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What’s in Your Furniture?

W11thstreet-1-1024x768If you are buying new furniture for your home, it is more than likely that you’ll want it to last ten or more years. The best way to ensure that it will last is to purchase items from one of the top furniture brands, such as Restoration Hardware, Edra, Poliform, Henredon, Fendi Casa, Boca do Lobo, Kartell, or Christopher Guy. If you are looking for a specific style, such as contemporary or traditional, you might want to speak with your interior designer to see what your options are. In addition to buying from a top brand, you can use the following strategies to help you determine how good the quality of a particular piece of furniture is.

Furniture Joints | Quality furniture features joints that have been screwed into place rather than nailed. If you see staples, you probably don’t want to purchase that particular piece of furniture.

Upholstery & Springs | If you are looking at an upholstered piece of furniture, check to make sure that the springs on it, if any, have been tied by hand. If you can’t tell on your own, you should ask whoever is showing you the furniture.

Finish on Wooden Pieces | When you consider wooden furniture for your home, be sure to look at the finish carefully. A quality piece of furniture features a smooth finish with an even appearance. It doesn’t have any stickiness or cloudiness to it.

Furniture Weight | Solid pieces of furniture that are crafted with a hardwood frame should feel heavy. It shouldn’t be easy for you attempt to lift the piece from one corner. If the piece has been constructed well, you won’t hear squeaking or feel shifting of any kind when you move the furniture. The best test is to actually sit on the furniture.

Fabric | If you are purchasing an upholstered piece of furniture, run your hand along the fabric in search of imperfections. You shouldn’t be able to feel any if the piece has been made well. Moreover, the fabric should remain in place while you are running your hand along it. Look for interruptions in the pattern as well.

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Tips for Choosing the Perfect Chandelier

Mantoloking-18lowres1A chandelier often becomes the focal point of a room, entryway, or hallway, particularly when it is fully illuminated. The eyes are immediately drawn to its presence, making everything else in the room take second stage. Since your choice determines just how pleasing the chandelier’s appearance is, you’ll want to study your options carefully or speak with your interior designer about blending your selection in with the area’s existing style and ambiance.

Style Selection | To create the most successful presentation, your chandelier should match the existing style of décor and interior design. For example, if your home is currently featuring a traditional look, you’ll want to choose a lighting fixture with the same style features.

Functionality & Mood | Lighting is intended to provide one of three purposes – task, general, or mood illumination. Task lighting provides sufficient illumination to accomplish specific types of tasks. For example, hanging the fixture directly over the dining table is intended to enhance the ability to see what it is that you are eating, while a lighting fixture in a hallway is meant to provide general illumination that allows you to see sufficiently enough to travel safely through the area. Mood lighting, on the other hand, requires low illumination such as that which a dimmer control can provide.

Sizing Concerns | An oversized chandelier can look out of place, particularly in cramped quarters, such as small rooms or areas filled with an abundance of furnishings. On the other hand, large-sized chandeliers are suitable for open rooms with spacious width and length dimensions, particularly if the furniture in the room is also on the larger side.

Budgetary Concerns | Depending on the materials and design features utilized in their construction, chandeliers can be expensive. If you have any budgetary concerns, discuss them with your interior designer or take additional time to find a fixture that meets your needs.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Chandelier for Your Home | When you purchase a chandelier, you should attempt to match its style and size so that it blends well with the existing décor in the space. You select the fixture so that it provides the type of lighting needed for the area, while also sticking to your financial budget.

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Innovative Ways to Heat Your Home

Whilst the sun may be shining for now, sooner than later the cold weather will rear its frosty head once more and have us all reaching for the woolly jumpers and turning the dial on the thermostat. Believe it or not the summer is the perfect time to make small changes to your home to ensure it stays nice and toasty during those long winter months. Making the changes now will mean you’re ready once the clocks go back and it’s dark by about lunch time.

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New Radiator | Chances are your radiator is old and not producing heat in the same way it used to, plus there have been constant shifts in technology that mean that radiators are much better than they used to be (and they used to be pretty darn good). Getting an aluminium radiator from www.warmrooms.co.uk for example, is a great idea as they are made from a more lightweight material meaning they heat up much quicker and use a lot less water, so you’ll be feeling warmer, saving money, and stopping polar bears from drowning all at the same time – look at you go!

Tin Foil Trick | If buying a new radiator is a bit too much on the expensive side for you and you need a way to boost the power of your radiator without spending too much money, then you need to deploy the tin foil trick. Essentially, you place tin foil (or you can find specially designed, cost effective foil) behind the radiator and it will reflect any wasted heat that leaves through the back of the radiator and pushes it back out. It’s especially useful for radiators that are on external walls.

