3 common mistakes found in living rooms

Please know that these “mistakes” have nothing to do with your style or personal taste and they have zero to do with how expensive your furnishings are. This is most definitely not a critique of anyone’s personal preferences. I get so many questions around “what is wrong with my living room?” that I thought I would put the 3 most common issues together in one post.

These pointers are not meant to add pressure on you to change anything in your home. But if you don’t like the way your living room currently feels, check these three things first. Here are three common mistakes I see people making in their living rooms.

Improper spacing of furniture
I see this everywhere.
It’s either too close (the coffee table is practically kissing the couch), or its too far apart (all the furniture is against the walls). Here’s some useful info to help you with your furniture arrangement.

Catrina at Home living room

Example of coffee table too close to couch.

  • Ideally, the coffee table should be around 18″ from the couch. Enough for decent leg room yet close enough to be able to put down drinks and appetizers. A coffee table that is too far from the couch (or anchor piece of furniture) is a useless piece of furniture.
  • Furniture should be placed in the room so that when seated, people are no more than eight feet apart from each other. This is called a conversation arc. When furniture is placed too far apart it discourages conversation and people feel disconnected from one another.
    Unless that’s your goal, lol keep the furniture within the conversation arc.


Wrong size area rug
I’ve seen this in million dollar homes and one hundred thousand dollar homes, it seems folks from all economic backgrounds need a little help in this area. Here’s the general rule:

  • Your area rug should be big enough so that the front legs of your living room furniture are able to rest on the rug by at least 6-8 inches. Keep in mind the ‘conversation arc’ mentioned above when determining how large your rug should be. Most living rooms need an area rug that’s at least 8’x10′.
  • When there is floor space between your furniture and the rug, the room can feel disconnected and uncomfortable. When the front legs of your furniture are resting on the rug it brings a sense of balance and coziness to the room.


    The proper size area rug for this room. Photo: Decoholic.org


Artwork hung too high
I have racked my brain trying to figure out why people have a tendancy to hang artwork so high and I cannot figure it out! lol Here is the general rule for hanging artwork in your home:

  • The middle of your artwork should be at eye level, around 60″ from the floor.
  • If you’re hanging multiple pieces of artwork, i.e. a gallery wall, arrange the artwork on the floor and find the middle point, that middle point should be around 60″ from the floor. That’s it! Super simple.
Catrina At Home Gallery Wall

A beautiful gallery wall by Laurel & Wolf


Now, having said all that, remember, please remember, that your home is your home. Do with it as you please! Rules were made to be broken and your home is a fun place to throw all the rules out the window and do what you want.

If you have any questions or comments about these common mistakes I would love to hear from you!

Blessings on your home,

The (un)original home

I was listening to a podcast today. Something I typically do when I’m cleaning one of our Arbnbs. It helps keep my mind off of dirty dishes.

The podcasts I listen to typically fall into one of two categories: Business or Home. I’m so varied I scare myself sometimes. LOL

Today I was listening to the Style Matters Podcast and the special guest was Heather Bullard who is an Editorial Prop Stylist and Creative Director who’s work can be found in many major magazines. Gorgeous work, by the way.

Zandra, the host of Style Matters was asking Heather about what her interesting job entails and one thing she does is find homes and rooms that can be photographed for magazines. How cool is that?

This is what struck me: Heather said that it’s getting harder to find original homes because there’s so much duplication.
Let’s let that sink in for a moment.
i.e. people have stopped creating original spaces and have started copying each other to such an extent that it’s getting harder to find original spaces.

She sites Instagram with the swipe up feature and Pinterest as the perpetrators of this ‘easier than ever to copy a look’ mentality that stifles our creativity.

Heather wondered if people have become less confident to do things original and on their own and feel a little more secure being one of the crowd, looking like everyone else. She believes there is a culture of timidity that’s paralyzing, where people are afraid to branch out and really do something that they love for their own home.

Y’all know how much and how often I harp on this but I’m not going to be done talking about this for a loooong time.

(Deep breath)

Friend, the easiest thing to do is follow the crowd. The path of least resistance is easy to walk down.

You are a unique creation as varied as a color wheel. Your home should reflect all your facets and flaws, where you’ve been and where you’re going, your personality and your personal style. You are unique!

I urge you, turn off the Instagram and Pinterest if you have to, turn off the ‘advice’ of a family member or friend, take some time to really figure out for yourself what you like and what works best for you and not what will get you the most complements or look the best in an Instagram square. (Sorry if that was too blunt.)

