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The Perfect Porch: How to Welcome Guests Before They Ever Set Foot in Your House

Many people don’t realize the importance of the porch. The very first experience someone has of your home is when they are standing outside your front door, waiting for you to answer. It’s the first point for making guests feel welcome. So if you do a lot of entertaining, you really need to put some thought into it. At a time when you aren’t preparing for guests, spend some time thinking about how this often neglected area of your home represents your style. Here are some of the ways I’ve made my porch inviting.

Eve’s porch

1) Make a Green Scene. Plants are great way to create interest and character at the front of your home. My porch has succulents that are arranged in a succulent wreath that doesn’t close the loop. They are easy to use and you stick the succulents into the mesh/felt material to create your own design. It frames my door. The front of my home and entry are also covered in ivy that has been grown and trimmed into a grid pattern. I think that a big blank wall is too much, even if it’s completely covered in ivy, it can still seem blank because it’s all one color. I like the look of the grid because it feels like outdoor art.
2) Have a Seat. Having some kind of seating in your front looks warm and inviting. It’s great for staging things like placing candles or seasonal decorations, but also an everyday use for placing groceries on or packages. Think about a little bench seat. I have two benches. One out by the driveway because it’s so long. The other is under a window near the porch. It’s really become something we use all the time.
3) Light the Way. If you are having a party in the evening, use votives in the entry and lining the walkway if it’s dark. I recommend finding outdoor votives and placing them in a glass or stone container. If you need more light, go with glass. If you are having a summer party that goes into the night, don’t light until the sun starts to set. I’d assign someone to do the lighting—like one of your girlfriends who is reliable. When not entertaining, think about the lighting in general. I have my entry lighted with sconces and placed in different areas. They are not just over garage but also in other places to create a lot of ambient lighting.
4) Put Out the Welcome Mat. In my entryway I have a bright and modern Chilewich rug (available at Studio Chameleon). They are great! It doesn’t shed, doesn’t feel too hard and they are fun to look at. They come in different colors and patterns. People really love them. The ones with bold stripes pair well with a more traditional exterior.

I hope these tips give you some ideas about making your porch a welcoming place. Remember, put yourself in your guests shoes and think about how your porch will appear to them!

Poolside Entertaining for Day and Evening

Gathering poolside is a great summer tradition. It’s great for cooling off or as ambiance. Here’s some tips on making a great time for those in and out of the water.

1) Fabulously furnished. Outdoor furniture will be the foundation to any poolside entertaining. You will want to invest in quality, which will wear better and last longer as the years go by. Make sure to have seating that is poolside so guests can enjoy being near the water. Having pillows and blankets on hand are also a great way for people to set up seating wherever they’d like.
2) Flotation devices.  If it’s evening, floating candles or lanterns in the water are always great, but you might also want to think of some nontraditional floaties. Giant beach balls, floating fountains and fake flowers (look for ones that are meant for this sort of thing) make great decor.
3) Made in the shade. Your guests will want to escape the sun. Umbrellas, awnings and portable cabanas help guests beat the heat.
4) Extra! Extra! If guests will actually be going for a dip (even if just in the spa), you will always want to make sure you have extras on hand. This includes towels, sunscreen, floaties and even loaner swimsuits (the ones from a couple seasons ago work great). You don’t ever want to someone to feel like they can’t be part of the fun just because they’ve forgotten something.

Eve’s elegant poolside space for entertaining.

Summer Entertaining: How to Throw the Perfect Summer Party

Summer is

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my favorite time to entertain. It’s relaxed, the weather’s great and there’s so much great food. Here are a few tips for the perfect summer party!

1) Plan ahead. While spontaneous get-togethers are great, a planned party always feels like something special. Make sure to give yourself a couple weeks to think about location, guest list, budget, if it will be day or evening, and if there will be some sort of theme.
2) Invitations. Depending on the kind party you will be hosting, invitations can be a phone call, Evite or a card in the mail. What matters most is that it is personal, timely and done all at once (no one likes to feel like an afterthought!). Aside from date, time and place, you’ll also want to make sure to let guests know how to RSVP, if kids (or even pets) are welcome and if they need to bring anything (games? drinks? food?).

Eve’s home in Newport Coast is ready for guests.

3) Outdoor considerations. I’d encourage you to take advantage of the great weather summer has to offer! This could be in your backyard, beachside or at a park. But make sure you think of how that will affect guests (they will need shade!), food (drinks need to be iced, chocolate melts, dairy spoils) and if bugs will be bothersome. And if you are in a place with extreme heat, make sure guests are hydrated with lots of water and consider parties when it starts to cool.
4) Food. If you are planning something elaborately catered or just doing a simple potluck food is often the start of the show. Make sure to think about how guests will be eating—if they are standing up or balancing on their lap you will want to avoid a knife and fork. Kabobs work great and there many different possibilities including veggies, fruits and fish. Also, as someone with food allergies, I’m always excited when people have considered if there are things for me to eat. As hostess, you may want to check with guests if there are special food considerations.
5) Music. This will get the party going and keep it alive! Depending on your soiree, it can be upbeat or mellow. I always think a good summer mix should be fun, but not something that will overwhelm and dominate (like something with a heavy beat).
6) Signature cocktail. This is easier to do than it sounds and also will impress guests! Considering adding mint, basil or other herbs to a cocktail you already love. A sangria with a twist, like using white wine or summery fruit, is also an easy drink. You will want to experiment before the party to taste test—which I’m sure some friends would love to volunteer to help!

Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding season is upon us! There’s always pressure to find the right gift for the bride and groom for their new life together. Get them started right with gifts from Studio Chameleon. We’ve also got great shower gifts, too! If you’re a stickler for sticking with the registry, consider a registry gift plus a small, unique item from us to show your thoughtfulness!

Petrified Wood Cheese Platter: A gift that’s great for the couple who loves to entertain.

Fossil Box: An elegant and very distinctive box that holds whatever you want, but makes a statement wherever it is.

Custom Art: A great way to celebrate the bride and groom is through a one of-a-kind piece of art that is special to them. We offer custom framing and can help you think of the right item or items to frame into art. Perhaps seashells from the beach where they were engaged? Or commission one of our celebrated artists to create something as unique as their love.

Frames: A great item to display memories. Tip: Find photos of the happy couple online or ask their family to have the frame already filled.

Stone and Agate Druzy Hearts: These are great little something to add to shower or wedding gifts, but also a unique reminder of the couple’s love.

Quick Fix: Easy Kitchen Upgrades

Last week we talked about how to upgrade your bathroom. This week we’re tackling the kitchen. The kitchen often becomes a gathering place when company comes by. Food and drink tends to draw people in! Here are some ways to help keep the kitchen fresh.

1) Hardware Care. This one is pretty easy is to upgrade and can make a real difference. Replacing knobs, hinges and pulls is fairly inexpensive and can take an afternoon to do. Just a word of caution: make sure the new hardware matches the existing hole locations. A good polishing of existing hardware can also help to brighten the space.

2) Floor Fixers. If you’ve got great hardwood floors that have taken a beating, refinishing them will restore their former glory. For the quickest and easiest of all fixes, look into rugs that will add personality to room, while protecting floors.

3) Cabinet Creativity. There are lots of ways to make your cabinets look better. Of course refacing is great for a redo without completely ditching the old cabinets, but it might still be too time and money intensive. Consider instead repainting, changing only the doors or adding molding.

4) Exciting Lighting. Again, like with bathrooms, lighting makes a huge difference. If you’re fixtures are newer, an install of dimmers can also add to the ambiance for dinner guests. Even if you don’t upgrade, a good scrubbing can make a world of difference!

5) Backsplash Beauty. An easy way to get current is to focus on redoing the backsplash. The “in” styles for these change every few years if you are looking to stay modern, but backsplashes can also get grimy quickly so that’s another good reason to change! Subway tile has been all the rage and also has a classic look, but other options are ceramic or glass tile, beadboard or even stainless steel.

6) Fancier Faucets. There are some really amazing faucets out on the market right now. Ones that seem to do everything. A new faucet can go a long way in making dishes feel less like a chore.

7) Get Organized. Have items started to drift from their proper places? Has the utensil holder on the counter become a catchall? Get everything back in its proper place! This is especially a must in the kitchen as it will save you time when cooking or just looking for the bag of Oreos.

We also loved the very thorough list from Bon Apetit on “Fifty Instant Kitchen Upgrades.”

Don’t forget—Studio Chameleon’s design services also extend to kitchens and we’d be happy to help you figure out what upgrades would be best for your kitchen!

Father’s Day Photo Contest and Reception

It’s a yearly dilemma—what to get dad for Father’s Day. Another tie simply will not do. Gadgets are fun, but so impersonal. DEDO and Studio Chameleon are helping to re-frame Father’s Day gifting.

Honor your pop with a unique and personal gift he’s bound to love—a photo in a frame from recycled precious woods (DEDO has 40 different woods to choose from). Even better, you can win this great gift for dad. Here’s how….

CONTEST: Submit a really cool photo of you and your dad together. The photo can be from a time long before camera phones (tech tip: you can shoot a photo of that old Polaroid with your 2.0MP camera phone) or you can submit a celluloid memory you made this year.
DEADLINE: May 31st
SUBMIT ONLINE: http://dedoframe.com/fathersdaycontest
WINNER ANNOUNCED: Thursday, June 2nd at Studio Chameleon from 4-8 p.m. We’ll have a wine and cheese reception to honor dads and where you can view the photos from the contest in specially selected DEDO frames. All are welcome to attend and browse frames and other great gifts from Studio Chameleon for their dads too!

Quick Fix: Easy Bathroom Upgrades

Summer brings a flurry of activity—the kids are home, there are vacations to take, parties to plan and friends to entertain. Looking at your bathroom you may feel less than excited about company coming over to inspect it. Banish the bathroom blues with these easy upgrades!

