Rolling Out the Carpets

It feels like we have been waiting may months for spring to arrive. As we welcome this season of transition into our home, it is the perfect time to lighten up the inside of our tranquil living space.  It is important to keep stimulating your senses and switch things ups from time to time. It is the perfect season is to add visual interest, and create an open and airy transitional space that welcomes the new season with open arms.  There are so many ways to make these changes that include painting, introducing brighter color linens and pillows, layering natural textures or simply adding plants and flowers to the space. These small changes can make a big impact on a minimal budget.

As trends revolve like the seasons and color palettes evolve, your home becomes the canvas for you and your family.  There are elements of your home that remain consistent and may be forgotten.  The flooring in your dwelling is the one element that requires a commitment and rarely changes after you make the selection.   It can be one of the costliest investments you introduce into any renovation budget and certainly not something you update or change for the season.

This is the season for you to introduce natural fiber area rugs to your home. Get ready to roll up those heavy wool rugs and put them in storage until October.  There are so many options on the market today that can update your space and add a lighter natural element to your floors.  Start small or go big and keep it neutral.  These beautiful woven pieces of art can transform any space and introduce a casual ease.  Best used over hardwood flooring, tiles and brick these textured beauties come in a variety of colors, sizes and woven patterns.

First, lets define a natural fiber.  A natural fiber comes from plants or animals. Natural fiber rugs are woven from durable threads that range from sisal, seagrass, jute, coir and bamboo.  Natural fiber rugs bring a modern organic look and neutral texture to any setting. They are a natural choice for adding a casual look to classic living and family rooms, or a relaxed kickback feel to the weekend cottage.  Each natural rug brings a human element to your home. Each of these rugs are woven by hand into interesting pattern by craftsmen who have skills that have been handed down for generations.

Sisal is a popular choice for many, these rugs are resistant to most stains and repels dust. Sisal is the toughest of all natural fibers and works great in high-traffic areas. It is made from the long pointed leaves of the Sisalana plant, which is native to Brazil, Mexico and parts of Africa.  Sisal actually absorbs the humidity on hot summer days, which helps to cool a room. The sisal fibers are coarse so it is not ideal for small children or bare feet. Sisal cannot be used outdoors. The natural color of sisal is creamy white. Prolonged exposure to the sun will cause colored-sisal to fade.  Sisal’s exceptional durability is suitable for both residential and commercial use. However, after prolong use on a stairway, sisal will become slippery, therefore, avoid stairways.

Seagrass is a fiber that is also strong and resistant to most spills and stains.  Sea grass does not contain chemicals and toxins.  This is a perfect option for allergy sufferers who want a beautiful natural rug.  Seagrass rugs are very durable and usually have a latex backing. They have a lot of texture, which creates dimension to an interior. This type of rug is also excellent on an enclosed porch or entryway as well as in your bedroom.

Jute rugs originate in India and Bangladesh. These fibers come from the plant stalk instead of the leaves, so the fibers are softer than some other natural fiber rugs, but less durable. Jute rugs more closely resemble wool than the other natural fibers. The natural color of jute is brown.  Jute holds up well under low to medium traffic.  I would define high traffic areas include hallways, family room and entryway. Medium traffic areas include the dining room and home office. Low traffic areas include bedrooms and formal living room.

Coir rugs are made from the husks of coconuts and have a latex backing. They are an environmentally friendly option. Only discarded coconut husks are used to construct these rugs, so the tree remains intact. Coir rugs are hand-loomed and will have imperfections. Coir rugs must use a rug pad to protect the floor beneath.

Bamboo is fast-growing plant and can be harvested without killing the host plant. There are many benefits to owning a bamboo rug, such as its natural fire resistance, durability and easy care. Bamboo rugs have felt backing to protect the floor from scratches.

Easy care and vacuuming regularly will extend the life of your natural rug.  Make certain you blot spills immediately with a clean, absorbent white cloth or spot clean with a dry extraction powder. Natural fibers are quite absorbent and can shrink and expand with changes in humidity. They are intended for indoor use only and are not recommended for use in damp or humid areas such as bathrooms. Make certain you keep them out of direct sunlight to help prevent fading. Rotate the rug periodically to help reduce uneven wear. Lastly, make sure you use a rug pad under any non-backed fiber rug. If you chose to use the rug over carpeting a rug pad should also be used.

