Monday, September 08, 2014

7 Easy Ways to Add Character to a Bland Apartment

The upside of renting is that you’re not responsible if anything goes wrong.  Dishwasher breaks? Call the landlord.  AC not working?  Call the landlord.  It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

The downside, however, is that you’re pretty limited when it comes to making aesthetic improvements that make the place feel like it embodies your design style.  You don’t own it, so you can’t change it.
But that doesn’t mean your hands are tied.  There are several easy and affordable ways to upgrade a bland apartment without breaking the terms of your lease or risking your security deposit. 

1.       Faux Molding
One of the best things about older buildings is that they come ready-made with all kinds of character – built-in hutches, beautiful mantle pieces and old wooden floors.  Newer construction, while less temperamental, usually lacks these unique touches. 
Fortunately, it doesn’t take too much time or money to add beautiful architectural details like a chair rail, crown molding or even wainscoting.  You can now buy ready-made versions of all of these, which can be installed with just a hammer and nails.  These small details will add instant character and interest to any lackluster room.

2.       Accent Painting 

If you’re allowed to paint anything in your apartment at all, chances are you also have to agree to paint it back to the original egg shell or dove grey color when you move out. Let’s face it, the idea of painting a room once can be daunting, let alone twice.  But how about just one wall?  Or a door? 

Sometimes accent painting like this can have an even greater impact than painting the entire room because it really stands out against the more neutral walls. Plus, when you’re ready to move on, it won’t be quite as big of a chore to return the area to its former color. 

3.       Decal Wall Paper
If your landlord won’t let you paint, well then you certainly won’t be able to put up wallpaper either.  Enter the miracle of modern decal wall paper.  You can buy sheets of the stuff to hang on walls, and then just peel it off when you move out.
 All you have to do is measure the wall or walls you want covered and order the right-sized panels for your needs – no glue, no damage to the walls, just instant style for your walls.  There are several online stores and Etsy shops that offer a huge range of patterns, styles and colors, so you’re sure to find one that’s a good fit for your place.

4.       Framed Art

Let’s assume that you know you need décor up on your walls – this is a given, right?  What might not be a given is that any artwork or photos you put up needs to be properly framed.  Posters that are taped to the wall scream “college dorm room” no matter how lovely the posters are.  But custom-frames immediately elevate the look of whatever they surround.  It’s best to spend a small amount on an art print and then invest a bit more in good quality matting and framing. 

5.       Eclectic Furniture
There’s nothing quite as boring as a blah apartment filled with cookie cutter IKEA furniture in neutral colors.  If the unit itself doesn’t have any character to speak of, well then you had better make up for it in the furnishings. 
Instead of buying everything in one place, look at the furnishing process as a treasure hunt.  If you buy pieces in different styles from several different stores, you’ll end up with a much more natural and beautiful overall look. 

6.       Window Treatments
I don’t know about you, but I find cheap aluminum blinds to be pretty sad and very boring.  Add a little luxury and flair by outfitting your windows with window treatments that match your style.  Custom window treatments can easily get expensive, but you can also go the much more affordable route and just pick up drapes in a unique pattern or vibrant color.  If you don’t want to mess with the existing blinds, just add a curtain rod and put the drapes up over them for a much softer and inviting appearance.

7.       Pulls, Knobs & Light Switch Covers

You’re obviously not going to put custom cabinetry into a rental apartment.  But you can quickly transform the look of built-in cabinets, drawers, doors and light switches by changing out the hardware.  There’s a huge variety of unique and affordable drawer and cabinet pulls available from any hardware store. 
Or if you prefer a vintage vibe, check out the selection at local antique stores – for a funky and artistic look, get a few different styles to combine together.  Once you pick your favorite, all you need is a screwdriver to easily and quickly personalize the look of your kitchen and bathroom. 

Doing all of these small projects at once may seem overwhelming, but just pick one or two to start with and you can gradually personalize your place to make it reflect your tastes.

