Color Cache : : Give Your Rooms a Color Therapy Session

We most often associate home decorating with aesthetics but it goes much deeper than superficial beauty. Did you know you can positively affect the emotional well-being of you and your family by simply changing paint colors? Color psychology is used in both residential and commercial applications to promote specific moods and behavior.

Color consultants have been doing this for years and it is something you can do for your home as well. Start by examining the primary use of each room or space in your house. Although it is not an exact science, color professionals say certain colors work better than others depending on the room’s function.

Next, choose a wall color that encourages whatever activity is happening in the room. So how do you know which colors to choose? That’s where we come in! We’re going to share expert advice and the psychology behind paint colors that work best for each room in your house.

Bedroom


This is one room where mood is of utmost importance. The bedroom is your sanctuary and a place that is designed for relaxation and intimacy. Stick with cool colors like subtle blues, grays and greens to give your master retreat a serene resort hotel feel. Colors with higher intensities such as red or orange tend to stimulate rather than calm. Green, blue and even certain shades of purple have the opposite effect, making them perfect for the boudoir.

Living Room


Warm colors like browns, oranges, reds and golds are perfect for public spaces like the living room and entry hall. These earthy hues tend to initiate conversation and make friends and family feel welcome in the space. This group of colors encourages social interaction and a sense of connection.

Home Office


Make your office setting the scene of success and productivity. Most color experts agree that the color green is a great choice for a home office. Green subconsciously equates to money and the desire to earn more. It contributes to concentration and allows you to focus on your tasks in order to complete them faster. This will allow you to spend more time with your family and less time working. 

Dining Room



Select a wall color that stimulates the appetite of your guests. By the way, red is one of the most popular colors for restaurants and dining rooms for that very reason. It is a fun color that works equally well in formal or casual spaces. Use it to stir up imagery of delectable dishes and enticing aromas. No matter what you’re serving for dinner, it will look and taste even better with a dash of red!

Kitchen


Did you spend a lot of time in the kitchen with your mom or grandmother when you were growing up? Those happy memories might give you inspiration for your kitchen color. If your family home had a sunny yellow kitchen, it could be the right color for you and your family. If you can’t remember a kitchen color from the past, neutral colors like light gray or white will give your food prep area a crisp, clean appearance. They look fabulous with dark countertops and stainless appliances.

Exercise Room


If you like to start your day with an invigorating workout, you’re exercise room color should be highly motivating. Hot colors such as red and orange help you wake up and move. The downside is they can make you feel overheated. Try using electric colors like lime green, neon yellow or vibrant fuchsia to get your blood pumping without the added heat.

Bathroom


Whites and neutral colors were once the favorite colors for bathrooms. In many homes they still are, but now colors of the sea are particularly popular to create a spa-like environment. These fresh colors are the perfect choice if you like a luxurious soak in the tub. Ocean-inspired colors like sea glass green, tidal pool blue or sandy beige are not only relaxing, they also put you in a very flattering light. Tiny powder rooms are a completely different story. They are known as the jewel box of the home. These diminutive spaces can easily carry off intense hues, such as rich teal, metallic gold and deep aubergine.

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Home Decorating for Beginners


You're all grown up with a real job and an apartment of your very own. You’re starting life’s big journey and suddenly realize it’s time to look and act the part of a responsible adult. You dream of inviting friends and family over for a sophisticated evening of cocktails and dinner, but sadly your place still looks like a college dorm room.

As much as you’d love to completely redecorate, the reality of a limited budget leaves little left for home décor. So, to help you get on your decorating feet, we’re sharing valuable design tips from the pros that will make your place look like the successful person you have become—without cleaning out your bank account.

Don’t skimp on essential pieces. Interior designers will tell anyone decorating their first home to spend as much as you can afford on items such as sofas, dining room furniture and beds. You can always go the budget route with your accessories like throw pillows, bedding, art and lighting to pull it all together. Investment furniture works like your go-to black dress or favorite jacket—they’re the foundation for everything else.