Easily forgotten, the floors of our home deserve a little special update seasonally as well as it counterparts.  This spring explore, experiment and take a risk.   Introduce a natural element rug to any space in your home and continue to bring the “outside inside”.

Rolilng out

 

 

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SPACE SAVER

Are you finding that you just can’t make things squeeze into place?  Perhaps your previously organized spaces are overflowing and crazy?   You should consider these stylish options to add a little zing to your home and efficiency to your home.

  • If your living-room coffee table has become the center of bill paying, homework, and the occasional meal—you might want to consider a sofa table that adapts with action. Select a multifunctional table that has two adjustable wood panels that lift with storage inside. They act as trays when up (for laptops or plates of food) and conceal storage when down (perfect for a vast collection of remotes or magazines). This table can even serve as a party station, enticing guests to circulate away from the buffet or a space to relax in the evening.
  • If your pots and utensils are cluttering your cabinets invest in a beautiful pot rack. Choose a style that can be mounted to a wall or the ceiling.  There are even styles that now have lighting attached and can be utilized above a busy kitchen island.  If you are on a budget, pick up some S-hooks from the hardware store. Mount a copper bar to the wall and allow it to accommodate pans or small pots. Be sure to leave at least two feet between the bar and the counter so there’s room for the pots to hang.  For an elegant and shabby chic look, suspend a beautiful piece of found driftwood from the ceiling with rope and utilize it as an overhead rack.
  • Bulky cable boxes and tangles of cords have nearly driven all of us bonkers. Target has now introduced a genius console/entertainment center that has got your ugly tech stuff covered. This unique console has strategically sized and spaced holes in the front covered panels to allow your remote’s gamma rays, etc. to penetrate. Inside, your cable box, Blu-ray player, and movie-streaming device can be hidden, with cords neatly threaded through precut holes in back.
  • A rolling cart utilizes vertical space perfectly and is small enough to work in super tight quarters. For the bathroom, fill one with towels, shower essentials, and toiletries. Looking for more roll-a-way storage ideas? For BBQ use, keep a cart stocked with outdoor-entertaining staples and wheel it onto the patio for a pop-up party. In the garage, fill one with maintenance supplies (motor oil, wiper fluid, car-wash cloths). Use another as an easy-to-stash crafting station.
  • The best thing to happen to workstations since the laptop is the hide away home office. This concept provides an impressive setup for a small desk that folds right up internally into the unit-similar to a murphy bed.

pot rack

 

Swivel Chairs

Chairs are getting quite a bit of attention, and one style that’s increasingly popular for its versatility is the swivel chair.  Not only are they comfortable, but in big open floor plans where kitchen, dining and living areas all occupy one big room, swivel chairs allow you and your guests to pivot to different activities and conversations.

I have been seeing the swivel chair trend everywhere this season. These amazingly versatile seats are actually amazing for rearranging on a whim, lounging in over the weekend and, most importantly, entertaining. After all, who has time to adjust all of the seating for company when the chairs can do all of the work with one quick spin?

Unrivaled in movement, function, and flexibility, swivel chairs have been an industry standard for many years. Now, designer-favorite swivels are available in an array of irresistible styles.  Why have these seats become so popular? Upholstered swivel chairs enhance the modern home with adaptability and seamless motion, while simultaneously solving a plethora of design challenges. Small space? Consider a swivel chair. Open floor plan? Consider a swivel chair. Multiple focal points? You guessed it—consider a swivel!

Whether you are incorporating vintage swivel chairs into your decor for function or style, there is something inherently fun about being able to take a spin in a comfortable seat. While we tend to associate swivel chairs with salons or office spaces, they are making a comeback in a big way to modern styling. Vintage swivel chairs are getting new fabrics and elegant lines so they can highlight your decor beautifully while hiding the mechanisms that allow them to swivel.

Swivel chairs offer versatility; they work in living rooms, bedrooms, offices, and even outdoors.  If you’re thinking of outdated wooden desk chairs, think again.  In a variety of materials, like fabric, leather, and rattan, swivel chairs fit any aesthetic, from traditional to modern to eclectic.

