Holilday LIghts!

Holilday LIghts!


Thank you for visiting my blog. I have a passion for decorating! And, as a decorator and home stager who's helped many people transform their homes, I wanted to share my ideas and tips with others. Enjoy! My company's motto is: "Get A Goode Start to Sell Your Home!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2016

Surprise! This year Pantone has chosen two colors to represent the Color of the Year.  The colors are a complete opposite of last year’s rich, bold color Marsala.  This year, Pantone chose two colors on the other end of the color wheel, Rose Quartz and Serenity are soft and subtle.
"Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace,” (Leatrice Eiseman- Pantone Color Institute)
I actually love the choice of two softer colors for this year. I think both colors are really versatile and can be used in a variety of color schemes.  Rose Quartz is subtle tone that can really be used as a neutral and compliment a variety of colors.  Both colors would pair well with darker, bold blues and purples, but could also work well paired with whites and creams to create light and airy spaces.

Here’s what Pantone has to say:
"As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.
"Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.
"In a time when traditional gender roles are being blurred, Pantone has chosen colors that in the past have had strong connotations with gender.  In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer's increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.” (www.pantone.com)

What do you think? Will you incorporate these colors into your home this year and how?
Happy 2016 and Happy Decorating!





Monday, November 9, 2015

Choosing Your Kitchen Countertop

By Stephanie Platt, Interior Designer and Staging Assistant, A Goode Start

My husband and I are in the middle of remodeling our kitchen, and I can tell you that deciding on which countertop to go with kept me up a couple of nights.  In the end, we went with a classic oak butcher block.  When it is installed and oiled it will really pop against our white cabinets and dark floors.  We had debated whether to splurge on granite, but in the end we chose the more budget friendly option.  Our house sits in a neighborhood of first time houses; in fact, our house is our starter house. When shopping for finishes for your house, you really want to take the neighborhood into consideration.  You don’t want to add something to your house that will raise the price too much for the target buyer. 

Kitchens are an eye-catcher when you are selling your house.  It is the kitchens and bathrooms that will set your house apart from all the others on the market.  Even if you are not planning on selling and just doing a remodel, you are going to face some seemingly daunting decisions. One of the largest expenses in a kitchen remodel are the countertops.  The countertops you choose really set the stage for the rest of the kitchen.  Below is a list of some pros and cons of the most common types of countertops:

Laminate: $20-60 per square foot
With Laminate countertops you can get the high end look you want on a budget.  The beauty of laminate is that you can get it in a variety of finishes.  It can be made to look like natural stone, solid surface or even butcher block. Laminate countertops are low maintenance and easy to clean.  However it cannot be repaired if damaged by heat or scratched.

Butcher Block: $35-70 per square foot
Butcher Block is a classic countertop material.  It is fairly low maintenance but does require oiling every couple of months.  It is easy to clean, but since is a porous natural material it does harbor bacteria so disinfecting frequently is necessary.  Scratches and any damage can easily be sanded out.  Butcher block is often used as an accent countertop on kitchen islands.

Solid Surface (Corian): $35-100 per square foot
Corian is a man-made material constructed of acrylic and polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments. It is a non-porous material and requires no special cleaning or sealing like natural stone does. Corian is susceptible to scratches and burns, however these can be taken care of with sanding.

Quartz: $40-90 per square foot
Quartz countertops are made from a combination of crushed quartz and resin that replicates the look of natural stone. It is an environmentally friendly option to natural stone.  It is naturally antibacterial because it is a non-porous material. Quartz is virtually maintenance free and is very resistant to stains or damage.

Granite: $45-100 per square foot
Granite is a natural stone that comes in a variety of colors, textures and finishes.  It is very durable and stands up well to heat, knife marks, stains and daily wear and tear.  Since it is a natural product there will be slight variances in color and appearance even within the same slab.  Granite requires resealing about once every 6-12 months.

Concrete: $65-125 per square foot
Concrete is a relatively new material for countertops. These countertops can be colored or polished for different looks.  Glass can be added for a more distinct look.  Concrete countertops are very heavy and may need additional support.  These countertops will need frequent sealing and may develop small cracks over time.
Happy decorating and have a great month!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Five Common Decorating Mistakes

Five Common Decorating Mistakes
By Stephanie Platt, Interior Designer and Staging Assistant for A Goode Start

Are you decorating a space in your house or do you have a space that just doesn't;t work and you can't figure out what the problem is? Below is a list of some common mistakes that when addressed can make a big impact on your space.

