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. 
 
SHOPPING SOURCES

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.

IMAGE SOURCE

13 July 2016

How to Successfully Refinish 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.

IMAGE SOURCE
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.

Stuffed
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!


22 June 2016

Accessorizing a Bedroom for Under $130

You don't have to spend big bucks to make your bedroom look like a million. It's easy to create a boutique hotel retreat without a great deal of money or effort. We're going to tell you just how we achieved this look by shopping at some of our favorite bargain sources for home decor.

Although we spent the bulk of the decorating budget in the living room, we still wanted to create a chic bedroom but only had $130 to spare. The bed, headboard, lamps, artwork and ottoman were existing pieces. Here's the lowdown on the other items:

  • 10-piece gray, yellow and white bedding set - Big Lots     $ 39.99
  • Yellow, gray and white plush throw - Tuesday Morning    $ 12.99
  • Black wood TV trays - Target  (2 @ $8.99)                             $ 17.98
  • Faux crocodile trays - Hobby Lobby (2 @ $6.99)                 $ 13.98
  • Astor 84" curtain panels - Big Lots (2 @ $10.00)                  $ 20.00
  • 30-84" Silver satin Riley curtain rod set - Big Lots               $ 15.99  
                                                                                               Cost:              $120.93

The bedding worked out beautifully. We didn't want to spend a lot because, as you can see, the dog spends most of her time napping on the bed, so purchasing an inexpensive comforter and companion pieces was imperative. Our plush fleece throw looks great with the bedding and can be tossed in the washer and dryer once a week for a freshen-up.

The bedroom window faces east, so early morning sun is an issue. The window has blinds but needed a little something else to help block the light. We found curtain panels that work perfectly with the color palette and provided just the right amount of darkness. Wanting to create the look of butler tray stands for the bedside tables, we paired TV trays with these adorable croc serving trays. They gave us just the look we wanted for a fraction of the price.
                 
Unfortunately, the bedding set from Big Lots is no longer featured on their website. We got it on closeout. And since Tuesday Morning doesn't have an online site, we couldn't give you a specific link to the plush fleece throw either. The only item we still need to purchase is an area rug when the budget allows. We're pleased to report the final tally with tax left us with a few cents to spare!

SHOPPING SOURCES

16 June 2016

Top Flower Picks for a Summer Cutting Garden

If you have a flower garden you’re probably all too familiar with this quandary: You spend a lot of time and energy creating a dazzling summer flowerbed only to rob it of cuttings to create beautiful indoor arrangements. So what to do? This summer try planting two separate beds—one in the front strictly for aesthetics and one in the back for cuttings.

Now that we’ve got that problem solved, it’s time to pick flower varieties that will make the most of your summer bouquets and your home’s curb appeal. We’ve researched the top flowers that not only look fabulous in the garden but also in an arrangement. Our favorites were chosen based on their bloom times, vase life and unique appearance.

Asters
Few flowers will brighten a bouquet like these hardy little perennials. They produce from summer into fall supplying you with continual blooms. People often mistake them for daisies because of their long slender petals surrounding a bright yellow center.

Choose from 180 aster varieties in a lovely range of colors including purple, pink and white. Asters are perfect for fresh summer arrangements and can be dried and used during any season.

Sedum
These perennials feature succulent leaves and stems crowned with tight clusters of small blooms. Sedum is an easy-care plant that tolerates summer heat and drought conditions. Raspberry, blue, yellow and variegated varieties are just a sampling of your color options.

“Autumn Joy”, “Frosty Morn” and “Matrona” are some of the taller varieties that make the best cut flowers. Choose stems with clusters of full blooms and the base of the stem at a 45-degree angle. Place the stems immediately in water and they’ll up to a week or more.

Peonies
These flowers resemble roses on steroids with their ample, lush blooms that herald the beginning of summer. The perennials easy to grow and require little maintenance. Peonies are quick growers and seem to produce masses of flowers overnight. This means you must be resourceful in order to extend the blooms for cut arrangements.

