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Design and Style

Need a pick-me-up? Before you reach for another cup of coffee, read on as our gardening guru explains how to naturally energize through an energy garden.

A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There's always room to garden!
A colorful garden tucked into a balcony. There’s always room to garden! Pink blooms are never dull and the bright colors of the Croton plant adds a bit of energy along with colorful containers and a throw pillow.


We’ve all been there: in a job we find mind-numbing, in a rut with our day-to-day routine or just feeling beige. We need to shake things up, add some creativity and energy into our lives. When this is the case, the last thing you want is a garden of tranquility.

So what about an energy garden?
You are already on the right foot with a garden, no matter how small. Scientific research has been showing that playing in the soil may release antidepressant microbes. Apparently we breath in and even absorb through our skin microbes that may have a similar effect as anti-depressants. I can tell you that any form of physical activity is good for you. We all know that and that’s why every corner in town has a yoga or pilates studio. So what happens when you couple happy soil microbes and the endorphins of exercise in the garden- you start to turn that feeling of beige to pink.

Lightly run your hands over lavender, sage, spring hyacinth or a summer lilacs. Scents can relax and invigorate us. Seriously anything that that doesn’t smell like a cubicle is a welcome change.

First assignment: Slowly stroll through your garden center or local plant shop and smell the plants. Do they have a sweet, earthy or musky aroma? Which ones make you perk up and have your shoulders lift as you inhale once more, deeply?

There’s a reason why fast food places are red and yellow- those colors energize us,  encouraging us to eat faster and turn those tables over. So what if we took this same theory, sans the grease, and applied it to our gardens?  

Croton plants are great for pops of color
A Croton plant adds a lot of color in a small garden.

Start with primary colors red and blue and sprinkle in yellow and orange and maybe deep purple for good measure. Since we are skirting winter, look for plants with these colors in their foliage. If you are still installing perennials in your garden, pick three of these colors, use them en masse and sprinkle in the remaining colors. We want large bands of colors, to pull you in and engage you. If the garden is one of each color dropped in here and there it may give the appearance of chaos and feel discombobulated. Start bold and big and then accent with colors.

Rules, There are No Rules
But you just said… yes I know. When I share rules it’s to let you know about good design principles. Once you work with these and and understand them, then you can manipulate them to fit your personal style.

Accessorize Your Garden
If your garden is tight on space, or is a collection of tables on a balcony, how do you add the colors that help you feel energized and inspired? You use colorfully glazed planting containers, hand-blown glass ornaments and pillows and rugs drenched in colors that make you feel great.

Next time we talk- succulents for indoors!



Football season is almost here! That means your home might be hosting a game party or two (or 10), so our design experts offer four helpful tips to get you ready.


Ready or not, football season is coming! Soon you’ll be kicking up your feet and asking friends to, “please pass the nachos.”

Before you invite friends and family over to watch the Bengals season opener, is your house ready?

Inviting guests to watch the big game means you need plenty of comfortable seating and snacks. After all, what great football party is complete without finger foods?

Use these tips to kick off the upcoming football season with style.

Have An Unobstructed View of the TV

This is key. The game on TV is the reason friends and family gather to cheer on their teams and yell at the refs. If your TV is too low, the view could be hidden when someone walks in front to refill their nachos. Not cool.

Consider raising your TV for football season or mounting your flat screen on a wall. Everyone will be able to see and important plays won’t be missed.

You also don’t want the TV set too high—this can cause discomfort when viewing and also create distortions in the screen image.

To ensure the proper height use this simple measurement: the view should be slightly above eye level from the viewing location. So if most people are viewing the game from the couch or recliners, the TV should be mounted about 42” above the ground or slightly above.

As for how far to sit from the TV—the best views, measure the screen size (diagonally) and set your couches back about 1.5 and 2.5 times the size of the screen. That means, ff you have a 60” TV, you should watch Andy Dalton’s TD throws from about 7 to 12 feet away.

Comfortable Furniture Is A Necessity

When people hang out to watch the game, you want them to relax and be as comfortable as possible (unless they’re cheering for the opposing team. In which case, every man or woman for themselves!).

