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Best Ways to Incorporate Antiques into Your Home

So you’ve found an amazing antique in a local shop or during your travels, and you had to have it.  Or even better, you were gifted or inherited a cherished piece of ceramic, an heirloom textile, or exquisite piece of artwork. Both the sentimental value and the quality of an antique is unmatched, but making them work with more modern décor can sometimes be a challenge. Below are some ways to show off those antique pieces in your home with the focus they deserve – and so they look like they’ve been there all along.

Think about how you will display your antique – using less formal display methods can give an old piece a modern look.  Propping artwork against a shelf or another piece of furniture, or resting it directly on the mantel can tone down the formality of the piece.

If you fell in love with, or were bequeathed, a large piece of artwork, properly display it by giving it a spot of prominence on a plain wall. Painting a bright color on the wall behind it will make the painting pop, and a bold, contemporary color on the wall keeps an antique painting from looking too formal or stuffy. Consider how you’re lighting the piece as well.

Bedroom scandinavian-bedroom

You can also use an antique piece of art to create a new color scheme in the room. Pull a color you like out of a painting, and incorporate that palette throughout the room to tie the old and new together.

vintage
Photo from CountryLiving-45 Ways to Creatively Display Your Collection

Perhaps your antique is not a painting, but an object, or a collection of objects like earthenware or ceramics. A collection of similar items can be beautiful to display and enjoy. Don’t hide them away at the back of a cabinet; group your antique glassware or pottery prominently on a shelf or sideboard, or consider an open cabinet whose inside is painted a color that lets your collection stand out.  Consider, if you have a single piece, starting a collection or adding to one – what makes a collection is special is that it’s eclectic and can be added to over time.

antique-sofa
Photo from Wall Street Journal-How to Turn an Antique Sofa Into a Statement Piece

Is your antique a piece of furniture?  A wonderful way to work an old, perhaps ornate piece of furniture into a modern home is to pair it with more contemporary pieces.  A primitive antique dining table, or a glossy mahogany one with turned legs, will look equally at home paired with modern seating – metal chairs or ones upholstered in a graphic print.  Flank an antique with newer pieces and it will become a cohesive part of your space.

Cooling Your Home Down without A/C

For centuries, older houses had no such thing as air conditioning for relief during the warmer months. Instead of flipping a switch, the following eco-friendly, old-school methods were used to get air flowing through the house during the dog days of summer.

Using the passive-cooling principles that hot air rises, and cool air moves toward warmer air, you can design or retrofit your house to make use of fresh air to stay cool and invite in those long hot days of July and August.

Open Up the Room

Open windows for ventilation in the summer

Since hot air rises, and cool air moves toward warmer air, a house that has vented openings on both sides of the building has a lot more airflow – and any air movement is a good thing. Using operable windows on the cooler side of the house, you can open them wide to draw the air through from the hotter side of your home.

Shutters Aren’t Just for Outdoors

Shutters can be useful inside too. Shutters aren’t just a decorative alternative to curtains and blinds, they’re also a green way to ventilate – you can open up the windows behind them to let in air, and close the shutters to keep out the sun, and voila! The room is cooled down the old-fashioned way.

It’s Obvious, but: Fans

living room ceiling fan

Courtesy of housesen.com

Fans have been used since ancient times to keep things cool, since any air movement is good and a fan can suck away the warm air and push cooler breezes around a space. Ceiling fans are available in every conceivable design, whether you want something unobtrusive or bold.  Fans are even offered in retro palm-frond styles, and most fans also offer a light fixture combination if you don’t want to lose overhead lighting when you install the fan. Look for fans with a reverse switch or feature for winter, which helps push warmer air (it rises, remember?) back down into the room.

Take it Outside

Screened in porch sunroom

Courtesy of jpandcompany.net

Screened-in porches have long been an architectural staple in hot regions, and they deserve a comeback. Consider enclosing your covered porch, or enclosing a deck with screens, and you will have created an airy, insect-free outdoor living space. You can use a screened room for months, provided you furnish it with pieces made from materials that can withstand some rain, like wicker or metal. Bonus: a generous couch with some indoor-outdoor cushions becomes an ideal spot to sleep on hot summer nights!

wall to wall carpeting

How Can Rugs Complete Your Decor?

Rugs are one of the easiest ways to add color, texture, and warmth to a space. It is an important choice to consider, though, because a rug has the power to change the look and feel of a room. Even the what the rug is made of will determine its functionality and longevity.

