Archive for April, 2014

April 30, 2014 10:00 am

DIY Wedding: Creative Table Numbers!

Table Numbers

I think the best part about doing a DIY wedding is the opportunity to create customized projects that really show off the personality of the couple. For my beach wedding last year, I decided to create DIY table numbers that complemented other beachy elements of my DIY décor. Read on to find out how I created these inexpensive table toppers.

What you’ll need:

– Tolsby frames from Ikea

– Hot glue gun

– An assortment of seashells

– Strands of plastic pearls in different sizes and colors

– Engagement photos

– Super glue

Let’s get crafty!

1. Unscrew the base of the frame and lay it down flat.

2. Arrange the seashells on one side of the frame. I found the best way to do this was to put larger seashells in the corners and then fill in the areas in between.

3. Glue down each shell with your hot glue gun. Don’t be afraid to use lots of glue!

4. Glue down seashells on the other three sides.

5. Use super glue to attach pearls to seashells.

6. Insert engagement photos into the frame.

7. Screw the base back onto the frame.


– If you wish, you can glue seashells to both sides of the frame.

– Consider making an extra frame to display a thank you message for your guests.

– You can spray paint the frames to match your wedding colors.

Want to learn more about event and wedding décor? Check our course outline here. You can also request a free brochure at any time.


book club

At the beginning of April we launched our very first book club! You voted, and the chosen read was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. We read it, we loved it. Now we’re excited to hear what you thought of the book!

For today’s discussion we’re using the following list of book club questions from Random House. These questions are simply meant to offer a bit of guidance and to get you thinking, so please don’t feel pressured to answer each and every one. Simply pick one or two that you feel strongly about and share your thoughts in the comments.

  1. What potential do Elizabeth, Renata, and Grant see in Victoria that she has difficulty seeing in herself?
  2. While Victoria has been hungry and malnourished throughout the majority of her life, food ends up meaning more than just nourishment to her.  Why do you think that is?
  3. Victoria and Elizabeth both struggle with the idea of being part of a family.  What does it mean to you to be part of a family?  What defines family?
  4. Why do you think Elizabeth waits so long before trying to patch things up with her long-lost sister Catherine?
  5. The first week after her daughter’s birth goes surprisingly well for Victoria.  Why does Victoria feel unable to care for her child after the week ends?  What is it that allows her to rejoin her family?
  6. One of the major themes in The Language of Flowers is forgiveness and second chances – do you think Victoria deserves one after the things she did (both as a child and as an adult)?  What about Catherine and Elizabeth?
  7. What did you think of the structure of the book – the alternating chapters of past and present?  In what ways did the two storylines parallel each other, and how did they diverge?
  8. The novel touches on many different themes (love, family, forgiveness, second chances). Which do you think is the most important?  And what did you think was ultimately the lesson?
  9. At the end of the novel, Victoria learns that moss grows without roots.  What does this mean, and why is it such a revelation for her?
  10. Based on your reading of the novel, what are your impressions of the foster care system in America?  What could be improved?
  11. Knowing what you now know about the language of the flowers, to whom would you send a bouquet and what would you want it to say?

We’ll be monitoring this page throughout the day, so please feel welcome to post whenever is convenient for you. Hopefully we’ll get a good discussion going!

April 25, 2014 12:00 am

Graduate Feature: Amore Events by Cody

Cody GrannisName: Cody Grannis

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram

A little bit about Cody…

Cody Grannis, a lifetime Virginian, is an award winning, certified International Event and Wedding Professional (IEWP), holding certificates in Non-Profit Management and Meeting and Event Planning from the University of Virginia.  She has over 6 years of experience planning University events in Charlottesville and throughout the country.

Cody, the mother of four, is the founder of Amore Events by Cody, LLC.  She has orchestrated many weddings in Charlottesville, Virginia and has an extensive network of reliable vendors in the region.  You will find her to be extremely dedicated and always working hard to ensure that each bride receives the wedding of her dreams.  Through Cody’s attention to detail and creativity, you can count on a wedding that will exceed your expectations.

