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Welcome to CN's TCCA News

Decorating Concepts for Condominiums


Jeanine Heidtman, A.S.I.D. 

Jeanine Heidtman is an A.S.I.D. Designer residing in Palm Beach County, FL. Contact her at info@condonewsonline.com

Last Updated: 05/26/2021

More Going Green Ideas

After writing the last column about the "Go Green" concept and products designed to save our resources, I attended the October 9th Green Expo at Palm Beach State College (formerly our Community College located on Congress Avenue in Lake Worth).

The Campus Expo was alive with people who really have extensive knowledge and awareness of local environmental issues.

With the annual energy cost in America to run our primary and high schools combined to total over 6 BILLION dollars, this amount easily surpasses the total for books and computers combined .

With Palm Beach County now using the EPA Energy Star ratings for its almost 200 Schools, the key to understanding and reducing water and air conditioning costs is easier to track and verify improvements. The past 2 yearís efforts and changes has reduced energy consumption by 12%, even with the addition of several new schools.

Just as energy management has been successful for schools, we as condo owners must take the time to research possible changes and spend the extra money up front for the longer term savings.

It is so easy to be complacent, especially if water and electric or both are included in monthly maintenance fees. One has only to attend a board meeting or look at the annual budget to see that even indirectly most monthly increases are due to rising energy costs.

Whether the issue is pool temperature, more lighting than needed and water requirements for non xeriscape landscaping, we cannot allow personal entitlement as a reason to refuse to look at and change things.

Better choices do not have to be inferior and can lead to products manufactured and repaired by U.S. workers to help with economic recovery. Energy management systems, now computer based, can control and manage a condoís energy needs probably without noticing the changes.

I gave up my flower garden 6 years ago in the change to a condo, but have become VERY aware of the water needs of balcony pots to keep them happy. I buy drought tolerant plants that donít fry in our Florida sunshine and never pour water down the drain if it could be used for my plants.

At the expo, a self contained tower system, using no soil and 99% water efficient, was displayed and explained. Looking somewhat Ďstate-of-the-artí but not unattractive on a balcony, it grows flowers and plants vertically just using water and nutrients. I am not sure why condo documents could prevent having one and, with the plants installed, itís quite attractive. Various sizes are available and can be viewed on www.sustainablegardensupply.com

Perhaps the biggest surprise was a weekly radio program called "Radio Green Earth" produced by public radio and focusing on the environment. We can listen to experts on technology, products and changing everyday tasks that will help us become greener.

The showís hosts are an environmental scientist John Poggi; radio and TV journalist Jim Jackson, the winner of two Edward R. Murrow Awards; and Missy Tancredi, a LEED ( Leadership in Environmental Design) accredited professional who is currently Vice Chair of the United States Green Building Council / Palm Beach, Treasure Coast Branch. Each Saturday at 5 P.M. on WXEL 90.7 FM we can hear about the "Green" tip of the week, new book reviews, and update on any green events in South Florida.

In addition, discussions of marine conservation, endangered species, and eco-friendly products and recycling take it beyond the level of community issues. Listen live at radiogreenearth.org or download any of the podcasts from iTunes.

With all of us trying to do our part with new ideas and methods to save our Earth and itís resources, I will continue next issue with easy and commonplace tips to start. I promise youíll save money along the way.

Green Should Be The Color For Everyone

After writing about the wonderful colors associated with fall, green doesnít come to mind. Perhaps it should, as there is no better time to change the way you decorate and live. It is not really very difficult to make changes and make your condo, earth-friendly.

Take only small steps first toward the Going Green Process, because it can become overwhelming with all we see and hear. It is very trendy for manufacturers to include the green message in their advertising, but condos have a slightly different avenue to travel than our earth-bound friends living in homes.

Contrary to popular belief, stylish eco-friendly design elements are available for every room of your condo. We do not have to concern ourselves with solar panels, geothermal systems or other flashy products with huge costs.

Decor need not be opposed to sustainability. One example is a $50 cork bulletin board found in Crate and Barrel. Upon reading the product description, the item is made from a sustainable lightweight cork alternative, caned charcoal polypropylene, so the additional cost is a result of a new example of going green. The retailer also has an entire line of furniture called the Lockport Collection, with soy based poly foam in the cushions and hardwood frames certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Washable slip covers are available in 18 colors and probably include one of your favorites. Green decorating items are becoming a growing business with other popular retailers. Pottery Barn sells bowls made of recycled glass. The Container Store sells newsprint bins made of recycled paper and storage boxes from recycled fiberboard. Restoration Hardware features furniture and accessories made from sustainable harvested Indonesian teak. William Sonoma announced that 95 % of the paper in their seven catalogues would come from certified sources.

Although some green products are more expensive, recent carpet options that are competitively priced have made their way down to the big box home stores. Made from recycled material or natural fibers, it eliminates synthetic chemical based ones causing vapors and fumes over time and health concerns. Many green designers recommend eliminating carpet and linoleum altogether and suggest reclaimed hardwood or bamboo flooring which can be stained or painted. Bamboo is also made into wallpaper and furniture. Recycled wallpaper is a hot item in decorating. Several companies take existing pieces of scrap and torn paper and turn them into entirely new designs. A further benefit is that it prevents the wallpaper glue from ending up in a landfill. Choose area rugs made of cotton or hemp and natural materials which are already widely available.

These suggestion may be familiar to you, but I will continue to inspire you to make other "Green Changes" in the next issue. Designers have noted that over 25 % of their clients want to live and work in a more environmentally friendly space. Even tiny changes will conserve our resources and reduce our utility bills. Thatís the green anybody can relate to.

Autumn Decor for your Condo

If you havenít noticed on the Calendar, September 23rd was the first day of autumn, and to those of us living year round in Florida, the chance for some cooler weather is very welcome. After recently coming back from Alaska, the heat and humidity still with us, has been especially hard to live with.

When I am feeling displeasure from our summer conditions, I remember being told that 200 to 300 inches of snow each year is about normal in the 49th state.

