START To Downsize Book Review – “the complete photo guide to window treatments” edited by Linda Neubauer


Since I love to read and I love to sew, I thought this week’s START To Downsize Book Review – “the complete photo guide to window treatments” edited by Linda Neubauer was a natural choice.

Why bother with window treatments?  Good question.

  • Window treatments complete a room’s design.
  • Window treatments improve a room’s acoustics.
  • Window treatments can help minimize heat gain or heat loss, depending on their style and how they’re lined.
  • The main idea behind your START To Downsize journey is learning how to live well with less.

- Part of living well with less is having a right-sized home that serves as your haven from the stresses of the world.

- In my mind, a haven is a beautiful place.

- Window treatments are beautiful, therefore, your home – your haven – should include window treatments, as far as your budget allows.


Published in 2007, “the complete photo guide to window treatments” is firstly, a window treatment IDEA book, and secondly, a how-to book.

If you already know how to sew, select your window treatment and fabric, follow the step-by-step directions, and before you know it, you’ll have a finished product to rival those from a custom drapery workroom.

If you don’t know how to sew, the book includes a “Window Treatment Basics” section, detailing how to choose and install drapery hardware, how to make mounting boards for certain types of valances, how to work with decorator fabric, hems, lining, trims, welting and fringe.  You’ll also find definitions for common window treatment terms.

All in all, I like this book a lot, because it eliminates the need to buy individual patterns for each different type of window treatment – they’re pretty much all covered in the book.

I have half a dozen other window treatment books in my library, but they’re all just pictures and illustrations of styles and types of curtains, draperies, valances and shades.  This book takes things a step further by including DIY directions, thereby making it a much more valuable volume, in my opinion.

The book begins with a couple of pages devoted to information on choosing a style of window treatment and a page on how to use the book, including a discussion of each project’s required materials and a word or two about fabric cutting directions.

Then it’s on to the first of fifty different styles of window treatments, all of which are divided into three categories:

  • Top Treatments
  • Curtains and draperies 
  • Shades


Top treatments are first, because they are simpler, easier to successfully complete, and because they require less fabric, so they’re less expensive to make.

A few of the nineteen top treatments you’ll find:

  • Butterfly Valances
  • Covered Pickup Valances
  • Rod-Pocket Mock Cornices
  • Soft Cornices


Combine one of these valances with simple stationary drapery panels and you’ve got a stunning window treatment.

The second section of the book covers curtains and draperies.

It starts with simple flat-panel curtains and moves on to more detailed styles, such as:

  • Grommet Curtains
  • Tent-Flap Curtains
  • Pinch-Pleated Draperies, along with Pleat Alternatives
  • Inverted Box-Pleat Draperies


Finally, the book ends with a third section, which covers shades of all kinds, including:

  • Banded Roman Shades
  • Hobbled Roman Shades
  • Coach Shades
  • Flat Fabric-Covered Roller Shades


Use today’s ‘START To Downsize Book Review – “the complete photo guide to window treatments” edited by Linda Neubauer’, as your inspiration to add new or update existing window treatments in your home.

Having trouble deciding what would work best on windows in a room of your home?  Send pictures and describe your situation to me via Comments.  We’ll put our heads together to come up with something simply spectacular!


ps – The picture at the top of the article is courtesy of Calico Corners.


Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Six Steps To Organizing Photos

My first downsizing project was my parent’s home.  They had lots of stuff, including old photos.  Today’s START To Downsize article is a Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Six Steps To Organizing Photos.

I remember exactly where my parents always kept their family photo album: on the top of the cedar chest in a main-floor bedroom turned music room/sewing room.

I have that photo album now and I have to say that I rarely look at it, probably because outside of pictures of my immediate family, aunts, uncles and cousins, I don’t know who the people are in the rest of the pictures.  There are no notations on any of the pictures;  I’m sure my folks thought they’d do it someday, but somehow someday never came.

Sound familiar?

If you’re facing stacks and stacks of pictures that you’ve meant to go through “someday”, but never have, decide today to set up a specific day as your “someday”. 