1. Not Enough Light- The key to creating an effective lighting plan in your space is to use layers.  There are three categories of lighting and all three need to be used to create a well lit space.
  • General- General lighting, also known as ambient light, provides your room with overall light.  The most common types of general lighting is chandeliers, ceiling or wall mounted fixtures, recessed lights and floor/table lamps.  The overall light in a space should be comfortable and allow you to perform tasks and move around safely.
  • Task- Think of task light as light for your work space. It is lighting that helps you perform certain activities such as reading, writing, sewing, cooking etc.  Task lighting can be achieved with recessed lights, track lights, pendant lights, under cabinet lights or desk lamps. These lights should be controlled separately from the general lighting. Task lighting should be bright enough to prevent eye strain while performing tasks, but not too bright to avoid glare.
  • Accent- Accent lighting is often used to spotlight architectural features, paintings, etc.  Accent lighting should be brighter than the general lighting to create interest.  Accent lights can be track lighting, focused recessed lights, wall mounted fixtures or lights inside display cabinets.
2. Everything Matches- This is a common mistake that most people make when decorating.  They buy furniture as sets and everything has the same fabric or color.  It looks good together but the space can end up looking staged.  A room should look like it evolved over time, this creates a more inviting space.  The furniture in a room should coordinate and you can mix different fabric patterns and textures; this will give your space visual interest.

3. Artwork Hung too High- The average eye level is 5'6".  Artwork should be hung so that the center of the picture is about 5'6" so that it can be viewed easily.  If you are hanging a group of pictures or collage than the center of the group should be at 5'6".  This will create uniformity in your house.  Also if you are hanging a picture above a piece of furniture it should be hung so that it is closer together.  If there is too much space between them then they read a visually separate instead of a cohesive vignette.

4. Visible Clutter- I personally do not like a lot of knick knacks in my space- mainly because I do not like to dust.  But this is probably the most common decorating faux pas.  When decorating it is easy to want to put something interesting on every table or surface to dress it up.  This is not necessary, it clutters the space visually.  When there are too many accent pillows on your couch, yes it looks nice but it makes it hard to sit down and relax.  Your house is a place to live and your decorating should reflect that. You don't want to create rooms that people are uncomfortable in because they are afraid to mess anything up.

5. Area Rug too Small- Rugs are a great way to help define your space. Used properly a rug can visually group furniture together, creating a more intimate and inviting space.  If you have a rug that is too small it can make a space uninviting or make your furniture look smaller. For a living room you want to choose a rug that will be able to fit your main grouping of furniture on it. In the picture you can see option 1 and 2 look more like a group instead of separate pieces. The rule that most designers use is that the rug should be large enough that the front feet at least can rest on the rug. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Neutral Colors Rock!

Neutral Colors Rock!
By Stephanie Platt,  Interior Designer and Staging Assistant with A Goode Start

My husband and I recently purchased new living room furniture.  I have always had a hand-me-down couch, something that went perfectly with someone else’s style.  This was a big purchase for me and one I took very seriously. I drug my husband to the furniture store on a Saturday morning where we proceeded to sit on what seemed like a never ending array of couches.  I fell head over heels in love with this trendy couch in a soft teal.  It was comfortable and gorgeous. I was ready to redo my entire living room in order for this couch to fit. And that is when my husband burst my bubble.  He wanted something that worked with the aesthetic that we already had and I had to agree. In the end we went with a nice neutral soft brown couch with clean sophisticated lines.

When making big furniture purchases it is best to go with something neutral that will outlast the latest trends.  If you are in love with a certain color you can incorporate it in the accent pillows and accessories of the room. A couch is something that will be with you for a while, and you want something that can change as your family changes. When you choose a neutral couch you can add whatever color you want to make it fit your design style.

Neutral colors for couches include beige, gray, taupe, creams and whites.  Choosing the right neutral has a lot to do with your personal style and space.

Whites- White is timeless and works with any color you want to use as an accent.  It lends itself well to all different decorating styles from modern to shabby chic. You want to make sure that you check into stain resistance.  This might not be the right choice if you have pets or children.

Creams/Tan- Creams and Tans are another great option that offers lots of flexibility.  They are great for pairing with darker, bolder colors. These colors work really well with black, navys and reds. 

Brown- This color works well for active families.  Brown works well in traditional design and also tends to lend itself to a more masculine feel.

