Table Styling Ideas on The Rachael Ray Show

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the words “interior design”? Well I’ll be honest, for me, it changes depending on the project I’m working on. But, the one concept that never leaves my mind is visual impact. The ability to shift a mood, relax the body and appeal to the senses is something that cannot be overstated. So, we should look to maximize the positive effects we can apply in our homes where the eye is naturally drawn. Tables are most definitely among the areas at the top of that list! If you’re looking to bring an extra dose of beauty to your home, I have the perfect table styling ideas for you!

Styling Your Coffee Table

I had a blast on The Rachael Ray Show sharing all my best table styling ideas and tips. One of the most common types of tables found in homes everywhere is the coffee table. It’s usually placed in front of or adjacent to a couch or sectional in a living room, a prime place for gathering. That means people are likely going to lay eyes on this area often! One of the best ways to achieve a designer look when styling a coffee table is to arrange items in groups of three, at three different heights. Sound simple? It is! 

Rule of Three in Interior Design

Think about your table décor in terms of “small, medium and large” when you’re choosing your items. You can even allow one of the items to be something sentimental to add an extra personal touch. Candles, flower vases or even stacks of books make for excellent table styling ideas. The biggest thing to remember is to stick to the old school rule of thumb: three items, arranged at various heights. This method will ensure your coffee table will look chic and polished.

Table Styling Ideas for Your Entryway Table

I have always believed your home should make a great first impression. Everything from the way your home looks, smells and feels can influence the way you experience it when you or your guests walk in. An entryway table is an excellent way to greet your visitors and direct the eye exactly where you want it, almost immediately. Utilizing a large entryway table gives your space the look of a welcoming hotel entrance. I even have one in my home that I showed on The Rachael Ray Show. A big entrance table is a great starting point, but be sure to keep scale in mind.

Decorating and styling your entryway table should be done with intention. If you fill your table with a ton of small items that look cluttered, that’s all it will ever be. Instead, go big! I love the idea of using black and gold pots with stacks of décor around them. Again, be sure to vary the height for a sophisticated aesthetic. An entryway table is an ideal place to house mementos like family photo boxes, eye-catching jewelry you never wear, and even functional pieces that double-duty like a decorative bowl for your keys. In grand hotels you often see oversized floral elements. This table is a great place to use faux flowers. I love orchids for this reason, because even real ones almost look fake! Adding greenery to your entryway table is sure to liven up the space and bridge the indoor-outdoor gap.

Occasional Tables Styling Tips

So, this might surprise you (but only if you missed me on The Rachael Ray Show), but I ditched my coffee tables for my new love: occasional tables! My love of these smaller, often grouped together tables arose from my specific lifestyle needs. With occasional tables, the kids can have their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and I can get my work done without worries of sticky residue getting all over my important documents. We can share the same space and be close enough to interact without either of our activities interfering with the other. We’re all demanding so much more of our spaces these days. Occasional tables allow me the freedom to pull up a table and place a computer on it to work. Or, I can have a convenient place for my morning coffee. A more traditional coffee table doesn’t always allow for that easy mobility.

I suggest grouping these in clusters of two or three and positioning them so you can take advantage of the varied heights. You can easily place a decorative book, small floral arrangement or some other visually interesting item on one of the tables in the cluster. Occasional tables have the benefit of serving as a place to beautify as well as multitask, and that’s what we’re all after these days!

We all have tables in our homes. Whether you have an oversized entryway table, a traditional coffee table or you’re incorporating occasional tables in your home, these table styling ideas will help you elevate your design in easy and fun ways! If you try these tips, tag me on Instagram with your photos!

HGTV, The House My Wedding Bought: Ep 106 Recap

When I signed on to host “The House My Wedding Bought” on HGTV, I knew my days would be filled with choices and compromises between couples. For the second episode, Cody and Michelle introduced themselves as a couple who knew exactly what they wanted in their first home purchase and their wedding. That’s a great thing! At the point of paying for all the extra amenities that each wanted, though, I knew some things were not going to be feasible. Here’s how we made it all work.

How Much Does a Wedding Really Cost?

Weddings are one of the most important days a couple experiences together. And, there’s s a lot that goes into putting it all together. Michelle and Cody’s big day was no different. However, they both started out wanting very different things. With a $30K budget for a home and a wedding, they were really up against some serious decision-making.

The first decision centered on how much they were actually going to spend. Michelle wanted to spend a sensible $10K on the wedding. However, what she wanted out of that was a bit of a challenge. The bride-to-be wanted a large gathering. As someone who is very family-oriented, I completely get that. Michelle also wanted a mariachi band, Mexican food and on-site housing for her family. That didn’t include the photographer, open bar, or wedding dress. Whew! Did she pick the right HGTV show?

Cody had bigger dreams when it came to the wedding, and he wanted to spend like it. He wanted his wedding to be a “big spectacle.” For $20K, he wanted a Texas-style bbq, photo booth, and all the flashy things. He also wanted an affair to suit 150 people. While his budget fit his desires slightly more reasonably than Michelle’s, that still left less to put on the house. Was Cody thinking and planning in the right direction? Only the house choice would tell!

