Friday, December 23, 2011

Let me entertain you: Coasters

You must have this when you're having a party at home!

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Let me entertain you: Coasters

Make your holiday fete feel a bit more special while protecting household surfaces — after a couple of boozy eggnogs, party guests are liable to put their drinks anywhere — with Eco-friendly beverage coasters.

A very happy Monday-after-Thanksgiving and welcome to the third installment of "Let me entertain you," a new series of weekly posts that I’ll be running throughout this epically festive — and epically food-heavy — time of year. The topic? Holiday entertaining and the paraphernalia needed to make your gathering — whether it’s a traditional Turkey Day dinner with the extended family, a booze-heavy winter solstice shindig, or an intimate Christmahanakwanzaka brunch amongst friends — go off without a hitch. Naturally, the emphasis is on products that boast one or all of the following Eco-friendly attributes: a. handmade b. made from sustainable or recycled materials c. domestically manufactured or d. durable/made-to-last so in that they’ll be used not just this holiday season for many more seasons to come.

To complement last week's post on mess-minimizing reusable placemats and napkins, today I've wrangled up a few eye-catching coasters to help make cocktail-heavy holiday soirees a touch more civilized and add a bit of protective texture to household surfaces. Because really, there's nothing more frustrating than cleaning up the morning after to find eggnog rings gracing every single flat surface in your home. And while we're on the topic of libations ('tis the season!), be sure to check in next Monday as I'll be featuring wine and cocktail accoutrement.

Felt Coasters by Josh Jakus @ Branch ($18/string of 6)

Banded Wood Coasters by Pigeon Toe Ceramics @ Supermarket ($96/set of 4)

Toast It Coasters @ Paper Source ($11.95)

Recycled Glass Wine Coaster @ Terrain ($10)

Ferm Living Cork Coaster @ Velocity Art & Design ($21.95)

Bamboo Coasters @ Branch ($16/set of 4)

Newspaper Coasters @ MoMa Store ($10)

Hickory Coaster Set @ Terrain ($22)

Recycled Holiday Record Coasters @ Uncommon Goods ($22/set of 6)

Slate Beverage Coaster @ Brooklyn Slate Co. ($22/set of 4)

Sprig Recycled Leather Coaster by Shara Porter @ Supermarket ($6)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Contemporary Indoor Outdoor Furniture by Vondom - Vertex

Let's take a look at this cool design!

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Contemporary Indoor Outdoor Furniture by Vondom - Vertex

Karim Rashid has created this cool contemporary indoor outdoor furniture with amazing sculptural qualities - the Vertex Collection for Vondom. The design of this table set involves the connection of a series of triangular planes so that surfaces and shapes evolve to accommodate seating and gathering, with architectural flair. It’s ultra contemporary, visually striking and 100% recyclable. Plus, the material is perfectly resistant to the elements, so there’s no need to worry about the furniture if you decide to put them outside. See more of this indoor outdoor collection at Vondom.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertops

How to get your house the right kitchen Countertop? Let's read on...

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Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertops

Searching for the perfect surface for doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some pointers about the most popular countertop materials.

Tempting though it is to choose a countertop based on looks alone, a material's durability, maintenance and, of course, cost are also important factors to consider when making a selection for a kitchen remodel.

Find a good fit
Homeowners have to assess the way they live before settling on a countertop surface, says Jeff Cannata, past president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and president of Designer's Showcase Kitchens & Baths Inc. in Carol Stream, Ill. "If they have three kids and they're making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the countertops every day, they might not want to go with that white granite."

Countertop choices
The good news is if homeowners have their hearts set on a certain look, but the material just doesn't match with their lifestyle, odds are there's another material that does.

Granite, the top choice in countertops, is available in a variety of shades such as blacks, whites, greens, corals and beiges, and no two pieces are exactly the same. Granite is available in two finishes. A polished finish results in a shiny look and often darkens the appearance of the stone, while honing is soft and matte. Costs for granite depend on many variables, including color, finish and origin of the stone.

"If you pick a granite that's relatively easy to get, it could be affordable. If you pick a granite that I have imported from Zimbabwe, and [it] only ships once a year, that can be pretty expensive," Jeff says.

