Friday, February 25, 2011

Eco-Friendly Bathroom Makeover

The York family, along with host Kahi Lee, are on the path to updating their bathroom and lowering their utility costs, all while doing right by mother nature.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Choose the Right Style Curtain Rod

Choose the right style of curtain rod by picking a rod based on the color, the weight of the curtain and thickness of the fabric.

How to Choose the Right Style Curtain Rod

Five Interior Design Tips for Making Your Foyer More Welcoming

Welcome to the foyer!

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Five Interior Design Tips for Making Your Foyer More Welcoming

How do you feel when you enter your home? Is it relaxing and inviting? A little bit elegant and understated? Is it dark and dramatic offering a glimpse of Gatsbyesque cocktail parties? Or is it more practical to suit the dog and the kids? Did you do it yourself or have the help of an interior designer?

Entries and foyers are all about first impressions, a chance to glimpse the homeowner’s unique style and taste, an anticipation of what lies beyond. They are a great place to make a wow statement while harmonizing with the rest of your home’s interior design.

1. First you must consider Function. Where will you put your keys and the mail? A lovely console can solve this problem. Do you or your guests need a spot to sit while taking off their boots? Be sure to add an unusual chair or bench. Ideally, your Foyer will have a closet for hanging your guests’ coats. Of course an umbrella stand is always a great addition. If you are fortunate enough to have a mud room, you can skip the spot for the boots and just focus on making your entryway a dynamic reflection of you.

How do you feel when you enter your home? Is it relaxing and inviting? A little bit elegant and understated? Is it dark and dramatic offering a glimpse of Gatsbyesque cocktail parties? Or is it more practical to suit the dog and the kids? Did you do it yourself or have the help of an interior designer?

Entries and foyers are all about first impressions, a chance to glimpse the homeowner’s unique style and taste, an anticipation of what lies beyond. They are a great place to make a wow statement while harmonizing with the rest of your home’s interior design.

I love how this interior designer incorporated a bowl for keys, a mirror to check your lipstick, a lamp for that much-needed light and ottomans that can be pulled out to put on your shoes. This is a great use of a small space and also warm and inviting. I want to have coffee with the person who lives here – don’t you?

2. Make it wow with color or pattern. A bright paint or wallpaper with amazing texture can show off your fun side. Entryways tend to be small and can be little jewel box statements. You can get much more creative and daring in your Foyer.

I love the black chest for storage against the metallic patterned wallpaper and how the shape of the mirror and the front of the chest pick up on the repeating image in the wallpaper.

More amazing trellis wallpaper but done a whole different way. I love the cheeky bright yellow stools under the sleek mirrored console table. This could be a busy look, but the interior designer has paired the lamps and the stools to give it a sense of harmony and timelessness.

3. Display an amazing piece of artwork or collection. Or if your space is narrow and you want to open it up, add a large mirror. Not only will it widen the room, it will help reflect the light. Always add a beautiful vase of fresh-cut flowers – they smell wonderful, add a fresh element to the room and are a great way to get a splash of color.

This is the Foyer in my own home, which is a center hall colonial. I picked up the beautiful Chinese painting of cherry blossoms in my travels through Shanghai. The collection of wood carvings were my Great Aunt Mabel’s. She was an avid traveler and collector – surely it runs through my blood. If you look closely you can tell that the wood carvings are from various church pews and doors. They are so unique. I love my antique altar table underneath.

Yes, we do have a mud room so my Foyer is all about the relaxed elegance look I favor. I will say that if I could do it all over again, I would buy a home that could be more contemporary. But I believe that your furnishings should complement the architecture of your home, as well as highlight your unique personality. I am in the process of adding an occasional objet d’art or the perfect modern lucite table to freshen the vibe in my home.

4. Make sure you have great lighting. A combination of overhead, accent lighting for that fantastic painting or sculpture, as well as even a lamp on a console is best. It’s so important to have lighting for the stairs and any dark corners in your hallways.

I love how Kelly Hoppen has used practical lighting along the floor to such dramatic effect. The lighting and the sunlight streaming in the window at the end of the hall draws me in and makes me want to find out what lies beyond.

5. Creating a sense of entry. What if you don’t have an actual defined entry way or foyer? My Fairfield client’s entry is a straight shot into their open living space. We plan to add a sconce by the front door and a small console table to differentiate the entry space from the dining area. But there are so many options from bookshelves and screens to fabrics to even using lighting to differentiate a space.

This staging company used a pair of open shelved bookcases to create a sense of entry. I love the red door.

These LED lighted organza curtains would create a sense of drama and mystery when separating a Dining Room from a Foyer.

Speaking of light, imagine a series of sleek floor lamps dividing your living space from your front entry. That’s a statement!

Or the unusual Algues curtain from the Bouroullec Brothers.

Finally, a console table can divide the space and provide storage on both sides. This would be perfect to divide a Foyer from a Dining Room.

Monday, February 21, 2011

10 surprising places where germs lurk

You're 100 times more likely to catch a cold flying than on the ground. Who would've known?