  1. Set aside a DAY without other obligations or duties to start going through your pictures.  This project will be a trip down memory lane, so prepare for it: put on some favorite music, have refreshments at hand, and have at it!  Keep it simple at first, with just two piles: Keep and Toss.  Toss everything that’s blurred, out-of-focus, or brings up bad memories (who needs that?!), keeping only the best.
  2. Sort into categories: Once you have your “keep” pile, decide on categories – by year or decade, by person, by event (birthday, school year, life event, etc.), or whatever category makes sense to you.
  3. Once sorted, consider scanning the original pictures onto a digital format.  Choose a local firm for the work or go online for national choices.  You might also think about keeping a copy of the scanned pictures on a flash drive, stored with your important personal papers or on a Picasa Web or Flickr account.  This will give you peace of mind in case a natural disaster strikes your home.
  4. Decide how you will store your pictures: album, box or digital, and equip yourself accordingly.
  5. Make notes, in some form, for each picture.  If writing on the picture’s back, use a pen specifically designed for the job; ordinary pens make impressions on pictures and non-archival inks can bleed through to the face of the picture.  If you plan on keeping your pictures in boxes, include a list with each box of pictures.  If storing pictures digitally, use the “Notes” section to jot your information.  Be sure to make a note of each person’s first and last name, for posterity. 
  6. Once sorted, scanned, noted and stored, take time frequently to LOOK at your pictures and SHARE them with family.


If yours is a family who gathers for regular reunions, set aside a morning or afternoon to do a mass photo organization session.  What a great way to connect, share memories and create new ones!

If you’re not able to get together as an extended family, use email, Facebook or other social media to upload pictures needing identification – you never know, someone may know someone who knows something…


Let this “Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Six Steps To Organizing Photos” motivate you to sort through family pictures and put them in order.  Your kids will thank you.  Your grandkids will thank you.  Your great-grandkids will thank you…

What other ideas have you used to organize your family photos?  Share them in Comments so we can all benefit!


Decorative Words – “H” Is For “Highboy”

I look forward to writing my Decorative Words articles and this week is no exception.  I began this part of my START To Downsize blog to educate my readers, helping them fine tune their design style so they can make informed choices when considering a furniture purchase.

We’re already on the eighth letter of the design alphabet; this week I’m talking about Decorative Words – “H” Is For “Highboy”.

According to the second edition of the Dictionary of Furniture:

“…a highboy is an eighteenth-century American furniture form; a piece of casegoods composed of a STAND, fitted with drawers, that supports a narrower and taller CHEST OF DRAWERS.”


I like the idea of using a highboy for a couple of reasons:

  • It offers a lot of storage in a small footprint, always important in a downsized home.
  • It has a little different silhouette than most other furniture styles.
  • It’s easy to vacuum underneath a highboy!


The picture, below, perfectly depicts a classic “flattop” highboy in every way:



Mahogany construction, Queen Anne-style legs, ball and claw feet, brass hardware — the works!






 Another common feature found on a highboy is seen below:

This traditional cherry Georgian highboy has a “bonnet top”.


But what if your taste isn’t formal or traditional?  No worries!

Exhibiting some modification of the classic design elements of a highboy, the piece, above, flaunts a curvy, serpentine front.  This highboy was probably originally stained mahogany,  but now is painted and distressed, taking it from uber-traditional to shabby chic.  Even the hardware has undergone a transformation – lovely!


The highboy, above, is modern, sleek and fitted with brushed nickel pulls – a perfect addition to a clean-lined bedroom.  It still says “highboy”, but in a hip, urban way.


The highboy, above, is faux bamboo from the Bali Hai collection by Henry Link.  Like the serpentine highboy, this has a painted finish. 

Highly sought after and collectible; very much a Hollywood Regency look!


It never ceases to amaze me at the difference a paint job makes!  Check out this highboy - it’s quite a stunner !

Bonnet top?  Check.


Queen Anne legs?  Check.

Ball and claw feet?  Check.



I’m convinced this highboy started life as traditional as they come, but somewhere along the line, someone had an epiphany and this Tiffany-blue jewel was the result!  It’s a showstopper, one-of-a-kind, spectacular.



I sincerely hope that today’s ‘Decorative Words – “H” Is For “Highboy”‘ will inspire you to consider using a highboy in your decor.  I’m seriously going to start looking for a highboy of my own to update with paint – I wonder what color I should use?  Hmmm…

Send me pictures of your great furniture transformations via Comments!


ps – All the highboys shown in today’s post can be found on Ebay.


Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The Final Five

As promised, today’s article covers the Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The Final Five, as a conclusion to yesterday’s post on the Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The First Five.

To recap, these pieces are all my favorites because they are multi-functional  and/or occupy a small footprint, thus saving space, a prudent path to follow when furnishing your new, downsized home.

Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

6.  Daybed with or without trundle -

Obviously, using a daybed in a bedroom saves floor space, and using a daybed with the trundle offers the same sleeping area as a king-size bed.

But, if you have a long, narrow living room which makes furniture layout difficult, you might want to think about using a daybed there.  Specifically, the style of daybed to consider for this situation should be on the order of a large bench, with arms on both sides, but without a back.

This means the daybed can be used as a bridge from one seating area to another, allowing guests to sit on either side and converse with those nearest them.  By keeping the daybed low and sleek, you will not interrupt the sightlines of the room.  The daybed will give you much more available seating and look very stylish!

The daybed, shown above, is the “Hollace” by Charles Ray Furniture, a to-the-trade-only showroom in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington, DC.


7.  Gateleg Table -

I just used the gateleg table as the topic for a Decorative Words article, but it’s such a useful piece of furniture, that it bears discussion here:

A gateleg table is a type of drop-leaf table with legs that swing out like a gate to support the leaves.

In addition to using a gateleg table as a dining, console or sofa table, consider using a gateleg table in bedrooms where you really don’t have room for nightstands.

Be sure to have the gateleg table as long, or a little longer, than the bed.  Place the table against the wall with the bed drawn up to the table.  The gateleg table will provide an ample surface for lamps, a clock, tissues, and nighttime reading material.

Hang a picture or other large object on the wall above the table and bed as a focal point and faux headboard.

8.  Sleeper Sofa

I’m combining sleeper sofas in with all other sleeper-type furniture pieces:  sleeper sectional, chair-and-a-half, chair, and ottoman.

Even though they are known for their upbiquitous uncomfortable metal-bar-in-the-middle-of-the-back sleep experience, sleeper furniture pieces do fill a valuable extra-bed void often found in smaller living spaces.

Newer sleeper furniture models, such as those made by American Leather, offer foam mattresses, and even a Tempurpedic mattress option, either of which will provide a very comfortable night’s sleep.

One of the cleverest sleeper offerings I’ve seen lately are the pull-out mattress models like those found in large ottomans, below.  What a great multi-function design!


9.  Sofa Table -

Sofa tables are closely related to gateleg tables, in regard to their flexibility of use.

Available in endless variety, sofa tables can be put to endless use, and one of my personal favorites is Ikea’s Malm occasional table, in white or orange, seen below:

I absolutly LOVE this sofa table, for the following reasons:

  • The price:  $79.99
  • It has casters!
  • Use it as the coolest buffet EVER!  Who wouldn’t want to graze along 73+” of delectable offerings?
  • Use it as a rolling nightstand over your full or queen-size bed – how chic!
  • Use it as an extra dining table - alternate seating from one side of the table to the other for easy conversation.
  • Use it as a desk – you’ll have plenty of space to spread out!


10.  Storage Ottoman -

You can find storage ottomans from small cubes to large trunk sizes, and everything in between.  Storage ottomans can be upholstered in everything from fabric to leather and faux leather to vinyls of all kinds or combinations thereof.  They offer a place to put up your feet, extra seating, as well as serving double duty as a coffee table.

Utilize as many different styles of storage ottomans as your budget allows:

  • Tuck a couple of storage cubes under your sofa table for more seating
  • Place a bench-style storage ottoman at the foot of your bed
  • Some makers of sectional sofas offer a storage ottoman within a sectional style, making it easy to incorporate into your design
  • Large storage ottomans designed to be used as coffee tables are available in round, square and rectangular styles.  Look for tops that are hinged, operate with an hydraulic mechanism, or are completely removable. 
  • Oftentimes, storage ottomans with removable tops reverse to reveal serving trays on the inside.  This really makes serving hors d’oeuvres appetizing!


Not only does ”Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The Final Five” complete today’s article, but yesterday’s as well - ”Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The First Five”.  Let these pieces help you make the most of every inch of your new, downsized space.

Do you have a particular room in which arranging your furniture is proving to be difficult?  Give me the details via Comments and we’ll work it out together!



Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The First Five


Today’s article, Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The First Five,  is all about furniture having multiple functions and/or occupying a small footprint, thereby saving valuable space,  all must-have features to help you make the most of your new, downsized space.

Because I consider all these pieces my favorites, I’ll show no favorite and will therefore list them alphabetically:

1.  Armoire -

Originally, armoires came into being to provide a place for storing clothing and extra bedding, as many older homes had limited or no closet space.  In recent years, armoires have been used to conceal televisions or provide a compact office space, easily hidden behind closed doors.