Wall to Wall carpeting

Carpet pattern by Madeline Castaining, Room design by Jacques Grange

Rugs are more versatile than wall-to-wall carpet and offer a good way to soften a hardwood or tile floor, which, although practical, can sometimes be noisy and cold.  Area rugs are the perfect foil to the ubiquitous wooden floor, and can be swapped out seasonally – providing warmth and color in the winter, and a lighter, cooler look in warm weather.  Rugs can also be taken up and cleaned more easily than carpets, and can be used to highlight or section off a space.

purple matching area rug

Courtesy of http://www.mgaarchitects.com/

A rug should be one of your first considerations when furnishing a room. Remember that it’s usually easier to match paint or wall coverings to carpets or rugs rather than vice versa. That said, before you consider colors and patterns, you’ll need to decide what material the rug should be.  Some basic questions to help you choose the best kind of rug for your home include: what is the room used for? Who uses it – pets?  Kids? And how often? Rooms that are formal might be well-suited for a silk or viscose rug, but in areas where children play or food is likely to be spilled, more durable fabrics like wool or cotton blends, or even synthetics, make sense. Thinking about the traffic in the space will inform the decision about which material is best suited underfoot.

For the most dramatic impact, you should always buy the largest dimension rug your space will accommodate.  Try arranging your furniture around the edges of the rug, but place all your furniture on the rug – at least the front feet – to create a look that says the rug belongs in the space. And if you’re using a rug in the bedroom, use runners on both sides of the bed, or choose a large rug that will not only go under the bed, but also be visible beyond it.  Meanwhile, the rule of thumb in a dining room is to make sure the rug goes beneath the table and fully under the chairs, even when they’re pulled out.

patterned area rug

Courtesy of http://stirlingdesignassociates.com/Stirling-Design.html

Finally, rugs have the added bonus of providing sound insulation (especially when paired with an underlayer) and protecting the finish of the floors beneath them.  It’s a win-win when you add a rug to your room.

 

Decluttering for spring cleaning

Getting Your Home Organized for Spring

With the arrival of spring comes a sense of renewal; the air is crisp and fresh, new buds are flowering, and your home…well, your home is a dirty disorganized mess after a long winter, isn’t it?  Don’t worry, this is a common seasonal problem and luckily there are lots of solutions for tackling it.  Here are some ideas to help make your home summertime fine.

Declutter

If you don’t love it, or you don’t use it, then it’s clutter. Spring is an ideal time to embrace Feng Shui, the Asian art of uncluttered living.  The main tenet of Feng Shui is that if energy can easily flow through a room, your life will be happier and more harmonious; clutter is the most basic obstacle to reaching a calm and relaxed state. Be ruthless when it comes to decluttering. Getting rid of excess knick-knacks, pieces of non-functional furniture, and kitchen appliances you never use means you’ll have less to dust, less junk to look at, and an easier time finding the things you do use regularly.

Decluttering for spring cleaning

Make a Donation

Once you’ve done all that decluttering, anything you’re getting rid of that’s in good, usable shape is a candidate to sell or donate.  Gather these items together in boxes or plastic bags.  If you choose to donate, consider giving them to a local Salvation Army or Goodwill, or even a shelter in town.  Many organizations will even pick up your donations at your doorstep.  If you would rather sell, consider a yard sale, and see if any neighbors want to join in.  Or, take digital photos of the items you’re looking to sell and post them to a site like eBay or Craigslist, or even to Facebook – and watch things disappear.

Donate for spring cleaning

Checklist

Make a master checklist of all springtime cleaning/organizing jobs that you only do once or twice a year, like bringing large comforters to a laundromat, or dry-cleaning drapes or winter coats.  There’s also the seasonal clothing changeover, and things like checking batteries in smoke alarms or dusting hard-to-reach light fixtures and ceiling fans.  If you commit these odd jobs to a list, you won’t forget to do them. Then, try to do one or two of these chores per week throughout the spring, (and assign some to your family!) so you’re not overwhelmed with the list all at once.  The physical act of crossing items off the list and seeing progress on your to-do list is both satisfying and motivating.

to do list

Drawer Organizers

A quick and easy organizing hack that will tame disarray is drawer organizers for the kitchen, bathrooms, and office.  Divide and conquer the clutter and keep order by kitting your drawers out with wire or wooden organizers to keep small, loose items tidy and contained, and help you find that cheese grater or cookie cutter in the kitchen drawer jungle, or the paper clips or Sharpies in your office. If you can’t find an insert that perfectly fits your particular drawer, create a custom setup by lining the drawer with small containers or trays that fit next to each other like a puzzle, or divide the drawer in half.

organized drawer for spring cleaning

Courtesy of Cambria Bold at http://www.thekitchn.com/

Downsize your Bedside

You should prize your sleep, which is why it’s in your best interest to create a restful environment around your bed — and a cluttered nightstand does not help. An avalanche of books or magazines, lotion, device chargers, cups and tissues does not promote rest and order.  Instead of attempting to make space for every possible item you might ever want on your nightstand, consider using a more petite table that fits only what’s essential.  If you love to read in bed, choose one book.  The others can wait on a shelf.  If you like to write before bed, place your journal and a nice pen there. Make room for a glass of water and that’s it.

