon leaving and returning home. Clearing these areas opens the energy around us to flow more freely and bring us renewal.

This all starts with you – and you must fearlessly create the environment in which you can thrive.

Always remembering that rooms have no feelings, YOU DO!

Design Your Sexy Sanctuary

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By Barbara Kaplan –

The expression “I’m sexy when I’m me” sums up every beautiful room I have ever designed. A beautiful room speaks. It says, “Welcome, come in and enjoy the space. Be comfortable, be happy, have fun and feel good while you are here.”

The key is confidence. When a person walks into a room looking sexy, they also have a confident attitude and they catch your eye. They may have a smile or in some way seem approachable. You want to get to know them, hear what they have to say and learn more about them.

This is what I strive for in every room I design. A sexy room articulates the voice of its confident owner. This personalizing can be done in many ways, including carefully chosen textures, unique combinations of colors, unusual shapes, interesting materials and specific furniture styles. However before beginning to create your “look,” you must look inside yourself and identify your authentic taste and style. This is your design DNA, which reflects your perception of the exterior design. Most importantly, YOU must be comfortable with your choices. Nothing is more debilitating than feeling like you don’t belong in your own home.

Unlike decorating our bodies, we don’t decorate our homes every day. Therefore, decorating and design is often perceived as mysterious and scary. We lack the confidence because we may not have done this before. The truth and good news is that we know the answers inside us…we must look inside ourselves for the answers of our personal taste and style, our design preferences. Exploring our feelings about colors, patterns, textures, woods, metals and more is the way to discover these sometimes elusive preferences. And know when you choose from within, you will always love the outer results. This is how you gain design confidence…just like sexy confidence.

If you think about it, it’s the same as getting dressed in the morning. You selected the clothes in your closet. You select which top to put with which bottom. Which shoes would look best? Then of course it’s decorating oneself with accessories. Short earring…long earrings…how many bracelets and which ring. Even your underwear has to be appropriate for the over wear! The most creative time each day could be when you get dressed. You are creating a picture of you! The same concept comes into play when you create the design of a room.

Our fashion statement or image is the result of the choices we have made. But how do we know what choices to make? I believe everyone has their own built in “interior” designer. So making choices for our rooms, our most personal spaces, has to come from deep inside, then we will feel comfortable, happy and proud of our choices. This will affirm confidence and attitude which will give us that sexy look and feel in all our interiors and exteriors.

Always remembering, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Because I enjoy working with people and their interiors and want the world to benefit from this knowledge, I offer you my book, The Bajaro Method: Rooms have no Feelings, YOU Do!, and the on-line Color & Design Preference Profile. Both can be purchased on my website.

What Color Are Your Sheets?

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Your bedroom is your most personal space, so be sure when making choices to surround you in your bedroom, that you love them. Also, keep in mind how you look lying on the color of your sheets. Are they in your best colors and how does the color make you feel? Even with your eyes closed, you know the colors of your sheets. If the color is dark, have they faded? Did you buy them because you like looking at them and slipping into them every night or do they match something in your room that you don’t even like?

With the new spring season, it might be time to make some inexpensive changes. Consider painting a wall in your bedroom, buying new bedspreads or, at the least, new sheets. Keep in mind that sheets and pillow cases don’t have to match in color or pattern. This is also practical, because if one of these pieces wear out, you don’t have to replace the whole set. You may also mix and match your sheets and pillow cases for design effect, excitement, interest and practicality.

You can paint an accent wall or all the walls in a new color. Don’t ignore the ceiling since you are lying down. The ceiling can be your accent wall. Possibly add funky or romantic pillows on your bed or simply take your favorite vase and add a bouquet of fresh flowers to enjoy the beauty and scent that permeates your space. The changes don’t have to be big; small but calculated differences can have a huge impact on your home sanctuary.

For example, with new eyes, take a slow and objective look at your master bedroom or even take a photograph. In a picture you will see things differently than if you are standing in the room. Ask yourself questions like, “What looks tired and faded, are your pillows worn and flat and are your night tables stacked with old magazines, books and catalogues.” Do you really still care what is in them? Is your night stand customized for your exclusive use? Is what you need from bed in easy reach? When you are in bed do you feel supported by your surroundings? What is the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning? This can affect your dreams and your attitude for the day.

If new night tables aren’t in the budget, you can take a piece of glass and spray paint the underside of it and then cover the paint with a fabric. Lay the fabric side on the nightstand. This will add an accent color to the top of your old night stands, which can be color coordinated with the new colors you are introducing in the room.

