25 August 2016

Quick Clicks | Dreamy Dorm Rooms

Ready, set, back to campus! One of the most fun and exciting things about this semester (at least as far as we’re concerned!) is taking the all decorating ideas you’ve seen over the summer and putting them together to create your new home away from home for the next few months.

However, if you're like many new or returning scholars you may have waited until the last minute, have absolutely no inspiration and are sitting in the middle of your dorm room scratching your head wondering how to give it a stylish and personal touch. Don't worry. We're here with a few fantastic images that will blow you away and help you along in the design process. Enjoy the pretty pictures and have fun decorating!


17 August 2016

10 Ways to Add Interest to a Room With Texture

Adding interest to a room is a fairly simple task. Color goes a long way to create interest. So does unique artwork, patterned fabrics and dramatic lighting. But what if you tend to shy away from color and anything that’s too trendy or bold? Fortunately for you, there are sneaky ways to create plenty of interest by adding textural accents throughout your room.

Organic accessories: Go natural by accessorizing with items like succulents, baskets, geodes and wooden spheres to create a tactile and organic look and feel.

Sculptural wall décor:  Metal wall art, macramé wall hangings and even antique advertising signs will work with a variety of decorating styles like modern, bohemian and country.

Pillows and throws: Add comfort and interest by layering pillows and throws. Decorative pillows come in a myriad of weaves and naps to make your spaces come alive with touchable textures. Sumptuous throws help keep us warm in the winter but also look stunning draped over a chair or across the foot of the bed.

Wood grain: What has more texture than wood grain? Consider introducing a piece of reclaimed wood furniture or a shiplap wall into your space. Wood grain tiles are an economical way to get the look of real wood flooring. Faux bois painting can transform virtually any surface into a wood-like finish.

Architectural detail: Simple crown molding is an understated textural element that will take your room to the next level. Give plain old white walls dimension and texture by adding wainscoting at waist level or higher. Beadboard on the ceiling or as the back panel of a bookcase is another way to add traditional architectural interest.

Upholstery techniques:
Texture can come from other sources than the fabric itself. Tufted upholstery creates built-in visual texture. If you’re not sure about the look, start by purchasing a small piece like a tufted ottoman. Purchase a pack of nailhead tacks and dress up an uninspired chair. Pintucked comforters, pillows and curtains transform flat weave fabric into something magnificent.

Tile or masonry: Contrasts between smooth and rough surfaces give a room personality. A wall of stacked stone, glass tile shower surround, slate floor tiles or an weather brick veneer backsplash adds interest. The slight surface and tonal variations make each one of these examples highly textural.

Wall coverings: Wallpaper is the new paint. A new generation of flocked or reflective designs and more casual styles like grasscloth or cork are loaded with texture and serve as an interesting departure from ordinary flat wallpaper.

Textiles: Use a combination of textiles to give your room a curated feel. Velvet upholstery is not only beautiful to look at but has a distinctly sensuous feel. A natural fiber rug like jute can mimic the color of a wood floor but makes it interesting and unexpected underfoot. Silk curtains add a sheen that cotton or synthetic panels just can’t match.

Animal instincts: Distressed leather adds warmth and dimension with its natural texture and uneven grain. Fluffy fur, whether mink, cowhide, cheetah or Mongolian lamb, is the stuff of dreams when it comes to adding texture and interest to boring furniture. If you’re a true animal lover, go strictly faux.

10 August 2016

Design Crush | Fabulous Front Doors

What a difference a door makes. It is a peek into your home's personality. Not only does it create welcoming first impression, it can also increase your home's curb appeal and value. Take a really close look at your front door. Is the paint or stain showing signs of wear? Are there cobwebs in the corners? Can you read the house numbers? Has the door mat seen better days?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it's time to roll up your sleeves and give your front door the facelift it deserves. It's easy, relatively inexpensive and can be done in a day. Take a gander at these fabulous examples we've found and get busy making your front door a thing of beauty!