Making the Most of Your Home Purchasing Budget

Owning my own design company and being on several HGTV shows, I know the importance of a decent house budget. It’s also important to be flexible with home wants and needs. Michelle wanted $20K of the budget to go towards a single-story, open concept home. She wanted to be able to entertain her family from the kitchen. She also wanted to incorporate colorful Spanish elements in the home to honor her culture. Cody preferred a more minimal look for the home of his dreams. Black and white accents permeated his future two-story, modern industrial home. He also wanted his home to make a statement and visually be set apart.

With those wishes in mind, I showed the couple three homes with varying amenities. The first was a single-story renovated home, but it was 22 years old. Cody wasn’t a fan, but he loved the black and white exterior. Michelle loved the open concept of the second home, which was a new, single-story construction. Cody, however, didn’t like that it looked like every other home on the block. Curb appeal was very important to him, and “cookie-cutter” looks wouldn’t cut it. The final house was a spacious two-story home, but it was the most expensive one. And, it would have taken them over their intended monthly budget. Michelle wasn’t a fan of the price or the stairs, which would have created a problem for her grandmother and Cody’s mom. So many options, and one wise choice to make!

Choosing Between A House and A Wedding!

What did Cody and Michelle ultimately decide for their wedding and new home? Flip your television to HGTV or discovery+ and check out the episode! You’ll be surprised at the compromises they made. I will say, though, they considered the best choices to make their special day a very wonderful day. They even showed us some highlights! And, we get a glimpse of the home of their dreams. Let me know what you think of the couple’s decision, and be sure to check out the next episode of The House My Wedding Bought!

“Living by Design” Showhouse: Kitchen and Pantry

Joining the amazingly talented host of designers and home experts selected to create spaces in the “Living by Design” Showhouse was an honor. Martha Stewart Living’s aesthetic is defined as “timeless and approachable,” a theme that resonates with me greatly! I knew I would enjoy bringing my own signature design styling to the space I would be designing. Excitement was heavy in the air when I learned I was designing the kitchen and pantry in the “Living by Design” Showhouse, because kitchens have long been some of my favorite spaces to create! I sought to bring splendid neutrals, rich textures and sustainability to my design, and I can’t wait to tell you more about my process!

A Sustainable Kitchen as Inspiration

I’ve been fortunate to travel all over the world and as a result, I’ve made so many friends who live life differently than I do. Visiting my friends in various countries has impacted the way I think about the possibilities surrounding the idea of sustainability. When the topic arises, I find it can often feel intimidating to those who are less familiar with it. It doesn’t have to be. As I thought of my friends in Spain and the way they consider food, I realized that one of the keys to sustainability is simply establishing renewable methods. That would become the inspiration for the kitchen and pantry in the “Living by Design” Showhouse.

I can recall one specific trip to Spain when I stayed at my friend’s ranch. One of the first things I noticed was their family’s meals often consisted of meat they raised and crops they grew in their own backyard. Because of that, their home needed to be capable of housing and storing all that was necessary for this way of life. I could walk in and see everything they needed displayed in the kitchen and pantry. I was moved to create an atmosphere that would foster sustainability in an approachable way in the “Living by Design” Showhouse.

Reimagining “Fresh”

The kitchen and pantry I designed featured a walk-in freezer and fridge with tons of space for all the fresh foods any family would want or need. I loved the idea of an abundant raw and living food supply as opposed to more processed foods in boxes and single-use plastic. Sometimes the success of sustainability for a family or individual simply comes down to ease of access. Besides offering a spacious capacity for food, the freezer and fridge feature a smart garden. In addition to being a living piece of art, the indoor smart garden puts growing and harvesting fresh foods at your fingertips. I wanted sustainability to feel like an organic part of the everyday agenda. Dedicated areas like the walk-in freezer for meats and indoor garden housed in a fridge with generous volume create and foster opportunities to be deliberate about caring for ourselves and our planet.

Earthy Elements and Statement Pieces in Kitchen Design

Kitchen design requires a layered approach because of all the moments that will inevitably take place in these spaces. Everything from cooking to gathering to entertaining often happens in our kitchens. The space feels inviting, and bold, textured neutrals accented by a striking metallic helped to achieve that. I used a manufactured stone, Taj Mahal quartzite, not only for its durability (a welcomed quality in any kitchen space), but because of the untraditional combination of grey and brown hues it features. I loved the way these colors introduced a rich earthiness into the space. The cabinetry is careful to underscore texture with beautiful beadboard right underneath. This kitchen and pantry is representative of so much of my signature design style. It showcases ample, resonant neutrals and eye-catching textures infused throughout the space.

While the immersive earth tones provide the ideal backdrop for an eco-conscious sensibility, the prominent oven and dazzling gold statement hood is impossible to miss. The hood is a classic brass element and perfect complement to the space. I wanted this specific area of the kitchen to become a social element conducive to gathering when a host desires to entertain. The range and hood are positioned with access to the culinary tools and easy mingling with family and guests in mind. 

A Spotlight on Greenery

No sustainable space would be complete without an emphasis on the user’s connection to nature. Perhaps the greatest way to highlight that is with plants and greenery. I leaned into that in a major way with oversized planter baskets that hang from the ceiling. These towering planters house lush greenery that bridge the indoor-outdoor gap and oxygenate the room. Innovative design frequently allows an element to provide multiple functions. Because the kitchen boasts such a grand ceiling height, I wanted to add a bit more of a human scale to the room. The planters are an excellent way to fill extra space and balance the dimensions of the room.

