View from curb

At some point, you've driven by or visited a house that just grabbed your attention the moment you saw it - not the look of the house, per se, but the overall view. What you were enjoying was "curb appeal."

Curb appeal is just what the name implies: the appeal of a house and landscape as you view them from the street or curb. It has nothing to do with the size or grandeur of the house. Instead, it relates to the sense of balance and harmony of the landscaping with the house; call it the yin and yang. It's often a personal experience, sometimes difficult to put into words. Many times what gives a house curb appeal is the collective subtleties throughout the landscape.

Trees and shrubs

shouldn't overpower the house, yet at the same time, you shouldn't have to strain to notice them.

Outdoor fire

Fall is just around the corner, and even though it's still hot out, planning ahead is always a great idea. Have you ever considered a fireplace on the porch?

Adding an outdoor fireplace or fire pit allows you to relax outside for a few extra months each year. A cozy dinner outside on a cool evening can be a nice change from indoor dining.

Table talk

If you've ever been stuck at the dreaded "kids' table" at Thanksgiving or been seated at a rickety card table stuck in to expand the main table, you know how important it is to have a dining-room table that can welcome the entire family.

First, define what you need in a table. Is your dining room formal or casual? What shape is the room? How many people do you want to seat? Will you need space on the table for serving dishes, or do you prefer to prepare guests' plates in the kitchen or serve off a buffet? Next, decide what shape will work best for your space and lifestyle.

Cozy time

When you live in an old house that's full of drafts, you have to get creative if you want to stay warm in the winter. One solution is to head to bed early, bury yourself in blankets and get lost in a good book.

When you spend many hours reading in bed, you need just the right-sized pillow to support your back and neck. A great choice is Euro shams. These large, square pillows will be the hardest-working accents on your bed. And, a Pashmina shawl works well as a throw blanket. Made of cashmere wool, these incredibly soft shawls make fabulous throws because they feel wonderful next to your skin.

Get one in an accent color that will add a pop to the foot of your bed.