Stacked sidelights all around and a coat of turquoise make this front door unforgettable.

Arts and Crafts influences include a handcrafted wood door and leaded glass.
Give your front door a country look with a coat of subtle sage paint flanked with buckets of greenery.

Dark gray set against off-white siding gives this stately front door even more importance. 

A peachy keen door instantly brightens up a formal facade.

 Create a holiday feel or simply an warm welcome with a bright red front door and matching sconces.
What's more fun that Dutch doors? Double Dutch doors in bright blue!

 Don Draper would love this Mid-century Modern door with its vertical row of glass inserts.

What could be more unexpected than a shrimp pink door on a New England cedar shingled house? 

 Rustic meets modern when a light natural wood door is paired with sleek architectural elements.


03 August 2016

How to Keep Your Tile Floors Sparkling Clean

Now that you’ve taken up all that old, worn carpet and replaced it with beautiful tile, you’re probably curious about its care and maintenance. If you want to extend the life of your tile floors and keep them looking like new (and who doesn’t?), you need to know the basics of tile cleaning.

While cleaning tile isn’t necessarily rocket science, there are a few tricks to ensure your tile floors stay sparkling clean for years to come. These simple tips apply to most types of tile including ceramic, porcelain, vinyl or natural stone.

Believe it or not, some people don’t sweep their tile floors. This results in granules of dirt sticking to the tiles like a magnet—especially textured tile like tumbled marble or slate. That layer of grit eventually etches into the tile, dulling the surface and making it difficult to keep clean.

Routine sweeping loosens and removes most of that dirt. An upright vacuum cleaner with a bare floor setting will also work, but over time they can scratch the tiles. If you must, use a canister vacuum with a floor attachment to avoid surface damage.

Damp Mopping

Tile floors should be regularly damp mopped using a mild cleaner, preferably one recommended by the manufacturer. If you’re not certain which cleaner to use, stick with water and a squirt of dishwashing liquid or a cup of white vinegar per gallon of water. Both are safe for use in homes with children or pets.

Deep Cleaning
If your tile floors are heavily soiled, mopping probably won’t help much. For extremely dirty tile, use an oxygen bleach solution and apply with a scrub brush to remove embedded dirt, grease and grime. After applying any cleaning solution, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove residue and prevent film build-up.

Tackle years of ground-in dirt and gunk by purchasing or renting a steam cleaner. If your tile is beyond DIY help, leave it to the professionals to get out stubborn stains and dirt.

Grout Cleaning
Don’t forget about the grout. Clean tiles are just no good unless the grout is clean as well. When tile is originally installed, a protective grout sealer is applied. This sealer should be reapplied each year to prevent stains, dirt and moisture from penetrating the grout’s porous surface.

To clean dirty grout lines, mix up a batch of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda or oxygen bleach and water in equal parts. Scrub stains and discoloration with a toothbrush and rinse. Allow the grout to dry completely and then apply the sealer.

Arto Brick via flickr

27 July 2016

Design Crush | 19 Summer Rugs We're Crazy About

It's that time of the year when less is more. As temperatures soar, indoor cooking takes a backseat to the barbecue grill. Shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits become our summer uniform. Life slows down and we focus on enjoying a more relaxing, casual lifestyle.

This kind of informal, minimal vibe is easily translatable to your living spaces too. Whether you’re looking to add a laid back feel to your patio or master bedroom, we have found the best rugs of the season to help you convey that carefree summertime mood. We are absolutely wild over these versatile, easy going rugs and we know you will be too!

The Porter rug is the epitome of casual. Recycled denim and suede are woven into a stylish herringbone design that is super comfy underfoot. From Serena and Lily

Ballard Designs' Vineyard Stripe rug has a distinctly beachy feel with its neutral tones and natural nubby texture. And the best news is it's reversible! 

Summer Splash says it all. This durable outdoor rug by Mohawk would look equally good inside your house. Its fresh lime green and teal watercolor look works beautifully with any decor style.