Since the advent of flat-screen TVs, as well as laptop and notebook computers, the armoire has largely fallen out of use.  As a result, they are widely available at garage sales and Craig’s List for a mere pittance.

Depending on your space and the size of the armoire, consider using one in your:

  • Front or back entry, to store coats, book bags, purses, briefcases, etc.  Many armoires also feature drawers, providing more covered storage opportunities.
  • Kitchen/breakfast area, to house placemats, napkins, and to serve as additional pantry space.  If there’s room available, consider retrofitting your armoire to house a countertop microwave, freeing up coveted kitchen workspace.  Keep the armoire’s doors open when using the microwave, for proper air circulation and heat dissipation.
  • Hallway to bedroom area, as a primary or secondary linen closet, for extra blankets, pillows, sheets, towels.
  • Child’s bedroom/playroom, for toy and game storage.
  • Sewing/craft room, for storage of all those little bits and pieces of everything necessary for sewing and crafting.
  • Anyone’s bedroom, simply because we all seem to appreciate more storage!


Use the armoire as is, or paint the inside, the outside, or both, in one color or in a combination of colors – the sky’s the limit!  Or maybe this is the perfect opportunity for you to use that chalkboard and/or magnetic paint you’ve been thinking about.  Or how about a little wallpaper?  You know, just as an accent.    Go ahead, just give it a try…  


2.  Baker’s Rack, Breakfront, Buffet -

Okay, I’ll admit I’ve got a three-fer going here, but all these pieces are related, design-wise.  More examples of each of these three specific pieces can be found in an earlier post.

All three offer great storage, so feel free to move them out of their usual dining room or kitchen location and use them elsewhere, such as:

  • Foyer
  • Home office
  • Family room
  • Living room


If they’re small enough, consider using them in the:

  • Laundry room
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom


Scout garage sales and Craig’s List for used pieces, focusing on their frame, construction and scale, ignoring their finish and/or hardware.  A coat of paint and new handles can transform something ugly into something phenomenal!


3.  Bench -

 Benches can be made from wood, iron, stone or upholstered in fabric, leather, faux leather or vinyl.

Use your bench:

  •  At the foot of the bed
  •  In the foyer or at your home’s back entry
  •  As part of a dining set (formal or informal, depending on your style)
  •  In lieu of a coffee table
  •  Stack two or more wooden benches and use them as a bookcase
  •  As a stand for a flat-screen TV


4.  Bookcases -

Begin to look at bookcases as more than just a place to house your books.

  • Bring bookcases into your dining room.  They’re generally narrow pieces of furniture and can occupy less floor space than other dining room storage pieces.  Fill them with a combination of books, artwork, and larger serving pieces, such as soup tureens, platters and bowls.  If shelf space allows, make use of covered storage such as baskets or bins, for linens, napkins, napkin rings, salt and peppers and other dining-room-related sundries.
  • If your bookcase has simple lines and is fairly narrow, think about flipping it on its side and using it under a window.  Use small brad nails to tack the shelves in place.  Fill the open spaces with decorative objects, baskets…and even books, if there’s still room.


5.  Counter-height dining sets -

I love the counter-height dining sets, also known as “gathering” sets.  Traditional dining chair seats are around 18″ high; gathering chair seats are around 24″ high.  That extra 6″ makes it very easy to simply slide onto the chair.  As the population continues to age, I predict we’ll see more and more counter-height dining sets on the market.

These gathering sets come in all shapes, styles, sizes, finishes and price points.  If you’re thinking of using one in your new, downsized space, start your research on the Internet, where you’ll find hundreds of options.  Take an afternoon to visit several furniture stores and try out as many counter-height dining sets as you can. 

Many kitchens today have counter-height islands with room for seating.  By using a couple of the counter-height seats from your new gathering set, you’ll eliminate the need to buy additional seating for your island.  You can always add them back in with the rest of the set’s seating when entertaining.


Okay, that’s it for today – stay tuned tomorrow for the “Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The Final Five”!   I KNOW you can’t wait, but you must.

Let “Top 10 Favorite START To Downsize Furniture Pieces – The First Five” inspire you to see where you could implement one or more of these items in your home.

I’m sure there must be other ways to use these pieces that I haven’t thought of.  I’d be so excited to hear your ideas, so please share them in Comments!