Author Bio:  Noah Tennant is the CEO of the Chicago Apartment Leasing Group, a top agency that helps renters find the most desirable and luxurious apartments in the city.  In addition to the work he does for his clients, Noah contributes to several online publications about real estate, design and stylish living.  To find out more, click here and connect on Google+.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Designing An Office That Is Truly Efficient

Your business does not have unlimited space in its office, and you may move to a new office that is still not unlimited. You need to make smart decisions that will save space in the office while making the office look impressive at the same time. You might not have thought that sliding door hardware would be impressive, you can utilize your space in untold ways with just one major change.

The Office Layout

The way you set up your office is up to you. You can place all the management offices around the perimeter of the space, and your employees can have cubicles in the center. Your workers may have small nooks to work in while the managers work in one large office on the side of the space. You can choose any layout you want. You have complete freedom to make your office look the way you want, but you must use that freedom wisely.

The Sliding Doors

In every office layout you use, sliding doors are going to be your best friend. Sliding doors provide you with space that you did not have before you installed them. Every office floor plan you have seen in the past showed the way in which each door in the office was going to open. Your new office layout eliminates the need for space to open doors. Sliding doors do not swing open, and they slide behind a wall or a large window. You are not taking up any extra space by using sliding doors, and you can utilize this space for other things.

Utilizing The Space

The space that you save by using sliding doors can be used for much greater purposes. You can put a file cabinet where a door would have opened. You can put seating outside an office where a door would have opened, or you can install another door. Two offices can be right next to each other without the worry of both doors obstructing the hallway outside the office.

You also get a break from the fire marshal when you use these doors. The space that was once taken up by opened doors is now clear, and the fire marshal cannot complain about your sliding doors. Also, you get much more secure doors.


Sliding doors are far more secure than traditional doors because of the way they lock. The sliding door slides it lock into a part of the door frame that is flush with the door. These doors cannot be kicked easily because of the sturdiness of the frame and the frame of the door itself. Also, these doors take special locks that are hard to penetrate. Your office can feature a non-traditional locking system most thieves will not understand.

Privacy and Openness

When you need privacy in your office, you can close the blinds on your sliding door easily. When you need to let a little air into your office, you can raise the blinds on your door and make the room feel much bigger. You can make sure people cannot see what is going on in a very important meeting, or you can make sure everyone can see what you are doing. This quick change from openness to privacy is very important for managers and executives.


When you are creating a new office, you want it to look as modern as possible. People who visit your business and see an antiquated setup are going to be disappointed. Sliding doors have a futuristic feel that you cannot replicate in any other way. Also, you will find that these doors are much easier to care for, and this saves money on repairs.

Your office can look amazing when you install new sliding doors, but you have to get the layout right. Save space, utilize it wisely and create an office anybody would be impressed with.

Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, wellness and interior design. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Depave Movement: from parking lots to paradise

Portland,OR depave movement: from parking lots to paradise

Some Still Like Tubs

I thought the tub was over for adults. In fact, we've thought about taking out the tub and replacing it with a walk in tile shower big enough for two. Now according to Breathe Modern, it looks like freestanding tubs are in. Take a look at these:

Fall 2014 Home Decor: An ensemble production

Beth Kushnick, set decorator for CBS' "The Good Wife," has created her own furnishings line, which debuts this fall." She has some interesting opinions on what we will be seeing this fall season in home decor.

Los Angeles-based designer Trip Haenisch also chips in with her ideas for fall. All this in the article by the AP.

The surprise? "Midcentury modern takes the lead this fall and winter. Accent chairs are armless or lower-profile, and furniture has either a California-chic or Danish-modern vibe."

Houzz Survey Surprising

A recent survey by Houzz has some surprising information: 

Forty-four percent of the home owners surveyed say they would like to do a complete overall of the décor of their homes, while 36 percent say they just want to refresh their existing décor.

What’s guiding their décor decisions? Personal style and comfort, the survey finds, while basing decisions on current design trends is a low influencer.

Younger home owners tended to say more often than older home owners that they wanted to get more “bold and dramatic” with their décor choices, such as incorporating wallpaper and brighter color schemes.

