The Design Diva Dishes! Design Trends and Lifestyle Tips

The Design Diva Dishes!
Design Trends and Lifestyle Tips
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Summer is in full swing, and as I write we are experiencing a long run of over-90
degree days. I feel especially badly for the abundance of pregnant women I notice
walking around. Perhaps all these pregnancies are a consequence of the very long,
cold winter we experienced, but whatever the reason, it inspired me to make this
issue all about decorating children's rooms. Even if there isn't a new baby or
grandchild on your horizon, perhaps your child's room might be in need of an
update. This is a great activity for you both to work on while school is out.
I will give you a guide for planning a room that will grow with your child. Our Trend
Report will alert you to safety issues facing nursery decor, and Green Design
will give suggestions for going green in your child's room. The Color of the Month is
white and the Recipe of the Month is a muffin recipe that was a favorite of my
daughters when they were growing up.
Please feel free to call me at 704-987-0277 with any questions or comments, or if
you prefer you can email me at [email protected]
Happy Independence Day and God Bless America!
Barbara Green
PS - For those of you who missed last month's issue, I announced that I am a
now writing about design for AOL. If you would like to see some of my posts,
click here.
Decorating Children's Rooms
Whether decorating for an unborn baby or any aged child, there are 7 basic areas to
consider: walls, flooring, furniture, bedding, window treatments, storage, and
accessories. Big ticket items should always be of high quality and neutral design so
that they can grow as your child grows. Featured photos represent a bedroom that
was redecorated when the young boy was ready to leave his crib behind and move
on to his "Big Boy Bed." His parents were smart to make choices that will grow with
him, all the way through his teens years and even off to college.
The goal for a bedroom is to create a soothing environment conducive to a good
night's sleep. While it is tempting to choose a bold and bright juvenile color scheme,
I caution against it as it will impede your child's ability to fall asleep. A soft blue or
muted green is always relaxing, but buttery yellow, pale apricot or soft lavender are
also good choices. Neutrals such as sand or gray are also restful. Add some fun to
the plain walls with removable wall decals.
My preference for children's flooring is hardwood or laminates, as they are easier to
keep clean and non-allergenic. An area rug can be brought in for a pop of color and
comfortable space to play.
Buy the highest quality, solid wood furniture that you can afford. Buying
classic styles that grow with your child end up costing less in the long run. Furniture
made from composite wood will not withstand the wear and tear of active children,
and it also off-gases harmful toxins which have shown to increase a child's risk for
asthma, autism, and cancer. Right now the piece below is used for storage, but
when needed, the bottom doors open to become a computer desk.
Look through any catalog or online store and you will see thousands of adorable
"character-themed" bedding sets. Before you commit to an entire bedroom in your
child's favorite cartoon character, remember how frequently children change their
minds. My advice is to purchase durable, washable bedding and curtains, in a
neutral color, pattern, and design, and reflect your child's personality in the
accessories such as pillows and posters. This denim comforter and sham set will
get more comfortable with each washing.
Window Treatments
It is important to incorporate room darkening window treatments in a child's room to
prevent the sun from waking them too early in the morning or keeping them from
napping in the afternoon. Since children are known for having dirty hands, I advise
against full-length draperies. Instead, opt for either roller shades or blinds for the light
control and valances for design style and color.
Kids today accumulate A LOT OF STUFF. There is no way around it, you just need
ample storage options to accomodate it. Thankfully there are bins and buckets
galore available in every size, shape and color to make it easy to keep things in
order. It is important to start kids early with picking up after themselves. If you wait
too long, bad habits are formed and the messes will only grow bigger as your child
does! (Trust me on this one... I know from experience!) I love this bookcase as it
has a pull-down bin on the bottom which makes clean up time a snap.
This is where you can really add your child's personality into the room. This room
was decorated for a boy who loved the movie "Cars." Along with the high-quality,
neutral basics, we added sheets, pillows, posters, and accessories to reflect his
love for "Cars." When he outgrows it, it will be an easy and affordable task to make
minor changes in the accessories to reflect his latest favorites.
Trend Report
To some, this may appear to be an adorable photo of my daughter Bonnie,
taken eighteen years ago. To others, however, this is a photo of a DEATH TRAP
and they will demand I be taken off in handcuffs immediately. Are you confused? I'm
sorry, but the three latest trends in children's room decorating will explain:
No Drop-Sided Cribs
Perhaps your read in the newspaper or heard on TV that more than 2 million dropside cribs have been recalled. It seems that the moveable side can malfunction or
detach from the crib, creating a space where babies' heads can get trapped,
strangulated, or suffocated. There were no actual deaths that occurred, but there
were 16 cases of entrapment and one child was found unconcious and needed to be
hospitalized. If you already have a drop-side crib, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission recommends you get a kit to immobilize the drop-side. Congress has
introduced legislation in both the House and Senate to permanently ban the sale of
drop-sided cribs.
No Bumper Pads
According to a study done by Washington University's Department of Pediatrics, 27
cases of infant death were attributed to bumper pads. The most deaths, 13, occurred
when the infant became wedged between the bumper and another object; 11 deaths
occurred when the infant's face was against the bumper and 3 deaths were the result
of the bumper tie around the infant's neck. I thought I was being a good Mom by
using the bumpers to prevent my baby's head from hitting the hard, wooden spindles,
but the study says that the risk is far greater than the benefit.