Now may be the perfect time to upgrade your living room furniture to offer comfortable seating just in time for football season.

If you want to really get into games, you could have something more like a private suite. You could hire a room renovation contractor to create a replica owner’s suite from Paul Brown Stadium!

Plan Your Football Snacks

There’s nothing like good ‘ol American football food.

Don’t forget to plan easy (or extravagant) football foods in advance so you have a range of both tempting and healthy snacks to feed a crowd.

Include lots of protein and cheeses because what football party is complete without cheese dip?

Oh yeah, don’t forget the Skyline Chili—here’s a great replica recipe to serve at halftime.

Offer Plenty of Seating

Your living room should have enough seating for your guests so no one is left sitting on the floor.

Add a new Stressless recliner or Stressless sofa to offer comfortable, ergonomic seating for your guests.

The only problem is, they may never leave.

With some advanced planning and quick thinking, you and your home will be ready to host all sorts of Cincy football parties this season.

If you are interested in the Ekornes furniture options we mentioned above, please visit our online showroom and choose from comfortable Stressless recliners and sofas.

Watching football has never been so comfortable!

Editor’s Note: This is a special advertising supplement.

Kurtzman Plastic Surgery now offers Oxygen Infusion Facials to revitalize your skin.

Summertime fun in the sun can leave your skin dry and dull by fall. That’s why Kurtzman Plastic Surgery is now offering Oxygen Infusion Facials to rehydrate and revitalize all skins types.


“The main concept of the facial is the oxygen infusion,” says Angela Baechle, medical aesthetician at Kurtzman Plastic Surgery. “This is not a normal facial you are going to find in a day spa. You will only find it at medical spas because it is a medical-driven treatment where people will notice the difference right away.”


Baechle says the process for an oxygen infusion facial is simple: An aesthetician will apply pressurized oxygen along with a special mix of two serums. The serums contain atoxelene, which is a topical botox and relaxes the muscles temporarily and fills in the lines and wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid, which contains several vitamins crucial for skin hydration.


The facial includes six treatments for the skin, performed once a week for six weeks. “You will see a visible difference in your skin for about seven to 10 days after the treatment,” explains Baechle, “with your skin looking the best two to three days after because this is when the serums are penetrating your derma layer.”


At Kurtzman Plastic Surgery, Baechle says, they like to treat half of a patient’s face first so that they can see the difference between the treated and untreated sides. “They should notice a subtle lift in the side we treated. It’s pretty dramatic comparing the two sides,” she adds.


This facial is also known as the “Celebrity Facial,” as many celebrities – such as Madonna – endorse it. Just because it’s popular with the stars, though, it doesn’t mean that you have to be one to afford it. Baechle says the service runs $175 at Kurtzman Plastic Surgery.


Kurtzman Plastic Surgery offers a variety of procedures.

“We also have some customers who will pair the facial with dermaplaning, which is where we use a tool that takes off dead layers of skin,” says Baechle. The dermaplane is an additional $25 when paired with the facial.


According to Baechle, other treatments that are good for your skin at this time of year are their SkinMedica Vitalize Peels. “They are wonderful for sun damage, treating brown spots, fine lines, and wrinkles,” adds Baechle. “It’s a larger blend of acids that will peel for five to seven days, but the results are amazing.”


To learn more about Kurtzman Plastic Surgery and their treatments, visit their website at




Matt and Anne Schneider, Co-Founders of Bluegrass for Babies, Inc.

Bluegrass for Babies is launching new interactive programs, such as their Healthy Home Workshops, to help parents create the optimal environment for raising healthy children.


Co-founders Anne Schneider and her husband Matt launched Bluegrass for Babies, Inc. to give back to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center after their son, Nicholas, needed life-saving surgery at the hospital when is was less than two days old. After the hospital gave their son world-class emergency care, they searched for a way to show their gratitude, and Bluegrass for Babies was their answer. “We are incredibly grateful to Cincinnati Children’s for not only saving his life, but providing our whole family with excellent care,” says Anne.


Today, Bluegrass for Babies’ events and educational programs support The Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, which provides comprehensive care for infants before, during and after delivery.