If you are buying new sheets here are some information to take with you:

Measure Your Bed 
Whether you have a twin, queen or king sized bed, there is no longer an absolute standard measurement for beds. While the top measurements are rather consistent from maker to maker, there is some variation. So before you go shopping, measure your bed carefully, noting the dimension from top to bottom, side to side and the thickness of the mattress. Some are wider than others or longer.

Check The Sheet Measurements
Since you know the exact size of your bed, check the exact size of the sheets. Be sure that the fitted sheet is deep enough for your mattress, or that you haven’t found a California King sheet set and your bed is an Eastern King. Remember that many sheets will shrink as much as seven percent in the first washing.

Have Fun With Color
Sheets are a fun and an inexpensive way to add a splash of accent color to your bedroom décor. Consider mixing and matching sheet sets; this is a great way to use pillow cases or bottom sheets that are still in great shape.

Learn About Thread Count In Bed Sheets
Check the thread count which is printed on front of the label by the manufacturer. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch in both directions in the weave. The higher the thread count, the more luxurious the feel of a fabric. But beware! A higher thread count usually means that the individual threads are thinner and may not wear as well. For linens that balance comfort and durability, choose a thread count in the 400-600 range.

Choose Your Sheet Fabric Wisely
Because you’ll sleep on the sheets every night, treat yourself. Choose the best you can afford. Cotton is the most popular sheet fabric, but some people prefer non-wrinkling cotton blends. There are more unusual and opulent choices such as satin, silk or microfiber. Pillowcases may make the greatest difference so see which you prefer before buying a whole set.

Always keep your comfort and personal preferences uppermost in your mind when selecting sheets and designing your bedroom. This is one of the times you can and must choose exactly what you like!

Always remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

As the One Hour Designer, I would be happy to take you shopping. See what a difference an hour can make! Contact me at

Interior Design For Mindful Living

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Your home – your preferences

By Barbara Kaplan –

How do you prefer to live? Is it the way you are living?

Creating health and wellness in your home is really about understanding YOU! Your home feels good and is personalized when you express more of your own “signature” in your environment. When you understand your lifestyle needs and wants, you gain self-confidence to create your vision of your personal style.

I like calling needs and wants, personal preferences. Personal preferences guide, encourage and comfort you when making decorating decisions. The awareness of these preferences help you learn about yourself so you can express them in your environment.

It also helps to become aware of your reaction to all of your senses. Then you will have a clearer picture of what it is you like and don’t like. As you become comfortable and identify with your preferences you will feel happier in your own home.

Your preferences are heightened as you enjoy your surroundings. Your enjoyment is in living with what you love.

The habits and preferences you practice in your space is what makes it personal. What you do can be peaceful and serene and other times can be fun and exciting. You decide what your preferences are to give you the feeling you want. As example:

  • Your kitchen can be a quiet place in the early hours before anyone else is up and you have a cup of coffee in your special cup, sit facing in your favorite direction and reading the paper. It could be taking your vitamins in a crystal or “funky” wine glass. How have you designed a preference to start the day?
  • Your bathroom can have candles around the tub in the evening for relaxation and meditation. Select your tooth brush in your favorite color and place it in a special glass. Your pajamas can be hanging waiting for you on a pretty hook. My glass only matches my bedroom color (and doesn’t match anything else in the house) which I take to bed for my evening vitamins that are in unique containers by my bedside.
  • All your areas can surround you with your favorite things. Like pictures in beautiful frames, your private collections, flowers in a special vase, personal mementos and sayings placed in different areas of the house.

When creating personal spaces, it’s your senses that most come into play. Surround yourself with your favorite fragrances, colors, textures, sounds and flavors. When you feel special and nurtured you are creating healing. When this healing is experienced and repeated it becomes a healthy habit.

As you make changes in your environment remember this is your sacred space and refuge from the world. Be open to the possibilities. Look inside yourself to see what you need in your surroundings and then go about bringing them together once your vision is clear. Trust yourself and your choices. It takes a great deal of honesty to get what you need and want. Interior design is a creative process where there is no right or wrong. “If it feels right, it is right!”

Design from the heart and enjoy the outcome. Remember, rooms have no feelings, you do!

Loving Your Home Is Loving Yourself

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Your home is the most important outward expression of who you are, after your physical body. The way we treat ourselves – what we eat, how much exercise and rest we get, and all the other daily decisions we make about our body including, our appearance – speaks volumes about who we are.

Our home becomes an extension of our body and soul. It is our sanctuary where we can be real and heal. Like our bodies, it is the expression of all our thoughts and desires, our fears and doubts. Home is the safe haven for our body, mind and spirit.

