Living With Intention

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and found some time to relax, entertain, and bond with friends and family.

I am always filled with great anticipation in January. I look forward to thinking through all that I hope to accomplish in the coming 12 months. This year, I am taking this process VERY seriously and centering all of my aspirations around the following theme: living with intention.

I am looking at everything with greater questioning and intentionality. I’m asking important and sometimes hard questions in many areas – including our home, finances, possessions, physical health and even travel plans. I think many of us are often on auto-pilot or worse, functioning in the reactive mode instead of living with forethought and planning. I’m guilty of it in some areas as well, so I’m definitely not pointing fingers.  Instead, I’m hoping to bring awareness to the table and approach each month with greater planning and intention.

I’m hoping you’ll join me on this journey. Each month my goal is to challenge myself and inspire all of you to tackle a project that will help us achieve greater productivity, peace and joy at home. I’m going through all the rooms in our house with fresh eyes and asking:

  • How can we increase the functionality of this room?
  • Do we want/need everything that takes up space in this room?
  • How can we feel more inspired in this space?
  • What can we add/take away to increase our enjoyment of this room?

A Year of Intentional Living at Home

Here’s what you can look forward to in the next 12 months:

  • January ~ Home Office Challenge: How to Create a Space that Supports Productivity and Creativity
  • February ~ Bedroom: Your Place to Recharge, Relax and Sleep
  • March ~ Bathroom: Order, Storage and Function
  • April ~ What’s in Your Closet? Wardrobe Organization and How to Maintain Long-Term Order
  • May ~ Kitchen & Pantry: Where Zones are Key
  • June ~ The Great Outdoors : Porches, Patios, Decks and Balconies
  • July ~ Bon Voyage: Summer Travel Organization
  • August ~ Kids’ Spaces: How to Keep Them Clean, Organized and Functional 
  • September ~ Foyers, Entry Areas & Mudrooms: Where Function and Form Work Together
  • October ~ Living Room: Sit and Stay for a While 
  • November ~ Dining Room: Gather Around the Table (Also ideas for holiday entertaining!)
  • December ~ The Organized Home: Organizational Systems that Sustain Themselves

I will be doing a lot of work and reporting back to you to make your work easier. I will also be sharing resources, tips and strategies regarding both organization and design (both home- and life-related!), so you won’t want to miss the blog. Make it easy on yourself: SUBSCRIBE! That way everything gets delivered right to your inbox.

Here’s to a new year filled with greater awareness, productivity and intentionally driven decisions at home and life in general.  




Friday Finds: Make Room for What You Love by Melissa Michaels

Happy Friday, everyone!  I, for one, am really happy it’s Friday.  It’s been a long, emotional week and I’m ready to carve out some time for relaxation.  What about you?  Any fun plans?

This week I attended the Memorial Service for my friend, Carrie Gilmore, who recently passed away.  Some of you knew her as well, and it felt good to stand beside you and remember her spirit.  During the slideshow at the reception, images of slumber parties, snow days playing outside, dinners with friends and many such small moments were on display.  As I watched the photos cycle, I was again struck by how it’s the little moments that make up a big life.  It’s not the grand gestures, but small moments like pancake breakfasts or birthday celebrations with cake and ice cream that stay with us.

All of these moments need a back drop and it’s most often called home.  Our homes don’t need to look magazine worthy for life to occur, but we do need space for things like play, dinners, hobbies, relaxation and gatherings.  We need to be intentional about making space, both physically and emotionally, for the moments of life to unfold.

I was recently selected to be on the launch team for Melissa Michael’s new book, entitled,  Make Room for What You Love. I’m so excited to share this book with you because it so perfectly captures the habits and ideas that lead to creating a purposeful home and why it’s important.  In the introduction, she writes, “Whatever our style, our home should be life giving and soul refreshing, a soft spot to land on a hard day and a beautiful place to recharge and rejuvenate.  The things we bring into our home can be a reflection of who we are and the life we live.”


The problem I most often hear clients and friends alike complain about is owning too much stuff.  Piles of “stuff,” better known as clutter, take over our homes and get in the way of living life.  So what do most of us do?  We feel overwhelmed and just choose to not make any decisions at all.  Melissa however, makes an incredible observation in this book.  Our indecision is actually a decision to continue living with clutter.  Stop and reread that last line.  I know, crazy, right?

This realization alone was so powerful and made me view my home in a whole new way.  It motivated me into action in a BIG WAY and had me questioning what things and spaces I had been postponing making decisions about, like my closet, our bonus room and our garage.  It turns out that, “the more decisive you can be, the less clutter you’ll face.”  This past week, I was making LOTS of decisions and filling the garbage bin and boxes destined for Goodwill.