Amore Events by Cody

Did you always see yourself becoming an event & wedding planner? What started the dream?

No, not at all! I started working at UVA in 2007 where my first job was an event planner in the Alumni Department. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much! I had never traveled before, but for one of my first events at UVA, I was sent on a trip to Palm Beach to plan a small alumni gathering. I had so much fun on that trip, getting to meet new people and work in a new and exciting environment. After that trip, I knew that event planning was something I wanted to continue to do long term. A little while later, I switched jobs at UVA and starting planning much larger events ranging anywhere from 100-5,000 people. After a couple of years at UVA, I got tired of all of the red tape and bureaucracy, and decided that I wanted to do something more creative on my own. I did some research and decided to become a wedding planner! We are now going into our forth season as Amore Events and we cannot be anymore excited!

Can you tell us a bit about how you got to where you are today?

I was a teenage mother of two little ones by the age of 19. And because of that I had to work extra hard to get where I am today. Knowing that I needed to provide for my family, I jumped head first into research on how to become an event planner, getting my certification from the QC School, and even took a course an event-planning course at UVA. When I applied for my job at UVA, I wrote them a letter and told them how excited I was about the position and how I really felt that I could do the job. They trusted me and hired me even though I didn’t mean all of the qualifications because I showed them how I was a fast learner and knew that I would succeed in the position.

Graduate Feature - Cody Grannis

Let’s talk branding. It’s probably one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business, and we’re sure our students would love a little insight into how Amore Events became what it is today.

Branding is a daunting thought, especially when you haven’t done it before. One of my biggest regrets is including my name in my business because I can never sell it. It is possible to change the business name, but not without a lot of paperwork and paying a bunch of money. Another huge part of branding is a logo and website. One thing that is necessary is working with a graphic designer and working through lots of different options with them. Make sure you go see lots of different logo designs and website templates before you choose. Take your time with this part because it is going to cost a good bit of money and in the end, it should be exactly what you want. One thing to remember through all of it is to stay true to yourself and your own personal style. You want your logo and website and overall brand personality to reflect you and what you have to offer. It is okay to get inspiration from other planners or people in the industry, but in the end, your brand needs to be all about you. Something to remember is that you can always re-brand. That sounds crazy, but it is actually a big part of growing your business. You might re-brand when your style changes, or when you add different services to your packages, or even when you want to reach a different clientele. We are actually in the process of re-branding right now and it is already paying off.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

In the event industry, making connections is key. When you were first starting out what was your approach to networking?

I started with just joining local event planning communities in the area. That is an amazing place to meet people, get your name out there and just make connections in the industry. A big thing I did that not a lot of other planners in the area did, was actually go meet with vendors face to face. I just wanted to get to know them and get to know their business better and really learn about how they like to work with planners.

I also joined free websites to market my business. The main ones I used in the beginning were Wedding Wire and The Knot. They were a big help in getting my name out in the industry and getting seen when couples search for wedding planners in Charlottesville. I also started requesting reviews from my brides. These reviews could be seen on both Facebook and Wedding Wire. This is a beneficial tool because I can use it to send to people who are inquiring about hiring me.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

I just love working with my brides. I love taking care of them and being such a big part of making their special day as perfect as I can. My favorite part of the wedding day is getting to steal my couples away for a few minutes and show them that every little detail we planner together has come together in the most beautiful day for them!

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

The biggest step in my career so far has been getting a studio space! It is a place that we have where brides came come and meet with us and can see all of our décor laid out. Something else that is huge for us with this space is being able to create a full mock-up of their reception tables. With all of our décor displayed in the studio, it is easy for us to walk around together, pick up things they like, try them on the table and really decide what they love. That is something we have never been able to do before, but it really adds an amazing touch to the experience for our brides.

A huge highlight of my career so far has been seeing our weddings and styled shoots on different national blogs, like Style Me Pretty, Southern Weddings and, Wedding Sparrow, and being published in Barn Weddings, a book by Maggie Lord. To see all of our hard work and our beautiful brides featured in these amazing places is really special.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

As you know, many of our students have dreams of owning their own businesses. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the event industry?