Bluegrass for Babies offers many diverse workshops and events, such as their popular Healthy Home Workshops. “Content for the programs is inspired through our partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and through other leading national research,” explains Anne.


The Healthy Home Workshops were inspired through the Schneider’s journey of discovering that the environments of parents and young children are incredibly important to establishing the foundation for a healthy life. The Healthy Home Workshops for Kids provide play-based, multi-sensory activities that empower children and families to improve their health through gardening, nutrition, recycling and toxin awareness. The workshops are currently hosted at the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and are targeted to families of preschoolers and early elementary aged children. Examples of the activities include instructing children on how to plant and tend to their own pizza garden, measure and mix their own non-toxic cleaners, and dig through a worm compost bin.


They also recently hosted five Healthy Home Workshops specifically for parents at the Cincinnati Museum Center. “These workshops were possible through partnering with local experts such Greener Stock, Sheaology Organics USA, One Small Garden, Blooming Vitality Wellness, Liz McGavran Custom Interiors, and Flourish Landscape & Interior Design,” says Anne. The workshops included making non-toxic soaps and household cleaning products, making your own rain barrel, and a demonstration on growing your own organic baby food.


Individual workshop attendance varies depending on Cincinnati Museum Center attendance. In 2014, they have already hosted over 250 people at their various workshops. The Healthy Home Workshops for Kids are free with admission to the Duke Energy Children’s Museum. The price of the Healthy Home Workshops for Parents ranged from free to $10.


“Our Healthy Home Workshops focus on practical, hands on activities to help families create optimal environments to raise healthy children, right from the start,” Anne explains. “The content is based on the incredibly relevant and expanding field of children’s environmental health. We are unique because there is a current gap in health education at all ages regarding how to create a healthy home environment.”


Their educational outreach goal is to expand their reach through partnering with health care providers and educators to provide impactful educational tools centered around practical ways one can impact their own health and the health of their family through creating a healthy home environment. Additionally, their fundraising efforts have recently been focused to help propel the advancement of children’s environmental health research and its impact through their partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Anne suggests that those interested in learning more should “like” Bluegrass for Babies on Facebook to stay on top of their upcoming news and events.




Decorating tips for spring.


For as long as I can remember I have loved the beginning of spring. I lived in the east coast growing up and we really were ready for the little signs of warmer weather.


As an adult I lived for 16 years in charming Glendale, Ohio were the entire garden club community will get together and make the village a more beautiful place with fresh mulch surrounding their blooming bulbs and freshly planted pansies.


This spring my design firm celebrates 12 years in business and I am so excited to watch the new season start and share fun easy ideas to make memorable spring


12 spring decorating tips: • Purchase inexpensive round basket material chargers to place on your dining table under your dishes, use white plates and then add colorful different spring colored napkins on each plate. Tie the napkins with raffia or ribbon for finishing touch
• Create a centerpiece using green moss and colorful dishes. Place on long serving platter or tray add a ceramic bunny or spring blooms
• Remove heavy comforters and dress your beds with cream or white coverlets add fun colorful pillows the give a pop of color
• Consider reupholstering dining chairs with floral spring pattern, remove cushion from chair place on fabric (usually ½ yard to cover one dining chair) staple over old fabric, reattach to dining chair
• Look at your family photos throughout your home, do you have outdated photos or winter photos, change to spring and summer photos
• Give yourself the gift of fresh flowers, the aroma is as wonderful as the color
• Change out the throw pillows on your family room furniture, out with the dark in with lighter brighter fabrics
• Dress your front door with a new welcome mat, wash the light fixture, add a pot of pansies and a fresh coat of paint on the door
• De clutter your laundry area, purchase glass jars with lids for the necessities in the room, store away or throw away anything that you haven’t used or don’t need going into spring


I hope you are feeling inspired to do some lighting and brightening in your home for the spring, if you are like many you have a hard time getting started, the best advice I can give to you is to plan a date to have some friends or family over. Giving yourself a deadline is always the best motivator to get things organized, redesigned and freshened up. Happy Decorating

Five seasonalizing tips from Diane Agricola.

