Thursday, September 30, 2010

Columbia South Carolina offers home decorators choices

The Montvale Antique and Arts MallImage by no-frills marilyn. via Flickr
Whether you are decorating your first home or renovating an older fixer upper, Columbia South Carolina offers a wide range of shopping possibilities. Columbia has a wide variety of antique malls throughout the city. These malls all offer beautiful selections in antiques, but also have a wide selection of other beautiful items to make your home special. Read more here:
Columbia South Carolina offers home decorators choices

Painting basics for beginners

New living room #1Image by Ani-Bee via Flickr



Few improvements you make in your home will be as affordable or easy as painting the walls in your room. The impact can be huge and gratifying. Knowing the best paint for the particular type of room you are working on is an important first step before your project should begin. Read more here :
Painting basics for beginners
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Winter time in the Bedroom

loft convo areaImage by champagne.chic via Flickr



It’s starting to get cold outside, and the strong winds that you can hear whistling past your window can already be felt inside the house. It’s time to check your central heating and make sure that your home is warm enough for the winter.
When you go to bed at night in the winter, there is nothing more comforting than hearing the rain and storm winds outside, but knowing that you are cozy and warm indoors. You want your bedroom to feel and look warm and comfortable as well, adding to this feeling.
So how do you set up your bedroom for the winter?
The first thing you need to do is look for drafts. Make sure that your windows still fit into their frames and close properly. Check the draft excluders on all doors and windows (also around the rest of your house) and replace any that have worn away. This is important not only in terms of keeping out annoying drafts but also to lower the costs of your heating bills as you will not have to turn up the heat unnecessarily.
Take a look at your heating options. Are your radiators working properly? Which kind of heating works best for you in your home? Depending on where you are in the world and the prices that are offered, you may find either gas, electricity, or the heat setting on your air conditioner the most economical. Which kind of heater do you want to put on in your bedroom? A lot depends on space, the size of your room, and if you use it for anything else other than sleeping.
It’s time to bring out your warmest bedding. Here, you could build up a winter color scheme. For example, you may want to put up thick winter curtains that not only facilitate your privacy but also keep out cold air and condensation from the windows. These could, for example, be burgundy or navy blue. You could then use matching bedspreads, blankets, or quilt covers on your bed. To complete the look, buy a matching  area rug made from a warm material. A wool Flokati rug would probably be the best kind, as it is soft and warm and would add a luxurious touch to a cozy winter evening.
Change the kind of bedding material that you use for something thicker and warmer than you were using in the summer. Depending on how cold you are, you can change light cottons for thick flannels.
It’s also time to go through your cupboards, putting away your summer clothing and bringing out your winter sweaters. You will need more room for hanging coats and jackets than you did in the summer.
You may want to change some of the pictures on the wall to fit in with wintry themes, such as snowy or alpine scenes. On the other hand, you may want to stick with summery views as they will warm you up when you come in from the cold and the rain outside.
You can change your home with the seasons, but hopefully you will always feel comfortable indoors, no matter how extreme the temperatures are outside.

Merging seasonal decor with an existing scheme

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...Image via Wikipedia
The traditional colors of the holidays rarely mesh well with the existing schemes going on in most homes. It is a challenge to find the right look to go with your homes decor. By sticking to basics in color and design, homeowners can marry the two looks and still have a beautiful well coordinated home for the holidays.
Read all about :
Merging seasonal decor with an existing scheme

Carpet choices and characteristics

Swatches of carpet of tufted constructionImage via Wikipedia
Choosing the right carpet for your interior design needs can be a daunting process. There are many different types and qualities available in today's market. Now more than ever before there are many colors, designs, styles to pick from that are readily affordable. Read all about it here:
Carpet choices and characteristics

Tips for displaying your collectibles

Child looking at an autograph collectionImage via Wikipedia
To get the maximum enjoyment and beauty from your keepsakes, treasures, paintings, etc. it is a good idea to know the best way to put them on display. There are tips and guidelines to follow that can help your cherished items display in the best decorative manner. Find out how here:
Tips for displaying your collectibles