Among some of the survey’s findings:

  • White paint is the most popular wall covering.
  • Artwork is sprucing up more wall décor. One-in-five of home owners say they use art prints and original art to decorate their home’s walls.
  • Accent walls remain popular but are most likely to be reserved for the study/home office, followed by a kids’ room or the master bedroom.
  • Solids are the most popular fabric choice, followed by classics like stripes and florals. However, home owners under the age of 45 are more than twice as likely to use Chevron patterns than home owners over the age of 45.
  • Hardwoods are the most desired flooring throughout a home, but 38 percent of home owners also said they planned to add carpet in the master bedroom.
  • Nearly two-thirds of home owners are creating living rooms in the master bedroom by adding seating, a fireplace, or even a mini-fridge, the survey found. (If hanging out in the den, with a beer and the TV is a couch potato, could a person inhabiting a bedroom living room be a bed bug?)
  • Dining rooms are getting more use and attention. Nearly three quarters of home owners surveyed say they use their dining room on a weekly basis. They most want to decorate the dining rooms with rectangle tables in dark wood or glass tables, with seating available for up to six people.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Zillow Highlights Jordan Iverson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Two Oregon Companies Highlighted By Zillow

The first company highlighted by Zillow is:

At All Oregon Landscaping, we understand that your home is a reflection of you; therefore it's important who you choose to work with. All Oregon Landscaping is a family owned business in existence for 23+ years. Our design team and project management team has over 100 years of experience. We have an installation staff of 20 individuals who have worked on the simplest projects to the multimillion dollar projects. Our designers know that your landscape should be an extension of your indoor living space. We provide all the desired project elements in-house from concept to completion. We also have our own private nursery stocked with over 8000 different plants on 20 acres. The ability to buy plants in bulk and raise them on our property greatly reduces the cost to our clients and allows us to control quality. Fully licensed and insured OR CCB#194221 OR LCB#6667 WA CL#602-308-121.
The second is :

Bungalow Guy Realtor

Friday, August 15, 2014

Selling Your Home? Get it Ready- Get it Sold!

From All Things Real Estate PDX, I found this article written by my friend Staci Byers.

Get it Ready Get it Sold

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Deciding to sell your home can often be stressful, and the steps needed to get the home ready to sell may seem daunting – but they don’t have to be, according to Staci Byers.
Staci is a local Interior Designer behind small business Ready to Sell PDX, and aims to take the stress out of getting your home ready to sell.
“Buyers respond to houses that look like a home, a place they can see themselves in – where they can imagine entertaining, relaxing and having fun. A house with flow, organization, color and that special something. Sometimes it takes someone from outside the home to view it from a buyer’s point of view, and that’s where I come in” says Staci, who was inspired to start the business after going through a long home search herself in 2012.
Ready to Sell PDX services are unique and budget minded. Staci works with owner occupied homes and uses their existing furniture and accessories to create a well prepared home ready for potential buyers.
The services offered are a ‘la cart and can be tailored to suit the customers’ needs.  After a thorough consultation both inside and outside the home, the homeowners will know just what they need to do to get the home ready for the market. An important element often overlooked is color which can help create cohesiveness in the home. A color consultation is therefore essential for most of Staci’s clients, along with optimal furniture placement and strategic de-cluttering of the home.
Ready to Sell PDX operates in the greater Portland/Vancouver area. Read more about Staci’s business here:
For those of you unfamiliar with  All Things Real Estate PDX, I invite you to take a look.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Want to Maximize the Natural Lighting in Your Home? Here's How

People joke about man-caves, but it’s no joke when you can’t see them. Older homes tend to have too few windows, dark corners and narrow hallways that could lighten up. Newer homes have more windows, but usually not in the places they’re needed, like dark hallways and corners. Natural light has so many benefits to our emotional and physical health, that it’s a disservice to live in dark caves. Natural light gives us better concentration, a peppier step and Vitamin D. So, let’s get those dark shadows outta there and maximize your natural light.

Add Windows

There are walls in every house without windows. Adding casement windows beside double-hung windows gives a room more light as well as adding fixed or transom windows above the double-hung windows. Floor to ceiling windows add natural light as well. Many homes have bay windows only in the formal living room or formal dining room. However, when they are extended to the story above, they are called oriels. This brings grace as well as plenty of natural light to rooms.

