Plant it, Light it, Fire It Up; Creating Your Outdoor Oasis

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”-Khalil Gabran  

The importance of being in nature and getting fresh air cannot be understated. Research has shown that people who regularly spend time outdoors even just socializing or relaxing tend to have lower stress levels and generally experience better health. Peter James of the Harvard School of Public Health explained that “biophilia—our innate human instinct to connect with nature—may be why being outdoors helps us feel better. The ability to recover from stress is better in natural settings, because that’s where we are meant to be. Just the idea of getting out, being in nature, looking at a tree—the theory is that this helps you to recover from stress, improves your mental health, and improves cognition. It’s just a direct pathway.”

It’s no secret that the pandemic heightened the value of outdoor spaces, and it seems it wasn’t just a passing fad. In Seattle, our restaurants and bars have, for the most part, kept the outdoor dining spaces that they installed in order to follow the local regulations during the Covid-19 crisis. The outdoor dining options in our city have vastly increased since 2020 and despite the reason why it happened, it’s a welcome change. Even in our dreary, rainy winters, people enjoy covered, heated spaces all around the city.

Home-bound folks became creative and focused on outdoor spaces at home, as well. At my house, we added outdoor heaters on my covered front porch and regularly gathered with neighbors and friends even during the inclement weather. We also installed heavy duty rods and outdoor curtains on the porch to provide a little break from the rain. They still remain today and create a cozy ambiance when they’re closed, and nicely frame the porch when they’re open and tied back.

There are so many great options for bringing the indoors out, especially with the use of weather-proof area rugs, cushions and accent pillows. Firepits of all sizes, shapes and styles are available and can enhance the gathering experience.

The same rules apply to outdoor spaces as they do to designing indoors. How will the space be used? What do you like to be surrounded by? Think about layering, texture, height and lighting. Accent pillows and throw blankets can be used for layering on patio furniture as well for adding the cozy factor. Outdoor lighting is a key to setting the stage for entertainment. Uplighting in gardens and around feature plants or trees offers dramatic effect. Torches and candles can fire up the romance. Task lighting can allow you to play games or cards and strings of party lights can jazz up your outdoor dance floor.

Of course, plants and trees are the spotlight steelers on patios and in gardens. Think of layering and height when you are mapping out your garden design. Don’t forget about the power of scent and the allure of welcoming wildlife. I have the most beautiful honeysuckle vine that takes me right back to my childhood when it’s fragrance wafts through my yard. My lavender plants invite bees for pollinating and salvia and fuchsia attract hummingbirds. Fresh herbs provide beauty and scent and can be harvested for cooking and making tea.

Water features, sculptures and whimsical art can make your space unique just like artwork on the walls of your living room. There are so many great options for outdoor speakers that can bring the party to life or chill the evening with relaxing tones.

All of the comforts, coziness and character that make your space HOME can translate to your outdoor spaces, as well. The outdoors awaits and it can be your oasis away from the stresses of the world. Just think about what makes your heart sing and PLANT IT, LIGHT IT, FIRE IT UP!

Placing Artwork

Design by: Housewarming

A lot of people get hung up on artwork; how to place it, what size is the right size, is there such a thing as too much.

The first thing to know about placing artwork is that, ultimately, the art is for you. If you’re happy, then it doesn’t really matter.  It’s still a bit tricky and can be daunting, so here are a few tips and tricks to not get hung up on hanging your artwork.


Design by: Housewarming

For a single piece of art on a wall with no furniture, hang the piece about 60” from the floor to the center of the piece. This is average eye height and will ensure that most will not have to strain to look at the piece.

If you’re hanging art above a sofa or other piece of furniture, make sure it’s not too close. Somewhere between 4”-6” above the furniture is usually a good rule of thumb.

If you have other accessories or other décor in front of the art, the rule of 4-6” can be broken to ensure you aren’t blocking your art.