When the blossoms first show a tiny sliver of color, cut the stems and remove most of the leaves. Wrap several stems together in tissue paper, indicating the cutting date on the outside. Place them in a very cold refrigerator and take the stems as you need them. Recut the stems and place them in water. Within a couple of days you’ll have full peony blooms!

Even though they’re early bloomers, you can enjoy their lush greenery all summer. The deep green, mounded plants are beautiful on their own. You can also use their foliage in your mid to late season flower arrangements.

Yarrow

Yarrow’s delicate and aromatic blossoms are well suited for floral arrangements and a great addition to your perennial garden. This drought-tolerant plant features flat-topped flower clusters in shades of yellow, white and pink, just to name a few.

Most yarrow plants are roughly 2 feet tall, making them the perfect size for flower arrangements. Cut the stem at about 18 inches and remove the leaves. Keep the stems in cool water and they will last a week to ten days.

Dahlias
Big, bold blooms and a rainbow of vivid colors are the hallmarks of dahlias. These tuberous flowers are spectacular in the garden and in an arrangement all to themselves. They possess the best characteristics of both annuals and perennials. They bloom continually and will come back each year if protected from freezes.

Dahlias are ideal cutting flowers. The more you cut them, the more buds they will produce. Their vase life is between four to ten days. Beginning in late spring, you’ll find dahlias at the nursery in 1-gallon pots, or you can plant them from tubers in early spring.

Russian Sage
While not commonly recognized as a cut flower, Russian sage is a unique filler for floral arrangements. Their tall silvery stems are covered in hundreds of tiny deep blue blooms that contrast beautifully with dense, gray-green foliage.

Russian sage produces blooms from mid to late summer and resembles a low growing shrub. It is a very easy plant to cultivate—in fact they almost thrive on neglect making them perfect for dry, hot zones with minimal irrigation.

Penstemons
These dense plants may not produce for long, but from early to mid summer they will provide you with prolific tubular flowers along their tall stems. Penstemon, a western U.S. native plant loves heat and sun. Also known as beardtongue, this prairie flower attracts hummingbirds and looks right at home in wildflower gardens.

Penstemon spikes grow 1 to 3 feet tall and come in a range of colors including blue, pink, purple, red and white depending on the variety. They are an easy care and low maintenance plant and great source for cut flowers. Penstemon’s unusual trumpet-shaped blossoms work very well in simple arrangements.

Begonias
We’re used to seeing begonias in pots or as border plants, but not necessarily in flower arrangements. These annuals are highly regarded for their exquisite colors such as red, salmon, yellow and pink. They thrive in warm, moist climates and bloom throughout the summer months. They do particularly well in shade and partial shade making them a versatile addition to north-facing gardens.

You may not realize it but begonias make fabulous cut flowers. They mix well with other garden flowers but really shine when arranged in a casual bouquet of begonias in varying colors. Also consider using fancy begonia leaves as foliage filler for your flower arrangements.

IMAGE SOURCES
 

09 June 2016

Choosing a Kitchen Sink You'll Love

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the sink is the heart of the kitchen—taking on the lion’s share of the daily food prep and clean up. Even the best of kitchen sinks can’t handle that amount of abuse forever. Most sinks typically hold up for 15 to 20 years before they start to show signs of wear and tear. No matter what type of material they’re made from, the finish will ultimately dent, chip, stain or fade.

Although you adore your kitchen, putting up with that old, worn out sink definitely sours the romance. It’s time to replace your kitchen sink with one that’s the perfect blend of aesthetics and function--one that you’ll love for years to come!

MATERIALS
Choose a sink material that will hold up to the rigors of use and will look great with your plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinets, flooring and backsplash tile. Here are a few options to consider:

Solid Surface sinks are made from a combination of acrylic and polyester resins, marble dust, bauxite and other natural and man-made ingredients depending on the manufacturer. The non-porous material contains pigment throughout so scratches and burn marks can be lightly sanded to remove.

