Monday, June 15, 2009

Furnishing Your Dining Room

Whether you have a separate dining room, a kitchen dining area or even a small dining table at the back of the lounge room, it can be daunting trying to find the right table setting for you. Here are some helpful tips and ideas:

Select a dining table that compliements the shape of your dining area

A square room can be softened by a round table, or given a contemporary look with a square table. Rectangualr tables are great for larger families, people whom entertain often, or acting as a multi-purpose table; extra working space for example.
Mix and match your dining room chairs
Mixing different styles, as long as they are similar in height and colour can add individuality to your dining space.

Leave space
Make sure you leave over a metre for chair pull-back space around your dining table.
Dining area sharing a space?
If your dining area is sharing space with an open-plan kitchen, consider "separating the spaces" with area rugs or a decoartive dividing screen. Lighting can also work well in this situation: use brighter task lighting in the kitchen, and softer ambient lighting in the dining area.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Interior Design Style - Create a Modern Kitchen With Concrete Countertops

2009 Interior Design Style - Why Concrete Kitchen Counters Are The Next Big Kitchen Trend

concrete countertop pictures

With the rise of green materials, we see an increased use of concrete in home decorating. Concrete is thought of as a modern material, but it truly dates back to ancient times – the Egyptians mixed lime and gypsum into their version, the Romans used crushed volcanic rock in their construction.

Concrete Kitchen Counters are Both Versitile and Easy to Maintain

Concrete countertops are excellent for residential decorating, to create a unique, personal kitchen style that is durable and easy to care for. Concrete kitchen counters are customized for each job, and can have integral colors, acid stains, or stamped applications. The look is in contrast to the shiny, formal feel of granite, and not as common. Earthy, rich colors are available ranging from deep terra cottas to warm golds, and gray tinged blues or purples.

While concrete countertops do need to be resealed more often, they are not difficult to care for. Because they are a porous material, the concrete may “patina” and incorporate stains or marks as it ages. While this is not desirable to some, it adds to the color and interest in the surface. Stains are not as evident when using colored concrete countertops, though acidic foods can lighten the color. Simply using water will dissipate most stains when acted upon quickly.

Concrete Kitchen Countertops Style For Modern and Traditional Interiors

Installation is key to the success of a concrete kitchen countertop, and not recommended for an inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. The installer will create a template of your kitchen counter layout, and cast the counter top to fit, many times on location. The pigments are mixed into the concrete, creating a style that works with both modern and traditional interiors.

Concrete kitchen countertops have lasting impact and beauty, and will provide an extremely durable surface when cared for properly. Consider this sustainable material for your next kitchen design or bathroom project for an unexpected, attractive addition.

Six Ways to Stretch your Space with Double Duty Furniture

One of my favorite tricks for stretching a space is to use furniture that performs double duty. You’d be surprised how many pieces are manufactured specifically to perform more than one service. You don’t have to limit your choices to new items, though. If you think creatively, you can find multiple ways to give furniture dual purposes. Here’s some of my favorite pieces that offer versatile function and style to your home.

1. Occasional Tables

Occasional tables are well known for their versatile storage options, but they can serve other purposes as well. A lift-top cocktail table can perform multiple jobs. Besides its original purpose as a handy place to set your cup or display your magazines, drawers make it fall into the storage category. When you raise it’s specially hinged top, it comes up and forward to becomes a desk, a game table or a convenient eating place.

Other cocktail tables double as ottomans. I especially like ones that have storage ottomans incorporated in their design. Pull them out, use them for extra seating and neatly hide your knitting or magazines.

End tables can also serve more than one purpose. Choose end tables that feature wine racks or that double as curio cabinets that protect your treasures while still showing them off.

2. Dining Tables

Even if you don’t have a designated dining room, you can create one with multifunctional furniture. Choose sofa tables that expand to seat up to six people or coffee tables that convert into dining tables with just a couple steps. There are stylish wooden folding chairs to coordinate with your table as well. When not in use, just fold the chairs up and hide them away in a closet or under the bed.