Swivel chairs also add coziness in large rooms or outdoor spaces.  Group a few on the patio to create a chat area in the sun or place a pair in front of a fireplace to create conversation areas.  This will help anchor your spaces and create structure in spots that could otherwise feel bare and uninviting.  I really embrace the ability of movement that swivel chairs offer.  You can turn towards the person with whom you’re speaking, or you can angle to better catch the light if you’re curled up with a magazine.  I love placing a cozy swivel chair in the corner of a bedroom to create a little reading nook. These chairs offer a sleek, low profile, and gently hug your body whether you’re curling up with a book or socializing with loved ones.

The truth is, there’s no right answer when it comes to swivel chair placement; simply look for a piece that fits your scale and style. Then, get creative—unexpected areas can often benefit the most from flexible seating.

swivel chair

TULIP TIME

When I think of spring tulips are the most iconic symbol that warmer weather and brighter sunshine days are right around the corner.  While visiting the market yesterday, I was so pleased to be greeted by bright colors or yellow, hot pink, red and lavender.  Is it true?  Winter is coming to a close?  As I thought about it, I quickly recalled my days of living on 13thStreet in Washington, DC.  Every week it was a treated to pick up new tulips on my walk home from work.  It was almost like these little pops of color were the pendulum of swinging in spring.  They also inspired me to switch out pillow covers and change the drapes to brighter and lighter linen styles.

So how can we make the most of our tulip selection?  Here are a few tips to prolong the life of these little friends that can perk up any space this spring.

  • Try to pick the freshest bunch possible. Tight and closed is my first hint.
  • Trim ¼ inch from the base of the stems (wash of any soil that might still be on the stems)
  • Make certain you select the perfect vase. Finding a vase with a smaller opening on top will keep the tulips closer and more erect.
  • Use a small amount of water in the vase. Otherwise, the tulips will continue to grow and they will bend over and break.
  • Don’t re-cut the stems or change the water. This will make them droop.
  • Add a splash of bleach to the water. This will keep the water clear and give you fresh, beautiful tulips for an entire week.
  • Lastly, if you have a special event and are not concerned about the lifespan of the tulips, locate a penny produced before 1982 drop it in the water and let it sink to the bottom of the vase. This penny will keep your tulips standing straight however, it will shorten the life.

tuilips

 

Furniture Shopping Online

With online shopping making up less than 10% of total retail sales in the US, it may seem bold to declare the online world as the future of interior design. But while there will always be stronger physical markets for categories like food, cars, and gasoline, the online market is undeniably on the rise for categories like apparel and home goods.

Online shopping is a great tool for furnishing your home.  Many people write off the idea of buying furniture online because it seems too risky. How can you tell if what you see is actually what you get? How do you know the piece will work in your home if you haven’t had a chance to see it first?

However, did you know that in most furniture stores, “design consultant” is just a fancy word for a salesperson? Sales teams earn both a salary and commission, sometimes 10% or more, and many stores require their sales associates to meet a minimum dollar amount before they can even earn their commission. What is the result? You end up on the receiving end of an aggressive sales pitch claiming that the sofa you’ve been eyeing is “almost sold out” or “won’t go on sale again.”

A new study published in Forbes magazine states that, “the [brick and mortar’s] competitive issue with online retailers isn’t pricing. It’s a fulfillment and service battle.” Most usually online you will always get an answer from a customer service representative.  Their responsiveness is just the first step they take when it comes to service. What was truly missing in the online industry was a reliable resource where trained designers and product experts could actually answer your questions and meet your design needs from purchase to delivery.  However, as time has progresses and more interior designers and homeowners use the power of the Internet to shop this has been rectified.  Many times you will not have this responsiveness from a brick and mortar store.