Five Seasonalizing Tips


A new season is an indicator to give your home and your decorating style a bit of TLC. Treat your eyes to some quick changes that give your home a “space-lift” without breaking the bank.


Here are five design ideas to inspire you


Branch Out
Nothing says spring more than budding branches and tiny flowers. Take a walk in your yard and cut branches12-36″ long from trees that are showing buds. Cut the bottom of the branch with a few upright slits to maximize their ability to take in water. Give the branches a good soak and then place in a vase and allow them to slowly unfurl their beautiful blossoms. Depending on the time of year, branches will take 1-3 weeks to completely open up but the entire process and sculptural beauty of the branches will be visually pleasing while you wait for the blooms.


Change your Area Rugs
Allow your home a chance to exchange a winter carpet for a lighter textural area rug. Whether it is sisal or a patterned textural carpet, add freshness with a new foundation for your space. Simply roll up the out of season carpet and store it, or take the opportunity to have it professionally cleaned. Sorry to tell you, but winter will be here again.


Drapery Panels
Fabric floating in the breeze is a sure sign spring has arrived. One of the first really nice days in spring will allow everyone to open up windows and air out their homes. One easy and eye pleasing idea to consider is changing out heavy winter panels to lightweight fabrics like sheers, linen or soft cotton. This is a look that certainly says “spring has sprung.”


Add Color in Unexpected Places
One area of our homes that gets neglected on space-lift is bookcases and shelves, consider covering your books with color coordinated papers for a fresh look. Place in color blocks which simply means grouping all the same colors together.


New Generation Wallpaper
Wallpaper can add instant pizzazz to a space or use it in small spaces, like the back of a book shelf for almost instant interest. Wall Decals are a great way to avoid pasting or mess. Decals stick on and off easily and are reusable, simply Google wall decals for a wealth of possibilities.


Decorate to beat the winter blues.

No, you’re not imagining it. Lots of people feel sad at this time of the year. For centuries, poets have described a sense of sadness, loss or lethargy with a direct link to the shortening of the days of fall and winter.


Some people even experience an exaggerated form of these symptoms; this is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.


For those of us with milder “Winter Blues” some treatment options could be…
• Outdoor light even when the sky is overcast
• Taking a one-hour daily walk outside
• Diet and exercise


To “Beat the Winter Blues with Decorating,” I recommend looking around your favorite rooms in your home and think cozy.
• Pull furniture into groupings, one could be for conversation the other for playing board games or scrap booking or even needlework.
• Place the seating group to take full advantage of a fireplace if you have one
• To help warm up your new grouping consider bringing a rug into your arrangement. An area rug can go on top of wall to wall for the effect.
• Use family mementos around to give your room a warm feeling.


Think Texture when cozying up your home for the winter
• Add throws and pillows made from chenille, chunky yarns or velvet o sofas and chairs
• Add area rugs to the kitchen work area for warmer appearance
• Pull in darker colors or heavier texture in the window coverings


Warm up your scenes:
• Gather pinecones and add cinnamon sticks to a bowl and use on coffee tables or entry tables, looks great smells better
• Spicy smells will also warm up your space, so go for the ginger and clove scents when selecting candles for your home
• Bring candles into your bedroom and baths, the scents and arrangements will calm and relax you
• Place small mirrors or pieces of frosted glass under candles to increase the “Wattage” and to remind you of winter snow and how it sparkles


Embrace winter white:
• Bring the outdoors in by adding touches of white birch logs or branches
• Use the soft whites, pinks and grays of seashells. Mix them with white candles and greens
• Change colored lamp shades to white to allow more light into your spaces


The winter can seem so long to many of us, but when you start focusing attention to the details in your homes décor, time will fly by. Enjoy your home and create memorable moments with friends and family as they cozy up in your home.



 Before and after of a living room space, designed by Agricola Redesign

Have you ever noticed when you walk into a room, it is the creative touches that it memorable? Your core pieces of furniture may establish the functionality of a space, but it is the creativity that makes each room a one of a kind space. In fact, one of my favorite phrases is, “I never would have thought of that.” Sometimes the most difficult aspect of creating a beautiful room is finding the inspiration for just those elements. Here are three creative ideas guaranteed to make your room a one of a kind space.


