The new year is symbolic of new beginning and fresh resolutions. Preparing your home for the New Year is the perfect time to decide what you want to keep and what to leave behind to create space in your life and home for new opportunities.

Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shway”) — which literally translates to “wind and water” — is the ancient Chinese art of placement to enhance the flow of Chi (life force or spiritual energy), and to create harmonious environments that support health, beckon wealth and invite happiness. At its most basic level, Feng Shui is a decorating discipline based on the belief that our surroundings affect us.

It examines how the placement of things and objects within your home affect the energy flow in your living environment and how these objects interact with and influence your personal energy flow. Your personal energy flow affects how you think and act, which in turn affects how well you perform and succeed in your personal and professional life.

Feng Shui affects you every moment of the day — whether you’re aware of it or not.

There are two dimensions of Feng Shui: the visible and the invisible. The visible refers to everything you can see and touch, such as doors, walls, furniture, etc. The invisible refers to the life force energy (chi). Chi literally translates as “breath”, “air” and figuratively as “material energy” or “energy flow”.

Elements such as colors, sounds, and symbols, along with the arrangement of furniture and other items within the home, are instrumental in creating a pleasing indoor environment. By inhabiting a living space that has healthy chi or good energy, your own life force is enhanced and preserved.

Here are a few Feng Shui principles to help you create a home with healthy chi or good energy.

  1. De-clutter your space and fix what is broken as they are both obstacles to positive chi. They do not uplift the space or its occupants creating negative Feng Shui.
  1. Achieve Balance within a room by incorporating each of the five basic Feng Shui elements: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood. These elements are the basic principles of Feng Shui and interact in specific ways, generally defined as the Productive and Destructive cycles. Each one of these elements has a unique quality of energy that is expressed in specific colors, sounds, body organs, compass directions, planets, and flavors, etc. and can be represented through textures, shapes, and colors. For instance, to incorporate the water element in a room without literally bringing it inside, incorporate dark, shiny, reflective surfaces and fabrics with wave-like patterns.

It is important to choose colors that create positive Feng Shui in specific areas of your house (unless you paint your whole house in one neutral color). For example, it is considered bad Feng Shui to have a strong presence of blue or black in the South area of your home, or too much red or fiery orange in the East area. See How to Choose the Perfect Color the Feng Shui Way and the Color Meanings in Feng Shui “Cheat Sheet” in House Beautiful.

Learn more about incorporating colors and other elements in Feng Shui Tips for a Healthy Happy Home.

  1. Define the “Bagua” or Energy Map of Your Home

Feng Shui Bagua (also known as Pakua or Ba-Gua) is the Feng Shui energy map of a space. To create good energy in your home or office, create the Feng Shui Bagua of your space and balance its energies accordingly. View How To Define Your Bagua Video for an overview.


7 Feng Shui Steps To A Harmonious Home

By Rodika Tchi Feng Shui Expert


Chinese New Year is on January 27th.  2017 is the year of the Rooster(Phoenix) and it brings opportunities for rebirth and transformation.

In her book, The Holistic Home, Feng Shui expert Laura Benko shares her experience of giving your space—and ultimately your whole self—good healing energy.

Life Compass found on iTunes App Store. Discover favorable energies and personized insights with this unique app that combines traditional Chinese Feng Shui with modern technology.

Imagine your life…

  • Restful sleep in a flow of Health Qi.
  • Working in a stream of Success energy.
  • Meditations supported with abundant Spiritual Growth energy.


If you entertain frequently, consider having a designated space for a bar in your home. It makes hosting company convenient as it keeps the guests refreshed and it might even help by keeping them from getting in the way of the cook.

If you decide to install a bar in your home, you have the choice between a wet or dry bar. The main difference between the two is that a wet bar, at the bare minimum, includes a sink with running water and a drain and a dry bar does not. Often a wet bar, if it is separate from the kitchen, includes a small refrigerator/freezer and a dishwasher. For a wet bar, the drink preparation area should be designed to both prepare cocktails and contain spills. And, it must have a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) installed in the electrical outlet to protect against dangerous electrical faults that could occur in drink mixers and other electrical devices. A wet bar allows for drink preparation and clean-up to be completely separate from the cooking area, however, it is more costly than a dry bar due to plumbing and electrical requirements.