Some quick snippets of advice I would give are take your time with starting, really do your research about the industry and the market you are entering, have patience and kindness with both your brides and your vendors, be quick and assertive, learn how to say no, figure out your own personal design style, but also make sure you are keeping up with the trends.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

You’ve been featured on sites like The Knot and Style Me Pretty. That’s something to brag about! What do you think the future holds for Amore Events?

Amore Events is really taking off and I couldn’t be more proud! One thing that I would really love to do sometime in the future is open up a wedding venue. I would also love to make more connections outside of Charlottesville. It is a dream to work with vendors in California and New York and even in another country. There is so much inspiration in the world that I don’t get to see, so I would just love to experience and learn about other styles and bring it all back to Charlottesville.

QC Event School Graduate - Cody Grannis

 Curious to learn more about the wedding and event planning industry? Check out QC Event School and read our free brochure!

April 24, 2014 12:00 am

Give Your Reader a Piece of Your Mind!

“Writing is a lovely, creative, artistic endeavor. It can also be an absolute pain.”

Give your reader a piece of your mind.

Every writer has days when the words and ideas simply will not flow. Learn to value those days even if you do not enjoy them. Work through them. They are the best training ground for turning you into a real writer – a pro. Professionals write on good days and bad. They write when the ideas flow and when they do not. They write when the sentences seem effortlessly to form themselves. They write when words refuse to come. They keep on writing when they are suffering through days when their minds seem to be full of hot air.

On those bad days, turn to your own experiences and memories to get the wheels of your mind turning more freely. In other words, give your readers – quite literally – a piece of your mind. It’s quite a gift!

Read the short story here. It was written on a bad writing day when no ideas came easily. The writer called on real memories to turn a non productive day into a “good” one.

Christmas in October

A bathroom. A small, spare room of the early 1950s, far removed from the glamour of the voluptuous marble spas of today. Bath, sink, medicine chest, linoleum floor. A three-legged stool on which sat the small girl, earnestly watching her father.

A slow bead of condensate coursed its leisurely way down the heavily misted window. The pebbled glass, trembling in its blue metal frame, allowed a thin, grey light to soften the glare of the one fluorescent fixture.

So began a daily, valued ritual between father and daughter, a time of quiet before the panic of the family breakfast, and the rush to school and work. He stood at the sink, trousers slack around his waist, braces hanging in generous loops to his knees. His white cotton vest, woven in a lattice of diamond shapes, bright against the dark of his skin. She sat behind him on her stool, watching for his reflection in the cabinet mirror. He wiped the glass, the reflection of his face appeared, exchanged a smile with her, and then disassembled in the quickly clouding surface.

He smoothed the shaving cream from its tube into a small, stone bowl. He added a drop of water.  He ran his thumb across the silver tipped bristles of the shaving brush and plunged the brush into the ointment of cream and water. As he beat the cream into foam, the delicious sound of the slurping of the foam against the bristles, and the muted knocking of the wooden brush handle against the stone sides of the bowl, combined into a heady music. In later years, she would only be able to recreate that sound by stirring thick chocolate milk in a china cup. That sound always returned her to the bathroom of her childhood, and its daily morning rite as the warm, moist air of the room became scented by the perfume of the shaving cream.

He opened the door of the medicine chest and from it took the plastic case, a jewel of a case, luminous, transparent, elegant. Its lid sprang open to reveal the shiny, silver razor, sitting proud on its clear foundation.  She could fill that case with treasures if it were her’s. Marbles would glitter and gleam. The rusty aroma of acorn shells would complement the industrial tang of the plastic. Her collection of coloured wooden beads would glint in the reflection of light travelling through the clear, ice-like walls.

“I love that case, Dad,” she said, “I could keep so many important things in it. Could I have it when you’re finished with it?” She longed for that case as only a little girl with a highly colored imagination and an idea, set gem-like in her heart, could desire.

Her father turned to her, his dimples apparent in the unshaven bristles of his face. “You want this?” he asked in surprise. “Ooh, yes, please, Dad.” Gallantly the father bowed to his daughter, presented the box to her, and turned back to the sink. She caught his eye in the mirror, and he winked.