10 Surprising Places Where Germs Lurk

Is there a more potent symbol of purity than the fluffy white snowflake, wafting from heaven and landing — ping! — on the tip of your tongue?

Well, along comes the journal Science to spoil the fun, noting that bacteria called Pseudomonas syringae are lurking at the dark heart of many an earthbound crystal of frozen water. And if Frosty the Snowman is a target, what chance do the rest of us have?

A pretty good one, actually — if you make note of the places where the bugs lie and swat them before they can do harm. Here's an updated to-disinfect list for all the surprising places (and people) contagion clings to:

Your vacuum cleaner
The threat: Researchers at the University of Arizona recently found that 50 percent of the vacuum brushes they tested contained fecal bacteria, including 13 percent with E. coli, and all were packing mold. Vacuuming can transfer the germs from contaminated surfaces to uncontaminated ones (think kitchen to living room).
The solution: Spray the brush with a disinfectant after every use — traces of bacteria can survive as long as 5 days inside the vacuum after you empty the dirt. And disposable-bag vacuums promote more bacterial growth, according to the study, so buy the bagless variety.

Your weight-lifting gloves
The threat: A 2004 Japanese study found that staph bacteria bind strongly to polyester, which is used in many gloves. And yes, that includes MRSA bacteria, which lurk wherever jocks gather. You grab the bar, grunt a weight, wipe your eyes, nose, or mouth, and the bacteria are in.

The solution: Ditch the gloves, and not just to ditch the germs: Hitting the weights with bare hands will strengthen your grip and forearms, says the Men's Health Muscle Guy, Mike Mejia. If your gym doesn't keep disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy, insist that it start doing so.

The grocery cart
The threat: The handles of almost two-thirds of shopping carts tested in a 2007 University of Arizona study were contaminated with fecal bacteria. The carts had even more of these bacteria than the average public bathroom has.

The solution: Swab the handle with a disinfectant wipe before grabbing hold — stores are starting to provide them, so look around. And skip the free food samples, which are nothing but communal hand-to-germ-to-mouth zones. Finally, bag unpackaged items, like fruits and vegetables, before placing them in your fecal-matter carrier. Your cart, that is.

Gym equipment
The threat: A 2006 study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found rhinoviruses (instigators of the common cold) on 63 percent of the gym equipment at the fitness centers they tested. Researchers also discovered that weight equipment was contaminated significantly more often than aerobic equipment (73 percent versus 51 percent). Even worse, the study found that disinfecting the equipment twice a day didn't do anything to lower the virus count.

The solution: Avoid touching your face between sets, since most colds are transmitted through hand-to-nose contact. And make sure to pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your gym bag.

The restaurant menu
The threat: Ever see anybody wash a menu? We didn't think so. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology reports that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular joint, hundreds of people could be passing their germs on to you.

The solution: Never let the menu touch your plate or silverware as you ponder the wine list, and wash your hands after you order. But how do you escape the bathroom without touching the door handle? Palm a spare paper towel after you wash up, and then use it to grab the handle. Execute this trick properly and nobody needs to know how much you fear germs.

The flight attendant
The threat: Flight attendants are exposed to dozens of sniffling and coughing passengers and the surfaces they touch. When attendants need a pee break, they head into the same latrine you use. Now consider that when Charles Gerba, Ph.D., co-author of "The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu," tested commercial-jet bathrooms, he found that surfaces from faucets to doorknobs were contaminated with E. coli.

Given all that germ exposure, it's no surprise that the Journal of Environmental Health Research recently revealed that you're 100 times as likely to catch a cold while flying than on the ground.

The solution: Pack a green-tea pill. In a 2007 University of Florida study, people who took a 450-milligram green-tea supplement twice a day for 3 months had a third fewer days of cold symptoms. Try Immune Guard ($30 for 60 pills,, the brand used in the study.

Your bed
The threat: More than 84 percent of beds in U.S. homes host dust mites. These microscopic critters live in your sheets and feed on your dead skin, and their fecal matter and corpses contribute to asthma and allergies.

The solution: Don't make your bed. A study from London's Kingston University found that dust mites need humidity levels above 50 percent to survive. And while they can't live in the arid conditions of an unmade bed, a made bed traps the moisture they need to thrive. Mount an air attack, too. Try bundling a dehumidifier with an oscillating fan for a two-pronged moisture eliminator.

The lemon wedge in your drink
The threat: In a 2007 study from the Journal of Environmental Health, nearly 70 percent of the lemon wedges smashed onto restaurant glasses contained disease-causing microbes. Researchers ordered drinks at 21 different restaurants, securing 76 lemons. Testing revealed 25 different microorganisms lingering on the lemons, including E. coli and other fecal bacteria.

The solution: Tell the waiter you prefer your drink sans fruit. Why risk it?

Your contact-lens case

The threat: In a 2007 Chinese study, 34 percent of contact-lens cases tested were found to be crawling with germs like Serratia and Staphylococcus aureus. These microorganisms can cause keratitis, an inflammatory eye disease that can damage the cornea and lead to blindness.

