5 Inexpensive Ideas to Refresh Your Home & Life

I do not think I am alone when I say we all need a little refresh right now. I am low on event and floral design projects due to COVID-19, which means money is not flowing in, and I am home all the time. I have spent most of my time off in the garden. I have created five new gardens beds in my backyard. I used all seeds and split plants from my front yard and transplanted then to the back. My husband is a banker and loves that I have become thrifty…I will not tell him it is temporary. Today I am focusing on my interior for the first time in months. I needed a little refresh, and I thought I would share my inexpensive ideas. I hope you enjoy them!

Flowers always make my home look clean and cared for. I will go out to the garden after I clean my house and bring in some flowers!

Fresh paint is an incredible way to bring new life to your space. It will cost you $40+ a gallon, but it gives you a big bang for your buck!

I love container gardening; you can do this anywhere if you have a window you can have a garden. I love getting my hands dirty and watching seeds, seedlings, or plants thrive. You can spend just a few dollars to get huge rewards.

Flea Markets are great places to go right now, grab your mask and hand sanitizer, and get out hunting for that statement piece you have been longing to find.

This suggestion is my husband’s favorite because it costs nothing. Rearrange your rooms, try something new, bring a piece of furniture from one space into another. I am moving a chair from my guestroom down to my family room, and moving a sofa from one area to another…moving things motivates me to clean and declutter, and it refreshes the space.

Which of these ideas inspires you to create beauty? What could you do to refresh your home?

I would love to hear from you, please let me know by commenting or liking my post.

Thank you for stopping by as always I appreciate you visiting my site!



Phoebe Porteous, Amazing Maine Artist

If you follow my blog, you know that I think art is a must in every home! Art finishes a room, acts as the focal point, or even sets the entire palette for a space. Maine artist Phoebe Porteous’s art is just the right addition to any home.

I have been captivated by the work of  Phoebe Porteous for several years. Her work has been come very popular, and as a result her original painting are not inexpensive. The Elizabeth Moss Gallery who represents Porteous, has found a way to make her work more affordable. They are offering prints of her work, this will allow me to use her work in many more of the homes I design.


Look at her site to see if there is a print you love. http://www.phoebeporteousprints.com


To learn more about Phoebe read her biography below:

Phoebe Porteous has spent her life exploring the landscape – the lakes, mountains, and coastline ­– of Maine. In the eight years since she began painting, she has turned those explorations into vivid and colorful paintings that portray the essence of the state. Her work looks at the relationships between colors in nature as well as the changing quality of light.

Artist’s Statement

In my paintings I try to capture the sense of timelessness in Maine, to capture what I love about Maine and what I loved about my childhood. Many of the places I choose to paint are places I have visited throughout my life, and I try to distill the essence of what I have always found there.

I often begin paintings on site and then move into my studio. It is there that I look for the rhythm in the painting and pay attention to the texture of the paint. This is the time when I edit details, shift a building, move a tree, and simplify the scene. When enough layers of color have been laid on to satisfy me, there is a glimpse of the moment that captured my interest initially.

I need the feeling that I know a place before I can put it on canvas. Maine is in my genes, in my bones, and in my senses. I paint when and where I can, always looking for that scene or that light that catches you up and holds you and makes you almost cry for its simplicity, purity, color, and clarity.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, and that you will not only look at her work on http://www.phoebeporteousprints.com but you will add one of her prints or paintings  to your art collection!

I love this one it is so beautiful!


Enjoy the last official weekend of summer.

Best, Celia


I want new kitchen cabinets but I will settle for these inexpensive fixes!

Okay so my kitchen is in need of a spruce up. I love my kitchen as you can see it is a cooks kitchen. I am a big entertainer and foodie.

My Kitchen-photo by Jamie Salomon

The thing is my cabinets are being held up by the several coats of paint I have put on them. I have pickled, antiqued, painted and then painted them again. These poor cabinets have seen me through many different design phases. I love them in cream but…they show all the drips and stains my kids (and husband) leave behind. Iced tea is a staple in my house and it is obvious when looking at my cabinets!

So I need a change and I need your help. I have as you can see if you look closely, black granite with terracotta and cream in it. This made more sense when the floor was terracotta tile…but we will not be changing the counter…as much as I lust over Carrera marble. So the counter stays. I need a bright color that is either stain resistant or camouflaging color that hides iced tea!

Below are the colors I am thinking about using and photos of kitchens I love. HELP!!! Please let me know your thoughts.

Ben Moore Cumulus Cloud
Choice #1

Ben Moore Shaker Beige
Choice #2

Ben Moore Huntington Beige
Choice #3

Ben Moore Woodlawn Blue
Interior color/Back of open cabinets  choice #1

Ben Moore Wyeth Blue
Interior color choice #2

Kitchen’s I love, or fixes I think I can do! What do you think?