Cast Iron sinks are just what the name implies—they’re made from iron that is cast in the shape of a basin. The extremely heavy iron is coated in a glossy enamel providing a hard-as-nails, non-porous surface that is easy to clean. Modern cast iron sinks will not crack or dent like their stainless steel or solid surface counterparts. They come in a rainbow of beautiful shiny hues to match any color scheme.

Stainless Steel provides the best of all worlds with regard to price, durability and maintenance. If you can, opt for the highest quality stainless steel sink you can afford. Look for thicker gauge stainless to cut down on dents, scuffs and vibration. Find a sink basin with foam insulation on the underside to reduce noise. In addition, the better the stainless, the less water spotting and easier cleanup.

Soapstone is a practical and stylish choice for any kitchen. An integrated soapstone sink looks amazing with matching countertops, but will also work beautifully with alternative counter surfaces like wood, quartz, stainless or concrete. Soapstone develops a patina over time changing to a soft gray hue. Simply wipe it down with mineral oil to maintain its dark charcoal color. This stone is germ-free, heat proof and impervious to acid and water stains.

Fireclay sinks are crafted from clay and protected with a porcelain enamel glaze. They’re fired at extremely high temperatures to fuse the enamel to the clay creating a solid sink with a shiny, durable finish. Most farmhouse or apron sinks are of the fireclay variety. Colors are very limited—so if you like white, you’ll like fireclay. The downside: its surface can stain if not cleaned immediately and the enamel tends to crack and chip with age.

Copper will give your kitchen an organic, rustic feel with its warm glow and handcrafted appearance. It’s a metal that will never oxidize and requires little in the way of upkeep. Copper blends well with wood and stone surfaces and takes on a fabulous patina with use. This metal also has anti-microbial properties making it perfect for the kitchen.

OVERALL SINK SIZE
The size sink you choose depends on its intended use. If you only use it to rinse dishes and tidy up the kitchen you can probably get by with a standard size sink. For the resident gourmet who cooks every day and uses the sink for veggie prep and washing pots, a wide and deep sink is probably the right choice.

When replacing an existing sink, look for one with exact dimensions of the old one if you want to keep things simple. If the cabinet width and depth allow, you can make the cutout bigger and install a larger sink. The interior width and depth of the cabinet will determine how large you can go. Standard base cabinets will easily accommodate a 22-inch by 24-inch single basin sink.

Obviously, if you’re designing a new kitchen or doing a complete remodel, your only limitations are the location of the plumbing.

CONFIGURATION
Determining the number and placement of sink basins, or bowls, is based on the sink’s basic functions. For small kitchens, a single bowl sink is adequate for most normal activities. Double bowls of equal or staggered size are the ideal solution for prep and cleanup.

Single bowl sinks offer enough room for large dishes and oversized pots and pans. They take up the least amount of space but can be as wide as 33 inches.

Double bowl sinks make cleanup a snap with separate basins for washing and rinsing dishes. You can find double bowl sinks up to 42 inches wide.

Triple bowl sinks may not be as common, but they function well in large family kitchens. They typically offer a smaller integrated third bowl for food prep. Most triple bowl sinks measure 44 inches in width.

INSTALLATION OPTIONS
You have several installation options for your new kitchen sink. Part of the choice is based solely on aesthetics and the other depends on countertop construction and sink material.

Drop-in or top mount sinks are placed into a cutout in the countertop. The sink edge rests on the counter and is sealed with silicone to prevent leaks.

Undermount sinks install under the countertop and are secured in place by clips and silicone caulk. The streamlined look is great for contemporary kitchens. There is no lip between the countertop and the sink making for easy cleanup.

Integrated sinks are part of the countertop so there are no seams, rims or edges to contend with. The clean lines and smooth surface of this design works particularly well in modern, European style kitchens.

ACCESSORIES
Many sink manufacturers offer a complement of kitchen tools that make your sink area more efficient and help to optimize space. Some of the features include custom accessories like adjustable cutting boards, basin racks, cocktail stations, colanders, knife holders and rinse baskets that fit right onto the sink. Now your sink is a fully-functioning work station!

IMAGE & SOURCES