Deb's Deco Tips

These are easy, cheap and fun decorating tips I have either invented or stolen shamelessly from other people, which I am quite comfortable with.

And if you’d like to share your own easy deco tips, email us at: radeckirites at gmail dot com.

Magazine Ladder
In our old house, we had a white wooden ladder that we leaned up against the kitchen wall. Each rung contained cooking magazines. In our case, Bon Appetit and Gourmet. It added a burst of colour to the room and served, of course, a great function. Depending on your style of kitchen you could use an antique ladder or old barn ladder. In the case of our newer house, our kitchen had a stainless look to it so we did a stainless ladder and had it floor mounted so it wouldn’t get kicked around. 

You can keep it as close or as far as you want to the wall, achieving a different feel depending on the material and the distance. We love it. People drop over and pick a magazine off of it and browse. And it’s a great conversation piece.

Teeny Tiny Herb Garden

We don’t do a big herb garden as so many people do. It would be great, but we just don’t have the time or place to nurture it in. I like to combine a decorative idea for the summer table with a functional idea and here’s what I do. For those of you city folk who just want a taste of it, here is my tip for this week.

Colin, our cook, picks his three fave herbs for summer, which are rosemary, basil and sage. I bought two identical containers, which look great on both our kitchen counter table and our outdoor dining table. Then I bought six identical simple cheap clay pots. I plant them in the spring and they become our summer-long replacement for flowers. 

Simple, pretty and functional.

The trick is to give each of them one week outside for full sun growth and then switch them up. We take cuttings from the one that has just come inside and we also have a lovely table centre. It costs less than nothing! And it looks nice. What’s sweeter than that?

P.S. If you look at the pix of the inside pots, you will see the outside pots in the background. 

Woo Yourself

It is spring and with spring comes gorgeous spring garden blooms in our gardens. In movies and on TV when a man is trying to woo a woman, she comes home to find her home filled with flowers. Every surface of the room is festooned with blooms. As a hopeless romantic, I fall for this every time. There’s also the “room of lit candles” version (Monica and Chandler on Friends), but I’m speaking of the flower version.

So last spring I decided to woo myself. And I cannot tell you how delighted I was with the results. I went out to our huge lilac bush and I cut branch upon branch of the mauve beauties. And then I FILLED the house. The smell alone was enough to thrill. Every surface was draped in lilacs and it was a sight to behold. And because lilacs, when cut, tend to be the Brigadoon of flowers, living generally only one day, it was all the more special!

The extra bonus was how much lovelier and fuller the lilacs were this spring as a result of the big clipping!

So try it. Any flower will do. Woo yourself and be amazed. You will feel so romantic.

Spring Planters

As any of you who read our blog will know, I hate wasting stuff and space. Which always presented a problem when planting the spring planters at our front door. The small window between the freezing temps at night and summer planting time made for a short but beautiful display. But it always killed me to rip the spring plants out by their green little throats when summer planting arrived.

So here is a simple solution. Plant only what can be transferred to your garden. This year I did that and it is win-win. I’m already looking for spots for the potted plants to land permanently.

Now when you look at the picture you will see that there are also pansies in there. But I have to tell you that I’ve had huge success with pansies all summer long. Not all of them, mind you, but I always have one nice planter full that I keep in a filtered-sunlight spot and they do wonderfully well despite the fact that they’re not supposed to. What can you lose? Give it a try.

Also at this time, I would like to give a shout-out to our glorious lilac bush in our backyard garden which, much to our gardener’s surprise, blooms in June and again in August! Kooky, huh? He says he has never seen its like. I will post a pic in June and in August of that delightful lilac display.

China Lights and Planters

I always keep some florist’s oasis, twigs, acorns, wire and other functional things for doing fun and cheap homemade table centres.

CHINA PLANTERS:  I am by NO MEANS a flower arranger, but with something (like oasis) even a Monkey can do it. Or even a Monkee!  And the beauty of it is you can just buy the flowers at the market, which can make it very reasonable. Or even easier, a tiny potted plant.

It’s a nice way to use your good china and dishes and enjoy them every day. This time because of William and Catherine’s wedding, I used Royal China, but I have used pretty much everything I own.

CHINA LIGHTS:  For the China Lights, just get little battery candles (keep a bunch of the batteries with them so you can do the light anytime).

Use a favourite cup and saucer, creamer, or teapot (you can stick three in a teapot) and place battery tea-lights and votives in them. You can do a little side table light, or combine some china pieces of different heights for a table centre.            

***Next dinner party we have, I am going to do a “Silver Tea Service” Light. I will be using a very old silver tea service that I have that has three usable pieces––the coffee pot (tall), the teapot (chubby), and the little sugar bowl, and put them together with several battery votives in each piece and place them askew. I think it might be fun and dramatic. I will take a pic and let you know.

Table Tribute

This is a simple cheap fun way to make a guest of honour feel special. It can be used for any occasion! It is a craft that will pay tribute to your guest of honour with custom placemats that everyone can take home.

Old photos of your subject, scanned and printed
Laminate paper

Simply take the photos and laminate them horizontally.
Put them on the table as placemats.

*You can decorate or even write something with a sharpie on the laminate or just leave it plain, letting the picture speak a 1000 words.
**To really customize if you want, you can make sure that each guest is in a photo with the honouree to be placed at their seat.
***To further customize, place cards on the table could also have one line about the photo and a memory reflecting that photo.
****This would also be great at Christmas or other holidays, laminating pictures from holidays past.****

Button Candles


*Glass jars or vases of different and complimentary sizes. I save mine when I get a small floral arrangement, but you can get them in secondhand stores, dollar stores, or the like.

*Vintage buttons (which you can buy in bulk at flea markets), or you can just use buttons you have in your sewing basket.


Cover the bottom of the glass with buttons and place one little battery-operated candle in the centre of each vase. (The bonus of the battery-operated candles is that they’re safe because there’s no real flame and they last hours and hours.)

You can put one on a side table or place them in three’s, and you have a lovely simple table centre.

For a kid’s birthday, you can use little plastic toys or Barbie accessories, or really anything you want.

For birthdays, I’ve also used the large confetti with the numbers on them. You can’t go wrong. 


  1. I use to tease my mom that she made everything into candleholders (drinking glasses, pettery, vases). The china gives a lovely glow. I will try tea lights in my tea cups next time. Thanks

  2. Very Cute idea Love it
    Im So trying it. IT'S A GOT TO

  3. And a decorator to boot. Love the ideas.

  4. Plants! The fun part of the weather turning hot. :)

    Oh, I wish you were nearer by. I've got plants to share. Earlier this week, I went over to help my best friend clean her front porch, her living room carpet, and her fridge. Her aloe plant had way, way outgrown its pot, and I thinned it. Of course, this means I now have a gazillion aloe shoots to pot and share! Given how much I love to cook but how much I am also a total klutz in the kitchen, I like to always have a big, healthy aloe plant around to break bits off.

  5. Deb,

    With your love of flowers, there's an annual delight down here in the South I wish you could enjoy: honeysuckle. When the vines along fence lines or tangled onto bushes bloom each spring, the scent wafts through the air, esp. in evening and at night, making everything smell like a hint of heaven.

    I hope y'all have a northern species of honeysuckle of some sort. Honeysuckle blossoms are one of my favorite things about spring.


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