Maintaining a home renovation file

When we renovate, decorate or make any improvements it is a good idea to keep track of each and every improvement. Not only will this be handy for yourself in the future, but a well maintained and detailed file offered to the next buyer of your home is a great added bonus/incentive. If you keep this file in a safe place, it is also a handy reference if you should need it for insurance purposes. Read how here:
Maintaining a home renovation file

Decorating during the winter months

2FOYERImage by dawnella66 via Flickr
In the winter months, we succumb to the blues with low levels of light to rely on and in some areas of the country we are somewhat isolated.
Read for ideas on :
Decorating during the winter months

Countertop options for kitchen and bath

Granite Charlotte ColumbiaImage by granite-charlotte via Flickr

If you are studying the options for different choices of counter tops and vanity counters, you are no doubt going to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices now in the market. Here are a few of the most readily available choices to help in the decision making process.

Granite- Granite is an igneous rock that is comprised mostly of quartz and feldspar. Forming from slowly cooling Magma far beneath the surface of the earth, granite is heat resistant, and can endure hot pans, extreme cold, stains, scratches and looks beautiful year after year. The various choices in color also make this gorgeous stone fit any design. Great for kitchen and bathroom vanities. Prices per square foot generally range starting at $50.00, but it is a wise investment as it adds value to your home. It is one of the most desired upgrades of the last decade in homes. For a less expensive alternative many people are opting for granite tile in their kitchen design. There are more seams, but the overall look of granite is still very much observed. Only purchase granite that is sealed and look for a warranty of no less than 15 years on the seal.

Solid Surface- Commonly known as Corian, this type of counter top is manufactured out of acrylic resins. It is a man made material and its range in color runs the gamut. Heat and scratch resistant and a little less costly than natural stone, solid surface counter tops are an upgrade consideration from laminate and a practical selection in homes with children. Scratches can be buffed smooth as well. Prices vary from about $35.00 a square foot, installation fees can vary. Sinks can be integrated with solid surface counter tops and give a smooth seamless transition and back splashes can be fused on to the surface. While heat and stain resistant, solid surface counter tops are not completely impervious to damage. They can crack, scorch and can not endure direct high heat to the surface. A little extra care is needed, but no more than what a homeowner would need to exercise with most other options for counter tops. This type of counter top is also an ideal vanity choice in bathrooms.

Laminate- The most commonly used counter top material, laminate is comprised of layers of paper that have been treated with resin and fused together using high heat and pressure. Today, laminate has a wide variety of styles that can mimic the look of wood, granite, and quartz. The most modest sheets of laminate will be sold in solid colors and range in price from around $ 5.00 a square foot. High end laminate come with high sheen, and textures to look like the more costly stone counter tops and the prices can be quite costly depending on installation and can run up to $45.00 per linear foot. Custom edges will add to the costs as well. Laminate will not add as much in value to your home as stone counter tops, but for the new look and beauty they offer, it will definitely appeal to any home buyer. Laminate can stain, but it can be easily cleaned with baking soda and water, and in some cases bleach/water solutions are needed. Laminate is naturally anti-bacterial. Although scratch resistant, laminate can chip and be damaged. The higher end laminates are manufactured with a texture and most scratches will not be readily visible, however, badly damaged laminate can not be repaired. If poorly installed, moisture seeping into the seams can cause the laminate to separate from the wood it is glued to. It is not a good idea to place any hot items on laminate, you should use trivets/pot holders and not place hot pans from the stove directly on the surface of a laminate counter top especially for an extended period of time.

