These houses are for the birds!

Photo of artist's creative birdhouseLong before I was an interior decorator I loved houses.
It was always so interesting to me to see how they were decorated, how the furniture was arranged and how the owner lived. I have collected small houses for years and have them displayed on a antique post office where I can study them with all of their little details.
And I have been collecting birdhouses for the past few years.  I find them to be very sweet and the perfect accessory for almost any style home or outdoor space. I find them at flea markets and I even journeyed to North Carolina where I found a birdhouse builder with acres and acres of these miniature homes.  I returned home with a car full.
But as a believer in using what you have whenever possible, and in repurposing when it makes sense, I especially love birdhouses that use local materials that mean something. And as a southwest Florida interior decorator, I am surrounded by beautiful driftwood, shells, treasures that wash up on the beaches and  more.

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Repurposing Objects from the Past Can Turn “Worn” into “Wow.”

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• November 29, 2011

Decorating your home with things that have already seen a long life – furniture, art, sculpture--man-made or from nature --- can bring a unique, one-of-a-kind charm that shopping for something new can never achieve. And when objects that were intended for one purpose are given a brand new life as something entirely different ---well, the word “creativity” can take on a whole new meaning.

Photo of steel hatch cover tableA steel hatch from a salvaged Navy warship, still with its original rivets and brass fittings, becomes a wonderful coffee table in a local Captiva beach house.

Everything old is new again, as the saying goes.

The word “repurpose” appeared in Webster’s in 1984.  The definition: to change something so that it can be used for a different purpose. 

Repurposing is not a new concept. People have been looking for new uses for their “stuff” since the beginning of time. Sometimes out of necessity.  Often because it is just hard to part with something and you need to find a better use for it.  Repurposing is very popular at the moment,  a trend that is hopefully becoming a permanent part of our lifestyle.

Photo of handcrafted lentilA hand-crafted lentil that once hung over a window of a southern plantation home now serves as a wonderful display shelf for a collection of favorite shells and coral.There are some really good reasons to repurpose.  It helps to cut back on what takes up space in the landfill. You will save money repurposing instead of buying new.  And it gives a lot of satisfaction to know that you have “saved” a vintage piece that has been tossed aside.  

With antique fairs, flea markets and garage sales in full swing with the cooler weather, you may wantPhoto of vintage oarsFanciful-colored wooden oars, worn from years of service on row boats of all sizes, now hang as a striking nautical family on a rack that was originally designed for drying tobacco plants. to give repurposing a thought.  As you are browsing, remember that many items can be cleaned, painted or completely restored.  Look for items that can be used for functional, everyday uses or for an eclectic accent piece or as artwork.  The possibilities are endless if you develop a new way of looking at objects.  Several weeks ago I was going through an architectural salvage yard with a client who fell in love with two beautiful vintage doors.  She asked what she could possibly do with them.  I said:  "Headboards."  You will not find these new in a furniture store.

And repurposing does not have to cost anything. Think about the beautiful treasures from nature: wood and items that wash up on our beaches every day.  With a little imagination, they become art for our homes. 

And what will I do with the vintage ten foot Nantucket wooden rowboat that I just bought last week? It is falling apart, has charming but peeling turquoise paint and came with four antique oars.  And a big hole in the side. It cried out to me to be repurposed.  I am thinking of hanging it from an open beam ceiling over an outside gazebo bar!

Photo of vintage Nantucket boatOnce this vintage Nantucket rowboat is patched up and painted, it will be a focal point as it hangs from the open beam ceiling of a client’s outdoor gazebo bar.

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Try these (FREE!) decorating tips at home

In this week's Home Inspirations column I thought I would share a few of my favorite decorating tips! 


Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• August 27, 2011


When I speak to organizations throughout southwest Florida, I always offer some tips that my audience can actually go home that day and either try them out or include them in the decorating plan in their own homes. 

Try some of these ideas for making quick changes that may make you like your home a lot more! 

The best news: Many of them are absolutely free or will cost very little to implement. My top decorating trips that anyone can implement are listed below. Give them a try! 

• Keep your decorating plan simple and uncomplicated.

• Declutter. It makes all the difference: Start with the refrigerator magnets and work through old stacks of magazines. Then remove some furniture if your room seems too crowded.

• Color is a decorator's most valuable tool and it can be yours as well. Follow this color rule for distributing color and you can't go wrong: 20% walls, 30% furniture, 10% accessories.

 • When selecting paint colors, follow nature as your guide. Mother Nature has perfected the color palette so imitate her. This is a rule I always follow and I have never been sorry.  See below:

Photo of nature's colorsOne of nature's color palletes photographed at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

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Travels: Haunting and beautiful Mendocino on my mind

Mendocino has cast a spell on me. A good spell.

It is probably the fact that it is a quaint, very rustic village that time has forgotten. Setting on a rugged Photo of Mendocinobluff overlooking the Pacific, two hours north of San Francisco, the journey to get to this paradise is not for the faint of heart. But the Mendocino coast rewards those who make the journey with a setting that is pure heaven.

Or maybe it is isolated enough that the 700 or so people who live there seem pleasantly far removed from what goes on in the world.  For a few days I was happily one of them. In this unspoiled paradise.

It is right out of a movie.  Literally.  Many have been shot in this picturesque town, including East of Eden.  The historic Blair House was the setting for Murder She Wrote.