Still, fall is a great time to make some changes to our condo decor and add some wonderful colors and accessories to create a warm and cozy feeling, in spite of waiting at least another month for the temperature to cool down.

To create a beautiful autumn ambiance, stay away from plastic and fake items when the real things are inexpensive and tasteful and not that hard to find.

If you have been thinking about a new color for a room, check out the Benjamin Moore Fall pallet for 2010. My favorites are Cork (2135), Audubon Russet (HC 51), and a wonderful soft blackened green called Wethersfield Moss (HC110). The HC designation is given to historical colors and you canít go wrong either with any of the golds or rust tones from that collection.

For new accents around your condo, take some time to visit a local farmerís market and purchase apples, pears, decorative gourds, acorn squash, nuts and native corn and load a simple wooden bowl, country basket, tiered cake plate or cornucopia with these items.

Several years ago in Ashville, North Carolina, I spotted white field-grown pumpkins for the first time, and my vintage style decorating dreams were fulfilled. Local craft stores report the traditional orange artificial pumpkins have dropped in popularity up against the white ones. The newest black ones this year look too much like Halloween and a bit harsh with most color schemes, but could be appropriate with more contemporary decor.

For some easy decorating with nature, choose a tall hollowed-out fresh pumpkin as a container for your seasonal flowers or carve a small 1" hole in the miniature pumpkins we see all over, and use them as taper candle holders. You can alternate similar size pumpkins with pillar candles in hurricane glass along your dining room table runner and then scatter fall leaves. If you are lucky enough to get a snowbird friend to bring you some real leaves, preserve them by ironing between sheets of wax paper, microwave for a few seconds or rub a good moisturizer onto the front and back to prevent their curling. Soaking leaves in glycerin is still an old standby or press them between pages of a heavy book. If I drive out of Florida, I always take several old phone books (getting scarce these days) and a cement block for weight, in order to dry the many wonderful flowers, leaves and grasses found along the back roads. If you are lucky to spot Queen Anne Lace, tie a large bouquet of it and hang upside down in your car and it will look as good as the dried sold in flower shops. Add these to grapevine and bittersweet for a very natural look.

Other great autumn choices can include wheat, which was beloved by the famous fashion designer, Coco Chanel. Wheat symbolizes luck, prosperity and fruitfulness and the French word for wheat, "ble" is a slang word for "money". Chanel, who rose from a humble childhood, tucked sheaths of wheat behind statues and collectibles in her home and liked to include wheat in artwork as well. The Chanel 2010 Fashion Collection included wheat fabric prints from the current designer, Karl Lagerfelt, as a way to honor Coco Chanelís love of wheat.

If you prefer, stack miniature bales of straw to showcase and give different heights to the wide assortment of colorful mums available at all the home stores. If you have space on your balcony, large bales of hay and corn stalks are sold at the horse feed stores in the western part of our county. After you have combined them with other autumn decorations, complete the look with votive candles or clear twinkle lights.

To get in a fall mood, replace your bed linens with some of the wonderful flannel selections readily available and think about a chenille spread or blanket.

Most decorating stores have endless choices of flowers, tablecloths and place mats, so choose a few colorful basic pieces to start with and add some wonderful things now available at the Dollar Stores.

Look around your condo for ways to introduce a touch of autumn, and start a new fall tradition, even here in Florida, to celebrate the natural beauty and brilliant colors of the harvest season.

The Great Souvenir Debate

Making it meaningful in your decor

Having just returned from a trip to Seattle and then a wonderful Alaskan cruise, I saw an endless number of gift and souvenir shops with their eager buyers. There didnít seem to be any money worries from the cruisers bringing their finds back on the ship, and ultimately to their homes and condos.

Since space and clutter is a big factor, I have ideas for choosing and displaying things from your travel that you may not have thought about.

My sister Susan and her daughter have traveled to many countries, and they started when Alison was very young, to buy key chains printed with the individual name of the locations they visit.

Every Christmas, they augment their traditional ornaments with these special mementos which are easily hung on the tree branches and they spend many happy hours recalling these trips during the holidays.

It has also been very enjoyable for me, that rather than a typical souvenir, I can select and add to their collection a unique key chain from somewhere far away. They look forward to making this "travel tree" each year. A similar "travel wreath" would take no precious floor space.

A friend with a Victorian styled holiday tree collects unique and beautiful small demitasse cups, glues on the saucer permanently and hangs from a vintage ribbon through the handle. Shells have made a staple Christmas ornament from trips, but try an item more suitable that blends with your decor.

As a rule, stay away from shops and their cookie cutter selections which all look the same but with varying prices. Instead, hit the side streets and local flea markets if you have time. Rather than SPEND money, collect local paper money and coins which look great framed on velvet. Cut out easily recognizable images from old postcards and place these also under the glass. Add these to small matted and framed groupings of bookmarks and small tourist maps from various trips. Anyplace from an entrance hall to master bath is a suitable place for these small personal memories. Many years ago, cruise lines printed daily individual menus for each ship and date, and I have seen many elegant dining rooms with these attractively framed. Often, antique shops have a selection from local famous restaurants long gone. Each restaurantís old prices are certainly a conversation starter.

If your condo is without much color and you prefer it that way, you can find small items in glass and crystal which do not jump out from your existing decor, and can be placed in cabinets or on bookshelves without looking inappropriate.

There is probably a glass penguin from South America, bear or whale from Alaska or another signature animal to purchase at your travel location.

Crystal perfume bottles chosen on trips can easily add to a dresser vignette. Go for either colorless glass or shades of your favorite color so as not to create a jumbled mess.

In years past, kitchen towels were available with popular locations and a designated towel rack with numerous old travel towels looks decorative when displayed together.

Hanging plates for a wall, chosen on trips, whether with locations printed or not, makes a hunt for that special new addition a worthwhile pastime in a port city.

If vintage jewelry is your passion, find a beautiful box and keep a find from each trip spilling out of it. Select and wear one of the pieces and enjoy friendsí comments about it and stories from your vacation where it was purchased. It neednít be more than costume jewelry, but have some significance from your trip.