Odd shaped windows like ovals, diamonds and ship’s port windows are sometimes placed in hallways and at dark corners of a house to shed some light on the subject. Homeowners might consider placing these odd shaped windows in a pattern such as port-diamond-port or oval-square-oval. Perhaps smaller custom round windows, shaped like bubbles, could be installed around port or oval windows to make a pattern of light in the space. It would certainly be a focal point in the space or room.

Add Skylights

Older houses often have no windows at all in certain rooms. If this is the case, install a skylight. They can be cut to any length the homeowner needs. For example, if the kitchen has no windows at all, cut the skylight three-quarters of the length of the room, placed in the center of the ceiling. Of course, the heat coming in the skylight needs to be considered. When the room is not in use or homeowners want to control the heat coming in but not the light, blinds may be installed. The slats can be adjusted to reflect heat back outside, but allow natural light to come in.

Another idea would be to install tubular daylighting devices. These are small tubes cut from the roof like a skylight. The light is carried along a coated metal surface until it reaches a diffuser lens in the ceiling. One tube can illuminate a 100 to 600 foot space. The great thing about TDDs is that they create no dark shadowy spaces, making them good for hallways and dark corners as well as whole rooms.

Window Treatments

The budget can’t always handle knocking out walls and adding banks of windows. In that case, let’s maximize what is available. Rip out those dark curtains and hang filmy or lacy sheers. That keeps a little of the heat out, but allows for natural light. Shades and blinds do the same job, some of which can be enhanced by using sliding barn door hardware, if a bank of windows or floor to ceiling windows is involved. If the house is located in such a way as to have no one peering inside, the windows could always go uncovered. The weather would dictate when to hang window treatments, of course, but the rooms would have lots of natural light.

Other Methods

A coat of a light eggshell or shiny paint would help rooms lighten up. Homeowners would want warmer colors, however, in northern and eastern rooms, because they tend to be the chilliest. Hanging mirrors in strategic spots helps spread the light around and destroy any dark corners or spaces in rooms and hallways. Removing solid inner doors and replacing them with glass doors would help spread the light around, too.

Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, wellness and interior design. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

Friday, August 01, 2014

New From Mike: Chef’s Eye for Your Kitchen

If Chef Gordon Ramsey visited your kitchen while you were preparing dinner to host a multitude of family and friends, would he give you a withering stare for using the wrong cooking equipment or would he cast an appreciative eye at how you have outfitted your kitchen? Chef Ramsey is stopping by next week, how do you get ready? What do you need for him to see? You know you will dissolve in tears if he yells at you. Julia Sexton, an award-winning food writer, restaurant critic, and ex-professional cook says you need three basic kitchen knives, and a good set of pots and pans.
Read the rest here: Chef’s Eye for Your Kitchen

Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Life-Changing Organisation Tips

Now you’re probably reading this because you are sick of the mess in your bedroom. You may spend hours organising, only to find that the room never stays as neat as you would like. Organising can also be very time consuming, and you can never find a moment to do it. You’re too exhausted after a long day at work, the weekends are reserved for your friends, so there’s generally no time to actually sort through the mess. However, you don’t have to be in this predicament, there are a few quick ways that you can try out to help you be more organised and live in a neater space.

Before I even begin sharing the tips, the first step is to completely get rid of unnecessary things in your room, whether this is clothes or general possessions. If it hasn’t been used or worn in the past 6 months, donate it to charity. You really don’t need your prom dress from when you were 16, or your broken clock that reminds you of your childhood bedroom. Be brutal and get rid of it. My very simple motto is ‘if you don’t use it, you don’t need it.’ Now on to the tips:

1.  Invest in fitted wardrobes. These will revolutionise your entire storage system. Fitted wardrobes are custom built according to the space that you have, allowing you to utilise the entire height of your room. This is especially great for attic rooms with slanted ceilings, as it can often be difficult to find a wardrobe to fit into the space. Fitted wardrobes are often much larger and give you a lot more storage space. They don’t have to solely be used for the purpose of storing clothes; you can use them for storing boxes, cosmetics and anything else. They just ensure that everything has a place to go, keeping it off your bedroom floor!

