Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Buyer's Guide to Leather Sofas and the Questions to Ask When Buying One

Buying a new sofa can be an overwhelming process, especially with so many styles and colours available, where do you start? This article will assist you in purchasing the perfect leather sofa for your home.

Choosing the colour
One of the first considerations you should make is practicality. If you have pets or a young family, then you probably won’t fancy spending your spare time wiping finger marks or dogs fur from a cream or white leather sofa. Black is a very versatile option, easy to maintain and fits well with the majority of décor styles. A brown leather sofa made from aniline leather, brings an element of comfort and homeliness to a living room, and a red leather sofa can create a very striking counterpoint to neutral or light décor. You can accentuate polished wooden flooring with a cream leather sofa; this can be accessorized with a variety of colorful cushions. 
Choosing the style
It is worth remembering that you will have to live with your sofa for the next few years so choose a style that will age well and match any future trends, for example, in 3 years time are you still going to love that yellow low backed sofa? With a wealth of styles available it can complicated to choose a leather sofa that everyone in your home is happy with. If you prefer sofas with higher backs and elegant low back designs in beautiful two toned antique colors then a traditional leather sofa is for you. Chesterfield Leather Sofas are a great choice if you’re looking for a sofa that is both classic and timeless. If you like modern décor, a contemporary sofa might be a better choice, these are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. 

Choosing a leather type 
Full Grain

Full grain remains natural and is the most desirable of all leathers. The prominent markings from bug bites, a scar from a fence, or the usual little wrinkles that occur on the leather are evident. These natural markings provide the hide with a host of unique characteristics.

Top Grain

If you hear or see the words “top grain”, the reference is to where the leather was cut rather than its grade. Do not confuse full grain with top grain, which basically means that it has not been split. When shopping for your leather sofa, make sure that the back of the sofa, cushions and any large areas were cut from the top grain of the leather and not from vinyl fabrics.


Aniline leather has been labeled with various names such as naked aniline, true aniline, and aniline full grain, all of them being exactly same. Aniline is basically leather that has been dyed right the way through. The spongy feel of aniline leather allows it to breathe effectively, which in turn increases its durability. It’s worth remembering that: the softer the leather feels, the higher its grade.


When searching for a leather sofa that suits your unique needs you may hear the word “antiqued” this is a leather that has been dyed twice, first in a lighter shade of color, and then in a darker shade that will provide variation and a unique antique appearance. This process is also known as distressed leather.

Ask the following questions when shopping:
  1. Is the leather finished or unfinished?
  2. Is the leather top-grain? If it isn’t, it won’t be as durable as you think.
  3. Is the whole sofa made of leather, or is some of it vinyl? Don’t be fooled.
  4. How has the frame been constructed? Is it built to last?
Author byline:

This guide was contributed by David at Thomas Lloyd

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tidy Up Tired-Looking Furniture with These Top Tips

Found on

With the holiday season just around the corner, now is the perfect time to clean your furniture so it’ll look good as new for gatherings with relatives and friends, not to mention, it’s good to have ready knowledge of how to clean your furniture when little elves with sticky fingers come to play! Fortunately, there’s no need to cut into your gift shopping budget and splurge on professional cleaning services. Keep reading to learn some easy ways to freshen up furniture without spending a fortune.

Survey the Stains

Most couches and soft armchairs naturally get stained during use. Although it’s ideal to handle a stain immediately after an accident happens, it’s also crucial to treat each stain appropriately. Oil-based stains will require chemical cleaning agents, but stains caused by food, beverages and dirt usually respond well if you use a portable steam cleaner on them.

Bring Out the Baking Soda

Baking soda is probably one of the cheapest cleaners you keep on hand at home, but it’s also one of the most versatile. There are a huge number of ways to use baking soda to clean surfaces ranging from stainless steel to walls that have been scribbled on with crayons.

As far as furniture though, use equal parts of water and baking soda toothpaste to scrub water rings off of wooden coffee tables. The trick also works well for brightening dull wood cabinets. If you don’t get the desired results after the first attempt, do two treatments.