If miniatures are your favorite collectable and especially these days of increasing luggage fees, purchase like items which can be displayed in a printerís or shadow box in a suitable size, that can make book ends when assembled. Travel books already scattered on several shelves would be special and meaningful if grouped this way.

And finally, all the pictures and what to do to with them. We all know they can be made larger and matted for a wall. In our smaller condo rooms, the display of various bright colors with our existing decor can often be too overpowering and not look well. With the ability now to edit and Photoshop with our own computers, we can convert our travel pictures to sepia or black and white images which then look amazingly different, upscale and stylish and enhance any decor. A touch of black and white is a staple in any good room setting. Experiment this way with your pictures and you WILL find a place to proudly display your efforts.

Perhaps some of the long forgotten "must haves" from previous trips will spark a new plan to get them from out of the closet to become decorating pluses. A new survey has found it is not the new things and toys we purchase which give us pleasure, but memories of places and different cultures we have visited and explored with our loved ones.

Recall your favorite trip and make the memory real again from treasures and trinkets you rediscover and have around you, no matter how small the condo space you call home.

Restore - Don't Just Store - Your Artwork

Now that the Antiques Roadshow has packed up and left South Florida for another of the 6 cities that make up the 2011 season shows, I thought about all the antiques and collectibles going back home with their owners.

If your treasure was NOT found to be valuable enough to pay your childís college tuition or provide you the "good life", where can it go?

I would say, half of the people in the appraisal line had artwork. At best, these will go back into hiding in the closet of an air-conditioned room. Since we condo owners have neither attics or basements which are the most damaging to paper and canvas, common storage rooms which come with our units sometimes become their permanent home. While under the bed has long been the place for unhung artwork, this can be acceptable if stacked frame upon frame, as this will give some ventilation.

The general rule for the cleaning of an oil on canvas is 15 years and is done by a good restorationist.

Dark murky oils are transformed when years of dust and smoke are removed. Many times, this accounts for a previous painting, being given star billing afterwards. If you are hanging an antique picture in your condo or just had to purchase one at an auction, look closely at how it was previously hung

Most older frames have two screw eyes with the wire merely run through the eye and then wound back upon itself. This is not the way, and over time the weight can cause this to loosen and the picture come crashing down. For the picture to hang correctly the screw eyes should be about 65 % of the distance of the frame as measured from the bottom. Using a heavy braided wire, run it through the eye TWICE and then form a knot with the hanging wire and twist the remaining as before. Allow for slack and cut the wire 6" longer to tie the other side. Pick a wall out of direct sunlight, especially in Florida, and use two hooks for very large paintings to prevent hanging off center.

Most designers prefer artwork which is in harmony with the style and colors of a room. Art collectors feel any period or subject matter of good art can be correct. If I am working with a client who has a great amount of existing paintings, I try to hang the correct size in areas around a room. If you are hanging a collection of pictures, the spaces between should be the same vertically and horizontally and not more than 2'í apart. Fill at least 50% of the space above a sofa or low piece of furniture so the picture doesnít look lost. Since fireplaces are rarely in condos, placing a large piece of art sitting on a dresser or buffet can be perfect, especially for heavy paintings and frames.

Now that we have our pictures taken care of, I will share a British Roadshow story with some finds from last yearsí appraisals.

At a London Roadshow a lady brought in a much loved painting inherited from her mother who was the housekeeper in the home where it had originally hung. She remembers it since she was a child but was shocked to hear the identity of the artist to be Alice Havers and value to be over $30,000. Since she couldnít even afford insurance for it, it auctioned at twice that appraised amount.

During a Derbyshire Roadshow, an admitted jewelry addict, brought in a bag of brooches which cost her $50 at auction. The appraiser went through them and estimated their value about $125 each and the lady appeared quite happy with her good find. Upon closer look at a pink brooch, it turned out to be genuine Faberge, which would appraise at least $15,000. The overwhelmed owner politely asked if her friend might hold her hand after hearing the news.

A small brown bottle decorated with a spiderís web of silver, enamel, pearl and moonstone was brought to the Roadshow by a man whose dad had purchased it in 1950 for a few pounds. He was told there are photos of this item in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but the piece had been missing for most of the 20th Century. Famous Victorian designer William Burges made and previously owned the small bottle appraised to be worth up to $45,000.

With my Roadshow South Florida Event now a fond memory, I may have seen on the long line for appraisal, an owner with a equally wonderful story. January 2011 isnít that far away to know. Iím sure to be watching. About.com has an alphabetical list of collectibles and in and my next commentary, I will choose some with suggested ideas for creative display.

Planning Your "Stacation"

Since we live in an area with outdoor activities year round, we donít feel compelled to go somewhere else just for fun in the sun. With temperatures at 90 plus degrees, many would just as soon be comfortable in their air conditioned condos.

Beginning in 2005 and gaining more popularity by 2007, the buzzword "staycation" was added to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary in July 2009. It is predicted during 2010 over 50% of vacations will be spent at least part at your home.

With our economic conditions causing many to forgo lengthy trips, and airports and the long security lines very dehumanizing, a vacation at home can offer welcome relief from the stress of travel.

First, letís make clear what a staycation is NOT Ö A vacation where an individual stays in their condo to do chores, finish projects and sits around watching TV. Donít allow laundry and cleaning out of your closet to fill the free time.

To start planning, write down all the places locally you have not visited and group them by location. Get a Palm Beach County Visitorís guide and check out your local Chamber of Commerce Website. You might be surprised to find great must-see activities that you didnít know about. Buy tickets for sporting events. I always feel guilty about our Florida Marlins, with their empty stadium, when other teams are at capacity. Even with the hot weather, one game could be the start to appreciate the fun of being in the stands.

Take the time to compare and purchase quality patio furniture and new sun loving plants you put in attractive colorful containers. Read a book youíve been meaning to ó all of it. On your staycation, you have the luxury of time to sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in a great book. Whether your taste runs to the bestsellers, or travel titles, a staycation is your opportunity to mentally visit other places and times without interruptions.