2. Use different colours for your hangers. You can develop your own system and choose specific colours to symbolise different things. For example, allocating yellow hangers for summer clothes and blue for winter clothes. You can even assign different colours for clothes that you want to make an effort to wear in the coming months; you can put these on red hangers and change the colour of the hanger once you have worn them. It can also be a good way to see what you have and distinguish between items. This also allows you to switch up your clothes during seasons as you will be able to easily remove clothes that you will not be wearing.

3. Curl up your wires. Have you ever considered just how much time you spend in your life trying to untangle wires? It can be very stressful, especially if you are in a hurry and end up having some sort of meltdown as you are trying to head out of the door. There are lots of little devices for keeping your headphones untangled in your bag, but it’s usually your bedroom where the real problem is. A very simple method to organise your cables is to find a storage box, whether this is a decorative gift box or a plain old shoebox, anything will do. Once you have done this, collect some cardboard toilet-paper rolls and then store them upright in the box, until the box is full. It is important that you fill the box; otherwise they will be rolling around. You can then neatly place the wires into each roll and prevent them from being tangled. If you find that the wires are too thick, you can use take-away containers and stack them on top of each other inside the box. You can even do this in your drawers to store jewellery and other accessories.

4. Collect your bobby pins and put them inside a Tic Tac case. You may ask why it must be a Tic Tac case, and the reason for this is because these cases have a small opening. This means that you will only dispense the amount of hairpins that you need, preventing the others from spilling out everywhere. Now it may not sound particularly life-changing, but consider the amount of hair pins you find in the strangest of places, and how often you have to purchase new ones. It’s not so much the storage of the hairpins that is life-changing, it’s more so the fact that you know exactly where they will be. This provides you with a little bit of control, making you feel more organised because you know the exact location of the item. You can also use this to carry in your handbag which can make life so much easier. Alternatively, you can use Tic Tac cases to store your pills. This can also be another means of remaining organised.

5.  Use space wisely - There is lots of dead space around the room, whether this is beneath your bed or in awkward corners. These places are often used as dumping grounds and can contribute to making the remainder of the room look messy. This is because things are literally thrown into these corners. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with using this space, there is an effective way to use it. Buy transparent boxes with wheels to roll under your bed. You will be able to see exactly what is in them which will be especially useful when searching for things in the morning. For any awkward corners, you can stack up storage boxes and use these as a form of decor. There are lots of different patterned boxes available and you can even label them to take your organisation to the next level.

While these tips may seem very simple, they can really help to change the way that you live. You can also adapt these to the rest of the house and you will find that it will substantially reduce your cleaning time later on. Good luck and happy organising!

This article was written by Qurratulain Zaheer, an expert in the field of interior design and avid lover of organisation. She recommends Hammonds Space for their stylish fitted wardrobes; her personal favourite is the 5 panel door in pomegranate glass.

I have also linked to some of her previous work:

Monday, July 07, 2014

Nine Years Ago Today

UPDATED: The July-August, 2005 Oregon Home, this highly readable magazine, has an article by Ken Logan titled 16 Master Bedroom Mistakes to Avoid.

Ken was gracious enough to allow me to quote from the article.

Here are the 16 Mistakes:

1. Not springing for a mattress that's going to maximize your chances of getting a great night's rest.
2. Not considering the size of your bedroom when choosing furnishings.
3. Letting your master bedroom drift off to the bottom of your building or remodeling budget. It's too easy to focus on the public spaces and neglect the area where you may spend a third of your day.
4. Assuming that knocking out the wall between two small bedrooms is the best way to create a master bedroom during a remodel. Don't rip out the thing you are paying for.
5. Not keeping a consistent design between the master bedroom and the bath. Work for "visual coherence".
6. Not making the most of storage options. Clutter is not restful.
7. Underestimating the effect lighting has on your bedroom. The spectrum of natural light that comes from the sun is best.
8. Skimping on finishes or decor in the bedroom because "no one's going to see it." You deserve a beautiful, restful space.
9. Letting a large space tempt you into using the master bedroom for functions that are better suited to other parts of the house. Mike and I do not have a TV in the bedroom.
10. Assuming you can't add a master bedroom just because you don't have-or can't create-a big plush space.
11. Passing up the chance to have your morning cup of coffee waiting for you when you step out of bed.
12. Neglecting what's outside when planning your restful retreat.
13. Forgetting to allow for lifestyle changes in your sweet design. We are all getting older.
14. Working so hard on the look of your bedroom that you forget that quiet is also crucial.
15. Opting for flooring that's too cold and hard.
16. Minimizing how huge a factor color is in the feel you're trying to create in a master bedroom.