Gray- Light grays such as stone, works well with warm wood tones and is a great camouflage color if you have active kids. Darker grays work well with modern design style.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Adding Pizzazz to Your Home with Accent Walls

Adding Pizzazz to Your Home with Accent Walls
By Guest Blogger, Stephanie Platt
I am a sucker for old houses, there is just something about walking into a home that is unique and has lots of character. When my husband and I went searching for a house I really wanted to choose one that oozed character, but they were either out of my price range or needed way to much work for us. So we ended up settling for a builder’s grade duplex that needed some work.  I wanted to punch up the character and charm without going overboard on the budget.  Accent walls are a great way to introduce some character into your home. 
An accent wall, or feature wall, is a wall whose design differs from the design of the other walls in the room. The accent wall's color can simply be a different shade of the color of the other walls, or have a completely different design in terms of the color and material. Accent walls are a great way to break up large spaces or to highlight an area of interest, such as a fireplace or a nook. By using color or different materials you can create an accent wall and most treatments are relatively easy for any do-it-yourselfer.
Paint: Paint is the easiest and cheapest way to add interest to a space.  By choosing an accent wall you can go bold and use darker, richer colors. You can also do patterns and stencil with paint.  In the picture you can see they used and arabesque pattern in the same grey color, but to create contrast the background is done in flat paint and the pattern is done in a semi-gloss or gloss finish. This creates a look that is more subtle but still interesting.
Wallpaper: I think that wall paper has gotten a bad rap over the years.  Wallpaper can give you the opportunity to add not only color to a wall but pattern as well. If you are not daring enough to wall paper the whole wall you can section off your wall with trim.  In the picture the wallpaper used is really bold, but contained within the trim it almost looks like art work.
Stacked Stone/Brick (see picture above): Both of these will add instant interest and character to any space. You can get a wide range of styles, ranging from modern to rustic.  You really want to choose a product/color that works with your design aesthetic.  Do-it-yourself places sell these in faux and veneer styles that are easy to install, light weight and budget friendly. 
Wood (see picture above): Wood walls have been growing in popularity over the last couple of years.  There are some many different wood wall styles that it would take another entire blog post to describe them.  My favorite by far is the ship lap treatment. This construction style was typically used in barns, sheds and other out buildings.  It gives a rustic, homey feel. You can stain them or paint them, white is the most popular but adding color really brings out the texture. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Curb Appeal is Important!

By Guest Blogger, Stephanie Platt, 2012 Graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh
So you have decided to sell your house and get it staged.  Staging is a great way to showcase your home and it really lets buyers see your home at its best.  It is important to not forget about the outside of your house.  Curb appeal is so important when selling your home.  Don’t miss the opportunity to make a great first impression.  Here are some quick and simple things that you can do to make your home stand out.

-Maintenance: Even though the outside of your house might look clean it will still benefit from a once over with the power washer.  Siding and brick especially collect dirt and pollen over the years.  While you have the power washer be sure to go over the patio and walkways. Also be sure to trim any trees or shrubs and pull any weeds.

-Paint: You don’t have to go crazy and paint the whole house but touching up the paint on the trim and the door will make a big difference.  You may also want to update the color of your door; red (like this example from prettyhandygirl.com) is the most popular color for front doors. The door in the picture is painted with Sherwin Williams Crabby Apple, it is a bold color but not too bright, it goes well with a neutral color palette.  Check with your HOA if you have one before starting to make sure a color change is allowed.

-Change out the hardware: This could be anything that’s on your house.  All of the light fixtures should either match or be in the same style.  The door knob and door knocker may need updating.  These may seem like little things but a buyer is looking at the details.  Changing out this hardware can also give your house a more modern updated look.

-House Numbers: Make sure that your house number can clearly be seen.  It should be on the mailbox and near the front door.  You want the buyer to be able to see the numbers from the road.  Black letters are the easiest to see, but if you have a darker house color you may opt to put them on the front door or to use a plaque.

-Add Seating: If you have one, a front porch is a great opportunity to create interest.  If you add some seating and an outdoor rug you can create an outdoor space that increases your usable square footage. Make the space even more inviting with a porch swing, accesories and some throw pillows.

-Add Color: Adding color to your front porch adds interest.  You can add color very easily by adding plants.  You can add brightly colored flowers to planting beds or pots.  However if you don’t have a green thumb you can still achieve the same effect.  Go with low maintenance leafy plants, like shrubs and ferns and plant them in brightly colored pots.  They will look great next to any home.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Using Sea Glass in Decorating

This article has been written by the newest addition to the Goode Start team, Stephanie Platt.  She is a 2012 graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. 

As the seasons change and the temperature warms up, I start to count the days until I can dip my toes into the ocean at the beach.  As a child some of my best memories are at the beach walking and endlessly searching for treasure.  I would come home with pockets full of sand, shells and my favorite, sea glass.  It is a tradition that I am delighted that my children have adopted.  We have amassed quite a collection, and these gems are on display in a vase in my dining room.  It is a constant reminder of the beach even on the coldest days.     