The “Living by Design” Showhouse is a one-of-a kind interactive experience that truly showcases the latest and greatest in home design. The “Living by Design” Showhouse national media partner is Martha Stewart Living, and the producer/production team is none other than the amazing Embello. Designing the kitchen and pantry was an absolute dream, and I hope my contribution will spark creativity in those who view it! 

I want to extend a huge thank you to our Official Brand Sponsors: California Closets, Minted, and Monrovia. I also want to thank our Participating Brand Sponsor: Currey & Company. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Brandon Architects and 3D visualization by YouSee

HGTV: The House My Wedding Bought, Ep 102 Recap

In this episode of my HGTV show, The House My Wedding Bought, Los Angeles sets the scene! I’m so glad I got to film in my hometown because I met the super cute couple, Katy and Tyler! They both embody the life, vibrance and freedom of LA. They also represent the variety the city can offer, too! Their styles were so different, but hey—opposites attract! I’m glad I got to be a part of their house and wedding journeys.

 

Weddings Wishes, HGTV Style

What I like about Katy and Tyler is they don’t let their differences overtake how united they are. But boy, did they have some contrasting views! Don’t get me wrong; they agreed on their $75K budget, but that’s about all. How did they want to spend their budget? Well, this is where things got interesting.

As most brides do, Katy wanted to have a lavish wedding day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I knew exactly what I wanted for my wedding day, also, and I loved every minute of it! Katy wanted a very traditional affair, but she definitely saw her special day as an all-out party. And, she preferred to spend the majority of the savings on that event. Tyler, however, seemed to be more investment-focused and wanted to utilize most of their savings on the home they would be purchasing. That said, he wanted a more intimate wedding event with fewer people and a smaller venue. He wasn’t opposed to a nice backyard wedding. Katy was open to the idea, but I knew I had a lot of convincing to do to pull that off in the grand style she wanted. I had my work cut out for me!

Behind the scenes shot of Katy, Tyler, and Breegan Jane touring a potential new home. As seen on HGTV’s The House My Wedding Bought.

 

Picking the Perfect First Home

One of the great things about being on HGTV is having expertise in finding different types of homes for clients. Once I figured out what Katy and Tyler both wanted in a home, I was able to hone in on different options that would possibly satisfy both of them. With such vast wishes for the perfect home, I knew I needed to make sure the options presented as much of an all-in-one package as I could find. I’m so glad I do this full-time!

The first thing I realized was location was extremely important to Tyler. He wanted something close to downtown LA where he worked. I get that. It’s a common consideration for many new homebuyers, and for good reason. We spend so many of our hours each week at our workplaces. It makes sense to want to eliminate a long commute. Trust me: I understand the headache that can come with LA traffic! I kept that at the forefront as I helped them look for homes.

On the other hand, Katy wanted a traditional home with a large backyard. I completely understand that, too. They have dogs, and it’s important to have space for them to run around and exert energy regularly. The challenge is, in Los Angeles, you simply don’t get much yard space the closer you get to downtown. There really wasn’t a middle ground between the couple’s preferences—and this was just one consideration where they differed!

Episode Takeaways

There were several takeaways that I hope HGTV watchers think about as they finish this episode. First, when it comes to buying a home, take your time! This is an extremely important decision, and you don’t want to make a mistake. If your first home is your forever home, you want to make the most of your money and investment. Katy and Tyler had to make a decision quickly because their lease was going to be up the week before their wedding. Not investing the right amount of time gives way to being impulsive. This could lead to several negative circumstances, including possibly losing down payments or deposits (as this couple did).

Also, couples should have several serious conversations about individual needs versus wants for the home they want to purchase. When two people want different things, the biggest challenge is compromising in a way that makes both people happy. With this couple, one wanted a modern home close to downtown LA, while the other wanted a craftsman-style home with lots of yard space. Would they each be willing to compromise location or house style if it gave them the home they wanted? Or, would a home that needed renovations be worth the sacrifice if they could save money? Sincerely discuss the non-negotiables and things that could be compromised before making final decisions on what homes you consider.

Finally, when you’re looking at home amenities, don’t let your eyes limit your possibilities. Many homes are clean slates waiting for color and texture to give them personality. Don’t let a neutral presentation turn you off when you look at homes. You can make a home whatever you want it to be! You shouldn’t pass on a home with great bones just because you don’t like the tile, colors, cabinet doors or drawer pulls. Those are easy changes you can make without spending a great deal of money. Know that you can always create the impact you want to see in your home.

Another Classic HGTV Episode!

I had a blast with Katy and Tyler, and I’m so excited about the final choices they made for their wedding and home. They met in the middle when it came to the options that were important to each other. I honestly think their marriage and future together will be better for it. What was your favorite part of this episode? I’d love to know in the comments below!

 

HGTV: The House My Wedding Bought, Ep 104 Recap

I had a blast hosting my HGTV show “The House My Wedding Bought.” I’m always honored to help clients, especially when they’re couples making two of the most important decisions of their lives. It can be challenging to navigate purchasing a home and paying for a wedding simultaneously. Thankfully, I have expertise in both to make the paths for these special events clearer!