In each of the 16 mistakes, Ken Logan has consulted local resources to offer solutions.

Also, remember Landfair Furniture + Design can recommend a number of interior designers we work with that are knowledgeable in helping you avoid these mistakes or providing solutions.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Five Hot Home Décor Trends for 2014

Sarah Rufca reporter for the Houston Chronicle shares some of the hot new trends for 2014. I happened to notice that some of our vendors are featured:

Fincastle mirror on display in the Williamsburg by Global views showroom in High Point.

Brass bed and dresser from Bernhardt's Jet Set collection.

Greek Key coffee table in brass from from Bernhardt's Jet Set collection.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Apartment Prices Skyrocket, Taste Doesn't

The headline says "Manhattan apartment prices skyrocket 20%" and goes on to say that "The sale price for Manhattan apartments has skyrocketed 20 percent this year, a market report has found.

Manhattan home buyers paid an average $1.69 million in the second quarter of 2014, compared with $1.41 million for the second quarter of 2013, says the report from realty giant Corcoran.

Then, to top it off, this picture is shown:

You can own this corner unit for $9.5 million.Photo: Constantin Boca

For $9.5 million, don't you think they could have hired an interior designer. I mean, the bed is on the wrong wall, the bed design looks like a spider web, and the lamps and tables are too small add nothing to the appearance of the room.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Pros And Cons Of A Reverse Mortgage

A new survey reveals Americans are worried about their personal finances. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC) reported in a March, 2014 survey that 71% of Americans are worried about their financial situation. They are worried they don’t have enough savings for emergencies and equally concerned about having enough money set aside for retirement. It’s hard to believe, with those worries in mind, that adults who are spending less than the previous year continues to decline from 57% in 2009 to 29% in 2014.
In New Jersey, a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll found that 52 percent of the state’s non-retirees want to spend their golden years elsewhere, while just 32 percent want to stay in New Jersey. By far the most highly cited reason for wanting to leave is the state’s high cost of living, including taxes. I suspect they feel they will be priced out of their homes.

New York City Kitchen Trends In 2014

Murdock Solon, remodel, kitchen
Kitchen Designed By MSA
I spoke with Shelly McClure, Kelly Solon’s partner in kitchen showroom design at Murdock Solon Architects. Ms. McClure has been designing kitchens for over 11 years and recently returned from the Eurocucina-International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition in Milan, Italy.
I asked, “What are some of the big kitchen trends in the U.S.?”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Insurance Coverage For Interior Designers

Business Insurance USA announced a new level of commercial insurance coverage for interior designers today, specifically structured to provide combined general liability with errors and omissions protection under one policy. This newly structured coverage option now makes important commercial insurance coverage available to interior design companies of all sizes.

"Interior designers know they need to protect themselves and their company assets from legal liability lawsuits", states Business Insurance USA's Executive Director Gary Fisher, "but they may mistakenly believe that just one type of liability coverage is all they need. By offering the combination of general liability and professional liability protection, interior designers are better positioned to address almost any type of liability allegation that may arise."

See the article for more information.

Poll: Does every interior designer need insurance? Do you have E&O now?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Guest Post: Creating an Alfresco Living Space for Your Family