START To Downsize Book Review – “Encyclopedia of Garden Design & Structure – Ideas And Inspiration For Your Garden” by Derek Fell

As I wrote in Tuesday’s article, October is almost gone and so is the growing season here in Minnesota and other northern states.

Turn to this week’s START To Downsize Book Review“Encyclopedia of Garden Design & Structure – Ideas And Inspiration For Your Garden” by Derek Fell, for a compelling compendium of landscape and garden design to tide you over until next year’s planting season.

Published in 2005, this book teems with over 800 beautiful pictures of garden design and structures, from arbors and arches to waterfalls and woodland gardens.

The book’s author, Derek Fell, was born and schooled in England.  He’s written more than 100 garden books and calendars, and won more Garden Writers Association of America awards than anyone else.  He’s married and lives in Pennsylvania where he tends an award-winning garden at his historic Cedaridge Farm.

The book starts off with a discussion and pictures of “gardens of inspiration”, including those of Monet, Renoir and Cezanne, who all used their own gardens as the muse for their paintings.

And then the real fun begins.

The book has an extensive alphabetical listing of garden design and structures found the world over.  No stone has been left unturned; more than a hundred design categories are covered:

  • Speaking of stones, there’s a half a dozen pictures of boulders and story stones.  Boulders can be used as a monolith (a single stone) or in a grouping.  Story stones can be engraved with messages or used as memorials, and serve as a surprise element for the garden visitor to discover.
  • Benches of all styles, materials and colors are shown in situ, and quietly draw you in, until you can almost smell the flowers surrounding them.
  • Coastal gardens from around the world are shown in all their glory, along with a discussion of their specific needs and requirements.
  • Grass gardens, herb gardens, Japanese gardens, knot gardens, moss gardens, orchid gardens – I really had no idea some of these types of gardens existed, but they, and many more, are all covered here in detail.
  • Boardwalks, driveways, paths, pavers, and stepping stones are explored and illustrated breathtakingly.
  • Conservatories, orangeries, belvederes, lathe houses, and pavilions are all featured, with descriptions and their locations around the globe.


Some of what you’ll see in the book may be more than you’d ever consider tackling for your own garden, and that’s just fine.  Use what you see to transport, relax, refresh and inspire you today and in days to come.

Whether or not a love of gardening has been a part of your life, I know you’ll love the book covered in this week’s START To Downsize Book Review – “Encyclopedia of Garden Design & Structure – Ideas And Inspiration For Your Garden” by Derek Fell.

Make this volume a valued part of your START To Downsize library and start to dream…

Inspire me with your dream garden ideas in Comments.  We’ll get growing together!


Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Best Person To Call When You’re Ready To Sell Your Stuff!

As I was thinking about today’s START To Downsize article, “Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Best Person To Call When You’re Ready To Sell Your Stuff!”, I thought about auctions I’d attended growing up on the farm in West Central Minnesota.

Back then, when farmers retired and moved from the homestead to a place in town, it was referred to as “breaking up housekeeping”.  (Conversely, when you got married, it was called “setting up housekeeping”, but that’s another article for another day.)

I was probably too young to appreciate the flood of emotions the sellers felt as they saw their belongings brought out of their house and displayed on the lawn and on hayracks, picnic and card tables, ready for inspection by eager buyers.  No doubt there was some relief at the prospect of lightening their load, but it was probably a little wrenching as well, as they relived each memory evoked by this or that now-unneeded item as it was carried outside.

I understand more than many that downsizing is a necessary, even healthy part of life, but looking back, I can’t help but think that having to witness your bits and bobs being sold must have been a bittersweet experience.

Fast forward to today.  While live auctions are still conducted, an easier approach is to take advantage of an online auction, which can reach a much larger audience and you, the seller, don’t have to be there when it happens.  Win, win!

Michelle Williams is the auctioneer, personal property appraiser and owner of M.A. Williams Auctions & Appraisals,  (612) 819-7859.  A graduate of Continental Auctioneers School, Mankato, MN, she earned her Auctioneer’s License and became a Certified Personal Property Appraiser.  She is a member of the Minnesota Auctioneers Association and has more than twenty years of successful sales and marketing experience.

I met Michelle at the recent Divorcing Divas conference, where we both had tables marketing our businesses.  She is a very engaging, friendly person, easy to talk to.

She’s the best person to call when you’re ready to sell your stuff!

