5 Ways to Curb Decor and Bric- a- Brac Buying

5 Ways to Curb Decor and Bric- a- Brac Buying

Have you seen homes that look too cluttered?  Not necessarily messy with junk or toys but too cluttered in terms of decor.  Houses that somewhat look like these..

Photo by: garancedore.fr

Photo by: garancedore.fr

I’ve walked into homes filled with too many tiny decor.  Crystal, plastic flowers, figurines and bowls of every shape and color.  While there is nothing wrong with decor in itself, learning about what pieces go with your home’s style and purpose will help you buy only what you need.  Accessories are meant to enhance not dominate a space so carefully selecting and then situating decor is the key.

Photo by: disfunctionaldesign.blogspot.de

Photo by: disfunctionaldesign.blogspot.de

“Decorating is like music. Harmony is what we constantly strive for. At home, we want a peaceful atmosphere where the objects are the notes and nothing is off-key.” says Charlotte Moss, a well known award winning interior designer.

When buying decor consider these tips.

1. Don’t buy decor smaller than your hand.  Pieces that are too small are hardly noticed. They hardly ever serve a purpose and the only time you should consider buying one is if it is a unique conversational piece.

2. Avoid collecting too much decor of the same kind unless you have a designated place to keep them.  Mugs, magnets, figurines.. they all tend to accumulate around the house. Before you know it your place looks too cluttered.

3. When buying something think of a specific place to put it.  If you can’t think of a particular spot, you don’t need it.

4. Before buying something consider its’ function and purpose. Jars, vases and bowl are often useless if you already have one or two good flower vases.  Too much of something is redundant.

5. Consider the theme of your house when buying decor.  This helps and you will have a good guideline.  If it is just pretty but doesn’t go with your Asian inspired house, then maybe you don’t need it.

6. Don’t be afraid to let go of old, unnecessary items.  Are you guilty of owning too much decor that it can now be called clutter? Donate, sell or discard.


As an interior stylist I know where to put decor and what usually works with a certain spot.  For those of you who have no clue about decorating these tips might help.

1. Book shelves can hold a lot of decor but they should be as big or even bigger than the largest books. One or two small pieces are acceptable but too many small ones will be clutter. This is a photo of a book case with too many small decor and redundant accessories like vases and bowls.

Photo by: beciorpin.com

Photo by: beciorpin.com

See how well situated each decor is in this book case below? Each piece of decor makes a statement and seems to have meaning. You don’t see the same kind of accessory three times and even the books were carefully arranged.

Photo by: dwellerswithoutdecorators.com

Photo by: dwellerswithoutdecorators.com

2. When styling a coffee table limit decor to only these: A stack of coffee table books.  A tray or decorative box to store things like remote controls and other small items. Something from nature like a plant or big vase of fresh flowers. A maximum of three accent decors like a figurine, jar, or conversation piece.

3. Console tables should be decorated with pieces in a variety of sizes.  Lamps, plants and candle holders are ideal because they instantly make a statement.

4. Night tables can be styled with accessories too but keep it to a minimum.  For more tips on how to style a night table, watch this video.

5. Work spaces are often filled with things that we buy impulsively.  I am guilty of this when I see something that inspires me and speaks to me but if I don’t be careful and think about where it will exactly go, I can end up with too much things on my desk.

It may not be easy and knowing how to buy the right decor for you home takes practice.

Do you have stuff you need to get rid of?  Are you guilty of purchasing home items on an impulse? What do you have too much of? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

How To Start The Year With A Home Purge

By Marilen Faustino-Montenegro of Marilen.ph

It usually takes a month for the New Year to sink in when you’re a busy working mom.  Wow! I checked the date today and can’t believe it’s February. It’s still the beginning of the year, though!

When it comes to keeping our home you’ll find that you are either of the following types:

1. The woman who goes by her day constantly organizing or re-arranging things around the home as she manages to do a million things at the same time. She makes a meal while answering emailing and clears the buffet table of clutter that has accumulated from the day before.

2. The woman who goes about her day unloading her papers, and belongings in different parts of the house while doing a million things at the same time. She comes home from work, removes her shoes as she enters the house, leaves her bag on the living room sofa and maybe picks up a pile of bills and mail leaving it on the kitchen counter before she makes a meal. She is never bothered by toys around the house or a stack of old DVDs piled around a surface in the living room.

No matter which type you fall under, I have come to conclude that it is not so much about the organizing but the need to simplify.  Of course there is a need for some to make life- changing habits and resolve to be a neater person but I’m not here to talk about that.

