Scandinavian Design: Simply Stunning

Minimalism. Modernity. Simplicity. These are all things you probably associate with Scandinavian design. But how about cheerfulness? There’s something inherently cheery about this design style, which perhaps explains why it crops up in everything from reimagined farmhouses to Parisian-inspired homes. As these insights into Scandinavian decorating show, less can sometimes be more, especially when it comes to designing beautiful interiors.

Neutral Furnishings
Plan on furniture and textiles in soft, soothing hues such as white, beige, gray, black, and brown. An overall neutral, organic palette creates a gentle backdrop for adding pops of color in accent pieces and artworks.

White Is Right
Speaking of color, white is dominant in Scandinavian interiors. White walls. White trim. White furniture. Together, they all create an airy and uplifting aesthetic that’s both pretty and pretty calming.

Outside Influences
Natural landscapes. Forests. Mountains. Lakes. Scandinavian design gives a nod to the great outdoors by incorporating elements inspired by all of these into the decor. Look for that outdoorsy but sophisticated feel in everything from wood flooring and stone fireplaces to wooden side tables and birch-inspired wallpapers.

Clean Lines, Clutter Free
Scandinavian design boasts a straightforward beauty that eschews the formal and the fussy, the overly adorned and the excessively embellished. Clean, simple lines distinguish Scandinavian architecture; even light fixtures — whether in the form of sconces, table lamps, or floor lamps — tend to be minimalistic with a focus on purpose.

A Window To Beauty
If possible (privacy is always a priority!) keep the windows in your Scandinavian inspired home unadorned. Not only does this allow ample light to illuminate your room, it also eliminates the fussiness and care required of curtains, draperies, valances, fringes, and the like.

The key to creating a Scandinavian design in your home? keep in mind the three core elements of this  style — unity, simplicity, and beauty. It’s as simple as that.

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In a Word-Beautiful: Design Terms Everyone Should Know

Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s an adage that comes in handy when shopping for furniture or home accents. The more clearly you can describe what you’re looking for the more likely you’ll find exactly what you want. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly confused design terms.

console:  Can refer to a cabinet that houses a TV and other media equipment, or an ornamented bracket with scrolls or corbel supporting a cornice, shelf, or tabletop. To add to the confusion:  A ‘console table’ refers to a display piece that can hold collectibles or objets d’art.

wainscot: Wooden paneling on the lower part of the walls of a room. Not to be confused with chair rails.

sconce:  A light fixture that attaches to a wall and usually features some type of ornamental bracket.

highboy:  A tall  chest of drawers supported by four legs. Distinguished from a dresser by its chest-on-chest configuration and significant height.

ikat:  Originally an Indonesian fabric featuring threads that are tie-dyed before weaving. Today, the term ‘ikat’ also refers to a fabric pattern.

hassock:  Not an ottoman, not a stool, a hassock is a firmly padded cushion that can be used as a footrest or a resting spot for a tray of noshes and nibbles.

davenport:  A type of sofa once manufactured by A.H. Davenport and Company in Massachusetts. Oddly enough, during the 18th century the term referred to an entirely different type of furniture:  a secretary-style desk.

pelmet:  Although sometimes confused with a type of skirt, ‘pelmet’ refers to a boxy window treatment that conceals curtain rods.

objets:  A French word that translates to ‘object’. Can suggest everything from high-end collectibles to everyday bric-a-brac, depending on the style of your maison (French word that translates to ‘home’!).

finial:  An ornament at the top, end, or corner of an object such as a curtain rod or lampshade.

Know your decorating terminology and you’ll have the last word on how to beautifully style your home.

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Birds of a Feather Bring Beauty Together

Time flies — and suddenly it’s spring. What better time to celebrate the lightness and beauty of the season with decorative feathers that signal the arrival (and return) of birds to the landscape. Feathers lend a light, ethereal beauty to a room that calls to mind sun-tinted days and beckoning breezes that lift one’s spirits. Read on for some delightful ways to add the beauty of feathers to your home decor.

Framed Art

Whether you choose a sepia-toned painting of birds spreading their wings, colorful feathers falling from the sky, or a pen-and-ink illustration of a single plume, feather-inspired artworks create a focal point of gentle beauty on your wall. For a more dramatic depiction of plumage, consider a shadowbox containing feathers in dramatic colors and various sizes.

