29 March 2017

Essential Spring Prep for a Glorious Garden

Preparing your garden this spring will make your job a lot easier and result in bumper crop of glorious color and fragrance for months to come.

1) Inspect the Yard
Trim up tree limbs, take off dead growth and clean up the previous season’s perennials and send it to compost. Clear mulch around bulbs. Check and repair steps, paths and fencing for damage from winter extremes.

2) Purchase Plants and Supplies

Clean up gardening tools in preparation for planting and cultivating. Do an inventory of your tools and supplies and purchase those that need replacing. Lay out a plan for your garden and make a list of plants to buy including trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.

3) Do a Tune-Up
Get your lawn mower and leaf blower cleaned and serviced if you didn’t do it at the end of last season. Sharpen the mower blade and replace the spark plugs and change the oil. Make sure all the moving parts are lubricated and working. Before you take on the lawn, pick up sticks and rocks to prevent damage to your mower.

4) Trim and Prune
Take off dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs. Thin out bushes that bloom all summer long like hydrangeas and roses. Once they’ve started producing new growth, go in and prune areas that were damaged during the winter. Wait to trim spring blooming trees and shrubs after they’ve dropped their flowers.

5) Test the Soil
Take a cursory soil sample from a variety of planting beds around the yard to check for pH. Feed and treat the soil as needed. If you're not sure what to do, visit your local nursery and consult the resident master gardener. You’ll be amazed at how robust and more colorful your plants are when the soil is amended with the proper nutrients.

6) Make the Beds
Clear the planting beds as soon as the soil has warmed and can be easily worked. Pull weeds and remove sod chunks and other debris. Distribute a layer of compost and additional amendments and turn the soil to a depth of 10 inches to ensure everything is mixed well.

7) Time to Plant
Plant all your shrubs and perennials like daylilies by early spring so they have adequate time to get established before the summer heat. Pick a cool and cloudy day for planting. Transplant your container plants and water them thoroughly. Sow seeds for spring flowers and leafy green vegetables and herbs.

8) Feed Your Plants
Trees and shrubs need a balanced fertilizer and possibly additional amendments based on your soil testing. It’s best to feed them when tiny leaves starts to appear. For folks in the South, use a high-acid fertilizer and pine mulch around your azaleas and camellias. Fertilize perennials when you see evidence of new growth. Use a liquid plant food mixed with water to feed your annuals.

9) Start Composting
If you haven’t tried composting, it’s a good time to start. Use all the plant debris collected from yard cleanup. Get in there and chop the plant material up as fine a possible to accelerate the decomposition process. Use equal amounts of dried materials and green matter in even layers with water and a bioactivator. Turn the compost regularly and keep adding to the pile throughout the gardening season. You’ll end up with a rich and fertile growing medium for next year.


22 March 2017

5 Incredibly Easy Ways to Reset Your Home for Spring

OK kiddies, spring is finally here, which means you need to shift into high gear, shake off the winter blahs and reset your interiors to read cheery, light and airy. Think about your house like your wardrobe: Toward the end of winter, you're desperate to swap out your heavy, monotone clothes, boots and woolens for lightweight sweaters, pastel colors and kicky shoes. That’s no different than reworking the inside of your home.

Not only will little updates lift your spirits, they will give you a chance to clear the clutter and get rid of things you really don’t need. Best of all, resetting your décor doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or time. Here are five quick and simple ways to give your home a spring redo that will give your home a new attitude!

1. Change Your Art
Swapping out a few photos or images on your gallery wall can give your room an entirely different look and feel. Choose tropical vacation photos, pastoral landscapes or anything nature-inspired. This living room has an assortment of wall art that’s just right for a spring warm up.

2. Ditch the Heavy Accessories
Faux fur throws, wool rugs, bulky pillow covers and thick curtain panels are all good for staving off winter’s chill but it’s time to put them aside to make way for lovely silk curtains, stonewashed linen throw pillows and jute rugs. This living room is the essence of spring’s lightness of being.