If you’re worried about the scale of a piece in relation to the size of your sofa or when you’re placing it above a fireplace, consider choosing a piece that is no more than 2/3 the size of your sofa or fireplace.

Design by: Housewarming

It’s always best to hang art after furniture is installed in the space. It’s important to think about placement. For instance, if you have a cool floor lamp that takes up a lot of space, you don’t want to hide art behind it. When you have multiple pieces, you’d like to install in the same area, consider placing them at two different heights.  This helps make the space feel thoughtfully designed.



Gallery Walls

There are a few different types of Gallery Walls, the “Art Gallery” wall, the “Eclectic Gallery” wall and the “Elaborate Gallery” wall.

The “Art Gallery” Wall

Source: Target

You typically see symmetry in an art gallery or museum, the key is to ensure that you have the same frame for all of your photos and art. If your art itself is different sizes, picture mat can be used to balance the art in the frames as we want to ensure the wall is cohesive. Place your gallery collection 60” floor to center (of the collection) and placed equidistant from each other. This will result in a very polished and almost formal presentation… If you don’t know where to start, you can buy pre-planned gallery wall frames that you fill with your art at many large retailers. We like this one from Target (pictured above).


Source: Elizabeth Krueger Design

The “Eclectic Gallery” Wall

The key to a successful eclectic gallery wall is to pick one cohesive factor. One easy way is to choose the same frame color. This will help everything flow together, while still being able to mix and match shapes and sizes. Even though this doesn’t need to have the uniformity of a formal gallery wall, placement is still important. Lay out the art on the floor first to see how you like it.


The “Elaborate Gallery” Wall

Photo by Bryan Gardner

Photo by @emmecrona

This is where most people get a bit nervous, because this type of gallery wall requires you to put a lot more thought into how it’s laid out. This wall will have different sizes, colors and shapes. The key here is planning. If you feel as though all your pieces are cohesive together, just worry about the general layout. An easy way to do that is to create a paper model of your wall and art, I use graph paper to draw it out.  Once again, placing the art on the floor the way you will place it on the wall gives you an extra chance to see how it will work before hanging. You’ll be able to see if you have all your gold frames on the left or you realize that the colors in one of your art pieces completely takes over and distracts from the piece you planned on putting next to it. Even with planning ahead, it’s okay to accept that you may need to patch and paint your walls if you need to move things around. We’d rather have you do that than not take a chance on the elaborate gallery wall if that’s the look that you are going for.


Keep in mind that you can also add other items like plants or sculptural elements to your elaborate gallery wall to add an extra level of interest instead of just framed artwork only.

Still completely stumped and not ready to tackle your art installation on your own? Give us a call, we’ll be happy to come  and help you create a plan and hang your art!

Decorating with House Plants | Interior Design How-To

Credit: Jersey Ice Cream Co.

You know that feeling when you’re scrolling Instagram and you see a living room decked out with ceramic pots filled with beautiful plants and indoor trees? Or a rainy cottage kitchen with windowsills overflowing with succulents and ivy? For some, that feeling is a core memory; An ancestral call to surround themselves with life in honor of the earth. For others this may elicit worry about creepy crawly bugs.

As designers, we believe in the power that plant life has on interiors and on humans. In addition to providing that finishing touch to make our decorated spaces feel complete, there is a very real and scientific connection to reduced blood pressure and increased energy. We also know that keeping our plants alive and our homes pest-free is another way to help with blood pressure. Finding the right balance is essential. There are countless ‘how-to’ blogs on keeping plants alive, so I will instead focus on the considerations we, as interior designers, make when introducing plant life and how to make the best choices when bringing the green into your home.

Credit: Gabriela Herman

Size & Shape

One of first tools designers use when designing a space is called the ‘schematic phase’. This is when we evaluate the layout and aesthetics of the space to determine where things will go, without deciding specifically what those things will be. In this phase, we want to sketch (or just imagine) the visual blocks of the space; What’s tall, what’s short, what’s long, what’s useful, etc… and place them in attractive groups. Round looks good next to square, long looks good next to tall, useful items work best near other useful items, and continuing on going with what feels right. This schematic planning is a great way to narrow down what species of plants to select. If the “long” is your sofa, then the “tall” might be a new snake plant.