But for me, it is always about the houses.  The people who live in them now and in the past.Photo of Mendocino House with Wildflowers

Mendocino was  settled in the mid 19th century during the lumber boom and then the gold rush. In the 1950's it was primarily an artist colony.  Today it has a handful of galleries, organic restaurants with names like the Moosse Cafe and a few shops.   The historic Mendocino Hotel where you can have a delicious dinner and wine overlooking the bluffs. A Mendocino beach with driftwoodbeautiful beach filled with driftwood.  Hiking trails at Headlands State Park that wind out to cliffs filled with wildflowers and overlooking the ocean and the village. 

The homes are an eclectic combination of salt boxes, cottages, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival. The town is on the National Register of historic places.

Nearby, you can go to Glass Beach and wade through the tidal pools and pick up bits of colorful glass left over from the days going back to 1949 when it was a public dump. Or take a scenic tour on the Skunk Train of the Redwoods east of Fort Bragg by the Noyo River.

But the best part is just being in the little village of Mendocino. Haunting and spiritual. It casts a spell  that follows you home and it lingers for a long time.











Spectacular Spaces tips for eliminating color confusion!

If you are thinking about making some color changes in your home, like most of my clients, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices.  Check out these tips from my Home Inspirations column in this weekend's News-Press.

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• June 4, 2011


Color is a homeowner's most powerful tool when it comes to dramatically changing a home. Used correctly, it completely transforms a room or an entire home. It is the biggest change that can be made for the least amount of money.

It has the power to change everything, like magic. Color is the first thing we notice. The wrong color sends us in the other direction and the right color draws us in. It turns a dull space into something exciting. It can soften a room. But picking just the right color can be a challenge. Color confusion!

Much of the process has to do with the emotional aspects of color and deciding what you like and how to achieve a feeling or an emotion in a room or in your entire home. It is what happens before you begin to pick out paint colors.

When I do a color consultation for a client, I find that most are confused about where to begin the exciting task of picking out color. Because it is about the client's home and not mine, what is a decorator to do?

First, we decide how you want the room to feel. For my own home and for my clients, I am constantly taking pictures of vignettes of color: flowers, pots around a pool, a setting in a park, that draw me in and speak to me and inspire me. This helps me to decide what mood I want to create: Playful. Whimsical. Elegant. Exotic. Cozy. Sexy. Exciting. A spring garden. Summer. Nature-inspired.

Here are some tips that are tried and tested. Use them and you can't go wrong.

• When redoing the color in a room, follow the 60-30-10 color rule. Many decorators use this rule and it works every time. The 60 percent should be your wall color. Your furniture and fabric should be 30 percent. The remaining 10 percent should be your accessories, pillows and rugs. When you see a room or photograph in a magazine and it seems to work, chances are that this rule applies.

Mother nature's color palette at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.JPG

• When selecting new colors, follow nature as your guide. Mother Nature has perfected the color palette so imitate her. This is a rule I always follow.


• Think about each room and how it is used. In southwest Florida many of my clients want a palette that is calm and that may mean the blues and greens. For my own office, I use a coral because reds and oranges are energizing. In bedrooms, think about neutrals such as the Benjamin Moore whites. Pop color in with accessories.

• Stick with two or three (at the most) paint colors for your home. I recently redid a beach house for a client who had previously painted each room a different tropical color. She found it to be tiring. We completely transformed the house into an old Florida beach cottage look with a pale gray and bright white trim in the living areas and bedrooms and a pale blue in the baths. Tropical colors were added with fabric and accessories. The result: Beautiful and restful.

• Avoid trends. Each year we talk about the trends in color. This is fun. Pink is the hot color. Gray is the new beige. What is a homeowner to do? Go with what you love. No matter what the trend of the moment happens to be. And don't forget my rule: Stick close to nature and you cannot go wrong with color.

— Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or email For more decorating tips and photos, visit

Design Notes: Go outdoors for inspiration

This past week (the week after the holidays) I was mostly inside catching up on work and by the time today rolled around, I was in need of the great outdoors.

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp SanctuaryWhenever I need inspiration, for decorating, writing or anything else, I always look to nature.  And although I spend most weekends combing the beaches of southwest Florida, today I was in need of some "green."

So I headed to a little gem called Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  I was not disappointed.  Mother nature always provides the best palate.  And we cannot go wrong using it in our home environment.  It is healthy and inspiring.Colorful leaves

This 11,000-acre ancient forest provides a 2.25-mile raised boardwalk that is a nice walk through four distinct environments: a pine upland, a wet prairie, a cypress forest and a marsh.

Wildlife sightings are plentiful here and vary depending on the time of year and the weather.  Today was gorgeous. We saw lots of birds, a gator, butterflies, mammals, insects, and a variety of native plants including wild orchids.  We did not see the black bear but maybe next time.  We also did not see the gorilla that some jokester wrote on the "today's sightings" board.

blue skyThe boardwalk is never crowded and the sanctuary's visitors are all very quiet and respectful of the surroundings.  There were a handful of serious nature photographers with amazingly long lens.  And my little point and shoot!

Think about getting outside to celebrate the beginning of a new year.  And remember my mantra for decorating:  Stay close to nature.  You can't go wrong!



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