3. Kids Furniture

Furniture manufacturers have done a great job coming up with furnishings for kids rooms that play more than one role. There’s all in one nurseries that provide a changing table and dresser space and will grow from infancy to school age with your baby. Loft beds are also great space savers and are available complete with desks, closets and more. Loft bunk beds are a great options for kids who need to double up in one room. Don’t forget to ad a comfy flip chair so there’s someplace for your child to curl up with a book or have a guest spend the night.

4. Sofas and Chairs

Of course, we’re all familiar with sofa beds, but don’t confuse today’s new convertible sofas with grandma’s old hide-a-bed. There really is no comparison in looks or comfort. Today’s innovative furniture designers have created some amazingly comfortable and functional pieces. Do you have nieces and nephews, grandkids or other children that spend the night? There’s even a sofa that can convert to bunk beds.
You can also get sofas or sofa beds that feature storage compartments.

5. Bedroom Furniture

If space is an issue, make your bed do double duty. Instead of just shoving things under the bed, choose a stylish platform bed that offers storage drawers in the platform. You still have a chic look but gain neatly organized storage space at the same time.

There are computer desks that transform into beds and bedroom armoires that function as both clothing storage and a home for your television.

You can even get a bed for your dog that offers extra storage space for Fido’s toys and biscuits.

6. Versatile Accessories

Accessories don’t have to just look pretty. They can contribute function as well as style. Hall trees make a great first impression and offer a place to store boots, hats, umbrellas and other outdoor items, plus a handy place to sit and take off your shoes. Efficient entertainment centers will offer storage for DVDs and books. Baskets are great places to store keys and mail and decorative boxes can be used to stash a variety of items while lending charm and warmth to your space.

Getting the most from your small space while still creating a stylish home is definitely a challenge. With careful shopping and resourceful thinking, though, you can combine fashion and function into a chic and comfortable place your proud to show off.

Remaking a Room with Mirrors

There is something about adding a mirror to room that can make it a good space turn great. It can open up a doorway or make a small space seem larger. A dark corner suddenly resonates with the rest of the room.

Uttermost Trevis Mirror

Once used as more of a focal point in bedrooms and bathrooms, mirror styles are more interesting than ever, with some practically covering up the actual mirror in order to use if for a reflective surface. Chunky ornate frames made from cast resin become artwork themselves. Unusual materials, such as bone or shell add soft colors. Smaller pieces of mirror are applied to the outside of a frame or in unexpected patterns to bounce light around.

Uttermost Raindrops Mirror

Round and square mirrors give smaller areas a break by adding shape and size. “Mirrors give a room an illusion of infinity,” Geoffrey Bradfield, a New York based designer has stated. It’s not even necessary to hang a mirror anymore – it can be leaned on a mantle or on the floor to add extra dimension.

Uttermost Tarkika Mirror

Pieces of mirror are working their way into tiled surfaces, furniture, lighting, and shelving to add a new play of light into a space. The reflective surface also adds a bit of old Hollywood glamour and dresses up an area.

In Feng Shui, it is believed that a mirror reflects something of good value, whether it is a treasured object, a scenic view, or a favorite photograph. The positive effects are thought to be doubled by the reflection.

Top 10 Home Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

We all fall prey to the projects in our home and get too used to our surroundings, and then mistakes start to happen. These are my top ten decorating mistakes that are easily fixable.

1. Hanging draperies too low. What good is a 10’ ceiling if you do things that lower it visually? Window treatments that are outside mounted on the wall need to go as high as possible in almost every instance. Mount the rods or the header right underneath crown molding, or at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Otherwise, it looks like you cut the rooms off at the knees when the treatment sits directly on top of the window.

2. Hanging artwork too high. This one can be tough if you are 6’7”. There are some judgment calls to make depending on the artwork, but in most cases the horizontal centerline of a picture should be at eye level. This is not particularly helpful advice since people vary in height, but an average-size person should be able to look comfortably at a picture without having to either bend down or look up.