Keeping this in mind…what does your most personal environment look like? Does your home have the look and feel of comfort and fun? Does your home support and reflect who you are? When people come into your home do they see you?

When someone comes into your home they are seeing the real you. James Allen wrote in, As A Man Thinketh, “Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are. Therefore, your home is a reflection of you, as you are right now.

Your home may no longer feel in sync with who you are today. It may have lost its continuity and harmony with your needs. Possibly you have outgrown or become bored with your surroundings. A new energy may be needed. If that’s the case read on. I have answers for you.

This is the time to begin your journey of reevaluation and redesign. It may be as much as a move to a new location, a remodel or just to rearrange or refresh what you already have. The size of the project doesn’t matter as much as the specific changes you intend to make that will impact you to make a difference. Keep in mind, the walls don’t care what color they are or the floors their covering or the sofa the size and shape of the pillows…but you do. When you know what you like and all your design and decoration decisions are made to please you, the decisions become easy.

You may ask, “What about the people I live with?” Easy, this is an opportunity to open conversation about how each of you wants to live and how you can accomplish this together. It needs to be a family project with input from everyone to find what is important to all.

One of the things you can do together is look through magazines to discover what you like and, as importantly, what you don’t like. Once you think you have made a few choices, test yourself:

  • Buy a can of paint and experiment with a new color on one wall.
  • Bring flooring samples home to see how they look in your light.
  • Throw some daring accent pillows on the sofa…you might only need one.

Observe what happens to the room and feel your reactions. Don’t make quick decisions. See how it looks at different times of day. Take your time. Get used to the changes. Begin to understand your choices. You might like one change but not another. Become aware how each change affects something else. So do one thing at a time. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. And most of all, trust yourself. Only you know how you want to live. Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

There is so much more to learn about Loving Your Home is Loving Yourself, so as a gift to you my readers, I have a video with more information and a tip a day on my YouTube Channel or website See you there.

Staging Your Home: It’s Not Just For Sales

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By Barbara Kaplan –

“Staging” is a term traditionally used by designers and realtors for creating a desirable setting that will appeal to buyers and will motivate them in purchasing a home. However, this is not the only reason!

Often after I have staged a home with the furnishings of the current homeowner, I hear, “If I had known my home could look this good, I wouldn’t have wanted to move.” This always saddens me and inspires me to wonder, “Why wait?” Hopefully they will apply this valuable awareness in their new home. Knowing most people can’t look at their home with eyes of a decorator or designer, I believe everyone should have a design consultation for their new home and then on an as-needed basis. Just like we have annual check-ups at the doctor, we often need a professional opinion.

It is the same experience walking into a model home because it is decorated not only to appeal to your desires for the home but also for the “lifestyle” staged. Why not do this for yourself, now!

As an interior designer, once I get to know my clients, I see the possibilities that will make a room look and feel best for the people who live there. However, so often we do not see that for ourselves. We focus on the furniture pieces we have and possibly don’t like anymore. We are tired of the accessories we have seen for so long. We need to look at our homes with fresh eyes. I call this “refreshing” your environment.

In our current housing situation many people may not be living in homes of their choosing. Some are reluctant to put more money into their homes because the value has diminished. I believe that you are the most important consideration. Invest in you! If you are staying in this home for a while, do some things that will make a difference for you to be happy and don’t focus on what the house needs.

This is a great opportunity to start to refresh. Begin by walking through your home and:

  • Give away or sell anything you don’t like
  • Throw away anything that is broken
  • Get rid of anything too dirty to clean (the biggest offender is silk flowers and plants)

Now you are on your way! Next, either re-arrange the furniture or if it is easier for you to see the empty room, start over by taking everything out and bring back one piece at a time. Keep looking with fresh eyes. You can either close your eyes and open periodically, turn around and back again or walk out and return a moment later. When you get overwhelmed stop and come back later.

You don’t have to bring everything back. Use only the pieces you still want to live with. Some of the pieces might look better in other rooms and there may be pieces elsewhere in the house you can bring in. Don’t forget the great pieces you put away in cupboards because they were too good to use. Now is the time to enjoy them!

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Barbara Kaplan & Design Dimensions Proclaims February “Love Your Home” Month

Since February is the month for love, Design Dimensions is joining with the PV Design Center to celebrate “Love Your Home” on February 28, 10am-6pm. Join me and other Design Experts to answer your design questions, free prizes for decorating services, fun and more. Let’s celebrate YOU in your home! For schedule of events visit

Check in for a new “Love Your Home” video solution everyday in February for 29 days. It will be on Facebook, my YouTube Channel and my website.

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