I think our strength at How to Decorate and Stage brings to the table, is our ability to create easy to follow systems. For example, when I began teaching Interior Redesign 20 years ago, I spent a year analyzing spaces until I saw patterns emerge that resulted in a perfect room every time. Now let me show you our great Bookshelf Styling System-easy as V, X, Z.

1. First of all, determine the purpose of the shelves. Do they serve as a home library to showcase purely books, or is it a decorative and functional space composed of books and decorative elements. For our purpose, let’s talk about the latter. To start the process, just like redesigning a room, empty the shelves to work with a clean canvas. As you do so, sort so all the books are together, photos together, accessories together, etc.

2. Easy as A-B-C…well actually V-X-Z. Determine your anchor piece or pieces by placing largest items first. Create a V, X, or Z, either upright or inverted, with your anchor pieces and build from there. Your core anchor piece should be placed in the power zone area at about 54” from floor to center. The eye will be drawn here first.

Adjust shelf heights so you create an interesting composition. Create further interest by wallpapering or painting the back of your bookcase.  If you are unsure of something that permanent, cut foam core boards to size, then wrap or paint,  and pop in to create an interesting background. Make the foam core multi-purpose by making each side a different color or fabric to change with the seasons.


Watch for Part 2 for more ideas and insight.




Home Staging was once reserved for the luxury or high-end home…but those days are gone.  Today’s buyer expects to see a house looking and smelling its best.  Real estate magnate and Shark Tank favorite, Barbara Corcoran, says it best. I teach all around the country and everywhere I see the demand for staging on the rise.  If you are considering starting your own business or adding staging to your list of services, it is a great way to go.

My top 3 tips for starting a staging business are:

  1.  Realtors are not your only market.  Face it, they hear from people like you all the time.  All you need are a few active agents to jump start your business and then also work the FSBO market. For Sale by Owner (FSBO)  is a large market of people trying to maximize their profits by avoiding agent fees…but they desperately need the advice of someone like you.
  2. Position yourself as an Expert. Offer free presentations either in conjunction with a local agent or geared to the DIY FSBO market. Building credibility through presentations, social media and blogging can help potential clients believe in your value.
  3. Staging is not a one size fits all package.  Each price range and location will have different expectations. Spend time exploring comps so you know how high or low the bar should go based on location, price point and target market.




Color is fabulous…and terrifying! It is the foundation of every great space and also, the easiest place to make mistakes. Whether you are selecting a color for a client or your own home, you need to establish the parameters. Here is our quick 3 point approach to color selection.
1. Understand the job description of the color.
Are you trying to make the room look larger, smaller, cozy or sophisticated?  Do you want the colors to advance or recede? Are you selling or staying in the house…you need to establish the color’s job before you can create the perfect palette. Your color choices will change contingent on its purpose.

2. Know where you or your client prefers their color.
Do they like to be surrounded by it or prefer pops of color?  Do they prefer contrast or blending?  Do they like it in the Function, Power or Skyline Zone? Color is like hot fudge sauce on a sundae…do you want a lot or a little?

3. Establish Saturation not Hue Preference.
Hue doesn’t matter, it is the version of a hue your client prefers that will help you move forward.  In other words, to say blue is my favorite color creates confusion.  But if your client says I love a grayed, soft blue, it will help you better visualize the blue she prefers and the other colors you can mix and match.  That is why we created the Confident Color Profile test to help you in 3 minutes understand your client’s color preference.

Want to know More?  Then take one of our amazing color classes or webinars.

Certified Confident Color System (live or online)
This powerful class is an in-depth look at the color selection process.  From the initial color consultation to identifying undertones, understanding color’s impact and turning it into a lucrative business or service, this class has it covered.  Taught in a 2 day live or 4 week online version, this class is a don’t miss. Learn more.



Creating beautiful rooms is an art and a science.  If you are decorating your own room, you can be overwhelmed with the possibilities.  If you are decorating for a client, it is easy to get so involved with the aesthetics that you forget to address the function needed.  Let’s begin with my Top 3 tips.

  1.  Know the client.  If you are a professional, then the client isn’t you and don’t get caught up in thinking your style is the be all to end all.  Take the time to get to know your client’s needs, wants and wishes.  I developed the Confident Consultation for exactly that reason to know how to gather information.
  2. Don’t be a cookie-cutter Decorator.  Have you been in business for a while?  Do you take the time to review your after photos?  Do you have a Tell?  A tell is that little thing unique to you that you bring to the table.  A Tell has lost many a poker player money. A tell will be the thing that tells the world you did the job. Your tell could be ship lap or painted ceilings…anything you repeat often enough it loses its special quality.
  3. Stay ahead of the trends. Don’t deliver the trend du jour…be better than that.  Read industry magazines, attend To the Trade only markets, and subscribe to shelter magazines and catalogs that may not appeal to your own style. Get creative in the way you blend existing elements with new decor, fabrics, and color.

Ready to learn more…check out our Classes and Webinars.



Sometimes you just have to eat comfort food. In my world, comfort means my Eastern European DNA  demands Pierogi.  At our house, almost every celebration means Pierogi on the table. No, not those fake Mrs. T things, but the real handmade, roll them out, boil until they float to the top, fry them in butter…Pierogi. If you always wanted to make them…it is not difficult. Who is Dodie? That’s the personal me…the family nickname.  If someone calls me Dodie, they are either related or have known me since we were children.

So here is the recipe for “Dodie’s” Pierogi. Plan on a fair amount of time, particularly if you are new at this.  It is even better with a friend or two, as an assembly line makes it go faster. The Process is Roll, Fill, Seal, Boil, Fry, Eat. 

5 lbs of potatoes
1-2 containers of cottage cheese
1 stick butter
Salt and Pepper
Boil Potatoes, add a bit of chicken bullion to water for more flavor.  Once cooked, mash with butter, salt and pepper, then add 1-2 containers of cottage cheese.  Parsley is also a great addition.

Note: There are a variety of options for fillings…just Google for options.  Our family loves potato and cheese!

8 cups of flour
6 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1-2 cups water


Cut eggs into flour and salt with a knife. Add water until all ingredients stick together.  Knead on floured surface until firm.  Add more flour if too sticky.  Cover dough with bowl and let rest 10-20 minutes. Then roll into about 4″ circles.  Fill with potato filling, fold in half, then seal with a fork. Drop into boiling water, (add bullion to water for flavor if you like) until they float to the top for a minute or so.  Drain on kitchen towel.  Melt butter in frying pan, saute onions and brown pierogi.  You will have enough filling left to add a dollop to the plate if you like more filling.  Many like sour cream on the side as well.  Enjoy!

P.S. Please don’t ruin them by deep frying.  On another note, some like to eat the boiled ones without frying.  Eat after boiling and then pour melted butter over them. Pan fried is still my favorite.