Fancy vs Glampy

When it comes to home and wedding desires, Francis and Kristen couldn’t have been more polar opposites. Fancy Francis, or “Francy”, as his fiancée’s family calls him, appreciates the finer things in life. He had no problems letting me know when it came to the house he wanted, he preferred a new build with all the bells and whistles. And, he didn’t want to obligate himself with many modifications, maintenance or sweat equity. His wedding mindset was no different; Francis put grandeur over an extensive guest count. Prioritizing plated dinners, multiple courses and a live James Brown cover band, his tastes were definitely the more elevated between the pair. The catch? He only wanted to spend $10K on his ultimate wedding wishes. (How’s that for an HGTV kicker?!)

Kristen, on the other hand, wanted to spend the bulk of their $30K savings on their special day. Instead of opting for a quaint guest count, she wanted all of her family and friends—at least 150 of them—to attend her glamping-themed wedding. Going for a buffet versus plated meals, Kristen hoped to still save for a charming, farmhouse style home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large backyard. While I’m in no way playing favorites or endorsing one person over the other, I get Kristen’s thought process. A couple can take their time getting a home together and making the necessary investments over years. A wedding, however, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There were big dreams and big bucks proposals on all sides of the couple’s dreams. Getting the best of both worlds required some serious negotiating to truly get them to “the house my wedding bought”!

Home Buying Options Galore!

As with most couples, Kristen and Francis wanted to do a lot with the money saved for their home and wedding purchases. But I wondered if the expectations on either side were as realistic as they needed to be. I decided to present high-, low- and middle-range options for homes and wedding venues in the Austin area. I wanted to show them that having a budget was only half the battle, but that there were plenty of ways to get what they both wanted with a little compromise.

The first home I showed the couple wasn’t a new build, much to Francis’s dismay. BUT, it did come in at a lower cost and lower down payments. This would get them below their monthly mortgage payment goal. Even without the thought of a wedding, that’s a wise notion; there’s a high potential for more savings while making a great investment. While the second home was a shiny new build, it was more expensive and would force Kristen and Francis to go above their anticipated monthly budget. The third home was a new build that would allow them to be under their monthly budget. However, to give the home the personality they wanted, it would require a little financial investment to make some cost-effective upgrades.

None of the options were bad, but they did force both Francis and Kristen to consider what they were willing to sacrifice. The older home would cost less IF Francis would be willing to do some maintenance and upgrades himself. The second home would be great IF they were willing to have a greater monthly payment for years to come. The third house would be an excellent choice IF they were willing to invest in some cost-effective upgrades. Decisions, decisions!

The Perfect Place for an HGTV Wedding!

Such was the same with choosing the wedding location. I ended up showing Francis and Kristen two different venues that catered to each of their preferences. The first was a historic hilltop venue that offered a gorgeously elevated landscape and amenities to create epic photo memories. It was the kind of place HGTV dreams are made of! The historic church at the venue offered great space for all of Kristen’s family and friends, as well as the live band and games Francis wanted. This satisfied all of Kristen’s desires, but it was a bit too much for what Francis had in mind for a smaller, more intimate wedding.

The second wedding venue option was a beautiful winery setting that was as cheap as I’ve ever seen. That left more room for food and wine, two priorities the couple shared. There was a catch: the venue only allowed 75 people for an event. This would force Kristen to cut her guest list in half, but it would offer the smaller, more intimate setting Francis was fighting for. Still, Kristen would get the camp-y vibe she wanted for her wedding, sort of, and they would be saving money for the dream house they wanted for their first purchase. While I didn’t have a perfect option to fill EVERYTHING they wanted without some sacrifices, there were enough choices to make some great decisions, both for the present and future.

Host Breegan Jane shows a couple kitchen storage in Austin, TX. As seen on The House my Wedding Bought.

Final Choices

So, what was the final verdict? You should check out the episode on HGTV or discovery+. I think the final decisions will shock you. I know I was! What matters most is they both chose to compromise and consider each other in their ultimate decisions. And, I believe they chose the most cost-effective options for their budget and home investment. As staunch as they both were with what they initially wanted, I’m very proud they made the perfect choices for the life they were building together. And, I wholeheartedly believe they are both proud to tell their friends and family, “THIS is the house my wedding bought!”

HMWB on HGTV: Episode 103 Recap

The first episode of my HGTV show, “The House My Wedding Bought,” was the perfect example of what great savings can do for both a home purchase and a dream wedding. It was also a great example of how different each partner in relationships can be when it comes to purchasing priorities! I’m glad I started with a couple that was fun to work with, as most of my clients are. Here’s what happened with Ray and Allison.

Couple (left) and host Breegan Jane (right) pose in front of a reception venue in Austin, TX. As seen on The House My Wedding Bought.

Should You Spend More on a Home or Wedding?

I found it so interesting that out of the two, Ray was the one who wanted to spend more money on the wedding! That’s atypical, but it makes so much sense when you get to know him. He’s the socialite of the two, and I could tell he loved being the life of the party. For the wedding, he wanted to have 150 guests, a DJ and a live drummer. He also wanted multiple food stations, several bars AND drink donkeys roaming the event. To his credit, he did prefer to split their $60K savings down the middle on the wedding and home.