Ceramic Tile- Ceramic tiles were used a great deal prior to granite being readily available. It is heat resistant and scratch resistant and less costly than stone counter tops. It is also fairly easy for the home owner to install in their home, provided they have access to  or own a wet saw. Ceramic tiles do require that the grout be sealed regularly to prevent it from stains and mildew issues, especially in bathroom areas. Ceramic tiles range in price from around $10.00 a square foot (this does not include installation) ,and come in many color choices and patterns. It is not as valuable an upgrade as granite, but it is considered an upgrade to laminate and is still used often for back splashes. Ceramic tiles do offer the homeowner a certain amount of creativity , making it a more personal customed improvement to your home. Tiles can be scratched, chipped and even broken but also can be replaced on a need-to basis. Tiles are also available in other materials and worth investigating, but prices will be higher than ceramic porcelain. Keep in mind these are just a few samples of the options available. Visit your local hardware, or home improvement center to see the full range of choices available. Remember to do your research!
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shabby Chic, getting it right

BOSTON FERNSImage by dawnella66 via Flickr
Shabby Chic theme Table runnerImage by Decorative Towels by Cath. via Flickr
English born designer Rachel Ashwell defines the term "Shabby Chic" as "the marriage of my English heritage with the fresh eclectic qualities of my California lifestyle". To understand this concept for those not familiar with the "California" lifestyle, simply put- shabby chic is about casual elegance using a blend of Victorian influence, and Zen simplicity. Read more on ShabbyChic here:
Shabby Chic, getting it right

Creating space and harmony in your home

Picture of a Sitcom Furniture bedroom set that...Image via Wikipedia

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Working around architectural and design flaws

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece, "the supre...Image via Wikipedia
Man has been the master of design
 far before technology 
Many older homes have a lot of charm, character and history. However some were built out of practicality and by the original homeowner. As such, they may have certain quirks and oddities in their layout and design. Finding ways to work around these can be a challenge and calls for a lot of creative solutions.

Off centered windows-
Sometimes home builders placed windows in areas for airflow, and not necessarily for visual appeal. Even new construction has windows placed in odd places making it hard to arrange furniture or achieve balance in the room. To counter windows that are off center, you can create faux windows that simply counter balance the existing window. One technique is a mirror similar in size to the window placed adjacent or opposite of the window, and then adding drapes to it to mock the appearance of a second window. There are really no limits here, adding molding around it to frame it like a window can be done as well. Preferably it should reflect some light from the other window for the illusion to be ideal. In some cases, an off center window can be simply balanced by a large floor lamp that has presence in the room visually and offers bright light. In some extreme situations, it may be best to simply have the window removed and placed in a more ideal location. This may be a good time to start thinking about window replacement if the home is old.

Barrier Walls
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Walls that block the flow of a room may have originally been erected in early times to help maintain heated and cooled areas. However in today's world of design, open spaces are desirable to partitioned areas. Consider hiring a contractor to either remove the wall, or add either an opening on each side to allow for flow through traffic, or a pass through window that will give you visual access to the adjacent room. If the wall is a weight bearing wall, do not do this by yourself. Leave that project for the professional contractor. Additionally you will have to ascertain whether such a change will compromise the charm and integrity of the home. Never make a rash decision in this area.

Old painted wood work
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In older homes, pre - 1978, you may encounter painted wood work that you wish to restore. I can not stress this often enough. Before you sand, strip and paint any surface in an older home you should consider and assume the paint used was lead based. Research indicates that up to 75% of all homes built prior to 1978 had some form of lead based paint used in them. Homeowners suspecting that their home may have lead based paint used need to take special precautions. Err on the side of caution if you aren't sure and use a lead paint encapsulating paint. There are several types and options and all have specific manufacturers instructions that you must follow. However, that being said, using an encapsulating paint is much less expensive that hiring a lead removal team to remove lead from the home. Consider replacing all doors and windows that have a lead paint possibility. Avoid doing anything that will create dust in the home as air borne lead is dangerous. For more information on encapsulating paint, see http://www.fiberlock.com/products/5600.html   
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Potential hazards to be aware of during home renovations