Textiles

Textiles stamped with feathers come in many forms, including blankets, throws, pillow covers, rugs, and more. You can choose to add one textile or several, depending on how prominent you’d like your feather motif to be. You’ll also have the option to use such textiles seasonally, bringing them out when the weather turns warmer and thoughts turn to the outdoors.

Bouquets

Let your imagination take flight and opt for a bouquet of brilliant or striped plumes instead of the usual blooms. Placed in a stoneware pitcher or simple glass vase, a collection of feathers creates a unique vignette that can signal either spring’s arrival or fall’s farewell.

Towels

Pom-poms and tassels take note:  Your days of being the only go-to trim for towels may be coming to an end. Towels with tufts of decorative ostrich feathers and the like are adding panache to the powder room. When placed in a guest room, a feather adorned towel suggests whimsical thoughtfulness sure to enchant.

Dining Accents

Napkin rings encircled with the downy beauty of pastel-hued feathers. A cheese board with an embossed feather motif. A creamer fashioned from a rooster with elongated tail feathers that serve as a handle. Add one or more of these pleasing plume elements to your dining room and you’re certain to have guests flocking to your table.

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Home Décor Fibers You’ll Love (Naturally!)

There’s a common thread among some of today’s most popular decorating choices:  natural fibers. Synthetics have their place, but more and more consumers are looking for decorative fabrics that have both visual and textural appeal, and that also impart a handcrafted, yet sophisticated, aesthetic. Which is right for you? That all depends on your natural inclination.

Cotton

The most widely used fiber in the world, cotton is a longtime favorite owing to the fact that it can be machine washed and it blends well with other fibers.

Bamboo
Although often associated with flooring, bamboo makes for wonderfully soft towels and sheets. Check to make sure that what you’re purchasing is labeled ‘100% bamboo’; otherwise, you might be buying bamboo-derived rayon that has been altered through a refining process and isn’t completely natural.

Silk

Although silk threads are exceptionally strong, when woven together they create a wonderfully lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully. The one downside:  silk can degrade if exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time, which is why you often see silk draperies lined with flannel or cotton.

Mohair

Boasting a soft luster, mohair is often used for upholstery fabric because of its durability. Culled from the coat of the Angora goat, mohair fibers make a superb furniture covering as they’re plush and insulating in colder months and they provide natural moisture wicking during warmer times of the year.

Cashmere

It takes some cash to indulge in cashmere, but there’s a good reason why. Real cashmere comes from the coats of kashmir goats in the Himalayas, where their undercoats yield only about 5 ounces (150 grams) of cashmere per year. (Approximately 19 ounces  (550) are needed to make just one throw blanket.)

Wool

Good thing there are nearly 200 varieties of wool sourced from 40 different breeds of sheep:  Wool is one of the most popular choices for everything from sweaters to blankets to upholstery. Naturally dirt resistant, wool also ranks high on the list of natural fibers that offer above-average insulation.

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Take Your Pick: The Symbolic Meaning of Some Beautiful Blooms

Knowledge can stem from many things, including flowers. Did you know that Victorians long ago assigned symbolism to some of the most popular flowers that we cherish today? In Victorian times, the meaning of the flower was what counted most, not how many blooms were counted as part of a bouquet. When creating a flower arrangement for a special occasion, wedding, or holiday celebration, consider adding some of these meaningful flowers for both scent and symbolism.

It may come as a surprise that the peony, known for its large and showy flowers, symbolizes bashfulness. They require little maintenance if planted properly; some have been known to thrive for 100 years. As cut flowers, peonies can last more than a week.

Simple. Elegant. Sophisticated. The simple white rose leaves little to be desired in terms of floral allure; not surprisingly, it symbolizes purity. Well suited to special occasions, white roses have long been  associated with weddings and bridal bouquets, and are cherished as a symbol of pure love.

Bold and brilliant with unabashed panache, the poppy symbolizes fantastic extravagance. Poppies don’t disappoint in terms of just how fantastic they are:  Home gardeners can plant poppies in an array of colors that’s simply stunning, from white, red, and pink to orange, purple, and eye-popping black.

