About CatrinaAtHome

I'm Catrina Vargas-Cormell, old home renovator, designer and home decor enthusiast. I can geek out on restoration tools and vintage fabrics with the best of them. I live for the weekends when I can go pickin' with my husband of 24 years.

How To Style Series: Throw Blankets

The throw blanket is a great way to add texture and color to your home design!

You can go for a structured look with a neatly folded throw blanket or casually drape a throw over the edge of a sofa for a more laid back approach.

Here’s a short video on how to style your throw like a pro:

A few important tips to remember:

  1. The throw blanket is mostly decorative. If you are struggling to figure out how to implement it into your home design, you may consider leaving it out. It’s not a necessary element, like most home decor, it’s optional.
  2. The simplest way to store a throw is to roll it up and put it in a basket with other throws or pillows. Store the basket next to the sofa or couch or on a bookcase.
  3. Have fun and experiment with your throw in different locations and different styles in your living space. This is your space and the final result should be pleasing and inviting to you and yours.

Happy styling!





How To Style Series: The Nightstand

Your nightstand is the possibly the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning and the last thing before you go to sleep at night. And yet, very often, it’s the area of our home that lacks any style. It’s an afterthought at best.


When we take the time to actually style our nightstands with a few things that we love, it makes it nice to walk into the room at night and nice to wake up to. Style isn’t for others to look at and/or admire, it’s for us to feel more at home in our homes. When we are surrounded by objects (many or few) that we love and inspire us, that reflect our personalities, we feel ‘at home.’

When we feel refreshed and inspired at home we are able to recharge and regain the energy we need to go out and do what we’re supposed to do in the world.

Here’s a quick video on how to style a nightstand:


Here are the simple steps to a fabulous nightstand:

  1. Add lighting (a medium sized lamp of your choice)
  2. Add art or a mirror (leaning against the wall or hanging on the wall, your choice)
  3. Add a small stack of books
  4. Add in flowers or greenery
  5. Bring in personal touches (favorite collectibles or photos)
  6. Don’t overcrowd the space, leave plenty of room to charge your phone, etc.
  7. Use different textures and heights to create interest
  8. Style in odd numbers (three or five items)

Take a look at your nightstand, does it reflect you and your personal style? I hope these simple steps will motivate you to style your home in a way that refreshes and inspires you.


Happy styling,


How to style your nightstand pic



Done is better than perfect

“I’m afraid I might mess it up.”


This is the “reason” I hear so often from folks who want to do that DIY project, pick a new couch or paint their bedroom… but haven’t started yet.

For some it’s been days but for others… it’s been years. They’re stuck.

There’s very few things in this world that can’t be fixed if indeed you do “mess it up” so I ask you, is that really the reason you haven’t begun?

Is there some perfectionism mixed in there? Maybe a little fear of what others will say?

When you leave the land of the Talkers and join in the land of the Doers, when you put yourself out there and take the leap to start your project, you quickly find out, that making mistakes is part of the process. It’s as common as dirt.

The difference is, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I’m going to screw up from time to time. I get pissed, fix it, learn from it and move on. End of story.

Confidence and understanding are only developed through experience.

And the only way to get some experience.. is to get started.

Silence the naysayers and even the voices in your head, take a leap and START that project/job/weight loss program etc. that you’ve been wanting to and kick fear in the face, once and for all.

You got this.





Color Speaks To Us & For Us

Color is the top form of non verbal communication.

Can I say that again?

Color is the TOP form of non verbal communication. Wow.

Color means so much and says so much, what does your color scheme say about you?

If you want to change the atmosphere in your home, what colors should you introduce?

Apples in bowl CatrinaAtHome

Check out this video to hear how color speaks to us and for us.

Here’s a very brief rundown of some popular colors and what they say:

Orange: Cheerful, energetic, confident, spontaneous, extrovert, social, happy.

Dark blue: Responsible, confident, intuitive, loyal, trustworthy, truthful, successful.