Her voice caught in her throat, “Oh dad,” she murmured, “Christmas in October.”

And it was.

Share your thoughts on the following in the comments:

1 Did you enjoy this story? Yes or No

2) Does it “ring true?” Yes or No

3) Do you think the story captured some of the deeper elements of the relationship between the father and daughter? If so, how would you describe their relationship?



Planning and coordinating an event is a stressful job! Whether experienced or novice, most event planners will make a mistake or two throughout their careers.  Here is a quick list of the most common event planning mistakes made, and our tips on how to get around them.

event planning mistakes

1. Doing it all yourself

Jack of all trades = master of none.  Do-it-all event planners will handle the guest list, all the finances, the decorations, the technical elements, the food… the list goes on. Having so many balls in the air yourself is almost a guarantee that you’re going to drop one or two.

The solution: As an event planner, your job is to coordinate all the elements of an event, not to execute on all the different pieces that come together on the big day.  Instead of tackling everything yourself, consider contracting out an event decorator, a bookkeeper, a caterer, etc. who can work with you to make sure your event is a great success!

2. Leaving it to the last minute

Whether “it” is a door prize, promotion, or equipment rentals, leaving anything to the last minute is a sure fire path to chaos, sooner or later.

The solution: Most events take months to plan. If you’re well organized and stick to a concrete plan, you should have all the pieces secured (including backup plans) at least 4 weeks away from the event… though we recommend 8-12 weeks to be safe!

3. Miscalculating the size of the event

This is a double-edged sword.  You want to make sure the size of the venue is adequate for the number of guests, but you also want to ensure the guest list is adequate for the venue!  Too many guests for a small space will lead to a very crowded and unworkable event. You might also run out of materials or food.  Too few guests for a large event will give the event an air of emptiness.

The solution: Confirm the guest list as early as possible, and give a final head count to your vendors as soon as you can. This will give everyone the chance to adjust the plan based on the number of attendees.  Also, if you’re unsure of the guest list, make sure you pick a venue that offers options for different group sizes and vendors who offer flexible services according to a finalized guest list.

event planning mistakes

4. Not allowing enough time for setup

Imagine setting up decorations as the guests are entering an event, or finding out you’re missing a power cord 10 minutes before your keynote speaker is supposed to go on stage. This nightmare is faced by many event planners and coordinators at least once during their careers.

The solution: Plan out the event setup well in advance, and make sure to hire enough people to complete all tasks before the event starts!  If it’s possible to have everything set up a day or two in advance, do it! If not, a well laid out plan (planned down to the minute), can make a difference between a success and a disaster!

5. Keeping clients in the dark

This is a nightmare for planners and their clients alike.  Phones and emails are the standard communication these days, but that can lead to confusion or misunderstanding down the road.  You don’t want your client to see the venue for the first time on the big day, and be disappointed in all the hard work you’ve accomplished because it’s not what they envisioned.

The solution: Schedule plenty of face-to-face time with your clients.  Walk them through the venue, and show them samples of wardrobe, décor, food, etc. before making any final decisions.  Keeping clients engaged throughout the planning process can save a lot of headaches down the road!

6. Forgetting it’s all about the guests!

This is actually a very easy mistake to make! You’re so concentrated on meeting the client’s needs and coordinating between the vendors, you forget about simple accommodations for the guests.

The solution:  Make a checklist of guest accommodations for any event, and keep it in mind at all times.  This list should at least include:

– having a parking plan

– coat check (for events in colder months or climates)

– signage leading guests to the venue (especially in confusing layouts!)

– having bathroom attendants (nothing like a dirty bathroom to kill an event!)

– making certain there are vegetarian/vegan food options available

– planning for inclement weather (tarps & umbrella stands)

Whatever your event, you should always remember Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong.  A successful event planner will take a cue from the boy scouts and be prepared for just about any situation can just save your event… and your reputation!

Have you made these types of mistakes planning an event? Share your story!

Starting a career in decorating, staging, or redesign can be a challenge.  Although a professional certification isn’t required in these industries, most homeowners or realtors won’t give you the time of day if you can’t present them with a certification and a beautiful portfolio.