Seek out furniture with character. There’s nothing like a vintage furniture piece to impart quality and character to your home. You don’t want your place to look like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog. Adding in a few vintage items create a space that is interesting, personal and inviting. Obviously, we’re not talking about Grandpa’s broken down recliner or Aunt Emma’s plastic covered sofa. We’re referring to good deals on solid furniture like a mid century coffee table or an art deco hutch. Scour your local paper for estate and garage sales and sites like Chairish and Craigslist for steals and deals.

Invest in transportable furnishings. When first staring out, you’re more than likely to move several times before settling down in the home of your dreams. A chair or dresser can go along with you, but it will be impossible to take wallpaper, shiplap or specially made window cornices. Instead of custom touches that remain behind, consider investing in paintings to make your home a personal statement. Original art doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can reframe a thrift store find making it part of your curated collection.

Swap out old fixtures for new. Just because you’re renting, doesn’t mean you have to put up with old light fixtures. Changing out a chandelier or pendant is much easier than you might imagine and makes a big impact. Check out thrift stores and big sales at lighting retailers for deals on sconces or outdoor lighting. When you’re ready to move, switch it back and take your lighting to the next place. If you are super handy around the house, you can even swap out plumbing fixtures—it’s just a bit more involved and time consuming than lighting.

Buy budget-friendly accessories. Don’t toss away your hard earned paycheck on things like bedding, towels, area rugs and throw pillows. These are items that get a lot of wear and will need to be replaced regularly. Accessories in general are also trendy in nature, so as tastes and trends evolve, you are more inclined to exchange them for the latest colors and styles. And besides, updating your space with inexpensive accessories is a great way to refresh your space.

Don’t get carried away. Settling into your first place is always an exciting time. The inclination is to go on a major shopping spree to fill every wall, nook and cranny right away. Don’t rush. Go slowly so you can feel it out and see what you really need and determine how you want to decorate the space.

Bring in the basics one at a time. That way you’ll put together a home that functions for you and is a reflection of your personal style. This gradual approach will also give you the chance to save up for better quality furniture. If you are cash strapped at the moment, you can always go to IKEA for your foundation pieces, then in a few years upgrade as needed.

Set up your kitchen on the cheap. Even though you may not have the stylish cooking space you’d hoped for, you can make some simple additions to spice it up. Make a grocery run and grab wonderfully graphic items like brightly labeled canned tomatoes or beautiful tins of cookies from the import market. Display them on open shelves or in glass front cabinets. Create a still life with wine and fruit placed on a wood cutting board to add texture and interest.

When stocking the kitchen for the first time, spend a little extra on three different types of utility knives, one style of drinking glass that can be used for a variety of beverages and several decent pots, pans and baking dishes. Big box discount retailers or restaurant supply stores are good sources to help you save money.

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Make the Most of Your Small Outdoor Space


Not all of us are blessed with an expansive outdoor entertaining space. Whether you have a dinky patio, narrow balcony or a diminutive deck, you can turn it into a beautiful, practical and fun outdoor space to enjoy all spring, summer and fall. Check out these super easy tips to give your small patio the big presence it deserves!

1. Treat it like another room in your house.

You don’t have to spend much at all on this one. Simply leave the door or slider to your outdoor space open and make it an extension of your indoor living space. All you need is an all-weather area rug and a simple seating group to create another “room”. Layer on a few outdoor pillows, candles and plants to connect the outdoors with the indoors.

2. Go minimal.

If you have a teeny tiny balcony, keep things simple. Three furniture pieces will do the trick. A bistro set will double for entertaining and dining making your small outdoor space extremely versatile.

3. Consider Scale and Proportion

Basically this means to make sure your furnishings fit in the space and work with each other. Use items of similar scale so they don’t overwhelm the limited dimensions of your patio. Create balance through shape, color and texture for a pleasing visual effect.

4. Use space saving furniture. 

Give yourself and your guests a little breathing room by using functional furniture that folds up and moves out of the way when not in use. A folding table and chairs can come out for an intimate dinner party and can go into storage when you are ready for a relaxing afternoon with your folding chaise lounge and side table.