Make a statement with this cheerful Konkow Suzani from the Fergana collection at Rugs USA. The 100% polyester hand tufted pile will withstand numerous summers of abuse from kids and pets.

 Add an elegant touch to any outdoor space with the Ashworth flat weave rug. It's available in a variety of colors, but we love the graphic nature of black and white. Available though Frontgate.

West Elm's striking Summer Wool Ikat is a modern update of a traditional design. Hand tufted in India, this beauty is on special order, so you better buy it now to enjoy it before summer's over.

You can find nuLOOM's Summertime Playhouse rug on Overstock.com. Its synthetic fibers prevent shedding and makes for easy cleanup. The fun pattern is designed to spark imaginative play.

Sea motifs are hot these days and the Capri from Trans Ocean Imports takes full advantage of the trend. The coral border is set off by the rich orange background. Find it at Rugs Direct.

 Get in a tropical mood with the Pindo Rug from Home Decorator's Collection. This synthetic is designed for indoor and outdoor use and has a texture reminiscent of natural fiber.

The Dobry rug by Dash & Albert is 100% woven cotton and will give your room a real down home feel.  Perfect for summer. Available on American Country Home Store's website.

Gray and aqua hues in the geometric Courtyard Galaxy rug by Safavieh make a modern statement for the patio or living room.  Also great for transitional spaces. Available on Kohl's.com.

Your tootsies will enjoy the natural texture of the Abaca rug from Williams Sonoma Home. The ropes of the tropical plant are hand braided giving the rug its subtle taupe shading and durability.

 From Fab Rugs and AllModern comes a contemporary take on an Old World tile pattern. Ideal for indoor/outdoor use, this cheery rug is finished with bands of orange for unexpected pops of color.

If it's not hot enough outside, you need this sizzling red and orange Tangier rug from Fab Habitat. It works anywhere because its made from recycled drinking straws! Found at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Rugs America gives you the look and feel of a delicate antique rug in a tough synthetic weave. Asteria's lovely design in faded lavender resembles traditional Sari silk. Available from Wayfair.

Boho summer from Trans Ocean Import Co. The Capri features a multi-color ethnic border design. It's hand tufted in an acrylic-poly blend designed for outdoor use. Check it out at Hayneedle.

Here's an accent rug perfect for your indoor or outdoor kitchen. The hand painted lobsters reverse to stripes on this polyester flat weave. From the Threshold at Target.

 Sink your feet into this Pool blue ultra plush rug from PB Teen. The cut pile gives it a soft and velvety touch and the aqua color reminds us of days poolside. Your teen will love it.

The Canyon rug from Z Gallerie reminds us of family vacations to canyon country. The gorgeous dijon and gray striations in the bamboo silk resemble natural stone. 

21 July 2016

7 Super Easy Summer Decor Ideas

It's never too late for a "staycation"! You still have time to soak up the remaining weeks of summer by adding a warm, fun and casual vibe to your decor. It doesn’t require much effort to create a relaxing interior you and your family can enjoy for the rest of the season. Try any or all of these super easy tricks to transform your home into a summer getaway without ever leaving the neighborhood! 

Keep Things Simple
How would you want your house to look if it were your summer vacation home? You’d let in lots of light by taking down heavy curtains and substituting heavy and ornate furniture pieces with wicker, glass top tables and fun poufs for additional seating. Store away bulky throws and the majority of your accessories to keep rooms feeling light and airy.

Bring the Outdoors In
Being outside is synonymous with summer so why not bring that feeling inside? For an organic look, introduce natural materials such as jute, reclaimed wood, sea shells and greenery. Textiles like linen and cotton give rooms a fresh summery feel. Merge your outdoor entertaining spaces with adjacent indoor rooms with coordinating furniture and fabrics. That way, you’ll instantly double your square footage!