Symbolizing a declaration of love, the red tulip is an unexpected addition to a wedding bouquet or ceremonial floral arrangements that grace a church or reception hall. With their easily identifiable shape, large green leaves, and thick stems, tulips make a bold statement while not being overly elegant or fussy.

The daffodil is a harbinger of spring and rightfully so:  Through the years it’s come to symbolize new beginnings. Once grown extensively by ancient Greeks and Romans, today there are more than 50 species of daffodils. An ideal choice for springtime bouquets that signal the arrival of a new season.

When putting together a bouquet, a floral arrangement for your dining table, a basket of blooms for a terrace, take your pick. Every flower has its own beauty. And now you have the seeds of knowledge to make a perfect choice.

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Corbel vs. Bracket: Each Deserves Solid Consideration

Maybe you’re looking to provide support for a kitchen counter, an island top, a bar top, or a decorative shelf that will display your favorite collectibles. Should you choose a corbel or a bracket? And what, if any, are the differences between the two? The more you know about these two elements the more you can avoid the element of surprise when making your choice.

Both corbels and brackets are architectural elements that serve a practical purpose but that can also enhance the beauty of your home. If you have kitchen countertops or decorative shelving in your home that’s crafted out of a heavy material such as marble or granite, corbels and brackets can help lend structural support. If you’ve selected lighter materials for your counters and shelves, you can use corbels and brackets simply for decorative purposes.

Both corbels and brackets are designed to protrude from a wall. The key difference between the two? Their width. Corbels are usually thicker than their bracket counterparts, and it’s not unusual to find corbels as deep as they are wide.

Luckily for homeowners, both corbels and brackets come in a wide variety of styles and materials that allow for ease in blending with decors from contemporary to classic. Wood and marble are popular choices for corbels, while in-demand bracket materials include metal and stainless steel as well as wood.

Something else to consider:  corbel or bracket style. Both corbels and brackets are available in designs that offer something for everyone —  sleek and understated, carved and intricate, richly colored or softly stained. Which one you choose will depend on function and location in your home.

When it comes to either of these architectural pieces, one thing’s for certain:  Whether a corbel or bracket is supporting a countertop or shelf, its beauty is certain to hold up for many years to come.

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Distraction-Free Living: Creating Your Perfect Sensory Environment

Whether you’re trying to create a home office more conducive to getting work done, make a bedroom easier to sleep in, or just set apart some room to escape from sensory overload, these tips help to create a luxurious space that’s also great for resetting your mood.

  • Hang wall art, focusing especially on soft hangings, to reduce sound penetrating from other rooms or echoing from within.
  • Take control of the lighting. If possible, choose a room with ample natural light to style this way; for times when natural light won’t suffice, add heavy drapes or blackout curtains and multiple soft accent lights instead of overhead lighting. This lets you create light conditions that promote focus and calm.
  • Choose a neutral, high-contrast monochrome, or analogous palette that provides depth, but avoids sharp tension and complementary colors. Walls in a warm or cool neutral other than white are best for most people.
  • Arrange furniture so that you have room for pacing. It’s the antidote for when you need to move, but don’t want to leave your relaxing or working sanctuary.
  • Even if you have an eclectic aesthetic, make sure one easily visible surface is mostly clear. (You might want to make the only thing on the surface a fidget toy, like an art bowl with fillers or a Newton’s cradle).
  • Make sure there’s a door you can comfortably close. Sensory overload or procrastination can easily creep through an open doorway and remind you of the tasks outside your space, but everyone deserves a place they can go to close the door and be by themselves.

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So Your’e Looking to Buy a Sofa…

The sofa. It rarely takes a back seat to any other furniture in your home.

Maybe it’s the go-to furniture piece for plunking yourself down at the end of a long day. Or perhaps it’s where friends kick back and relax when they come over to catch the ‘big game.’ Or it might serve as a dynamic design element that completes your favorite living area, whether it be a great room, media room, or sitting area in a master suite.

When you’re looking to buy a new sofa, keep in mind a few tips that can help you choose wisely and ensure that your beautiful, comfy sofa will be enjoyed for years to come.

