Holiday parties can be formal or casual, planned or spontaneous; however, they should always be fun— especially at Halloween. Even kids can appreciate the effort it takes to set a “fun” table. This year, I’m sticking with traditional Halloween colors of orange black. If you follow any of my advice, you know you have to shop all year long for certain items like dishes in unusual colors. Snatch up orange-and-black dishes whenever you see them at Goodwill. Mismatched china is OK.
Goodwill Home Décor Expert - Merri Cvetan
I started my career as an interior designer when we finished remodeling our home that was built in the 1890s. I loved the space planning, choosing finishes and decorating every little inch. It was trial and error, and we made mistakes, but I learned a lot along the way. Along with being a learning process, working on our home was also a hands-on project. We did everything ourselves (actually, my husband Tom did all the building and heavy work, I did the fun stuff!). I’ve had the decorating bug ever since I was a little girl, but I wanted to know everything about design, so, as a result I returned to college (Mount Mary) for a second degree in Interior Design.
I’ve been collecting antiques and vintage furnishings forever. My favorite shopping places are flea markets, antique stores and of course, Goodwill. I love DIY projects and saving money by taking an object and re-purposing it into something beautiful and useful. I’m also an amateur photographer, love to travel and study French (J’adore tous ce qui est franҫais)!
Although I love to entertain, I’m not much of a cook. My party philosophy is "if the table looks fantastic, it doesn’t matter what you serve."
My weekly column for Amazing Goodwill and my design blog, Design Coach, are about all things design, living a stylish life and entertaining (like setting a great table). I share DIY projects, decorating and design tips, as well as ideas and secrets.
If you have a specific question for Merri, feel free to email her at email@example.com.
Watch Merri on Windy City Live! ... See more videos featuring Merri (and more) on our AmazingGoodwill YouTube channel!
Check out our 2016 Halloween Guide to learn how Home Décor Expert Merri pulls together the ghoulishly great costumes for our Halloween Billboards!
August is one of the busiest months of the year—at least from a mom’s perspective. Getting the kids outfitted in new clothes, making sure backpacks are filled with every pencil, notebook and folder requested and finding the latest sneaker. Add a son or daughter going off to college and it is an exhausting, not to mention expensive month!
Signage is important in lots of places—stores, airports, roads. Signs have also become very trendy at weddings. They welcome guests, point you in the right direction and tell you which table to sit at. Today, many brides not only like to be creative but DIY projects also can save you money. This project eliminates paper and printing costs. I made this welcome sign from three separate frames I found at Goodwill.
Back-to-School shopping starts earlier every summer. If you’re moving into a dormitory this fall, you need more than just new clothes and books. The thing with dorm rooms is they’re short on storage space and each has the same nondescript furniture. This custom folding table is one way to solve both of these issues. You not only get an additional work surface, but it doesn’t take up any space when folded—and you can add your own personality.
Back-to-school time is almost upon us. It seems that Moms and students shop earlier every year to pick up supplies and new clothes. Back packs and book bags are big purchases too. This year, instead of heading off to class with the same old, same old, try making your own.
Vacation photos are wonderful, but you probably can’t display them all. Instead, recreate your travel adventures on a map that you can admire every day.
Look for a map of the country or region of the world you’ve traveled to. You will want one large enough to be able to see all the cities, states or countries. This atlas is 20 years old, but the borders haven’t changed, so vintage maps are OK.
Everyone is a photographer these days. And why not? Cell phones make it so easy to snap shots anywhere we go and at any occasion. But, the problem with cell phone photos, and even pictures taken with a digital camera, is no one ever prints them! They stay on your phone, or maybe you’ll download them onto your computer and then they sit in a file for eternity.
I love the song in the Mary Poppins movie, Feed the Birds. The old woman sits on the steps of Saint Paul’s and sells birdseed for tuppence a bag. A tuppence is the sum of two pence, but I digress.
Even if you buy seed in 10 pound bags, why not serve it in decorative feeders? My philosophy of “it doesn’t matter what you serve for dinner, as long as the table setting looks pretty,” can even carry over into the garden.
A very popular trend in kitchen design is seating at the counter. Being able to have a snack, do homework and entertain friends while preparing a meal is a great convenience. When you’re working in the kitchen, you hate to be separated from everyone else. Having a bar or counter height eating surface requires seating but bar stools can be very expensive. Instead, try a simple DIY project and customize basic wood stools.
Mementoes of summer vacation. Some people buy souvenirs. Most of us take photos, but how many of you actually print out copies? I bet your best vacation moments are still on your phone or computer. Right? If you never get around to putting pictures in albums, make something to remember the trip. Like this seashell necklace. Every time you wear it, you’ll be reminded of how much fun you had at the beach.
I entertain a lot so the challenge is to come up with something new for every occasion—especially when the same groups of friends or family members come over. This year, I’m trying a new style of door decoration. (Can you call it a wreath even if it’s not round?) I was digging through a box of collected stuff and came across a really old, vintage tennis racket. It’s very small, so maybe for a child?