Recently I came across this color palette on pinterest (originally posted by Better Homes and Gardens) and I fell in love.  The most common colors of sea glass are white, and light blue- green.  The color palette would be the perfect way to bring the beach into your house.  The palette is soft and subdued and the colors are a great mix of blue and green.  These colors evoke peace and tranquility and would be perfect in any beach house or in a city kitchen.

Of course paint isn’t the only way to use sea glass as inspiration. If you are willing to take on a bigger project then why not consider a “sea glass” countertop.  Incorporating a glass/concrete countertop is a great way to bring this look into your kitchen or bathroom.  Below are two examples of glass countertops that have the look of sea glass.  The one on the left is by Vertrazzo and the right is Ice Stone.  Both use post consumer products to create a stunning aesthetic.  This type of countertop provides a green alternative to natural stone. The glass is translucent and really adds a personal to touch to your kitchen or bathroom.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Do's & Don'ts of Living in a House on the Market

So you get the call. Potential buyers are coming in an hour and you’re still in your robe with coffee in hand. There are spilled Cheerios on the floor and kids running through the house. How do you keep it all together while living in a staged home?


1.      DO keep all the cleaning supplies you use in one place. Having them in a basket or caddy is a great idea. If you have multiple levels in your home, it may also be helpful to have one for each. You don’t want to be running around trying to find the dusting spray!

2.      DON’T leave your laundry, dirty or clean, out for everyone to see. Make sure your dirty ones are in the washer or hamper. If you haven’t folded clean ones yet, bring them with you to fold when you leave. It’ll kill time while you wait for the showing to be over.

3.      DO make your bed first thing when you wake up. When your bed is made, it can instantly make your room look cleaner and everything else will feel easier to tidy up.

4.      DON’T put off cleaning because you aren’t getting many showings. If you clean steadily throughout the week, you won’t be so overwhelmed if you do get a last minute call.

5.      DO keep a sheet over the couch or other furniture if you have pets that shed. Simply pull it off and go.

6.      DO clear space in kitchen cabinets to quickly put away things such as your toaster or coffee pot. With the exception of well-staged items, you don’t want to overcrowd your kitchen counters. It can make them look smaller than they are.

7.      DON’T do the floors first. Make this your last task.

8.      DO keep out a good set of towels in the bathroom, but have an everyday set next to them or on top. When it’s time for a showing, just grab the everyday one away. You won’t have to worry about finding a clean; matching set and waste time folding them.

9.      DO give kids an age-appropriate task. It will keep them busy (and out of your hair).

10.  DON’T be afraid to hire help if you need it. Whether it be a professional home stager, babysitter/mother’s helper, organizer, or cleaning crew, they all have their own ways to help you keep your home in tip-top shape.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Little Money to Spare? No Problem!

When “redecorating” comes to mind, dollar signs probably do, too. Take a quick look to learn how to shop in your own home and save some cash!

First things first—room layout. By simply rearranging furniture, rooms can be given a whole new feel. A good room has good traffic flow. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there IS a lot of traffic, just that it is easy to walk into and/or through. With this in mind, think about what you might want to move around. Would the chair be better against a different wall? Is it frustrating to have to walk around the bed to get to the dresser?

Take a walk around your home and “shop”. Focus on what you’re looking for. A small trunk could double as storage and a coffee table, or maybe an old table could be used as a desk. Don’t forget the attic and basement—you’d be surprised what you can find! Once you have the furniture together, it’s time to accessorize.

Think unconventionally by turning a top sheet into a shower curtain. Use teacups from the kitchen as pencil cups in your office. That old map from your grandfather? Frame it and hang it on the wall. Switch the throw pillows from the bed to the sofa and stack books or magazines on a basket. Bring in flowers from outside for dimension and life. By adding indirect lighting such as a table lamp or candles, you can adjust the room’s mood. When accessorizing, try something and walk away from it. Go back to it a few minutes later and you’ll be able to see what should be changed (if need be) with a fresh mindset.  

By using what you already have, you can quickly and easily transform your space in a non-permanent way. The best part is—it’s free!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tips for Getting Organized (It's Never Too Late!)

Was, “De-Clutter” on your New Year’s Resolution List this year? Do you get so overwhelmed that you put keep putting it off? Whether you need to get your house ready to put on the market or are simply looking to better your interior spaces, here are a few tips and tricks to help you tackle messes (and keep them away)!


