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!

Back to School Tricks

School is about to start up again! Enjoy this post for easy tips that make back to school easier. There are so many things around the house that can be transformed into something more useful.

Packing school lunches takes time and costs money. Don’t buy ice packs, make your own easily, for a fraction of the price. All you need is a sponge, water and a zip lock bag. Wet the sponge and ring out some of the excess water. Place the sponge inside a zip lock bag and freeze. Make five at a time, one for each day of the school week!

Keep homework supplies organized. Put pens, pencils, colored pencils, scissors, tape and glue sticks in a plastic silverware organizer. This is the perfect item to keep things separated and organized. Next find a decorative box that has a lid and place the organizer inside. This is perfect to keep on the bookshelf or right on the desk top.

Stay organized by staying color coded. Get a simple dish drainer. One that is rectangular. Place color coded folders inside and label each with the appropriate subject. This way you can keep track of tests, quizzes, notes etc. The silverware cups can be used to keep pens and pencils!

Protect school books by creating your own paper bag leaves. Unwrap grocery store paper bags. Use tape to wrap the books in the brown paper. Then let your child add the title and decorate the paper however they want. Make sure they put their name on it so it can be returned if misplaced.

Use a door hanging shoe organizer to keep school and art supplies organized and visible. This is perfect for keeping calculators, glue, pens, pencils, markers, rulers, compass and lots of other art supplies. Place the organizer on the back of the door in your child’s room. They can help themselves to the items they need when completing projects and home work.

Create a Desktop Zen Garden

 

Whether you are going through the upheaval of sending kids back to school or the exciting activity of updating your kitchen, a small, quiet place in your home is quite effective when it comes to maintaining your sense of peace.  Zen gardens are designed to create this sense of peace and give a specific location where you can focus.  A miniature version of this is a Desktop Zen garden. 

Desktop Zen gardens are naturally beautiful, a great mind reliever and gives you a creative outlet. They are easy to make and fun because you can personalize them with things you love.

First choose a vessel. We prefer low, round glass bowls, because you can see more of the sand and that makes us feel closer to nature. The vessel does not have to be glass. When selecting the vessel, choose something you are drawn to and can see beauty in.

Fill the vessel with sand. Either buy the sand from a crafts store or collect it yourself on the beach. Putting items in your Zen garden that you collected while happy with family, will make you happy when you look at the garden and interact with it.

Our favorite thing to place Zen gardens is river rocks that have been found while in the outdoors, sea shells and shark’s teeth that we found on the beach, or even random avocado seeds. Anything that is organic that you are drawn to can go in your garden.

Play with your garden and relieve stress by using a little rake or even a fork to create designs in the sand. Incorporate your treasures in the designs you make. This will help calm you and clear your head. These little gardens are the perfect size to fit on your desktop at work or the counter top in your kitchen.

A fun way to make the garden brightly colored is by adding colored sand. Get creative and have fun while you create your garden. Feel free to change out the treasures or only use a few at a time. The less clutter the better your garden will look. 

Unusual Shelving Ideas – Part 2

We hope you are enjoying these fun shelving ideas so far. Let’s keep going and delve into some more creative ideas…

Drawers – These look so neat on the wall. Just as with the wine crate, attach the drawer by screwing the bottom of it into the wall. You can use shallow or deep drawers depending on what size items you want to display.

Vintage suitcases – If you’re decorating a space with a retro vibe you will love this shelving solution. Bolt the top half to the wall so it stays open, and support the bottom half with floating L brackets. If you want the bottom half to be a flush display surface, simply insert a cardboard structure and cover it with fabric. This way anything you display can be easily seen. Or you can leave it empty and store stackable things like folded towels. Don’t forget, vintage luggage often had pockets on the top half so you can easily use those to create a display of things peeking out.

Hat boxes – Yes, they’re beautiful stacked in a corner, but they also take up a lot of space. If you indeed store hats in them then leave them to their work. However, if you want adt’l storage options out of them, hang them on the wall. Screw the bottom of the box or the lid, or both, into the wall. Then fill with lightweight item that don’t require a flat, flush surface.

Ladder – We love the look of a vintage wood ladder when it’s attached to a wall. How, you ask? Simply find an old ladder that doesn’t require folding. (In other words, not the modern ones that open to stand.) Paint or stain it to match the room and hang it sideways. You now have lots of space to curate a quirky collection of shelf décor. 

Brackets without shelves – Give the appearance of floating stacks of books by using standard L-shaped wall brackets. Make sure the first book you plan to set atop them is large enough to completely hide the bracket. Then just keep stacking until you reach the weight load of the brackets.

Crown molding – This one is pretty simple. Rather than attaching it at the top of the wall, hang it at eye level and use it as a shelf display for shallow depth items. 

Unusual Shelving Ideas – Part 1

Have you ever noticed how shelving options are kind of boring? It’s true that what is displayed on a shelf is considered more important than the shelf itself, but we believe a design looks best when both the items and the shelf are interesting. Certainly you can find some well designed and beautiful shelving options in the retail world, but if character is what you’re going for it might be best to take matters into your own hands. The most impressive shelving ideas we’ve seen to date are those that rely on something other than a shelf to act as a shelf.

