Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The best way to decorate a Christmas tree

Christmas treeImage via Wikipedia

Christmas trees are a beautiful sight to behold during the holidays. With all the ornaments, lights and special touches any tree can be transformed into a magical symbol of peace on earth and good will. Decorating a tree is another thing all together. It is a lot of work to decorate a Christmas tree but keeping it organized and simple will yield the best results. If you live in South Carolina and would love to purchase and pick out your very own live tree, see the *link at the bottom of this article for where to go.

Here's a few suggestions on decorating your tree:

 Artificial tree tips:

  1. If you have an artificial tree, take the tree out and assemble at least one day ahead to allow the tree to expand fully. Don't decorate.
  2. Straighten all limbs out starting from the bottom and going around the tree one level at a time. Make sure you have ample space all around so that you and others can move around your tree easily.
  3. Pre-lit trees need to be checked ahead of time for faulty bulbs and connections.
  4. If your tree isn't pre lit, consider using LED lights. These should go on your tree first. If you plug them in as you wrap them around the tree you will easily spot any gaps or sags in the line.
  5. Order of decorations to place beginning with lights : Lights, pearls, garlands,ribbons, ornaments, topper
  6. Work from the bottom up, Using larger ornaments at the bottom, medium through the middle, and smallest ornaments at the top.
  7. Finish off with all your decorative holly sticks, Poinsettia, etc.
  8. Always turn off your tree lights before going to bed.

Real tree tips:

    1. Trim the trunk of your tree at the bottom before bringing into the home. Water trunk with your hose immediately after trimming.
    2. While outside, place tree after trimming the trunk temporarily into its stand with water and examine the tree for any problems.
    3. Before placing live tree in your home, spread out newspapers on the floor to allow for trimming of the branches and for any excess needles to fall, it will make clean up easier.
    4. Make sure to keep your tree watered and check often. Large trees need a good deal of water to keep from drying out and place tree away from any heat registers or fireplaces to keep them from drying out prematurely.
    5. You may want to give your live tree a day of rest and expansion before decorating. When live trees are purchased bound up, they, like artificial trees get a little fuller if allowed a little time to spread out. This will also reveal any hidden wonky branches that may need trimming off.
    6. Follow above steps 5-8 for decorating your live tree

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kitchen design trends that need to take a break

A kitchenImage via WikipediaEnglish: The dining room, kitchen, and a porti...Image via WikipediaEnglish: Handymen can install kitchen cabinets...Image via WikipediaA small, modern kitchen with popular stainless...Image via WikipediaKitchen cabinets in a farmhouse.Image via WikipediaModern kitchenImage via Wikipedia
One common thing you have no doubt seen in kitchens over and over again in homes and on television decorating show are, cherry cabinets, dark granite counter tops, tiled back splash, Travertine flooring. While all of these choices are attractive and certainly considered upgrades, they are at risk of being over used, over done and what impact does that have on your home? Well, that is how “dating” a home occurs. When items are over used in any time frame, they will date the space.
Take for instance Avocado green, a popular appliance color in the seventies. How do I know this? Because it was in many homes. Shag carpeting, again, almost in every home during the seventies and into the eighties.

We can easily recognize finishes and designs from yesteryear because the consumer rushed out and had to have what everyone else had, yet today, we don't just see it in our neighbor's home, its on television. Television is telling you on every show, what to use, how to put it in, and how much to spend. Timeless finishes mixed with a little of old and new will be the best way not to give your home a “dated” look. Imagine in 10 years needing to sell your home and hearing the feedback from prospective buyers calling your Cherry cabinets “dated.” What won't be considered “dated” will at the very least be “expected” and that is the precursor to “dated.”

Research your kitchen remodel in advance. Don't be tempted to play it safe in all regards. Mix it up, keep it interesting. Old finishes, new surfaces work great together. Using timeless and classic design staples that have been around for 50 to 100 years along with cool innovative design and appliances will help your home stay fresh and “timeless” as well. Timeless design will always be appreciated over “dated.” So what is timeless and how do you get it? Well sometimes timeless is more work, but the reward is usually worth it. For instance, gutting a 70's kitchen down to the studs in the wall just to put in a lot of new cabinetry and appliances that are all the rage is just going to call for another gut job later on down the road.

