Decor

curb_appeal

Five Tips to Improve Curb Appeal

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your home is to improve the curb appeal. Simply put, curb appeal is how beautiful and tied together the front of your home is.  Perfect landscaping, great paint, inviting entry way are all elements of amazing curb appeal.  Today I’m sharing my 5 tips to help you improve the curb appeal of your own home for the spring and summer.

tips to improve curb appeal

  • Freshen up the flower beds

Start by freshening up the beds. Giving them a quick sprucing up goes a long way to improving curb appeal. Consider it de-cluttering for the outside. We start by trimming up our palm tree and bushes. We spray a weed killer and then lay down fresh mulch. If any of our plants need to be replaced we will do that. I also plant annuals in a container to give the beds a touch of color.

  • Showcase the house number

How many times have you driven past a house because you couldn’t see the house numbers?  House numbers serve not only functional purposes but can also add a bit of personality to the home. There are several fun and stylish way to display house numbers. We have ours mounted on a painted plaque that hangs over the garage door.

landscape_lighting

  • Add outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting helps to illuminate your landscaping, highlight the home’s architecture, and increase security.  Whether its low voltage lights or solar lights, adding them to the front of the home helps to welcome people. Yards lacking outdoor lighting look dark, and unwelcoming.

  • Dress up the driveway

Each summer we pressure wash the driveway to rid it of dirt and grime. Concrete does get dirty and can look dingy. Over time as it settles it can also begin to crack. If you’d like a more upscale driveway, consider laying pavers. I think pavers give a driveway so much more character than plain concrete.

front_entry

  • Dress up the front door

The front door is a window to the home’s character. New hardware, a fresh coat of paint and a beautiful wreath all help to create a welcoming home. If there is a large porch, add an inviting bench or two chairs. Overhead lighting ought to draw one in to the home and illuminate the door for guests. I usually have flowers planted in colorful pots and sitting on the step as you enter the porch. I tie all of the elements together by using a common color scheme.

Each of these tips will help greatly to improve curb appeal and freshen up your front yard. Trust me, your neighbors will thank you!

coastal cottage decor

Guide To Coastal Cottage Decor

Coastal cottage décor draws from vintage finds and can take time to create, but the effort is well worth it to design a truly curated home.  It evokes a sense of the past in a casual, eclectic and charming manner that invites people to relax and enjoy. There are a few key characteristics to decorating a home with the coastal cottage decor look and feel.

Coastal color schemes are usually neutral with pops of colors in blues, yellows or greens. Keep it light and welcoming. Avoid dark walls and opt for lighter shades. Don’t be afraid to carry the pop of color throughout the space.  For instance, the chair fabric below is carried over to the blue couch in the form of a pillow. It’s loaded with fabulous colors and the orange is picked up by the art work hanging above it.  Repeating colors and patterns in your accessories will help tie the room together.

When selecting your furniture pieces, think eclectically.  Match the scale, and lines of your larger pieces, but don’t match your fabrics exactly. The fabrics should compliment each other instead. Consider a solid color couch and bring in a nautical stripe or a medium calico floral print.  You could opt for simple lines and soft slipcovers for your sofa to create an almost shabby chic look.  Fill in other pieces with flea market finds. Perhaps a coffee table and end tables rescued from a local thrift shop, or gently aged wicker chairs.

cottage decor

No room is complete without accessories. Decide on a theme, it’s usually something nautical; seashells, drift wood, or old lobster buoys. Use the theme consistently throughout the space. A bowl of shells may grace the entryway table, while a framed print of a collection of shells or of a seaside spot hangs on the family room wall. Consider smaller accents such as pillows with seahorses or an octopus. I love the idea of the fish sculpture sitting on the coffee table and the use of nautical stripes on the chair.