1. Incorporate your past – Accent your rooms with elements that have a story. A vase from Grandma, a table you bought when first married, or art created by your children you took the time to frame will all fit the bill.


2. Handmade anything – Even if you are missing the crafty or sewing gene, find inspiration at sites like Pinterest, Houzz, or Etsy. Make it yourself or have a talented artist create it for you.


3. Shake it up – Rearrange your furniture, accessories or event the purpose of the space to create a room composition that feels unique and interesting.


Looking for more ideas, give a professional designer a call to help you create the home you deserve. A beautiful home isn’t necessarily abut spending lots of money; it is about incorporating creativity, color, and personality into a home. Professional designers are masters at doing exactly that and would love to help you. In the interim, enjoy design magazines to give you a bit of inspiration.


Above is an example of a before and after done by me and my staff at Agricola Redesign.


Whether you want a home overhaul, to re-work what you have, or a mixture of the two, Erika Lee can help.


Lee runs a successful Cincinnati-based franchise of Decorating Den, which is the world’s largest home based interior design business since 1969.


“We are a full service decorating company. I offer spacial planning, room rearranging, field trips to the Design Center in Longworth Hall, paint color consultations, light staging, settling in services,” says Lee. “Also, I come to my client’s home, which avoids costly mistakes due to lighting, color and size. It also helps to bring down the overhead costs of doing business and I pass along that savings to my client.”


In particular, Lee says she loves helping her clients “twirl” a room. “Women love this,” Lee adds. “It’s basically re-thinking and rearranging a room based on the things already in it, or in another room, the basement or attic. It’s just an afternoon of fun and the client always loves the result.”


New IDD_Logo_Tag_BottomAccording to Lee, the majority of her product sales is generated by custom window treatments, from functional blinds and shades to the dressings that make windows beautiful. “In addition,” she adds, “I have access to over 200 companies for furniture, flooring, lighting, accessories, rugs, bedding, wall coverings and artwork.”


Lee’s consultation rate is $100 per hour, but there is an opportunity to apply that fee to a future purchase. “When my client chooses to purchase product through me the day of their consultation 100% of that rate is applied to their purchase,” she explains. “If they choose to buy something through me in the following 30 days, 50% is applied.”


To learn more or schedule a consultation, visit, call (513)304-9105 or watch the exclusive webcast with Lee and Cincy Chic publisher Amy Scalia below.


This is a special advertising supplement, paid for by Decorating Den with Erika Lee.


Color selection for your home can be overwhelming, more people are afraid of picking an interior paint color than they are about any other design choice.


My best advice for choosing color in your home is to find and inspiration. Find something that you love and let that guide you to the color palette of your spaces. Inspiration for each person can come in different ways. I will list a few ideas on how to find your inspiration.


• Vacation destinations you love are wonderful inspiration when we are thinking color for our homes. Are you a beach bum, do you love the color of sand and the cool blue waters? Or do you love the Arizona sunsets and the warm colors of the landscape of the west?


• Look for inspiration by taking yourself on a field trip. Visit local restaurants, commercial sites and other places where the color palette makes you happy. Make note of these hues.


• Create a Style File, this is what I have a lot of my clients do to learn about what style and colors appeal to them. Clip photos from old magazines of not just rooms but nature or even a really great outfit. When you have collected several photos of things you love look at the similarities of the photos and colors you keep picking over and over.


• Do you have a beautiful area rug or a piece of art or pottery in your home that you love? These pieces are great inspiration.


• Fabric stores are wonderful, I can waist an entire afternoon just looking and feeling all the different fabrics, look for the colors used in the fabric and find coordinating fabrics and make note of the colors you keep picking.


Once you have chosen your inspiration piece find a background color to use on your walls from your inspiration piece, then choice another color to use from your inspiration as an accent color, and then one more color to use a touch of in your space. Choosing three colors might seem overwhelming but remember color does not always mean paint color can be found in fabrics, artwork, or flooring. Find your inspiration and create beautiful rooms in your home.