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A Simple Secret to a Great Day

Enjoy a successful Walk 

What is success to you? Is it to be the 'Top 10' in something or to own an estate, yacht or the newest/greatest something? Or, is it to finally take a walk with your dog? 

Yesterday on my morning walk, I was thinking about the podcast "The Goodlife Project" that discussed an interesting concept. The concept is to ask yourself as you start your day - "What does success do?"

My goal of success one day was to write 3 blog posts in the morning. I asked myself "what would success do?" It's a simple way to keep focus on the really important things to do. No checking e-mails every 2 minutes. No responding to anything else but what is in front of you. 

Instead of being stressed by my goal, it actually freed me to concentrate. Once done with my goal, I select another goal that means 'success' to me.

What's your goal? Can you see yourself trying to focus on one thing at a time today, this week or this month? 


732 690-2030

Interior Design - Ocean and Monmouth County and Metropolitan New Jersey, CT and NYC


A Short Story and Insights From a Successful Bathroom Renovation


Photo courtesy of House Beautiful

Nearly a decade after losing her husband in a plane crash, my client decided to start a new renovation project. I had always admired her spirit, her let's-get-this-done attitude and her decision to forge on with her life. This was the second project working with my client and I looked forward to this next adventure.

I remember the tiny powder room and how we chose a particular item to make the tiny room both memorable and fun. Since the room was windowless and had no special charm of its own, I suggested we add a 'window' of sorts.

We decided to use a boat port hole window, perfect for the location of the house which is on a canal and minutes from the ocean. We mounted the port hole window high to protect privacy for those who entered. On the other side of the powder room's port hole wall was a hallway wall. But the surprise was that when the powder room's light was on, it also gave the outside hall a bit of character with its brass finish and classic design.

This was  not the only room that has a story in her home. But, it just shows that if you look a little further, try a little harder and take a chance - you might discover treasure where there was none before.

M. A. Smith Interior Design
masmithinteriordesign.com
bestdesigncoach.com

Here is my favorite Way to change my Mood in an Instant

Need a winter boost? Add a touch of Spring with white tulips for your desk or dining table.
Set a few flowers to set your mood for the day
If you need a late winter lift, rest your eyes on a bouquet of flowers like the ones above. White tulips are always a pure, simple way to add classic beauty to your home. Like good design, they are always in style.

M. A. Smith Interior Design 

732 690-2030
masmithinteriordesign.com
bestdesigncoach.com
housezengarden.com

5 Easy Ways to Become Healthier this Year

Photo courtesy of Health Magazine 

A Healthy Home = A Healthy Life

It may be part of the new year, but if you’re like me, you’re thinking of going more ‘green’ at home and with your diet.

Where to begin? Here are 5 ways we are updating our home and our menu this year:


  • Instead of using a ‘caustic’ cleanser, clean porcelain floors with a mixture using white vinegar and water with a drop of detergent (non-caustic). 
  • We are decreasing our use of plastic. This means instead of water bottles of plastic, we will use our filtered water in a glass container. Also, we are changing to the use of glass for storing food vs. plastic bags.
  • Our microwave will be quieter than usual. According to one of my new books, The Paleo Cardiologist and also an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola on Huffington Post it’s suggested that foods that are microwaved may create high levels of electromagnetic fields in your kitchen and may cause issues with the heart (according to Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University.)
  • Since starting to follow the Bulletproof Diet plan, we now eat more organic greens and protein. No need to consume greens or proteins hampered by pesticides. Just the thought of pesticides affects my appetite!

Are you Exhausted and Need some Inspiration?

Are You and Your Home suffering from Post-Holiday Syndrome? 

After the holidays, it's hard to get that pizzazz that your home had with all the holiday decorations. It may look empty, dull and lackluster. Besides being exhausted with everything, your home and you may need some pampering. 

Chances are a hint of spring, a touch of color (not green and red) could put you back on track. (Mark your calendar for the Philadelphia Flower Show, March 3 to 11th). 