BiohazardousImage by Enokson via Flickr


Many times when a homeowner decides to take on home renovations, hazards are uncovered that must be addressed. Some are obvious such as mold, and others are not as obvious, like Radon. It is a waste of time and money to make any improvements if the potential hazards are not addressed first. Many older homes pose additional threats to the health and safety of those renovating them. It is important to know what hazards your home may be hosting.
Lead- In homes built prior to 1978, lead was used liberally in everything from the paint on the walls to the pipes that were installed for the plumbing. Lead is a toxic metal and can permeate the air in the form of dust particles when sanding walls down, or in the water of the plumbing pipes. It can even be found in the soil around the home. When purchasing a home, it is in the buyers best interest if the home is older than 1978 to have a certificate that the home is lead safe. If you have bought a home that was built prior, do not sand any painted surfaces. There are lead encapsulating paints available to contain the lead from becoming airborne.

Radon- This is a colorless and odorless gas that comes up into the home from the ground, and is considered the one of the primary causes of lung cancer today. If a home has a basement or any part of its foundation that is in the ground there could be a chance of risk of this gas seeping into your home. The Environmental Protection Agency provides maps of areas that have been known to have high concentrations of this gas found and you can contact them to be on the safe side. Radon detectors are also readily available and should be used prior to renovations.

Mold- Mold is comprised of microscopic organisms that grow in a wide variety of areas. Mold can be found growing in old damp areas, carpet, walls, ceilings, even wall paper and wood. Mold also can be in a wide variety of colors, ranging from green, black, gray, yellow and even pink. A home with large amounts of mold present is a hazard and should not be purchased. On a large scale mold is costly to remove and is a red flag to drainage and leak issues. Where there is mold, there is likely damp rotten wood, which is attractive to termites. Small isolated areas of mold can be taken care of by the homeowner, as long as the source of the problem is addressed first. Washing the areas in a bleach solution will only temporarily take care of the problem if the core cause is not addressed.

Asbestos- The use of asbestos was banned in 1985 in the construction of homes and in all materials associated with homes. Asbestos is a fibrous material that was once desirable because it offered great insulation and was fire resistant. It is found in a number of materials used in construction from siding to floor tiles to roof coverings. Disturbing anything that may have asbestos in it may cause it to be airborne and result in severe illness. Assume any home built prior to 1985 has this material used in it throughout and consult with professionals before doing any major renovations.

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Creating the Beach house effect in your space

Beach
Photograph by Dawn Gagnon
Nature often has a great deal of influence over our mental and physical well being. Ask any beach go-er what the lure of the ocean is, and they will no doubt tell you that there is a deep profound connection to the water, air and sun like no other place in the world. Whether it is the relaxed lifestyle that flanks our shores, or the feeling of being in the presence of something far greater, more powerful than ourselves, the beach is a living memory. Bringing this into our lives, can be done through well planned decor. The ending result? A tranquil environment that will bring the ocean into your everyday life, no matter where you live.

Color-To create the serenity and feel of the beach in your home, you must  start your project like an artist on his painting, working from the background forward. If you are trying to focus on what room would best work, always opt for the room that has the most natural light. However, it is often nice if you can brighten up a  dark room applying certain techniques to achieve this as well. Working from the background first, you have to decide and incorporate the natural colors associated with the beach. To get the complete feel, choose three prominent colors from the beach landscape. I suggest taking a lot of pictures of every scene that appeals to you for a reference. Don't be afraid to look at the objects you brought home from your trip either for color inspiration. Many people trying to replicate the beach go for sandy browns and pale blues, however, in all honesty, not every beach or ocean cast the same hues. There are many gray colors involved that range from gray tans to gray blues. There are few stark whites in the beach landscape, but oddly enough a lot of stark whites are used in the design of a beach themed room or house. Try antique whites as an alternative.

