Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guest post- Popular fireplace decor and design options for your home!

This article is provided by Andrea Vollf.

It is already March and thanks to mother nature, we have been blessed with a long, really long, winter season this year. Even though many stores have been featuring spring gears, the temperature remains low. Therefore, until Spring arrives and the weather becomes nicer, let us make most of our fireplace season.

Although a lot of homes are now opting for electric fireplaces for several reasons, from cost to its eco-friendly benefits, many homes in America are still using gas fireplaces. If you are one of them, this article is for you as I am going to focus on stylish accessories to make your traditional fireplace even more glamorous!

Unlike many people think, finding the right tools to make your fireplace stand out without breaking the bank is not an easy task as fireplace tools are not sold everywhere, but at specialty stores. While I love using the internet for my projects, either for getting overall ideas to show to a client a concept or to actually browse for items to be used in the project, there are certain things that you must see in person, such fabrics, furniture, and fireplace tools.

There is nothing like looking at a fireplace set in person, seeing how each item is manufactured, admiring every design details, feeling the weight of each piece carries. If you are a fireplace lover, you can definitely relate to this. Buying a fireplace set is like going to a wine tasting, where all of your senses are put to a test to help you to select the best product. 

One of my favorite places to shop for fireplaces and accessories in the Chicago area is the Northshore Fireplace store. Located in Evanston, this store has everything fireplace related that you can think of. While brass is still considered the standard for fireplace accessories, from an interior designer standpoint, there is nothing more unique and intriguing than a hand-forged tool set. In the middle of so much technology and mass production items, those sets really stand out as they are individually handmade using wrought iron and many of those sets also carry some feature from the original European blacksmith designs.

Besides being stylish and unique, a hand-forged tool set will definitely become an asset to your room design and will turn into conversational piece among family and friends. 
However, if you are not a huge fan of hand-forged items, and brass is also not your style, think of regular iron sets. They will bring out some of the rustic flair to your fireplace without interfering with the room overall’s design. Even though many of the iron sets resemble some of the blacksmith designs, they are not exclusive or unique like the hand-forged ones, as they can be easily replicated.

In addition to having a fireplace set that is a conversational piece, you can also enhance the area by incorporating some black and white photographs over the mantle. Create a group of 3 or 5 picture frames and place them (leaning) against the wall over the mantle. This design solution will give your traditional fireplace something else to talk about. When designing around fireplaces, use photos with a story behind it. It can be the exotic places you visited, your love story, your pet’s best shots, anything that brings you sweet memories and makes you smile.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Guest post- How To Design A Home Storage Space!

This article is provided by Andrea Vollf.

How many times have you walked into a house that looked perfect from the outside and then, from the inside, all you could think of was “where am I supposed to store all my belongings?” Unfortunately this situation is becoming very common in today’s age due to the fact that many of the new homes are relatively smaller than the ones built few decades ago. And, if you live in areas of the country where the real estate price is prime like New York City or San Francisco, having the appropriated storage space is definitely something you should think about it.

If you live in a small place such a studio, you will probably have mastered the art of keeping only the essential while making most of every inch on your walls. Vertical storage is, without a doubt, the most efficient way to maximize the storage space in a room. In the kitchen for example, instead of having artificial plants or other decor on the top of your wall cabinets to fill that empty space between the ceiling and the cabinet, adding another cabinet is a good option. This way every inch of that wall will be used towards efficient storage.

In a home with stairs, look into custom build cabinetry under the stairs for more storage. They can be as deep as the staircase or on casters for easy access. Depending on your home layout, that empty space under the stairs can easy become an extension of your kitchen as people have installed appliances as well created a nice pantry and even a wine cellar! The under the stairs space is also a great area to create a home-office or even an arts and crafts station for the kids as you have plenty of room for shelves and cabinetry.

When creating such a space, think of functionality, closed cabinets for maximum storage and open shelves for easy access. Consider using the wall space between the desk and the cabinet or shelf to store craft tools that are used every day or make it a message center to help you to keep organized throughout the day. Instead of a task lamp, opt for under cabinet lighting as it will give you more room on your desk to work on.

