Outdoor Entertaining

It is officially the season for barbecues, pool parties, and outdoor entertainment. With the weather warming up, homeowners can look forward to having the chance to entertain outdoors. It is no secret that with hosting guests comes a lot of time and planning. Put your mind at ease this summer by following our easy guide to having an outdoor party. 

 

Guide to Entertaining Outdoors:

  1. Invites. With every great party comes a guest list. First, you will need to decide on the size of your party. Who are you inviting to the party: is it family only? After you decide on how many people you are inviting, you can set a theme. Are you planning on having a barbecue, pool party, dinner party, etc.? Are children invited?
  2. Seating. Unless you are planning on having everyone stand the entire time, it is important to make sure you have enough seating options for guests. Things to consider are: if people will outdoors the entire time or if you are having the party be inside and outside. If you are having the party inside and outside, you can get away with providing less seating outdoors. If you are having the party only outdoors, consider a number of people coming and where you want them all to sit. 
  3. Tables. You can set the table similar to how you set your table inside. But instead of using cloth napkins, use paper napkins to make it more casual. If you have enough placemats, incorporate them into the table’s design. Try adding a fun centerpiece from your house to draw guest’s eyes towards the tables. 
  4. The Meal. If you are serving food outdoors, make sure to place it in a shady area. Avoid direct sunlight because it can cause your vegetables to wilt. Your best bet is to serve food that is good at room temperature (grilled kebabs, noodles, beans, etc). 
  5. Lighting. Light up the night with some stringed lighting and candles. You can string the lighting throughout your trees, bushes, and fence. Your candles can serve as a centerpiece during the day and light up your space at night. Try incorporating some insect repelling candles to avoid having your guests get bitten. 
  6. Decor. You can decorate the party with your indoor decorations to save time and money. Take some of your favorite decor pieces from inside and incorporate them into the outdoor’s design.

 

You can have an outdoor party for basically any reason nowadays. From graduations to get-togethers, our outdoor entertainment guide can help you create the ultimate party. 


Your Guide to First-Rate Alternative Flooring – Part Two

Let’s continue to look at great flooring alternatives for your home…

 

Laminate 

This flooring choice is a cost-effective way to achieve a variety of looks without purchasing multiple materials.  Constructed of four layers for durability, laminate can mimic the look of hardwood, stone and ceramic tile.  No matter which style you choose, this flooring will hold up well in high traffic areas.  Be sure to install an underlayment before putting down this product in order to create a moisture barrier to protect from any possible leaking through the seams.  As an extra benefit, the underlayment also provides noise reduction.  This material is also resistant to staining and fading. 

 

Vinyl

Vinyl is another great economical choice for achieving the look of hardwood, stone and ceramic tile.  Available in sheets, planks or tiles depending on your desired look, this material also comes in a variety of glosses so you can choose your level of shine.  Vinyl is moisture-resistant and comfortable underfoot so it’s perfect for places like the kitchen, where you may be standing for longer periods of time.  Ideal for high traffic areas and durable enough to withstand your pet’s nails, this flooring is a great choice for the busiest rooms in your home.  It’s easy to install and is usually made with an antimicrobial layer, making it a healthy choice for your home.  

 

Engineered Wood

This man-made alternative to hardwood flooring has improved a lot since it became available in the 1960s.  It’s easy to install and more cost-effective than the original while maintaining the same timeless look.  This flooring can be installed anywhere you would want hardwood to go as well as a few additional areas that you wouldn’t think possible.  As this type of wood does not expand and contract as much as hardwood when placed in humid areas, it can be installed in basements as well as near heating elements.  While it may perform well in these areas this material is still not a good choice for bathrooms as standing water would be too much for it to withstand on a regular basis. 

Your Guide to First-Rate Alternative Flooring – Part One

Considering what flooring to put in your new home or existing renovation can feel a bit overwhelming.  There are multiple options that would most likely work well in your living space, but what’s the best one for you?  You may be familiar with hardwood, ceramic tile and carpet, but let’s take a moment to check out some alternative choices available in flooring.

 

Concrete

While concrete has a good reputation for outdoor use, it is also a great choice for indoors as well.  Whether you use the existing concrete slab in your home or have it freshly poured, this is an environmentally friendly option as materials are locally sourced.  Floors can be customized using different stains and dyes and can easily be given a textured surface or a sleek and shiny appearance.  It can also be stamped to look like tile or a uniquely shaped design with contrasting but complementary colors.  Once sealed it resists mildew, mold and other stains, making it a safe choice for moist areas. 