Allison proved to be the more investment-focused one of the couple. Her wedding tastes were much more reserved and focused on an intimate event. I wasn’t shocked that she wouldn’t rule out eloping at one point! That being said, Allison preferred a smaller backyard wedding with fewer frills. Growing up in Hawaii, she simply wanted to be surrounded by tropical flowers, and that wasn’t an unreasonable request in my book. Focusing more on the home, Allison wanted to budget $10K on the wedding and use the rest of the savings on the house.

When I look at Ray and Allison, I saw how opposites could attract, as the old saying goes. But when I looked at how they wanted to utilize their savings, opposite desires proved to be a serious balancing act of give-and-take. I decided to show them home and wedding options that ranged in price and amenities, and crossed my fingers that one (or more) of the choices would please them both.

House Hunting for the Best Value

While house-hunting, Ray was more about the plug-and-play amenities. One of the only things he agreed with his partner on was wanting a more open concept for the home. But he *had* to have his “dude dungeon,” and he didn’t want to put money into maintenance and upgrades. His ideal home was ready to move in with all amenities ready to be used. He also wanted a large backyard for their dogs—and for over-the-top entertaining. It’s not often that I work with couples where the groom is pickier than the bride! (Maybe an HGTV first??)

Though she wanted to spend more on the house than her to-be husband, Allison’s house requests remained practical. She wanted to find a modern farmhouse with lots of windows and natural light. She was very open to working with Ray on his house requests. But, she wanted to maximize the investment and money put into whatever they decided as a couple. I hope all couples consider that as they work together. Whatever the wants and needs are for your home, make sure you get the best bang for your buck, and don’t focus on things that can be easily modified or acquired down the road.

The couple saw three homes. They first saw a below-budget home in a cute cul-de-sac that needed minimal customization. I then showed them a brick home that met their financial goals and monthly payments. But, it needed some personalized renovations that would take more of the savings. I finally showed them a farmhouse build that was higher than the rest, but could be managed with some exterior upgrades. The choices ran the gamut, but it was up to them to decide which fit their needs most. If you’re an avid HGTV fan, you know how hard these choices can be!

Picking the Best Wedding Venue

I wanted to make sure that the wedding venue Ray and Allison had didn’t lack any of the accommodations they wanted for their special day. And, it was important to me to make sure the venue would help them utilize their savings in a way that maximized their home investment. There were two places that I thought would fit the bill perfectly.

We first looked at The Terrace Club, and I chose this space for a couple of reasons. It was outside, which appealed to Allison. It also had a large open space with pockets of space for more intimate activities or grouping. This allowed both of them to get the sort of atmosphere they wanted. But with the amenities they wanted, the space would cost them close to $25K, which was much more than Allison wanted to spend.

The second venue, Vintage Villas Wedding & Event Center, was also an outdoor setting, but it had an AMAZING view of Lake Travis. It was ridiculously inexpensive to rent, and with on-site catering, it was a steal of a venue. The flipside was that it allowed fewer guests, which blind-sided Ray’s 150+ attendee plans. He was also concerned about the traffic noise that could interrupt their ceremony, so that had to be considered. Still, the total cost would give them a bit more to spend on their house.

Host Breegan Jane poses for picture in Austin, TX. As seen on The House My Wedding Bought.

House vs Wedding: Decisions, Decisions!

So, which house and venue did they choose? You’ll have to catch the show on HGTV or discovery+ to find out! I will say that they made really great and wise decisions that set them up nicely for their future together. Though they disagreed on some things, they came together in the end, and that’s ultimately what matters. It makes me confident they’ll be excited to show their friends and family, “This is the house my wedding bought!”

Ideas for Dedicated Quality Time with Your Kids

I like to assume that all parents want to be connected to their children throughout their child’s development journey. I wonder, though, if we do all we can to make sure that happens. One of the ways I work to connect with my boys is through moments of quality time. Quality time is such an important part of raising emotionally intelligent children who not only feel loved but also feel seen, valued and understood. Here are a few ways I’m intentional with making time for my two little ones.

Having Kid Conversations

I love having conversations with my boys. It’s one of the ways I enjoy quality time with them. Entertaining their thoughts shows me how their little minds think. Being patient and empathetic with them, I learn every day that my boys have some logical and very interesting points of view.

It’s never been in my parental nature to shush my kids or dismiss their thoughts and questions as nonsense. Though, I do admit the “why” phase can be challenging sometimes. When I have Zoom consultations, finding answers to why the sky is blue or why mommies have babies and not daddies can be wearisome. But, I chalk that up to inconvenience and make time to answer those questions sincerely.

Just the other day my oldest son noticed that women and men play in different basketball leagues. He accurately differentiated the NBA from the WNBA, but he curiously noted that women only seem to be the cheerleaders. His thoughts and questions led to an insightful conversation about gender and gender norms I don’t think would come up in regular “snack time” conversations. This is the win-win in making quality time to converse with my children. When I plan time to literally and figuratively get on their level—maybe while they’re playing with Legos or drawing—and talk to them about what’s on their minds, I get a peek into how they view the world, what they feel is fair and unjust, what they’re happy about, and so much more.