These are not inexpensive but they make great use of your space!

Use color in on the back wall to show off your dishes! BHG.COM

I adore open shelves. How beautiful is this BHG.com kitchen?

How to Paint Cabinets or Furniture

The go-to guide to get smooth coverage when painting wood cabinets or furniture.

WOW COOL THIS BHG.COM How to paint cabinets is great! 

What You Need:

  • Liquid sandpaper
  • 1/4-inch nap paint roller
  •  Primer
  •  220-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Paintbrush, roller, or sprayer
  • Paint (look for a self-leveling formula)

What To Do:

Step 1: Wipe cabinet surface with liquid sandpaper

Step 2: Using 1/4-inch nap roller or paintbrush, apply primer. Let dry.

Step 3: Sand with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe with tack cloth.

Step 4: Brush, roll, or spray cabinet surface with paint. Let dry. Finish with a second coat for even coverage.

I really want your feedback let me now what you think. What color do you vote for? Do you like the contrasting color for the back of the cabinets? Do you have any advice for me?

I have painted these cabinets several times but I want this to be the last time so let me know if you recommend any paint or product for cabinets! Thank you for reading my blog & thank you in advance for your comments and advice.

Best, Celia





What does summer mean to you? To me it means picnics, sun & family fun.

I love summer. It is my favorite season. Summer evokes memories of picnics, barbeques, beach trips and family time.

When I think of this season in terms of decorating I think of white, sea glass blue, & aqua paint colors, linen, cotton, and organza fabrics, distressed, reclaimed & drift woods and bare, painted & cotton rug covered floors.

House Beautiful showcased this wonderful colorful summer home

This room is painted a summer blue, has a summer rug and has a distressed wood table…love it! Photo by Liz Donnelly

House Beautiful does it again…with this wonderful example of summer decor

Martha Stewart has 60 ideas for summer decorating


Bringing the outside in is the name of the game in winter and spring but making outdoor rooms is the summer mantra! In New England we live for summer and living life outside for a few months. I grew up in Washington, DC, and although I loved summer, it was hot and sticky. We can all enjoy planting flowers, vegetables and herbs in summer, in fact those of you down south have two opportunities to plant during the season. When planting flower beds I like to keep height, color and scent in mind. Mixing herbs in with flowers make a pretty herb garden and a more fragrant flower bed! I also like to add lighting to flower beds, candle light adds romance to a garden patio or deck.

Check out this amazing garden and many more on HGTV’s website

Finally, I love to cook, entertain and eat. Summer means picnics, barbeques and fun cocktails. I do not like to use my oven from June-August. It heats up my entire house, which is lovely in the cooler months but sweltering in the summer.

I grill vegetables, pizzas, meats and event desserts and serve them with salads. Clean your grill, replace parts on your gas grill, or purchase a new coal chimney. Here are some yummy recipes from The Food Network.

Veggie Kebobs

Bobby Flay’s yummy veggie kebobs Food Network Photo


Marinade, recipe follows

Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes


Cook potatoes in salted water until fork tender; let cool and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place potatoes and the vegetables in a shallow dish or container. Pour marinade over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.

Remove vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors. Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Grilled Basil-Marinated Chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, basil, onion, salt, peppercorns, and garlic in a bowl. Transfer the marinade to a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag with the chicken and shake to combine. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, build a charcoal fire or preheat gas grill.

Remove chicken from the marinade. Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and garnish with the basil sprigs.

Picnics are such fun. Preparation is the key to a great picnic. Pack a bag or basket at the beginning of summer with good quality paper plates, a roll of Viva paper towels (they are the best), plastic flatware, a small light cutting board, a good small knife, trash bags, zip lock bags, wipes, plastic cups like Solo (they can be reused), a Sharpie pen (to label cups), bug spray, sun screen, and an old blanket or table cloth.

Martha Stewart Yummy picnic sandwiches

Martha Stewart Knows Picnicking here is a sandwich idea from www.marthastewart.com  


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 loaf crusty bread (about 1 pound), sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound mortadella, prosciutto, or thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered or sliced
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (1 ounce)
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini, drained and halved if large