  • If your sofa will be taking up residence in a smaller space, opt for one with low or no arms as it’ll make the room appear larger.
  • Looking to spend a lot of sofa time reading or taking cat naps? Measure the space between the two arms to make sure there’s enough room for you to stretch out comfortably.
  • For a contemporary look select a sofa with an understated print or solid upholstery, clean lines, and a simple silhouette without embellishments or adornments.
  • Choose the cushion type that will sit best with you. Most cushions are fashioned from polyurethane foam; the heavier and denser the foam, the stronger the cushion is and the longer it will last. Some quality options include spring-down cushions (spring surrounded by feathers and foam) and poly-down cushions (down mixed with batting).
  • Size up how your sofa will be put to use. Do you want it to seat two people? Three? A sofa with two cushions can comfortably accommodate two people; for three or more people, choose a sofa with three cushions or a long single cushion.
  • Tightly woven or heavy fabrics will stand the test of time (and may even hold up to kids standing on them!). Synthetic fabrics, while also durable, are easy to clean.  If the sofa is more a showpiece than a go-to piece, check out pretty — but also pretty delicate — damasks, satins, and brocades.

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Live Your Best Life: 5 Good Excuses to Use Favorite Things

LiveYourBestLife

A favorite of ours and your, the Beaded Brass Hanging Votive holders are sensational.

Constantly saving your favorite things for a special occasion can lead to never using them at all. But these five approaches to bringing out the best can help you live a life where you can drink the good champagne just because it’s Friday – a life that makes ordinary days feel richer.

Use your good dishes every day. It’s disappointing to pick out good china or artisanal ceramic ware, then never use it (and having more than three sets of dishes in your hierarchy can be a nightmare for storage). You may want to reserve large or multi-part serving pieces, since they’re the hardest to replace, but buy dishes that coordinate your sets and use them regularly.

Find small ways to entertain more. Even just having a friend over to your house for coffee instead of meeting at a coffee shop gives you a reason to use the family silver or your new bistro-style cups.

Find alternate uses for favorite things. You may not use those crystal candlesticks from your wedding registry to light the dining table all that often – but do you still love them? If so, there’s no reason they can’t flank your desk set or live on your mantelpiece, instead of in a sideboard drawer with the matching goblets.

Reward yourself for a hard day. You got some gardening done or made a phone call you’ve been putting off? That’s an excellent excuse to bring out your favorite tablecloth and eat your Chinese takeout from fine crystal.

Make décor seasonal – whether it’s meant to be or not. If something always comes out around the holidays or in the summer months, it’ll feel special and festive. Designate a prized piece to be part of your seasonal décor, so it won’t be out all the time and lose its charm, but you won’t need a special reason to enjoy it.

Trivet Trivia

Trivet. It’s a cute word that sounds like ‘ribbit’, the sound a frog makes. But what else do you know about this small household helper and diminutive dining accent? Read on for some timely trivet trivia.

  • Trivets are generally used in the kitchen or dining room as a place to put down hot pans, dishes, teapots, cooking utensils or the like
  • The earliest trivets were fashioned from metals such as brass or iron and boasted a three-legged design (still popular today)
  • Today’s trivets are commonly made from metal, ceramic, glass, wood, stone, silicone, marble, aluminum, and other durable materials
  • Also referred to as worktop protectors
  • Some trivets are designed to hold one or more tea lights to keep a dish warm
  • Trivets that extend can accommodate larger size pots and plates, or sections of a countertop
  • Most square or rectangular trivets measure anywhere from 5″ x 7″ to 5″ x 19″, give or take a few inches
  • Vintage and retro trivets make interesting and decorative wall hangings
  • Electric warming trivets date from the early 20th century
  • Ceramic and porcelain trivets impart country style, while chrome, stainless steel, and glass versions have a cool, contemporary feel
  • Slate and granite trivets are valued for their natural appearance and resistance to scratches, markings, stain, and heat
  • Some wooden trivets have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification that indicates sustainable and responsible forestry practices
  • When not in use as a surface protector, a trivet can be used as a chopping board
  • You can use  piece of decorative tile as a makeshift trivet
  • Some trivets come in the form of teapots, snowflakes, flowers, or other seasonal items

All in all, it’s little wonder that the small trivet is considered one cool item.

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