The solution: Dump the used solution and thoroughly rinse your case in hot water every day, and replace your lens case at least every 3 months. And buy a new bottle of solution every other month, even if you haven't used it all: A separate Chinese study discovered that multipurpose solutions lose most of their germ-fighting power after 2 months.

Your shower curtain
The threat: The soap scum hanging out on your curtain is more than just unsightly. A study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that vinyl shower curtains are microbe meccas, breeding potential pathogens, such as infection-causing Sphingomonas and Methylobacterium. Plus, the force of the shower spray will make germs take flight, says the study author, Norman Pace, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The solution: Hang a fabric shower curtain from the rod. It will still harbor bacteria, but it's much easier to clean than scrubbing down a vinyl curtain. Just toss it in the washer, and use the hottest water the fabric can handle. Pace washes his shower curtain once a month but advises anyone with a weakened immune system (that's you if you're highly stressed or battling a disease) to do so more frequently.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

5 Simple Home Feng Shui Tips For Wealth

More Feng Shui tips for the new year!

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Interior decorating: 5 simple home feng shui tips for wealth


1. Water forces. Moving water is one way in which to bring prosperity and good luck to one’s home. It is believed that the sound and motion of gurgling water activates chi. It also adds humidity to a room and helps to balance. Moving water should enhance anything that has felt stagnant for some time. Water fountains should be picked according to the size of your home and to a style that fits your d├ęcor. It should also incorporate materials, shapes, and colors of the element energy that you would like in that space. If you place a water fountain by your front door, it should flow towards your door and not away from it, as you want the prosperity to come to you, not away from you. Aquariums can also be used for water flow. These should also be placed by the door. It is best if you combine eight orange fish and one black fish, or eight black and one gold. The one opposite colored fish is known to take away all of the negative energy. You can also add nine coins to the tank. Make sure to keep the tank very clean. If one of the fish die, it should be replaced immediately with a larger and more expensive fish.

2. Wealth Vases. These vases come in blue and white and have symbols around the side as well as on the lid. Keeping a wealth vase is a well known Chinese tradition, where the vase is passed down from generation to generation. It should be hidden away in a cupboard, and once it is closed it should never be opened. The only time it can be taken out is on the first day of the Chinese New Year. On this day it should be dusted, and opened in order for good wealth to enter.

3. Trees. Wealth can also be represented by the colors red and green. By placing trees or plants in your home, it will help the energy to flow. Always keep the tree dusted, as the pores in the tree should remain open, which allows the chi to flow. You may also want to put red flowers in your office or living room in order to help the chi for wealth.

4. Objects in the chi corner can also help improve wealth. One of these is wind chimes or fish mobiles. Another is bowls on the table with fresh produce. It should look as though there is a lot of produce. You may also wish to place a mirror facing the dining room table. This makes it look as though there is twice as much.

5. Plumbing. All of the plumbing in your household should be in excellent order. They say that for every drop of water wasted, it is also a waste of money. You should also keep the drains in your home covered. If you don’t, it is like watching your money drain away.

The energy that is used for wealth can increase one’s abundance drastically. Not only must the energy of the home or office be met, but the energy of the person must also remain positive, especially when they are placing the chi objects around their home.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lucky Bamboo For Feng Shui

Try growing for more luck this Year Of The Rabbit!

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Lucky bamboo plants for decoration and luck – The Feng Shui Effect

Lucky bamboo plants are the best small decoration plants that you can have for your table, small windows and even some hanging style decorations. The plus side is that they need little care also need very little water.

The word lucky bamboo has been associated with them for long but the fact is that these are not originally from the bamboo family in a true botanical sense. The botanical name is Dracedena sanderiana and it is part of the lily family of plants. They look like miniature bamboo stems and hence the name lucky bamboo.

In the Chinese culture these are known as very lucky plants and that is primarily because of the practice of Feng Shui. According to the Feng Shui you need to have positive energy and balance in a room and these lucky bamboo plants are supposed to provide this positive energy. This is known as the lively qi in the Chinese culture.

The plus side why everyone loves lucky bamboo is the ease as far as the maintenance is concerned. You just need some sunlight and a small amount of water for the plants. In fact if you want the plant to have a curve then you can have a single source of sunlight in the room and the plant will start bending towards to it. After a few days you can change the source of light to make sure that the plant bends towards it and that way you will have a proper curve to the plant.

As for the water make sure that you fill in the same amount of water every time because the roots start growing from the water level and below. If any of the stalks start to show any sort of yellowish color then immediately remove those stalks so that it does not impact any other plant.

The auspicious number of stalks accordingly to Feng Shui is 8. So if you are wondering to get bunch of stalks and not a single stalk the go for the set of eight stalks. Again make sure that you have the correct vase size for holding the plant easily. In fact each number of stalks has a different meaning for example one stalk means simple and great luck. Tow stalks signify a happy relationship and a happy love life.