Taking time to sit, chat and listen to your kids not only makes them feel listened to and valued by their parents, but it can help you as a parent see what needs to be nurtured more in them. Kids may not have the language to fully express themselves sometimes, but there might be clues embedded in those conversations that will give you an idea of where they are within themselves.

Staycation with Your Kids

For many parents, getting away is a perfect time to have kid-free moments. I’m very much an advocate of taking vacations without kids sometimes. However, as a single parent, I’ve been deliberate about finding places that are kid-friendly when I want to get some time away with them. So when mommy takes a staycation, I make sure my kids get a chance to relax, also. And, it’s another way to build in quality time as a family.

Think about it: if you need a break from everyday stress, it stands to reason that your kids do, too! They need a change of scenery as much as we adults do. Staycations give them a chance to look forward to something new, different and refreshing. There are some great by-products for parents in these outings, also. I’ve noticed my kids have MUCH better behavior when they know a staycation is on the horizon. Manners are ever-present, and I love that (even though I know the motivation for it). I also get a chance to see my boys enjoy and develop their brotherhood, which is always heartwarming.

Staycations are great ways to spend quality time, and they’re another way for me to let my children know I value their feelings, energy and time. I hope they also see I take their free time as seriously as I do their school time. We’re all more relaxed and happier during our staycations, and we’re able to enjoy each other’s company in a way that differs from home life. If you know you need a break from it all, consider that your kids do, too.

Extracurricular Activities

One of the biggest tips I give to parents is not to be afraid to try a little of everything when it comes to their kids’ extracurricular activities. From the time my kids were old enough to enroll in extracurricular activities, I’ve always sought to find a wide breadth of activities for them to try. I did this knowing everything wouldn’t stick with each of my sons. That’s the beauty of self-discovery.

It’s important to teach our kids the value of commitment, dedication and perseverance. It’s equally important to find what they’re passionate about, and where their true interests lie. Unfortunately, many parents get caught up in traditional social norms that don’t put the child first, and that can hinder mental or emotional growth. I didn’t subscribe to the belief that I had to sign my sons up for football and other sports simply because they were males. Little boys might be just as interested in piano lessons!

That’s why my kids have tried Muay Thai, music production, horseback riding, piano lessons, basketball, chess, among other things. It’s been interesting to see which activities each son gravitated towards. We’ve made it a point to try so many different activities, all with the hope of my boys discovering or unlocking their own interests and passions. Who knows? One could be a determining part of what might become a career path. Or it may turn out to be something that doesn’t produce a salary but brings them great joy. Their happiness in life is just as important to me. A kid discovering what they’re good at gives them more confidence, and that’s what every parent wants.

 

Benefits of Quality Time

Finding quality time with your kids has so many mutual benefits for parents and children. Most importantly, it develops stronger trust and love bonds between everyone, and that will create long-lasting family interactions well beyond adolescence. How do you intentionally make quality time with your little ones? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Finding Your Career Path: Lessons From an HGTV Designer

When I look at the life I have and the opportunities I have been afforded, I am reminded of how my life’s story has been a unique one in almost every way since birth. The unexpected twists and turns have not always been happy ones, but I am certain they have directed me exactly to where I was meant to be. The best news is my career path and story? Well those pages are still being written, and I can’t wait to see what’s in my next chapter! In the meantime, I think of all the messages I receive on an almost daily basis asking me about how I started my career as a designer. People ask how I became an interior designer for HGTV, and how they can figure out where to start to reach their own goals. Well buckle up, because today we’re going to talk about finding your career path and making your dreams a reality!

When the (Career) Path is Uncertain

One of the biggest things many of us share is a fear or discomfort around the “unknowns” in our lives. How many moments have you spent wondering about how things will turn out? Ruminating thoughts bounce around in our minds regarding relationships, projects, work and other important life aspects. Each of them is wrapped in a common cloud of mystery. We never quite know how things will progress. However, accepting that navigating uncharted territory is part of the process might just be the first step on the way to finding your career path. 

Potential Prospects Could Be Perfect

Spoiler alert: things don’t turn out exactly as you imagine them. Even bigger spoiler: that’s okay. In fact, it’s perfect. Listen, as much as we often wish we had a crystal ball to answer some of those somersaulting thoughts we just finished identifying, it just isn’t realistic. Life unfolds in its own way. When it does, like your swim instructor taught you, don’t swim against the current. 

When I was younger, I was sure I would grow up to become a neonatal nurse. I loved babies, and I wanted to care for them all the time. As I got older I discovered that the job I wanted involved sometimes caring for sick babies who would pass away. I knew I couldn’t handle that part of the job, so my thoughts about my possible career path changed. Little did I know, that would be one of many surprises life had in store for me.

Pointless to Plan?

When I became pregnant with my first child, I decided almost immediately that I wanted to wait to learn the sex of our baby until the birth. Unexpected complications and necessary extra ultrasounds thwarted my plans. I was convinced I was having a girl with both of my pregnancies. So, imagine my shock when “It’s a BOY!” was blurted out to me on both occasions! Of course, I was thrilled to be having healthy babies of either sex, but like many other moms, hopes of all the girly activities my daughters and I could do together were promptly dashed and replaced with more stereotypical “boy” ones. Once again, life had a perfect plan in store.