Other natural stone materials, like marble, limestone and soapstone, are softer than granite and require delicate use and greater care. All stone countertops must be sealed periodically.

Engineered stone countertops come in a wider variety of colors than natural stone countertops, are more durable and are a cinch to maintain. They're "just bulletproof," Jeff says. However, engineered stone won't save any money over granite: the two materials cost roughly the same.

Solid surface countertops have a lot of appeal. They come in countless colors, are seamless, resist stains and scratches can be buffed out. One word of caution, though: Hot pans can damage solid-surface countertops.

Concrete countertops, which can be completely customized with pigments, are gaining popularity. Concrete is available in several different finishes: trowel (smooth), ground (sanded to expose the sand aggregate) and pressed (a tool is used to reveal marblelike veining). Extreme or abrupt changes in temperature may cause concrete to warp or curl, damp sponges left on the counter can cause discoloration and acidic spills may etch the surface. To keep a concrete countertop looking its best, it's advisable to seal them it to four times per year and wax with a paste every two to three months.

Wood countertops, like butcher block, instantly warm up a kitchen. They are easy to clean and any scratches can be sanded out. Water damages butcher block quite easily, though, so wood countertops must be oiled frequently to seal the surface.

Laminate is the most affordable countertop material on the market and comes in an array of colors and designs. Laminate can scorch if a hot pan touches the surface and has a reputation for scratching easily. However, the product has made strides in scratch-resistance in recent years, Jeff says.

On the edge
Square edges are standard on most countertops, but decorative edges like radius, bullnose, bevel, egg and ogee — while a bit more expensive — are another way to customize a kitchen. Availability of edges varies based on countertop materials.

Mix and match
Can't decide on just one material? Then mix and match surfaces. In her designs, Sarah Ann Busby, owner of Sarah Busby Designs in Elk Rapids, Mich., often uses a different material on islands than the rest of the countertops to differentiate the space. Another option is to inset another material into a countertop for specific tasks. Butcher block is common for chopping as is marble for baking.

Before making a decision on countertop material, see the surface in person, whether that means visiting a showroom or viewing samples in-home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

20 Cheerful Nurseries To Inspire Your Baby's Room

Calling all Mums & Dads to be! Here you'll find inspiration for your Baby's room...

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20 Cheerful Nurseries To Inspire Your Baby's Room

Our list of 20 Cheerful Nurseries To Inspire Your Baby’s Room will help you consider a change in attitude and finally start the makeover you were dreaming about for some time now or will help you guide your searches for the perfect nursery that will comfort the most important person in your life. You need to know what you’re searching for when it comes to a nursery: a perfectly balanced color palette or a joyful mix of materials and textures? Will your crib be placed in the middle of the room or will it rest under a dreamy canopy? From details like the choice of whether buying organic baby bedding to which baby boy or baby girl nursery curtains should you choose, everything can be designed by a talented interior designer to make sure what you want is also what you need.

When the child will grow and learn to appreciate the surroundings, the memory of the first baby room will be responsible for many nice dreams. Some details can help create a stunning modern nursery where colors, patterns, textures and lines intertwine to shape the baby’s first memories about the first space he or she belonged to. Modern baby nurseries are not only fun to look at and spend time in, but they teach the child from early ages about the value of carefully planned, good designed spaces. Experiencing life in a carefully designed nursery could be the start of a beautiful friendship between your child and great interior design.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ultimate Relaxation: Beautiful Corner Whirlpools by Teuco

I believe this is what most of us would like to have in our bathroom!

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Ultimate Relaxation: Beautiful Corner Whirlpools by Teuco

We ran across these mesmerizing corner bathtubs designed by Teuco, which inspire ultimate comfort. Found in Trendir, the first two models we would like to present are particularly interesting, as they feature an interesting tub-shower combination. According to the designers, “one of the major advantages is the possibility of having the convenience of a shower function every day together with the comfort of a bathtub, without having to choose between the two since both functions are perfectly integrated. In addition, the design of the two new models is based on the compact size and offers more versatility, fitting in more easily in smaller bathrooms“. The ergonomic design of the models make them suited for various users, from children to the elderly. Because these models are all meant to adorn the corners of contemporary bathrooms, they take up less space than regular bathtubs or showers, meaning that they are suited for small homes as well. Find them appealing?