Now I know what you’re thinking… “How in the world am I supposed to build a design portfolio if I can’t get a job yet?”

Hopefully these tips will help!


Design & Stage your own home

Even though you might not have any paying clients right now, nothing’s stopping you from offering design services for free!  Start off with your own home.  Have you been dying to get your hands on that basement wreck room?  Now’s a great time to start!  Take before & after shots, and document your planning & inspiration for the design as well.  All these pieces will look great in a portfolio.

Next, go to your best friend’s house and do the same thing there!  And then visit more friends. And then your family.  The more design experience you gain, the better.

Use your course work

If you’re thinking of getting into the design business, odds are you’re planning on taking a home decorating, staging, or professional organizing course.  Many courses, whether in-class or online, will feature hands-on course assignments.  Treat these assignments as professional opportunities.  If you invest all you’ve got into developing your coursework, then you’ll end up with awesome pieces to add to your portfolio.

If your design course includes 1-on-1 feedback from a reputable tutor (ideally a professional in the industry), then you can include quotes of this feedback in your portfolio as well.  Just make sure you have the tutor’s permission before doing so.

Build inspiration boards

An inspiration board can be a quick and inexpensive way to show your creative capabilities and your knowledge of design elements such as color theory.  These can be physical or digital boards where you pair up various product samples according to a specific theme you’ve chosen.  Build inspiration boards around:

– seasons

– current trends

– sport teams

– popular movies

– a specific client’s personality

The sky’s the limit!

Here at QC, we’ve fallen in love with  So much that we’ve partnered up with them to offer our students a 65% lifetime discount on their online services.  SampleBoards offers you a slick interface where you can quickly and easily build a digital inspiration board and either save it for your portfolio or share it with friends, clients, or coworkers at the push of a button!

Feature your DIY masterpieces

In our experience, design enthusiasts have a flair for arts & crafts, which results in a lot of DIY pieces around the house and yard.

Not everything in your portfolio has to be a grand undertaking.  Examples of the coffee table you’ve transformed, or the wall art you created can show prospective clients your creative side and expose a bit of your own personality as well.

Portfolio Do’s and Don’ts

– Never take credit for someone else’s work.

– If a project was a joint effort with a colleague or friend, it’s OK to include it in your portfolio, but make sure you indicate which parts were yours. Be specific.

– Don’t throw just anything into your portfolio. It should only include your very best work. You should be proud of every single piece you present.

– Spelling or grammar mistakes in your portfolio is a sure fire way to make clients run for the hills. Proofread everything… twice!

– Keep your portfolio current. You should constantly be removing dated projects and replacing them with more recent ones.

– Presentation is important. Make sure your portfolio has a clean look and is easy to navigate.

– Invest a bit of time and create an online portfolio. You can easily find online templates to create a clean & professional online portfolio at very low cost. If this is over your head, consider hiring a hungry local web designer to give you hand!

If this sounds like a lot of work… that’s because it is!  But like anything else, it can also be loads of fun. So what are you waiting for? Grab your paintbrush and your camera and start building your portfolio today!


April 17, 2014 12:00 am

Writing Tips: Sharpen Email Messages

Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.

I have made this (letter) longer because I did not have the time to make it shorter.

Blaise Pascal, 1656*



Years ago, schoolchildren learned how to write letters by hand. You know, the kind where you folded the paper, popped the sheets in an envelope, wrote the recipient’s address and mailed the thing. Any postal worker will now tell you that the volume of first class mail has fallen through the floor. Nobody writes personal letters any more unless they are locked in a time warp. Indeed, nobody writes inter-office memos on paper anymore. We all get email.

The problem with email is the volume. Each of us has a stack to go through every day even after we’ve sent the junk to the trash.  How can you be sure that people will take your email messages seriously?

Let’s not worry about email written for marketing purposes. Let’s focus on email that’s the equivalent of an inter-office memo. Here’s a simple three-step approach to ensure your messages are read and understood.