Learn a new skill. Take a cooking class, learn yoga, or explore a craft youíd love to master. If you are going to stay home, then stay home and do something.

If you love antique and thrift stores, make a map for a day of all the ones you never have time to explore.

Plan a spa day whether using all the things in your bathroom cabinet or an appointment for at least a half day of pampering.

The biggest thing to avoid is checking your business e-mail or letting your mind drift into the schedule when you return to your job. Donít let the "sites" you visit only be on the Internet.

Though many of these things may seem simple, the most important factor is make a "wish list" before hand.

For those who enjoyed a staycation over the Fourth of July weekend, there were many activities our local Palm Beach County cities planned for the celebration. 

My Rapallo Condo in West Palm Beach, had an Annual Party with Dinner before the start of the fireworks, and dessert afterwards. The location right along the seawall of Flagler Drive provided some of the best viewing in West Palm Beach. For this writerís staycation, I wouldnít want to be anywhere else. 

A Wild West Theme Sure to Please

If you and your Condo neighbors are tired of the same cocktail party format for next season, I highly recommend trying a Western theme for your event. Having just experienced the fun and novelty last month and sharing some photos below, here are some ideas to make your planning as easy as a "horse drawn to water."

First of all think rustic, old lanterns, metal washtubs for ice, easily found bales of hay, and my very favorite, Margaritas or other drinks in Mason Jars. Ask guests to bring their own decorated Mason jars for an immediate conversation starter. Optional western clothing perhaps a "Denim and Diamonds" description makes for a pre-planning buzz, at least among the ladies.

For food, plan a Buffet Round Up with the main selection such as a Cowgirl Burger or Whiskey Pork Chops and have sides donated by willing "Ranch hands." To make large party room decorating easy, products called Scene Setters are available locally or online. Sturdy plastic Old West borders, saloon doors, panel or barn door siding on 50í rolls are affixed to painted walls using a product called "Sticky Tac" (get the white color) with no harm when taken down. Endless posters and signs are available that are Western themed and cheap (on clearance) Treat-filled piŮatas to hang are shaped into boots, horses, tractors and pigs.

While looking for Western decorations, I came across three restaurants in different parts of the country and found new ideas as well. Best known is "Cowgirl" for those Snowbirds returning to N. Y. Open since 1988 on Hudson Street their signature Dessert is "Baked Potato Sundae." Martha Stewart features the directions on her video archives and for part of the secret, the potato is 3 scoops of ice cream shaped, and frozen and covered with cocoa. Add all the topping and chocolate sauce and the effect is truly amazing.

There is a "Cowgirl Restaurant" in Santa Fe NM, and Southeast Austin, Texas, which offers a Sandra Bullock Club Sandwich and you can book a Bubba and Babe Texas Wedding.

Be sure to add unshelled peanuts in straw baskets, a dart board contest with bandana-tied treats as prizes, and paint your own wooden horseshoes! Add the old standby Wagon Wheel and you can stand back and watch your Condo neighbors hoping the party doesnít end.

See pictures from this event at The Clubhouse Gallery

Stylish Windows Make Stylish Decor

It is always nice to get calls and feedback from our Condo News readers and I now know some new crown molding products have gotten the blessing of "This Old House." My neighbor Phil called to say, I should check out the recent TV program which discussed "clip-on crown molding." An easy search online led me to discover several installation systems I was unaware of.

Though polyurethane trim products, commonly called "faux molding" have been around since the Ď70s they still previously required installation which required angled cutting of inside and outside corners. Mistakes on a cut could be costly and disappointing.

New snap-on patented technology avoids all corner matching and offers other benefits; no need to locate studs in the walls, nail holes to fill, can be pre-painted or stained before applying and can be easily removed for wall color changes. It even touts it can be used in another condo later on, much like some countries used to take the free standing kitchen cabinets and early 1990s manufactured simulated floors often referred to as "floating floors." While thatís a bit of a stretch for this Designer, the opportunity to glue a fastener to the wall while perched on a ladder seems doable. Some of the clip-on systems do show brackets attached with screws, much like those for bookshelves, but my success level with that method would be greatly diminished. Corresponding moldings clip into the pre-cut corners and lengths that are joined to butt together along the wall and meet another pre-cut inside corner piece. A bit of paintable filler and voila, your crown molding. With further pluses of no chance of warping and no heavy traditional wood to hold up for nailing, give these products a serious look.

Returning to my window product suggestions, wood blinds with up to 3" slats are hugely in favor in South Florida condos replacing more costly wood shutters. They are not available longer than 96 inches and remember, the wider the slat, the more daylight comes in. The standard aluminum blinds are available to 196" and endless colors to match your walls but they come across as much more office like and contemporary. If your are going for stained wood blinds, be sure to take your floor color, easily matched with stain sample cards. If your windows are lucky enough to have beautiful white molding, continue the white in your blinds. A big NO to the horrible plastic wands that yellow and crack in our Florida sunshine. Instead, ask for cords that tilt on one side and raise on the opposite side cord. Nothing gets more annoying than trying to figure which cord does what when they are hanging together.

As I touched on in the last article, pleated shades are either up or down but stack almost out of sight under a valance. Roller shades will be around longer than many of us but for complete blackout, which many prefer, they are still the best choice. Newer thermal shades with a mechanized system respond to changing temperature and light and then raise and lower on their own.

Roman shades are not chosen as frequently, but cotton duck gives the beachy washy feel liked by many. Consider one for a master bath using outdoor Sunbrella which does fine with a daily drenching. Fabric matching your upholstery gives and an elegant, harmonious but more formal effect. The once popular balloon shades are best left to guest rooms and hung as high to the ceiling as possible so they open up more glass below for light

This completes products for you condo for daily opening and closing, but drape ideas, suggestions, and yes general rules will follow soon.

One correction in the percentage of condo dwellers who use interior design services ó most surveys suggest 47-50 % and not 5% . While I was in Atlanta, the Wizard was supposed to be minding the store and some how let that mistake get in!!