A dry bar can be set-up for a party on a buffet, counter, or a table with glasses, ice, wine, beer, spirits, mixers, and garnishes, or it can be configured in your current kitchen space. If you are planning a kitchen remodel, even if you don’t have room for a sink, a dry bar can be incorporated as part of your cabinetry and electrical plans should you want a built-in refrigerator and/or dishwasher. When you plan the interior cabinets, consider slide-out drawers instead of stationary shelves or drawers. As for the cabinet doors, clear glass or frosted glass make a very attractive covering to the cabinets.

If you don’t have the cabinet space in the kitchen, alternative spaces can be used in nearby rooms. Consider converting a closet to a dry bar as pictured below.

Sutro Architects

A dry bar can also be a piece of furniture that can hold the bottles, glasses, and accessories and it can be portable which is very convenient. Visit Create and Barrel for a wide variety and styles that would complement any space.



A guide from Front + Main will help you to build your bar, from a list of must have beginner bottles to the perfect glasses and tools to help you create killer cocktails.

Looking for Tips, Tricks and Recipes for your holiday party? Check out Lou Bustamante’s book. He is the Spirits, Bar, Cocktail, and Food Writer for SF Chronicle.


Visit 1stdibs for Antique, Vintage, Art-Deco and Mid-Century Modern Dry Bars.


Visit Pottery Barn for a wonderful selection of home bar furniture. They offer bars and portable bar carts that look as good in a den or home office as in the dining area of your home. It includes options for small space and decorating pieces that look great alongside a bar, such as tall and narrow bar towers or decorative mirrors.

Need more ideas of Dry Bars? Get hooked on Pinterest!

From Sunsets blog Westphoria – Learn 3 drinks To Make the Holiday Season More Merry


A Man Cave can be defined as a room, space, corner, or area of a dwelling that is specifically reserved for a male person to be in a solitary condition, away from the rest of the household in order to work, play, and involve himself in certain hobbies and activities without interruption. This area is usually decorated by the male, without interference from any female influence. Technically, any space a man can go to be alone can be defined as a Man Cave. It can be an office, basement, garage, or shed out back. It is a room free from other themes or style of the home. A Man Cave is where a man goes for sanctuary.

It’s all in the Accessories
While the location can be almost anywhere, there are classic amenities found in many Man Caves including a pool table, bar, refrigerator, dart board, TV, sound system, a pinball machine, and very comfortable furniture. Often the wall décor emphasizes the man’s interests – sports, cars, movies, etc. Dependent on the man’s interests, they can also include a writing desk, a painting easel, a collection of sports memorabilia, or a garage wall filled with tools.

Comfort & Quality
The lounge chair is a man room necessity. While an old La-Z-Boy might immediately come to mind, take quality into consideration and buy things that are crafted with care. Invest in a good leather chair that is water & spill resistant and eternally stylish. A great chair is more than just a fabric bag stuffed with as much cotton as possible and a built-in cup holder. All good furniture has been designed with both form and function in mind. Here are 3 classic chairs with timeless appeal

The Barcelona Chair
by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe which was designed for the World Exposition in 1929 and still continues to be an iconic masculine piece.

The LC2 and LC3 Armchairs designed by French designer LeCourbusier

As far as lounge chairs are concerned, many consider the classic Eames Lounge Chair, made by Herman Miller, to be one of the most comfortable chairs of all time. When you sit in it, it literally conforms to your body.

eames-lounge-ottomanAs far as lounge chairs are concerned, many consider the classic Eames Lounge Chair, made by Herman Miller, to be one of the most comfortable chairs of all time. When you sit in it, it literally conforms to your body.
Eames® Lounge and Ottoman


Audio — Visual

The right viewing portal is absolutely essential to every Man Cave. Equally important is a kick-ass sound system — not just good speakers — but a complete surround sound system. This will enhance your movie, music, or sports experience to the fullest. To create an in-home audiophile experience we offer two resources who are both NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) members who have worked with many of our clients to create integrated home theaters or high performance audio systems.