Credit: A Beautiful Mess

Which plants to choose?

Another big consideration for choosing plants is to think about what will thrive in the space. We, at Housewarming, pay extra attention to this, as the gothic gray of the Pacific Northwest can make many species of indoor plants just plain unhappy. Access to light, the safety of our pets, and ease of care are all questions that need answers. Once you’ve selected the size and shape you want, research such topics as “medium-sized plants for low light” or “is ____ safe for animals?”. These results will help you hone in on specific species, and from there you can research how to care for your leafy new housemates.

Credit: Hilton Carter

Maintenance and Care

With houseplants, the single most common phrase we hear from our clients is “I love plants, but I kill everything I touch.” We know the struggle! A home full of empty planters and dead leaves quickly builds lost hope. I would be lying if I said, even with my green thumb, I’ve never killed a plant in my life. I’ve killed many. The best tip I can give is this: Most plants don’t need your intervention as much as you think. Our anxiety to keep them alive can often lead to overwatering, too much movement, or inconsistent lighting routines. Many plants will tell you what they need, when they need it, and will give you plenty of time to react. Leaves going yellow? Too much sun. Leaves dry and crispy? Time to water. Leaves soft and limp? Too much water. Once you’ve cared for them, give them a few days to adjust before trying anything else (This is where many anxious plant parents slip up). Change the soil once a year, water once a week, and take a couple minutes to research the plant before purchasing. If you want a plant that is so dramatic that it tells you what it needs weeks in advance, try a peace lily! They’re safe for pets, thrive in most lights, and can propagate easily.

Credit: Ralph Anderson

Picking the right planter

This is for aesthetics, but also very much for care and maintenance too! First and foremost, ensure your planter has a drain hole at the bottom. These are not standard for many planters you find in department stores, so take a peek just in case. Drain holes will ensure that water doesn’t stagnate at the bottom of the pot after watering, which can cause root rot and pests. Most plant boutiques will have them, or will offer to safely drill one before purchasing. We also suggest a plant saucer that complements the planter,  as this will allow water to drain directly into the saucer rather than requiring you to move it over a sink first.

For aesthetics, consider the planter as you would any other piece of décor. Does it want it to stand out as a piece of art, or would it rather fade into the background? Do its patterns, colors, and shape complement where it sits in the room? Do they complement the shape and color of the plant? We’re using our design brain just as before here!

Credit: Lur

With these few considerations in mind, we designers can invigorate a home with new energy and offer a therapeutic routine for our clients. Plants are living, breathing entities; Ones we evolved instinctively to be custodians for. When we invite them into our spaces, they return gifts of health, peace, and a connection with our natural self. They’re also sometimes the only thing that will look good next to that battered suede sofa we’re waiting to give away, so design freely!

The Importance of Staging; A Case Study

photos from the NWMLS

There is no doubt that the real estate market has started to shift with the rising interest rates. While we’re still seeing properties move quickly, we aren’t seeing the abundance of bidding wars that we saw over the past few years.

With these market shifts, keeping a competitive edge when selling is more important than ever. Staging is one way to do that.

According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging provided by the National Association of REALTORS® Research Group:

  • 82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
  • 48% of buyers’ agents said that staging a home increased the dollar value offered when compared to comparable homes on the market.
  • 53% of sellers’ agents said they saw a decrease in time on the market when a home was staged.

Data is one thing but nothing really compares to a real-life example of how staging can impact the sale of your home.

I recently put my condo on the market and we were living there while it was listed. Even though I’m a designer and a stager by trade, I knew that having someone else evaluate how my place was showing would provide valuable perspective on how the home looked to prospective buyers.