1) Swap out linens. And I mean ALL of the linens. This includes the rugs, bath mats and shower curtains. Consider the season and try to bring in ocean blues, coral or a summery yellow. You may want to also have a rotating set of linens for the change of seasons. This is by far the easiest step (and fairly inexpensive). Even if you only do this, you will feel like the bathroom has had a mini makeover.

2) Change or rearrange. Is your toothbrush holder tired? Soap bottle sad? Change it up! There is also no reason why the same seashell is sitting on your shelf in the same spot year after year. Rearrange or replace any knickknacks you might have lying around the bathroom. Also consider swapping between bathrooms if you are not up for a shopping spree.

3) Accentuate the positive. If you’ve got a little more time and are ambitious, consider painting an accent wall in your bathroom. Remember to keep the color one that flatters your skin tone as the color will be picked up in your face’s shadows. If you are not into DIY (do it yourself), having someone paint a wall in your bathroom is also fairly inexpensive and would take less than a half day of labor.

4) Fix your fixtures. The two fixtures you should look at are your faucet and your lighting. New faucets are a great facelift and can really help keep your bathroom looking modern and on trend without redoing the entire bathroom. Lighting, typically because it is up so high, often gets overlooked. Even if you don’t replace, consider cleaning as the dirt and dust can begin to affect the radiance of the room. These are great “honey do” projects if your significant other is slightly handy.

5) Bloom with the season. A very easy way to perk up the bathroom is with fresh flowers. Summer is a great time to be on the lookout for bright bouquets. We also have some lovely and fun vases at Studio Chameleon. Consider this one that has a “barnacle” look to it.

6) Change your scent. I always like to include this because so many people don’t think about this. Scents set moods, so the warmer apple cinnamon scent of winter doesn’t fit with summer. Try a cooler scent, like one with citrus or a “spa” scent like lavender. Also, don’t be afraid to use a couple different scents that will compliment each other. Just be aware not to overwhelm the nose! If using candles to create your scent, seek out soy. Soy candles burn much more cleanly and the scent will remain right to the last flame.

Get the Look for Less: Clayton Chair

Get the look for less! Studio Chameleon sells a nearly identical chair to the one recently featured on House Beautiful’s website–for $500 less! The Clayton Chair is a great addition to any living room and very comfortable.

Celebrating Mothers All Month

We hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day! We’re in the Mother’s Day spirit the whole month of May with our Furniture Swap Sale that benefits the moms of Human Options, a domestic violence shelter helping women and children get back on their feet.

It’s easy:
1) Donate any piece of gently used furniture through Studio Chameleon during the month of May and we will give you 25% off the purchase of any furniture in the store.
2) We’ll pick up your old piece when we drop off your new one!*
3) All donated furniture will go directly to the women and children of Human Options.

Call us today at 949.650.7979
*Free delivery within 15 miles of Studio Chameleon

Energize Your Life: Now You’re Ready to Party at a Moment’s Notice

Part four of a month-long blog series that looks at energizing your life through your home.

Now that your home is revitalizing and provides you with energy, you will never need to fear guests dropping by or inviting people over on the fly. All you need to do is some quick tidying. And I mean quick. This is my list to get my home ready for company in about a half hour.

1. Perform a room check. Just take a few moments to check in on each of the rooms your guests will be seeing. If there isn’t enough time to clear up clutter, move everything into a box and put it into the garage or closet until the party is over. Check for things around the house that you are used to but may not be best left out for guests – like the hairy dog bed in the family room, or the cat box in the bathroom – and move these things out of sight for the time being. Fluff the pillows, visually check to make sure furniture is positioned the way you want it and drapes or blinds are hanging nicely.
2. De‐clutter the kitchen. If you have dirty dishes and not enough time to wash them, stick them in the dishwasher or stack neatly in the sink. Removing the day‐ to‐day things from your kitchen counter tops creates a clean and uncluttered feeling. Stick the toaster, blender, coffee pot, knife block and vitamins in the cabinets and wipe down the counter tops.
3. Light some candles. I want to appeal to all of my guest’s senses, and it takes at least 30 minutes for candles to burn enough so that the aroma permeates the house. Fresh scents that are more natural appeal to a broader group of people. I recommend Maura Peters candles, which are available at Studio Chameleon. These hand‐poured soy and vegetable wax candles are made from the finest essential oils so they burn long and clean. A few of these and you are set for scent!
4. Put your photos out. Review the photos you have displayed and, particularly if family or close friends are visiting, make sure that you have pictures out of the people who are coming over. Keep a drawer or box of framed photos of those closest to you, so that even if you don’t want to display them all the time, you have them available. This is such a simple way to make people feel that they are known and loved by you.
5. Dust the transition areas. People tend to look down at transition areas – when they are walking into the front door and other rooms and the flooring changes from wood to carpet. This is also a place that quickly accumulates dust and pet hair. Before your guests arrive, take the towel you used to wipe down the counters and do a quick rub down of this area to make sure it is clean.
6. Set the mood with music. Put on your favorite cd and enjoy a glass of wine before your guests arrive.

Now you’re ready to party!

Our White Orchid Tealights are lovely to light up when guests
are on their way. Available in store and online.