Rejuvenate Your Space –A Space Styling Workshop

*All photos by Lisa DiAntonio of Green Park Studios*

Oscar is thrilled with his (oops, I mean Tony’s) office redo.


I love interior design and home décor, yet I struggle to pull off a room makeover myself. For me, it’s daunting and overwhelming. I like choosing furnishings, art and accents but, in the end, have trouble pulling them all together. I also struggle with finishing touches, which can make all the difference.

When Lisa DiAntonio of Green Park Studios invited me to a DIY Rejuvenate Your Space styling workshop, at Helen Thomas in Andover, the timing was perfect. Tony had just asked for help redecorating his home office and I was at a loss.

Rejuvenate Your Space


Rejuvenate Your Space flyer


In this fun space styling workshop, Lisa gave attendees the tools and motivation to make a plan. We each sent in before photos so we could collectively talk about issues, ideas and action plans. Lisa’s best tip was to have us write down three relatively simple things we could do to get the ball rolling, that wouldn’t overwhelm us. My three things were:

  1. Remove cumbersome, rarely used conference table
  2. Replace dated table lamps
  3. Replace the unimpressive mirror over the fireplace mantel with something more eye-catching


Mission accomplished. That’s a TV!


By the time I left, I had a clear idea of how to make Tony’s office the manspace of his dreams. He says, “It’s better than I could have imagined.”

The Full Makeover

  • Starting this process with my three action items successfully barrel-rolled into a complete room makeover. We held onto many pieces that still worked allowing us to indulge in some extras that have elevated this room exponentially.
  • A gorgeous Dash and Albert rug from Helen Thomas in Andover brightens the room and creates a lush feeling underfoot (stay tuned on Thursday for a post about these great floor coverings.) Oscar loves this rug!
  • Adding to the light and bright factor, we repainted the walls an airy Benjamin Moore Winds Breath. And we painted over the natural wood mantel a few tones deeper in Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth. We are left with a fresh, modern look that both Tony and I love.
  • The final two changes are likely Tony’s favorites. We swapped out an ugly old recliner, that I hated, with a beautiful and streamlined Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams sofa that is perfectly long enough to accommodate Tony’s 6’ 2” frame.
  • And the pièce de résistance, since we saved on many repurposed items, a Samsung Frame TV that Lisa told me about at her workshop. It is mounted, flush to the wall, above the fireplace and looks exactly like a picture in a frame. When not in use it displays a variety of beautiful artwork. It is very cool.

I am so satisfied having completed this project and Tony is so happy with his new space.

Before and After Photos

The space was so cluttered before. Even with Oscar’s big, blue bed, there is now plenty of room to move around.

It’s All in the Details


Personalizing with photos I took in NYC added a nice touch. And changing the frame and matting of a special lake print made a huge difference.



Thank You

Thank you Lisa, for sharing your knowledge and great ideas. I couldn’t have, wouldn’t have, done this without your inspiration.

Lisa’s next Rejuvenate Your Space Workshop ($75) will be held next week at Helen Thomas in Andover
Monday, April 9th at 10 am.
Link here to sign up now!
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Decorating For Christmas – REPOST!


I posted this last year with only 10 days until Christmas. Here it is again this year with a little more time to think about your holiday decor for 2017.  Are you doing anything different with your decorations this year?

Let the Countdown Begin

Well, here we are with ten days left until Christmas and I’m just now blogging about holiday decorations. I had every intention to post this sooner, but if I’m being honest the finishing touches to my Christmas décor are happening today.

How did Christmas 2016 get so far away from us? I know I’m not alone because so many people I’ve spoken to are also feeling as frazzled as I am.

When normally my sunroom window sills would be full of festive Christmas cards, today I only have a few dozen. They are beginning to come in more steadily, but the delay seems to support my personal feeling that Christmas crept up on us more quickly than usual this year.

So, if you are like me and a little bit behind the eight ball, maybe you still have some decorating to do. When I’m decorating for Christmas I get a lot of inspiration from the homes and places I visit.  Here’s how I’m decorating this year.

Decoration Inspiration

I have always been a big fan of white lights on the Christmas tree. I just love the look of it. But recently I’ve also fallen in love with red and white lights together. Last year, when I first tried the red and white combo I decided to try a themed Christmas tree too. We went for a rustic red and white theme.  As much as I loved it and still do, I missed all the other ornaments that didn’t fit the theme. I couldn’t bear keeping them in a box, so last year I tacked all of them onto a bulletin board.  This year, time was limited so I took the easy way out and placed all of my sweet and sentimental ornaments in a big bowl – so easy, so fun and so full of memories.