Furniture- A trip to the beach is all about catering to physical relaxation and comfort. Furniture that you may want to consider should be about comfort and relaxation as well. Taking pictures of the furnishings at a favorite beach condo or hotel will help you visualize the concept. If you have very comfy furniture already, but it is not the color or pattern that works with the beach feel, I suggest ordering slip covers that can either be dyed or already have the color you desire. This is a relatively inexpensive treatment and can really bring your design full circle. Another choice may be to have your furniture re-upholstered in a fabric that is appropriate. Only choose this option if this is a permanent design that you will not be changing any time soon. Since the beach lifestyle is about casual living at it's best, tables should be informal in feel and design. Use your creativity when chosing end tables and a coffee table if the room is to be a living area. Old trunks make great coffee tables, end tables that have been fashioned from old greyed weathered dock wood, all can carry into your theme well. Just don't go so far it looks like you are sitting in a seafood restaurant somewhere. Subtle design is always safer and more tasteful than obvious, forced and deliberate design.

Ocean accessories- Once you have gotten the color scheme down, and the furniture right it is time to migrate to the finishing touches to complete that relaxing resort feel to your room. I suggest doing a good deal of research online to find the right decor. One easy way to bring the beach home is through photography. The photographs you take can be the easiest and most beautiful accessory you can utilize. There are many digital photography software programs that can be installed on your computer that you can use to create unique and beautiful works of art from your photographs. For inspiration in decor, I would suggest visiting a few nice seafood restaurants, visiting water parks, ocean parks and gift shops near the beach. I would also suggest hunting for decor via the internet. When it comes to design and decor the most intelligent thing you can do is research. I have heard many people say, "I know what I like, I just don't know how to do it". Take a few weeks to plan, gather information from a wide variety of sources and collect photos, mementos and items along the way. Follow some of the simple guidelines in this article and you can bring the ocean home, and feel like you are on vacation, year round, and isn't that ideal?

Feng Shui : A few basic principles

Feng Shui (film)Image via Wikipedia
Feng Shui master, Kwai Lan Chan defines "Feng Shui" as the ancient Chinese science of balancing the various elements within the environment. "Feng" meaning wind, and "Shui" meaning water, are the two key elements that have control over the environment which also influences every aspect of life existing in its presence
Read more about Feng Shui here:
Feng Shui : A few basic principles 
 

Defining Zen design

Way of the Celestial MastersImage via Wikipedia
Defining Zen Lifestyle"Let your mind wander in simplicity, blend your spirit with the vastness, follow along with things the way they are, and make no room for personal views-then the world will be governed." -Chuang-tzu
Read more about Zen here:
Defining Zen design 


 

Zen design guidelines

Pagoda of Ichij┼Ź-ji Buddhist temple (Japan's N...Image via Wikipedia
Zen is a state of being, so to decide on how to design a home with the Zen influence is at best an interpretation of limited dimension. With that in mind, here are general guidelines that are Zen-like, and can be incorporated into your home and lifestyle on some level. Zen is a lifestyle and it is about a seamless transition between mind and environment. Read more here:
Zen design guidelines
Design Research (coolhunting.com)

Decorating a small space

A number of steps can be taken to control or r...Image via Wikipedia
Small spaces can be
made to look big using light
Many times it is asked how to achieve a comfortable and spacious feeling in a room that is small. Though a challenge, the ability to maximize on the limited space can be achieved if you follow certain common sense rules. Most people will tell you the problem room in their home is often odd shaped, small and low light. These issues will be addressed to help you reverse that feeling, since the space isn't always possible to enlarge.

Odd shaped rooms
Odd shaped rooms are particularly challenging when a homeowner tries to decorate and furnish it. One key thing here to remember is the actual definition of the room. Rooms should always be defined by primary use. This doesn't mean it can't function as other things but the primary function of the room should be evident and prioritized. That being said, odd shaped rooms have to be treated like any room. For example, an "L" shaped room needs to be decorated as if it is a rectangular shape, since the predominating shape is still rectangular. The odd remaining space could be sectioned off, partitioned, or used for the secondary function the room may serve. By defining the primary shape of the room, you can focus on the positives and give the room a personality that overcomes the odd shape.

