Tuesday, March 30, 2010

10 Design Tips for Decorating a Balcony

I love sitting at the balcony with a good book and a pot of tea Sunday mornings. It sets the mood for the rest of the week. It's like you're watching the rest of the world as they go about their day. Bliss. And it's about to get better with the tips below.

Article taken off http://landscaping.suite101.com

Condo and apartment balconies often go unused. Even worse, they end up as an extra storage space for bikes and cluttered junk rather than being used as an outdoor living space. But with a little creative planning and a little elbow grease a balcony can be turned into a beautiful outdoor paradise.

10 Design Tips for Decorating a Balcony

Gather some seating - A balcony can be seen as an extension of the living room. Adding a few key furniture pieces can make a balcony seem warm and inviting. It's important to consider the size of the balcony before purchasing patio furniture. If the balcony is small, choose a couple chairs and a small table. Bistro sets are perfect. Target offers a number of affordable bistro sets. Add some design flair and color with patterned, weather-resistant cushions. For larger balconies a patio table and umbrella makes for the perfect getaway. With comfortable seating balconies can easily become a great place for entertaining guests.

Add some greenery - A balcony is outdoors after all. Therefore it should look like the outdoors by bringing in some green. Plants are also the easiest way to decorate a dingy balcony. Planting pots work great for balconies because they are often design elements all on their own. If space on the ground is limited, then think hanging flower baskets and planter boxes on the balcony railings. These are perfect because they take up no actual space on the balcony itself and still add loads of color and greenery. Be sure to choose flowers that are appropriate to the amount of sun or shade that hits the balcony.

Lay outdoor flooring - Bring part of the living room outdoors. Outdoor carpeting is a great way to define a space and to detract from the cement balcony floors. Outdoor carpets come in a variety of colors, are inexpensive and can be custom cut to fit any size. Carpeting can make the balcony feel more inviting and allow kick off your shoes and relax.

Create mood lighting - If an electrical outlet is available on the balcony, stringing a set of party lights on the balcony railing is a great way of bringing light to the patio, allowing you to enjoy your balcony late into the evening. If an outlet is not available then candles also do the job effectively and inexpensively. Look for some decorative outdoor lanterns at your local garden center.

Plant an herb garden - It may not be possible to grow an entire vegetable garden from an apartment balcony but a small herb garden is certainly not out of the question. Dedicate a corner of the apartment to some small, decorated pots containing favorite herbs. This not only adds color to the balcony but also provides an enjoyable hobby and some delicious herbs for gourmet cooking.

Put up a privacy fence - If your balcony is not very private you might consider purchasing some privacy screening. Bamboo sheets can be purchased at your local garden or building center. They provide some well needed privacy and also work great in the overall design of an outdoor oasis. Even if you already have privacy walls, placing bamboo fencing against the existing brick or cement walls can completely transform the look of the balcony.

Bring art outdoors - Art doesn't have to stay in the living room, try bringing it outdoors as well. Look for weather-resistant, outdoor art pieces that can be hung on a balcony wall. There are a variety of metal and wooden wall art pieces that are meant for the outdoors and will add some style to the outdoor living space.

Add outdoor sculptures - If hanging art on the balcony walls is not permitted then think of art pieces that are freestanding, such as garden statues and structures. Obviously choose pieces that fit the size of the balcony. These are great for adding personality to a balcony and can easily be swapped in and out to keep the space looking fresh. A self-contained water fountain is another idea. The sound of running water provides a soothing atmosphere.

Hang some wind chimes - Wind chimes belong in any backyard or balcony. They are things of beauty, provide pleasing chimes, and also take up minimal space on a balcony. Bamboo wind chimes are quite popular as they produce a lower pitch and provide a more tropical feel to the balcony.