The most appealing aspect of the coastal cottage look is the randomness of it. Keep it to light colors, gently worn furniture and unique flea market finds to create your own coastal home.

outdoor living

Creating inviting outdoor living spaces

Well-tailored outdoor spaces are necessary in any warm climate where the back yard becomes additional living space. It is a place to relax, eat al fresco, watch a little television and enjoy cooking out.  As spring morphs into summer, it is time to think about refreshing or decorating outdoor spaces. Creating inviting outdoor living spaces is simple with the right approach.  Whether the lanai is enclosed or left open to the elements, here are a few tips that will have the space looking stylish and welcoming.

outdoor dining

Generate Ideas

Jot down a few ideas on the function of the outdoor space. Decide what activities the space will serve. Will it be for outdoor dining, lounging by the pool, or both?  Understanding the purpose the space will serve guides the furniture purchases. If lounging is the primary activity, do not spend time looking for the best outdoor dining set. Focus instead on the seating.

Try It Out

Today’s outdoor furniture selection has grown beyond the Adirondack chair and the old fold out lawn chair. More stylish and sturdier options are widely available, from complete outdoor living room sets, to adorable bistro dining sets. Before purchasing patio furniture, try it out. Sit in the love seat and chairs to see if it is comfortable. If it is, it is more likely to get regular use. Nothing hard and uncomfortable will be worth the money.

outdoor_furniture

Low Maintenance

Do not waste time with pieces requiring a lot of upkeep. Opt instead for easy low maintenance materials that can take whatever Mother Nature tosses their way.  Look for teak, wicker, cedar, metals and composite plastics. These will stand up to summer rains and hot sun for years to come.

Embrace Color

In today’s market place, the color choices are not limited to beige, white, gray or black. Finishes are available in a wide range of colors. One thing to consider, is keeping the vibrant, trendy colors to the seat cushions and rugs so as not to date the main pieces.

outdoor_furniture

Invest Wisely

These pieces may need to last more than a few years and investing in quality pieces will help them to last. Cheap is not always better, in most cases cheap is cheap. It is better to spend wisely on pieces that will last, rather than on pieces that will break or rust over time.  Plastic resin chairs and tables are affordable, but over time, the plastic breaks down and cracks.

 Accessories

Round out the space with outdoor window treatments, rugs, decorative lighting, and tiki torches to add a little personality to the space.  Each accessory adds an extra bit of interest and keeps the space from appearing flat.  Outdoor rugs keep your feet comfortable and safe from the rough feel of concrete. They also offer a great opportunity for a splash of color while tying the space together.  Window treatments keep the sun out and keep the space a bit cool.  Plant a variety of flowers to add color and texture to the room. Hang paper lanterns for a festive vibe and keep the bugs away with citronella votive candles.

Turn any drab out door space into an inviting space the neighbors will be jealous of with these easy tips.

container garden

Selecting Plants for Container Gardens

An outdoor room can be so much more than the furniture and rugs that grace a patio. Like any indoor room, accessories can make or break the space. Creating container gardens for the patio can be a colorful option to completing a look. It can be overwhelming with so many plants available at the nursery.  So, I asked a local horticulturist for a few tips.

Linda Worle, owner of Flowers and Other Things, a landscape and gardening service in Tarpon Springs, Florida, says “Container gardening offers a wonderful way of adding interest to a patio, entryways and pool areas.” There are many containers that can be used, from large terra-cotta pots to glazed ceramics. If a vertical garden is an option, try re-purposing a wood pallet.

Selecting plants for container gardens

Plant Compatibility

She suggests starting with plant compatibility.  For instance, water requirements, light requirements and the PH of the soil as well as drainage all play a role in selecting the right plants for a patio. You can find the find requirements of any plant on a tag included in the pot at the garden center.  As you select plants make sure they all share the same sun light needs and watering needs. Placing plants that need full sun with plants that need partial sun is asking for disaster.

tips for container gardens

Color palettes and plants

In any design project, a favorite color is a great starting point to build on. Beginning with a color palette allows for an easier visit at to the nursery, as most plants come in a wide variety of colors. Mix and match pinks, reds and yellows with a a few neutral whites to create a beautiful display.