Be bold and courageous in your decorating! Have fun! Pursue the things you love and bring you joy! Who cares if no one else can tolerate the site of it, it’s not their home. :-)


Photo credit: Allie NYC

This is your home. It’s where you and yours go to be refreshed and inspired, nurtured and loved. When one walks into your home it should feel like a big ol’ hug from you because it so strongly reflects you.

I realize this is easier said than done. And it can take a long time to get our homes where we want them. But I always want to be the little bird in your ear that keeps reminding you and possibly giving you courage to… be you.

In your life and in your home decor.

Catrina At Home Milk Magazine

Photo credit: Milk Magazine, Graham Atkins Hughes

I, of course, do not encourage you to do the opposite of what you see everywhere just for the sake of being different but I alway encourage you to follow that gentle (or giant) nudge you feel towards a certain color, piece of furniture or nicknack. Explore it, play with it!
And most of all, think only of how you and your spouse feel about it.

That’s all for now, friends…

Thank you Heather for your insight!

Check out the Style Matters Podcast here and check out the episode with Heather Bullard here!

You can also find Heather on instagram here!









Five Gorgeous Fall Mantles

I gotta say.. it’s still hotter than hades in my neck of the woods, but I’M IGNORING THE HEAT and embracing Fall! LOL

I know up north they’re experiencing Fall temps, so I’m going to live vicariously through them.

If you’re wishing Summer would exit stage left or you’re actually living where the leaves are starting to turn, these beautiful Fall mantles will put you in the mood for all things pumpkin spice and everything nice. Or something like that. Lol

1. Neutral Simplicity
This pared back mantle gives me the warm fuzzies. Maybe I’m drawn to it because I think I could actually put something like this together or maybe it’s because I really like Eucalyptus leaves. Either way, it’s simple elegance is appealing and calming.

Catrina At Home Fall Mantel 1

Photo: @ Michelle_Janeen


2. Autumn Glow
This second mantle just makes me want to curl up in a blanket, sip hot cocoa and watch cheesy Hallmark movies. And I don’t watch Hallmark movies! LOL
All the colors and textures of Fall make this mantle warm and inviting.

Catrina At Home Fall mantel 2

Photo credit unknown



3. Sage with envy
What’s not to love about this stunning mantle from SoMuchBetterWithAge?
I absolutely love the coolness of the neutral/sage green palette paired with the warmth of the wood mirror and bronze sconce. Wow. This unfussy mantle decor proves that simple, when done right,  is not only attractive but inviting!


Photo: SoMuchBetterWithAge.com


4. French Country Simplicity 
I love how absolutely opulent this mantle feels from French Country Cottage!
But in reality it has very few components. A couple of gold frames, some greenery, and grapevine pumpkins. Absolute brilliance. French + Country done right. Period. Ahhh..

Catrina At Home Fall Mantle 4

Photo: FrenchCountryCottage.com


5. Golden Opulence
The golden hues beaming from this mantle are gorgeous! And what says the end of summer better than a harvest of fruit and berries? Perfectly styled and packed to the gills with goodness, if I walked into a home with a mantle like this I would most definitely park myself right here to sit and stare awhile, desperately trying to take in all the opulent goodies.

Catrina at Home Fall mantel 5

Photo: Grandinroad.com


Do you decorate your mantle for Fall?

If yes, stop by my Facebook page and post it there so we can see it! (I’ll promise not to get too jealous since mine won’t likely be decorated. LOL)

(Almost) Fall Blessing!


What Makes a Great Gallery Wall?

The gallery wall is a great way to fill a large empty wall space in your home or office with art work and mementos you love.

I recently mentioned in a video (on Facebook and instagram) that I finally bought frames  for many of the pieces I had been collecting over the years. (Thanks to a recent Michael’s one-day-sale of 50%-55% off on their frames. Woot, woot!)

Like the rest of your home, a gallery wall is a great place to infuse your personality.  We should look at your gallery wall and find hints into who you are, where you’ve been and what you love.

But more often than not though, I see carbon copies of what’s popular.

How sad is that?

Just like Rome, your gallery wall cannot be built in a day, e.i. you don’t want to stroll through the isles of your favorite (craft) store and pick out 6-10 items, arrange them on a wall and call it done.

Well, I mean you can, of course. LOL But what’s the fun in that? Maybe I’m just weird, but I don’t want my gallery wall (or my home for that matter) to look like anyone else’s!

Your gallery wall, much like your home, should be one big fat expression of you and yours!

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

My maiden name is Vargas. I found this old poster at an estate sale for $18 of an actual Circus that used to come through town. It’s an old-school El Paso thing. I knew I had to have it instantly! The colors were perfect for me, it has my family name on it and I got her down to $18 from $22 so win, win!