5. Draw the eye up.
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You may not have square footage on your side, but you can give your patio the illusion of additional space by utilizing perpendicular surfaces. A small patio umbrella not only protects you from the summer sun, it also adds height. Plant a hanging wall garden to free up floor space and create vertical interest.  If you have a patio cover, install a set of patio string lights overhead to enhance the mood.

Outdoor Grills 101

Get ready for barbeque season with our introductory class on outdoor grills. We break down each type and give you the pros and cons so you can get the most out of your investment.

We humans have been cooking over an open fire since the dawn of man. You’d think by now we’d know everything there is to know about outdoor grills. But thanks to ever-changing grill technology and design, we spend most of our time scratching our collective heads trying to figure out which one best suits our needs and budget.

We will help your decision-making process along by breaking down the three main types of grills based on how they work, their strengths, weaknesses and average price tag.

Charcoal 
Grilling purists swear by the simplicity of the charcoal grill. Based on its name, this type of grill relies on chunks of charred wood (carbon) to cook your food. If you have a leisurely afternoon or evening to prepare your meal, charcoal grilling is perfect for you. This method takes time but the end result is definitely worth the wait. There’s nothing quite like the flavor of a steak cooked over charcoal embers.

When you hit the stores or online retailers, these features are a must: purchase one with stainless steel, porcelain or ceramic grates to make clean up easier. Design choices are wide and varied. The ubiquitous kettle grill is one of the most popular, followed by barrel styles and egg-shaped—plus many of shapes in between. The kettle grill is mainly for cooking up a quick dinner. Barrel and egg grills are more along the lines of smokers that rely on low and slow grilling.

The Good: Charcoal tends to cook hotter than gas or electric which is great for searing meat and getting a tasty char on veggies. This keeps foods moist and juicy while creating a nice flavorful crust on the outside.

The Bad: As we mentioned earlier, charcoal grilling take a bit of patience to the coals glowing. The traditional method takes at least 30-45 minutes to get the coals hot and ready for cooking. You could use a lighter fluid, but it’s not a healthy option and gives the food an extremely unpleasant taste. Use an electric wand or chimney starter to help speed up the process. At the end of your meal, it takes time to clean out the grill and properly dispose of the ashes.

The Cost: Cheap charcoal grills are out there for as little as $20. However, those of higher quality can fall within the $160 to $350 range. If you want the best available, high-end models can be had for $1000 and more.

Gas
Traditionalists may consider gas grills cheating, but  most admit that grilling with gas is quicker and easier than charcoal. Statistics show almost 60% of Americans purchase gas grills versus charcoal or electric. If you are a renter, you probably run your gas grill via a propane bottle. Homeowners with natural gas can hook up their grill to an exterior line, eliminating the need to run out at the last minute or during cooking to refill the propane tank.

Basic gas grills feature black powder coated aluminum and can have either one or two burners. For the occasional outdoor chef, these meet most of your requirements. If you take care of your basic gas grill, it can easily last for 10 years.

Higher end gas grills often have stainless steel cases and multiple burners to allow for indirect grilling. Plus, your grill will probably have a side burner or two and stainless steel or porcelain grates. Top of the line models feature warming shelves, a rotisserie function, heat zone separation, wood chip drawers and built-in digital meat thermometers.

The Good: These grills heat up in a matter of minutes, making them the perfect option for getting out of the kitchen on warm summer evenings to prepare a quick and easy meal. There’s really no messy cleaning involved—burn food particles off the grates and empty the grease trap once the unit has cooled.

The Bad: Less expensive models don’t have all the bells and whistles, and you don’t get quite the same smokiness of a charcoal grill. The cost of propane and especially natural gas can make gas grilling less attractive if you are on a tight budget.

The Cost: Basic gas grills start at about $150. If you’re looking to impress, you can find them upwards of $10,000.

Electric
While they may not be everyone’s go to grill, electric versions do provide a viable alternative to those who live in apartments or high rises with restrictions on gas and charcoal grills. These types of grills are compact and operate with electric elements that produce high heat instead of flames.