The Curtains | Curtains play two roles in keeping your house warm. By buying thick curtains you keep a lot of the heat from escaping when you close them at night, however when the sun is out you should make sure they’re open again. Even though the winter sun isn’t that hot, it still helps to heat the room up, meaning you can save money during the day by not having the heating up too high.

Chimney | You wouldn’t leave a window open when you’re heating your house so why do you leave a giant hole in the wall open? If your fireplace is purely decorative then it is sucking up a lot of your home’s heat and sharing it with the pigeons that are sat on your roof. You can buy a ‘chimney balloon’ that inflates and stops air from escaping (and shooting down into the house). Just remember not to light any fires whilst it’s up there, please.

Draught Excluders | I know you Nan had one and they look a bit silly, but they really make a difference and you don’t have to spend money on a proper one, just put down a towel or something (although it will look messy if you have guests around).

Direct the Heat | You need to channel the heat to where you want it. Make sure the doors are closed in rooms that aren’t being used and don’t put heavy pieces of furniture in front of the radiators as they will absorb all the heat. What you can also do is place a shelf above the radiator as that will force the heat outwards instead of straight up.

As you can see there are lots of cost-effective ways to heat your house in the cold winter months.

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Ways to Make Your Bedroom Feel Cooler This Summer

The hottest part of the year is upon us, and while the weather has still been a little bit unpredictable (causing mud baths at Glastonbury), hot, dry days are sure to be something we can look forward to in the coming weeks. Of course, one of the downsides of the beautiful sunny weather is that at night, it can be difficult to sleep. Since most UK homes don’t even entertain the idea of having air conditioning installed because the costs outweigh how many overly hot days we tend to get in a year, we don’t usually have this as an option to get our bedrooms down to a comfortable temperature for sleep. Also, if your bedroom has the type of windows that will open only a small amount using window actuators or by sliding, then you can’t simply throw the windows open wide to let in more fresh air. If you do throw open your windows because you have the right type of windows to do this, you then, of course, have to worry about bugs.

So, if you are not looking forward to trying to sleep on the hot, sweaty nights to come this summer, what can you do to make your bedroom more comfortable?

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Crisp, Light Linens | Some people prefer to throw off the covers altogether when it is really hot, but others feel like they can’t sleep without some form of cover over them. Whichever camp you fall into, you want linens on your bed that are not made of synthetic materials that are going to stop your skin breathing and make you sweat more. Even without a cover the sheet you sleep on top of should be made of a breathable cotton. Choose high thread count cottons if you prefer a smooth, satin-like feel and sheen, rather than synthetic satin style sheets. Also, use pillows filled with natural fibres like feathers rather than synthetic, non breathable foams. You’ll probably want to change your sheets more regularly at this time of year because you sweat at night, so buy a few sets you can switch between while one set is drying.

Fans | A ceiling fan is the best for circulating air in your bedroom, but if you don’t want to install one of these, standing fans placed around the room or desk style fans on surfaces can make a big difference. Try and position them so that they are moving around the fresh air from the window.

Remove Clutter | The more free space there is in your room, the airier it will feel, and fresh air from outside and air circulated by fans can move more easily. Push furniture close to your bed against the wall and consider moving things that create obstacles in your bedroom like laundry hampers, foot stools, lamps and floor cushions into other rooms for the hottest part of the year. The barer the room is, the cooler it will feel.

These are just a few ways to try and make your bedroom more comfortable through the hottest time of the year in the UK.

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Transforming an Open Living Room into One with a Traditional Feeling

Transforming an Open Living Room into One with a Traditional FeelingMany of today’s homes feature an open floor plan designed to enhance the spaciousness of the living area. While many homeowners appreciate the charm of an open-concept plan, the ability to enclose a living room to promote a formal atmosphere is one that provides distinct possibilities. Here is a look at a few strategies that interior designers might suggest for this purpose.

Furniture Selection | Custom-made bookcases and decorative wardrobes featuring double-sided functionality can be used to create man-made partitioning that is attractive on both sides of the living space. Alternatively, you can simply align two identical pieces of furniture back to back in order to create your own double-sided version of a bookcase or wardrobe.

Partitioning through Furniture Placement | In order to devise a sense of separation for a formal living room, you can place larger pieces of furniture strategically in the most open borders of the space. For example, if the entryway into the living room from another room is the widest area of openness, you might want to line several pieces of furniture on either side of the space, creating an open entranceway that is distinctively delineated.