People usually try to leave town and enjoy the great outdoors during the summer season. It is always nice to spend time amidst nature’s harmonious surroundings, and by designating a portion of your backyard into an outdoor living space, you can have the same pleasure. The good news is, designing an alfresco space for your family and for yourself does not have to be a complicated undertaking. If you want to enjoy fresh air and the freedom that the outdoors bring without leaving home or spending a fortune, consider these simple tips.
Identify an area that you can transform into your outdoor living space.
There are certain things you need to keep in mind when you choose the location of your new outdoor living space. First of all, you need to think about how you want to use the space; this will determine the size and to a certain extent, the materials of your little (or not-so-little) hideaway. Next you need to take note of how accessible this new space will be. If you intend to do a lot of eating and entertaining, then it would be wise to make sure the kitchen is within a convenient distance. Lastly, think about how private you want to the place to be. Once all these things are settled, you will have a clearer idea about how you will set up your new outdoor living space.
Create borders to set your alfresco space apart.
Without borders to define it, the area you want to designate for socializing can appear impersonal and uninviting. Worse, people may keep walking through it and past it without stopping to enjoy the special place you intended to create. With the careful placement of a few bushes or a trellis, you can keep this area protected from prying eyes and create a cozy haven away from the busy world. Some of the plants that can provide you with a dense, bushy shield are Arbovitae, evergreens, or flowering shrubs such as the Bluebeard. Visit your local nursery and check which specimens will work best for you.

Decide on the structure of your outdoor refuge.
Once you know how you will use your outdoor refuge, you can make your building plans. Your desire to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year can be addressed by a patio, a porch, a deck, or just a wide area paved with flagstones. Your structure will also be determined by your budget, the amount of work you are willing to undertake, and how long you intend the structure to last.
Decide on a theme. Patios, decks, and porches can accommodate a wide range of themes.
As long as your garden haven does not become a discordant note in relation to your house and grounds, you have considerable latitude in choosing the decor you will use for your alfresco area. For example, for a rustic, shabby chic area where everyone can relax, all you need is some crockery, some barn red paint, a table and chairs made in distressed wood finish, and a sliding door with barn door hardware.
Think about temperature control.
If you want maximum use of your patio (or deck or porch), make provisions for fans in summer and heaters when the cold weather comes. Fans don’t have to be permanent structures; there are plenty of portable fans you can use to make warm days more comfortable. There are also portable patio and deck heaters fueled by gas so that even when the nights become cold, you can spend time outdoors in comfort. You might want to install a flagstone fire pit or a fireplace that you can gather around. The idea is to provide warmth so that even when it’s cold, people can still congregate in the outdoor living space you have created.

Include a Roof.
A roof will allow you to use your outdoor area for longer periods during the day, and there are many ways that you can put up a roof or its equivalent. You can put in a permanent roof, or you can install a retractable awning, set up a parasol or two, or grow a vine such as bougainvillea to provide shelter. You can even make it possible to enclose the area with mosquito netting to prevent pesky insects from ruining your outdoor fun.

Your private living space can function as an extra living room, a spare dining area, or a place for entertaining. Best of all, this space can allow you to start your days serenely with a steaming cup of coffee and the birds for company.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Loveseat For Smaller Spaces

Apartment Therapy is trying to suggest there's a new sofa type out there for small space dwellers.
They write, "New Traditionalists Unite! Not every small space dweller is into modern lines or minimal, neutral textures. We're sure there are plenty of you living in pint size palaces who would like to embrace classic lines mixed with color, texture and pattern when it comes to your sofa style. Well, here you go - seven small but not-too-safe sofas to consider that all clock in at under 70 inches..."

In one place a picture of a small sofa is called a "sofette." That's is just another for a loveseat and we've had loveseats for years. Bernhardt and Bernhardt Interiors calls them Loveseats. Here are a few examples of loveseats:

All under 70 inches.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

News From Bernhardt Furniture

Regenia Payne has joined Bernhardt Furniture as upholstery fashion coordinator in the brand’s residential upholstery division.

In her new position, Payne will develop upholstery fabric and frame correlations based upon fashion directions and will manage the company’s High Point showroom upholstery presentations.

Payne reports to Roger Turnbow, vice president of merchandising, residential upholstery at Bernhardt, Lenoir, N.C.

“Regenia’s extensive experience in upholstery design, merchandising, and fashion will be a valuable asset in positioning our brand as a design leader in residential upholstered seating,” said Turnbow.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Greening Up Your Landscape Lighting

If you are like me, you have always wanted gorgeous landscape lighting but have no shortage of reasons for why it isn't possible. Perhaps you are concerned about additional charges on your electricity bill or wasting energy in general. After all, lighting the inside of your home is necessary, but when the outside world is centered on conservation, lighting up your yard seems frivolous, at best.