Plan Your Guest Room Upgrades Before the Holidays

With the Thanksgiving Holidays over and the turkey and guests all gone, now is a good time to evaluate how you fared with the guests staying in your Condo home.

Many of us wish we had purchased a 2 bedroom unit but during the previous market the difference from a one bedroom was considerable. Unfortunately for resale, it is now possible to get a larger space for the same 2005 price. But if you love your building and view as I do, here are some suggestions before the next Holiday to better prepare for "relatives and refugees" from the cold weather.

While suggesting extra items like towels, lovely soap and magazines are standard fare in a guest room article, consider putting an iron and board (yes people still iron) in the closet you have partially emptied beforehand and stocked with good hangers.

The addition of lamps with a 3-way bulb and a universal TV remote for each bedside table are welcome. A fluffy robe, alarm clock and accessible outlet to charge cell phones and a pen and pad will be most appreciated. Along with the oft suggested fruit, stock a basket with individually packaged puddings and fruit, some health bars and bottled water which no longer is expected to be chilled. Anything usually put in a childís lunch box is great and can keep for the future guests as fruit can sadly spoil so quickly.

The decision for bedding is a most important one and will vary depending on the other uses besides guests. A good mattress in a must and helpful comparisons can be found on consumersearch.com or sleeplikethedead.com, an unforgettable name that makes me smile. Always opt for as large a bed as your room and budget can handle. The option of the much maligned trundle bed puts 2 twins in less floor space.

There is always the sleeper couch which has improved through the years and now many contain an air mattress for comfort. For information on the newer air beds, the New York Timesí Home section ( November 26th ) compared 5 air beds and discussed the features to shop for. The original low lying style is now replaced by queen sized ones that measure 80'í long with an attached headboard. Several inflatable options exist but be sure to get an automatic shut off. With horizontal air channels or a surface dimpled with pockets of air, the flat vinyl slab feeling is eliminated. The writer suggested a quilted mattress pad made an enhancement and world of difference.

Large sleeper ottomans made by Lucy Au of Montreal, allow a fold out sleeper placed under a window and available in all sizes. The multifunctional surface top helps if your room is also a home office.

Now that we have our bedding with 2 quality pillows for each side, we should eliminate all thoughts of additional throw pillows which have to be moved each night. Extra blankets should be easily found, if needed.

With our South Florida sunshine, the need for light control and privacy should be given important research. I have turned to Wholesale Vertical, an advertiser in the Condo News, with a 29-year history, for suggestions. With the unexpected huge cost of shutters, the faux horizontal blinds have gained popularity. Pleated cellular shades covered by sheers or not, can be quickly raised out of sight but the resultant direct sunlight is a problem. The newer roll up sun control shades allow you to see out but offer little night privacy. A heavier version is opaque and room darkening.

Finally, the still versatile vertical blind option is chosen by 60% of the customers at Wholesale Verticals, according to Jean, the owner, and Tina, her assistant, who will come out with samples and recommendations for window treatments.

With the Holidays getting near, you still have time to select and install verticals in 5 working days. If you have extra tall windows and high ceilings, the cost for this product is very reasonable compared to other choices. The textured and endless colors available, make a visit by Tina a sure way to get exactly what is best for your condo home. For light control, nothing compares for making a guest room the quiet respite for an afternoon nap. When verticals are pulled back, an attractive side panel can hide the slats and a decorative fabric valence above the head rail softens the room. The owners of Wholesale Verticals will guarantee their mechanism for as long as you own it, though there is seldom repairs needed. Ordering additional slats can also give a feeling of security if one is damaged.

I often hear a design client say they just want something white, but the amount of different whites available is truly amazing. Grays, yellowish and beige whites should be chosen in the room with the wall color, and seldom is the selection of brite or appliance white the final one. Faux wood verticals have added another option for sliders and French doors and look great with matching faux horizontal blinds for the additional windows in your condo..

Be sure to know about all the new product options from a reputable local company such as Wholesale Verticals. It will take away the stress of making a color mistake or incorrect measurements.

With our guest room window treatments in the hands of the Design Wizard, we can look forward to the other nice additions for our guests.

Keep in mind the most important ingredient for a guests enjoyment is a warm, relaxed host and hostess with a flexible schedule and not hovering or apologizing over every detail or omission. During this beautiful season there is no place better than Florida to visit. Take the time to enjoy everything just like a guest!

* Wholesale Verticals is located at 6001 Georgia Ave., Suite 10, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Phone: (561) 585-1485. 

Pictured above are samples of verticals available at Wholesale Verticals. 

Photo by Jimmy Shir.ey

Creative Party Plans

If your Condo is fortunate enough to have a social, party, meeting room, or anything else you might call it, this area is most often under-used by owners.

It is probably too late to think about fall or Halloween decor, but the holidays and return of your snowbirds are eminent. Many buildings have a year-round Social Committee to plan various events, but if not, this is the year to try to get something planned. Letís start with the rock bottom needs for your party.

With the financially difficult times we are seeing all around us, there are some in every condo who feel there are not enough funds available and just letís wait till next year. This feeling is the direct opposite of the need to seek the comfort and pleasure and uplifting experience we can get by entertaining.

While a majority of people feel that a SUCCESSFUL party needs to be "ELEGANT", an event decor that is original and authentic gets a strong second vote.

In reading the New York Times Thursdayís HOME section, two well known designers expressed the freedom we should express which can get lost in expensive and unnecessary extras.

Preston Bailey, who has been chosen by Ivanka Trump to design the decor for her October 25th wedding, describes his starting price for one of his functions for a client as "a lot." For entertaining at home, he favors a less expensive, less complicated approach. He adds that having a party requires only 2 things: the hosts must get over the idea that everything must be perfect, and setting the mood and tone for the evening is directly responsible for its success. This is certainly to be kept in mind during meetings for your condoís events. Is imposing your style on the party more important than the collective ideas and good will you are looking for? Your eventís decor becomes the environment to feed, entertain and hopefully, fondly remember after the bills are paid.