3. Restyle Your Shelves
Shelving throughout the house is great for organization and accessorizing. Let your bookcases and shelves become integral design elements by styling seasonal knick-knacks, kids’ toys and, of course,  books. In this remodeled bathroom, DIY shelves house hand towels, bath necessities and cute vintage accessories.

4. Bring In the Outdoors

Incorporate nature with floral arrangements, flowering branches or containers of fresh fruit. Even the slightest hint of the outdoors brings to mind the change of seasons and that summer is fast approaching. This welcoming kitchen is accented with beautiful yellow flowers and an arrangement of fresh lemons.

5. Get Colorful
As the days get longer and the temperatures rise, it’s natural to want to introduce color into your home. Add colorful sheers and unexpected pops of color around your house to get ready for summer. On this comfortable sitting porch a mix of colors unite to create the perfect palette for warm weather months.


15 March 2017

Design Styles :: Traditional

Traditional style highlights the finest in historical detail spanning centuries and countries the world over. Some of the more familiar traditional influences of the 18th and 19th centuries include neoclassical, Greek revival, French provincial, Georgian and regency.

A traditionally furnished room is best described a stately yet comfortable. Elements such as handcrafted millwork, luxurious textiles, rich colors, beautifully turned furniture pieces with elegant lines define this enduring design style. All this and more contribute to a traditional room’s trademark look and feel.

Symmetry is a subtle but effective principle in traditional design. Everything from architecture and furniture arrangement to the painstaking placement of accessories is based on the logical model of balance and order. While important to traditional style, designers sometimes stray from the strict definition of symmetry to create a space that caters to today’s more relaxed lifestyle.

To master the art of symmetry in a living room, position seating pieces across from each other to create balance. A fireplace, artwork, television or picture window can serve as the room’s focal point and is best situated at either end of the conversation group. Use lamps, plants and side tables in pairs to flank a sofa, fireplace or a built-in bookcase. Maintain symmetry when hanging artwork by centering the pieces horizontally and vertically on either side of a center point.

Pattern and Hue
Choose pleasing colors for a traditional space. Avoid extremes and stay with similar wall colors when moving from room to room. As far as fabrics go, many familiar patterns work well in traditional rooms. Florals, damasks, toiles, paisleys, stripes and plaids are all solid choices. You can save the abstracts and polka dots for another time and place.

Rich Wood Tones
From a Queen Anne dining set in mahogany to dark walnut columns, beautiful wood grain and elaborate turnings are an essential element of traditional style. Traditional wood furniture features details like barley twists, curves, bun feet and ornamental carving, which give these time-honored pieces graceful movement that modern lines can’t match.

You often see wood furniture painted to create an antique or weathered finish. In a traditional setting it’s best to leave the wood in its natural state. Rich wood tones provide just the right amount of warmth and elegance keeping it true to the style.

Windows and Floors
Understated window treatments are best suited for traditional spaces. Anything too ornate takes away from the beauty of the architecture and furnishings. Layering natural woven shades or gossamer sheers under simple panels of linen, silk or velvet create classic perfection. Shutters are also a traditional option for a library, dining or sitting room.

Traditional rugs are always in style and are the design standard in the world of interiors.Styles in the traditional realm include all too familiar Persians and Orientals but Aubussons and Axminsters are equally suitable accents in traditional spaces.

Choose refined pieces and avoid over ornamentation. Keep accessories to a few carefully curated items. When arranging accessories, focus on simplicity and place items in groups to create simple vignettes on bookcases and side tables. If you are a collector, pick a few favorites and rotate them every few months to maintain a clean and uncluttered appearance.


09 March 2017

Trending :: Throw Pillows

There’s nothing like refreshing your home on a budget. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to incorporate new style and color is to switch out your throw pillows. Virtually every retailer has a fabulous selection of decorative pillows suitable for every room of the house. With all these options available, the choices can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you navigate through the latest throw pillow trends. Have fun picking the perfect pillows to liven up your décor!