1.       Start Small. Don’t try to do everything in one day or all at once. This is how many people lose interest and energy in organizing. Instead, set a goal of something to complete and if you want, a timeline. Split up the time and the amount of work reasonably. If you know you have Aunt Martha coming to visit in 3 weeks and you don’t want her to comment on your messy closet, dedicate an hour each day until then to work on it. The time will add up and you will still be able to keep up with your busy life!

2.       Have a Place for Everything. When you have a designated spot for something, you will be less likely to lose your belongings. Keep your keys on a hook near the front door, your shoes in the closet, or have baskets that the kid’s toys go back into after being played with. These may seem obvious, but if you make it a point to put something in it’s place, you will know exactly where to find it when you need it.

3.       Find Your Method. If you are a visual person, you might enjoy color-coding your things. If you’re more technical, it might make sense for you to alphabetize. You might sort your linens by type—“Pillowcases”, “Top Sheets”, “Fitted Sheets”, by size—“King”, “Queen”, “Twin”, or by keeping their sets together. Do what makes the most sense to YOU and how you can see yourself keeping it. You can apply these methods to just about anything in your house and they do not have to be the same. From books to dishes, clothes or toiletries, the list goes on.

4.       Piles will happen, but don’t let them accumulate! It’s almost inevitable that a pile of something will form. You walk in after a long day, set your papers/mail/bags on the counter and, voila! Your kitchen is now a catchall of random things that don’t belong. It’s okay. Get in the door, change out of your work clothes, sit down, and decompress. You can go back to the pile in a little bit. Take things one-by-one and put them where they belong (see #2!). It’s easy to let a pile grow, but if you make a habit of tending to it while it’s young, you will thank yourself later!

5.       Work Together. It can be very frustrating when you finally DO organize something and someone you live with doesn’t help keep it that way. First, cut them some slack. They may not have noticed what you’ve accomplished or what you’re trying to do. Let your family members or roommates in on what you’re doing if it’s a shared space, such as the hall closet. You could even recruit them to help with a bigger task and lighten the load!


Remember, your home is your sanctuary. If your goal is to improve it through decorating or design, organization comes hand-in-hand. By instilling these habits maintenance will become easy, and you can further enjoy your humble abode.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Staging Your House During Winter Months

Hi Everyone,

It’s February already!  And there will probably  be at least one to two months more of winter.  So, if you are trying to sell your house during the winter, it’s harder than other times of the year.  Unfortunately, there are no blooming flowers, no green grass or trees, but lots of bare landscape and sometimes, lots of leftover leaves from fall!  So, what should you do to make your house have more curb appeal?

Here are ten suggestions to help you showcase your house during these cold months:

1.       Make sure that all the extra leaves and branches are raked up in the yard.

2.       Trim back the dead plants and flowers that may still be looming in your flower beds.

3.      Plant some winter flowers such as pansies and winter cabbage in large flower pots near your front door.

4.      Place a pretty winter-themed wreath on your door for more color!

5.      If you have snow, make sure that there is a clear path to your front door.  Potential buyers don’t want to trudge through the snow to get to your house.

6.      Clear off your front porch and driveway.  It shows you care about the people who may come to visit, and maybe even buy your house!

7.      Clean off your outdoor window sills to let in as much outside light as possible.

8.     Ensure that the house numbers on your house and mailbox are clearly visible – so potential buyers can find your house easily! 

9.     Inside your house, make sure that all the lights are on and your shades, curtain or blinds are open to let the sun shine in!

10.     Keep an outdoor mat on your front porch and an indoor rug by your front door so that potential buyers won’t be tracking in lots of snow, mud and whatever else lurks outside J

If you have any questions about some of my suggestions, please email me at AGoodeStartDeco@gmail.com.  Thank you and, as always, Happy Decorating!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pantone's Color of the Year for 2015

Pantone has long been the industry expert in color trends in fashion and decorating.  This year, they announced that the color of the year is "Marsala," a reddish brown color which reminds me of the color of red wine.  After last year's vibrant, "Radiant Orchid," I have to admit I'm a little disappointed. But who am I to disagree with the industry expert?
According to Pantone's Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, "Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability. "Marsala" (Pantone #18-1438) is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth."  Well, after reading this - maybe I have changed my mind :-)

The color is deep and rich, and I can see it as a comfy leather sofa in my family room.  Oops - not so fast!  Let's open our minds to the versatility of "Marsala."  It has an earthy appeal which would look beautiful with sandstone or gold, but would also look smashing with greens and blues.

So, I think I really like "Marsala" after all. It could be the pop of red that I will add to my staged rooms this year!