Below are some things to keep in mind for your condo event or even your own personal party.

Decide first what you might chose to serve whether finger food, buffet or the more difficult sit down menu which I donít personally recommend. What ends up is individual tables of friends oblivious to newcomers. This completely defeats one of the benefits of a social evening. Many times the gruff or difficult resident at a board meeting, where money and maintenance fees are at stake, turns out to be a lovely guest at a party.

Have a definite theme or season to start your planning. At the least, choose major colors to make shopping easier. It also helps for turning down a residentís well meaning donations of old decorations if the color isnít right.

Look around your condoís landscape for greenery or flowers you can feature or incorporate in your decorating. No luau should be without arecas or palm leaves tucked in your sconces or nestled in a chandelier. Without any tape or wire a lavish bow on a wall sconce with floor length streamers sets a holiday feeling for little money. It is still a wonderful cost saving idea to place hibiscus flowers on your tables which even out of water will stay fresh till the last guest goes home.

Plan visual repeats and layers in your details. Try to gather at least 20-30 different candlesticks or bud vases for additional decorating possibilities.

Groups of 3 or 5 work best together.

Shabby Chic guru, Rachel Ashwell, embodies the beauty of imperfection in her products and home entertaining. She feels late 2009 is the prime moment for things that derive their style and energy from comfort, sensuality and hunkering down with friends and loved ones. Recovering from her firmís bankruptcy this year, she has a new book, Shabby Chic Interiors: My Rooms, Treasures and Trinkets and new flagship stores in Manhattan and her home town Santa Monica with London to be open next year. Her relaxed style and hominess help a generation of young women to make a personal statement of their style in their entertaining. Rachel and Martha Stewartís rule of not having to iron linen table napkins is still a stretch for me.

With all the research for party ideas and purchases just a click on the computer away, the enormous amount of choices can make any event original and compatible with the room and guests at your condo party. Designer Preston Bailey expressed that it is always an honor for people to tell him they recreated a party from pictures shown in his books.

If you have any specific questions or comments, the Party Wizard can be reached by emailing info@condonewsonline.com. Please type "Question for the Party Wizard" in the subject line.


Party Decor Not Found in a Store

What could be more festive than the Black and White Gala Ball which took place on Friday October 2nd at the President County Club at Land of the President? From the receipt of the white satin beribboned invitation, the over 100 guests knew they were in for a memorable evening. Host Jack Gold from the Consulate planned the party with family and friends and titled it a "Celebration of Life" for Jackís 85th Birthday. A large screen was carefully integrated with the decor to show photos of Jackís life and he summed up his many years "the result of a guardian angel watching over him to help reach this stage of his life." Friends honored the occasion with a generous contribution to the Sariasher Center of Integrated Medicine for Cancer Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach. It is a favorite of Jackís and has a long list of patients whose health and future were restored by the many healing treatments offered there.

Present to accept for the Cancer Center was its Director, Corrine Donaldson. Jack has been a resident of Palm Beach County for over 30 years and has a full schedule of daily activities and enjoying his friends. For that fact itself would be a reason for Celebration.

Lands of the President condominium residents Jack Gold (Consulate) and Barbara Phillips (Envoy).


Photo by Wallace Waldon

I was chosen to create a decor at the President Country Club compatible with the theme introduced by the exquisite invitation. Using black and white elements was very easy, but I was also asked to decorate the large foyer and ballroom to represent the long-gone elegance of a late 18th Century home using interior design principles to create an intimate background. With silky black material to drape across the ceiling and the 6 large chandeliers, the size of the room was proportionally reduced for the number of tables. Using Creative Feng Shui, I placed all elements to encourage the Chi of living energy to flow through the ballroom.

I reshaped the floor layout with tables not in rows but to create curves and offsets so people become aware and focus on detail. To lighten up the corners and dead end areas, I angled large folding screens and added plants and lights which separately highlighted each of the 4 mannequins dressed in shimmering gowns.

Though the landscape and golf course were just beyond the floor to ceiling windows, I placed palm trees against the window glass on the narrow outside balcony. Soft existing lighting didnít focus on anything. This is especially a difficult problem for ocean view condos as well, and I will give some suggestions next issue. I refer to it as staring into the big black beyond outside. Plants bring harmony and balance to the room, so more live trees softened each doorway, screen and column as well.

Photos by Wallace Waldon

Jim & Linda Eustice of Tarpon Springs, FL, with party Footman Alan Dawson, of the Club's Gold Staff.

Seen among the elegantly dressed guests dancing to the wonderful music provided by Alan Kan and vocalist Stephanie Harper and Cocktail hour music of Vinny Dullisse, there were many Condominium Board Officers. The list includes Jaynt and Fig Pockros, President of Envoy; Inez and Leo Brown, Pres. of Consulate; Rachael and Fred Shapiro, Lincoln Director; Dr. Terrin Blank and Gertie Kleinkamp, Envoy Director. Janice Schultze of Rapallo North looked outstanding in a beaded and feathered gown and was escorted by Don Boswell, President of Coconut Cove of Lantana. I also had a chance to chat with Dooley Hoffman, whom I previously met among those in former Florida Governor Kirkís political circle.

Arriving guests were welcomed by a stunning period costumed and white wigged Footman and I dressed for my dual role as "Lady in Waiting" in a huge skirted black and white ball gown.

The party Footman was perfectly played by Alan Dawson of the Clubís Golf Staff, and it was fun that he personally knew most of the attendees.

For the dessert and customary singing of Happy Birthday, I prepared castle-shaped cakes lit with sparklers for each of the 10 tables.

While enjoying cake and coffee, a montage with an individual picture of most of the guests present played continuously on the large video screen. A beautiful final good night for Jackís 85th Birthday "Celebration."

Next issue, I will use examples of how your Condoís Social Room can have new potential and achieve the best holiday parties this coming season.

The Party Wizard and I will start planning it right away.