Make Your Own Furniture Polish

Give wood a gorgeous gleam by polishing it with a homemade mixture created from a cup of cold pressed olive oil and a half cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Put the ingredients in a glass jar, then shake it gently to combine them. Apply a small bit to wood furniture using a very soft cloth.

Wipe the Right Way

When wiping furniture, always go in the direction of the grain, using the softest lint-free cloth you can find. If tackling a new spill on upholstery, resist the urge to scrub it frantically. That could cause the substance to sink deeper into the fibers. Instead, blot it carefully to soak up the excess.

Remove Residue

Hard furniture can look dingy if it’s covered with grease and grime. Residue build-up can happen over time, but it’s easy to remove. Mix two parts white vinegar with one part water and get to work.

If you notice white rings appearing on the surface, they’re grease remnants. Get rid of them by grabbing the jar of mayonnaise from your fridge and dab the condiment lightly on the affected portions. Then, cover them with a soft cloth for a few hours, and finally wipe them away.

Get Rid of Spots on Leather Furniture

Leather furniture is a great investment, but it’s no more immune to getting stained and spotted than furniture covered with fabric. Remove ink stains from leather by using a cotton swab that’s been dipped in alcohol. You may need to leave the surface damp overnight, then wipe it with a soft cloth in the morning.

Handle other types of spots on leather by mixing equal parts cream of tartar and lemon juice. You’ll create a paste that can be gently worked into the soiled leather. If a stain is severe, let the paste sit on the material for a couple hours before cleaning it away.

The holiday season is traditionally a time when people invite others into their homes to share good times. If you’re planning on doing the same, there’s no need to stress about the condition of your furniture. The tips you’ve just read could help you fix it in a flash.

BIO: James works in construction and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Mike: 5 Tips to Rock Your Sofa

Mike writes at Fabnest:

How many times have you been corrected when asked, “How is your day and you say good?” And there reply is, “You mean well.” I know, proper from improper can be a real pain.
This diction analogy is similar when talking about couch vs sofa.  One word that is never used by interior designers is “couch.” A couch is a sofa. Sofas have gone by many names: Chesterfield, divan, settee, davenport, daveno, couch, but now only sofa.

Read the rest at Fabnest:

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Mike Interviews Classic Woodwork Inc.

Classic Woodwork Inc is a high-end residential woodwork contractor based in Montreal. Recently, Simon Lacroix reached out to me via LinkedIn and introduced himself and his company to let me know about their work in NYC. I thought an introduction to his company was worthy of a post here on RenovatingNYC.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Uttermost Rugs

Estelle, Red
Rugs Collection
By Uttermost

Mike Published On FabNest

These Towels You Wouldn’t Dare Throw on the Floor


What is one of the nicest parts of staying at a resort in the vacation spot you love? Some may say it’s the sunsets glinting off the water. Some may say it is the relaxation you feel when you fall asleep in a hammock to the sound of the surf. Some may say it’s the chance of finding exotic dining places. For me it’s the luxurious towels found in fine resorts. They are big, fluffy, super absorbent and smell like a sun filled meadow. When you have finished drying your naked body, you don’t just toss them on the floor in the corner for the maid, but hang them carefully on the hook located on the bathroom door.

Read More at FabNest

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gardening Advice For Halloween

The Fresh Dirt on Perking Up Your Garden

Psst! What’s the dish, the dirt, the down low, the buzz? You know the chit chat, the chin music, the scuttlebutt on perking up my garden?

When you ask that way, I remember my antenna twitching, my ears tuned in. I tumbled to the news that boiling water kills weeds. Kills weeds I say better than any poisonous product bought off the shells. Douse a weed with boiling water and the weed falls harder than a dame for George Clooney on s moonlit night in Italy.

What else?

I hear, from sources, sources that remain in the shadows. Darker than sleeping in the coffin, that keeping mud off the rugs that Jimmy heisted requires little booties on your shoes, when you step inside from the garden. Mud inside? Fuhgeddaboudit.