1. First write your email.

Subject: Please Fix Australian Shipment

Hi Joe,

I just want to let you know that the shipment you sent to Australia is trapped in customs. For some reason – and it seems to be random checking – the customs agents have decided to do a special inspection of the crates of engine parts you sent over. Sunnyvale Aircraft Engineering called me to complain about the late delivery which is how I got wind of the situation. Can you phone the customs agents in Sydney to try and get the shipment out of there? While the shipment is sitting in the warehouse, we’re incurring heavy storage charges. Can you also call Francine Jones at Sunnyvale to let her know what’s happening? I think it’s bad luck on our part but we’ve got to do our best to keep the customer happy. Please let me know how you get on.



2. Highlight the important parts.

writing tips

3. Edit, focusing on the highlights

Subject: Fix Australian Shipment

Hi Joe,

The shipment of engine parts sent to Australia is trapped in customs. Sunnyvalr Aircraft Engineering has complained about the late delivery.

Can you phone the customs agents in Sydney to get the shipment released? We’re incurring heavy storage charges.

Please call Francine Jones at Sunnyvale to let her know what’s happening.

Let me know how you get on.



Note that the text is much shorter and almost in point form. Joe should easily understand what he has to do.

This may seem like a tedious approach but with practice, you’ll very quickly be able to write the short, point-form version as a matter of course.

Do you have any tips of your own for writing short, concise emails? Share them in the comments!


The bride walks down the aisle, wearing her fancy dress and carrying her glamorous bouquet.  Her fiancé awaits her at the altar, along with her bridesmaids, the groomsmen, and the officiant who is waiting to join the happy couple in the long-honored tradition of matrimony.

Surprisingly, many wedding traditions we observe today have origins during ancient times when marriage had a very different purpose.  Here are our favorites!

wedding traditions

The Bouquet

Nowadays, it’s almost unheard of for a bride to walk down the aisle without an elegant arrangement of her favorite flowers!

Believe it or not, this tradition most likely originates around the time of the great plague, when arrangements of herbs, spices and even garlic were used to ward off disease and evil spirits.

For the ones who survived this devastating era, a bouquet of pungent herbs became a symbol of good luck and protection against evil. Over time, these were replaced with more appealing scents and the traditional wedding bouquet was born!

The Veil

Originated to protect the purity of the bride, the veil was once again made to ward off evil spirits.

As everyone knew during ancient times, brides were especially vulnerable to enchantment! A veil would hide the bride’s face and identity, making it more difficult for spirits to find the one they were looking for. The Romans took this a step further, shielding their brides in flame-colored veils in order to intimidate or frighten away those evils.

During the Victorian era, veils took on a new role: to display a bride’s status.  The larger and grander the veil, the higher the bride’s ranking in society.  You can still see this tradition observed today in grandiose royal weddings.

The Honeymoon

The tradition of the honeymoon dates back to Norse times when women were literally abducted from neighbouring villages.  The woman was given to a single man, and the couple would remain in hiding until the woman’s family would give up their search for her.  Unfortunately there weren’t a whole lot of all-inclusive beach front resorts back then. So during this time of hiding, friends and family of the groom would visit them daily, bringing them mead and honey wine.  Thus, the “honey moon” period!

The Rings

Common opinion among historians states that wedding rings once again originate during times when women were abducted to become the property of a strapping young man or warrior.

The woman would have her hands and feet bound together with braided grass, until it was certain that she would not attempt to escape.  Once she had settled into her new life, she was freed and a rope was tied around her finger only, as a symbol (or reminder) of her captivity.

Rings are also known to have existed in ancient Egypt and during the Roman Empire, used as a symbol of ownership. It wasn’t until the 1200’s when a Bishop declared marriages with rush-rings to be legally binding, thus giving birth to the modern tradition of exchanging rings during a wedding ceremony.

What are your favorite wedding traditions? Have you heard different stories of origin for the ones mentioned here? Let us know!



April 11, 2014 10:00 am

Writing Tips: Thinking a Year Ahead

Writing for newspapers, magazines and the Internet

writing tips

Yes. You may be busy creating the greatest novel of the 21st Century. That’s great. However, you should consider the advantages of helping to pay your everyday bills with simple “filler” pieces for newspapers and magazines too. You just have to think ahead.