As soon as I knew we were selling, I called our Lead Stager and Interior Designer, Mayra Zarabia, to provide her perspective on my space. I had already done the top things we tell every client to do: de-clutter, de-personalize and downsize.

Mayra helped me finesse my space with a few purchased accessories and art. Within a short amount of time and Mayra’s help, my condo went from looking fabulously lived in to looking fabulous for someone else to live in.

There were three similarly sized condos on the market when we listed. Two of them had been on the market for about a month when we listed, which is not terribly long, but still longer than the trend had been in previous years.

The first one—that ended up selling the day we listed—was listed for a steal of a price and had been on the market for 35 days when it went pending. It was staged originally but remained empty for showings and they ended up lowering the price by 20K within the first few weeks.

The second was priced well and was a similar size to ours but not fully staged. There was furniture in the home, but it did not showcase the layout or show the potential buyers how they could live in the space. It did have good photos and was listed a smidge below ours. It sold about 5 days after we listed our condo and had been on the market for 35 days.

The third property went on the market about a week before ours. It was listed with dark, cell phone photos, was not staged or organized and was listed for about 30k above ours. It had a few good things going for it like vaulted ceilings, and an updated kitchen, but the photos and lack of staging really hindered the marketability of the unit. This unit was eventually taken off the market and did not sell. While I can’t speak to the exact reason it was pulled, I’m sure staging could have helped to sell that unit.

Finally, we get to our listing. We took the time to have a stager (who was not me. Thank you Mayra!) help make our space shine. We had fantastic photos and had similar updates to the other units. We listed on a Thursday. On the following Thursday—that’s right, in just one week—we had an offer that came in above asking. This to me, all came down to how our unit was marketed.

The initial purpose of staging is for the photos. It’s those photos that sway people from merely browsing on-line to scheduling an appointment to look in person. Once they step into the listing, we want them to envision themselves living there. Staging broadens the appeal to the greatest range of prospective buyers.

We focus on the best layout to achieve the most appealing look that highlights the home’s best features. We make sure to have just enough art and accessories to make the space feel warm and welcoming, but not feel like you’re walking into someone else’s home.

Whether you are living in a listed home or are selling a vacant home, staging can be the piece of the puzzle to help you stand out from your competition. For more information about staging, check out our website or call Nikole at our office at 206.719.1662

2023’s Revolutionizing Interior Design Concepts

Now that the long winter is upon us and sunlight seems like a distant memory, our attention goes to the quality and mood of our indoor spaces. Reimagining our home’s personality can be daunting, but with intention and patience, we can get in touch with interior energy that represents and empowers us.

At Housewarming, we like to remind our clients that the interior design trend cycle is a forever swinging pendulum with no right or wrong ways to design. In fact, leaning too strongly into trends and changing our homes around one flashy new concept can often leave us with regrets later. Trying to replicate trends can be tricky. However, indulging in new ways of thinking and finding inspiration in others’ work can realize positive results. Using trends to educate and inspire us is the most useful relationship we can have with them, and we can create deeply personal concepts by using a thoughtful blend of ideas, old and new.

No matter where on the pendulum you sit right now, 2023 has so much to show us! New designers’ voices are being heard all over the world. We want to share with you some trending concepts that bring a breath of fresh air, and a healthy dose of “Oh, I never thought of that.”

Design freely! Just… be careful with the bouclé.

Latter-day VictorianCredit: Zoffany

Paper, paper, paper!

Very recently, cottage-core took over Instagram with shaker furnishings and potted plants galore! Now we’re seeing designers delve into its more opulent satellite: American Victorian.

Credit: Cocokelley

The historic Victorian style was heavily influenced by a gothic revival; One brought about by new easy access to materials and goods. This barely mirrors its resurgence today.

Biophilic Design

Credit: Stuart Isett

Biophilic design is more than just houseplants and jungle wallpaper; It’s defined by reintroducing its users to their evolutionary roots to create wellness.

Credit: Decorilla

All elements of the concept attempt to be an ecosystem of natural parts that support our modern lives. That pendulum sure swings far back!