You are not shortchanging me, are you? I got some pull, I can dish the dirt, too.

Yeah, give me some.

Between you and me, we got to be careful. Careful when we bury stuff. Take that hydrangea, the blue flowers means the soil is acidic. That’s where we buried all that aluminum. The heist. You remember?

Yeah, my mind is a safe! The pink one. What’s wrong there? 

No aluminum! Pine needles would work, they’re acid. 

My head. My head is pounding, from all this talk. 

You need an aspirin. By the way, pal, did you know that aspirin will strengthen plants, like garlic strengthens the breath of Louie the mouth? Just add 1 ½ aspirins to two gallons of water. Every three weeks, you do this, you got them plants fighting off disease like Jimmy the rope fought off marriage with Lucille.  

Did you hear about Monty the twitch? Yeah, Monty the twitch is now Monty the pause. He got the garden. First thing you know, he’s not twitching anymore. He’s relaxed. He pauses like an old dog with a bad nose sniffing trees. Nothing. Nothing bothers the guy, I tell you.

Did you hear about my girl, Theresa? Theresa. Sixteen year-old Theresa. I caught her and her boyfriend lip-locking the other night. You know how dark it is back there behind the house. Lip locking. Yeah we both used to do it, but not my daughter. Anyways, I nipped that in the bud. Hung up some lights. Now after Theresa is in bed, me and Martha sit out there by the garden. No, not lip locking!

We got the place fixed up real nice. We added some of those wind chimes we see at the beach. No, not the big booming kind. The kind that are quiet-like.

What do you want with wind chimes that are quiet? Makes no sense.

To you maybe. We can hear them. These would be nice for Monty the pause. Calm.

The wife, Martha, brought home some bird houses and a bird feeder, Year a bird feeder. That ok with you? Al right. We put them up in the garden. We sit out in the evening and just watch the birds. It’s cheap entertainment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

10 Reasons to Love Big, Comfy Sectionals

Laura Gaskill at Houzz shares information about sectionals:

Monday, October 20, 2014

New From Uttermost

Ardusin, Hobby Cupboard

Furniture Collection
By Uttermost

Cat: 25589
Size: 47" w x 15" d x 34" h;

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Staci Byers: Selling Your House Quickly and Profitably

You can learn a lot about selling your house by having lunch with a woman whose specialty is home staging. I had that opportunity recently when Staci Byers agreed to an interview. Staci Byers owns Ready to Sell PDX and operates her home staging business in the greater Portland/Vancouver area.

Staci, why do homeowners and realtors call you?
Staci: They both call for the same reason – there is a home about to go on the market and they want to make sure it is well presented to ensure a quick sale and the highest price the market can support.

What’s the first step?
Staci: An on-site consultation is the first thing I do. I conduct a full assessment of the home both inside and out. I cover things such as furniture and accessory placement, cosmetic repairs, color recommendations and curb appeal suggestions.
My recommendations, as well as tips for a successful Open House are presented in a  home staging report that is sent to the homeowner and agent. After this initial consultation the homeowners will know just what is needed to get the home ready for the market. 

Often the homeowners are able to take care of the items themselves based on the report I provide, but if they would like additional help, the services offered following the consultation are a la carte and can be tailored to suite the homeowners needs.

You work with a lot of real estate agents. What’s in it for them?

Staci: The most valuable thing is probably that the house spends less time on the market. A house that looks its best will sell quicker and higher turnover translates into higher profits for the brokers. But it also often it sells for a higher price which translates into happy customers, more referrals, and repeat business – and of course also a higher commission. Partnering with a professional home stager frees up the agent to do what they do best--- Sell more homes !

What other kinds of things are important?
Staci: The house should be clean, clean clean! You vastly improve your house’s wow factor if you de-clutter and get many of your personal items out of the house. Only 10% of  people touring a home can visualize their items in the space, so stage each room relevant for the function. A bedroom should be a bedroom, and the dining room should be just that, not your craft room.