Michelle will come to your home, go through your stuff and help you identify what to sell, what to donate and what to toss.  She’ll make the process of getting your items to auction as straightforward as possible.  If you need items appraised, Michelle can do the job and supply you with a document that will stand up in court.

She’s capable of selling whatever stuff you have, from soup to nuts and everything in between, including, but certainly not limited to, your house and car(s)!

When you want to downsize with less stress, let Michelle Williams, of M.A. Williams Auctions & Appraisals, be your answer to today’s “Downsizing Tip For Seniors – Best Person To Call When You’re Ready To Sell Your Stuff!”


Decorative Words – “G” Is For “Gateleg”

As I was making my way through the design alphabet for this week’s Decorative Words article, I came across an interesting and, in my opinion, underutilitzed piece of casegoods furniture.

Today’s START To Downsize post is

Decorative Words – “G” Is For “Gateleg”.

According to Furniture Quests’s Furniture & Interior Design Glossary Terms:

“A gateleg table is a style of drop-leaf table with leaves that are supported by extra legs that swing out like gates.  Developed during the Jacobean period.”

While many people may not give gateleg tables a second thought, they are in my top 10 favorite furnishings list, because of their versatility and small floorspace footprint.

Consider the following examples of gateleg tables:

The style of this gateleg table is called an “Irish wake” table.  Originally, an Irish wake table was designed to support a coffin, due to the widely-held Celtic belief that a dead body had to be watched to prevent its removal by evil spirits.  Thankfully, this macabre custom has gone out of fashion and is no longer in practice.

Fully extended for use as a dining table, this table’s width is 90″ and the depth is 60″, easily accomodating 8-10 people.  With both leaves down, it shrinks to a mere 22″ in width, enabling it to serve as a console or sofa table.


Although technically designed for a child’s use, this charming, petite gateleg table can be used as a side table, nightstand or to display dolls or teddy bears.  The table is 17.5″ tall.  Fully extended, it is 16″ in diameter and when folded, it measures just 9.5″.


This Edwardian hexagonal table would be perfect holding a lamp next to a side chair or sofa.  If space is limited, draw the gatelegs in until the desired width is attained.  Practical and pretty!


I LOVE this X-base counter-height modern gateleg breakfast table!  It can be used fully extended, measuring 32″ wide by 48″ long, or with one leaf down, reducing the width to a slender 16″.  Store 2-4 stools under the tabletop to maximize every square inch of space.


Gateleg tables have gone outdoors!

Check out this great eucalyptus gateleg table and chairs – when all six chairs are stored, the entire thing takes up less than 9 square feet of patio space!  The tabletop leaves fold down and the folding chairs stack neatly between the table legs.  The weatherproof set is made from Brazilian eucalyptus, which is 30% harder than mahogany.  The natural oils and tight grain of eucalyptus prevent damage from rain, mold and termites.  Left untreated, it will weather to a silvery patina; oiling the wood will retain the original appearance.  Fully extended, the table is 67″ long and 40.5″ wide; with the leaves folded, the width is reduced to 20″.

All the gateleg tables shown above can be found on Ebay.


The vintage gateleg table, below, is available through Etsy:

Here are the table’s bona fides, according to the Etsy seller:

“From Heywood Wakefield’s streamlined years (1930s and 1940s) comes this rare, highly collectible, apartment-sized HW gateleg table.  This gem is re-finished in the correct wheat stain.  The top measures 36″ by 60″ with both leaves open, making it quite useful; with one leaf up, it is 36″ square; with both leaves down, the table measures 36″ by 13-3/4″.  The height is 29″.  It fits nicely and looks great against any wall.  All well-made Americana is becoming scarce; own a piece of it while you still can.”

No matter your furniture style, the perfect gateleg table is available.  Whether new, used, vintage or antique, a gateleg table can be a wonderful addition to your new, downsized home.


Take a moment to consider how you could best utilize the information found in ‘Decorative Words – “G” Is For “Gateleg”‘ as you live your START To Downsize life.

Perhaps you have a gateleg table you can no longer use – let me know via Comments and I’ll do my best to find it a good home!


Downsizing Tips & Design Trends – Outdoor Autumnal Accents

It’s nearing the end of October and the end of the growing season in Minnesota and parts north.  But there are plants that like cooler temps and they’re all part of today’s START To Downsize article -

Downsizing Tips & Design Trends -

Outdoor Autumnal Accents

A staple START To Downsize tip is to “use what you have”.  That will free up your budget to purchase only what you need.