Glitz and Glam
We know you’ll take a shine to throw pillows that give off a subtle sparkle. Propped up on your bed or gracing your sofa, pillows featuring sequins, metallic beadwork, shimmering threads or made with a silvery fabric will be certain to turn heads and create an air of elegant sophistication. This trend works well with contemporary and traditional décor.

Neutral and Organic
Throw pillow covers made from organic cotton and hemp to bamboo, stonewashed linen and seagrass are great accents for a casual living room, bedroom or even a covered porch. Beige, tan, taupe and cream tones are far from boring. A monochromatic palette is understated and timeless. The natural fibers of the throw pillows add dimension and interest to any space.

Abstract and Geometric
Undefined shapes and graphic patterns on throw pillows are the perfect complement to trendy mid-century modern design. Choose from bold black and white angles or figurative forms in vibrant colors that resemble modern works of art.

Nature Views
Soothing geodes, wood grain, marble and feathers add sense of nature and texture to decorative throw pillows through artistic renderings or photographic reproductions on fabric. These realistic images designed to fool the eye will add new energy and a hip vibe to your home

Sweater Weaves

The transformation of a cozy, classic sweater into a chic and comfortable throw pillow adds a sense of warmth that speaks to your distinctive style. These charming chunky knits and crocheted pillows look right at home artfully arranged on a sofa, bed or oversized chair. Sweater pillows lend a classic and familiar feel to traditional and boho rooms alike.

Faux Furs
While these other materials are quite beautiful, faux fur pillows are extra special. They’re elegant and glamorous, and can work on the bed, sofas or accent chairs. Faux fur offers luxurious comfort and a look that works alone or coordinates with other pillow fabrics. Whether you use a single faux fur pillow to add drama or create a sumptuous grouping—the possibilities are endless.


03 March 2017

Spring Cleaning Boot Camp (or How to Make the Job Easier)

TEN-HUT! Fall in soldiers and get ready to learn some invaluable cleaning tricks of the trade that will make  house cleaning basic training a veritable breeze!

It’s that time of year when most of us are more than ready say goodbye to winter. The house has been closed up for months and you’re anxious to air it out, freshen things up and get everything sparkling clean. Whether you are preparing for a full-fledged top-to-bottom spring cleaning or simply need some help with weekly chores, these secrets from the professionals will make the job and your life much easier.

Forward, Scrub
One of the most demanding (and least favorite) chores around the house is scrubbing bathroom surfaces. First thing to remember is to always wear rubber gloves when using any type of cleaner. Since the bathroom is full of bacteria, keep a separate pair there and in the kitchen so you don’t cross contaminate surfaces.

Another smart trick is to use paper towels or disinfecting wipes that you can toss in the trash when you’re done. Stay away from porous sponges as they are notorious for breeding germs. Microfiber cloths are a good alternative. After each use, wash them with soap and hot water to kill the nasties.

Get an all-purpose cleaning spray that will work in both kitchens and bathrooms. Avoid loading up with specialized cleaners for each room and surface. You’ll save tons of money and simplify the cleaning process. When cleaning sinks, tubs and toilets, don’t get in a hurry. Spray your cleaning product and allow it to sit for at least three to five minutes before wiping. For stubborn grime and gook, it may take an additional application to get the job done.

Give your back a break by purchasing a telescoping shower scrubber. This gadget is a true lifesaver! This way, you can stand upright and clean the shower floor and easily get to all those hard-to-reach areas that collect soap scum, mildew and hard water spots. There are many designs from which to choose depending on your needs and budget.

To the Rear, Mop
You’ve probably owned a number of mops over the years and might have a favorite, but we’ve found the best mop head out there is made from microfiber. The grabby texture of the fabric picks up everything from tiny debris to stray hairs without any effort. Sponge mops don’t stand a chance against microfiber. And when the mopping is done, microfiber cleans up easily and dries quickly, unlike cloth rope mops which are difficult to clean and can take days to dry.

To make the task easier, run a broom around the room before mopping. This will remove larger dirt, hair and food particles. Don’t try to mop the entire floor at once—divide and conquer by mopping in smaller sections. After each section, rinse your mop and move on to the next area.

