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Archive for the ‘How To & DIY Furniture’ Category

Hotel Chic for Your Bathroom

Friday, December 17th, 2010

One of the pleasures of a weekend getaway in a high-end resort or a boutique hotel is the room and ensuite. Just as the room is designed to soothe and pamper, the same can be said of the bathroom. The emphasis is on relaxation and renewal; an appeal to all of the senses; and tranquility. What with our daily schedules, dealing with the unexpected and preparing for the holidays, things can get pretty stressful. A great way to deal with the “little” stresses life can inspire is a boutique hotel look for your bathroom that will provide the benefits of a luxury getaway without you having to leave home.


Especially if your bathroom is shared by everyone in the family, it makes sense to keep shampoo bottles, body lotion and other bath and beauty products out in the open where they are easily accessible. But when creating hotel chic for your bathroom, the sense of luxury is typically created by a less-is-more approach. Examine the storage space that is currently available in your bathroom. Is there room for improvement? Clearing out anything from your bathroom vanity with an old expiry date, duplicates and items that should have been thrown out but weren’t can free up a lot of room for those items that should be cleared from the countertops. There are many stylish bathroom storage options available that will help you conceal toiletry items while still making them accessible.


Treat yourself to new towels and wash cloths that are made of high quality cotton. It might seem like overindulgence but nothing says hotel chic like thick towels that wrap you in comfort and luxury. Especially if you’re not going to have the opportunity to repaint, choose bath linens, curtains, a shower curtain and bathmat in neutral or soft earth tone colors. Not only will this harmonize your bathroom, it will also give it that hotel boutique tranquility. Add those other little indulgent touches that are in evidence in boutique hotel bathroom such as fresh flowers; small planters with live plants; a glass vase of grasses, branches or pussywillows; or a shallow ceramic bowl filled with stones, pebbles or shells.

Set the Mood

Rethink the light fixtures in your bathroom. Are they outdated? Are they too bright? You definitely want it bright enough to see yourself in the mirror when putting on your makeup or brushing your hair, but to achieve that luxury hotel bathroom feel you will also want lighting with a little ambience. If changing the lighting or adding wall sconces is not in the budget, consider replacing your current switch with a dimmer switch; this will give you the option of having it bright when grooming but softer while relaxing in the bath.

Decorating Your Home for Christmas

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Christmas decorating was (I now realize although at the time I did not) a major décor overhaul involving the concerted team effort of Mom and Dad over a two-week period that transformed my childhood home both outside and in. Although, since I lived in an apartment I was spared hanging off of a ladder attempting to put up outdoor Christmas lights, it wasn’t until I moved away from home that I discovered just how much work it was to decorate my home á la à mother’s Christmas style. Every room in our home was changed from the everyday into something magical – no detail was too small, from garlands around each mirror to the festive accent cushions on the living room sofa.

Especially for many of us living in apartments or condominiums, decorating for any holiday can be a balancing act. Setting the stage for your family and friends is easy to do with the right combination of accessories, layered to texture each room you would like to decorate in holiday garb. Today, many people adopt the “less is more” philosophy when decorating their home for the festive season.

Target certain areas of the living room, dining room, den or family room. For example, decorating your living room for Christmas might be as simple as hanging a few ornaments on a plant or placing them in vase that is already part of the room’s décor. Wreaths are an easy way to bring the holidays into any room. Especially if you or your children are “crafty,” you can make each room unique with homemade Christmas wreaths. Centerpieces, handcrafted or otherwise, can also be used to brighten up a hallway or living room console table.

Use tables to their best advantage as a place to display holiday-themed candles; bowls of Christmas goodies or creative “Christmas” trees fashioned from fruit or chocolates. If you don’t have room for a standard size tree or even a smaller version, consider a tabletop one or skipping a tree altogether by making the presents the tree, by fashioning them into that iconic tree shape. Particularly if you have a fireplace, which is a room’s natural focal point anyway, decorating for Christmas may be as effortless as adding a vase of seasonal flowers or a bowl of Christmas ornaments.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Updating an Ensuite

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Design Question

I am updating my ensuite to modern but keeping the bedroom’s American colonial decor with its gold candelabra with little material covers and pinky beige Thai silk curtains. How do I match things like tap wear in the bathroom when I don’t really want gold bathroom fixtures? I do not want it to look OLD FASHIONED. I need a fresh new look for the ensuite like modern style which can come with beige coloured marble tiles tiled almost up to the ceiling and replacing the bathroom cupboards with wall hung modern drawers.