Tub-shower Combination, designed by Fabio Lenci

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tips for thoughtful holiday entertaining

Are you hosting a party or gathering this coming holiday? Read on to get some useful tips!

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Tips for thoughtful holiday entertaining

Toast the holidays with a festive and organic wintertime libation, and for the food devotees on your gift list, give and give again.

Though it may seem obvious, staying mindful of the small stuff during holiday meals and parties can make a huge difference in offsetting your environmental impact. Here are a few tips for entertaining without sacrificing your eco intentions or your friends' and family's expectations.

Don't overbuy
Studies show that Americans throw away about 1.3 pounds of food on average every day, so you can imagine how easily that could skyrocket this time of year. The solution is basic math. "If you're having a cocktail party, plan on six to eight hors d'oeuvres per guest; for a small dinner, you'll need six to eight ounces of protein per person; and for more than eight people, do a buffet," says Nicole Aloni, whose book, Secrets from a Caterer's Kitchen, has a handy food-quantity chart.

Trick your party-goers' eyes
"People want to see a lot of food even if they don't want to eat a lot of food," says Akasha Richmond, owner of Akasha restaurant in Culver City, Calif. Instead of making pies, for instance, whip up six- or eight-inch tarts. "That way," says Richmond, "people get to sample everything, and there's not as much waste."

Shop local, sustainable and organic
It's worth repeating: Buy sustainable seafood or humanely raised meat, or serve a great vegetarian recipe, and plan your holiday menu around that. Visit your local farmers market, or, if options are limited, check out to order once-endangered varieties of poultry and unique seasonal ingredients like Guajillo honey.

Use real silverware and cloth napkins
Not only is real cutlery more sustainable, it confers special-occasion status on your event. If you must use disposable, opt for good quality plastic ones you can use repeatedly, or choose biodegradable plates and cutlery made from bamboo or corn to reuse or recycle later.

Compost your leftovers
If despite your best efforts, you still have extra food scraps, start or add to your compost heap or indoor worm farm. Just be sure to avoid putting meat, bones or oily fats into the worm box, as they may emit odors and attract mice.

Give to food banks
Food is great, but donating cash can go even further toward helping your local hunger-relief organization. "Because we work directly with most of the major manufacturers, we're able to purchase food at drastically reduced prices," says Ross Fraser of America's Second Harvest, a nationwide network of more than 250 food banks.

Bag it
These days, there's a slew of reusable bags to take with you on grocery-shopping trips. Envirosax offers a bevy of colors and styles, and ChicoBag's carabiner-equipped totes clip easily to purses, backpacks and belt loops. And, if guests want to take home the extra desserts and goodies, opt for biodegradable doggie bags, like TreeCycle's recycled boxes or the Biodegradable Store's corn containers.

Dine by candlelight
Soy, vegetable-oil and pure beeswax candles are your best bets since they burn cooler — and thus longer — and don't contain paraffin, a petroleum product found in most conventional candles. Even if the energy you save can't be measured, hey, everyone looks better by candlelight.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

5 Tips for Childproofing Your Home

Take measures to protect your child from common dangers around the home. Here's some tips to childproof your home!

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5 Tips for Childproofing Your Home

When childproofing a home, areas of particular concern should be cabinets, appliances, electrical outlets and bookshelves. Here's what to do about those potential trouble spots:

1. Cabinets are the most important areas to secure, as they are often used to store cleaning products and other hazardous materials. Secure these by attaching latches to the doors and frames.

2. A bookcase can tip over, so use an anchor harness to secure it to the wall. Attach one end of the harness to a wall stud with a screw, and then cinch up the adjustable strap to snug the bookcase to the wall.

3. Secure refrigerator doors shut with an appliance latch. The latch mounts to the fridge with adhesive tabs. Clean the area where it will attach before sticking it in place.