Rooms with little light
Most all rooms have at least one window. If the window affords little light it is a real challenge to bring the feeling of natural light into the space. Even in low light conditions, there is always usually one source of light occurring in the room. To find the direction of this light, look for items in the room that cast a shadow, the light source will be coming from the opposite side. This is best done in an empty room during the day with no lights turned on. Once you have determined where the source of light does emanate from, there are a few things you can do to capitalize on it. If your walls are in good condition, choosing warm semi gloss creams on the wall will bounce what available light there is.

Placement of mirrors in the rooms where they may reflect and bounce light is a good strategy as well. Don't think just because an area of a room is darker that a mirror won't work, in fact many times this is just what it needs. Mirrors and semi gloss paints bounce light around, forming criss-cross patterns throughout the room. If your ceiling is smooth, paint in a high gloss paint, which affords the most reflective ability. This will cast light downward into a dark space and also work with the other light that is bouncing around, real and artificial. If your ceiling is the standard "popcorn" ceiling, if possible, scrape smooth as this is well worth the trouble.

Small rooms
All the above plus this- always consider function, comfort and scale with small spaces. Once you have the function of the space defined the next question to address is the comfort needed to use the space. For rooms that are used only occasionally, comfort can be sacrificed a little in the name of visual appeal. If the room will be used daily, comfort takes the lead in the priorities and therefore, scale of the pieces need to be considered. With all cases of small spaces, you have to have the right scale of furniture to make the room comfortable and livable. Consider love seats instead of sofas, ottomans (with storage) instead of coffee tables,nice trunks are also smaller in scale and work nicely in a small space.

Consider floor lamps instead of end tables, and keep clutter to a minimum. Keep in mind that even if the floor space is limited, you can always maximize the vertical spaces in the room with shelves and shelving units. Sometimes the best way to maximize floor space is to look "up". The walls are also an important way to get storage. Just be careful not to cause too much visual clutter. One way to reduce visual clutter is to disguise it by storing them in similar items like matching baskets, canisters, etc. The eye sweeps across "like" items and always seeks out things that stand out. By minimizing what "stands out" in a room, you literally give the impression of more space.





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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wall covering choices and styles

Often when we think of accessories in decor, we think of objects like book ends, picture frames, and candles etc. However, no design accessory is as important or has more impact than fabric. Knowing how to achieve the best look in a design scheme with fabric is as important as paint color, or any other design element.
Read more here:
Wall covering choices and styles 
 

Accessorizing with fabrics

BlueManateeButtons sewing button sets (73)Image by heatherknitz via Flickr
Often when we think of accessories in decor, we think of objects like book ends, picture frames, and candles etc. However, no design accessory is as important or has more impact than fabric. Knowing how to achieve the best look in a design scheme with fabric is as important as paint color, or any other design element.
Read more here:
Accessorizing with fabrics 
 

Conserving energy with windows, and window treatments

More than ever before, home owners are gravitating towards long term energy saving means in their home design, construction and decor. With this new wave of energy conscious consumers, it is imperative that efforts are made to meet the demand to merge both beauty and energy conservation.
Read more here:
Conserving energy with windows, and window treatments 
 

Dealing with damaged drywall

CAMARILLO, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2007) - Builder 3...Image via Wikipedia
In today's world of interior decor, wall-papering has somehow gotten a bad wrap. Actually there are times when not only is it appropriate, but down right necessary to use wall paper. Often times removal of old wall paper alone, calls for a remedy that is easy and much more forgiving.
Read more on this here:
Dealing with damaged drywall 
 

How to add balance to a room

Pensacola, Florida. Bed & Breakfast in 19th ce...Image via Wikipedia
Having a room that is balanced is conducive to the well being of all those who enter. Have you ever noticed how in most homes there is a room that most people just naturally gravitate towards? Read more here:
How to add balance to a room