A stainless steel countertopImage via WikipediaCabinetry-
Play it smart, not always safe (meaning following the current trend). Reface old seventies kitchens. While some cabinets are considered “builder grade” from that time era, they were usually “site built” and real wood (no MDF), and this is usually a superior product with regards to structure than factory built cabinets. By refacing your older (site built) cabinets, you not only assure the strength and integrity, but you save money. Now by the time the 80's rolled around and oak cabinets made it's splash in so many homes, the “builder grade” cabinetry used/installed were manufactured and shipped to the

builder. You saw a lot of MDF, and particle board being used in their construction. Here again, you can paint or reface to save money, but many if they can afford it do a tear out. My advice here is to make sure what you are replacing your cheap eighties cabinetry with is solid wood, and a superior product. Remember as well, colors and stains come and go, and the type of wood isn't always as important as the finish. Either way, make sure you choose a product that is great quality. Great quality is one of those “timeless” features we're aiming for. The bottom line about cabinetry- be careful, don't be so mesmerized by the trends you see today that good common sense isn't used. Being practical, and looking at a wide variety of finishes, wood types and the quality makes for a timeless addition to your home. Don't play follow the leader when it comes to what you like. There's a lot to choose from, it doesn't have to be Cherry. Just sayin...
Counter tops-
Ah granite, if your home doesn't have it, you've lost. Or have you? While granite is a long lasting, and expensive upgrade to the laminate of the 70's and the porcelain tiles of the 80's and 90's it isn't the only choice out there. Be leery of using granite that is too wild with too much movement because it is extremely hard to decorate around. What does that mean exactly? Well one big pattern in any room is about all a moderately sized room can handle. A big busy pattern on the counter means less pattern and creativity with your back splash, kitchen accessories and even in some cases your window treatments. Here you will have to decide what is going to be center stage. If the counter top is, then be prepared to limit your patterns elsewhere in the room. So is granite the only real wise choice?

Stainless steel appliances-
I know these are all the rage however, should they be a deal breaker in a home? No. Not by a long shot. Appliances in general need replacing after about 10 years of regular use and in some cases earlier. Why so many people are so obsessed with stainless steel is beyond me, well no, it's because of television. Design television is telling the consumer “this is what you want,” or “this is what you must have.” I can't help but think this will be the next Avocado elephant in your kitchen one day. I could be wrong, but as I mentioned before, anything you see in every home over and over again, becomes a trend, and a trend is a dating mechanism. I am going on a limb and saying that what I think will be the next trend in appliances will be color matching. You already see it with washing machines and dryers. They come in blues, reds and stainless steel as well. Don't be surprised if you don't see it transition to refrigerators and stoves eventually too. So what happens then? You will be stuck with stainless steel, and you're behind design times. Play it smart, focus on your new appliances energy efficiency, and overall quality and less about the finish. If you are doing a remodel look into integrating it with the existing or new cabinetry. Why should appliances take center stage anyway? Its like the television in the living room. Its meant to be used, but not supposed to be the show stopper. Men have a hard time believing this I know. Great quality, higher end, efficiency should be your main concern with appliances, and secondly it needs to work with the design of the kitchen you are after. Stainless isn't always a perfect fit. In a kitchen that is designed to be French country, integrated or white would suffice. Like I said, it will need updating after ten years anyway. It is a little more prudent to match your appliance brands than to worry about the exterior being stainless. However, here again matching brands is not a must for an object that needs replacing in 10 years.

Travertine, oh Travertine, is there any other name? I have seen this used and used and used and it is lovely! However, it is not the only flooring option out there. Research the flooring choices out there, and see which may work for the design in the room. Slate may be aesthetically more attractive in some kitchens. Hardwood may work better in others. The bottom line is make your own well researched choice and base it on your true opinion. You've got to love it, or leave it. Flooring is too expensive to not feel right about. As with all remodels and renovations and updates, remember that it needs to be balanced with not only what you love, but also what is happening around you. If everyone else has laminate, you can of course upgrade, but you may not see an instant boost in your investment. This is why I say, with flooring, or any other large expense, either love it or leave it in the store. If you aren't sure or are on a budget, research options that are more budget friendly that can give you the look for less. Don't worry Monica Pederson won't pounce on your on more Bang for your Buck and criticize your less expensive choice. The great thing about going with something budget friendly is it is easier to let go of or change in the future. That is playing it smart, in my book anyway.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday decorating and color choices