4. Insert plastic protectors into all sockets that are within reach of young ones.

5. For keeping toddlers away from anything they shouldn't be exposed to, a baby gate is a must. To install, hold the gate in place where you want it and mark points on wall for mounting. The gate should be mounted to studs. If you can't find studs, use plastic anchors.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Decorating a Boy's Room With Multiple Colors

Do you want to know how to decorate your boy's bedroom or just give it a better look? Read on to get great ideas! =)

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Decorating a Boy's Room With Multiple Colors

Need ideas on how to decorate your boy's room? This article will give some tips and suggestions on how to decorate your little boy's room with many colors.
Things You'll Need

Picture frames
Spray paint
Throw rug
Window treatments

If your little boy is entering kindergarten and making statements about what he wishes to wear and eat, it's likely that he has outgrown his nursery's original Noah's Ark theme. Chances are, he has some ideas of his own about how he wants to decorate his room, but, unless you do not mind a SpongeBob SquarePants theme, a compromise needs to be made. While a themed room may seem charming, many times it can be very difficult to find pieces that fit a theme exactly. Instead, consider selecting two to three of your son's favorite colors and decorating around them.

Step 1
Determine which colors will be reflected in your son's room. Consider the effects of different colors when making your decision; for example, while a navy blue room may sound cool in theory, the dark color can make the room seem smaller than it already is. Additionally, consider the color's tone. Using the pure form of the color creates a bright appearance while combining the color with a complementary color will tone down the shade.

Step 2
Paint the room's walls in the primary color of your color scheme.

Step 3
Purchase a bedspread that contains the complimentary color(s) of the wall's color. Since the bed is the main furniture of the room, the bedspread will serve as a focal point and should be reflective of the theme. The bedspread does not need to be a solid color. Patterns bring in more coloring you can branch off with. Purchase sheets and pillowcases in tones that complement the bedspread's main color.

Step 4
Paint the dresser, desk or any chairs in the room. Use the wall color's complimentary color to create a bold effect. Use this color to paint a border around the room as well.

Step 5
Hang colorful art reflective of the boy's personality on the room's walls. If possible, bring him along when you make your selections. Look for prints that bring out the wall's color with a few brighter colors to highlight the print. Choose one or two larger prints and a few smaller prints.

Step 6
Purchase decorative picture frames and spray paint them to match the room's color theme.

Step 7
Position a colorful throw rug on the floor.

Step 8
Hang window treatments at the windows that match either the bedspread, the prints or bring in a third color found in the rug.

If the child does not find art he likes, give him a camera and have him takes pictures of things he loves. Blow these pictures up and hang them as prints.

Colors located across from one other on the color wheel are complementary colors; pair them together to create bold and interesting color combinations.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Color Trends: 2011

Ho ho ho... It's time to prepare for Christmas!

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Christmas Color Trends: 2011

There are some colors that are considered to be linked with Christmas, but the truth is that each season comes with a new color palette, and maybe this is something you would like to keep in mind when preparing the decorations for the holidays.

Silver and green
According to the specialists regarding trend, this year people should be thinking about having silver and a bright green mixture. The end result that you will have is a kind of frosted greenery that reflects the spirit of the season. You might be amazed how well the two colors work together.

Crimson and cream
Let’s face it: red and white have always been the colors of Christmas, but in this case it does matter what kind of hue we are referring to. The good thing about this color scheme is that you can keep the decorations simple with their help, but still have that warm and holiday-ish feeling.

It is just normal to be looking for items that sparkle and that are glittery, and this is why there is nothing better than to opt for golden decorations. Naturally you have to make sure that you won’t overdo, because the gold color has a huge impact, and at a moment it might be just too much.

This color is the most suitable for those people who have gotten bored with the classic colors, or simply they don’t like them. The good thing about turquoise is that it is a ‘happy’ color, so that it could make a room look brighter, and it also has an elegant touch to it.

Pink and metallic
The truth is that pink isn’t one of the traditional colors, but still it managed to make it to the list of the trendiest colors of the season. The color is the most suitable for the women who don’t mind showing their girlish and romantic side, or for the families who have a little girl among them.

One of the most elegant colors of the Christmas time is the blue. At this moment we are referring to the darker hue that works out with many other colors as well. You could match it with white, silver or gold, and for sure you will be happy with the end result. As you can see there are numerous color schemes to be looking for, so all you have to do is choose.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Hiring an Interior Designer is Not a Luxury

Hand your house over to Interior Designer if you're not confident you can do it... I believe they will create an one and only dream house for you!

