Beyond the Garden Walls
By Sarita Santos

Since I grew up in Puerto Rico, I love to decorate with tropical colors and lots of plants. In fact, I’ve developed a unique style that brings the outdoors in. My specialty is creating garden-like rooms in any space.

My latest client at Willow Pond Interiors, Max Carter, has a contemporary home in Crystal Falls with a massive stone fireplace in his living room. By adding huge palms and a fountain, the room takes on the tropical feel Max wanted. Leafy fabrics, colorful accents, and a bamboo floor complete the look. I’m looking forward to decorating his beach house in Charleston, South Carolina next. The possibilities are absolutely thrilling.

But most of us don’t have Max Carter’s NASCAR-sized budget. Believe me, I know. As a single mom, I’ve had to improvise. With this in mind, Dianne asked me to share some of my fun and frugal tips with you.

  • Use what you have. Search your cupboards for colorful vases and bowls to hold flowers, fruit, plants, or candles. Hang unique plates on the wall. Display books, decorative containers, or baskets on a shelf.
  • Paint or stain battered furniture for a fresh look. Recover worn upholstery with crisp, colorful fabric. Toss a few colorful pillows onto a sofa or chair. Pull things together by using fabrics that coordinate but don’t necessarily match. Choose a color from a pattern in the room for a pillow, curtain, or accessory in another part of the room.
  • Create customized art. Paint or stain old picture frames and make your own mats by covering cardboard with fabric or wallpaper. Frame snapshots, children’s drawings, or beautiful magazine photos. Get creative! Press leaves or flowers, draw, paint, or create colorful abstract art that suits your style and color palette.
  • Bring the outdoors in! Plants, flowers, garden furniture, and big clay pots give a fresh springtime feel to your home. Plants clean the air and add a touch of nature. Flowers provide fragrance and a burst of color.
  • Rearrange the furniture. Bring a piece of porch furniture into the living room, or take the living room rocker into the bedroom for a totally different look. Move a sofa away from the wall. Give a chair, bed, or bookcase a jaunty angle. Switch an end table with a nightstand and try a lamp or plant in a different spot. Move art and accessories between rooms for a whole new vibe.
  • Finally, scavenge yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. Don’t just look for a deal, but carefully choose items that create your desired look. Even a modest home can shine with creativity and warmth. Believe me, I had a lot of practice making my tiny apartment into a tropical oasis.
  • Have fun creating a home you love!

For more details on how I redecorated Max’s home, and to hear about the steamy romance that ensued between us, read our story, Sunflowers for Sarita.

May God Bless Your Home and Family,

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
 in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”   
Isaiah 32:18