Century Stereo
The Integrated Lifestyle

Authentic You

authentic-youThe key to designing the ultimate Man Cave is to create a personal retreat to surround oneself with things that are meaningful. It is the perfect space for that lifelong collection of (fill in the blank) that your spouse doesn’t understand. The cave provides the perfect space to organize and display the collection and keep them safe. See for example, this modern Man Cave by Benedict August where a G.I. Joe Collection is creatively displayed and childhood toys are the focal point of the room.

Mancave Resources

Find a wide selection of sports memorabilia from local and national MLB, NFL, NHL teams at Man Cave Memorabilia. Shop locally (Foster City) or online.

big-daddybig-daddy-logoLooking for the one-of-a-kind antique for your man room? Big Daddy Antiques Inc. is a retailer of one-of-a-kind antiques and reproductions from European, Asian, and North American markets.




art-of-manliness-logoTake a look inside the “Man Rooms” of 14 famous men from history on The Art of Manliness website.


art-of-manlinessFamous Man Caves
In reading about the lives of history’s great men, one thing the author noticed was that many of them had a place they could go to be alone with their thoughts. Some of these men had a study where they would retreat to think, read, and write. Others had a garage or workshop where they would tinker and experiment. But what all these rooms had in common was their sheer manliness. They were man spaces, places a man could call his own. Within these rooms ideas were formulated that would change the world and books were written that became classics. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison are some of the featured

mancave-at-homeMan Cave at Home

A Manly Superstore, Man Cave a Home sells everything necessary to build the ultimate Man Cave, whether it’s a pool table, a bar, beer neon signs, Harley-Davidson bar stools, a stand up arcade game…you name it, they have it or can get it.

Game On!

Click on the team logos to find their 2015/2016 Season Schedules







The French have a special je ne sais quoi when it comes to fashion and style. Simply put—they know how to dress. It seems that the French not only know how to dress themselves, but they also know how to dress their home interiors.

French interiors seem elegantly “thrown together” because their homes have an understated elegance that is welcoming and invites one to sit and stay awhile—it’s equivalent to how French woman toss on a scarf on the way out the door, effortlessly adding that last piece de resistance to their outfit.

Elegant and effortless seems like an ideal combination. Let’s take a few tips from French interiors and see what they can teach us about decorating our own homes.
Interior designer, Renate Hering-Shepherd from Dream Home Decorating shares with us her 7 Essential Elements of French Decorating.

Rule #1 Under-decorate
Rule #2 Be Bold!
Rule #3 Mix Old & New
Rule #4 Mix Raw & Refined
Rule #5 Mix Country & Court
Rule #6 Look Up!
Rule #7 A Bit of Gold Never Hurt Anyone

For more details, the full article can be found at

The article also provides room by room French Interior Design examples, tips on how to “Frenchify” your home and how to find furniture and accessories. It also is a great resource for French Interior Design books and magazines.

Take a peak at Luciane at HomeBunch as she offers several design ideas and inspirations on her website. These two beautiful pieces were showcased along with photos of Paris that makes you feel as if you were there.

French Armoire 					designed by Twisted Interior Design

French Armoire
designed by Twisted Interior Design

Classic French Country Mantelpiece by The French Mix Interior Design

Classic French Country Mantelpiece
by The French Mix Interior Design


enchante-boutique-hotelIf you are truly interested in an authentic representation of French décor, a visit to Enchante Boutique Hotel in downtown Los Altos is a must. This French chateau style hotel is adorned in Paris chic, with authentic details througout the hotel. The owner provides and experience and ambiance of a fine European hotel without the need for your passports.

31 Mar 2015

Hip to be Square


Stylish. Simple. Affordable. Eco-Friendly.
It’s not too often that one can describe a product with all four of these attributes. Yes, there is home product that exists that is stylish, simple, affordable and eco-friendly. We are referring to FLOR Carpet Design Squares. Although, it has been around since 2003, we recently had a client come to us to help them with decorative finishes for their new addition. Hardwood floors had been installed throughout their home; however, they needed protective floor coverings for the laundry room, kitchen, living area and hallway. We knew FLOR was the answer. It was perfect for all four areas. Ever since, we have been a huge fan.