Try adding flowers like tulips to your breakfast table. Or, re-arrange your coffee table and add some new magazines to get you inspired. 

Remove all the accessories in your Living Room and then replace them, but not all of them. Your room will look cleaner, simpler and it doesn't cost a penny. 

Still not ready? Some of my clients call me for quick re-starts in their homes. A fresh eye may be all you need to set you right. 

Need Post Holiday Inspiration? Do This ...

A walk in the cold beats reading e-mails any day!

What's the real Truth about your Holiday?

The holidays can take a toll on more than our pocketbooks. It's supposed to be a fun and engaging time. But for many, it's stress upon stress. 

The stress might be from your family, your weight gain or from lack of exercise or money.

Instead of just complaining about the stress, you could invent a way to bring back some real joy or enthusiasm in your life.


Here are a few things I've done lately to restore my spirit:

  • A daily walk changes your mood instantly - try at least a 30 minute walk
  • Read books that speak to you and your interests - see what I'm reading now below
  • Listen to a podcast that gives you inspiration - I listened to 'Good Life Podcast' this morning and it's content was so interesting hearing the Power of Habit author, Charles Duhigg
  • Decide on a habit you'd like to start or change - less or better food, less alcohol or more exercise
  • List in your mind all the things you are thankful for at the start of the day

What I'm reading now that you may enjoiy too:

"The Four Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss  - great to get you back on a good track soon

"Architecture to Construction" by Paul D. Rugarber   - must read for my clients who are building a new home ($2.99 is a small price to pay for a book on Kindle!)


"The Dead Presidents Club" by Harris Baseman - very interesting, especially if you like stories on leaders of countries (i. e. The Crown)

"A Happy Pocket Full of Money" by David Cameron Gikandi and Bob Doyle" - reading a paragraph a day could be all you need now 

"The Paleo Cardiologist" by Jack Wolfson, DO FACC - suggested to me by my son Chris Lupo and his wife, Lisa. If Chris says to do this - it's the approach I'll take to be and stay healthy for a long time. 



732 690-2030

Interior Design - Ocean and Monmouth County and Metropolitan New Jersey, CT and NYC




Do the holidays put you into High Gear or Neutral?

Every season has its own beauty
Tis the Season to be ...(jolly, frazzled or numb?)

Every year we go down the same path. One day you're hanging Christmas lights outside and enjoying the scent of mixed pine wreaths at an amazing garden store, like Terrain.Next day you’re held up in holiday traffic, wishing you had gone shopping online. And other days, it’s just hard to get back into the holiday spirit.

It’s a stop and go kind of month and it whirls by so fast, you can barely coast for a minute to catch your breath.

 But just think about it for a minute. Do you actually know anyone who just loves every minute of this holiday season?


Yes, some people seem to be less frazzled, but maybe they don’t love the holidays as you do.

It’s OK to be a little frazzled at times. - it’s a sign you’re engaged and not blithely coasting down the highway of life.

So, sit in traffic, listen to some holiday music and dream of your idea of a perfect holiday. Was it the inside or the outside decorations, the choir singing, the Salvation Army kettle or baking Christmas cookies or - the Baileys on the rocks by the fire that you dream to recapture?

What's your vision of the most perfect holiday? I would love to know.


Fabian arts painting captured my attention with this painting  
Just looking at it makes me feel cool and relaxed.


How to Change your Perspective with Color

Did you ever feel like the day gets away from you - Or even a month?

This summer there's a lot of work with only a touch of vacation in August.

Don't tell anyone, but I cannot wait for September. Maybe it's because the air is cooler in the morning, less humid...

But it's also the start of a new semester for school (not for me but the idea of it, in general) and the idea of a new fall wardrobe.


Because it's been pretty warm this summer so far, I needed to see something that made me feel refreshed and ... cooler.


I found this image from Fabianarts The painting is so soothing, it makes me feel relaxed and refreshed.


Ok, time to get back to work. Already today I've ordered fabric for a new commercial design project. Later I'll be delivering custom work to one of my fabulous clients. 


Later, I think I'll look at some more paintings. 