Furthermore, an under the stairs space can also be converted into a nice reading nook, a small mudroom, and even a space to store your shoes or, depending on where you live, your winter clothes.

Besides utilizing the space under the stairs, you should think of how the space under your bed is used. Do you have a traditional bed (mattress, box spring and bed frame) or is your mattress sitting on something else? Creating under the bed storage is another great way to make most of your space. 

Nowadays, you can find amazing beds with underneath storage for sale. If you are not so sure where to go, start looking at companies like West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn as they offer a nice selection of storage beds. Available in different sizes and styles, the storage bed will certainly be a huge add-on to your room.

When it comes to accessory and functionality, one of my favorite items to any living space is the storage ottoman. Versatile, the storage ottoman can give you a storage space and an extra sitting spot. It also serves as a nice end table for your living room, as well as a footboard in your bedroom or a place to sit while getting dressed in your walk-in closet or bathroom. For more storage, consider replacing your coffee table with large storage ottoman. Add fun to any room by playing with colors or for a more sophisticated look, simply go neutral. 

If you like to travel or if you are a fan of old world design, consider creating an end table made with stackable trunks. It will not only character to the room, but it will also provide you with extra storage space while creating an unique conversational piece. After all, everything deserves a place to be.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Product review- All Tapestry!

What is the first thing that comes in mind when you think of tapestry? Too traditional? Too old-fashioned? To me, tapestry conjures a sense of old world grandeur and luxury because they are usually found in old castles or large mansions. 

Fortunately, tapestry has come a long way and now, they are easily accessible and available in all price range. The type of tapestry I like most are those that are affordable and comes in all sorts of styles and sizes. All Tapestry is such example.
All Tapestry offers tapestry from charming European designs to modern abstract designs. So imagine how thrilled I was to be asked to pick any tapestry from their wonderful website for this review!

I love so many of their tapestries so it was quite hard for me to narrow it down to one choice. Here are some of my favorites (some that I really liked and has considered getting)!

Aren't they beautiful? Which one is your favorite? Now you know why I had such difficulty picking "The One"! In the end, I picked this gorgeous tapestry because I think it was the best candidate for my home!

Before I hang my tapestry, I had a few locations in mind. In the end, I decided to put it in my living room, just above my newly purchased white lacquered desk! Here it is, ta-dah!

Front view

Close up

Another close up

Side view

I love my new tapestry! The design and colors are so pretty and it looks like a work of art! I also love the grand scale of this lovely piece. Measuring at 53"Wx62"H, it filled up my big, blank wall nicely and made quite a visual statement. The warm colors in the tapestry complements our living room's stone fireplace and made the space feels even cozier, which is always a plus when you live in an area with lots of cold, wintry days like Illinois.

One thing I noticed was the rod that is included with the tapestry came in black instead of silver (as shown on their website). Personally, I prefer the black because in my opinion, it worked better with the colors found in the tapestry and looked more seamless beside the dark trim. 

Hanging the tapestry was a breeze because it came with instructions and all the necessary hardware. While trying to hang the rod, we stumbled into a small obstacle but it took us only a few minutes to figure things out. From figuring things out to measuring, drilling holes and hanging the tapestry, it only took us about half an hour. Hanging a tapestry is as easy as hanging a curtain rod, you just have to find the right person to do the job (in my case, it is my husband).

Made in USA with Jacquard looms and  pure cotton yard, this product is absolutely well-made and no details are overlooked. The back of the tapestry is sewn with a heavy fabric and the bottom of the tapestry is inserted with metal rods to hold its shape.

Charming with an old world flair, beautifully designed and thoughtfully constructed, what is not to love about this gorgeous tapestry?

*I received this product to review for free but the views and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Don't forget to check out All Tapestry for beautiful and affordable tapestries when you get a chance!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Guest post- Beautify Your Home With an Indoor Water Fountain!

This post is provided by Doug Gardner.