Each floor surface requires different cleaning products and techniques. Cleaning sealed hardwood floors requires only warm water in order to protect the shine. If you have unfinished hardwood floors, avoid water completely—just dust mop or vacuum.

Laminate floors will warp if they become soaked. Soapy detergents can dull the finish. Use a damp mop with warm water or a specially formulated cleaning product recommended by the manufacturer.

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are the easiest to clean. All you need is a mop with warm water and a cleaner like mild dish detergent or even a white vinegar and water solution. 

Natural stone floors are equally easy. Installers recommend cleaning stone surfaces with a few drops of stone cleaner or mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Just make sure the stone and tile grout is completely sealed before wet mopping.

Dust Salute
Your best bet for dusting is with microfiber rags or electrostatic wands. They trap dirt and grab dust better than any other fabric. You can use them dry, or, if you have a severe dust problem, lightly spritz the rag with water or a dusting spray. Start high in the room and work toward the floor. Dust tall bookcases, ceiling fans, ledges and light fixtures before moving to lower surfaces. To keep allergens at bay, dusting is best performed every week or every other week.

One of the worst dust offenders are ceiling fan blades. At the end of each season, you will probably notice a black line of dust accumulated along the leading edge of each blade. Using an extendable duster will cause dust to fly all over the room, Instead, use a wet cloth, old towel or pillowcase. Place it over the blade, slide it off the end and catch the dust in the damp fabric. In between, use your extendable static wand to keep the dust under control.

During your annual spring clean, use a can of air duster to blow the dust off your chandeliers. If you don’t have compressed air, use your hair dryer on its low setting. You’ll need an extension cord for the job, just make sure it’s heavy duty so you don't create a fire hazard. While you’re at it, wipe all your lamp bulbs with a damp microfiber cloth when they are cool.

Don’t forget lampshades. Swipe them with a clean microfiber rag or a sticky lint roller to grab dust and pet hair. (This is also a great thing for upholstered furniture if you don’t have a special vacuum attachment.)

Vacuum Drill
So, you think you know how to vacuum? Well, there are a few things we want to share that will make your old vacuuming routine a thing of the past!

End your cleaning day with a thorough vacuum. That way, you’ll pick up all the dust and dirt from your other chores. Start with your window coverings, then move to your upholstered furniture pieces and end with the carpet.

Before you begin, make sure your bag or canister is clean and free of dirt. Remove wrapped hair from the beater bar and make sure filters are rinsed clean and completely dry. Pick up things that could get lodged in the mechanism like small toys, paper clips or loose coins.

Use your upholstery attachment to vacuum curtains, shades or blinds. Move on using the upholstery brush on heavy nap upholstery. The regular hose nozzle is fine for cleaning short nap or smooth fabric furniture. On sofas and accent chairs, remove the cushions and vacuum the back, arms and base. Vacuum all sides of the cushions. Before replacing them, flip and rotate to reduce wear and tear.

Go up your stair treads using the crevice tool along the risers, tread edges and in corners. As you move down the stairs, vacuum the main tread surfaces.

Complete your vacuuming drill with rugs or carpet, making multiple passes to pick up everything embedded within the fibers. Overlap your strokes in a single direction and then change 90 degrees and perform the same overlapping motion in the other direction. Concentrate on high-traffic areas with ground in dirt. Give the room a quick and final once over in both directions.

DIY House Help | O Cedar | Economy Chemical | Homeagination 

23 February 2017

Design Crush :: Lambrequins

A lambrequin (pronounced lam-ber-kin, lam-bri-kin) is a formal window covering that’s been around for centuries. It is similar to the cornice, but the similarity stops there. Lambrequins are much more elaborate with their impressive curves and architectural shapes. While the lambrequin has had its ups and downs over the years, it remains a popular and classic window treatment to this day.

The word lambrequin is derived “lamperken” a Middle French/Middle Dutch name for a protective cloth cover that provided medieval helmets protection from the elements.

Think of a lambrequin as a cornice extending down one or both sides of a window. It frames the opening, typically extending one-third or half length, down to the sill or even to the floor.