Wabi-Sabi Ultimate Simplicity

After last issueís commentary on the merits of "Simple Decor," I was belatedly introduced to the concepts of Wabi-Sabi (pronounced wah-bee-sah-bee), the Japanese art of imperfect beauty. Though an ancient concept reaching back to the 15th Century, it sought to oppose the lavishness, ornamentation and overuse of costly materials. Wabi-Sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and authenticity. Its principles contradict the sleek, mass-produced culture we find ourselves in and seeks to bring a subtle spiritual component into our homes and lives.

Though tied to Zen Buddhism, Wabi-Sabi asks us to set aside our judgment and need for perfection and focus on the beauty of things as they are.

Some of the examples of this way of thinking is choosing wood over plastic, stone over polished marble and wildflowers over roses.

If you want to make over your condo for joyous living, this design theory finds beauty in the unconventional.

Wabi-Sabi enthusiasts (wabibitos) are described as people who have pared down their life and willingly have a smaller home and drive a hybrid or compact car. Original design in possessions avoids the furniture groups and prefers unique individual pieces. The home accessories surrounding us should inspire positive memories not based on dollar value.

Wabi-Sabi beliefs include the principles of incomplete and impermanent designs which allow your home to change and grow to support changing life-style and emotional needs.

The following are 10 easy steps which can introduce Wabi-Sabi into our daily life:

1) Quiet your home because of the noise generated by cars, motors and machines or the family in the next condo; replace ill fitting sliding doors and old windows and install cork floors or carpet while choosing window draperies that help absorb the din.

2) Create a personal corner of a room, favorite chair or unroll a special rug to give yourself dedicated space for quiet reflection.

3) Un-clutter your condo one drawer or closet at a time. Promise to spend 15 minutes each day editing your possessions and give away an item for each you bring in.

4) Appreciate imperfection. Donít throw out your much-loved but chipped vase or the old table with the scars from your toddlers. Begin the journey by finding real antique elements not faux distressed.

5) Take inspiration from natureís palette. The subtle colors of tan, grey, gold and rust create the serene Wabi-Sabi look.

6) Make it yourself. Nothing compares to the satisfaction of using something you made, but perhaps more important is the calming and centering act of stitch upon stitch that no machine can match. If youíre not crafty, make a collage or dry flowers or create an indoor garden.

7) Bring nature indoors. Wabi-Sabi flower arrangements follow no rules. Whether in an old bottle or rusty watering can, the result should be fresh and honor the current season.

8) Give your condo a soul with a sepia tone photo of your grandmother, your motherís embroidered linens or your 5-year-oldís artwork.

9) Study the masters of this design philosophy. William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ray Eames all seemed to be influenced by Wabi-Sabi.

10) Believe in the candle trick. Come home at the end of a long day, the dog on the sofa and breakfast dishes in the sink. Come through your entry hall which needs repainting, turn off the lamps and light some candles. Nothing can look bad when the setting is glowing and candles flickering.

Similar to the Wabi-Sabi tea ceremony, practice daily rituals in your home. Fill your interior design space with tranquility and what YOU feel is beautiful. Allow this new blueprint for your life to create your own personal retreat.


Simple Decor Can Be Spectacular

Now that we understand the basics of color and texture in decorating, what if you choose to describe your style as "Simple." In design language, the terms "minimalist" or "pared down" seem more appropriate. One example would be to have less seating in your condo living room if you only have one or two guests. Perhaps you have a large designated home office, when you frequently come home too tired for night time work projects. You might then wish to simplify your decor to be more in line with your lifestyle.

The term "Simple" can merely mean an absence of knick knacks, and not overstuffed with elements which take away from a feeling of peace and serenity.

Simple decorating can also mean transforming a condo with 4 walls and furniture having 4 legs into something personal and unique.

The process of decorating isnít easy, and the hard part is knowing or finding out what you like to surround yourself with. For many, the word decorating suggests perfection and order.

For our purposes lets choose the definition to be comfortable and truly livable. Challenge the thinking that how we choose to live "doesnít matter."

Sadly, many people today have signed on to a disposable decorating trend.

Things are only purchased and valued if new and ready-made, not hand crafted or refurbished or even the newest term "recycled." London textile designer, Anna French, suggests going into a flower shop and choosing the colors and flowers you are attracted to and make a bouquet to purchase. She then recommends going back to your home and placing the colorful bouquet in different rooms. For a small amount of money, you can test your color preferences in your own space.

For many designers, the start of a living room redo is "simply" the sofa. If it says comfort, generally the rest of the room will follow. Because of its being the largest piece of furniture, it should be selected before paint or any additional fabrics. A colorful, patterned existing rug might be the only exception to this order for selecting things. Easy decor can be accomplished by symmetry, pairs of chairs and other items. Often, it is best to put everything in a room where you think it will go, and edit and weed out the excess.

Successful decorating is more problem solving than just pretty colors and fabric.

It is about how to live well in a given space, especially a condo with limited square footage. Though large tile floors unify and are preferred in our South Florida climate, this takes "Simple" to a fault. The softness and scale of area rugs create intimate spaces when faced with an open floor plan and few walls.

Sectioning up a large space allows enjoyment of decorating elements with space between for the eye to rest. We are spared looking at a jumble of style messages on top of one another. Simple decorating allows a beautiful view from a window to speak to us without requiring an answer. Nature never stops changing and we can learn to value that about our own life.

Our possessions create the sparks for imagination and ideas for new projects.

Abraham Lincoln said that our favorite things are the mystic cords of our memory. Often ignored in the rush to redecorate our bedroom, we forget the need to create a soothing and restorative space that is the first image in the morning and last at nightfall. Our plan should be to have the least but most beautiful essentials around us. Sadly, the computer desk and oversized TV screen are the message sent today.

For our condo rooms to become "Simply the best," allow ample storage space but make a promise to get rid of things no longer used. This alone can create new enthusiasm for decorating changes. Even small improvements are worth making and will increase the enjoyment and quality of our life.

Different Textures for your Condo Decorating

As color choices have been explained and color schemes suggested in my last commentary, the next question is, "What is your Condo style now or you wish it could be?"