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Why Hiring an Interior Designer is Not a Luxury

If you jump into things like I did, due to impatience or penny-pinching, you're almost guaranteed to waste money and time or end up with things you don't really love but can't afford to replace.

My wife and I bought our first and current house about four years ago. Not exactly a fixer-upper, the 1951 Ranch needed a cosmetic makeover — paint, new carpet, reclaiming hardwood floors, etc. We also wanted to strip away some of the trim and other trappings of bygone fashions that didn’t fit the spare midcentury aesthetic of the original house. And as with most first-time homeowners, money was not just an object; it was the object. Does any of this sound familiar?

The carpentry and other fix-up jobs were no problem for my construction experience, but decorating the empty house (not to mention the landscape) was another matter. Unlike the logical, start-to-finish nature of repair work, decorating is emotional and forever ongoing, and each decision supports, or detracts from, the next. My wife and I fortunately agree on most matters of taste, and if we had loads of cash we would have a field day decorating the house. But decorating on a tight budget is completely different. It’s painfully slow, and it’s fraught with missteps and cheap, “temporary” solutions. Four years into this project we’re far from having a well appointed house, but we’ve learned one invaluable lesson along the way: Design first, then decorate.

Finding Your Design
When I say “design” I’m not talking about generic ideas from a chirpy TV host in a toddler-size T-shirt. Creating your own design plan is all about taking a hard look at your house, thinking carefully about your style preferences, and deciding where you want to go with your home. Don't worry about how much it might cost in the end. The goal at the beginning is to establish your personal vision. What should your main rooms look like when you're done? From there, you can step back and decide how to get there from here.

More than anything, a design vision prevents you from common pitfalls, like buying furniture that doesn't really fit your scheme or lifestyle or painting rooms over and over again. When we were preparing our house for moving in, I made a snap decision to buy to coffee table from a friend's parents. We did need a coffee table; we just didn't need that coffee table. It was too big, it wasn't our style at all, and it was glass-topped and we had a three-year-old at the time. It also cost $150. Now it's gathering dust in our storage shed. Mistake #2 was accepting, storing and moving a free 800-pound piano without considering where it would go or whether it could be tuned (it's very old and well-worn). That too is in storage — on our back patio. It costs $200 to get rid of a piano.

Hiring a Pro
I'm a consummate do-it-yourselfer. I change the oil in our cars, I rent an auger to clear our sewer drain every spring, and I cut my own hair (but not always in that order). In the beginning, there was no way I was going to hire a professional designer to help us with something I could do myself. Then my wife bid on the services of a landscape designer at a fundraiser. This turned out to be the best money we've spent on the house so far.

It took the designer 1.5 hours (at $75/hr.) to turn our large and woefully neglected front and back yards into a manageable, affordable, do-it-yourself landscape that we could develop at any pace. This is all on paper, of course, but the plan is done. We buy a few nice plantings each year, filling in the pieces of the puzzle a bit at a time. Most importantly, the plan was created by someone who can visualize the finished product, which is very hard for most people to do, both indoors and, especially, outdoors. (I'm still paying in sweat for some of the mistakes I made with our landscape a few years ago…before we got the designer.)

Other Design Pros
Given the expense, hard work and slow progress of landscaping, I highly recommend working with a local landscape designer to help you devise a comprehensive plan for the outdoors. Another design pro I would likely use is a color consultant (like Kass Wilson of Wallstreat Studios, whose work you can see on Hometalk). For about $100-$150, a color expert will help you choose a paint color scheme for your entire house in one hour. That's less time and money than it takes to buy three cans of good paint.

If we ever get around to remodeling our kitchen, I will probably hire a kitchen designer at least for a brainstorming session. The fee for a consultation might be a few hundred bucks, about the cost of one cabinet — a negligible price to pay for knowing you have a good plan on a $5,000+ project.

I Repeat…
Whether you hire a designer or not, my advice to all new homeowners is to spend the time up front to map out your decorating goals, indoors and out. Of course, there will be some experimentation along the way, and you can always change your mind about specific style choices. But the important thing is to always have a good idea of where you're going with your decorating and other improvements. If you jump into things like I did, due to impatience or penny-pinching, you’re almost guaranteed to waste money and time or end up with things you don't really love but can't afford to replace.

Philip Schmidt