Creating Delineation through Architectural Elements | For homeowners who prefer not to rely on furniture to devise a distinctive demarcation between a formal living room and the other areas of the space, architectural features provide a good useful option. Instead of creating a border with furniture, you might want to raise the floor of the living room and incorporate one or two steps at its entryway. Another option involves adding a couple of aesthetically pleasing pillars at the entranceway. Both strategies portray the living room as a separate space without blocking it from view.

Summing Up | If your home is based on an open-floor plan, the desire to alter its design presents unique challenges, particularly if you want to avoid structural modifications that create permanent changes. Simpler options do exist. For example, you can incorporate double-sided furniture to create an attractive border, align large pieces of furniture at the entryway, or build the floor taller to deliver a clear separation of the living room from other areas of the open floor plan.

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Enhancing a Room with Recessed Lighting

Enhancing a Room with Recessed Lighting

Wall washing at British Museum, London

In order to infuse a sense of spaciousness to a small-sized room, interior designers often take advantage of a technique referred to as wall washing. This particular strategy directs the illumination provided by lighting fixtures along the walls in order to create the illusion of added space. Here are a few tips to follow in order to enhance the results that you get.

Choose the Proper Housing Trim | In order to direct the illumination of recessed lighting onto the walls, you should choose trim that features a directional reflector and light scoop. The trim is designed to direct the illumination toward the walls in order to make the room appear larger in size than it actually is. If the room has a sloped ceiling, you also have the option to use recessed lighting that uses eyeball trim in the mounting process.

Choose the Correct Mounting Design | The placement of your lighting fixture determines how well it will achieve the desired effect of creating the illusion of spaciousness to a room. Follow this guideline:
.    Ceilings of 9 feet: mount the lights 3 to 4 feet in distance from the walls and allow for 2 to 3 foot of space in between each fixture
.    Ceilings less than 9 feet in height: mount the lights 2 to 3 feet away from the walls and allow for 3 to 4 foot of space from one fixture to the next

Choose an Optimal Bulb Type | If you have chosen a wall washed trim, one that includes a directional reflector and light scoop, the most common choice for a bulb is to use a CFL bulb, LED, or an incandescent A lamp. Defer to your interior designer on the selection of the bulbs for your recessed lighting, particularly if you are attempting to wash your walls in illumination. The packaging instructions should identify the preferred type of bulb as well as the maximum wattage that you should choose.

Optimizing the Effect | Ideally, you should combine additional types of lighting with your recessed fixtures in order to enhance the appearance of the room. For example, wall sconces and cove lighting can be illuminate dark corners.

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Ideas for Decorating an Elongated Corner Fireplace

Ideas for Decorating an Elongated Corner FireplaceWhat options do you have if you’d like to include a fireplace in your remodeling efforts for the living and dining areas, but the available space involves an L-shaped corner? Even if one wall is longer than the other, several decorating schemes can assist you in designing an attractive fireplace alcove with confidence.

Wall Mirrors | Enhancing the visual effect of an L-shaped fireplace is easily accomplished by mounting floor-to-ceiling mirrors across from the fireplace, adding depth and beauty to its appearance. Alternatively, you can arrange a grouping of mirrors, choosing different sizes, shapes, and heights for each of the walls of the fireplace.

Accent Pieces | Accent pieces are favorite choices for interior designer and with good reason. An accent piece can be used to draw attention to a focal point or to enhance the existing appearance of any design element. Place large floor vases, narrow chairs, or statues to place at either end of the fireplace for an added touch of drama and color.

Faux Mantels | If your fireplace design doesn’t include a mantel, you can use decorative shelves over each side of it. Choose materials that blend well with other design elements of the room. This option provides an excellent opportunity to choose decorative accents to place along your faux mantels.

Custom-Made Fireplace Doors | Offering necessary functionality and attractive styling, custom-made doors for the fireplace allow you to infuse a sense of your personality into the room. Speak with your interior designer about the options that you have when dealing with an L-shaped setting. Together, the two of you can come up with something clever that does exactly what you need it to do.
 
Creating Contrast | Since the fireplace already has its own sense of drama, you might just want to add a touch more. Consider contrasting color schemes for the walls above the fireplace or perhaps a textured treatment that makes use of bright colors in varying patterns of dark and light. Alternatively, if the room has limited access to natural light consider adding a glazed wall treatment to catch rays of light for a reflective sensation.

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How to Make the Most of Your Home Remodeling Efforts

How to Make the Most of Your Home Remodeling EffortsWhether it has been a few years since your last remodeling project or you need to make a few changes to accommodate a growing family or the need to care for aging parents, it’s important to follow a few strategies before and during your renovation efforts. Some of these tips require legwork while others involve being honest with your interior designer regarding your expectations.