As I do not want any gold plated tap wear or gold knobs, my problem is how do I blend this in with my bedroom which is as I have said, a more traditional style? What do I do with the lights over the modern square or round basin type shaped basins (I haven’t quite decided on which one yet)? Can I have a pair of old type bronzed candle set with the same little shades as the bedroom. Would this go with say chrome bathroom fixtures?

Design Answer

One way to tie both rooms together even though they are essentially two different décor styles is to choose the same wall colour for the ensuite and the bedroom. You could also use the same curtain fabric in the bathroom – I would have to see a picture of the beige coloured marble tiles but it sounds like they would mix well.

I probably wouldn’t mix bronze and chrome together in the same room; they might “fight” with each other in the same space. However, they are technically is two separate rooms. But in terms of connecting the ensuite and the bedroom together thematically, when you say you don’t want gold plated bathroom fixtures, I’m thinking shiny yellow/gold, but when you say bronzed, I picture an antiqued yellow/brown shade. If I was to add a pair of old type bronzed candle set to the ensuite, I would be inclined to match the taps/faucet to the lighting.

Another option for hardware/tap ware would be wrought iron or black. This will add a retro element to the bathroom while still connecting it to the master bedroom.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. Come back next week and I will answer another of your design questions.

Decorate the House with Memories

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I have a friend that, every holiday when its time to set it up in the living room, lets her four-year old son and seven year old daughter decorate the Christmas tree any way they want. Of course, her children are short and even with the help of a stepladder, a.k.a. their father chair-lifting them from the floor to a particular branch and the arm of the sofa (which her mother strictly forbids but manages to “get away with” when she thinks her mother isn’t looking) still ends up decidedly lopsided. It’s an interior decorator’s nightmare – no thematic continuity or “flow”; no balance; no symmetry. My friend refuses to “fix” it after the little ones have been put to bed. Throughout the holiday season, people who have kids smile; the people who don’t have children, make comments about how “crooked” it looks. My friend (loudly so the kids could hear) declares that the tree is perfect as is.

I, on the other hand, came from a family where tree decorating duties were clearly delineated. Our father set the Christmas tree up and once it had “aired” then proceeded to string its majestic branches with brightly colored lights. Our mother was in charge of the decorations. When we were old enough to handle them carefully, we helped affix them to their assigned places. The Christmas tree in my first apartment had enough spaces trucks could be driven through – and yes, it looked like a child had decorated. All I knew that it bore absolutely no resemble to any of the Christmas tress I remembered from my childhood.

Today many parents have hit upon the happy solution of having a kids Christmas tree. A Christmas tree for kids means, yes, there are two – one for the adults, which is perfect in its symmetrical splendor; and one for the kids which is just perfect to them. The first thing to remember when setting up a kids Christmas tree in your home is height. Depending on the age of your children, it should be no higher than four feet. When decorating a kids Christmas tree the rule is no adults allowed, giving them the freedom to add things like beads, snowmen, gingerbread figures, homemade ornaments – essentially whatever they want. Place the kids tree somewhere in your home like a hallway or family room where guests will be sure to see it. The best thing about having a tree especially for kids is the lasting memories they’re making.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Countertop Color Dilemma

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Design Question

Hi Heather, I’m really having an issue with a color for my kitchen which I have not done anything with for 9 years but I’m ready to have it done before the Holidays. My countertops are Kelly Green and cabinets and wood floor are Oak. I have not changed appliances (not in the Budget) except the dishwasher which is stainless steel and fridge and stove are Ivory. What can I do?  Anything you suggest will be helpful. Thank You.