Your food either rests on a griddle type surface or a ceramic grate. Infared technology has made electric grills more efficient and popular. They not only maintain even heat distribution for juicy cooking, they also prevent big flare-ups.

The Good: Electric grills are compact, portable and will work wherever there is an electric outlet. The cooking technology in the electric segment has improved greatly.

The Bad: You won’t get the smoky flavor like you do from charcoal and gas grilling. You can, however, add a pan of wood chips to add a little extra zip. Depending on your local electricity rates, it could be costly to operate.

The Cost: Electric grills range anywhere in price from $60 for a tabletop model to over $1,000 for a deluxe smoker.

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Goodbye Hygge, Hello Lagom


If  Scandinavian 'hygge’ has somehow passed you by, don’t worry, you can take advantage of another trend from the land of the midnight sun. There’s a new kid in town that's even better than hygge and it goes by the name ‘lagom’. Remember that word.


If you don't know, hygge is pronounced ‘hoo-gah’ and roughly translates to coziness. Over the last year or so, hygge has been EVERYWHERE. You could hardly open Pinterest, flip through a shelter magazine or shop anywhere without being bombarded by warm knitwear, rough wood, comfy throws, scented candles, hot beverage recipes and sheepskin rugs. That’s hygge. But hygge is over and overdone. Enter its younger, cooler, socially-conscious cousin, lagom. 

First of all, lagom is pronounced just like it’s spelled. That gives it a definite leg up over hygge. Its meaning, translated into English, is ‘just the right amount’—a Scandinavian trait that’s quite the opposite of snuggly cozy. Lagom is more along the lines of frugality, practicality, equality and symmetry. It’s kind of like channeling Goldilocks—Not too much. Not too little. Just right.


While hygge focuses on a specific point in time, like curling up in a comfy chair on a snowy afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate, lagom is seen as a key philosophy of life. Instead of creating a moment of hygge in your day, lagom is an overall approach to daily living. Lagom is extremely popular in the UK and is quickly making its way across the pond into your home and life.


If you’re wondering how to get lagom in your life, look no further than furniture and lifestyle retailer, IKEA. They have a project called ‘Live Lagom’ to show consumers how to create a more sustainable life. Other companies are also getting in on this hot trend by introducing health and beauty products, clothing and furnishings to help you get more out of life and save money at the same time. Now, that’s a concept we can really get on board with!


In relation to design, lagom has a minimal look and feel without all the trappings associated with hygge. If you decorate your home in moderation, add a few plants to the mix and you’ll be on trend. Simple, right? Take lagom a step further by keeping track of your expenditures and create a monthly budget. Cut back on energy consumption, buy only the things you need, recycle as much as you can, purchase fair trade products and use more organic materials in your home. You will then be living lagom.

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Design Crush : : Triptychs

We’ve all heard of the rule of three in interior design and art. There’s something magical and almost mystical about this odd number—which makes triptychs ideal for adding visual impact to a room. The word and concept of triptychs derives from the Greek word meaning “three fold”.  In home design, triptychs are commonly referred to artwork that is divided equally into three sections.

These impressive works of art were initially discovered gracing the walls of eastern European churches of the Byzantine Empire. Today, triptychs can be photographs, painted works or reproductions of a single image split up into three separate panels. Occasionally you’ll see triptychs consisting of three distinct images that work together thematically.

Let’s take a look at a few fun examples and we’ll give you ideas on how to work them into your décor.

Birch Tree Forest
An abstract take on a birch forest is the perfect complement to a contemporary room. These oversize panels are the perfect backdrop for mid-century inspired design and contrast beautifully with an edgy, industrial wall treatment. This particular triptych is reproduced on canvas panels and covered with a gel coat to give the illusion of brushstrokes or application with a palette knife.

Still Life Palm Fronds
This triptych features a realistic composition of banana palm fronds created from metal. The open sections and pressed metal fronds add texture, interest and a hint of color to a dining room above a sideboard or a headboard wall in the master bedroom. A triptych can transform your room into a tropical vacation getaway.