My two boys have been the biggest blessings in so many ways. I understand so much more about men after becoming a mom to sons. There are certain innate tendencies and personality traits that just make sense to me now! Additionally, we encourage embracing both masculine AND feminine energy along with comfortable gender expression without societal limits. Because of this, I never “missed out” on anything by having my precious sons. We’re able to enjoy any of the activities they’re interested in, and trust me, those options are endless. I have chronicled my experience of being a boy mom and through that process I’ve been able to help so many moms along their parenting journeys! Being a radio show host and lifestyle expert and blogger was a part of my career path that I could have never predicted. The lesson? Set goals and work towards them, but remember that you often hold only pieces of life’s puzzle. Leave room for the ones you haven’t encountered yet.

Natural Talent: A Hiding Place For a Career Path

I have talked about my start in Hollywood as a child actor and model. I’ve even talked about owning my retail store as a teenager. All of these parts of my upbringing were foreshadowing my future preoccupation with the creative field. But, I can see that even smaller instances were indications of how my career path would develop. I would go visit friends’ homes and rearrange their parents’ furniture in a more aesthetically pleasing configuration while they were away. Friends would ask me to come look at their vacation homes and give suggestions on how to make it appear larger or what modifications to make to the design. Only later would I put those skills to use and open my own interior design firm, Breegan Jane LLC!

My parents knew even before I did that I was comfortable in front of the camera. That, coupled with my desire to help others and aptitude for all things creative, would lead to being asked to be an HGTV interior designer on the network’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I was able to utilize my natural talents in a way that helped deserving families get new homes. When you’re searching for the career that suits you, ask yourself what interests you hold. The areas where you excel might be where your answer is lurking!

Remain Open 

I’ve always had an ability to view a space and see what it could be in ways others couldn’t imagine. I discovered that transforming a blank slate into a work of art was a skill that not everyone possesses and that it could have an incredible effect on my career trajectory. It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t immediately obvious. I didn’t grow up with a plan to be an HGTV interior designer. I leaned into my natural interests, abilities and savvy. Those, along with an openness to what life had for me allowed me to find my career path. If you’re searching for yours, consider following those tips. The journey may mature in ways you would never have expected, but the ride? Well it’s always worth it!

 

Simple but Effective Interior Design Hacks!

My interior design career has been such a journey. It’s been traditional in some senses, and VERY untraditional in many others. What started out as a teenager designing a retail store and airplane hangar-turned-production office, turned into a successful interior designer and HGTV host. Throughout that journey, I learned there are no quick or easy shortcuts to gaining expertise in this industry. And while I wholeheartedly believe you should hire a professional designer for more extensive home renovations, I have learned some helpful interior design hacks to create small but significant makeovers in your home.

Furniture Arrangement Hacks for Your Home

When people think of interior design, furniture is usually one of the first aspects to come to mind. Perhaps that’s because furniture occupies so much of what we see in our home spaces. For this reason, it is essential to get your furniture arrangement and configuration just right. How do you do that effectively? That’s one of my first interior design hacks.

It’s always helpful to be able to visualize where your furniture will go. It’s okay to verbalize where a couch or ottoman will be positioned, but nothing beats actually being able to SEE what that arrangement looks like. My best friends will tell you I’m known for stopping by for a visit and ending up rearranging furniture to get a different feel or look for the space. When possible, and if you already have furniture, don’t be afraid to actually move things around in different configurations in your space. You’ll be able to really see, not theorize, how things look and determine if it’s to your liking.

Measurements are Major

If you don’t have furniture, measurements are a MUST. Be sure to get specifications (length, width, height) of your pieces, and use colored tape to map them out on the floor where you’re looking to place them. This will allow you to check out how your furniture interacts with natural light at different times in your home. You may find the sun falls directly where you watch TV in the evenings. That glare in your eyes won’t be good!

Speaking of the television, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to arrange furniture around it. Many people make that mistake. Instead, arrange your living space in a way that best facilitates interaction and engagement for the people who will use it. Family time and entertaining conversation will create many more lasting memories than a TV show ever will, and that’s what matters most. Talk about interior design hacks that will NEVER lose impact!

Never Design Without Product Samples

One of the biggest interior design hacks I swear by might also be the one that saves you the most time. It’s simple: get actual samples of what you plan to use in your space. I employ this most when it comes to the metals and finishes I incorporate in my home. I love using brass throughout my home, but it comes in so many different shades and finishes. My surefire way to always get it right is to order samples of the items I’m looking to purchase. I try to stick to the vendors that have great return policies to guarantee the perfect match before committing to the wrong product or extensive installation process.

This suggestion also works well with swatches for rugs and carpets. I always look to get fabric samples to lay out in the space to see how it feels and looks in the area I’m designing. Having several options to see and place gives me more security and peace about the choices I make for coordination. Paint swatches do the same. I always get several colors in the same family to look at. I sometimes get actual paint samples to try to determine which looks best for the overall space and design. Getting product samples before final purchases will help you avoid making costly or time-consuming investments related to your home projects.