Design Answer

Thanks for including a picture – it makes it easier for me to visualize what’s going on.

I have a few suggestions for where you can start getting some color choice ideas.

The kitchen mat has colors in it that would be excellent matches for the kitchen island counter tops. For example, there’s a shade of lighter green that might be a good hue for your kitchen. Choosing a lighter toned green that works with the Kelly green is called a monochrome color scheme.

The second option is to choose a complementary color scheme. The complementary color of green is red. Selecting a very pale rose, pink or beige with pink undertones might also work in the space.

The third option is to pick a neutral color such as beige, cream or lighter earth tone shades. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, don’t forget to test the color out in the kitchen itself, just to see how it really looks. Some paint company websites have visualization tools that will let you upload a picture of your kitchen so that you can see what the color might look like.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this is helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Don’t forget to come back next Monday when I’ll be answering another design question.

Some like it Hot: Kitchen makeover tips

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

If your kitchen isn’t quite guest-ready for the holidays, but you don’t have the budget to fund a major remodeling project, there are ways to give it a much-needed makeover without breaking your piggy bank. There are a number of fairly simple things you can do to breathe new life into your kitchen without have to accommodate a big reno or budget for one.

Grab a Paint Brush

It is disruptive, and yes it does require some elbow grease, but painting the room is one of the cheapest ways to “remodel” the kitchen. Especially if you choose a totally different color, it can instantly (well, almost) brighten the room and lighten the mood.

If you don’t want to do the whole room, pick one wall to paint as an accent wall. A bright or bold color in a kitchen that has a neutral palette will make the room “pop.”

Maybe you don’t need to paint the kitchen, but how about the cupboards? Especially if they are throw-backs from some decade we don’t care to mention, a fresh coat of paint can transform your cabinetry from thumbs down to thumbs up.

Rethink Storage

What kitchen ever has enough storage? Add a kitchen island with drawers for more work space. Not only can kitchen accent furniture like a bakers rack, china hutch or kitchen cart can add those special finishing touches to the room that many of us think of as the heart of the home, it can also help you get organized. Furniture accent pieces that include several different types of storage features increase the efficiency of your kitchen as well as the aesthetic value of the room.

New Hardware and/or Fixtures

Whether you end up painting the cabinets or not, simply by replacing the hardware, you can make your old cabinets look like new. Consider selecting themed hardware (forks, vegetables, fruits, etc.) for a really unique touch.

If your taps are more the ten years old, now is a good time to replace them with a more contemporary faucet. And because faucets are available in a range of prices, you’ll be able to keep your budget in mind.

Were you ever really happy with the overhead light? Particularly if your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of natural light by changing the lighting fixture, you can make the space appear brighter.

Christmas Dilemma – Ways to decorate small spaces for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I can’t quite describe how she did it, but one of my friends created a Christmas tree out of a small stepladder trellis designed for vegetable gardens. In addition to her concerns for the environment and the bad plastic emissions from artificial Christmas trees, this was her first time celebrating the holidays in a condo rather than a house. In her search for an “environmentally” friendly way to decorate her living room, my friend also discovered a great space saver. If you live in an apartment, especially a studio apartment, or a condo, decorating your smaller-sized living space can pose a challenge or two.

Festive Lights

Stringed lights aren’t expensive and don’t take up any room. Stringing them around doorframes can make a hallway or the wall of a room a colorful focal point. Or you can string them around the mantel of an electric fireplace, windows, ceiling or mirror to create a festive atmosphere. By spreading lights throughout a room or a hallway, you can skip the tree which eats up floor space while making your apartment appear larger.

Remove and Replace Knickknacks

To make room for Christmas in a smaller living space like an apartment or condo, pack away a select a number of your knickknacks and china pieces. Replace them with Christmas themed decorative items like candy and/or nut dishes, angels, pillar candles and snowman statues. Particularly if you have a china cabinet, you can clear away one or two shelves so that you have a place to display Christmas plates and other favorite knickknacks.