 

Cork

Another eco-friendly choice is cork flooring as its manufacturing process is easier on the environment than other flooring materials.  It is also recyclable and biodegradable.  Using stain and paint, you can achieve any look you desire from this material. Cork naturally helps retain heat, making it warm to walk on and reduces indoor noise.  The thicker the cork, the better the insulation.  This flooring requires sealing and is resistant to fire, mildew, and mold, however, it is not best to install it in a moist environment as it is not water-resistant. 

 

Bamboo

Bamboo is an easily sustainable and durable choice for flooring.  If you like the look of hardwood but want something a little more unique, this is the flooring for you.  It is technically a grass but is a very hard surface.  Natural bamboo is light in color, but there are also multiple stain options to suit your needs.  Keep in mind that the darker the bamboo, the softer it becomes because the material has been processed to alter its appearance.  Bamboo can be constructed in multiple ways depending on the look you are going for. Pieces can be layered together horizontally and vertically as well as shredded and woven together.  While this is a great material for most rooms in your home, keep in mind that extreme humidity can cause this flooring to expand or shrink. 

 

For more home flooring options, please see Your Guide to First-Rate Alternative Flooring – Part Two

Maintenance Around Your Home

With owning a home, there comes a lot of responsibility. Keeping up with your home’s maintenance should eventually become a routine. But first, you must know what things need maintaining. 

 

Checklist: 

  1. Siding. Your home’s siding should be inspected annually. It is important to look for any deterioration or separation in your home’s siding. The benefit of checking your siding will help prevent the growth of mildew/rotting. 
  2. Floors. Keeping your floors clean is extremely important to its overall lifespan. You should be regularly vacuuming your carpet, but you will need to get your carpet professional cleaned at least once a year. 
  3. Gutters & Drainage. Especially during the spring and fall, you will need to clean out your gutters and outdoor drain system. There will be leftover leaves and dirt from the previous seasons that you will want to remove. 
  4. Air Conditioning Filters. Inspect your air conditioning filters and look for dirt. Your filters should be checked monthly and should be replaced at the minimum every three months. 
  5. Smoke/Carbon Dioxide Detectors. It is important to check that your detectors are fully functioning. You will be able to check your detectors by pressing “test” and the alarm will sound. 
  6. Clean your kitchen disposal & dishwasher. Both your disposal and dishwasher can contain leftover food and residue. To clean your dishwasher, you will need to clean out its drain, do a vinegar rinse and a baking soda rinse. In order to clean your sink’s disposal, pour your vinegar in ice cube tray then place it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, put the vinegar ice cubes down your disposal while the disposal is running. 
  7. Inspect your roof. This can be done annually, but it is important to check for any leaks. If you do find something wrong, contact a repairman immediately to attend to the problem. 

 

The maintenance of your house will help in the lifespan of your home. Make a checklist and consistently stick to it so that your home is always in great shape. Things will break and need to be fixed, but it is better to know as soon as possible and attend to it.

How to Get a Lot Out of a Little (Space)

Sadly, major cities offer little to no space in homes and apartments. It has become a necessity for people to quickly adjust on how to manage their small space. Over time, we accumulate more and more items which can add to the stress of finding storage in a tiny space. There is no need to fret, here is how to get a lot out a little (space):

 

1. Store high above.

There is so much storage right in front of our eyes that we may not even realize is there. When in doubt, just look up. You can install cabinets, hooks to hang your bike, place extra clothing rods, put in a pot rack, etc. 

 

2. Double the purpose.  

When there is little space available, your items will begin to serve several purposes. In recent years, products on the market have begun to institute this rule. You can buy a shelving system that turns into your dining room table. This comes in handy because during the day your items are tucked away neatly but come dinner time you have a nice dining room table. 

 

3. Sensible seating.

 Seating is extremely important when you are entertaining guests. Think about the layout of your space, it may be wise to get a small sofa and a fabric chair rather than two large sofas to take up space. 

 

4. Fold them up. 

Sellers know buyers have small spaces.  This is the reason why foldable items are available today. Depending on your space’s size, you can invest in a fold-down bed, vanity or desk. These items create an efficient amount of space in rooms while being tucked away. 

 

5. Pegboard Please. 

Pegboards are not just for garages anymore. They can add a stylish storage function for homeowners. Clip on a mail bin or hang portraits from the pegboard. They offer endless possibilities and they are unique to each homeowner. 

 

6. Deck it out. 

Your small space does not have to be boring. Decorate the walls where there is extra space. Do not rely heavily on the areas provided by the floor, walls are your friends. 

 

We hope that you can utilize these tips in any of your small spaces!  Remember, they are not exclusive to small apartments!