 

Clean night stand

Courtesy of http://hominicious.com/

Central Message Board

No, we aren’t talking about something online; make space in your home for a multitasking message board.  A message board will ramp up efficiency in a kitchen or home office. Not only does it act as a quick reference for everyone’s important appointments, to-do lists and must-revisit ideas, it also boosts organization and productivity.  Consider including a calendar on the board or giving each family member a dedicated corner. For added practicality, use a board you can write and tack/tape papers on, like a white dry-erase board or a magnetic chalkboard.

Incorporating even a couple of these ideas into your spring-cleaning routine will improve organization and get your home ready for the warmer seasons ahead.

Flower Power – Incorporating Floral Prints in Your Home Decor

There is nothing more classic in home decorating than the floral – it never goes out of style.  Floral prints can be botanical and iconic, or colorful and modern, and they provide a fresh, feminine sensibility to a space.  In honor of spring and all its heady blooms, here are some ideas for incorporating the floral into your decorating.

 

A Bright Accent

If you’re not sure about committing to floral prints, you can test them out with some bold floral accent pillows on your more neutral furniture or a pretty flower-patterned tablecloth in your dining room.  Swap out some wall hangings you’re tired of for a pair of garden-inspired framed botanical prints.  These are all easy and low-risk ways to try florals in your home.

Floral print throw pillows

Courtesy of http://nestprettythings.com/

Here we have a beautifully done example by Tamar at Nest Pretty Things where the throw pillows have a subtle touch of floral print that really blends in with the room. The goal is to not be overwhelming with this pattern, and Tamar has done a wonderful job! Check out here awesome blog and accessory designs over here!

In the Bedroom

A floral duvet cover or another bedding is a great way to introduce a bouquet into your sleeping quarters and adds femininity to the room.  The same can be said for floral window treatments, lampshades, or a headboard upholstered with a floral fabric that complements the bedding.  If your aim is to keep the space more gender-neutral, pick a floral on a grey or tan background.  Finally, the bedroom is a lovely and unexpected place for fresh flowers by the bedside or on a dresser.

Floral Duvet Cover

Courtesy of http://www.smartstyleinteriors.com/

Phoebe Oldrey of Smartstyle Interiors has done a fantastic job with this master bedroom! The blue shade makes is not overwhelmingly feminine, but still gives a classy touch of floral. The matching color wall and curtains tie the whole room together, making this an excellent example of floral print being used in the bedroom. Check out her blog  for some very insiteful design tips with her English background and style!

Wallpaper

Garden-inspired prints are classic wallpaper subjects, but there are just as many bold and modern floral wallpapers on offer.  Consider an accent wall of paper behind your sofa or your bed, to bring florals in without overwhelming a space.  Small prints look great in bathrooms or kitchens, but you can also use papers with bolder patterns and colors as an alternative to tile in a kitchen – bonus: most wallpaper is more durable than paint for use in food prep/cooking areas.

Floral Print Wallpaper Kitchen

Courtesy of http://www.lisawolfedesign.com/

Lisa Wolfe used floral wallpaper as an accent wall in this kitchen to bring this eclectic, bohemian kitchen to life! While it is not behind the cooking area, this pattern makes this an interesting and unique kitchen design without overwhelming you with the floral pattern. Check out her blog for some cool design tips and lifestyle tricks!

Pattern Mixing

If your sofa is a checked pattern, that doesn’t mean you can’t use florals in the living room too.  In fact, layering patterns is a chic way to sophisticate a space. Traditional florals on classic upholstery are one of a decorator’s favorite tools. Try matching your accent chairs and sofa pillows to tie together a cohesive look. The key is to use patterns of differing scales; if your floral is a large cabbage rose, pair it with a smaller more geometric pattern for balance.

Courtesy of http://www.wesley-wayne.com/

Courtesy of http://www.wesley-wayne.com/

Texas based designer Carl Wesley Lowery executed this technique with ease and class in this living room by matching his chairs with the throw pillows on the couch, contrasting the leather footrest in between. Well done Carl!