This book is not only about clutter management.  Melissa offers so much inspiration and concrete suggestions for how to set goals, cultivate habits and reimagine our homes so that we can live the life we’ve imagined for ourselves and our families.  She invites us set goals and reconnect with the home we’ve dreamed of creating.  She provides great ideas for how to achieve those goals.  Here are some examples:

  • Embrace the Pursuit of Less:  “Simplification of both our inner and outer world will allow us to take a deep breath and appreciate more fully what we really value.”
  • Spend Mornings Intentionally:  “If you want to reorganize your home, you have to make order a priority in your day, starting with the moment you open your eyes.  Mornings become like dominoes, setting the pace and tone for the entire day.”
  • Know What to Keep and Where to Put It:  “The two most important decisions you can focus on to bring order to any space are: 1) what to keep, and 2) where it belongs.”  If you can’t find a place for an item, chances are you probably don’t need it or it doesn’t belong in that room.
  • Find More Joy in Your Home:  “How could you find more join the space you have?  Take a walk around your house and look at closets and rooms.  Are you honoring and making the most of the rooms you have, or are they filled with too much stuff?  How could you pare down to better reflect the space you have to love your home even more?”

I think there is something for everyone in this book.  I consider myself fairly organized, but this book galvanized me into action like no other book thus far.  And most significantly, it made me consider how I make decisions about the items taking up space in my home.  I think you are all going to love this one!

Make Room for What You LOVE, by Melissa Michaels, author of the Inspired Room blog.

Make Room for What You LOVE, by Melissa Michaels, author of the Inspired Room blog.

Enjoy your weekend!  Let me know what you think of the book…you can pick up a copy on Amazon!  xoxo ~Maria

Creating a Home on Purpose

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with a family that is moving into a 7,000 square foot home. It might sound large (and it is!) but they also have nine – yep, nine – kids.  What I’m enjoying so much about this project is the intentionality and thought that is going into prepping this home for their June  move-in date.  We are painting walls & built-ins, adding lighting, selecting new furniture, changing out light fixtures, setting up kid spaces, home-office spaces and much more.  It’s very exciting for both them and me!

I’ve thought a lot about this process.  Specifically, the intentionality that is going into the planning of this home.  I think most people would agree that it’s motivating to move into a new home.  The process of moving always seems to inspire people to sift through their belongs, reconsider what they own and most significantly, reimagine how they want to live.  But here’s some wonderful news: you don’t have to move into a new house to reimagine how you want to live.  You can do that anytime you want.  Even today or this weekend.

It’s very powerful to look at your home and wonder, “If I were just moving in, what would I do differently?”  Or, “If I could start over with my home, what would I change?”  The beauty is that you can ALWAYS start over.

The first step to any kind of change is imagining.  For example, could you:

  • change the wall color? trim color?
  • change the orientation of the room?
  • add an architectural feature like a fireplace or bookshelves?
  • swap out throw pillows?
  • replace the carpet or add some rugs?
  • hang up some new art?
  • reframe existing art?
  • create a gallery wall of photos?
  • go through your belongings and purge what you no longer use or love?

My company tagline is, “Create a home on purpose,” and I stand behind this idea with all of my being.  I think home is the most important space of our lives.  Anna Spiro captures this sentiment beautifully in her book, Absolutely Beautiful Things, “My mother taught me there is nowhere more important than home.  Home is where we entertain, relax, celebrate, play, hide, nurture our children, create memories and rejuvenate our souls.  It is a reflection of all that we are and all that we love.”  I’m not religious, but I think that deserves an, “Amen!”

So, I want to inspire you to reimagine how you live in and use your home.  Reconsider what you own and what’s taking up space in your home.  Do you still love every vase, every pillow or knick knack you own?  If you’re not in love with something, you can change it.   And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  You can change the entire energy of a room by rearranging or reorienting the furniture or removing some things.  Just play with it and see what happens.  It’s only through doing that we discover what’s possible both in our homes and in our lives.

I can’t wait to hear about what you’re going to take on!

Tune in tomorrow for an awesome new book by Melissa Michaels, blogger extraordinaire over at The Inspired Room, entitled, Make Room for What You Love.  I was selected to review the book and put its advise into action in my own home.  I’m really excited to share it with all of you, and it fits so nicely into this discussion of being more intentional about our homes.

xoxo ~Maria

Welcome Spring: Creating an Inviting Outdoor Space

Happy Monday!  Last week, I decided I wanted to reclaim our screened-in porch from what had been a long winter and pollen-filled spring.  After a thorough power washing, it was ready to be transformed!

Creating an inviting outdoor space is relatively easy if you think of your deck or porch as a mere extension of your home.  The same elements that make the inside of your home inviting will make your outdoor area a relaxing retreat:

  • Colorful throw pillows
  • Outdoor rugs
  • Throw or light blanket (for cool nights)
  • Candles & Lanterns
  • String lighting and/or lamps
  • Art
  • Accessories
  • Tables for various purposes (dining, end tables, coffee table, & even console tables)
  • Plants and flowers of various sizes and colors.

I made it a point to approach this space just as I would my living room or bedroom, wanting it to reflect our family and what we enjoy doing outside: dining, entertaining and reading.


BEFORE… The pollen is strong in the South, y’all!