Grill it up - If allowed, purchase a small barbecue for the balcony. A barbecue can easily become the centerpiece of the balcony. It allows the balcony to become a place of gathering and entertaining with friends and family. Char-Broil's Patio Caddie is the perfect choice for the balcony as it takes of minimal space.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Japanese Touch

For those of us who collect trinkets from our travels around the world, sometimes we are at a loss as to how to display them when we reach home. I think it's a brilliant idea to incorporate these items into your home decor as shown in this article. That way, they won't end up collecting dust in a little corner of your storeroom.

Article taken off rentaldecorating.com

Japanese Style - Decorating with Asian Colors, Furnishings & Designs

Color: Japanese interiors generally use neutral, natural colors, to provide a simple background. Interiors emphasize architecture, and as a result, provide a sense of geometric order. In addition, natural colors minimize a feeling of clutter, which is also essential to eastern design and its philosophy of simplicity. When a statement is made in a Japanese interior, it is usually through a single strong exclamation of color or a predominant texture.

Eastern art colors are pure. Unlike western art, which mixes color and refines sketches, eastern art is original. This means the initial color and/or brush stroke is the final result. Western art is often complex, whereas eastern art is simple, strong, and graphic

Texture & Contrast:
Some Japanese decorating textures and materials that immediately come to mind are cedar, rice paper, maple, bamboo, stone, and woven wicker. One might also think of textured silk, tatami floor mats, and the elaborate needlework of kimonos and obi’s.
Japanese culture seeks to balance opposites in all aspects of life (yin and yang), and interiors are no exception. Interior finishes can be highly opposing and contrasting, and yet achieve balance. Examples are, highly polished floors with heavily textured mats, a lacquered box displayed on top of a rough wooden table, or white pebbles on a polished black granite ledge around a tub.

Western homes typically use an object on the perimeter as a focal point, such as a fireplace, a painting, or an elaborate window treatment. Eastern interiors, on the other hand, focus on a central object, such as a hearth (irori), a garden, an altar, or an elaborate still life composition. Japanese homes also commonly have display alcoves, called tokonoma. Objects placed in these alcoves generate two types of feelings.

(1) a natural or organic feel, by displaying an odd number of objects together

(2) an ordered and disciplined environment by using an even quantity. For example, three calligraphy brushes in a cup would be organic, and four pebbles on a dish would be disciplined.

Japanese displays are fluid. In other words, a Japanese alcove may display a scroll one-week, and a set of pots the next. Eastern cultures tend to store and rotate objects. (This is probably for two reasons; (1) limited space, and, (2) visual pollution, outside the home, as the population increases.) Japanese displays are a reflection of the season, celebration, or honored guest. This minimal approach focuses on the quality and craftsmanship.

Instead of rotating objects, westerners tend to "display it all." (I guess its because they we’re afraid someone whose given us something may come over and we won’t have it out?) A westerner would also tend to add to a display to create a balance, whereas an easterner would create harmony by taking away. To easterners, less is more, order is harmony, and there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Japanese furniture tends to be minimal and multi-functional. For example a futon is used for sitting and sleeping, or serving trays double as place settings. To give ideas on how you might use Japanese furnishings or artifacts in your home, I would like to go onto the next topic, which is about antiques. (Reproductions of these objects can be found at reasonable prices, too.)

*Note: For ideas about how to combine western furnishings, and eastern elements, please see the first book I have listed below.

Antiques & Reproductions
Here are some classic oriental objects, and interesting applications, one might use to add eastern influences to the home. Please consult the second book I have listed below for more ideas.

A hibachi: A hibachi, in the true sense, is not a small tabletop grill as the western world defines it. It is a finely crafted, portable fireplace, used in old homes and shops to provide heat, warm sake, and boil water for tea. It was once also the emotional center and gathering place for family friends. Original hibachis were ash receptacles in low wooden boxes. They were also made from ceramics, lacquer, rattan and metal. Large hibachis can be used as display boxes, or bases for end tables. Smaller hibachis, which were once hand warmers, are now champagne buckets or flower holders.