No Stuffed Animals or Toys in the Crib
As you can see in the photo, my daughter's crib was full of blankets, pillows, stuffed
animals, toys, and books. I kept them there in hopes of keeping her entertained after
she woke up in the mornings to give me a few more precious minutes before I
needed to get her out for the day. Now the experts call all these items "Breathing
Blockers" and recommend that they be removed from the crib. The risks include
something as dangerous as suffocation to mild irritations as dust collectors which
might aggravate allergies or lead to stuffy noses.
Sometimes I feel like it is a miracle that both of my daughters survived to adulthood,
considering all the things I did wrong! My advice to young parents is to use your
common sense, listen to the experts, and do the best you can with the knowledge
that is available. It wouldn't hurt to pray for your best to be good enough.
Color of the Month
July's Color of the Month is white, which
might seem counter-intuitive
when considering how messy children can be. However, since white is a light that is
composed of all colors of the spectrum it is a great way to temper the bold colors
that children are naturally drawn to.
For those who are renting, there may not be any option other than white walls. That
didn't stop this family from giving their daughter a totally customized look in her
bedroom. The removable wall decals, monogrammed headboard, and colorful
accessories give a homey feeling wherever they set up home.
This tiny bedroom's size was maximized by the use of custom-designed furniture,
bedding and storage pieces. The bright white reflects the sun coming in from the
window and visually expands the space.
Pre-fab modular furniture is gaining in popularity and is a great option for creating
mulit-functional rooms in limited spaces. While the idea of an entire room painted
that bold pink might scare off some parents (not me, of course!), choosing to use the
pink on the cabinetry and keeping the walls a clean white helps to keep the room
from being overpowered by color. Notice again the use of decals for extra interest.
There are decals designed for every design aesthetic for both boys and girls.
Pure white is not the only option for a crisp, clean look. The wainscotting paint has a
barely-there blue tint to give a whisper of color and an inviting beachy look.
Green Design
Did you know that indoor air pollution is thought to be 10 times worse than outdoor
air pollution? Home products manufacturers use so many chemicals when making
your furnishings that they "off-gas" (emit chemicals into the air) for up to ten years.
Indoor air pollution is believed to be a factor in the staggering increase in childhood
asthma, allergies, autism, and even childhood cancers. Thankfully, manufacturers
have heeded the call to cleaner and more eco-friendly manufacturing processes and
each week more and more new products are released. So what can you do?
After you choose your perfect wall color, make sure you have it blended from
"Lowor No- VOC" paint formula. VOCs are volatile organic
compounds, which produces the odor when you paint. The chemicals that cause
that smell linger for years, and are responsible for some of the indoor air pollution.
Next, for flooring, there are amazing options made from recycled materials. Old tires
are being recycled into durable flooring that mimics wood, tile, and stone and soda
bottles are being recycled into carpeting. Bamboo flooring is another eco-friendly
option as it is a rapid growth agricultural product, and regenerates much faster than
the trees used for traditional wood flooring. If you or your child suffers from allergies, I
would stick to the hard surface flooring as opposed to wall to wall carpeting. Dust
and allergens collect in the carpet fibers, but can easily be mopped or swept up from
the hard surfaces.
To complete the eco-friendly design plan, choose furniture and accessories
manufactured by responsible companies that are committed to replenish wood they
have harvested and that use chemical-free finishing products. Try to buy locally
made furnishings, as this not only helps the local economy, it also reduces the
carbon footprint of each product by reducing the fuel used in transporting your
furnishings across the country or across the globe.
Quote of the Month
by Article
What is a home without children? Quiet. ~ Henny Youngman
Recipe of the Month
Few things are associated with childhood more than Peanut Butter and Jelly. This
recipe was a favorite when my girls were growing up. It features a moist, peanut
butter muffin, with a surprise filling of jelly in the center. We always used strawberry
preserves for the filling, but use whatever is your child or grandchild's favorite.
PB&J Surprise Muffins
1 3/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1/3 C butter, melted
1/2 C jam, jelly, or preserve of your choice
Preheat oven to 375. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix
the peanut butter with the egg; add the milk, a little at a time, then add the butter.
Mix well. Pour the wet batter into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently to
combine (the batter will be stiff).
Put a heaping tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup. Use a finger to
make an indentation in the center and put a teaspoon of jelly in the hole. Cover with
another heaping tablespoon of batter, or enough to fill each cup two thirds full.
Spread the top batter gently until no jelly is visible.
Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the muffins onto a wire rack to cool. Be careful - the
jelly centers can get hot!
Community Outreach
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Most people say there are only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes. Well
I would like to submit to you a third guarantee: No matter how bad your life is, there
is always someone worse off than you. I believe that it is more important to give
than to receive. Additionally, it has been my personal experience that when I give
generously, whether it be of time or money, the rewards I get are exponentially
greater than anything I might have given. In this spirit, I am going to share with you
each month opportunities available for us all to give back, for we are all greatly
blessed, even in these times of struggle.
Boat hosts needed July 24 for Big Day at the Lake
Big Day at the Lake on July 24th means deserving kids in Big Brothers Big Sisters
will be converging on Lake Norman for a sixth year in a row for a day of fun on Lake
Norman. Big Day at the Lake needs Boat Hosts to take them out for tubing and
swimming. Literally hundreds of Boat Hosts are needed, starting at 9 a.m. on
Saturday July 24. All you have to do is take the "Little" and their "Big" out on the
lake and do what you'd normally do on a hot summer day with your own children or
friends, then join in the fun at a picnic held at the Duke Energy Explorium.
You can meet your match at your home, marina, yacht club or boat ramp. Many
Boat Hosts join together for extra fun on an island or at a particular home.
For more information about Big Day at the Lake, please call 704-895-1335 or visit to register to be a Boat Host.