Here is my fun bowl of ornaments and a couple of other Christmas decorations that always make a statement.

Bowl of Christmas ornaments, musical snow globe, candy cane hurricane filler
Top: The ornament bowl. Bottom left: One of my ultimate favorites – musical snow globe. Sits center stage on the mantel. Bottom right: Candy cane hurricane filler – Yes, I had to unwrap each of those individually – Worth it!


When it Comes to Decorating for Christmas, Less is More

Something that I learned when photographing homes for publication is that certain, special things can and should stand alone. Often when decorating for Christmas, we have a tendency to go with the more is more philosophy. A minimalist at heart; I have come to truly appreciate the less is more approach, especially at the holidays.

If I have a home accent or holiday decoration that is sentimental or special in some way, I make it the focus. This is the case with this beautiful Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree that Tony fell in love with on a trip up to Vermont last year. This exquisite example of craftsmanship sits simply in our entry way atop a platform that illuminates taking the tree’s beauty to another level. It makes me happy every time I walk by it.

Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree
I love the way this Simon Pearce glass Christmas tree lights up the hall.


Winter Whites

Another trend I like and have incorporated into our traditional holiday trimmings is winter whites. With all of the wonderful colors Christmas decorations bring to our homes, it’s nice to find a place where neutral, but festive, décor can allow the eyes to rest a bit before moving on to the next bold and beautiful thing.

Joy Snowbird table decoration, gingerbread house, white nativity
Winter white!


My joyful snowbird display has become one of my new favorite Christmas decorations along with the white nativity that has been in my family for generations. Originally my Noni’s, the wooden manger was hand built by my grandfather. I even decorated an all-white gingerbread house this year to add to the theme.

Old Meets New

When it comes to decorating for Christmas I love holding up all of my family’s traditions as well as introducing some new looks and styles that may become traditions for my children in the future.

Have you tried anything new when decorating for Christmas this year? What are your favorite ways to dress up your home for the holidays?

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Helen Thomas Simply Smashing – Home Decor, Gifts & More

Painting by Stephanie Mobbs Deady at Helen Thomas Simply Smashing
These lovely ladies painted by Stephanie Mobbs Deady always catch my eye.


I love to shop – even more when a store has a variety of unique items. Helen Thomas Simply Smashing of Andover offers a fabulous selection of jewelry, whimsical gifts and a wide array of home decor items including custom order rugs and furnishings.

I’ve only recently come to know owner, Lisa Schiavone (no, her name is not Helen Thomas), and have been so impressed with her passion and commitment to the arts and community.

Who is Helen?

Helen Thomas first opened in Andover Center in October 2000.The store’s name is a combination of Lisa’s middle name, also her grandmother’s first name; Helen and her husband’s name; Thomas, although not necessarily his namesake. Lisa liked the ring of the two names together and so was born – Helen Thomas. Her catchy tagline, Simply Smashing, was the perfect description of everything Lisa hoped her gift and home decor store to be – simple, smashing and everything in between.

The charm of the store is unmistakable as is the regular presence of Lisa’s mom, Cookie Gollan. Customers might find Cookie working the front of the store or running art parties for children twice a month on what’s come to be known as Fun Fridays. In many ways, Helen Thomas is as much Cookie as it is Lisa.

The Store

Upon entering the store you are greeted by a colorful selection of unique gift items such as mittens, robes, art, jewelry, pillows, candles, mugs and more.

Jewelry, home decor, art and gifts at Helen Thomas Simply Smashing
Top left: Colorful and cozy robes. Top right: Lola jewelry. Bottom left: A Stephanie Mobbs Deady signature cow painting. Bottom right: Pops of pink. Love, love, love and love!


I could spend days poking around for just the right hostess gift, home decor accessory or just something fun for me. Here are some of my favorite gift and home decor finds from Helen Thomas Simply Smashing.


home decor, candles, gifts and books at Helen Thomas Simply Smashing
Top left: Olive candles and a 3 Olive & a Twist shout out – thank you Lisa! Top right: The colorful collection of Company C rugs. Bottom left: Dog stuff – yes please! Bottom right: A must read novel, Faithfully Yours, by local Author, Ellen B. Alden.


But more than merchandise, I like what Lisa is doing in addition to retail sales. She has turned Helen Thomas into an art resource, an interior design services connection, and an activity center for calligraphy, painting and jewelry making classes. This Andover shop also acts as a gathering place for ladies’ nights out, cookies and cocktails, book readings and even pajama parties when the store stays open until midnight- how fun is that?