Kimonos: A kimono is to a Japanese artist, as a canvas is to a western painter. Wedding kimonos and fans are especially decorative and valuable. Kimonos can be displayed in a number of locations in the home by hanging them on clothing stands or decorative rods.

Obis: An obi is a wide sash worn with a kimono. Obi’s make excellent table runners, or can be hung in a group, behind a bed, to create a headboard.

Tenigui: These are rectangular cloths, which were once used as headbands, now function as placemats.

Keyaki: This is an antique door that could be used for a desk or coffee table top.
Sake Kegs double as planters, end tables, and lamp bases, depending on their size.
Japanese clothing stands can be used as towel racks.

Japanese kites: They make whimsical shower curtains, and ceiling or wall decorations for a children’s rooms. Smaller kites can also be used to make pillows.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Arranging Wall Photos

So you have a group of photos but you're not sure how to arrange them on your wall without looking haphazard. Here are some great tips!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Small Furnishings, Big Difference

Certain furniture pieces can make the whole space look more complete. My favourite is a folding screen - it conceals, beautify and acts partitions all at the same time!

Article taken off www.styleathome.com

Design lesson: 7 smart pieces

When investing in your home, look to multi-tasking pieces of furniture to bridge the gap between decorative and functional with ease.

Your room is nearly finished, but when you look around, something seems to be missing. A versatile furniture item just might fill the void. Each of the options here promises flexible serviceability in a range of styles and price points. When investing in your home, look to these multi-tasking pieces to bridge the gap between decorative and functional with ease.

1 Armoire
Graceful proportions and strong vertical lines make the hardworking armoire an ideal purchase. Highly adaptable, it provides serious storage as well as a focal point. Here's where and how to use one.
• In the living room: Hide electronics or stock a bar.
• In the dining room: Keep dishes and stemware at hand.
• In the bedroom: Store bulky sweaters or increase hanging space.
• In the kitchen: Create an instant pantry.
• In the bathroom: Stow towels and linens out of sight.

2 Daybed
A multi-purpose alternative to the sofa, an upholstered daybed offers an oasis of relaxed style. In a small bedroom or apartment, it's a space-smart necessity, providing both daytime seating and night time sleeping. And when positioned in the centre of an open-concept space and piled with decorative toss cushions, a daybed can be a chic way to delineate the living and dining areas without blocking views.

3 Chest of drawers
A sensational chest of drawers can suit any purpose -- from storing linens in a hallway to baby clothes in a nursery to tableware in a dining room. With some modifications, a chest of drawers can also be transformed into a sophisticated bathroom vanity.

4 Bench
Consider using a bench as a simple space-saving alternative to dining chairs or as an additional perch in a living room or entrance hall. When space is limited, a backless piece offers a convenient surface at the foot of a bed. Layer a bench under a console table to create some visual depth and to pull out as needed for occasional seating.

5 Ottoman
Place an ottoman infront of an infrequently used chair to turn it into a desired destination for reading or watching TV. But wait -- this flexible piece of furniture is not just for tender tootsies. A generously proportioned one offers extra seating, and some provide storage. Rather than the standard hall table in an entrance, go for a round ottoman and watch your guests gather and linger.

6 Folding screen
The versatile folding screen stylishly fills a purposeless corner, divides an open-concept space and hides storage in nearly any room. Use a screen to offer a sense of privacy to an overnight guest sleeping on the pullout sofa in the living room. When criss-crossed with lengths of ribbons, an upholstered folding screen can be transformed into a unique display board for invitations and family photographs.

7 Console table
Add extra style and loads of practicality by including a console table in your decorating plans. Tuck a console table behind a sofa to hold a lamp and reading material, or in the entranceway, ready to capture keys and handbags at day's end.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting Rid of Scratches on Furniture Glass

Ever heard of the old wife's remedy of putting toothpaste on your pimple to subside it? Don't! You will just end up aggravating it. But the toothpaste does have another use another use. Read on!