Photo from realsimple.com

Photo from realsimple.com

I’m here to hopefully encourage you all to live a more relaxed and blissful life by having a clutter-free and pretty home.  We can all try to hide the clutter but soon you will come to realize that you just don’t have enough space.  It’s not too late and because the first month of the year flew by, it only means we have another new month and that month is always the perfect time to begin your home purge.

Start by gathering 4 large bins or boxes and labeling each box: donate, trash, garage sale, organize.  As soon as you have these boxes labelled you are now ready to work through one area of your home at a time.  Before anything else read my tips on how to let go of things you don’t need here. Next, wear some comfortable clothes, put on some music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and maybe wear a dust mask. (You might want to do this when your husband is not around.. I mean, I am imaging how silly I must look sipping wine with a dust mask on.)

Next, go through one room at a time and give yourself lots of time to do your home purge. You can even consider doing one area a day and in no time you’ll be living a simple and blissful life by the end of the month! The key is to go through each area and sort your items into these 4 bins.

Here’s a list of the different areas you can take on which are parts of the house that usually need a good cleaning.

1. The master bedroom 

I like to start with this because I feel that once you are waking up to a neater and more organized room, you’ll be more motivated to clean the rest of the house.  Things to purge include: Your expired makeup, bottles of nail polish, lipsticks, that collection of DVDs, books, the stacks of paper in one corner, old clothes, shoes, magazines, bags, almost empty bottles of perfume and toiletries that are never used anymore and more importantly expired medicine! Countless stuff you can do away with! Don’t hesitate, it can only get better.

2. The kitchen and dining area

The kitchen — my favorite space to organize! Before you can actually get to organizing get ready to go through every part of your kitchen and part with a lot of things! Go through your refrigerator and pantry; discard anything expired.  Dig in deep into that freezer and discard any meat that has not been used in 3 months. Sniff through your spices; they change in smell and quality, too. Open that cabinet under the sink and go through your cleaning agents, I’m sure you’ll find some bottles you don’t use.  Go through your “collection” of Tupperware and get rid of anything tacky like those re-used ice cream tubs and bottles of mayonnaise with faded labels on them. Look for old cooking pans with broken handles and eroded surfaces.  (Fact: Did you know that Teflon is not a safe choice now a days?) Go through you plates and dishes, donate the ones that no longer belong to a set.  Get rid of those you hardly every use and part with those melamine ware that are no longer deemed safe for ones health.

3. The living room 

Chances are if things in the living room are not decorative and not organized inside a drawer or box, they are junk and you don’t need them.  Things to purge might include your excessive pile of magazines, DVDs and books, old newspapers, those encyclopedias on the book case and perhaps a collection of small figurines or jars.  Look out for things that you have too many of but are not pretty and simple. Remember when styling your home, less is always more.

4. The kids room

Toys, toys and more toys! If you have two little kids like me, you’ll know that the toys find themselves in every part of the house even if the kids are taught to pack away.  I make it a habit to constantly give away toys.  Clean that toy bin and throw away those lose little toys, cheap toys and anything broken.  Go through the children’s books as well and you are sure to find a couple of books your kids have outgrown. When was the last time you checked their clothes and cleaned their wardrobe out? Anything torn, faded, and small should be donated.

5. The garage and service area 

This is my least favorite place to clean out because it’s simply a man’s space.  If your husband or housekeeper doesn’t keep it clean then you should step in.  Look out for empty bottles of car maintenance fluid, broken tools, empty water and soda bottles, lose nuts, bolts, and screws, ugly cleaning brushes, lose clothes pins lying anywhere and everywhere. Organize these and label, giving clear instructions to house help on how to keep this area clean.

6. The home office 

There can be so much to trash in this space! Look for old receipts, old bills, a pile of magazines and newspaper, pieces of paper clips lying inside the drawers, broken or 1980’s old office supplies like tape dispensers, rusty staplers, etc.  While you’re at the office purge your email inbox, too! Keep only what will make your work life blissful and inspired. Go the extra mile and style this area with pretty things to lift your spirit.

I hope you all get motivated to simplify your life and do a home purge!

To get you in the groove of things I’d like to invite you all to join the home purge movement on Instagram by adding the hashtags #blissfulhomepurge and #inspiredhomelivinghomepurge  I believe that we could all use some motivation and encouragement from each other. Seeing each others posts is a great way to inspire you to make your home blissful. 

A New Kind of Christmas Tree

A New Kind of Christmas Tree

Hello dear readers! It is I, Marilen and as I write to you at the beginning of this holiday month, I can’t help but hold my breath for a second as I marvel at how fast Christmas in approaching.  This year is a bit more special to me as my sister and her family will be arriving from the United States a few days after Christmas.  I have not seen her in four years so the holidays will be sweet!