3. Over-lighting an area. I’ve walked into rooms with so many cans that I’ve actually gotten warm from the heat they give off. It’s also not too flattering to those who are in it. While there is not a steadfast rule to how many recessed lights should be installed as it depends on ceiling height, duct work, etc, the main thing is to put all overhead lights on dimmer switches. Depending on the room consider table and floor lighting that adds ambience. Rooms that are under-lit are just as bad – think general lighting, task lighting, accent lighting.

4. Don’t insist on painting a room a defined color without choosing a rug or fabric first. That so called sage green you loved on the chip may not match a single thing, and cause you to burn more time running around town or on the internet than you ever wanted.

5. Hanging the dining table chandelier too high. This one has a rule of thumb, and it is no more than 32” – 38” above the table. The fixture should never obstruct the view of your guests, and the light should never seem glaring. Modern fixtures that do not have a lot of body to them may be hung higher, as will fixtures with down lights. Always put your chandelier on a dimmer switch!

6. One of my biggest peeves are putting too many pairs of things in a room – pair of lamps, pair of sofas, pair of candles – while some duos are not a bad thing, we don’t want the room to start looking like Noah’s ark.

7. Rugs that are too small for the space. Nothing looks worse than a rug that appears like it was left floating in the middle of a pool. Rugs should be large enough that either all of the furniture should sit on top of the rug, or all of the furniture should frame the rug and sit just off of it. Be certain to measure the dimensions of your room first and the rug is large enough that your furniture arrangement can fit easily on top of or framing it without any crowding.

8. This one may be more of a personal preference, but when arranging your furniture, avoid placing large pieces like beds or sofas on the diagonal. It can make too much of a statement be impractical as it takes up too much room and leaves areas of unused space behind it. Having the large pieces flush or parallel to the walls allows for much better use of space with easier access to outlets and traffic flow. However if you must, try the rug on the diagonal to see if it will work.

9. Being too well matched. Break out of your shell and try something unexpected, for crying out loud! While decorators preach that homes need to flow with their color and patterns, it’s still essential to add some pop to break up the perfection. Throw a blue vase into a predominantly yellow room, or use modern art with antique furniture. This is a room that screams to be broken – your home should speak of your personality, not the cover of a catalog.

10. Not using color. Those all white rooms are very serene, but face it - they are boring. With so many robust colors to choose from, there is no excuse to not bring it in. Find a fabric you love, or a favorite piece of artwork and pull colors against it that inspire you.

Out of this World Interior Lighting Design

Unique Interior Lighting Design

As just another example that creative energy knows no boundaries are the incredible and unique light fixtures . Fiber optics combined with hand crafted, sculptural light fixtures. Crafted in London, this can be found all over the world

Softly draped pieces of glass created ethereal, delicate fixtures. The soft lighting created is almost secondary to the unique sculptures. These fixtures evoke images of fantasy or dream-like states, with influences of underwater or ghost-like movement.

Lona Ceiling Mount Light Fixture

The Lona ceiling mount fixture features petals of white bone china with a halogen capsule. The petals cascade in long flowing strings to resemble a rosebud formation. The ceiling reflection must have a magnificent effect of soft waves and angelic lighting.

The Marni Wall Panel

By contrast, the Marni Wall Panel appears with a fiery woven copper flora shape. Fiber optics are encased with a rich brushed copper surround that would create an ambience of fire. Other finishes are available upon request. This elegant panel would be at home as a wall divider or fireplace substitute. The beauty of these products is that the uses seem limitless.

The Lily Table

Straying from traditional lighting is the Lily Table. Individual ceramic forms are inset into a black frame creating shadow and spaces amidst the blooming optic filament. Covered by a glass top and brushed steel surround, this unusual piece could almost stand on its own.

Create a Truely Unique Interior with Designs

The unique fixtures have been featured in museums, hotels, theatres, and restaurants as well as personal residences. Each piece is custom created individually for its purpose, making each an individual work of art.

Home Decorating Trends: Smaller Space Living

Decorating A Small Space

The days of the McMansion are waning, with many people downsizing for simpler living. Baby Boomers, young professionals, and grad students are now considering the benefits of city living in loft-like settings. Most of these buildings are located in the heart of a city, close to work, cultural activities and basic amenities. They range from apartments converted to condo living to old warehouses rehabbed into lofts. What is becoming a desirable trait is that the spaces are small – 2000 square feet or less in many cases.

