When the weather outside is frightful, and in some places temperatures drop down to dangerous lows, the winter months are a great season to spend some extra downtime just hanging out and relaxing around the house. In fact, with so much indoor time to spend, it might even be the perfect time in your life for a few do-it-yourself style home improvement projects.
Sure, improving and designing interior spaces can certainly be a daunting and difficult task… but it doesn’t HAVE to be as bad as you think! We consulted with a few of our interior design school experts and got some fun and fairly simple tips for cozy home improvement projects to spend time on while you’re locked inside your house during this crazy-weather winter…
One great way to achieve a cozy feel inside a room or a house (ESPECIALLY within a DIY interior design effort) is by mixing and matching different design elements. Many interior design school students and professional decorators alike will affirm that mixing and matching often creates a sort of artfully cluttered, cottage-like feel in an interior space. Of course, depending on one’s individual taste, there are many different style elements in a room to mix and match. However we have collected a few popular ideas to get the ball rolling anyway.
Try selecting different prints for any cloth elements in the room and throwing them all together. For instance pick one print for the curtains or blinds, another for an area rug, and perhaps another for a tablecloth or blanket. Don’t shy away from bold, noticeable colors or prints EVEN IF you think they absolutely won’t match. Another great example straight out of interior design schools is to mix and match your kitchen-ware. Instead of all-matching sets of silverware and dishes, get thrifty and collect different stuff from all sorts of different places. Use mason jars as cups, oversized mugs as bowls, and if a fork or spoon in your silverware drawer gets slightly bent out of shape, who cares? It will only add even more character to your cozy kitchen!
For even more coziness inside your home, try tapping into some classic winter design elements and incorporate them as decorative accents. For instance, many people often connect the winter season with dark, knotted wood, probably because the wood reminds them of log cabins and snow. One simple ideas is just to add in some nice wood wherever it can go. Perhaps you are looking to replace an end table or a coffee table? Choose a sturdy, dark wood table and voila! And for the simplest, coziest wood trick in the book, just grab some logs from outside, toss them into your fireplace and spruce up the room with a hot, strong-burning and irresistibly cozy fire!
Another classic winter design element is the simplicity of white. Even if you hadn’t been dreaming of a white Christmas, interior design school experts still encourage you to incorporate white into your winter-inspired interior decorating experiments. White is a great interior design element many different ways. It matches every other color. It attracts light, and makes rooms appear bigger and more open, and its simplicity is clean, simple and super cozy. Whether you re-paint a room with fresh white (off-white works too), or maybe just sew a new, white comforter or duvet cover for your bed, this classic winter color will only up your coziness factor at home.
Making your own Christmas decorations can be a time-honored tradition, and it can save you money, too. Once you get your creative juices flowing, you’ll be personalizing all of your decor and having a blast doing it. Here are a few simple DIY project ideas to get you started:
Pine Cone Wreath – This classic decoration never goes out of style. This is one of those projects that looks more complicated than it actually is. Once you get the basic system done, the construction will be quite easy.
You’ll need craft pinecones and a pre-made grapevine wreath. You can buy both at a craft store, or if you live in an area with a lot of pine trees, you can find your own in nature. You’ll need about 35 to 50 pinecones, depending on their size.
After you’ve gathered your supplies, simply begin hot-gluing the ends of the pinecone to the wreath. Start out on one side and work your way around to the other. For best results, try to be as symmetrical as possible with your placement of the different sizes of pinecones.
Christmas Throw Pillows
Even if you don’t know how to sew, making slipcovers for your throw pillows is easy. Throw pillows can give your living room or sitting room a whole new look with just a simple change. Select your fabric based on the colors you are using for decorations in the room. Red, green, gold and silver are all traditional Christmas colors that can be used on Christmas throw pillows.
A visit to the fabric store will open your eyes to how many different options you have for this project. You can make suede pillows, satin pillows or cotton pillows. The fabric in the store will give you tons of ideas for how to want to go about finishing this project.
You can do this project in several ways: You can measure your existing throw pillows and just make slipcovers for the pillows. You can make your own pillows using pillow forms to use year after year. Or you can use a no-sew technique to simply wrap the pillows or pillow forms in new fabric.