Article taken off doityourself.com

How to Remove Scratches from Furniture Glass

It’s pretty inevitable that, sooner or later, your furniture glass will become scratched. It’s almost impossible to avoid cosmetic damage forever but it’s still incredibly annoying when it happens and that can spoil the lovely look of a favorite piece of furniture. However, in most cases you can rub out the scratch as long as it’s not too deep. In instances of heavy damage, say if the scratch is deeper than 0.004 inches, you’ll need to have a professional polish it out for you.

You Will Need

Tooth whitening toothpaste or powder
Soft cloths
Hand-held buffer
Sheepskin buffing pad
Glass cleaner
Step #1 - Preparing the Glass

If possible, remove the glass from the piece of furniture and put it on a surface where it’s fully supported. If you can’t do that, remember to be very careful throughout the procedure and not exert too much pressure on the glass.

Clean the area around the scratch thoroughly with glass cleaner and a soft cloth to remove all marks and grease.

Step #2 - Rubbing Out the Scratch

Place some of the tooth whitening toothpaste onto a clean soft cloth and rub around the scratch in a circular manner. If you’re using tooth powder, rub it into the scratch and then begin using the cloth. The toothpaste or powder contains a mild abrasive that will slowly rub out the scratch. Take your time, being careful not to push down too hard.

Once you have a layer of toothpaste on the glass, begin gently using the hand-held buffer with a clean sheepskin buffing pad. Again, don’t exert any heavy pressure. Simply let the powder or paste do the work for you. After a few minutes, stop and clean the area with a soft cloth and glass cleaner.

If the scratch is still visible, repeat the procedure.

Step #3 - If Toothpaste Doesn’t Work

If toothpaste doesn’t polish out the scratch, you do have other alternatives. Jeweler’s rouge contains a slightly harsher abrasive so it needs to be used carefully. Apply as you would with the tooth powder, rubbing gently in a circular motion around the scratch. After a few minutes clean the area and inspect.

Step #4 - Other Abrasives

There are other abrasives you can try for rubbing out the scratch. Brasso, which is a metal polish, can work on glass as well. You can also make up your own paste using iron oxide, water and glycerine. You can find iron oxide in the jewelry section of craft stores. You can try glass polishing compound too, although it’s not strictly made for rubbing out scratches. Purchase it at you local glass store.

In all cases, be very careful using these items. Don’t rush the task and just take your time and rub gently. If the glass clouds as you’re rubbing, stop immediately or you’ll end up ruining the furniture glass top.

Step #5 - Finishing the Job

When you’ve rubbed out the scratch, you still need to clean the glass again. You can use an ordinary glass cleaner but to ensure you remove all the paste or powder, try using a vinegar-based cleaner which penetrates deeper and is more effective. If you’ve removed the glass from the furniture, fit it back in carefully holding it by the edges to avoid finger smudges.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Decorating Baby Room on a Budget

It's easy to be overcome with excitement when doing up your baby room, but remember that your baby doesn't know or appreciate the difference between designer and non-designer furniture. What matters most is that the room is tastefully done, comfortable and SAFE.

Article taken off About.com

Decorate a Baby's Room on a Budget

You can't walk through a baby store or home center without seeing all the amazing and wonderful things that parents-to-be just must have before the new baby arrives. Movie stars' nurseries are displayed in magazines for all to see and you're wondering how you'll be able to afford an adorable baby's room for your little one.
Everything is very expensive, layettes are custom-made and walls are painted with one-of-a-kind murals. The list of must-haves is endless from clothes to furniture, and accessories to toys. It's enough to break any budget.

I'm here to tell you to resist the temptation to think that your baby has to have everything new. Most of the things will be used for a very short time. Save your money for things that will last longer. And use your personal talents to create an one-of-a-kind nursery for your little one.

There are ways to find everything you'll really need, and some of the things you really want, and still have money left over. You'll have fun finding things and realize that you've been very sensible about your new baby's gear.