Interior Design - Ocean and Monmouth County and Metropolitan New Jersey and NYC

732 690-2030






Find the Way to Your Best Summer Today

Ever hear of the song that goes "Summertime, Summertime, sum-sum-summertime...?

As a child my summer was a mix of enjoying my friend's pool, traveling to visit my grandparents in Buffalo and trying to stay cool. Back in my day, we didn't have AC until my teens. To keep cool we swam mostly at Bar Beach near Roslyn. But at least once a summer, we'd head out to Jones Beach.

Jones Beach taught you how to deal with the waves and under toe. It was a favorite beach for Long Islanders who wanted the whole package - a boardwalk, sand and waves and open air restaurants or a pool.

Now, summer for this designer is a mix of work, relaxing and enjoying our Barnegat Bay and beaches.


Bucky looks great next to our new door color 
While I spend many hours in my office, designing, scheduling, etc. I am in full view of our home and the areas I'd like to spruce up. 

Like many of my clients, I'm busy and have only minutes to schedule the next project. 

To get things done, I've found the best plan is to choose at least one item that can be accomplished in a week.

Last week, our new side door (the prior week's project ) received a coat of paint that I love. It's Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.
We also added a whale door knocker for that extra charm. 

The other story in this picture is our dog Bucky. Bucky had quite a bit of surgery and was recovering, but looking pretty good despite his ordeal. 




Dog and owners' doing fine. 


In the next blog post, I'll give you a peak at what I do to restore a feeling of 'Zen' in my busy life. 



M. A. Smith  LLC Interior Design
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
732 690-2030
Allied Member ASID

http://masmithinteriordesign.com
Blog: HouseZenGarden
Blog: BestDesignCoach.com
Serving New Jersey , NYC and CT 

Why to 'Never Say Never'

For over twenty years I've said 'I would never put a fence in our backyard.' I always loved to have a full view of the woods outside. Even though whatever I planted was eaten by the deer, I stood firm in my non-fence stance - until this year. 

You see, thanks to our new neighbor who just installed a new white fence along the property line, my world has changed. The area where the new fence was installed made our garden area look better than ever. Suddenly I realized that the hydrangeas we planted last year would really stand out against the white fence. 

But I still did not want to look at a 'white' fence at the back of our property line. So, we compromised and had a black (almost invisible to the eye) chain-link fence installed. The day after the fence was installed our deer 'friends' stood facing our house. You could almost hear them thinking "What happened to our dining room?" 

Sorry dear deer! I am finally able to plant all the flowers I love - more hydrangeas, climbing and non-climbing roses, butterfly bushes, even tulips in the Spring.

Our tiny world has changed and even our mascot Bucky has a new place to play. We are spending more time outside, getting exercise and smelling the roses. 

I'll keep you posted on our successes or failures on the progress of our new world. Next project - an actual patio in a 'bluestone' type of installation.


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

5 To Do's for a Great Day

Spring is just a few weeks away!

How to put a little 'Spring' into your day:
  1.  Buy some bright pink, yellow or raspberry tulips for your desk or kitchen table.
  2. Wear a pink top or another bright color top in lieu of the usual gray, black or white top.
  3. Find a photo on Google of cherry blossoms in Washington and share it on Facebook. 
  4. Go to your favorite paint store and select a few shades of paint in a new color palette for your home that is brighter, lighter and cheerier.
  5. Schedule a nail appointment and paint your nails your favorite color for Spring.

Need a little help with your home? Call 732 690-2030.

M. A. Smith  LLC Interior Design
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
732 690-2030

E-mail: masmith@masmithinteriordesign.com

Allied Member ASID

http://masmithinteriordesign.com
Blog: HouseZenGarden
Blog: BestDesignCoach.com
Serving New Jersey 




Keeping your Sanity during the Holidays


The Pros and Cons of Holiday Decorating from a Former Florist and a Busy Interior Designer

It's that time of year again when we are busy sprucing up our lives and homes with touches of holiday decor.