Perhaps you have the finances and time before the holidays to form some mental picture of a room you would love, but this might seem more difficult than even choosing a new color scheme. Itís easy to say, "Find the style that suits you best and find most comfortable,íí but creating that in your condo is a far more difficult task. Keep in mind, just as in choosing colors, there are certain suggested rules to follow. Some people search for an indefinable thing which they cannot describe with words, but will know when they see it. This may take a lot of leg work, but there is nothing wrong in purchasing things which give you pleasure to have around. The judgement call is whether it is the right size and scale for your room. This requires accurate measurements and even a simple floor plan to make a purchase with more certainty. I always find it a bit strange if I am in a decorating or furniture store, and I overhear a sales person ask, "how long is the wall" or "how high are your ceilings" so they can offer more help regarding a piece of furniture or artwork being considered. The customer may either have no answer or the "probably about" words in response. Unfortunately if something ends up being incorrect, a little more time for measurements might have prevented a mistake.

Many new condos already have a built in style especially with granite and more contemporary fixtures and lighting in place. This can take more skill and experience to incorporate the existing elements with another decorating style. A condo with a wall of windows and wonderful view is usually best with simple natural colors and furniture when decorating .

If your condo is boxy or without any architectural features you need to add your own touches of character. Be daring and hang a rug, a piece of tapestry or a large decorative screen you might already have. Though wallpaper has fallen out of favor for a while, there is a great deal of instant style that it can accomplish. Even a novice can be successful with papering an accent wall to start. Often just looking through sample books can inspire a new direction.

If you find you prefer a monochromatic room, varying textures can enliven the effect and overcome a possibly boring room as a result. The thicker the texture the softer a color appears. Glossy wall surfaces are brighter and a color seems softer in carpeting. Consider using a range of textures particularly if you have selected a white pallet. I have seen many beautiful rooms dressed only in white but multiple textures created all the interest in the room.

Rough tile or wood floors are easiest combined with strong textures such as linen, cotton and irregular weaves in fabric and marble floors usually need silk, velvets and soft fabrics to work together. Overstuffed furniture seems more inviting and comfortable but the simple lines of modern furniture need not seem harsh if covered in a soft fabric. The hard lines of tile and granite in a bathroom play beautifully with soft color fluffy towels. Berber carpeting and Oriental rugs create texture of their own. Even the selection of plants whether silk or real can offer texture from the leaves and plant containers.

A textured throw on a sofa or bed is often simply the star of the room.

Decorators throughout history have combined textures and many patterns together and the results can be seen in fine homes and museums. With a little bit of time and help from your own personal decorating wizard, your condo can become all that you dream of. Just promise yourself to get started!

The Language of Color for Your Condo

As we continue to understand design principles, consider the emotional language of the colors you chose. Color is a powerful and personal factor that can either help your temperament or not ! The colors you choose to surround yourself with can help you relax or add to your daily stress.

While there is no easy formula for coming up with your personal color scheme, colors are classified into two big categories, warm or cool. If a color has yellow undertones it is considered warm. With blue undertones, a color is called cool. Donít let a color scheme determine your style but use your favorite combination and vary the tones from lightest to dark. Find a fabric and pick out at least two main color choices and up to three accents. This formula will also work with a beautiful piece of artwork. In design, the word "cohesion" refers to a room that is pulled together well. If you select a few key colors and elements such as shape and material, any room can be more "cohesive."

Hereís a quick look at qualities associated with a particular color.

ē Red is an action color, bold and can raise your blood pressure. It can stimulate your appetite and often it is chosen for a formal dining room. Softer shades ranging down to pink give a sense of well-being and happiness.

ē Orange comes across warm and friendly but also has the greatest emotional impact. The softer, deeper tones of rust, terra-cotta and peach offer a restful haven and very suitable against our bright Florida light.

ē Yellow makes us think of a sunny day and paler shades are uplifting to live with. It is also reflective similar to a bright light and it is thought to be the first color a baby notices. Yellow appears brighter than white so is very suitable for a dark room or one facing north. Interestingly, legal pads are yellow for a reason as it stimulates the mind and thought to improve memory.

ē Green is the color of optimism and known to reduce blood pressure and help us feel balanced and restful. Classic darker greens are not trendy but stand the test of time and be safe and dignified. Brown with greens are a good combination and occur in nature all around us. It is often referred to as an earthy feeling. If we are attracted to lime or grass green, we like bold, bright, high energy rooms, but it is generally best used as an accent color.

ē Blue is voted as the favorite color in America and most associated with water. It is very suitable for our Intracoastal condos and very hot summer months. It is very calming and blue is known as a "de-stressor." Like a favorite pair of worn jeans, it speaks of comfort and tradition. Like other classic choices, a blue decor will never go out of style and mixes very well with most other colors.

ē Purple is creative and off beat with dark purple denoting royalty. It is a color which will grab your attention, but too dark and muddy, it can be dreary and depressing. Known mostly in contemporary furniture, the lighter shades of lavender, lilac and violet are restful and romantic and very easy to decorate around. Use great care in adding purple It is best to apply to a surface which can be repainted instead of a counter top or other hard surface which will be around long after our color taste might change. Artists, musicians and extroverts are drawn to this color which encourages creativity as well as our spirituality. The combination of red with purple is very popular.

In our condo decorating, often there is no architectural element as a focal point. Through the use of different color paint it can appear that the Decorating Wizard has made a house call to you. Even better, close you eyes and imagine the most beautiful place you have ever visited. Try combining those colors and the Decorating Wizard may soon be out of a job.



Jeanine Heidtman is an A.S.I.D. Designer residing in Palm Beach County, FL. Contact her at info@condonewsonline.com

The Condo News print newspaper is published every other Wednesday. It is circulated throughout Palm Beach County, from Delray to North Palm Beach, and from Singer Island, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach to Royal Palm Beach, in Condominium, Cooperative and Home Owner Association Communities. For more information, or to have the Condo News  brought to your community, e-mail us or write to: P.O. Box 15826, West Palm Beach, FL 33416. Tel:(561) 471-0329