Bring the Outdoors In
Go on a nature hike with your family and gather supplies from the natural world, including pinecones and tree cuttings. Place them in a bowl. Leave them looking plain and rustic or spray paint a few in festive and glittery holiday colors. Tie a ribbon around the bowl and you have a low cost piece of holiday decor that reflects the are in which you live.
Make a simple yet elegant Christmas centerpiece by using a dish and a few floating candles. You’ll need a shallow bowl, some floating candles and a Christmas placemat. Lay the placemat in the center of the table and then place the bowl on top. Fill the bowl with clean water and then add your candles. If you don’t have a Christmas placemat, you can use a charger or decorative plate to place the bowl. Once the bowl is in place, surround it with greenery and some Christmas ornaments.
Let the Kids Help
While you are getting creative with your holiday decorations, there are lots of things the kids can do to help, depending on their ages and skills. Kids can make snowflakes with a pair of scissors and some white or silver papers (or turn them loose with last year’s holiday cards). Younger kids always have fun with glitter. And older kids love to string popcorn with a needle and thread as well as to find creative ways to display the year’s holiday cards as they arrive. Ask your children to help you come up with more creative ideas for homemade Christmas decorations. They might have some wonderful ideas of their own.
Once you start making your own holiday decorations, don’t be surprised if every piece of wrapping paper and holiday rick-rack becomes fodder for your new creative inclinations.
Your wedding centerpieces will be one of the most important parts of your wedding décor, so naturally you want them to be fabulous. But fabulous does not have to mean expensive; in fact some of the most beautiful centerpieces are so easy that you can make them yourself. Here are some great ideas for easy wedding centerpieces for every season.
Spring lends itself to all sorts of lovely centerpieces. There are many wonderful fresh flowers that characterize the season of growth and new life. Bulbs, in particular, capture the beauty of the spring. One idea for wedding centerpieces is to create low table arrangements using potted flowering bulbs like mini daffodils or fragrant hyacinths. Gather a collection of shallow and wide painted bowls, such as those with a classic blue and white design. Transfer several of the bulbs and dirt into the bowls, and cover the top with dried Spanish moss. The centerpieces will be so beautiful that your guests will all want to take them home!
Another easy idea for a spring wedding is to create a submerged flower centerpiece using pretty pink tulips. You simply take a tall clear glass cylinder, fill it with water, and plunge a bouquet of tulips (stems and all) into it. This is so easy that anyone can do it, but the effect is modern and high style. Surround the cylinder with an assortment of low ivory candles for a spring evening wedding.
Beach themes are popular for summertime weddings, and they lend themselves beautifully to easy and affordable centerpieces. You can create the perfect summer wedding decorations using sand, seashells, and starfish. Fill a clear cylinder about a third full with sand and plant a tall chunky white candle in the sand. Set the vase into a bed of sand on the table, and carefully arrange an assortment of your favorite shells and starfish stacked up against the outside of the cylinder. For a dash of color, layer in bright red faux coral.
Another super cute idea for a summer wedding centerpiece is to “plant” cut gerbera daisies into a bed of wheatgrass. Plant the wheatgrass seeds into decorative containers well before your wedding. Following the instructions on the seeds, grow the wheatgrass in your centerpiece vessels. It can easily be trimmed with scissors if it gets too long. Then on the morning of the wedding, insert the stems of gerbera daisies into the grass for cheerful and fun centerpieces. Just be sure to keep the clear straws on the stems of the daisies so they stand up nice and straight (the grass will hide them).
In the fall, there are countless ideas for easy diy wedding reception displays. One of the most charming is to hollow out mini pumpkins, eggplants, and gourds to use as centerpiece vessels instead of standard vases. Cluster three or more of these mini vases on each table and fill with mums, berries, and other seasonal flowers.
Winter brides will also have some fantastic options for easy to assemble centerpieces. One of the simplest is to fill a large footed glass hurricane lantern with round Christmas ornaments. Spread some evergreen boughs around the base of the lantern and light the room with tiny white votive candles. If you are the sort of bride who loves the sparkle of crystal bridal jewelry for a Winter Wonderland theme wedding, you can incorporate that feeling into your handcrafted centerpieces. Make your own table displays by planting silver painted branches into a pretty vessel. Drape crystal and pearl strands across the branches to coordinate with your bridal jewelry. As a finishing touch, place battery powered LED lights into the base of the centerpiece to cast dramatic uplighting on the branches and make the crystals really dance and sparkle. Gorgeous!