With the onset of the holidays in full swing the urge to decorate our homes is the best way to get into the holiday spirit. However, there are homeowners that are intimidated by things like color. Being intimidated by the bold colors of the holidays send some of us into a tail spin. Do I use red and green in a beige room? Will my color choices clash and be tacky with everything else in the room?
There are a few things we can do to pull off a classy, polished and well designed room or, if it suits you an old fashioned and . The first thing we have to decide is which way you want it to go, and what sort of result do you want. Do you want magical timeless and classy, or do you prefer warm, old fashioned and homespun. Perhaps you'd like to add a little modern flare to the decorating scheme.
My suggestions:
For classy and polished

Our Christmas tree at night.Image via WikipediaThis look screams magical and embodies the glow and magic that we associate with the holidays. It is flexible and the easiest because it will automatically work with your existing design scheme.
Keep colors simple, and let sparkles rule the design choices. Metallic ornaments, clear crystals, golds, and silvers and soft shades of white will give your holiday room a sparkle and refinement that will merge well with most existing designs. Use clear lights on your tree and make sure to repeat your lighting and color choices throughout the space. Keep colors to a minimum, no more than three ideally.

Designer tip- Don't be afraid to be creative. Use old jewelry to decorate mantle garlands, lamp shades, and even candles. Old dangling earrings look great hung from clear beaded garlands, and pearl strings. Just because you're going for classy and polished doesn't mean you can't be creative and use some of those wonderful jewelry pieces that have lost their mates in your jewelry box. For

For old fashioned and homespun
 A Christmas tree in the United States.Image via Wikipedia
Its all about home made and nature inspired décor.
When we think of the holidays from our youth, many times we remember that our parents decorated with reds, greens and every other color of the rainbow. Little focus was given as to whether it matched an existing décor scheme, and somehow, it always felt warm and welcoming. Didn't it?
You really can't go wrong with traditional colors if this is the look you desire. If it is somehow clashing with other things in the room, consider removing those things temporarily so that you won't feel uncomfortable with the end result. Using natural materials and homemade items in a room are an inexpensive way to get a great homespun holiday feel. Decorate mantles with pine branches, real pine cones, and candles. Drill three shallow holes in logs and inset tea light candles, fill baskets with pine cones, nuts and seed pods. Use lots of red and green checked and plaid ribbon as well. Chunky cuts of logs can be placed on your mantle and a great pedestal for large candles. Peppermint oils, nutmeg and cinnamon sprinkled in baskets and vessels of pot pourrie will keep the smells of the holiday season in mind too. No baskets? Use clay pots and sit around your fireplace hearth, fill with cinnamon sticks, twigs and pine branches, and as always, finish off with raffia, or great old fashioned ribbon. If you are using a natural Christmas tree, save any branches that you may have trimmed off for decorating.

Designer tip: Polish up old candles and restore their shine and luster with a little vegetable oil on a soft cloth.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving space an identity in your home

Klosterkirche Dachboden 01Image via Wikipedia

It may be hard to fathom the idea of anyone having wasted space but many homes that are being built today have excess space in the building plans. Many spaces have no defined purpose, they are just there. With so many new home constructions overflowing with rooms and spaces that have no identity it is a challenge to know what to do with the area.

Beware when shopping, this may be just to make the buyer think they are getting more house for their money but when a house has a lot of  “dead” space the costs to fill these areas can be costly too, not to mention heat and cool.

All rooms need an identity of some kind. Whether it is a sitting room, a study, a home office, or maybe
has the potential to be extra storage space it is important for the home owner to find a use for it. Why?
Empty space has to be heated and cooled, so it makes sense to find some way to utilize the space. Open spaces with no identity that are viewable by many need to have a use that is visually appealing firstly and functionality is a bonus.

4edc These types of spaces generally can be sitting areas, or one can add shelving and convert into a reading room/study or library. Spaces that are not easily viewable by the casual guest can be used as play areas for children, a meditation room, or a “pet area.” Some spaces that are partially exposed can be enclosed and made into a large walk in closet. Consider a second laundry area for ironing and sewing, especially in a two story home that has the laundry area on the main floor, a second laundry area where the family can place hampers, store winter clothes, or iron clothes is handy. Here are a few suggestions for using wasted or dead space in your home.
Art room
play room
home office
pet area
additional storage
multi media room
meditation room
Craft room
Sewing room

By giving these areas a purpose, you are increasing the functionality of your home. Decorate these rooms just as tastefully as the rest of your home for a finished and welcoming space you will no doubt go out of your way to enjoy and use.
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