Christmas Accents

By adding Christmas accents like pot holders, dish towels, coffee mugs, candles, table runners, mats, guest towels, coasters, etc. to rooms like the kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room, you’re making your apartment or condo festive without taking up much space or having to shift furniture. Don’t forget the walls. A simple but merry way to create a Christmas card display is with a length of colored string and decorative clothespins.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wall Sconces

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Design Question

I would like to put wall sconces on each side of my sofa instead of table lamps. What are the appropriate dimensions to hang wall scones each side of a sofa; specifically the height from the floor, as well as the distance from the arm of the sofa? I decided to use swing arm sconces because my end tables are different heights which makes it hard to work with table lamps (height inconsistencies).

Design Answer

As a general rule of thumb, standard design wall sconces should be hung 60 inches from the floor. Because wall sconces are essentially used as ambient lighting and provide a decorative accent, you don’t want them too far down the wall. But they shouldn’t be so high that once in place you can’t change the light bulbs without having to use a stepladder.

However, swing arm sconces have more of a functional aspect to them – they can be used for reading or as task lighting. But the lower down on the wall the less useful they will be. I suggest that you place them at the same height no lower than 40″ and no higher than 50″. Before you make it permanent, check to see that the height you’ve chosen works okay with the end tables that are different heights.

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out.

Don’t forget to keep writing in. Visit Furniture and Design Ideas next Monday when I’ll tackle another design question.

Backed into a Corner

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Especially those of us who live in apartments, condos or smaller sized homes, we constantly seen to be battling a lack of space – space to store things, room for new accent furniture pieces that catch our fancy or just plain room to stretch out a little – there never seems to be enough of it, for whatever reason. Even for apartment dwellers, corners of rooms remain grossly underrated and mostly entirely forgotten. They often end up as “dead” space, relegated to dust bunny status. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Finding ways to decorate the corners of the rooms of your home is not only fun, but it can also greatly improve the aesthetics and functionality of your living space.

Hallways and/or Foyer

Corners in hallway are likely the most neglected places of the home. Empty corners in a hallway or foyer are open invitations plant stands, a corner étagère or even a small writing desk. Adding a piece of furniture like a writing desk not only turns an empty corner into a functional place to write or work on your laptop, it also creates a focal point in an otherwise empty area.

Family Room or Den

Transform “dead space” in a family room or den into a cozy place to read, relax or just veg with an electric fireplace designed to fit neatly into a corner.

Some manufacturers offer corner models of bookcases, utility shelving and other kinds of storage units that conveniently increase the room’s hidden storage capacity.

Even if you have a dedicated home office, a computer desk in the corner of the family room is a practical way to make room for a “communal use” computer – especially handy when there are younger children in the home.

Living Room

Placing a corner curio cabinet in your living room gives you somewhere to display your special collection of memorabilia or sports trophies.

Would you like your living room to be the life of the party? Reserve a corner of your living room for a home bar or a spirits cabinet.

Don’t think that you have room for your plasma TV in your smaller-sized living room? A corner of the room is an ideal place to park a television stand.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Bathroom Makeover

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Design Question

Hi, I have a difficult question about paint colors. I have a 43 year old canary yellow bathroom sink and cast iron bathtub. I redid my floors in a light beige tile. I also used the light beige tile for the tub surround. I accented with some darker beige pieces. My cabinet is dark wood. I used the darker beige tiles for a back splash. My trim is white and the wainscoting is white. I don’t want a pink glow on the tub surround. What color should I use to paint the wall? Should I repaint the cabinet or leave it dark? And what color accessories should I use? We could not afford to take out the tub. So we left the tub and sink to match. The bathroom is very small.

Design Answer

Because the bathroom is small, I would stick to a more neutral shade that will match or complement the darker beige tiles you selected for the back splash, such as cream or even a pale hue of chocolate or mocha should you want some color in the room. Since there is already white in the room in the trim and wainscoting, you could repaint the cabinet white to give the bathroom a lighter appearance. However, see how it looks first once you’ve made all of the other changes. They don’t have to bright hues, but you could choose primary colors like blue or red as the predominant color for your accessories.

Thanks for writing in. Hope this has helped. Let me know how it turns out.

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