Catrina At Home Circus Vargas Poster gallery wall

You better believe it’s going on my gallery wall! Just looking at it makes me smile. And my family is a circus, so yeah, it’s perfect! Lol

I took this next photo back in 2013 when we had the privilege of visiting Israel. It was taken at the Western (wailing) wall. I remember it was crowded there that day, I saw this woman praying, there was a brief moment when the crowd parted and I quickly pulled out my iphone and snapped a pic.


This photo will be on my gallery wall. When I see it, it reminds me of my love for Israel, the  prayer I wrote that day and stuck into the wall and how special the trip was for me.

Here are a couple of gallery walls that for me, ooze personality!

Catrina At Home Gallery wall

Photo credit: @Imwdecor

Can you tell by looking at that gallery wall what the homeowner likes? Is there any doubt? Lol
This stairway gallery wall is a place I would probably park at for a while, if I was visiting this home.
I would pour over every piece, wondering what the story was behind it.
I don’t know this lady but looking at this collection makes me want to know her, if only because she was confident enough to decorate her home with things she loves, that have meaning to her. Trendy run-of-the-mill items be hanged! Lol

Catrina At Home Gallery Wall

Photo credit: @_lisa_dawson_

How about this corner wall gallery?  The creator sticks to a natural hue for the frames of interesting works of art. Amazing.

Photo credit: unknown

What makes a gallery wall great isn’t what’s popular or trending but pieces that speak to you that you love to look at. I encourage you to find those pieces and then display them where you can see them every day. Looking everyday at images or things that you love and inspire you, will change your life and your home. I guarantee it.

I have been arranging and rearranging my gallery wall on the floor in my basement for about a week now. I have one issue I have to resolve and it should be ready for my dining room wall.

I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile now, so I’m getting excited. I’ll be sure and pop back on here and show it to you when it’s all said and done.

Do you have a gallery wall?
Do you want one but are struggling with a few points? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page if I can help you in any way.





Leap, and the net…

This post might upset you.

Fair warning.

I’m going to talk about excuses we tell ourselves and how to do away with them and make progress.. if that’s what you want.

And I say “if that’s what you want”, because I fully realize that some folks are comfortable in the ‘whine and complain zone’ and have no desire to get out.

If that’s not you, I hope this post will get you unstuck and moving in the direction you want to go in.

So The Husband and I are in the middle of renovating our kitchen. This is what it looks like as I’m writing this post.


Hot mess express and it won’t be done anytime soon.

But the renovation isn’t what this post is about, it’s about what happened loooong before we lifted a single paint brush.

Briefly, my husband and I bought this house in 2010 and renovated the kitchen to its current state, but it was never completed. We worked on several other turn-of-the-century homes in the last eight years and neglected to finish ours. The kitchen needed a ton of work. Two years ago I was fed up with our living room, so we restored it (monster project), a year ago we renovated the dining room and I decided in 2018, the kitchen was going to be done, once and for all.

When I sat down to tell my husband I wanted to set a goal to get it done this year, the first question we had to answer was- how are we going to pay for it?

Time and expense were my biggest obstacles. And they were what kept me saying “I’m never going to get this kitchen done,” over and over, for the past eight years.

I’m a Debbie downer by nature. Been that way most of my life. I have to work hard to be positive and focus on what’s possible rather than what is. But I knew if I didn’t set this goal and didn’t start working towards it, my Negative Nelly words would come true.

So we set the goal.

I did a Facebook live announcing what my goal was and asking to be held accountable.

As soon as I got off the Live, I thought, what the heck did I just do? This is going to be a ton of work and I have no idea how we’re going to pay for it! Lol


In my teens and early twenties, I was living paycheck to paycheck. Most would say I was poor. But I never felt that way. Why? Because I learned even at a young age (I have no idea where from) that I could save up for anything in the world that I wanted.


There were times in my life that I was only able to save $5 a paycheck after expenses.

And by expenses I mean, rent, food, toiletries, car insurance and gas.

That was $10 a month towards savings.

Slow progress is still progress.

When people tell me- I wish I could renovate my __________________. I always want to quote Mr. Hunt who says- “Decide what you want, decide what you’re willing to give up for it, set your priorities and get to work.”

Decide what you want, decide what you’re willing to give up for it….

Even if you’re on a very fixed income, you can still save a little bit towards your dream kitchen or bathroom etc. You can also do like we did and take on extra work, sell/flip stuff on eBay and craigslist and (gasp) go without renting movies/buying magazines/eating out/vacations/buying clothes/shoes/handbags/expensive coffee, etc. so you can have the home you want.