Lisa happily custom coordinates in-store events just as she does many of her customized products.

Personalization is one of the countless reasons customers love shopping at Helen Thomas. Many of the gift and home decor items available can be made to order in any way the customer desires. Lisa DiAntonio of Green Park Studios sells her line of custom printed wall art and fabric printed pillows, aprons, table runners, hand towels and more through Helen Thomas. Her items can be custom created with anything the customer would like to see printed… favorite Christmas carols, a love poem, family names, etc.

Custom wall art with inspirational quotes
Left: Art by Michele Boshar. Right: customizable wall hangings by Green Park Studios.


Working with local artisans like Lisa DiAntonio has become the cornerstone of Helen Thomas. Formerly an artist’s representative, Lisa Schiavone values craftsmanship and artistry. She is committed to featuring more local artists like prolific painter Stephanie Mobbs Deady and Michele Boshar whose inspirational collage art is featured above, left.

With so much to offer at Helen Thomas, Lisa does not want the experience to be about buying alone. She is continually working with local charities to give back to the community. Just last week she held a Local Artist’s Night in support of Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence.


Michelle Boshar, Ellen B. Alden, Lisa Schiavone, Lisa DiAntonio and Stephanie Mobbs Deady at Artist's Night Out
Michelle Boshar, Ellen B. Alden, Lisa Schiavone, Lisa DiAntonio and Stephanie Mobbs Deady come together for Local Artist’s Night in support of Lazarus House.


Looking for something fun to do TONIGHT, 12/8/16?

Lisa is hosting a Sip and Shop from 6-8pm with a portion of proceeds going to Project Home Again. Bring in a new or gently used blanket and receive 20% off any blankets in store!

There are many ways to shop this holiday season, but consider purchasing your Christmas gifts at a local home decor and gift shop like Helen Thomas where special and simply smashing have a meaning all their own. Stop in any Thursday night before Christmas for holiday shopping parties – open until 9pm.

More to come in 2017

What can you expect to see from Helen Thomas in the future? To begin, more focus on interior design and home decor services. In addition to the Company C, Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill home products lines already available, Lisa will be working with local interior designers to bring you more of what you love for your home. The back of the store will be transformed into a design center while the front of the store will also be getting a fresh, new look with more of everything you know and love from Helen Thomas Simply Smashing.

You can shop Helen Thomas at the Andover location, below, and see more beautiful gifts, art and decor on Instagram.

Helen Thomas Simply Smashing, 90 Main Street, Andover, MA 01810, 978-475-7981


*This post is sponsored by Helen Thomas Simply Smashing with full support from 3 Olives & a Twist. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to support 3 Olives & a Twist.

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Distinctive Window Coverings – More Than Shades

made by Distinctive Window Coverings

Recently I decided to give Tony’s home office an update. His space is right off the kitchen and directly in line the sunroom; which, if you recall, was professionally designed back in June – see my post Sunroom Sanctuary.

Well, you know how it goes; the sunroom looked so fresh and nice, I suddenly began to feel Tony’s office looked drab and haphazard. I couldn’t stand to look in there when everything outside of the room was so bright and pulled together.

Well, with my design budget exhausted and my newfound distaste for Tony’s office décor, I decided to take on the facelift myself. A new rug, a cool map of the world wall hanging, a fun cowhide bench and some colorful new accessories added just enough life to the room to put me on a path to satisfied. The only thing missing was window treatments to tie it all together.

I knew this would be an important element of the room and while I might typically find something good enough at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware, I decided to go the extra mile and investigate custom window treatments. I knew I wanted roman shades and I had already found a gorgeous Thibaut fabric that would go perfectly in the room. Now, I just needed someone to create them.

I popped into Distinctive Window Coverings in North Andover; a place I’d been by hundreds of times. I was with my youngest, Ally, and there we met Julie. Julie Sinopoli is the owner of Distinctive Window Coverings and an absolute doll.  The moment we walked in, our positive customer experience began. Julie was helpful, but not overbearing. We talked through what I was thinking and she pointed out my options. She was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. Conversation went well beyond window treatments. By the time we left, I figured Ally would be completely frustrated that we’d been in there so long. Not the case; in fact, she commented on how nice Julie was. This, coming from Ally, was indeed a compliment of major proportions. Ally said, “You should buy your shades from her.”