Why would this be an option if you’ve lived in a 4,000 square foot home with a yard? For some people, it takes the pressure off of having to take care of all that space, as well as deal with lawns or snow removal. Most cities have codes that require underground parking spaces, or have adjacent lots to the building with spaces available, making parking convenient. For some people, the idea of getting rid of “stuff” they’ve accumulated is refreshing.

It can be a shock to walk into a smaller unit for the first time if you are downsizing. The kitchens are typically very modest, with storage at a minimum. Creative storage solutions are necessary, with built-ins doing double duty as service pieces. Some of the loft units are open floor plans that allow you to place the walls where you want, with plumbing being your only constraints.

Seating areas need to be better thought out and ready for multiple functions. For instance, a kitchen island does not have to be stationary – it could have leaves or hidden fold out legs that convert it to a dining table-like piece to seat ten. Sofas double as beds in one bedroom units, and family rooms incorporate home offices.

When downsizing, particularly after living in a house for a majority of years, it may be best to bring an interior designer in to help you make the right choices. A designer will access your existing needs and find creative storage options. A long living room wall is the perfect place to consider built-ins that offer open shelves as well as hidden storage behind doors and drawers. While the television may be stationed in the center, all your dishes and little used cookware may be stored underneath.

Beds can be converted to platforms that sit on top of drawers for extra storage. Closet systems are important to provide maximum shelf and hanging storage. Laundry is often combined into a bathroom behind doors, and the use of stackable units saves more space.

Downsizing does not have to be a scary idea, but it does take careful consideration before you make the leap. Small space living has its own rules for home decorating that allow for simple tighter pieces that don’t have to look too minimal. Consider the pieces you already own to see if they still work. Once you have the mindset that this style is right for you, getting rid of the excess is easy.

Floral Fabric: Home Decorating Battle of the Sexes

Floral Fabric That Men And Women Can Agree On

Vintage Floral Fabric - The Argument

It’s an age old home decorating argument that will never have a simple solution: she wants a vintage floral fabric, he can’t stand them. How do we get past this? Some men are fine to let the flowers be in the bedroom if the lights are off and their eyes are closed. Others only allow it in a little girl’s room. However like it or not, floral fabrics have their place in decorating history and is sometimes a seamless tie with all the other decorative fabrics in a room.

Floral Fabric - The Solution

First of all, floral prints can be a bit misunderstood. They don’t have to be so ultra-feminine. Many combine botanical motifs with viney or leafy movement that speaks more of a forest than a flower garden. Ferns have a high end organic look. Paisley is based off of Indian floral, and there are not too many men that object to this masculine motif. The point of a floral is to take the hard edges off geometric’s and stripes, and to inject a combination of colors that pull the room together.

Floral fabric are often the balance print between scales. A mid-sized floral combined with a large scale damask, a stripe, and a solid all create unity and strength between all the patterns and color. A floral may utilize six different colors, which allows flexibility in all the other fabrics’ shades.

Floral Prints

By toning down the amount of petals in a floral print, as well as the feminine colors, I think you can find a compromise that will fit. Look for floral prints that have more of a leafy feel, and perhaps include animals, birds, or insects such as butterflies. Rich earthy tones of red, brown, green, and gold are easy to work with and appeal to a broad audience. Blue is another color that can be used with yellows, raspberry reds, and green. Paisleys will add a rich, exotic flair that fits into the living area easily.

The floral motifs can also be played down when combined with other elements in a print or tapestry. I mentioned animals above, but also remember that some include stripes or checks running through the background. The size of the floral depends on what it is on – window treatments or lounge chairs can handle a larger scale. Draperies are a perfect way to use a floral yet hid some of it as the pattern gets lost in the folds.

Floral Fabric - Area Rugs

Lastly, don’t forget about rugs. An area rug ultimately will gel the room and dictate the colors. Perhaps it contains the floral print, and once furniture is placed, you get the benefit of the color without it being too extreme.