See, there’s something that happens when we set a goal. When we put away the excuses, we start to figure out ways to accomplish that goal. When we write it down and put it in a visible spot we start to think about what we can do, or stop doing to make that goal a reality.

Even if it took you five years to save up the money for _______________, in five years you’re going to get to enjoy the benefits of your hard work, perseverance and delayed gratification. Or you can NOT work towards that goal and keep complaining for the next 10, 20, 30 years. It’s always your choice.

I urge you to stop saying- I wish. And leap… set a goal and find a way to make it happen.

You know what area in your home drives you nuts, what are you willing to give up for it?
How long are you willing to save up for it?

You can get pissed at the world because what’s her face got a new _______________ or you can decide to go after what it is you want and make it happen.

Back to my kitchen

I’ve done enough renovation projects to know the big sense of satisfaction I will feel when it’s all done, but this one will be different. Because this one was a huge leap of faith for us. We set a goal that we had no idea how it would be achieved, when we set it. We put our minds together, scrimped and saved, worked our butts off and we’re making it happen.
Is/was it easy? Heck no.
But it will be worth it.

And so it will be for you.

Leap CatrinaAtHome.png

“Decide what you want,
decide what you’re willing to give up for it,
set your priorities and get to work.”
-H. L. Hunt

If you set a big goal for yourself, home related or not, or if you’re working towards a goal you set some time ago, tell me about it! I would love to hear your story.

Blessings on your home,







See, there’s something that happens when we set a goal



Color is back.

I love color.

Deep, saturated, delicious color.

Which is why I’m a wee bit put off by the uber white and neutral palettes that seems to be everywhere. Farmhouse/Country/Cottage styles feel like vast seas of white, that for me, just don’t feel like home. Just a personal preference.

Don’t get me wrong, my walls, baseboards and ceilings are white, (Behr: Milkpaint) and I love them, but every where else in my house I’m surrounded by colors I love.

So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to see the predictions that color was making a comeback!

“We are seeing a big return to bright and clear colors . . . people are so over gray, beige, and greige!”
—Timothy Corrigan

Now, I’m not a trend follower, never have been. But I know many are. So when you’re trying to introduce them to a new-to-them-idea it’s nice to be able to say that so and so hot shot designer says this is “in!” LOL

dusk blue

This dusk blue room in House Beautiful (Amy Neunsinger) is drool worthy in my humble opinion. Bring it on, floor to ceiling for a calm, cool and classic room. :-)

black bathroom

The bathroom is a fun room to experiment with bold color. I know the safe advice is to go bright or white in small spaces but a deep bold color in a small space, like this kitchen in House Beautiful (Tessa Neustadt), ramps up the elegance factor. If you’re wanting to dip your toe in the color pond but don’t want to do a big room, this bathroom is a great place to start!


I’m in love with green. Ok, I pretty much love all the colors but olive may just be my favorite green. It’s another House Beautiful  photo (Eric Piasecki) but do you notice the different olive shades and textures in this cozy den? Stunning. And perfectly balanced with the brown and gold. Ahhhh..

If you happen to love bright white interiors, feel free to ignore this entire post! LOL Remember, your house is YOUR house and regardless of what’s “in”, whatever makes you feel at home in your home, is always in style.

I would love to know what your favorite color in your home is!

Catrina xo



She stood back and looked at her dinner table and said, “perfect!” and joined her family outside.

Her friend came along and thought, “that would be perfect if only she had used wood chargers… and different stemware” she shook her head and kept walking.

Her sister walked by and started to refold all the dinner napkins and said “ahh, now it’s perfect!” and joined the others outside.

So when was the table “perfect?” Which version of the table was actually perfect?

We hear and read all the time that “there’s no such thing as perfect” but I wonder if it falls on deaf ears. How can we achieve something that doesn’t exist? Something for which everyone has their own definition?

perfect quote CAH

What if instead we decided that above “perfection” (whatever that is) we instead sought to make our homes, happy places, where our families felt safe, loved and even inspired.
Where it’s obvious that people actually live there instead of a never ending quest to keep up a Pinterest perfect appearance.

What if we embraced the crumbs on the counter and the smudges on the fridge and stopped apologizing “for our mess” or even worse never inviting anyone over because of it?


I’m talking to myself, too. :-)

Our homes don’t have to be perfect to be happy. In fact, it usually only takes- letting go of an unrealistic standard- to feel the slight shift towards a happy home.

Life is short and time is fleeting. Believe me.

I’m not advocating for living in a mess but I am saying that its very likely that your “mess” is no bigger or much different from everyone else’s.

Either we can spend our days chasing a fantasy of a perfect home or we can spend our time.. listening.. holding.. and loving.