Graphic Photography
An up close and personal tri-panel split photograph of a hybrid wolf dog aims to impress. This triptych is printed on HD aluminum metal panels to give the image a lustrous finish. This engaging trio will surely be the  focal point of an office or expansive wall in a great room.

Coastal Getaway 
This is a wonderful triptych with a calming coastal feel that would be right a home in any casual living area. Its generous dimensions make a big statement, while the soft, beachy hues prevent it from dominating the space. These three pieces work as one large piece of art. They would look great over a sofa in a vacation home or an urban loft apartment. 

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Make a Big Design Statement with Your Walls

While that geometric wallpaper or metallic paint finish is to die for, is it worth taking the risk? You could be making costly mistake and one you might not like once it’s up on your walls. The safe alternative is neutral paint, but let’s face it, that’s pretty boring. If you’re a bit skittish, about infusing your home with color and pattern, take a hint from the pros and start small on the walls to build up your confidence.

Hang Wallpaper Where You’d Least Expect
Here’s the perfect way to test the waters. Buy a single roll and cover a small area like the back wall of a bookcase, the inside of a closet or glass front kitchen cabinets. It will provide a harmless pop of color and will give you a chance to get used to the print. Another option is to cover a nook or niche to add a cozy feel to a room.

Experiment with Color
If you are tired of a neutral palette and want to go a little bolder test a few colors on your walls, choose your favorite and start by painting a hallway or powder room in a dramatic color like charcoal or dark blue. If you want a bit more pizzazz, bring in fanciful throw pillows, art and accessories. As you become accustomed to color, you can add bright accent walls to coordinate with your furnishings.

Use Oversize Art
Dominate one wall with a huge piece of art. Here’s an opportunity to make a big statement in a living room without having to rely on extraneous paint or wallpaper. The key is this oversize canvas of a beautiful blue agate stone slice. The extra large print livens up the space and keeps decorating costs down. Stunning blue plays against the neutral backdrop to strike the perfect balance between bold and serene.

Install Graphic Tile
Open almost any home décor magazine or tune in to shows like Fixer Upper, and you've probably seen fabulous encaustic cement tiles. These handcrafted tiles were originally designed as flooring but are now making their mark on walls from trendy bathrooms and dining rooms to kitchens and mudrooms across the country. Picture these graphic tiles installed as an eye-catching kitchen backsplash paired with crisp white cabinets and lime washed floors.

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Design Styles : : Cottage

What do you think of when someone mentions the term “cottage style”? Each one of us has a slightly different notion, probably because this quaint style takes in a variety of different design influences. In a nutshell, cottage style is a charming amalgam of color and texture, old and new, personal treasures, handcrafted items and flea market finds.

You won’t find a cozier or more welcoming design style. You have several options within the category depending on your personal preferences. Whether you want a little country hideaway, a cozy mountain cabin or a place on the beach, cottage style could work for you. Whichever version you choose, you’ll love the casual feel, fun accessories and a down-to-earth vibe that can be easily replicated in your own home.

Mind you, cottage style could take some getting used to, especially if you lean toward a modern aesthetic. It is a style that celebrates life’s imperfections and turns up its nose to high-end furnishings and the latest trends. That’s what makes this unpretentious style so popular and enduring.  (This post contains an affiliate link.)

Beach Retreat
Recreating the look of a beach cottage is a pretty easy job. Work with casual furniture and accessories and incorporate the color palette of the sand and sea. Look through photos and artwork or magazines like Coastal Living for more inspiration.

Start with a neutral backdrop. White, off-white, subtle gray or pastel blue wall colors will be the first step in your journey to beach cottage style. Select furniture pieces with simple lines like a grouping upholstered in durable natural cotton canvas. Picture this against sandy colored walls and bright white trim.

Layer on a jute area rug, weathered furniture pieces and breezy curtain panels.  Inject color through throw pillows and artwork. Sprinkle in woven baskets, shells, driftwood and coral specimens to bring home the beach cottage look.