Regardless if you are modern or traditional in your home decorating tastes, the important factor is to keep an open mind. The best rooms build off combinations of colors, with the pattern being the backdrop.

2009 High Point Furniture Market Preview

High Point Furniture Market Spring 2009

The High Point Furniture Market is 100 years “new” this year, and quickly approaching the end of April. The furniture industry will roll out its latest and greatest for buyers to see, a veritable Fashion Week for interior designers and furniture store owners.

High Point Furniture Market - April 2009 - highpoint - High Point, NC

High Point Furniture Market 2009: Eco-Friendly Products Continue Strong

This year’s High Point Furniture Market will undoubtedly show more eco-friendly products. Sustainable materials and energy efficient lighting will be strong contenders from nearly every line as the industry continues to follow current interior trends. An intriguing lamp by Yanko Design features a crank handle in which a few turns creates 40-60 minutes of bright light using a process of magnetic induction.

Krank LED - crank handle lamp by Yanko Designs - featured - High Point Furniture Market 2009

Krank LED Crank Handle Lamp by Yanko Designs - featured - Highpoint Furniture Market 2009

High Point Furniture Market 2009 - Fashion Meets Interiors

Fashion and interiors have become much more hand and hand in recent years, reflecting similar trends. Beading, feathers, ruffles, and other embellishments are showing up on lighting, accent tables, and accessories in addition to the fabric lines. Yellow will be a strong color of choice this year, as well as earthy purples, and glass-like tones of gray, blue, and sea green.

High Point Furniture Market 2009 - Metallic Finish Accessories

Decorative accents are being billed as the must-have investment pieces of 2009. Shiny, embellished, metallic finishes such as the leather shown on Hancock and Moore’s Margo Ottoman add flash and flair to an otherwise staid room. Hand embroidered textiles and hand-worked trim add artsy value with a bohemian touch. The idea is to update your interior decorating with small items rather than a complete redo.

Decorative Accents - Highpoint Furniture Market 2009

High Point Furniture Market 2009 - Organic Designs

The minimal transitional approach that has been so popular in recent years is starting to give way to richer, more organic forms. We are seeing more texture and depth in wood finishes – hand planing and distressed surfaces contrast greatly from the perfect edges we’d come so used to . This is a welcome change from having to treat finishes with kid gloves.

Elements of modern and traditional are becoming more blended to create an interesting, meaningful statement. The hard straight lines of modern upholstery are finally embracing the more comfortable essentials of traditional styles, with softer cushioning and curved edges. Upholstery also becomes more personal as Hickory Chair adds an entire “create your own seating” program that allows for custom arm, skirt, back, base, depth, length, cushion, pillows, and more.

Modern and Traditional Furniture - High Point Furniture Show - April 2009

This is just a taste of things to come, as the 2009 High Point Furniture Market will offer many more innovative products and design.

Eco Friendly Decorating Trends for 2009

Eco Friendly Home Decor

One of the hottest decorating trends for 2009 is going green. Scores of fashionable people are showing off eco friendly interior design styles that are kind to the earth and easy on the eyes. Eco friendly decorating allows you to care for your planet and simultaneously create an eco chic look for your home. Here’s some great nature inspired, eco friendly interior design styles to helpl you out. Eco friendly decorating allows you to maintain the chic styles that you are accustumed to while keeping a clean conscious.

Eco Friendly Paint

Eco Friendly Paint

According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is a serious dilemma that contributes to a variety of health problems, including asthma, headaches, breathing problems, even cancer. One of the biggest contributors to that pollution is paint. Typical paint releases airborne chemicals knows as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These compounds are potential cacogenics and create problems both inside your home and out. They are most dangerous when the paint is wet, but can continue to emit harmful chemicals for years.

Due to consumer demand, paint companies have worked diligently to create no or low VOC paints. Early attempts were not met with wide praise from consumers because they didn’t prove durable enough, especially after washing. Today’s no or low VOC paints are much improved. You can find them in most major paint stores and they can usually mix any color you like. We all know paint is an economical way to give your home a fresh new look. Why not make an earth friendly choice when you’re ready to pick up a brush?