Creating a Mediterranean Bathroom

Choosing a new style for a bathroom is important. There are many options from which to choose, and one popular choice is Mediterranean. It originates in the countries located on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea such as Spain, Turkey, Italy, and France to name a few. This style is elegant and relaxing. Here are a few key features.

 

Tile is often a trademark of a Mediterranean bathroom. The tile can be the flooring, backsplash or even walls. A traditional Mediterranean tile for flooring is terracotta. Terracotta tile is made naturally, which is a plus. It is also very durable; it lasts a long time. It is important to make sure you are buying quality tile though to get the maximum benefit. Terracotta tile is also very porous which makes it easier on your feet. Since it is porous, it is important that it’s sealed properly so that it will hold up to the moisture, stains, and scratches. Terracotta tile is also not as cold as other tile options, which it makes it more comfortable to walk on barefoot.

 

Mosaics are also a key feature; they are very common to Mediterranean décor. Mosaics can be included through a beautiful backsplash, accessories, wall hangings, wall tile, or flooring. Mosaics can be created using many different colors from simple black and white to other traditionally Mediterranean colors such as blue, olive and lavender.

 

Another key feature of a Mediterranean bathroom is curves or arches in different areas such as mirrors, showers, toilet stalls, entrances, and furniture. Another area you can integrate arches and curves is light fixtures. From wall sconces to accent lights, the possibilities are great.

 

Wrought iron and ceramics are key features in a Mediterranean bathroom. You could have a wrought iron pieces on the wall, or a wrought-iron framed mirror hanging over the vanity. Ceramics can be added as accessories like soap dispensers, soap holders, toothbrush holders, and vases.

 

Finally, color is also a key to achieving a Mediterranean look. There are several options such as bright blue, which is popular in the Greek isles. Pure white is also very popular. Yellow, warm orange, and red are reminiscent of the Italian coast. A few other options are turquoise blues, lavender, and olive.

 

Tabletop Vignettes, Environmentally Friendly

Tabletop vignettes are popular for decorating tabletops and shelves. They add to the ambiance and feel of a room. They are also an excellent way to display your style and values. Here are a few decorating tips for creating a vignette as well as environmentally friendly decorating ideas.

 

There are basic decorating ideas for creating the perfect vignette. Height might not seem important, but pay attention to varying heights in your décor to get a well-balanced display. While varying the height of the objects in the vignette is important, gradually increasing the height can also accomplish this goal. This trick works well with different types of décor such as candlesticks and vases. Also, use similar objects to create a theme for your vignette, and group smaller objects together. Using a tray for the vignette is also popular.

 

 

For the environmentally conscious person, there are many nick knacks and decorating options made from recycled materials. Some examples are wool nesting bowls, woven fiber vases, fabric storage baskets, repurposed cork décor, used wine glasses or bottles, mason jars or other glass bottles or vases, sliced wood centerpieces, and reclaimed wooden picture frames,

To save money and buy used items, shop at resale or thrift stores such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

 

Natural objects like flowers or plants are great additions to a tabletop vignette. They are also many plants that add to the air quality of a home. A few examples are the Garden Mum, they are inexpensive and remove ammonia, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. Another option is the spider plant. They thrive in bright or indirect sunlight and are easy to grow. They remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air. A Dracaena plant is another option. Those are a few options, but there are multiple types of plants that improve the air quality in a home. Some more examples are the Ficus plant, Peace Lily, Boston Fern, Aloe Vera, and Bamboo Palm. You can even use recycled wine bottles or recycled wood as planters.

 

These are a few ideas for creating an environmentally friendly vignette, but there are many more possibilities. Vignettes can match the season, holiday, or they can be designed to match the color scheme or display the trip of a lifetime. The ideas are endless.

 

 

Designing Around Architectural Features in Your Home

Creating a focal point in a room sometimes needs a bit of planning to make sure that the surrounding decor leads the eyes towards it. But what if you’ve found a beautifully crafted home with wonderful architectural features that just need to be put on display? Instead of having to create a place for your eyes to look for, you can simply concentrate on elevating the look of your home’s current characteristics.

 

Fireplaces are a common feature in many homes. Design around it to create a cozy, welcoming room whether there is a fire blazing within or not. Start with assessing whether your fireplace should be resurfaced or if it simply needs a fresh coat of varnish to bring out its vintage charm. It is going to be the room’s main feature, so you want it to be in its best condition. Point your furniture towards the hearth and stage any decorative sculptures or tall plants to its sides to enhance the area without taking any of the spotlight away from it. Televisions and other electronics would be disruptive to the design, so try to keep the room a peaceful escape by setting up a supple leather armchair with plush blanket near your fireplace to enjoy a good book. Accompany it with a floor lamp and side table for convenience.