Mix High- and Low-end Features

Another one of my quick-and-easy interior design hacks that many people don’t consider is choosing to splurge on some elements of your home design and saving in other areas. I know you may be thinking, “Duh, Breegan.” What I mean is, be intentional with what you spend more money on based on visual impact. For example, the wallpaper you choose will have a huge impact on the aesthetic of your space. I would get high-quality wall coverings that are durable and bold. On the contrary, you can create beautiful artwork that looks professional without spending much at all. How? Go to the library! Select photos and get them printed and framed, and you have great, inexpensive complements to your wall designs.

Such is the same with your dining room tables and chairs. You’ll get a better bang for your buck and overall space design by investing in the more significant piece of furniture—the dining table. Make sure it’s well-built and constructed of quality materials. The right tables can be passed down as heirlooms or resold with retained value. Do NOT, however, spend a great deal of money on your dining room chairs. They’re a more highly-used (and abused) element and, as such, will most likely be replaced sooner and more often. Dining chairs aren’t investments, unlike sturdier tables.

These are just a few interior design hacks I’ve learned throughout the years. They’ve helped me save money and time for myself and my clients. It’s always good to think about small steps that will bring out the best in our home interiors AND keep the best in our wallets. Do you have any hacks or tips that you use for home renovations or refreshes? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments.

 

My Kids Don’t Make Their Beds, and That’s Fine With Me

I realized early on in my parenting that I don’t do things like other parents do. I don’t think about things the same way. For example, many moms aren’t happy if their kids don’t make their beds every day. I don’t require my kids to do that. And honestly, that’s perfectly fine with me, even though that’s such a social norm of raising kids for so many. It’s supposed to create structure and positive habits for kids and help them grow. Well, that happens in other organic ways, and I choose to consider those life applications more for my two boys.

Focus on What Kids Value

Don’t get me wrong; I want to give my sons structure as they continue to grow and develop. To me, though, one size does not fit all in that arena. My kids don’t make their beds because they don’t really care about having their beds made.  Forcing them to do it will make the task more about the bed than the principle it’s based around. Or, it will only reinforce them doing things because I said so. I want to be more intentional than that as a parent.

Instead, I choose to prioritize (and make them consider) things that are important to them and base developmental activities around what they care about. Ironically, my oldest, Kingsley, DOES make his bed every day, but it’s not because I told him to. I haven’t. It’s important to him, so it gets done. That’s a part of him molding his own personality. He created that part of himself by himself, and I love that. This is what I want to nurture in my kids as a parent.

This is exactly what we do as adults. My staff and I all think very differently about keeping track of project goals and needs. Some of us like to write things down by hand. Others of us keep our smartphones glued to our palms. Still, others prefer to keep important notes on laptops and tablets. But each of us had to discover for ourselves what worked best. If I forced my staff to organize goals one way, I’d never be able to discover where they need support and where they excel. Parenting is no different, in my opinion.

What Do Children Really Need?

Putting a focus on what my children want from their perspectives has allowed me to see what they really need: empowerment. They want ownership of responsibility. While that doesn’t come by straightening bed sheets and comforters or fluffing pillows every morning, I’ve been able to uncover what tops my boys’ priority lists. My youngest appreciates his independence. He does amazing things on his own and in his own way.

That’s self-empowerment at its best. As a single mom and woman of the house, I’ve noticed my boys have taken it upon themselves to step up as “(mini)men of the house.” They don’t want mommy doing certain things. Instead, they want to make sure mommy is protected. So I allow them to go to the glass door and open it when I know it’s the photographer coming to do family photos (and I know they’re familiar with who she is). They have learned how to carefully get their own bowls and cereal in the mornings when our days are busy. Did I mandate these things? Absolutely not. But I’m glad these actions are priorities for them. They feel responsible and more confident in themselves, and I still get the focus on routine and structure I hope to see in their development.

My Non-negotiables as a Parent

So my kids don’t make their beds. That doesn’t mean I don’t have requirements of them as their parent. Of course I do. First, and most importantly, they must be kind to others, and themselves. Sharing is a must. I don’t budge on these things. They can’t bring toys on family outings if they’re not willing to let other kids play with them. I also require them to not place high value on “things.” If we buy a new toy, we have to give one away. That way items remain organized, and my kids don’t get wrapped up in having a lot of material “stuff.” They make decisions on what has value, not me. It’s another way I empower my children to take responsibility. It’s not always easy, but they know and appreciate the rules.

I also make sure they take care of their possessions and keep track of them. I encourage them to create dedicated places to keep their special necklaces, crystals and rocks, which we love collecting as a family, as well as their wallets and watches. When my sons come in from “date nights” with mommy, they know to put those belongings on their individual shelves and in their personal cabinets. They arrange things the way they prefer in their special place, and it’s their job to make sure everything is put there. I don’t keep track of their things. And yes, I had to deal with lost items a few times with each of them. But both sons learned if it was important to them, THEY had to be mindful enough to put their important possessions where they belonged. Again, it’s not making a bed, but the message of responsibility is the same.

Alternative Parenting?

I wonder how relatable this is for other parents. Maybe I’m the outlier mom. Who knows? I am sure, though, that my boys know I want them to be loving, successful men as they continue to grow. Part of that is on me as their guardian. A bigger part is having them discover for themselves purpose and priorities based on who they want to be—and nurturing that with them, not for them. If my kids don’t make their beds, it’s not going to make or break that part of their development.

I’m curious to know what other parents think, though. Let me know how you feel in the comments.