The design trends featured in today’s post are “nature’s essentials” and “retro/vintage”.  “Nature’s essentials” include unfinished or weathered wood pieces and “retro/vintage” includes old, repurposed, recycled or reused items.

All the pictures you’ll see are from Bachman’s Fall 2011 Ideas House.  Bachman’s is a well-known Minneapolis/St. Paul area garden store, with a VERY talented staff and LOTS of ideas!

This is a close-up of the cool weather plants featured in the window box.  Decorative kale, mums, pansies and grasses, all intertwined with grapevine, make the oversized window box a focal point for the front of the house.


Carry the plant theme through to containers – switch up varieties for a related, but individual look.  Include organic elements, such as twigs and birch branches to add height to your containers.


Use weathered lawn furniture as ornamentation in your landscape.  The simple lines of this chair and footstool would be transformed into a graceful sculpture later in the season, covered with snow.


Use this life-like scarecrow with wide open arms as a greeter at your fall parties or to welcome the trick-or-treaters on Halloween!  He’s “planted” in a rag-wrapped washtub filled with different varieties of decorative kale.  About the only things you’d have to buy for this giant decoration are the kale and some straw for stuffing – just use what you already have to put together your perfect scarecrow!


I LOVE these planters!  The bases are vintage Singer sewing machines, which have been topped with planter boxes.  By taking advantage of the entire side of the garage, there’s ample space for multiple planters.  Balance and color are added to the vignette when pumpkins are used to anchor each planter.


Old columns are topped with a framework wrapped in more grapevine to make a kind of pergola.  Raised beds, which grew vegetables in the summer, are now brimming with more autumn-inspired plants.


A close-up of a bed reveals iron “corn stalks”, filled with Indian corn.  Delightful.

They provide the visual height needed to bring the viewer’s eye up to…


…this wall-mounted metal planter, hung on the end wall of the garage.  Located just above the raised beds, it takes advantage of the perfect opportunity to bring some much-needed color on to the beige garage wall. 

When adding outdoor decor, such as this planter, be aware of scale and err on the side of too large, rather than too small.  This planter encompasses about a 5′ X 5′ space, perfect for this 16′ long garage wall.


Don’t miss this eye-catching vignette on the back wall of a small shed across the yard from the garage.  A rustic display has been arranged to provide balance to the yard and to bring in another splash of seasonal color, applied with a touch of whimsy:

A super-sized broom has been made and mounted to the shed wall.  Beneath the broom is a repurposed chicken coop, filled with gourds, kale and mums, all nestled on a straw bed.  More straw is strewn in front of the coop, and bales of straw provide perches for large mums tucked into bushel baskets.

Take a moment to notice how the display takes up the entire shed wall, which acts like a canvas for the artful vignette.


Doesn’t today’s START To Downsize post, “Downsizing Tips & Design Trends – Outdoor Autumnal Accents” put you in a colorful frame of mind?  Even if your space is small, borrow from one of these inspirations to create your own work of autumnal art.

Email me pictures of your one-of-a-kind fall interpretations!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


START To Downsize Top 10 Favorite Fabrics

As you START To Downsize, you may realize you need to add window treatments and/or upholstered furnishings to your new, downsized home.

Fabrics can be found at retail and outlet fabric stores, as well as online and at design centers.  If you choose to shop at a design center, you will need to work with a designer.  If you don’t already have a designer, most every design center has a “designer of the day” program to help you.

While I like each individual pattern shown below, I’m not necessarily advocating the patterns as much as I’m illustrating my favorite types  of fabrics.

Here are my START To Downsize Top 10 Favorite Fabrics:

1.  Drapery-weight cotton -

This black and cream ikat check would be perfect for Roman shades, Euro square pillows or a tailored bedskirt.  To give window treatments and bedskirts a polished look, lining them is a must.

2.  Upholstery-weight cotton -

This small-scale repetitive pattern would be perfect on a club chair with a matching ottoman.  It would also be suitable for dining chairs, a chaise lounge and other types of seating.

3.  Silk -

Silk makes THE MOST beautiful window treatments, but they MUST be lined AND interlined to achieve the best finished product.  This silk fabric, in a whimsical check with chenille dots, would make stunning grommeted drapery panels in a master BR.  Silk also makes beautiful bedding and pillows.  Because silk fades easily, care should be taken to keep silk away from full-sun exposure.  Silk used for upholstery should have a knit backing added to it for extra strength at seams and points of wear.