What about minor repairs?
Staci: Minor repairs, should be fixed, your home's presentation needs to shine from the moment it is seen on-line and every day it is on the market.
Broken boards on the deck, ripped carpet and broken lights give a not so taken care of feeling to potential buyers. Be aware of the cost/benefit ratio: spending $50 on paint touch-ups is probably a better investment than refinishing all your hardwood floors. It pays to take the extra time to ensure all minor and inexpensive repairs are complete and the home is at its absolute best at the time of listing.

Staci, thanks so much for your time. This has been very helpful.

Staci's contact information:

Staci Byers
Portland, OR

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Prepare Your Home for Darker Nights

 Mike writes a poem and suggests ways to chase away the night this fall and winter season at FabNest.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Three Two Last Day!

Turns out that Jennifer Adams has a nice feel for the pulse of America. Now she graduates to television. I’m sure that America will continue to like her warm and breezy approach to in home design.

You can make your own connection with Jennifer. Join her VIP Club which rewards you for doing what you already do - watching videos on home improvement, decorating tips, do-it-yourself projects, and more. Plus by joining you will be entered into the Wish You Were Here Sweepstakes!

Should you win, you will receive 3 days and 4 nights at the world renowned L'Auberge Hotel in Jennifer's rehabilitated condo. The condo is situated on one of California’s best beaches in the picturesque coastal village of Del Mar near San Diego. You will have lunch with Jennifer and then take private tour of the fully renovated Del Mar condo that she took down to the studs reinvigorating this 30+ year old home! It’s an opportunity to ask all your burning interior design questions and get Jennifer’s opinions.

Join Jennifer Adam’s VIP Club today. I did!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Choosing The Right Grill To Become A Barbecue Pro

As soon as the snow melts and the warm summer months are amongst us, grilling starts taking priority when it comes to cooking. A barbecue can be enjoyed by a single individual, the whole family, or as a party with friends and family, but without the perfect grill, none of this is possible. With a few easy tips, you can be on your way to purchasing the best grill that suits your needs.

Decide On The Fuel You Wish To Use

When it comes to buying a grill, one of the first things that you will come across is there are many different types. There are so many different types of grills available you actually can not even begin to count them on your fingers and toes combined. There are grills that use wood chips, grills that use gas, grills that use charcoal and grills that use electricity. Each kind of fuel has its own benefits, so it is up to the consumer to decide which would be best.

Grills that use wood chips as fuel to cook food are one of the most complex grills on the market. These types of grills have digital thermostat temperature control and can be used for a wide array of different types of cooking. Wood chips are amazing for smoking; however, wood chips leave a smokey flavor in every piece of food that is cooked on them. These types of grills are also not great when it comes to seared steaks because the temperature simply does not get hot enough.

Grills that use gas to cook food are one of the more simple types of grills. It takes little effort for getting the grill to temperature, and it takes even less effort for clean up once the food is cooked. Gas grills need a specialized sear burner to be able to cook steaks to a proper temperature though.

Charcoal fueled grills take the longest to prepare for cooking with due to the length of time it takes to heat up, but they can get very hot and leave a favorable taste in the food.

Electric grills are a grill for beginners. These types of grills do not give food a barbecued taste, and can not properly cook a steak to temperature. If the steak gets brown on the outside, all to often the inside of the steak is overcooked.

Decide On The Size You Need

When it comes to barbecuing, size does matter. The size of a grill is also directly correlated to the price of the grill. When deciding on what size grill you wish to invest in you should look to see the size of the total cooking area. The total cooking area of a grill includes the warming rack, so you should take that into consideration because you will not actually be readily preparing steaks up there every time you grill. You should focus on the main grate of the grill and decide how large of a surface you need. Grills should never be overcrowded due to the fact the foods will not cook evenly throughout as if they would with open space.

Decide On Your Price Range

Once you have decided what type of grill you are interested in and decided what size you will be buying, you need to decide on your price range. Very reliable charcoal grills can be purchased for around $200, and very reliable gas grills can be purchased for around $400. Gas grills can easily go up to between $800-$1,000, but a mid-range grill will function for you if you do not wish to invest that much.