I agreed, not only because Ally said so and I was able get exactly what I wanted at a price I could afford, but because it felt great to give my business to someone who is committed to excellent customer service. Outside Distinctive Window Covering’s storefront, Julie came to my house for in-home consultations twice before I finalized my order. She guided me on whether my roman shades should have an inside or outside mount, on the lining that would work best with my selected fabric and whether I needed a coordinating valance to top my shades – something I was considering but decided against per Julie’s suggestion. On installation day, the gentlemen who hung my shades were prompt, quick and professional.

The experience was a very positive one. I am thrilled with Tony’s new office and the roman shades look fabulous.  They operate flawlessly and give the room just the pop of pattern and color that I hoped they would.

Shade by Distinctive Window Coverings
The folds of this roman shade by Distinctive Window Coverings fall perfectly no matter what the position.


I am happy to have discovered Distinctive Window Coverings – they are a good local business with good people. And while the high quality shades I received are what I was after; it was the exceptional customer experience that made the biggest impression.

No matter where you are, seek businesses that go beyond just selling you a product. Look for those who want and are willing to make a connection with you as a person, not just a customer. For me, that is what makes a good business, great.

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The Junior League of Boston’s 2016 Show House

Emily O'Brian Photography - The Morning Room
The Morning Room


When friend, photographer and fellow blogger, Emily O’Brien, suggested we head down to West Newton to co-blog about the 2016 Junior League of Boston Show House, I jumped at the chance. Whether I’m looking for inspiration for Merrimack Valley Home or catching up on the latest design trends, I love exploring a beautiful home.

The Nathanial Allen House took this year’s honor as the 45th Anniversary Show House. Three months prior, it was in disarray, but thanks to organizers, 30 plus interior designers and landscape artists, the space was transformed into a wonderland of design, décor and elegant artistry.

Once a stop on the Underground Railroad; this mid-1800 Greek revival house was later converted to the country’s first co-educational school. It was intriguing the moment I set eyes on it. Four exterior columns add grandeur to the yellow building accented with green shutters and floor to ceiling windows immediately caught my eye.


The Junior League of Boston Decorator's 45th Anniversary Show House - The Nathaniel Allen House
The Nathaniel Allen House – 45th Anniversary Show House


This event is going on through June 5th. Tickets are $35 at or $40 at the door. Proceeds go to The Junior League of Boston.  You do not have to be a design guru to appreciate the glory of this experience. If you like design inspiration, a stroll through this house will give you a look at a wide variety of styles, colors, textures and unexpected approaches to room design.

I’ll share my favorite spaces within the 7,000 square foot property, but if you’d like to see more head over to Emily O’Brien’s blog for her photography spin, and visit the blog of interior designer Kim Macumber for her expert take.

And by all means, go check out this display of talent yourself – it’s a design adventure worth taking!

I could’ve spent the entire day admiring the style that each designer brought to the 24 rooms. It was remarkable that the rooms flowed so nicely together considering the designers worked independently. I did pick up on several trends throughout, including the use of natural wood elements, gold tones and a recurrent Greek key accent. But most surprising was the frequent presence of the color purple. One of my favorite rooms demonstrates this perfect pop of purple – notice the glossy purple woodwork around windows and doors.


The Art Salon designed by Steven Favreauat the Nathaniel Allen House
The Art Salon


The Art Salon, designed by Steven Favreau, was an elegant space featuring over 20 pieces of art and sculpture. The art hung upon a fabric backdrop with purple base trim which tied the room together with the purple woodworking.

Nearby the Art Salon was The Morning Room designed by Kate McCusker Rosenberger. This room was cheery and fun – I could easily see myself sitting in it all morning, afternoon and night. Yellow happens to be my favorite color, so I was naturally drawn to this space and the funky chairs and accents gave me an inviting throwback feeling.


The Morning Room designed by Kate McCusker Rosenberger at the Nathaniel Allen House
The Morning Room


The Morning Room designed by Kate McCusker Rosenberger at the Nathaniel Allen House
The Morning Room – So bright and cheery. Love those hooks!


I could honestly go on and on about this Decorators’ Show House. The Junior League of Boston certainly outdid themselves. If you have the chance to visit, don’t forget to look up!  Some of the most interesting displays of design happened on the ceilings.

Bonus pic – I loved this small space. Shouldn’t every house have a bar like this?


The Bar designed by Cecilia Walker at the Nathaniel Allen House
The Bar -Blues, brass and perfectly placed barware felt like Hollywood Glam. Designed by Cecilia Walker


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