Green: Nourishing, balancing, energetic, prosperous, growth, health, vitality.

Purple: Creative, wise, royalty, strong, powerful, imaginative.

Yellow: Enhances intelligence and helps clarify thoughts, happiness, uplifting, optimism.

Pink: Innocent love, calm, warmth, feminine, intuitive, sensitive.

Red: Passion! Heightens strong emotions of love or hate, makes you feel active, bold, youthful, energetic, confident.

White: Purity, innocence, untouched, cleanliness, equality, neutrality and independence.

Black: Formal, glamorous, timeless, strength, stability, mysterious, protective, powerful and even intimidating.

Bright gold: Luxury, vitality,  success, achievement, triumph, luxury, quality, prestige, elegance.

Silver: Ornate, glamorous, graceful, sophisticated, elegant.

Turquoise: vibrant and spirited.

Beige: Non threatening. Think of it as a background color. The one that allows others to come forward and shine.

Brown: Protector,  Security, contentment, cozy, strength, honest, genuine and sincere. Brings a grounding and stability.

I could geek out for hours on this subject but I don’t want to make your eyes bleed having to read my ramblings. LOL There’s lots of interesting reading material on the science of color and how it impacts the world around us. A quick google search would probably yield more info than you can shake a stick at but if you’re still curious, check out some of those materials and let me know what you discovered about your style that you didn’t know before.

Blessings from this proud color geek,




Is Upholstering Furniture An Option?

We see lots of people on HGTV and DIY shows talking about upholstering old furniture, but is it really an option worth considering?

Here’s four things to think about before you jump in:

Consider the cost

Upholstering furniture is not cheap. I’ll just put that on the table. If you’re thinking you’ll save money by upholstering an old chair vs buying a new one, in most cases you would be mistaken. Of course, it depends on the style of chair and the part of the country you live in etc., I’m sure I pay less where I am in West Texas than someone in Dallas or New York. Remember you’ll be paying for labor on top of the fabric of your choice. Two way to lower your costs are: 1. Getting your furniture free (on the side of the road/ friends giving it away) or at a fraction of the cost via estate sales and garage sales and 2. Shopping discount fabrics or buying vintage fabrics at estate sales.

Green chair CatrinaAtHome.jpg

We found this old chair at an estate sale for ten bucks. She reeked of cat pee and was threadbare, but she was a super stylish mid century piece that was comfortable and a rocker! I just had to take her home.

Don’t think about the cost

If you find a piece of furniture that you absolutely love, with “good bones”, it would be worth the expense to have a chair or piece of furniture that you love to look at and love to have in your home. It’s rare to find a piece that, for lack of a better term, you connect with. So when the magic happens, lol I would encourage you to run with it. Sell or trade whatever you have to, to make that new piece happen. It’s a rare treat to find a piece of furniture in the size and shape you want AND be able to choose the fabric that you want.

Plan your new piece carefully

Buy knickknacks or a plant on a whim but whatever you do, don’t jump into upholstering furniture on a whim. Poor, hasty decisions will end up costing you an arm and a leg. Take your time figuring out where your piece of furniture will go. Get large samples of a few fabrics to see how they will feel next to your other furniture, curtains and rugs. If you’re someone who has trouble making decisions, set a deadline for yourself on the fabric choice. If you’re someone who makes hasty decisions, make yourself take at least three days to think about it more thoroughly.

Get recommendations

Most importantly, get recommendations  and look at examples of finished work. Upholsterers are not created equally and you likely will get what you pay for. Don’t think you can go the cheap route and end up with a great result. There are many examples of upholstery jobs gone wrong. Make sure you go with experience and be clear on any special instructions.

IMG_0169.JPGHaving said all that, “rescuing” beat up and rejected old furniture and giving it new life is something I really enjoy doing! It’s an expensive “habit” but a worthy investment when you follow the tips above.