This year, we moved out of our spacious 3 bedroom condo where I had a huge living room. My husband and I decided to take the leap of faith and build a modest home.  While that is in the works, we are renting an ever so tiny but pretty town house.  So tiny it is that we literally have no space for a Christmas tree.  I thought and pondered, wrestled with the idea of not putting up a tree and making do with a Christmas parol;  I even thought of ways to hang my tree upside down from the chandelier that drops into the living room until I remembered seeing some unique Christmas tree ideas last year.  That is when I got excited, my creativity was awakened, and I was inspired to make Christmas happen in our tiny home.

With that lengthy introduction, I present to you our “different Christmas tree”.


Here is what you will need to make your own:

1. Note cards in uniformed shape and color.  (I just changed the logo of my own blog so my old note cards are pretty useless now.. perfect to use!)

2. Glue gun and 2 -3 transparent glue sticks (I love using glue gun as they easily clean off when you take your decor down.)

3. Masking tape

4. Different Christmas ornaments that are preferably light weight.

christmas 4

Steps to Making this Christmas Tree:

1. Draw an imaginary triangle in your head.

2. Tape each card with masking tape to the wall beginning from the top to the bottom developing a pattern so that it looks somewhat neat.

christmas 3

3. Start gluing your ornaments into the wall with glue gun.  Don’t glue them on the paper, they will fall.  Glue the ribbons of the ornaments behind the paper onto your wall.

4. I like to make some hang deliberately outside the tree.  My kids love the bells that are at the bottom, they always play with it.

5. A star like all Christmas trees would be ideal on the top.

6. When selecting your ornaments, have some kind of color theme in mind so that your work comes out pretty.


Here is another photo, and hope you get inspired to be creative.  It took me less than an hour to create this.

christmas 2

Budget Friendly Ways to Beautify Your Small Home

Budget Friendly Ways to Beautify Your Small Home

By Marilen Montenegro of Marilen.ph

Living a blissful and inspired life takes conscious effort.  You make it happen because you chose to simplify and be happy.  There are many factors but the environment you are often in contributes to your inner being and outlook in life.  This is why I believe that making your home neat, and beautiful is important.  It doesn’t mean you need to spend every penny and buy the most expensive furniture and house decor, all it takes is some creativity and the will to make things happen.

Here are three of my favorite home decorating tips to make you home beautiful while on a budget:

1. Decorate with flowers and plants!

Adding color and life to your home with nature energizes and invigorates the soul.  I like cut flowers fresh from the garden arranged in wine bottles or jam jars.  The flower markets have great selections, the first time I visited dangwa (a flower market here in Manila), I went crazy! There were so many to pick from at unbelievably low prices compared to the ones I am accustomed to seeing at the malls and stores.  You get to make you own arrangement and combine your own colors. They not only last for days, they smell great too!

Tip: I love the book Decorating With Flowers by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring. This book is not only filled with pretty pictures to inspire the soul, it teaches one to select, combine and arrange flowers for your home.  Their relaxed approach shows you how one can come up with creative and inexpensive arrangements without compromising style and aesthetics.

via theeffortchic.com

via theeffortlesschic.com

2. Create a photo and art wall using your children’s art work, some family photographs or free printables.

A photo wall with mismatched art and frames is the current trend.  It is not only more relaxed, it is a happier approach to a gallery wall.  The trick is to collect various things to frame such as your children’s paintings, photos, and prints. Think mixed- media going for illustrations, colors and some black and white. Use frames in different sizes, style and color. Once you’ve made your selection try to look for 2-3 most dominant colors and stick to it.  Working with certain color schemes make things visually pleasing. Build your gallery wall from the center bleeding out into the walls then tapering at the edges.  Brand stylist Erika Brechtel has this to say about a personalized gallery wall..

Tip: ” I say as long as you fill it with things you love, it really doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect the layout is. It should just make you happy every time you look at it!” — Erika Brechtel

3. Paint an accent wall for your home.

Bright happy colors in an easy to do happy pattern like stripe or chevron can make any room beautiful when placed at the right spot.  Painting yourself can be quite intimidating but there are a lot of do-it-yourself instructions on the web.  Paint is extremely affordable and all your really need is time.

This is a big problem for moms but I know a couple of friends who’ve made painting walls an activity with their kids! Things don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  How about allowing the kids to scribble or paint a border or pattern on the wall too? Take Angelina Jolie Pitt’s wedding gown as an example.  It wasn’t perfect but it was filled with love, immortalized and made beautiful.  Remodelaholic has a great tutorial here.

In my home styling workshops, I like to emphasize on the importance of keeping your home clutter-free.  You may have a lot of pretty things like an awesome wall or lots of potted plants and flowers but if the home is filled with unnecessary clutter then everything is useless.  I promise you a beautiful home contributes to a stress- free life , you don’t have to make big transformations at once, work on things one project at a time and you’ll be on your way to living a more inspired and blissful life!