Whether it is used in the living room, bedroom, hallway, office or game room, an indoor water fountain is a breathtaking decorative accessory that is sure to complement your current home décor. If you are struggling to achieve an attractive décor in your home, perhaps you should consider installing a water fountain. Some people assume they are only useful in gardens, patios and other outdoor locations, but this is not the case. 

The Beautiful Appearance of Water Fountains

The most obvious benefit of using an indoor water fountain is their magnificent appearance. Depending on the particular model you choose, it may feature a wall of water flowing down a marble or granite base. Some models even feature a base of hand-selected stones and rocks for an even greater level of detail. Indoor water fountains are truly remarkable and work in just about any home setting.

Most homeowners decide to purchase and use an indoor water fountain based on their appearance alone. The fact is that no other decorative accessory or furnishing compares to the sheer style and tranquility of a water fountain. You will get the sense of being in a relaxing spa-like environment when the water is flowing inside your home.

Other Benefits of Using an Indoor Water Fountain

But there are more benefits to using an indoor water fountain. You might be surprised to learn that they are capable of filtering impurities out of the air. When indoor pollutants are blown into the water stream, they are trapped here until the water is replaced. Installing one in your home is a simple way to improve its air quality without the need for a special air purifying device.

Indoor water fountains are also natural humidifiers. It is not uncommon for people to experience severe nasal dryness during the peak winter months, which may lead to nose bleeds and the feeling of a scratchy throat. The good news is that you can help prevent symptoms such as this by using an indoor water fountain. Although you can not see it, small water particles are released into the air, offering just enough moisture to keep the humidity up to a reasonable level.

How To Use Them In The Home

Now that you know some of the benefits of indoor water fountains, you are probably wondering how, and where, to use them inside the home. First and foremost, ask yourself: which room will benefit the most from it? Since the living room typically experiences the highest amount of traffic, this is usually the preferred location for an indoor water fountain.

Contrary to what some people may believe, an indoor water fountain does not have to take up a large amount of space. While there are certain models which are large and complex, there are also smaller models which are installed on the wall.  As long as you have an open area of wall available, you can install one of these water fountains with minimal effort.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guest post- Color in the Sixties!

This article is provided by Adam.

It might have been fifty years ago, but the looks and colors of the nineteen sixties are as influential as ever. Not since the Baroque period had there been such an explosion of color. Men proudly sported pink shirts and women … well, we would not mention what women did to their bras.
After a period of drab austerity, where colour seemed to be have been rationed just as much as food and other necessities - and allied with scientific developments in new, bright pigmentation and materials like plastic - the world suddenly became as big and bright as a Jackson Pollock painting.
Mix in space travel, men on the moon, winning the World Cup, and mini skirts - and there was undoubtedly a new, dazzling optimism in the air. This was reflected in the way we styled our interiors, bringing color back into our lives big-time.
Warm, fully saturated colors like reds and oranges began to feature in wallpapers, carpets and curtains and great designers like Verner Panton revolutionised our interiors while artists like Mark Rothko began their formal experiments in color.
Where we might nowadays add a splash of red in a vase or centrepiece to accent an overall colour scheme - our approach in the sixties was more likely to accent a bold, hot toned red with a blob of cold, neutral grey. Some would say the approach was over the top, but it was undoubtedly daring and innovative and without the economic stability of the period it might not have happened.
Heralding in the seventies, the Vietnam War brought with it unemployment, uncertainty and self-doubt - and there was a sea change in cultural attitudes. The boldness began to fade, saturated colours mutated into muted, unsaturated colours, and the mini became the maxi. Pyschedelia was considered naïve and by the end of the period punk designers like Ron Arad were recycling found objects to make furniture and household accessories - paving the way, some would argue, for today’s popular industrial style of design.
We are now, in the twenty-first century, inhabit a more democratic design period. Tolerance and individual choice means the world of interior design encapsulates styles as different as shabby chic, traditional and baroque bohemia. For a wide, well thought out selection to revamp and revitalise your home - Design 55 are one of the best online stockists and really care about good-looking things.
So if you are going to decorate, do not just get yourself a wad of colour swatches, think about the mood you want to evoke - and use the colors of the past for inspiration to take control of your home in the present.