AFTER: I stored all of the pillows and cushions in large, plastic garbage bags over the winter so they were ready to go!

AFTER: I stored all of the pillows and cushions in large, plastic garbage bags over the winter so they were ready to go!  No cleaning or anything required because I did it all last fall.

Our new puppy, Gypsy, thinks it's pretty great to be out here!

Our new puppy, Gypsy, thinks it’s pretty great to be out here!

A fun tablescape adds SO MUCH to your table.  Use elements from the outdoors like shells, sand, stones, lanterns, candles and more.  Vary the height of the objects on the table and mix up textures.  Here’s a close up of the one I created on our porch.


Ready for dinner on the porch – one of our favorite things to do in the spring!

Finally, I decorated our old console table with art and candles to create a vignette that adds interest to the porch and makes it feel more home-like.


In the end, creating an inviting outdoor area is all about mindset.  If you approach this space as an extension of your indoor space, you’re bound to create an area that seamlessly integrates into the rest of your home.  It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either. Most of my throw pillows and even the furniture are from Target.  I used Pottery Barn to source interesting accessories for the tablescape, but went to Home Goods for other items.  Look around your own house….you’re bound to find something that you can use outside. (I repurposed our old living room console table and discovered it was perfect for the porch!)

Finally, I want to leave you with this lovely and appropriate quote from Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room…


I hope I’ve inspired you some.  Have a great Monday!


Custom Framing Without the Custom Cost

Hello Everyone!  I have missed you over the last few weeks.  We have been migrating the site and blog from Bring Home Order to Goldenrod Place and it’s taken much longer than I anticipated.  Luckily we are just about there and I can now resume sharing inspiration and ideas with all of you!  Thank you for hanging in there with me.

Today I’m sharing a creative way to approach custom framing for art and photography.  If you’ve ever used a custom framer, you know that this is not an inexpensive endeavor.  Costs for a matted, 8×10 print with anti-glare and UV protection glass can cost around $400-500.   It can be more depending on the size of your matting and grade of the frame.  If you want to use double or triple matting, the cost will be even higher.

I most frequently use Michael’s for my custom framing projects because they run promotional sales which can provide savings of 50 – 65%.  That’s a lot of savings! But even so, it’s not a bargain.

Recently, I was scouring the PTA thrift shop and came across two framed prints that were $6 each!  The framing had been customized, as evidenced by the matting and backing of the frame.  I purchased these two pieces with the intention of repurposing the frames and ditching the art and mats.


Lovely custom frames for $6!

I had photos from my wedding that I wanted to frame and these frames were perfect!  I took the frames and my photos to Michael’s and replaced the matting and glass.  For less than $200 I had custom framed two pieces for less than half of what ONE piece would have cost!


I have long since gotten rid of my dried up wedding bouquet, but this photo reminds me of its beautiful colors.


I framed a collection of smaller photos depicting walking down the aisle and being greeted by husband under the chuppah.

These were a perfect addition to our foyer…


So, check out places like Goodwill, The PTA Thrift Shop and consignment stores for framed art that can be up-cycled.  It can save you hundreds!  The search is really fun, too!  Let me know if you find something good.

Happy hunting… ~Maria



One Lesson Gloria Steinem Wants to Bestow on Us…

On this beautiful Monday morning, I was going to share a collection of sconces I’ve researched for all of you, but instead, I came across an interview of Gloria Steinem in (of all places!) my Land’s End spring catalog.  I happen to really admire the work and life of Gloria Steinem for many reasons, but mostly because she was a woman that saw injustice around her and decided to take massive action.  Her activism started an entire movement and laid the groundwork for what we might even call a revolution.  Anyone that sees a problem, then takes action to rectify it, and galvanizes others to join the effort, is a hero in my book.

Land’s End CEO, Federica Marchionni, interviewed Steinem, and asked her, “If there were one lesson you could bestow on those who look to you as their beacon, what would it be?”

Steinem responded, “The truth is that each person is a unique miracle, a combination of millennia of heredity and environment that could never have happened before in exactly the same way, and could never happen again in exactly the same way.  Yet at the same time, we share everything as human beings.  We can both find our unique voice and realize that as human beings, we are linked, not ranked.”

What I love about this answer is that she puts into words what I have struggled to say to many: that each of us has something unique to contribute to this world because there is not another person that comes to a problem or situation with our exact perspective.  Whether you’re an artist, philanthropist, business leader, teacher or parent – your unique experiences, heredity, environmental influences, etc. have created something that has never happened before and will never happen again: YOU.

So, if you doubt that you have something to contribute, something new to say, something interesting to create – DOUBT YOUR DOUBTS.  Embrace confidence and create, speak, write, draw, lead, teach, parent…whatever is brimming in your heart — go do it.  No one will be able to do it like you because no other person has the exact composition of what you bring to the table.  In other words: You have never happened to the world before and YOU will never happen again.  What an amazing realization.

Thank you Gloria Steinem for your inspiration and leadership…and for paving the way for others to do the same.

Have an awesome week, everyone.