Do Your Research | In order to get the most out of any remodeling that you plan to do, it is important for you to conduct some research on your own before contacting your interior designer. Doing so makes it easier for you to identify the design changes that you are interested in making within your home. Take a stroll through homes listed for sale, search floor plans on the Internet, or browse through interior design books for ideas.

Explain the Reasons behind Your Design Choices | Transparency with your interior designer is critical to achieving your goals regarding the transformation of your living space. Not only should you provide a list of the renovations that you want, but you should also indicate why you are making these changes. It is more than possible that your interior designer will have valuable suggestions to make regarding some of the modifications that you want to include. Use home design applications on your smart phone to help you with design decisions.

Specify Your Financial Commitment | Whether or not money is an issue, it is always a sound idea to describe your financial expectations with your designer. Doing so can help to identify potential materials for at least some of the renovations that you are considering. Ideally, you should place a certain amount of money aside just in case you go over budget. Renovating a home is often a project that experiences some fluidity in completion. It is more than possible that you will come up with additional changes that you wish to make.

Ask Questions | If your designer presents you with suggestions on changing some of your ideas, be sure to ask the reason behind them. Knowledgeable interior designers have vast experience to draw upon, and they might have valuable insights that can help to create a successful project and optimal functionality of the results.

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Blending a Living and Dining Space Effortlessly

Blending a Living and Dining Space EffortlesslyWhile open floor plans deliver a sweeping and airy ambiance that creates a sense of spaciousness, they can present challenges in furnishing schemes. Professionals with interior-design backgrounds have the experience needed to assess a space in order to optimize its presentation and attractiveness in styling. Here are a few ideas for you to consider before consulting your design professional.

Selection of Furniture Styles | Ideally, the furniture selected for both areas (living and dining) of the space should be complementary in styling. If the space is small, choosing pieces with reflective surfaces such as chrome and glass can enhance the potential for keeping the room bright and airy. While making choices, consider the wall and flooring colors and materials. For oversized spaces that require toning down, darker pieces do nicely to add a sense of rich warmth to the area.
You should also consider the height and width of the furniture that you select carefully since these elements break up the openness of the room. For example, you can opt for a loveseat and armchair rather than a long sofa. Not only do you diversify opportunities for placement but the narrower widths help to maintain a sense of capaciousness.

Optimizing Lighting Choices | Your selection of lighting fixtures presents the opportunity to define a space without creating physical borders. For example, an attractive chandelier set above the dining table clearly creates a visual hint that this area of the room has a unique purpose set apart from the other half of the room, which might be interspersed with wall sconces or table lamps. Be sure to discuss task and accent lighting options with your designer to enhance the attractiveness of the layout.

Accessorizing for Maximum Effect | Each decorative accent that is added to an open space can be utilized to enhance whatever element you are trying to create, including a sense of privacy or separation. Selecting different colors in your décor theme and wall coverings provides a distinctive appearance that provides an unmistakable sense of separation. Simply be sure to select colors that deliver a sense of balance between the two living spaces despite the obvious need to delineate a split in purpose.

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Dividing an Open Living and Dining Area without Building a Full-Scale Wall

Dividing an Open Living and Dining Area without Building a Full-Scale WallMany homeowners enjoy the spaciousness delivered through an open floor plan that excludes interior walls in favor of a continuous space unfettered by dividers that simply traverses from one area to the next. Nonetheless, the opportunity to embrace unique elements of design to provide a hint of separation while maintaining the capaciousness of the area is engagingly attractive. Here are a few ideas to discuss with your designer.

Incorporating a Banquette or Sofa as an Attractive Partition | Although banquettes are most often found along one wall of a room or in use as seating for a small table, this style of furniture can be used as a low divider set between two distinct types of living space. It’s important to choose a style and color that blends in with the rest of the furnishings being used in each area of the open space so as not to create too disruptive an interruption.
Banquettes are best suited for living spaces designed in a casual manner rather than a formal one. If you want to make a stronger statement with your partition, choose a full-sized sofa instead of a banquette. The taller height of its back should create a clear divider between the two living spaces.

Building a Half Wall with a Purpose in Mind | Since a full wall defeats the purpose of the open floor plan, why not consider building a half wall designed to act as a partition? You can use the wall to anchor a flat-screen television, stage decorative accents, or hold an array of trophies, books, plants, or photographs. The wall should be at least one-third of the height of the room to minimize the risk of creating an unseen obstacle.

Creating a Distinctive Separation with Columns | If you feel strongly about creating a division between the living and dining space without making either area look smaller, consider adding a full-height column to both ends of the half wall. While the columns create a clear impression that a new living space is being entered once you walk to the other side, the short height of the wall continues to allow illumination to pass from one room to the other.

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