However, one of the past holiday decorating trends is the blanket of lights that some place over their bushes. Whenever I see one of those lighted bushes, I know someone wanted to take the quick route to holiday decorating and that's what it looks like! But, if they are busy and that works for them, it's okay. But, maybe next year...

Then, there are homes that just make me marvel at the beautiful simplicity of their holiday decorating within the home. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the room has a great fireplace or high ceilings or great furniture. But the real beauty of that style of holiday decorating is to keep things simple.

Whether you live in the northeast, the south or here at the Jersey Shore, the holidays can bring back that childhood wonder you so long to enjoy. So, go have some fun with it!



It was Confucius that remarked "Life is actually really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” So true with holiday decorating. Every inch of space does not need to be covered.

See the beauty in simplicity and you'll enjoy the season, and your holiday decorating more than ever before.


Happy Decorating!




M. A. Smith LLC Interior Design

Do you feel Stressed about Decorating for the Christmas season?


Do you feel Stressed about Decorating for the Christmas season?

Photo courtesy of CNN.com

It's the official start of the Christmas season! You say "Hooray!" and then you start to think about all you have to do in 
just a few days.
Then, in a second,"Hooray!" shifts to -
stress and anxiety.

What's a person to do, who has
no time now to keep up with just daily work, home and garden tasks?


The answer is complex yet simple - Lists=Organization= A Plan

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I find the act of making to-do lists moves me into the can-do mentality. Mix a list with a calendar and you have the ingredients for getting things done and
 keeping things under control.

I would love to go on, but it's time to make my list, fill in my calendar and start enjoying the Christmas season!

Call interior designer, Mary Alice Smith in the New Jersey and metro New York City area at:
732 690-2030

Take a minute to check out my website and blogs:
M. A. Smith LLC Interior Design
Best Design Coach Blog


Fabian arts painting captured my attention with this painting  


How to Change your Perspective with Color

Did you ever feel like the day gets away from you - Or even a month?

This August flew by for me and it was a mix of lots of work with a touch of vacation.

Don't tell anyone, but I cannot wait for September. Maybe it's because the air is cooler in the morning.

But it's also the start of a new semester for school (not for me but the idea of it, in general) and the idea of a new fall wardrobe.


But its been pretty warm this last week of August and I needed to see something that made me feel refreshed and ... cooler.


I found this image from Fabianarts The painting is so soothing, it makes me feel relaxed and refreshed.


Ok, time to get back to work. Already I've enjoyed meeting a new design prospect, later I'll be working with a Renovation committee to help make some important decisions. 


Later... I think I'll look at some more paintings. 

Interior Design - Ocean and Monmouth County and Metropolitan New Jersey and NYC

732 690-2030






Go from Dark and Drab with a Little Pizazz

Photo courtesy of Nick Olsen and House Beautiful

One of the easiest ways to capture an updated look and add some pizazz to your home is by weaving a theme into your decorating scheme. Designer Nick Olsen did a fantastic job of this in a home he decorated for a client (as shown in the photo above).
He used bold green graphic lines throughout the home. For instance, he designed a white slip-covered sofa with the contrast of an emerald green welt.
Olsen also added a splash of green with a chevron design on a bedroom chest.



Another home that accomplished this successfully had a checkerboard theme. The checkerboard pattern was scattered throughout the house on walls, on floors and even on a sofa pillow.
For instance, a wall was painted in a faded checkerboard pattern. The pattern also showed up in a kitchen cutting board, a tile floor, a dining room tablecloth and on powder room guest towels.


But, what made it so successful was how it was achieved in a subtle manner

Repeating a graphic element has the power of pulling rooms together.

Define what shape you are drawn to (chevron, checkerboard, circles, triangles, animal silhouettes, etc.) and repeat it in each room. 

Choose and use your favorite shape or symbol and you'll make your rooms come together and come to life!
 Interior Design - Ocean and Monmouth County and Metropolitan New Jersey and NYC
M. A. Smith  LLC Interior Design
732 690-2030
Best Design Coach Blog
House Zen Garden Blog

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