You can layer curtains or shades under lambrequins to add color, texture and privacy.

As with most historical window treatments, lambrequins were used to block the flow of cold air from drafty windows. Not only were they practical but lambrequins were quite decorative as well.

When lambrequins first came on the scene, they were made from wood or stiffened linen. The earlier versions were typically painted or stenciled. Later versions were covered in wallpaper or upholstered in fine textiles.

As interior styles evolved, the designs became more ornate and were often embellished with cording, trim and tassels. Today's lambrequins are extremely versatile window coverings. They can take on the look of any decor style whether it be formal, traditional, tailored, exotic or modern.


15 February 2017

Editor's Picks for Spring

Even though prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil recently predicted six more weeks of winter (ugh!), that doesn't mean you can't get an epic case of spring fever right now! To help ease the doldrums, provide loads of inspiration and spark your imagination, our intrepid editor has scoured the internet and stacks of shelter magazines for the best of the best in spring decor. So put on your fluffy slippers, grab that hot cup of tea and curl up with these super chic picks that will get you in the mood to give your home a seasonal reset and refresh!

 Halifax sofa, neutral, 92" wide, diamond tufting and nailhead trim, at home, $499.99

 33" Mercury blue table lamp. Safavieh, Home Depot, $102.34

Peruvian artisan mirrors, various sizes, West Elm, $34-279

 Santa Fe Spice rug, various sizes, loloi for Magnolia Home, $99-1,449

 Morelia acrylic and gold side table, 21.5"L x 21.5"W x 22.45"H, Overstock, $286.99

Boho fringe throw pillow, 18" x 18", World Market, $49.99

Blue faux agate tray, 16"W x 12"D x 2.75"H, Pier 1, $29.98
Catalunya Blush Kaleidoscope Floral Wallpaper, Brewster Wallcoverings, 20.5"W x 33'L per double roll, Wallpaper Warehouse, $130.48

Threshold Modern Blush Decor Collection, Target, $8.49-129.99

Georgetown Blackout Curtain, 50"W x 84-120"L, Half Price Drapes, $40.99-47.99

LightUpMyHome Celeste Chandelier, 15.5"H x 40"W x 14"D, Wayfair, $738.99

 Behr Marquee Elusive Dawn, 1 gallon, Home Depot, $39.98

The Vienna Dust Pink ruffle bedding, twin-cal king, Crane and Canopy, $35-159

Folded Vase by Amanda Betz for Menu, 8.7"D x 5.9"H, Vertigo Home, $99.95


08 February 2017

Quick Clicks :: Tiny House Love

We love tiny houses. They’re cute, efficient, affordable, require little upkeep and are easy to transport. Tiny houses vary in size depending on who you’re talking to, but most range from 150 to 500 square feet. To make them portable, most are built on trailer chassis so they can be easily towed and parked in an RV or mobile home community.

If you have a plot of land or a vacant driveway, that’s great—you have an instant base of operations for your tiny house. No place to put one? Take a look on Craigslist for someone to rent you the land and utilities to host your little abode. If you want to live in the city, you’ll need to check local zoning ordinances to make sure your tiny house is considered a legal dwelling.

The main requirement for establishing a location for your tiny house is the availability of utilities and a water source. If you want to be off-grid, you can purchase a tiny house with composting toilets, rainwater collection systems and solar panels. In that case, all you’ll need is a plot of land and potable water.

Now that you’re totally curious about tiny house living, take a gander at these adorable examples. Come on, we know you want one! (Click on the links at the end of this post for full house tours.)

There's plenty of room in this kitchen to handle Thanksgiving dinner.

 This tiny house has it all. Even a full size bathtub and washer/dryer.

 Spread out in this king-size sleeping loft.

 A rustic cabin feel in the Nomad's Nest.

Clean, simple and stylish interior.

Cozy, adorable reading nook.

 Everything you'd ever possibly need.

 A boho container home beauty.

OMG. Can we live here?

 Zyl Vardos tiny houses are magical.