Have you restored or upholstered an old piece of furniture? If yes, I would love to see your before and afters! Feel free to post your pics on my Facebook page: Catrina at Home. 







Size Matters! Let’s talk area rugs.

I love area rugs.

The end.

Seriously. I love what an area rug can do for a room. Should so much power be given to one object? Too late, it’s already done.

What does an area rug bring to your home? I’m so glad you asked.

  1. Noise reduction. If your flooring is tile or wood, a large rug will absorb the noise and greatly decrease the echo.
  2. Warmth. Nothing says warm and cozy like a plush rug underfoot.
  3. Artistic expression. Stay with me on this one… Many times we play it safe with our large furniture pieces, sticking to basic browns and no-nonsense neutrals. Your area rug is where you can play a little bit. Maybe introduce a few colors in your color scheme that otherwise would get relegated to small accessories. Try it!
  4. Defined areas. With the rise in open concept layouts, it’s easy to lose clear definition of where one room begins and one room ends. Believe it or not, this is pretty important, psychologically speaking. Our brains don’t want to have to work harder to have to figure these things out, it actually causes stress when the lines are blurred, so to speak. An area rug says- this is the living room, this is the dining room and this is the bedroom. And this is a good thing.
Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 4.49.59 PM

Photo credit: unknown. :( 


Two common pitfalls when buying an area rug:

  1. You think your rug has to match or even coordinate with your couch. This is false. Your couch is likely a neutral (Black, gray, white, beige, tan or brown) and does not contribute to your color scheme. Think of your sofa as a backdrop or a blank canvas for your accessories (pillows and throws). Refer to number three, above.
  2. You buy a rug that is too small. As a general rule, (and rules are made to be broken, so take it or leave it) the front legs of all your living room furniture should be on the couch by a least 5-8 inches. Most folks buy a 5×7 rug when they should be buying an 8×10 rug. Is it more expensive? Yes. But this is one item you don’t want to chintz on. It’s worth it to save up for it, buy used or check out discount websites like overstock.com.

An area rug can bring so much to a home, if you don’t enjoy yours I hope you will do something about it! Life is too short to hate your rugs. :-)




Kitchen renovation continues..

We bought our Craftsman home in 2010, she was 102 years old then.

There were two rooms that needed renovation started on before we moved in, one was the (not so) master bathroom and the other was the kitchen.

1912 kitchen before

This kitchen gave new definition to the term- old school. Check out those tiny cabinets!

1912 kitchen before 2

We lived for nearly 4 months on a construction site (in our home) to get these two rooms livable. Plastic draped over everything with construction materials and dust everywhere.

The kitchen was small. These old homes have awesome living and dining rooms but the private areas are often tiny compared to modern counterparts.

We were fortunate that there was a small butlers pantry between the kitchen and the dining room, so down came the wall dividing the two and our little kitchen gained five more feet in width.

1912 kitchen before 3

When it came time to choose cabinetry and countertops, I confess it was a rush job. I was sick to death of the mess and wanted to move things along as quickly as possible. So I made big decisions literally in minutes. Bad idea.

1912 kitchen mid after 1

I had lived in a house for nearly 17 years with white cabinets and I thought I wanted the opposite. Good grief was I wrong. White cabinets might show smudges and spaghetti sauce over time but dark cabinets show every spec of dirt and have to be dusted every few days. Major pain in the butt.

Between then and now we renovated three other turn of the century homes and a few  ‘newer’ properties. So needless to say, our home renovation got pushed aside.

Fast forward to 2018. I decided that this was the year I was going to finish the renovation on my kitchen, even if it took all year. And I was going to paint those dark cabinets once and for all.

It’s a pretty lofty goal, I admit, it’s going to be a ton of work. But if we never start, we can never be finished. Amiright? So, dangit, we startin’! Lol

I will update the blog regularly with all baby step changes we make throughout the year.

Wish us luck! :-)

What projects are you determined to finish this year? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.