Above all, think safety.

Though you don't need to do everything before the baby arrives, it's a good idea to have a list of safety issues that need to be addressed when you get your baby gear. About.com's Guide to Baby Products, Heather Corley, offers great tips on buying baby cribs, baby strollers, high chairs, and car seats. Whether you buy the most expensive products or borrow from friends, you should not ignore current safety regulations. Older items, borrowed or picked up at garage sales, might not meet current safety standards. They are no bargain. Pass them up and get items that are safe for your little one.

You really can furnish a beautiful baby's room on a small budget.

Use Hand-Me-Downs

The best way to save money on nursery furnishings is to accept gifts from other new mothers. Many parents are happy to pass along things that their baby has outgrown or doesn't need anymore. If you have a friend or relative with a baby 3 to 6 months older than yours, they'll be the perfect one to ask. Things will be up to date and their child will have no use for the items. An infant bassinette or cradle is useful for only about 3 months. After that, their baby will be in a crib.

Next, if things are not offered as gifts, ask to borrow the main items you'll need. You might have a friend with a 3 year old who doesn't need the crib anymore. They'll be particularly happy to have you store the crib for a few years or until they need it again.

Lots of people have baby items that they just don't know how to get rid of. They might not be ready to totally give them away, or they might think they'll use the items again. Maybe they don't want to go to the trouble of having a garage sale. Ask them to pass the items your way. You'll be able to make good use of them.

Buy Used

Garage sales, flea markets, and consignment stores are a great place to buy slightly-used pieces. You'll be able to save a lot of money over new retail and maybe even have higher quality than you'd get otherwise.

You can often negotiate prices to fit into your budget. Because most people do buy new baby items, they're often little used and near-new.

Don't just look at baby items. You might see a great chest of drawers or an antique rocking chair that would be perfect for the nursery. Look at the basic structure and stability of the piece. You can always refinish or paint it to go in your particular space.

Remember to look for clean, practical clothes and toys. Most will be only slightly used, as children outgrow things so quickly.

It's really fun to plan a new baby's nursery, but it's a good idea to think long-term. Here are some things to think about as you plan your decorating:
Set a Budget and Stick to It

Be realistic and decide what you really need. It's fun to shop for all those adorable little things, but you really won't need most of the stuff. If you are committed to a budget, you'll be able to resist buying everything on the store shelves.

Read About.com's Guide to Baby Products list of basic baby needs and get only what you really need.

Make Choices for Now and Later

As you plan the color scheme for your baby's nursery, resist the temptation to do traditional baby pink or blue. Try to choose a color schem (or at least main color) that will lat 5 to 10 years, through your new baby's early years. A soft butter yellow, soft leaf greens, and sky blues can span the years well.

If you're set on a real baby room, even an absolute novice can hang a darling wallpaper border of cute teddies or baby animals. You can easily remove the wallpaper border when your child is ready for a more grown-up decorating scheme.

Do It Yourself

A baby will not judge your choice or your talent, so the nursery is a perfect place to build your skills of painting, basic woodworking, and sewing. Be creative! Be different! You'll be able to save tons of money and even discover some hidden talents.

Paint your hand-me-down furniture in fun colors and try some hand-painted designs. Paint patterns around the wall or on furniture with stencils. Browse these theme ideas for baby girls or baby boys rooms for starters.

Use charming or cute sheets, bought from a discount store, to sew window treatments, a crib skirt, chair cover, or a baby blanket. Use pieces of board, sanded and painted, for wall shelves. Look at pictures and see what you can do for yourself. You'll be amazed!

During the first few years of a baby's life, you don't really need a swing, johnny jump-up, buggy, stroller, walker, jogger, bassinette, cradle, crib, travel crib, playpen, car seat, carrier, and doubles of everything for grandma's and grandpa's house. You'll use each thing very rarely and then have to store it when the baby grows out of it. Decide what pieces are essential.