Photo2FlorLogoWhat is FLOR? FLOR is an innovative modular system of carpet squares (20” x 20″) that you assemble to create custom rugs, runners, or wall-to-wall designs of any shape or size. FLOR works great on hardwood, vinyl tile, laminate, plywood and concrete sealed with nonsolvent sealant.

With a full array of textures, colors and patterns, the designers at FLOR offer something for everyone. Whether it is the look of traditional herringbone pattern, playful leopard & zebra prints to earthy/nature & industrial tones, FLOR squares adds personality and conveys your unique style to any room. You can create floor coverings for any space, from cozy nurseries to busy kitchens or everyday high traffic hallways and entryways.

From beginning to end this product is simple. (Square+Dot=Rug). Simple to request samples (they’re free at Palo Alto store) and order product, simple to assemble by yourself (no contractor required) and simple to clean. FLOR rugs are easy to install, move and/or change, and they stay in place with FLOR dots, a patented adhesive, which adhere to the bottom of each square and not your floor.






Photo4PurseAffordable. Costs run from $10 to $30 a Design Square (with the majority of Design Squares priced at $16-$18). They arrive to your door in about a week.
Need a quick estimate of how many squares your floor needs? Use FLOR’s Tile Calculator



All FLOR face fibers are nylon with varying degrees of recycled content. The backings are a vinyl composite, increasingly made from recycled materials. FLOR carpet tiles meet or exceed the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus standards for VOC emissions. Most FLOR carpet squares use a GlasBac backing, a vinyl composite, which is 100% recyclable. FLOR also offers a Return & Recycle Program – they take your old FLOR tiles and turn them into new product.

FLOR customer service is exemplary. Designed-challenged? No problem. FLOR offers design assistance over the phone as well as in the store. We are fortunate to have a retail store local in Palo Alto, where you can view samples and consult with an in-house designer to help you create your own unique composition.

Visit FLOR at 321 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 (650) 289-9609 or check out FLOR’s Facebook page for more information, ideas, and inspiration:

babyflor hallway blackwhite

In your enthusiasm for remodeling your kitchen or bath, other less exciting spaces in your home may be ignored, even though they desperately need a make-over. A garage is one of those oft-neglected areas, because homeowners typically are not very concerned about the appearance or functionality of their garages. However, if you thoughtfully consider some of the items that you regularly deposit in your garage, you will realize the importance of having a plan for organizing and improving your garage as well.

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based on

The Construction Project

“The state of color is constantly changing and gathers influence from the world around us,” says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. Each year Jordan, along with her color experts, surveys these swirling global currents and selects key colors that capture a picture of the latest color trends. For the Sherwin-Williams Colormix 2014 forecast, Jordan has chosen 38 colors that are grouped into the four palettes she describes below. Feel free to use these colors as design inspiration when planning your next home remodeling project.

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4 slices bacon
2 large ham hocks, meaty

2 lbs split peas (dry) rinsed and drained
2 medium yellow onions, minced
6 bulbs garlic, minced
4 stalks celery w/leaves, chopped into ½” cubes.
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
1 large box chicken broth [or more]
Water as needed

½ tsp thyme (French)
2 bay leaves
¼ cup parsley, chopped fine and added with peas
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

3 cups leeks chopped (1/3 white, 1/3 lt. green 1/3 green) substitute for yellow onions
½ cup Swiss chard stems, chopped and added in lieu of onions
1-2 cups leafy greens [Swiss chard, collards, kale, arugula, parsley, celery leaves, etc.] stems removed chopped fine and added with peas
½ tsp rosemary or oregano added with peas

Cut up bacon into ½” squares. Sauté bacon in a large stock pot over medium heat until crisp and brown. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble and set aside. Do not discard fat.

Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots (and/or options) to bacon fat. Sauté until vegetables begins to soften-about 6-12 minutes.

Add chicken broth, split peas, ham hock, thyme, bay leaves, and options (if desired) and enough water to cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until peas start to break down- between 45 and 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. More water may need to be added.

Remove lid and simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached. Remove ham hock and bay leaves, chop-up ham and return to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour soup into individual bowls. Garnish with with toppings of your choice: crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, croutons, etc.

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