Eco Friendly Furniture

eco friendly furniture

Are you thinking of buying some new furniture this year? If so, make an environmentally smart selection. Many companies are joining the green game and producing furniture from sustainable materials or recycled resources. You’ll find chic designs for every room of your house. Look for wooden pieces that display labels from the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC), the Rainforest Alliance or have a Rediscovered Wood Certification. This lets you know the wood is made from sustainable wood or wood that has been recycled.

Another label you want to find on new furnishings is the Greenguard label, which assures you the furniture has low-toxicity. Traditionally manufactured furniture is highly toxic, and like paint, emits high levels of VOCs. Not only does it pollute the air in your home, when you dispose of it, those toxins seeps into the ground and water. It is no longer necessary to use such harsh chemicals to treat furniture. Choose furniture with natural finishes and organic materials when you make a buying decision.

Of course, the best option of all is to recycle furniture. You can find stylish vintage furniture at garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets or try shopping online for quality used furniture. Any time you reuse something, you are avoiding the use of new materials and production costs, plus keeping more items from ending up in the landfill taking up precious space and contaminating the environment.

Eco Friendly Fabrics

eco friendly fabrics

Fabrics for your home have also gone green. You can find fabrics that are certified green or look for fabrics you know are all natural. One hundred percent cotton is a good choice, as is hemp, silk, linen and wool.

Another big decorating trend for 2009 is patterns that are inspired by nature. Bold florals, leaf designs, and bright colors are all available in fabrics that have been manufactured without the harmful chemicals that have been used in years past. If you’re thinking of new draperies, bedding, upholstery or pillows, do the earth a favor and choose green fabrics.

Eco Friendly Flooring

There’s a variety of eco friendly flooring options available this year. Cork and bamboo flooring are both excellent choices. They look terrific and are both sustainable materials.

Bamboo is actually a grass and grows at a much faster rate than trees, but it still benefits you with the look of beautiful wood. Unlike hardwoods, however, bamboo plants reach maturity in just 5 to 6 years. It takes many hardwood trees up to 50 years or more to mature.

Cork is an exciting option as well. Not only is it beautiful and sustainable, it is very quiet to walk on. This is an admirable option for allergy suffers, too. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree and can be stripped from the tree every 9 years without damaging the tree. Cork is usually grown organically with no added chemicals used in its production.

cork flooring

Believe it or not, linoleum, not to be confused with vinyl flooring, is a very eco friendly choice because it is produced from flax seed oil. Other environmentally safe flooring options include reclaimed wood flooring and glass tiles.

Eco Friendly Living

You can make your home eco chic in lots of ways. When you’re ready to buy new appliances, shop for the most energy efficient ones you can find. Thinking about adding some kitchen accessories? Try vintage dishes or check out this gorgeous table service made from recycled clamshells.

There’s ways to make every room in your home a little greener without making major expenditures or detracting from your style. Switch to water saving toilets and showerheads. Discover art made from recycled items and add live plants to help filter the air. Check out the new, attractive energy saving light bulbs now available, too. Every little step helps us maintain this planet for our children and their children. It’s not hard to follow the best decorating trend of 2009. Going green is more than a trend…it’s a way of life.

Interior Color Trends 2009

As the interior color trends for 2009 are making their way into homes, we are starting to see some beautiful pictures surface around the web. Here are a few pics that caught my eye today. Vibrant colors paired with neutrals and metallics rule the 2009 color trends.

interior color trends 2009 - seamoss green - mimosa yellow - gold accents - earth tone base

interior color trends - deep purples - neutrals - vibrant color pops

Interior Color Trends 2009 - burnt orange - turquoise undertones - earth tones

2009 interior color trends - shades of green - beige earth tones - gold accents

Color trends 2009 - mimosa yellow - sea-moss-green - neutral accents - warm earthy undertones

Interior Color Trends 2009 - shades of green paired with black - eart tone accents - pops of vibrant color