Try Floral Underfoot

Artful floral prints on the floor are another way to use this style. Awaken a room with pale neutral walls by adding a lively color palette underfoot.  Use the colors from the floor covering as inspiration for accompanying textiles. Floral kitchen rugs are an excellent way to add pattern, color, and warmth, and a bright print effortlessly livens up a white or neutral kitchen.  Area rugs in the kitchen should be durable materials that can withstand traffic and spills – an added plus is that floral prints tend to hide stains!

Floral pattern kitchen rug

Courtesy of http://www.bannercarpets.ca/

These Canadian carpet experts have managed to place this carpet strategically by the island for cooking prep, and doesn’t let the pattern make the kitchen feel too cluttered. Wonderful job!

From Decoist

Making A Successful Home Gym for the New Year

Sweat season has begun! A new year brings new resolutions and topping everyone’s list is to get healthier and to begin exercising. So let’s dive into how to turn your spare guest room into a motivating home gym.

Before you start dragging in weights and a new exercise bike, let’s get the atmosphere right. Here we take a page from popular New York City gym’s, New York Sports Club and newcomer 24 Hour Fitness.

NYSC Interior

24 Hour Fitness interior

Paint or cover your wall with bold and vibrant colors.

Warm colors in shades of yellow or red will help excite you and keep you energized throughout your workout. Stay away from dark blues and grays and opt for shades that brighten the room.

Complement your walls with large mirrors that open the space and spread light around, but more importantly, let you observe your form as your workout. Added bonus: you can also admire yourself after every hard-working session.

perfect home gym mirrors

From Decoist

Prepare your space by covering the floors in a non-slip and soft material. Rubber flooring is a popular go-to, but those who want to maintain the room’s aesthetics can opt for carpet – sometimes laid on top of rubber flooring.

 

Don’t let it get too steamy in there either. Overhead fans are a great way to keep the air circulating and keep you cool.

 

Lastly, don’t forget that a home gym is allowed to feel like home. Put up a TV or install speakers for adrenaline pumping tunes for you to workout to. Feel free to throw up motivational posters or inspiring pictures to boost your morale. Add an upholstered bench and a rack of clean white towels for your post workout meditation and cool down.

I know you were dreading starting your workout, but follow these tips and make the home gym a room you will want to visit day after day.

Holiday Colors for Decorating Your Home This Season

It’s that time of year again. You’re ready to decorate for the holidays, but you don’t know how you want your home to look. Of course, the traditional red and green Christmas color scheme is the first to spring to mind, but what if you want your personality to show through this holiday season? Here are some different ways to change up your decorating this year

Blue and silver are a great combination for the holiday season. This color scheme not only looks great upon an evergreen but makes for a fantastic winter theme. The ice blue and shimmering silver is a perfect compliment to the cold winter weather, but, instead of frigid, it leaves your home refreshing and bright.

silver and blue Christmas decor

Courtesy of onekinddesign.com

Gold is another perfect color for the holiday season. It not only works for Christmas but also for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa decorations. This glisten of gold stands out on its own, but it also complements other seasonal favorites: reds, greens, and blues. We suggest you opt for gold curtains to keep out the gold and add a warm glow to your living room. Incorporate gold mantle pieces and table decorations to brighten your home during this season of lights.

Gold Upholstered Chair and Christmas Tree

Courtesy of architectureartdesigns.com

Dreaming of a white Christmas? With how the winter is shaping up in New York City, if you want a winter wonderland, you are going to need to make one yourself. Go for an all-white color scheme. Adding the white detail onto your Christmas tree will make it look like it snowed in your own home. Finish the illusion by adding a white ottoman, a throw rug, and some throw pillows. No matter the weather outside, you home will be bright and luxurious winter landscape.

White upholstered ottoman and upholstered chair, white christmas tree

Courtesy of architectureartdesigns.com

If you can’t pick one color that you want to use this holiday season, you don’t have to. Jumbling different colors and patterns has been long-standing Christmas tradition. From draping your home in multi-colored lights and mismatched ornaments. You can do a mixture of colors and really get creative with your holiday decor. Incorporate vibrant colors like lime green, pink, and orange. A hodge-podge collection of decor and color bring a traditional feel that can make even the most modern homes feel more cozy.

multicolored Christmas living room

Courtesy of onekindesign.com

But, if you are a sucker for the classics and want to decorate around a red and green theme, then make it pop. Add in colors like silver or gold to make your display more eye-catching. You can incorporate metallics in your decorating by adding a few silver and gold ornaments on your tree. This will bring some sparkle to your space as well as make your personality shine through this traditional look.

multi-colored Christmas tree and blue and red throw upholstered pillow

Courtesy of architectureartdesigns.com

The holiday season is the best time of year to show off your home. Don’t be afraid to go bold and wow your holiday guests.