Brighten It Up
Rich and deep tones suit cold weather months, but summer calls for a variety of whites, pastels and brights. While you probably won’t be running out to buy new upholstered pieces, bringing in seasonal pillows, sheers or slipcovers is an easy way to lighten the mood in your rooms.

Consider the Kids
Summer months seem endless to your kids. Most likely they’ll be hanging out at home for a few more weeks, so you need to make things comfortable for them. Keep your summer decor kid-friendly with durable, easy clean fabrics and furniture that can stand up to daily wear and tear. Swap out some of your nice pieces with rugged replacements from thrift stores and garage sales. You can retire them when school’s back in session.

Move the Furniture
Nothing breathes new life into a space more than rearranging the furniture. Your television or fireplace obviously isn’t the right focal point for warm weather. Shift your furniture into a new configuration to promote face-to-face social interaction. Make your windows or French doors the room’s focus to enjoy views of the pool, lush yard or flower garden.

Pick Some Flowers

One of our favorite ways to inject bright color and natural fragrance into your “staycation” home is to place bouquets of freshly picked (or purchased) flowers in prominent spots around the house. Think foyer, living room, bedroom and kitchen. Glorious arrangements of frilly pink peonies, bold yellow gerberas or fiery orange lilies instantly cheer up any space and create perfect summer centerpieces.


13 July 2016

Tips for Successfully Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

Refinishing cabinets is a DIY project that requires plenty of time and elbow grease. The good news is, if you follow these steps your kitchen will look fabulous and you can restore the cabinets you have instead of spending big bucks replacing them.

But what if your kitchen cabinets are old, worn and not the greatest quality? You can strip and paint them. If your cabinets are in good shape and just need a little facelift, staining is probably the way to go.

Getting Organized
Stripping and refinishing doors while they are in place may seem like the simple route but that can lead to missed spots, drips and a big mess. In order to avoid the inevitable, it is best to empty the cabinets of their contents, mask off countertops and remove the cabinet doors, drawers and hardware.

Stick a small piece of painter’s tape on the back of the doors to indicate their placement. Place the hinges, knobs and pulls in zippered snack bags and devise a system that matches the hardware to the correct door or drawer. Then place the doors on a drop cloth in a well-ventilated space.

Preparing the Surfaces

Surface prep is the most critical step in the process for the new finish to properly adhere to the wood. Before you get into refinishing, you will need to remove any existing varnish or paint from all visible surfaces. Begin by filling any dings or scratches with wood putty and let dry. If you want to change out your cabinets knobs and pulls for new ones, fill the old holes with wood filler at this time.

Sand the cabinet boxes and doors with progressively finer sandpaper to get the smoothest finish possible. Start with 100-grit then go to 180-grit and move to 220-grit. Once the old finish is removed, use a wood conditioner to ensure the new stain takes evenly or apply a coat of primer if you plan to paint the cabinets. Remove grit with a vacuum and tack cloth to ensure a smooth, grain-free finish.

Choosing Your Stain/Paint
Wood stains and paints are available in both oil and water-based versions. Oil-based offer optimum durability and will most likely outlast a water-based finish. Oil-based paints and stains must be applied in an area with adequate air circulation and require mineral spirits for cleanup.

Water-based stains and paints come in a wider variety of fashion colors than their oil-based counterparts. Water-based stains and paints dry relatively fast which gives you less time to work but produce fewer harmful fumes. Cleanup is a snap with soap and water.

Applying the Finish
You can apply stain using a soft cotton cloth, a brush or a combination of both. Try out your stain application technique on a test board to make sure you get the right coverage and consistency of color. If it seems the stain is too dark, simply remove some with your cloth. If it is too light, apply another coat when the first coat has dried. When the stain is dry, rub the cabinet surfaces down with super fine grade steel wood and wipe with a tack cloth.

If you are painting your cabinets, sand the primer with 220-grit sandpaper to remove any brushstrokes and use a tack cloth to clean the surface. Use a new paintbrush to apply a thin coat your preferred paint color. Start with the back of the doors and drawer fronts by brushing the paint with the grain.