4.  Indoor/Outdoor -

Indoor/outdoor fabrics are for furnishings in rooms with bright sunlight.  Contrary to popular thought, indoor/outdoor fabric is not necessarily more durable than other fabrics.  Rather, it is designed to withstand a certain number of UV rays without fading.  The best indoor/outdoor fabrics are made from 100% spun acrylic, which naturally resists fading.  Next best I/O fabrics are those made from 100% spun polyester, and lastly, from spun olefin.  There are I/O sheer fabrics available on the market; the best indoor/outdoor sheers are made from acrylic fibers.

5.  Sheers -

The fabrics in this category are designed for interior use only, unlike  indoor/outdoor sheers.  Sheer polyesters for indoor use are designed to provide diffused light.  There are literally thousands of patterns and colors of sheer fabrics available.  The best sheer fabrics come in 118″ widths for seamless applications.

6.  Upholstery-weight polyester and poly blends -

Polyester and poly-blend fabrics provide strong, durable wear for upholstered pieces.  Wear is measured in “double rubs”, the number of times abrasion occurs when a person sits down and gets up from an upholstered piece of furniture.  Look for double rubs greater than 50,000 for family-room sofas, sectionals and other heavy-use furnishings.  The fabric, above, is a poly blend with 201,000 double rubs.

7.  Crypton -

According to Crypton’s website:

“…it (Crypton) is an engineered textile made with specific fiber and construction requirements that deliver consistent performance.  The fibers are permanently transformed with stain and microbial protection before they receive an integrated (non-laminated) moisture barrier.”

The reality is that this is a fabric that WILL NOT and CAN NOT absorb or be stained by ANYTHING.  Period.  Originally created for use in the hospitality and healthcare industries, recent Crypton fabrics have a better feel (‘hand”), colors and patterns.  Perfect for heavy-use residential seating such as barstools, dinette seats, banquettes, children’s furniture, and the like.

8.  Wool -

Imagine this classic wool windowpane check on a sleek, modern wingback chair – a perfect combination of old and new.  Wool is extremely durable, as well as being made from a renewable resource – very green!

This crewel fabric has wool yarn embroidered on a cotton ground fabric, so technically it’s not entirely wool.  However, I wanted to show this fabric as a good choice for upholstery AND drapery.  This particular pattern would make very dramatic draperies or a striking  traditional wingback chair.

The beauty of this sheer wool is lost in this picture.  Trust me when I say that it is as soft, light, supple and pliant as can be imagined.  Its sheerness still leaves enough opacity for privacy while allowing filtered daylight to enter a room.  It would be the ultimate under-treatment for sumptuous silk draperies.  Breathtaking.

9.  Velvet -

Velvets come in all kinds of fabrications:

This solid velvet is 100% linen.

The cut velvet, below, is 100% viscose, which is a form of wood cellulose acetate, similar to rayon.


Silk velvets are stunning and so are their prices; cotton velvets have a slightly less luxurious feel and look than silk velvets.

This velvet is cotton, not silk, which is evident by its matte finish.  However, because it is a high-quality cotton velvet, it has a dense pile, which translates to a highly durable fabric, with 100,000 double rubs.

Polyester and poly-blend velvets are generally less expensive than their natural-fiber counterparts and do not have the same ‘look’.  The difference between the polyester velvet, below, and the cotton velvet, above, is obvious to the eye.  Polyester and poly-blend velvets are favored for their durability and many current velvets have a “non-crush” feature.

The polyester velvet, above, has durability of 150,000 double rubs.

10.  Vinyl/Faux leather –

Vinyls and faux leathers have undergone a great transformation in recent years.  They are available in everything from…

…orange patent vinyl to…

…wine-colored basket weave vinyl to…

…faux ostrich vinyl, with more new patterns being added every season.

All these vinyls and faux leathers are perfect for bar stools, benches, ottomans, cornices, headboards, banquette seats, and more.  How you choose to use them is only limited by your imagination!

These START To Downize Top 10 Favorite Fabrics will deliver beautiful results when applied to window treatments and upholstery.

If you’re excited about using one or more of these fabrics, but are unsure how to proceed, send a message to me in Comments.  Together, we’ll sew things up to your satisfaction!


P.S.   The fabrics shown in this article are to-the-trade-only from Duralee, Highland Court, Fabricut and Stroheim.