What are you going to try with YOUR home after reading this article?

How to Manage Blogging, Babies and Business

How to Manage Blogging, Babies and Business

managing blogging with kids

By Marilen Faustino-Montenegro of Marilen.ph

As I look back at the seasons of my life — pre-motherhood — I can’t help but long for the luxury of time I had back then.  Things were so simple and I never had to share my time with anyone; no one depended on me.  A day consists of the gym, a modeling pictorial, a quick meal and even sometimes “killing time”.  I was up to date with the new television series and would shop for me and just me!  There were tiring days like those where I had a full day of taping for my tv shows, I would be physically drained.  Then came growing my interior design business..I’d have meetings with clients and even took on a 5 star resort project in Boracay.  I recall complaining about how hectic my life was, little did I know that it was all just practice.  Practice for the most rewarding job I had ever experienced.. being a Mom!  Everything now has a purpose and everything I get myself into MUST have a purpose!  I have two gorgeous toddlers who love to be snuggled, there are days when all they want is me, literally!

Family first

I’ve learned to plan and revolve my work life around my family, because as a woman, I believe our most important roles are wife and mother respectively.  Titus 2:4-5 which says “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self- controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands..” really convicts me and has guided me to establish my priorities.  I believe that aligning myself to the word of God and his teachings will yield the best for me and my kids.  It does not mean I can’t work, but I’ve chosen to take on things that will not compromise my priorities.

Today I am busier than ever, with little time left for myself, but I am learning balance.  I’ve learned to accept that I can not have the luxury of time but to make every moment count.  I take whatever little minutes of the day that I find for myself and make it blissful!  I chose to see the positive and the beauty in every free moment because that will make me happy.

Strength & spirit

So how do I juggle?  I believe in drawing my strength and spirit from the Bible.  I find that when I am not walking with God, my temper and patience run low and my kids get the brunt of it.  I can get lost in my everyday life and the busyness of it all then I just feel the longing and need for Spiritual strength.

After I get my affairs straight with my God, I can focus on work.

Honestly I wish I had a better system but as boring as it sounds, I take things one day at a time.  Planning is also very important to me, I have a simple color coded planner.  Red for work and clients, purple for the kids’ activities and house errands, blue for blogging and the things I need to do like my blog contributions.

I am also learning the need to write everything down.  Because I am handling so many different things at the same time, my mind can be cluttered and I tend to forget a lot of things.  I also take time to collect my thoughts and recap my lists at some point in each day.  I list down everything I need to follow up on, deadlines, meetings and other details.

Scheduling (an example)

  • Wake-up (approx. 8AM): I am snuggled and kissed by my son (who snuggles up with us each night, after waking up around 3AM).  I change him into house clothes and we go down and greet his sister who has been awake since 6:30.  I prepare his breakfast while a green smoothie is prepared for me.
  • After breakfast:  Regular to-dos, such as instructing the househelp on what to cook for lunch, sending the driver off to bank errands, etc.  I homeschool my kids around 10AM, which lasts about 45 minutes. They spend about 15-20 more minutes doing free play while I catch up with email, texts and social media on my iPhone. My husband wakes up around this time and he has coffee and breakfast while we have lunch.
  • Post-lunchtime onwards: The next half of the day is when I go and leave to visit my job sites, meet with staff and my clients or source materials for a project.  Having a driver helps because I do a lot of phone calls and coordinating while we are on the road.  I manage to sneak in some time for social media, too! I am gone for about 4- 5 hours during which my daughter is asleep and my son is playing or doing an activity which I plan for him. I also manage my work and meetings so that I can bring my children to their activities (e.g. an art class on Tuesday mornings, Play group/ homeschool group on Wednesdays, and a session at the play-gym on Thursdays, and so on).
  • Evenings: I eat dinner with the kids, bathe them, then spend time with them, which consists of reading, playing a board game or activity, reading the children’s Bible, eating a snack, brushing their teeth then turning the lights off for bed. I try to do this by 8:30PM, but of course they don’t sleep right away.  We pray, sing songs and they chat until they are ready to sleep.
  • Late evenings: Around 11PM to do my computer work like design mood boards, editing photos, and blogging.  I usually work until 1 AM!  My husband is at the office from afternoon until after midnight so we usually chat and catch up when he gets home. By this time I am ready for bed, exhausted but thankful and fulfilled!

God is good and his faithfulness and grace sustains me.  Welcome to my life as an interior stylist, blogger, wife and mom, haha! Did you pick up anything from my schedule?

How about you? How do you cope with your work and family? I’d love to hear about it!