Old Hollywood

Credit: the common wanderer

While France’s Art Deco style is having its own huge resurgence, the intricate forms of 1920s Hollywood are making their own small statement too.

Credit: Interior Design

This branch of the Deco movement is more cinematic and indulges in far more international forms than its partner. Think, “could I see Audrey Hepburn in here?” If so, it’s probably Old Hollywood.


Credit: Eye for Design

China’s history in the arts is longer than many of us in the West can really comprehend. ‘Chinoiserie’ (not the fabric) is a word used by Europe historically to identify the idyllic spectacle of Chinese forms and motifs.

Credit: Baptiste Bohu

Danish Pastel

Rooted in colonial plunders and eclecticism, this style has since relaxed a bit and is now reinventing itself as a traditional powerhouse for older homes.

Credit: Holly Becker

Danish Pastel made a huge statement back in 2020 as social media influencers began twisting Scandinavian hygge into something more playful. Now it’s a fully matured design style with its own unique gestures and terminology!

Credit: Emma Omeara

Often created by mixing pastel furniture and fixtures inside white rooms, the interactive zone of the style is always brimming with joy and curiosity. We, at Housewarming, love to see the sunny disposition.

We believe that no matter your inner style or outward ability, you should feel entitled to be represented in your home. So, take notes, feel the rhythm in others’ work, and you’ll begin to piece together your own puzzles. But as always, let us know if you need help!

A Whole House Remodel Transforming How a Family Lives Together

We love whole house remodels. We get the opportunity to touch every corner of the home and create a full cohesive design from top to bottom. For this West Seattle home, we were presented with the opportunity to redesign all three floors which includes the basement, main level and reconfiguration of the top floor primary suite. The result was a welcoming and playful space that reflects the homeowners’ eclectic style.



The family wanted to use the basement as a space their two kids could call their own, which they certainly did. The day our team arrived to take photos, we were too late. The girls had taken over for sure!

In the basement, we needed to include two bedrooms, a bathroom that was larger and an enclosed laundry room. Space planning the basement was a bit challenging in that moving the location of the plumbing was not part of their scope. We were able to extend the size of the bathroom and divide the bedrooms to make one of them larger. As required by the building code, we had to make sure that both rooms had proper egress windows. The larger of the two already had an easily accessible window while the smaller bedroom did not. We had to lower the windowsill and create a window well on the exterior to allow for proper exiting allowances. The house has an extra bedroom on the main level that can be occupied by one of the kids when they get older, which will allow the smaller bedroom in the basement to act as an office space or guestroom.

The main level was a total transformation. We made a once enclosed and sectioned off space into an open and bright flex space that gives them better sight lines and opportunities to entertain their guests.



The focus of the main floor was redesigning a kitchen that would facilitate more interactions. Our clients wanted to have an island where their kids could do homework while they cooked. A big priority was having more counter workspace and better cabinet organization. To keep up with the playful aesthetic, we added a pop of color to the island cabinets and gold finishes to the hardware and plumbing to compliment the otherwise clean and soft feel of the kitchen. Our clients’ great taste in lighting and choices of island pendants and dining room chandelier worked very well with the overall design. We transformed the main floor into a more vibrant and functional gathering space.

My favorite part of this project was the top level. The husband and wife wanted the top floor to be their dedicated space complete with a his and her closet and a full wet room bath. With so much space to work with, we were able to extend the existing bathroom and add a full shower and bathtub, while still leaving plenty of space for the bedroom. We took out the existing bedrooms and closets and reconfigured them to create the walk-in closets. In the beautiful primary bedroom, the blue tiles created a lovely gradient that reflected nicely the light coming in from the window and skylight. The gold finishes mirrored those in the kitchen as well as the blue vanity cabinet. We balanced the use of loud colors and finishes with neutral and soft whites and grays. The shower and bathtub wet room is a dream!

For more amazing photos check out the porfolio page here.