 

Box-Beam ceilings are a visual delight and are a unique focal point for any room. Bring out the best in them by creating a color contrast between the ceiling itself and the beams to make it a real showstopper. If your ceiling consists of wooden planks, painting them a clean white while the beams remain their natural color will look striking. For conventional ceiling surfaces, try a rich, dark color and paint your beams white to lighten it up. As above, decorate below. Try to integrate the colors you use for this unique ceiling feature into the furniture. This can be through wooden side tables matching the natural beams, a plush throw matching the ceiling’s paint color or an area rug with monochromatic scheme that continues the use of the color family you started up above.

 

Entryway arches are another great example of an automatic focal point in your home that demands appreciation. A kitchen entryway can be given a rustic update through the installation of a stone border. For a clean, white look try thicker crown molding and side columns. To create a little separation from one room to the next, consider a natural wood custom door frame with functioning glass doors to keep the area open and flowy whenever you need. 

Design Ideas for Rooms with Vaulted Ceilings

Having a vaulted ceiling in your home is one of the most desirable looks out there. It instantly makes any room feel spacious and full of possibilities. Making sure that you utilize this beautiful feature in your home will ensure that you create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for you and your guests. Here are a few ideas that will showcase your vaulted ceilings.

 

Character is something that is easily added to this architectural feature. While standard ceilings may have some crown molding added for effect, a vaulted ceiling can benefit from a slight variation in paint color from your walls, large wooden beams over planks and wider crown molding to ensure it is not dwarfed by the depth of the space.

 

Lighting is very important when dealing with a higher ceiling. Brighter bulbs are necessary to reach every space in the evening time. Recessed can lighting gives the area a smooth appearance while the center of the room can handle a large hanging chandelier for a real show-stopping look.

 

Natural light is just as important as artificial sources for vaulted ceilings as well. Installing skylights make a striking effect on the room. If this is not an option, French windows and doors all along the wall that has the best view from the home will make it seem like a vacation destination. Add an accent window on top in a complementary shape to the below windows to bring the eye upward.

 

Vaulted ceilings also give you the opportunity to create stunning built-ins that can hold books, an entertainment center or simple statuettes and antiques you may have collected over time. If there is a large open wall space that seems bare, try placing large artwork or iron pieces on the wall to make a statement. Corners can be filled with tall, indoor potted plants or a beautiful sculpture.

 

Don’t be afraid to use slightly larger furniture, tables and other assorted items to decorate the space as the ceiling will help provide proportion to the room. Windows can also benefit from taller, more grand drapery to create drama as well. You have a much-coveted home feature, do your very best to help it shine!

Creating a Reading Nook in Your Home

No matter what career takes care of the bills, we all have our own hobbies that bring us joy and fulfillment. Some people are adventure seekers; some are collectors and some just like to curl up with a good book at the end of the day. If the last description sounds like you, then you should consider creating a reading nook in your home to make your hobby as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Reading in the living room can be noisy if someone is watching the television and reading in bed can put you to sleep, so it makes perfect sense to try to create a space dedicated to doing what you love without distractions.  Read on for a few tips on how to create the perfect reading nook in your home.

 

Location

Choose the most relaxing area of your home. Loud noises and the comings and goings of your household members will not be conducive to an uninterrupted reading session.  You don’t want to be ripped out of the setting and time of the story you’re enjoying because you are in a high traffic space.  Try a corner of your master bedroom, a window seat or even and enclosed porch.

 

Seating

Think about what position is best for you while reading: sitting up straight, laying on one side, slightly leaning backward. There is no right or wrong here. Once you have pinned down the most comfortable way you want to enjoy your literature, be sure to accommodate the space with what works best for you. This could be a soft leather chair, a chaise lounge or just a simple arrangement of cushions.

 

Lighting

Natural and artificial light play and equal role in your comfort. Daytime reading is always enjoyable with natural sunlight, so staging your nook by a window would be beneficial. As the sun goes down, light placement is essential to prevent from squinting down at your pages or tablet. If you have limited floor space, try an extendable wall-mounted light.  If there is room for a side table, try a floor lamp to go with it to light up your nighttime reading and give you easy access to your material for next time.

 

Storage

If possible, keep your supply of books nearby with a bookcase or built-in shelving that won’t require you to retrieve a new selection at the other side of the house each time you are ready for something new.

 

There are so many options for creating a little getaway for your reading habit. Have fun playing around with different arrangements until you feel as cozy as possible and let your latest book sweep you off your feet!