It’s our choice.
Blessings on your home,


The box

We humans like to put things in boxes, don’t we?

It’s easier that way. And we like easy.

We put humans in boxes, too, right? She’s a loner, he’s an extrovert, she’s creative, he’s athletic, she’s overprotective, he’s absent.

When it comes to our homes, the box feels good at first. Makes us feel like we belong to a club. We enjoy the whole “I’m with them” feeling.
“I’m into farmhouse.”
“I love contemporary.”
“I’m a modern traditionalist.”
“I’m a minimalist.”

And as long as we obey the rules and stay in line, we fit in.

But what happens when we spot a gorgeous sofa that doesn’t fit in with our ‘style?’ We’re drawn to it and can’t stop thinking about it.. BUT IT DOESN’T FIT IN.

What will the others think of me?

box quote CAH.png

Yes, there should be cohesion, but that can be established with color and pattern. Style on the other hand should be a personal choice based on personality and what one is drawn to. Not what is popular at the moment.

People ask me often what my ‘style’ is. My answer is something like- traditional, industrial with touches of rustic and mid-century modern with a dash of whimsy. Basically, I have an eclectic style. And I own it.
I put things in my house that I love and I’m working on removing all the things that I don’t love.

It’s easy to spit out a popular style when asked about our own home goals, but I would encourage you to take the time to really figure out what it is you like and don’t like. This exercise could be as simple as looking at different pieces of furniture on Pinterest and pining all the chairs you like or all the sofas you like, etc..
Without prejudice or concern on whether or not it fits in, just pin all the images that appeal to you. You might find, if you’re honest with yourself, that your tastes are much more varied than you previously thought.

And most of all, don’t feel like your style has to fit neatly into a box, under a specific style.  Your interests are likely varied and may not fit into any box. 

I know it’s easier to claim ‘one style’ for your home but if your home is truly going to be yours it must reflect you.. and you can not be fit into a box.



Be different. Be you.

Being different.. just for the sake of being different.. is annoying. We all know that girl/guy. And ew.

Being different because that’s who you are, is beautiful! And empowering to others!

Coco Chanel said: don’t be like the rest of them, darling.

I couldn’t agree more.

This next part may sting a little.

I think a lot about this neutral trend that we are seeing in home decor. All gray and white. All greige.. and white. All whites. I’m certainly not speaking about everyone but I have noticed that for far too many, a neutral palette is a copout. They’ll never admit it, but it’s easier to decorate with neutrals because tough decisions on color that may or may not be popular choices, never have to be made.

coco quote2 CAH.png


I feel like one thing I do more than anything else is give women courage to pursue the home they really want. Not what their mom or sister or coworker suggests but the home that they want.

It does take courage to step out of what’s expected of you and pursue what you really want for your home.

So I’ll say to you what I say to so many others,

Take the time to figure out what you really want for your home: You color story, your style and the way you want your home to feel.

Figure out what’s standing in your way: Is it your insecurity? Is it the strong opinions of others? Is it finances?

Make a plan for removing the obstacles: This could mean starting a savings or selling some stuff in your home to raise the funds. It could mean having a sit down talk with someone who has a strong opinion on your home and life.

Go for it! For some, this could be the hardest part! I get it. But creating a home that you love to be in, that refreshes you and inspires you and motivates you to go out and do what you’re supposed to do in the world, is worth the effort! You and your family are worth the effort!

“don’t be like the rest of them, darling.”

Don’t fall into what everyone else is doing out of fear or exhaustion. I urge you to take the time to get to know what you want and summon the courage to pursue it. You got this!


Blessings on you and your home,


Easy Spring Centerpiece

Winter is fading into history and Spring is… springing!

Living in the  desert southwest, Spring happens earlier for us. The temps start to rise and blooms start appearing while most of the country is still under snow. We are fortunate that way but our Summers are HOT. So… there’s that. :-)

But for now, we are enjoying a brief moment of ideal temps and light winds.

Seeing blooms appear outside makes me want to bring the Spring indoors! I made this simple Spring centerpiece, purchasing everything from Hobby Lobby, and you can too!

I use no hot glue (or anything else really) to secure the greenery or flowers in place and that’s the beauty of it, when you want to change out the flowers or figurine as the season changes, it’s super easy to do!


  1. Make sure all of your greenery and flowers run in the same direction, clockwise or counter clockwise, this helps the centerpiece flow together nicely.
  2. Have fun! Don’t stress about perfection, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. If you follow my lead and not use glue you can always pull out the pieces and start again.

If you make a Spring centerpiece I would love to see it! Feel free to post it on my Facebook page.

Happy Spring!