Or maybe you've been intimidated by all of the electrical components that must be involved. Surely, just getting the lights in the ground is a DIY feat well beyond the bounds of your skill set, right?

But here's the truth: You can be conscious of the environment, keep your electricity consumption (and bill) exactly where it is and beautify your yard with green living landscape lighting that is just as eco-friendly as it is aesthetically pleasing! And with no wires to attach or cables to bury, simple staked lanterns couldn't be easier to install.

My husband and I have been in the process of remodeling our first home, and after spending over nine months on the interior, we are finally able to take our updating outside! Our front walkway previously boasted large, overgrown and irreparably diseased bushes that we removed and recently patched with a few plots of sod. I am looking forward to the day when the sod spreads and becomes seamlessly integrated into the existing grass and I no longer have to look at sod lines and empty spots.

Originally, I intended on replacing the bushes with another bush or plant, but when I found these fantastic lanterns that coordinate with our updated porch light and garage sconces, I was sold.

In terms of DIY home improvement, this planting project - that literally consists of sticking the stake into the ground - packs a major punch in the décor department without walloping your wallet or the planet.

Landscape lanterns like these often come in multi-packs: I purchased a set of four and they came in at just over $12 each! They are made of a weather-resistant plastic that has a copper like finish that is indistinguishable from the real thing when viewed from above.

The classic contours of the lanterns make them extremely versatile and allow them to coexist with many different architectural styles. And although I have lined them along the curving front entry leading up to my front porch, they would work just as well along the side of the house or out back around our patio.

Aside from their beauty, let's not forget that the main reason these are so fantastic is their eco-friendliness! These landscape lanterns are Energy Star-compliant and automatically shut off during daylight hours. They are solar powered for environmentally sound operation and use a one-watt LED bulb that is actually included with the set. A single sunny day charge can translate into nine hours of illumination from dusk until dawn. This means that during the night, you have an enhanced yard and enhanced security because prowlers are less likely to gravitate toward a well-lit home.

And while we're on the subject of safety, by installing landscape lights along walkways, especially curved ones like mine, you can ensure greater visibility and reduce the risk of tripping and falling at night. This can become indispensable on nights when you have guests over who will be leaving well after the sun goes down!

Here are a few tips for installing your lanterns:

  • Plan your layout before you stick them in the ground to ensure appropriate spacing and minimize the damage to your yard.
  • Place them close enough to your path to sufficiently light it but not so close that the lanterns become a hazard to passersby.
  • When placing them in the ground, it may help to carve out a little well with a garden spade first.
  • Rather than pushing them in from the top of the light, grab the base firmly and insert the stake into the ground as you might a dagger.
  • Be sure to charge them in the sunlight for at least a couple of hours before their initial use to ensure a good and accurate first impression at dusk.

All that's left to do is sit back and enjoy your new green living landscape lighting! And it's an outdoor lighting scheme that you can be proud of, both in terms of your yard enhancement and in the sense that you are doing your part for the planet.

What style or layout of landscape lighting do you want to incorporate into your green living outdoor spaces?

Rheney Williams lives in Charleston, S.C., and provides DIY advice to homeowners for Home Depot. Rheney has been decorating and redesigning her home over the past year, and has begun working on her landscaping, including outdoor landscape lights. Home Depot's complete selection of landscape lights, including the style Rheney used for her home, can be found on the Home Depot website.


Christoff: Finio Architecture caught my eye two years ago and resulted  in this post on their work featuring their renovation and rooftop addition projects, as well as their selection of finish materials. I recently caught up with their more recent work, worthy of an update here. I just love the diversity of their work in New York City and hope to have the chance to work with them on one of their projects soon.

See the whole article at RenovatingNYC

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Transformative Apartment Renovation in Brooklyn

Dwell has a feature about a renovation in Brooklyn. I was struck by the major transformation of the bathroom. Here is the before shot of the master bathroom.

Photo courtesy of Ed Kopel.

The renovated master bathroom. 

Photo by Francis Dzikowski/ESTO.

That's why we hire professionals!