For example, think about spice racks. You know, the old school wooden ones that were typically attached to a cabinet in the kitchen. Create something different by painting them to match a piece of furniture such as a dresser. Then, attach them to either side of the dresser and you now have adt’l shelf space. (This one works especially well in children’s rooms.)

Now that you have the idea, enjoy our list of suggestions for all sorts of items that can be transformed into very creative shelving. If you live in a small home with storage issues, you may want to try several of these!

Benches – Find backless benches intended for sitting. Use 2-3 and stack them on top of each other. They are now shelves! If you want the design to be especially imaginative looking, use benches of different lengths.

Magazine Holders – We’re referring to the ones that usually sit upright on your desk. They are a very cool option for shelving in small corners. Simply turn one sideways and attach it to the wall. Don’t use fewer than three of them, though, because they’re too small for just one to look right.

Wine Crates – Hang on the wall by screwing the bottom of the crate to the wall. The effect will be a 3D shelf that offers a lot of depth. 

6 of the Best Home & Garden Shows in the Country

If your passions in life include a wander lust that is matched by a love for home improvement it may time to consider an H & G travel vacation. If you’ve lived in the same place for awhile, there’s a good chance that you’ve been to the local shows at least a dozen times. There’s only so much information you can glean from a single resource and traveling is fun. Why not hit the road and see what the rest of the country has to offer?

 Try attending one of the spectacular shows:

  1. SAHBA Fall Home and Garden Show October 23, 24, & 25, 2015. Held at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson, AZ. Admission $8. Includes emphasis on topics such as home improvement trends, remodeling ideas, and outdoor living. Hosted by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.   
  2. Cincinnati Home and Garden Show February 27 – March 6, 2016. Cincinnati, OH.  Includes landscape companies, interior designers, specialty companies, remodeling specialists, manufacturers, retail stores, and contractors.
  3. The Great Big Home and Garden Show February 5-14, 2016 at the I-X Center in Cleveland, OH. Admission $15. Unique for its impressive list of guest celebrities and experts such as Matt Muenster of the TV show Bath Crashers and BATHtastic on the DIY Network.
  4. MinneapolisHome and Garden Show February 26 – March 6, 2016 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Admission $14. Highlights include: Idea Home, Glorious Feature Gardens, Spring Boutique, Upcycle Designer Rooms, Innovation Avenue, Garden Theater, The Warners’ Stellian Kitchen Stage, and The Floral Display and Market.
  5. WBAY-TV Home and Garden Show March 10-13, 2016 at Shopko Hall, Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay, WI. Admission $9. A wide range of exhibitors include expertise in remodeling, home building, landscaping, interior design, pools/spas, bedding, and bath. The area’s top professionals converge in an 80,000 square foot facility for four full days of fun and education.
  6. Pueblo Home and Garden Show March 6-8, 2016 in Pueblo, CO at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, CO. Presented by the Pueblo Association of Home Builders. Running for 27 consecutive years.  A well rounded event that includes a Friday night VIP experience and numerous free seminars throughout the weekend.  The theme for 2016 is “Go Green, Save Green.”

How To Combine Color, Energy, and Nature To Create a Happy Home — Part 3

Part 3 – The Bathroom, Living Room, and Dining Room

The Bathroom

Color: Brown

Feng Shui dictates natures fundamental elements are balance in each room. Because the bathroom is dominated by the water element, a nice way to create energetic balance is to include earth elements. Accomplish this by including a variant of brown by way of paint, flooring, towels, or accessories.

Energy:  Reduce unpleasant energy in a bathroom by keeping the toilet lid shut when it’s not in use.

Nature: Aloe Vera is an ideal plant for a bathroom. It’s well known of its healing and restorative properties, and it requires minimal sunlight.

The Living Room

Color: Green encourages a sense of freshness, serenity, and recuperation which makes an excellent choice for a living room. It will make the space feel free of heavy sensations such as stress and fatigue so you can enjoy the company you’re in.

Energy: If you like the idea of the living room being low key, avoid the use of mirrors because they are associated with creating energy. Instead include soft textures because they help reduce strain on the nerves.

Nature: Reed and Areca Palms work well in living rooms because they are lively and grow well in low-lit rooms.

The Dining Room

Color: Red is a stimulating color that promotes social interaction, appetite, and alertness. These are ideal for a space where food and good company are enjoyed simultaneously.

Energy: This one is a no brainer in a dining room. The table is the center piece and the chairs are situated on the perimeter so that guests are all facing inward. It might also be advisable to keep peripheral furnishing to a minimum so that the focus remains on the center of the room.

Nature: Excessive plant life could make a dining room feel too busy. The best approach for including nature is at the dinner table through the use of a well designed centerpiece. It’s important for it to have a low profile so it doesn’t obstruct the view from across the table and make it difficult for people to converse. 