Look Into Insurance Options

Grills greatly vary in prices. Prices of electric grills can be as low as $20 while prices of gas grills can require a payment plan and insurance. If you are investing in a top of the line grill that will last you many seasons of barbecuing, you should look into appliance insurance for your purchase. Very expensive grills should have the option of insurance to protect your purchase and ensure that you will have many years worth of use with the product.

Buying a grill to barbecue on can seem like a daunting task, but when you do research before you go to make your purchase, you can readily find the best grill to suit your needs.

David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He occasionally freelance writes about real estate tips, home maintenance and DIY home repair.

Friday, October 03, 2014

How to Achieve the Arts and Crafts Interior Style in Your Home


The arts and crafts design is a distinctive type of interior design that opts for a beautiful, artistic and natural feeling. It became popular at the turn of the 20th century as a preferred alternative to the more conservative, rigid and stuffy design that was common in the Victorian era. It's a style of expression, appreciation of natural and traditionally made furnishings and the beauty of art. If you're looking to change up the interior design style in your home, there are several ways that you can transition into an arts and crafts style.


Nearly everyone who enjoys the arts and crafts style will tell you that wood is one of the most vital aspects to achieving the style. Not just using items that are made of wood, but keeping them unpainted and sometimes unstained. Nothing can quite match the look and feel of wood grain in a home, and it is a wonderful addition to any room. Wooden doors, trim, chairs, tables, bed frames, dressers, cabinets and more can all be made from wood. Remember that any wood items in the bathroom should be sealed or treated to prevent rot from the moisture buildup.

Color Selection

The arts and crafts style works with a simple palette of colors. They are mostly natural colors such as various shades of brown, green and yellow. Other colors can be included, but they should be relatively dull in brightness to avoid seeming out of place.

Selecting Hardware

There are certain parts of the home such as doors that require the use of visible hardware that may deter from the naturalistic style of the home. However, there are alternatives to this hardware that helps retain the arts and crafts style. For example, barndoor hardware looks like hand crafted metal parts that are simplistic yet stylish at the same time. They can come in various styles and colors to match several different types of door.



Stained and leaded windows look gorgeous in houses with arts and crafts décor. They add beautiful and unique designs both inside and outside of the house. You can even get your windows custom designed for a personal touch.

Tips for the Bathroom

It can be hard to come up with arts and crafts décor ideas for the bathroom, but there is one trick to achieving this style in the bathroom and that is utilizing stone. While wood is a more popular option for kitchens and living rooms, stone is seen as a more appealing option in the bathroom. Stone flooring is a particularly popular option for bathrooms along with stone designs in the tiling for the walls. You can also add wood items such as wood cabinets and vanities to create a well-rounded look.

Tips for the Living Room

When it comes to arts and crafts designs in the living room, wood reigns supreme. Your furnishings such as recliners, couches, coffee table and TV stand can all be made of wood to create a beautiful natural effect. Don't worry about the couch, chair or recliner being uncomfortable due to their wooden frame, either. Remember, regular couches, chairs and recliners have metal frames and that certainly doesn't sound comfortable. Most wooden furniture has plenty of padding to make them incredibly comfortable, and they come in a variety of fabrics for additional comfort.

Hardwood floors are also a favorite in the living room, and if you want a bit of stone in the living room fireplaces are commonly framed by stone to change up the theme a bit.

Tips for the Kitchen

Both stone and hardwood flooring are common in the kitchen. Wooden counters with stone counter tops are a wonderful addition to any kitchen, and the combination creates a great contrast that is appealing to the eye. For small touches, flowers and plants are always nice to have in the kitchen as long as they don't take up too much counter space. Wood blinds are also a great addition to the windows as they both look great and block out more light than plastic blinds.

No matter what area of the home you decide to focus on, transitioning into an arts and crafts style is definitely doable and can be a lot of fun. With these tips in mind you’ll be well on your way to capturing that perfect mix of expression and appreciation.

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.