Before you make a commitment to order and purchase furniture online, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Measuring is the most important component of buying furniture, period. It’s even more crucial when buying online. Since you won’t be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar store and see with your own eyes how that piece will fit in your space, you’ll have to make sure your measuring skills are solid.
  2. When you have an item you want to buy, read over the product listing to find the dimensions. (If you can’t find the dimensions, don’t buy that one.) Next, use measured-out painter’s tape or string to build a layout of how it will look in your home on the floor.
  3. Don’t just rely on an outline on the floor – build a model. You can use cardboard boxes to mark off the space visually for the height. This will give you a sense of volume.  Utilize this three-dimensional mock up to get a visual frame of reference. Next, try to live with it for a few days before making the commitment to purchase it.  This exercise will allow you the opportunity to make certain the space is not overcrowded and is still going to be functional for you, especially if it’s a hallway or highly trafficked area.
  4. Ask for samples, use photos and close-ups. While the color accuracy depicted on screens has come a long way, take advantage of the opportunity to get free fabric or leather swatches sent to you. Many companies will send one to you to ensure you’re happy with the way the fabric looks.
  5. If a swatch is not an option, you can always do an image search for consumer photos of the product. While some details will still be slightly altered by your computer screen, those will show you a different version of how the piece will look once you’ve furnished your home with it.
  6. Consider comfort and support. Perhaps the biggest stumbling blocks for going online to buy upholstered pieces like a sofa is that you can’t give them a test-sit in advance. Look at the depth dimensions of the item. This is super important to think about.  If you’re going to use the piece mainly for lounging, or you love lots of throw pillows, you’re going to want a deeper seat. Lower sofas will also give a more deep-seated feel.  Lastly, don’t forget about materials.  Down sits a lot cushier and a lot softer versus polyfill, which allows you to have more support.

Onlineshopping

 

Be Mine…

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to express our love through pink hearts, candy, red roses and a loved-up card– but the true history of the holiday isn’t as sweet. Originating as a pagan ritual for fertility, Valentine’s Day has evolved throughout centuries worth of martyrdom, religious politics, beheadings, and industrialization to become the holiday we now associate with love.

\Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?

While the exact origins of Valentine’s Day remain murky, some historians consider the Ancient Roman feast Lupercalia, held from February 13 to 15, the holiday’s earliest iteration. During the festivities, Roman priests sacrificed a goat and a dog, using strips of the animals’ hides dipped in blood to whip women in the belief that it would make them more fertile. The ritual also included a matchmaking session, with bachelors selecting the names of their “sweethearts” from an urn.

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.  Esther A. Howland (known as “Mother of the Valentine”) began selling the first mass-produced cards in America in the 1840s and Hallmark Cards entered the scene in 1913. Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates that loved ones send approximately 145 million cards around the world every year.

The tradition of giving flowers to loved ones on Valentine’s Day originated in the 17th century when King Charles II of Sweden popularized “the language of flowers”, or attaching conversationalist meanings to different types of flowers, throughout Europe. The most traditional type for Valentine’s Day became the rose because of its association with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Since then, the custom has grown with the National Retail Federation estimating that $2 billion are spent on Valentine’s Day flowers each year.

VDay

 

 

 

Be Mine…

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to express our love through pink hearts, candy, red roses and a loved-up card– but the true history of the holiday isn’t as sweet. Originating as a pagan ritual for fertility, Valentine’s Day has evolved throughout centuries worth of martyrdom, religious politics, beheadings, and industrialization to become the holiday we now associate with love.

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?

While the exact origins of Valentine’s Day remain murky, some historians consider the Ancient Roman feast Lupercalia, held from February 13 to 15, the holiday’s earliest iteration. During the festivities, Roman priests sacrificed a goat and a dog, using strips of the animals’ hides dipped in blood to whip women in the belief that it would make them more fertile. The ritual also included a matchmaking session, with bachelors selecting the names of their “sweethearts” from an urn.

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.  Esther A. Howland (known as “Mother of the Valentine”) began selling the first mass-produced cards in America in the 1840s and Hallmark Cards entered the scene in 1913. Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates that loved ones send approximately 145 million cards around the world every year.

The tradition of giving flowers to loved ones on Valentine’s Day originated in the 17th century when King Charles II of Sweden popularized “the language of flowers”, or attaching conversationalist meanings to different types of flowers, throughout Europe. The most traditional type for Valentine’s Day became the rose because of its association with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Since then, the custom has grown with the National Retail Federation estimating that $2 billion are spent on Valentine’s Day flowers each year.

VDay