How To Combine Color, Energy, and Nature To Create a Happy Home — Part 2

Part 2 – The Bedroom and Office

The Bedroom

Color: Blue evokes serenity, reassurance, and calm. It’s been shown to help reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

Energy: Electronics and Bed Placement

Electronics are the most energy zapping things one can have in a bedroom. If possible eliminate them entirely. The light and frequency they emit can disturb sleep no matter how subtle or strong they are. Even the “battery charging” indicator on your phone can cause mental disruption. If you aren’t able to remove them from the room then make sure they are at least two feet away from the bed and turn off any that aren’t in use. For example, if you must have a television in the room, don’t fall asleep with it on. Watch your show, turn it off, and call it a night.

Feng Shui dictates that a bed should be placed diagonally across from the door, as well as allow for a clear view of the room and décor. 

Nature:  Lavender. The lavender plant is fragrant and colorful in a soft way. It is also effective for keeping the bedroom air fresh rather than stuffy.

The Office

Color: Purple is a bold color that stimulates creativity and evokes a sense of financial stability. This makes if perfect for a space that is focus creating the best version of talents and making money in the process.

Energy: Shape and Placement

In general stick to distinct lines and angular shapes in a place of work. They’ve been shown to increase productivity and reduce fatigue.

 Feng Shui dictates that a desk should face away from a wall because when it faces the wall they there is a negative effect on concentration levels and inspired thinking.

Nature: Plants that have simplistic designs and require very little care are ideal for an office. A work space is most comfortable if it feels like a “no fuss” area so plants that are delicate and require special attention would be distracting. Try a simple orchid.

Next read Part 3 – The Bathroom, Living Room, and Dining Room

How To Combine Color, Energy, and Nature To Create a Happy Home

Part 1 – Introduction

Humans are sensitive beings that are easily influenced by their surroundings. Our ability to reason and feel emotion makes us susceptible to an infinite number of influences that affect the way we experience the world. It’s safe to say that our primary drive in life is to be happy, so anything we can do to that end is a highly beneficial activity.

Although it’s estimated that we spend far more time at work than anywhere else, it’s a safe bet to assume that the second most frequented place is the home. While you can’t necessarily control your work environment or that of the rest of the world, you can certainly be the boss of the amount of happiness you get to enjoy at home. To that end we highly recommend spending time and energy on making your home your happy place.

Without a doubt that are myriad ways to accomplish this goal, but we are going to focus on three of the most effective techniques. They are: color, Feng Shui, and plant life. Focusing on these three methods in every room in your house will transform it into a very happy home. We’re going to break it down with room by room suggestions so you have a starting point in each space.

But first, the basic definitions of the influential factors:

Color – Color is proven to have a significant effect on the way we experience a space. Certain colors are well suited to specific rooms, whereas other colors would be ill advised choices in particular spaces.

Feng Shui – An ancient Chinese method for controlling intangible energies. In home design it dictates that the energies of house must be balanced in order to promote good health and fortune for its inhabitants. More specifically it has a psychological effect on our sense of ease and well being in a room.

Nature – It’s been proven that nature has an exceptional influence on the human experience. Perhaps because we are mammals we are inclined to feel most whole and content when aspects of nature surround us. At a minimum plant life has been show to decrease stress and promote good health.

Next read Part 2 – The Bedroom and Office

Family Time – Spend the Day Planting a Flower Garden

Planting a garden is a great way to spend time with family and enjoy the outdoors. Here is how to start a simple flower garden and have a fun time!

 

First, look in your back yard. Is there a patch of good soil to use? If not, do some research the night before and find ways to create a patch in your yard. This should be easy and won’t take that much time. And when you go to the nursery, make sure to get fertilizer for your soil to keep the plants growing and healthy. Next decide on a color scheme for your garden. If the flowers are color coordinated the garden will be twice as pretty. Deciding the night before provides you with a plan to help you choose the right flowers when you go shopping. A good color scheme should include around 3 colors. You should also choose flowers that look different than each other to add definition and sophistication. A garden of 3 different shades of petunias is a lot less interesting than a garden of yellow sunflowers, orange marigolds, and red roses.

 

Next, try to locate a nursery that is within walking distance of your home. This experience will be most ideal if you can include a family walk. Have the kids take a wagon to bring the flowers home in. If you do not own a wagon, most nurseries have them and you can either rent them or borrow them to take the flowers home. Otherwise just drive there and leave the windows in the car rolled down to enjoy the fresh air. While at the nursery consult with the experts as to which flowers on your list are actually best suited to your particular garden environment. Also ask about the ideal way to plant them and care for them. Take along a little notebook to take notes so you’re sure to remember all of the important facts.

 

Once you’ve brought your flowers home spend quality time with the family and plant them! In general there should be distance between each flower to make sure it has room to grow or bloom. Also remember to pay attention to whether the flower needs shade or sun. Once everything is planted, create a watering schedule to keep your plants healthy and hydrated. Last, don’t fogey to place a few chairs near the garden so you can sit outside and enjoy it.