Newspapers, magazines and the whole world of electronic sites are hungry, available markets for writers.  Remember, they need lots of “stuff” on a daily basis to fill their pages. And submissions do not all have to be high-powered articles that offer great political and philosophical insight. You just have to think ahead. 

Remember. The bigger the publication, the longer the timeline.

Here we are in April 2014. Think like it’s April 2015, Baby! You should now be planning, writing and submitting your terrific piece on the history of April Fool’s Day for next year. Have you got your article on the extravagant Easter Bonnets of the 1920s ready for publication at Easter next year?

What about that story about the most extravagant Hallowe’en parties in your area? You’ve been meaning to write it for a long time. The event planners all have their photos from last year. They’d be delighted to share them with you for a piece about Hallowe’en  this year. It’s never too early.

And finally, how about Christmas? You could be just in the nick of time for submission this year if you check in with the big industry buyers to see what the decorating trends for Christmas 2014 will be. After all, they made all their buying decisions more than a year ago!

Do you have any writing tips to add? Share them in the comments!


April 4, 2014 12:00 am

Designing a pet-friendly home

During the economic recession, the pet industry is the only one that didn’t see a decline in sales or revenue.  With doggy daycares, pet spas, animal acupuncture, “barkmitzvahs”… we’re just crazy for our pets!

So how can you decorate a home in style without forgetting about our four-legged friends? It can be tough, but ignoring these furry family members in your design will just result in a litter box in the middle of your newly renovated bathroom, or a dog crate in your beautiful redesigned bedroom.  Luckily, the industry has thought of all you designers out there, and there is a myriad of methods and products to help care for pets without compromising on style!

pet-friendly home

Ditch the Carpet

This is simple common sense. Any dog owner knows what it’s like to end up with Fido’s muddy paw prints on brand new carpeting, or what Rover’s favorite spot looks like while he’s blowing his coat.  A good vacuum and carpet washer can help… but if you’re redesigning anyway, try going for scratch-resistant laminate flooring and machine-washable area rugs.  Then all you need is a good mop (I love my Swiffer WetJet!) and a regular old washing machine.  Job done.

Use Good Furniture Covers

If pet hair on the couch is an issue, there are many furniture covers you can purchase that look great and repel dog/cat hair.  You can purchase these online, or even from the furniture manufacturer in some cases! These are usually machine washable, waterproof, and puncture-resistant which makes them much more effective than the regular old sheet or blanket most of us use.

Of course, if this really is a problem, you can also consider simply training your dog or cat not to go up on the furniture to begin with.

Use Pet Furniture

Instead of having a kitty pillow or doggy blanket on the floor, many pet product lines now sell pet furniture that matches your room’s décor.  A great example is a doggy sofa that can meld into your living room’s colors and themes. This is also a designated spot for Rex to spend his time which can help keep him off your own couch!

Opt for End Table Crates and Litter Boxes

Kind of similar to the pet furniture idea above, you can now get a dog crate or cat litter box that doubles as an end table for your living room or bedroom.  This gives the functionality you need, while saving space and keeping with your décor! Now I’m not a fan of a litter box in the living room or bedroom, but if you’re low on space and are committed to frequent cleaning, you should be fine.

I should mention, the end table crate wouldn’t really work for a large and giant dogs.

Consider Walk-Through Dog Gates

This is specific to dogs. In my experience, cats don’t really see gates as much of an obstacle.

If you want to keep Lassie out of a specific room, most of us will use old fashioned baby gates. Which means we’re constantly jumping over the gate or taking it down and putting it back up, every single time. Although they do the trick, they kind of kill the design of a room, too.

Walk-through gates are made to stay in place and are made in a variety of styles and colors.  These unique gates have a “door” that you can easily and conveniently open/close without having to constantly rely on yoga moves!

These are just a few of my favorites, but there is really no end to creative ways of having a lovely home while keeping a petting zoo around for company.  What are some of your favorite decor tips for a pet-friendly home? Let us know!