Paint inner panels first, then the rails and stiles, keeping them flat to ensure even coverage. Next, paint the cabinet boxes and frames. Once the doors and drawers are dry to the touch, paint the reverse sides. If possible, let them dry overnight before applying the next coat. Sand lightly between coats and remove any residue with a tack cloth.

Protecting Your Work
Now that you’ve refreshed your cabinets, you might consider applying a coat of polyurethane sealer. If your kitchen is heavily used, applying a coat of poly certainly won’t hurt. Most professional painters skip this step, so the decision is totally up to you.

Reinstalling Doors, Drawers and Hardware
Once the cabinet boxes, doors and drawers have completely cured over several days, reinstall the hinges, hang the doors and replace the drawer faces. Installing the cabinet knobs and pulls is the finishing touch to this rewarding, albeit time consuming project.

Paul Schultz via flickr

06 July 2016

Mastering Basic Topiary Techniques

Looking for a distinctive plant project that doesn't involve trendy (and expensive) succulents or fiddle leaf figs? Try your hand at the art of topiary. Don’t worry, you don’t have to feel intimidated. Topiary is not limited to the elaborate sculptural forms seen in formal landscapes. Even a novice gardener can master simple topiary techniques.

Topiary is also a great family activity. Allow the kids to dream up ideas for amusing topiary animals and shapes of any size. Topiary gardening is a fun year-round project. Creating and growing topiary is an enjoyable learning experience for the entire family.

Get busy honing your mad topiary skills! Try one of the three main topiary techniques in the backyard or on a light-filled windowsill inside the house.

Free Form
Free-form topiary is a classic topiary technique. This method involves trimming trees and shrubs into a variety of animal and geometric shapes. Free-form topiary requires a basic design, sharp shears (let your mom and dad do the actual trimming), a steady hand and several pairs of eyes to monitor the progress of the shaping.

Purchase a medium-height juniper tree from the garden center and begin by creating a simple cone or spiral. Photocopy images of actual topiary sculptures to use as a guide. To achieve precise, straight lines, use a taut length of string as a guide.

Frame Supported

The frame-supported topiary technique begins with a metal wire frame formed into the shape of the desired object or animal. Purchase already made frames at nurseries that specialize in topiary supplies. If you are creative, make your own frame by molding chicken wire around an object of your choice.

Many people used stuffed animals as a form for topiary frames. Leave the bottom open to accommodate your plants. Place your topiary form over a single pot containing multiple trailing or upright plants. For this technique, consider English ivy, rosemary or myrtle. Weave and train the stems through the openings of the wire mesh until they completely conform to the shape of the frame. If necessary, secure stems into place with floral tape or wire. As the topiary matures, trim the excess growth to maintain the desired shape.

The stuffed topiary technique requires a topiary frame with an enclosed bottom. Stuff the frame from the bottom up with wet sphagnum moss. As the moss is inserted, weave and firmly tie nylon fishing line between the wire openings to contain the moss within the frame.

Select very young, trailing plants or freshly rooted cuttings to create a stuffed topiary. Use creeping fig or baby’s tears for this technique. Plant the lower portion of the frame by inserting the rooted plants directly into the moss. Place layers of moss and plants in sections up the height of the frame.

Fill the center cavity of the frame with quality potting mix. The mix will serve as the soil to anchor the young plants or cuttings. The moss of the stuffed topiary should be kept moist until the plants have adequately rooted into the potting mix. Water regularly and trim the stems to prevent overgrowth.

29 June 2016

Quick Clicks | Red, White and Blue Room Inspiration

Brilliant and bold, these three colors set the tone for summer celebrations and can add all-American flair to virtually any space. Celebrate the Fourth with red, white and blue decor ideas that put a sophisticated twist on traditional Americana. These 13 rooms prove that a patriotic color palette never loses its appeal. So light a sparkler and enjoy this patriotic inspiration!