Shabby Chic
The doyen of California casual, Rachel Ashwell opened her first Shabby Chic boutique in Santa Monica in 1989. While the business has evolved over the years, it remains true to the original concept of understated elegance. Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture features custom furniture, beautiful bedding and accessories, which have become the essence of cottage style.

Soft neutrals and muted florals blend with natural materials and textural fabrics give this distinctive style its laid back look and feel. A mix of slipcovered seating, vintage furnishings and slightly rumpled curtains create a look that not only fits perfectly with today's relaxed lifestyle, it will remain fresh and relevant for years to come.

Cabin Cozy
Whether it’s by the lake, in the mountains or tucked away in a forest glen, cabin cottage style introduces rustic ambience by way of natural elements. Even if you live in the city, you can add cabin cottage touches to virtually any space to give the sense of living in the great outdoors.

To keep this style true to form, a combination of organic surfaces and furnishings are a necessity. A natural stone fireplace, river rock accents and slate flooring will give your home the feel of a mountain getaway. Architectural features like wooden ceiling beams, columns and weathered wall panels give cabin cottage style depth of character.

Lodge style furniture, overstuffed upholstered pieces and earth tones lend authenticity to the space. Bring in tree stump side tables and faux wood wallpaper for a bit of whimsy. Round out the look with comfy down comforters, flannel sheets on a fluffy featherbed to while away long winter nights.

Retro Appeal
Vintage cottage is the one that's most closely associated with the term "cottage style". It is less restrained and features pops of color and a retro vibe. If you love to rummage through thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales, this cottage style is perfect for you.

Coordinate your wall colors with the fabrics in the room or install white shiplap for real vintage flavor. Don’t be afraid to use a mix of patterns like florals, plaids and stripes—that’s the true essence of this cheerful style. The great thing is you can still find actual vintage fabrics, pillows, curtains, dishtowels and funky tablecloths to pull your design together.

There’s nothing quite like retro appliances and light fixtures to round out a vintage kitchen. White cabinets paired with thrifted dinnerware and accessories serve as the perfect accent colors in the space. Painted furniture pieces mixed with natural wood flooring keeps the look from feeling too theme-y.

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Decorating Dilemmas : : Arranging Throw Pillows


Dear Homeagination:
I’ve just purchased a gorgeous new sofa for the living room and bought a bunch of pillows to accessorize it. I’m at a complete loss as to how to arrange the pillows to make it look pulled together. Every time I try to style them, it just seems like a big jumble of colors and patterns--far from the sophisticated look I’m after.
— Pillow Predicament in Sioux Falls

Dear Cushion Challenged:
One of the biggest stumbling blocks we’ve found in home decorating is getting throw pillows to look just right on a sofa. We’ve spoken to numerous homeowners who eventually give up the fight and toss a couple of random pillows on the sofa as a token attempt.

Today, we’ll reveal a few secrets regarding the art of pillow arranging. The main objective is to make the placement of the pillows look effortless, but as with most accessorizing, it pays dividends to be somewhat deliberate in your approach.

One of our favorite tips is to begin by starting from the outside (the sofa arms) and working your way towards the center. Use your largest pillows to anchor the ends and place smaller pillows as you work your way in. Not only does this technique make seating more practical, it also provides a sense of symmetry and balance.


Most designers go with odd numbers of pillows (as with any other type of accessorizing). Odd numbers, for some reason, are much more visually appealing, hence the “rule of three” in design. Now, if you prefer two, four or six pillows, feel free to go for it.


Don’t forget to mix colors, solids, patterns and textures to create visual interest. Just make sure your throw pillows coordinate with the other elements in the room and fit with the style of your space. In addition, vary the shapes and sizes to keep your arrangement from looking too forced. Stick in a lumbar or round pillow to jazz things up.


One last important word of advice has to do with the pillow fill. If you can, select pillows or pillow inserts that are down filled versus polyester. They have a more comfortable feel and relaxed look. They will also last longer and won’t break down—especially if you have a sofa sleeper in the family.


Hope this helps!

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