Worle says, “Almost anything can be used in a container garden as long as its location is suitable for the plantings with proper light and watering.”  She recommends Begonias, Chinese Hat, or Cape Honeysuckle for a container gardens that offer a little height. For lower plants, she suggests day lilies, cosmos, Canna lilies and lxora.

lantana flowers

If small children or pets are in the home, it is important to select nonpoisonous plants. Worle, suggests, “Plumbago, blue flowers provide color all summer long. Lantana comes in an array of different colors including:  red, yellow, pink/yellow, white and purple… offering color in the garden year round.  The flowers will enter a short winter rest and come back in spring, as long as they have been properly cared for, i.e.,fertilized and pruned”

Following these simple tips and suggestions will let the home gardener create safe, colorful and well suited gardens.

(This post was previously published on Examiner.com)

selecting a coffee table

Tips to Selecting a Coffee Table

A coffee table can make or break a room. It can be the statement piece, or it can fade into the design. It is the one accessory a living room must have, in my opinion. Choosing the right coffee table can be an overwhelming experience for some people, though. On the other hand, armed with a few tips and tricks, the process can be down right fun.

Start by knowing what it is you wish to accomplish with your coffee table. Will it be a statement piece, or be more functional? Doe it need to be fancy, or do you want something more simple?  Does the shape or material matter to you, if so how much does it matter?

octagon coffee table

Shape

Coffee tables come in all shapes and sizes. The most common seem to be rectangles. By no means are they the only shape to choose from. There are squares, ovals and rounds. Are there children or pets to think of?  If so, a round or oval table would be best. There are no sharp edges to injure oneself on during a fall or a bump into it.  If you opt for a round or oval shape, make sure you have 30 inches between the coffee table and the television console. Of course if the TV is wall mounted, you will still need to have walk way clearance.

coffee_table_storage

 

Functionality

What functionality is required? Will it house the remote and kid’s toys or just lay books and magazines on it? Some coffee tables have hidden storage, or built in display cases for artwork. In most cases, the functionality is being able to simply set down a drink or a small plate.

coffee_table_tips

Scale

How long is the couch?  Pick a coffee table that is the same scale as the couch. For example, A long narrow couch will look well paired with a long and narrow coffee table. A long narrow table paired with an over-sized couch will look dwarfed in comparison. One rule of thumb is to keep a large scale piece with a large scale piece, provided the room is well suited to large scale furnishings.  Scale is simply the idea that each piece has equal visual weight when compared to each other. You don’t want to pair a delicate love seat with a heavy industrial metal table.

contemporary_glass_coffee table

Material

Then there’s the question of material. Coffee tables come in wood, metal, glass tops and acrylic. The material you opt for will largely depend on your style. Wood is considered traditional, while metal and glass tops fall more into the modern to contemporary style ranges.

Think long and hard about going with a glass top coffee table. Sure they look fabulous and like acrylic coffee tables they visually open up a space. Nate Berkus, though, learned that kids and glass don’t mix well.  His daughter Poppy recently shattered the glass top coffee table in his bedroom causing shards of glass to go everywhere. All she did was innocently slammed a toy down on top.

eclectic_coffee_table

Alternative Options 

If your style is a bit more eclectic, don’t feel the need to opt for a traditional coffee table. There are wonderful pieces that double nicely as a coffee table in just about any eclectically decorated space. I love the idea of turning an old steamer trunk into a coffee table, as long as it isn’t higher than the couch. Another option is to use a cedar chest, or a small grouping of nesting tables.  An over-sized ottoman offers both a place to leave the remote and a tray of magazines, but also provides additional seating when hosting a party.  In a small space, grouping together several garden stools will give the room a casual feel.

Once the needed functionality, scale and design are understood, shopping for a coffee table becomes easier.  Some of the best places to find coffee tables locally are area thrift stores, consignment shops and antique dealers.