  1. Sprinkle a double layer of paper towels with salt and place zucchini on top. Sprinkle with salt and roll up like a newspaper. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out excess liquid.
  2. Over a low gas flame or under the broiler, roast bell pepper until skin is charred, 10 minutes, turning frequently. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit 10 minutes. Rub bell pepper with a paper towel to remove skin, then core, discard seeds, and slice flesh into strips.
  3. Pull out about 2 cups bread from inside loaf halves. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Completely cover inside of both bread halves with an even layer of bean puree.
  4. Arrange zucchini on bottom half of bread. Top with mortadella, parsley, roasted pepper, artichokes, Parmesan, and pepperoncini. Sandwich with top half of bread and wrap tightly in plastic. Place on a baking sheet in refrigerator. Place another baking sheet on top and weight with several heavy cans. Let sit at least 3 hours (or up to overnight). To serve, unwrap and cut into wedges with a serrated knife

Check out this craft from Martha…


Farmers markets are a great place to shop in the summer. Go to your local market and meet the farmers who grow your food and ask them their favorite way to cook what you are buying. These people are experts, believe me their families eat a lot of the items they grow…they will have multiple suggestions.

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Paint makes the room

Paint is a wonderful thing! It can transform whatever it touches. To me the smell of paint equals new beginnings. It allows you to breathe new life into tired spaces or repurpose and reuse items in a new way. In my opinion anyone can learn how to paint, however my decorative painter Deb Hides might argue with me on this point.

Look at how different the same color looks in these two rooms!

Farrow & Ball: Parma Gray
Decorative painting by Deb Hides, photo by Liz Donnelly

This room is also Farrow & Ball- Parma Gray
Photo Liz Donnelly

A few points to know about paints & painting

  • To get the best results sand, prime and paint with two coats of a good quality paint.
  • You get what you pay for; if you spend more for higher quality paint you get better results. You will get both better coverage and better wear (avoiding peeling and spotting), this is particularly important on the coast where sun and salt make paints deteriorate at a faster rate.
  • When choosing whites you can tint them with pink, gray, blue or green to keep the white from looking washed out or stark.
  • If you are not sure about colors working together ask yourself if you would see them in nature. Green goes with most colors as does blue because it is contrasted in nature with numerous colors.
  • Tone on tone is always going to look good, it is not a cop-out to go tonal it can be very sophisticated and calming.
  • Paint trim in the entire house the same color it show continuity and allows you to play with wall color.
  • Be bold with color but if you do you must have a consistent color palette, I had a client (whom I adore) who had a blindingly bright orange living room, but the rest of the house did not go with the orange so that room felt like an island in the home. Each room needs to flow into the next, when in doubt go neutral you can use pops of color as accents.
  •  Chalk paint can be made in any color; this is a fun way to use a crazy color…You can paint your kitchen backslasha fun color of chalk paint and then write down all your important family commitments…carpool at 5pm looks cooler on a Chartreuse chalk board! I always wanted to paint the area where my stools are tucked under my kitchen island…make a creative fort for the kids…not they are teenagers…I think I have lost my chance

What paint finishes should you use and where?

  1. Flat or Matte Paint: is best for older walls as it will camouflage imperfections, but is most suitable in bedrooms or homes without small children and animals…as it is not the most durable finish and is hard to clean.
  2. Eggshell or Satin Paint: has a higher sheen than flat/matte finish and works well in all rooms as it is easier to clean and stain-resistant.
  3. Semi Gloss and High Gloss: this is a decorators dream, it is shiny and durable and cleans easily, it is best for trim, doors, cabinetry, windows and furniture…but this will show high light imperfections. I have my first floor ceiling painted in semi gloss, when I told my painter I wanted to use it he said “ it cannot be done”, that is because he did not want to do it, it was hard work but he did it and I love the effect, it is so chic.

My favorite 12 colors for summer

  • Benjamin Moore: Sea foam 2123-60 (my favorite…Sea glass color)
  • Benjamin Moore: Gossamer Blue 2123-40 (rich but mellow blue)
  • Sherwin Williams: Aloof Gray sw6197 (just what it says)
  • Farrow & Ball: Skimming Stones 241 (neutral creamy beige)
  • Farrow & Ball: Parma Gray 27 (wonderful blue gray)
  • Farrow & Ball: Borrowed Light 235
  • Ralph Lauren: Edwardian Linen RLWW216 (creamy)
  • Calvin Klein: Basso Bone (very neutral)
  • Benjamin Moore: Quiet moments 1563 (tranquility  in a paint)
  • California Paints: Glamour White DEW348 (Gray hues very neutral)
  • California Paints: Boysenberry Shadow DEW391 (purple very pale but not too girly)
  • My go to white is Benjamin Moore Decorators White-it is bright and clean and I love it. This is great in high gloss on furniture too. BEST TRIM COLOR!

Paint is wonderful because in a day you can change a room from dirty and tried to fresh and clean!

Wonderful cottage bedroom set-inspired by Farrow & Ball: Borrowed light

Let me know you questions and tell me about your projects. I love answering questions and helping with design dilemmas!

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