Whatever your style and season, there is a centerpiece that is easy enough to make yourself for your wedding reception. Handmade centerpieces are a fantastic way to save money. Best of all, they also allow you to be creative and to design centerpieces that truly express your personal style.
You’ve made the decision to completely revamp your home and you’ve decided you’d like it to be in Retro style but just how do you go about incorporating that into your home. First of all it might help to have an understanding of what a Retro design style actually is.
The post war fifties and psychedelic sixties saw a move towards more brighter and bolder colours most likely as a backlash to doom and gloom of the war torn forties. Basically, Retro style of interior design can be described as taking a little bit of the past few decades into the present in order to create a new style of interior design that is both modern and fun. As there is so much material to choose from, what you decide to include will ultimately be your own interpretation of the past, so entirely unique.
During each of the past three decades there have been different materials, shapes, colours, artefacts, and gadgets that have left a lasting impression on all of us. These days, anything from the 50’s, 60’s or even the 70’s is fashionable again. However, because there are so many different ways to go about incorporating a Retro style into your home, it can be difficult to know where to start. There isn’t a standard look that can be described as Retro and yet everyone is able to recognise it when they see it.
Where to start
The first step would be to browse through magazines and search on the Internet, visit show rooms and exhibitions for the colour schemes, furniture, layouts etc. that appeal to you. Ask yourself what artefacts have been used, how the furniture is laid out, what it is made of, look at the lighting and any effect it creates, take note of the colour schemes, the ornamental touches and don’t forget the wall and floor coverings. From there you can literally mix and match elements that appeal to your own taste to produce a retro style that reflects your own identity with the past.
Getting the look
After the war new materials were being produced that led to a dramatic change in styles during the fifties and sixties, for example, Formica, plastic, fibreglass and plywood were introduced. The mood of the people was buoyant, and the future looked bright, consequently so were the colour schemes. For example:
* Mint green
* Sunshine yellow
* Cherry red
* Black and White
Highly polished chrome was very popular and used for furniture or for ornamental purposes. The furniture was often abstract in style with weird and wonderful shapes. Think of low lying round or oval or kidney shaped coffee tables, or anything in a curvy boomerang type shape. Teak and Pine were popular materials. Blow up furniture was introduced along with disposable materials like cardboard so no longer did furniture have to last for years; it was possible to change the look of your home as often as you felt the urge.
Who could possibly forget GPlan furniture that was all the rage and that revolutionised home interiors? For the first time, people could develop a coordinated look to their home over a period of time and mix and match pieces to create their own style.
Imagine black and white chequered linoleum offset against chrome furniture and black vinyl coverings. What about the wet look wall paper and bold floral patterns? Or even the bright and bold red and black contrasting colour schemes.
Geometric patterns and shapes were ever popular and as the space age was well and truly upon us during the fifties and sixties wall hangings, shapes, pictures, lamps, ornaments or anything that was reminiscent of space was well and truly in. For example, rockets, the planets, satellites, and space ships were very trendy and atomic wall clocks were a feature in the most fashionable of homes.
Visit antique shops or search on eBay to pick up vintage ornaments and objects in order to complete the vintage Retro look. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t include and that is what makes the Retro style so excitingly different. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your design ideas, as long as it looks good to you and feels right then you can’t really go wrong.
One of my favorite summer activities involves sitting around our fireplace made from soapstone on cool those cool summer nights with a refreshing drink in hand. Now that the temperatures are warming up, it’s time to get your backyard ready for the summer and this means getting everything cleaned and ready to go. One of the first things we do during our backyard cleaning days is to clean up the outdoor fireplace. Depending on the type and style of outdoor fireplace you may have, maintenance can be simple or complicated.
Did you know no matter what your fireplace is made of they are still mostly all built the same and then spring cleaning of them are all similar. You’ll need an ash can, a good broom, and some sturdy work gloves. You’ll find it can be a pretty dirty job from all the remaining ash and wood in it. Use your brush or broom to sweep the ash into the can for proper disposal.
Fireplaces made from iron are probably the most popular models because of how sturdy they are. You’ll find different styles implementing steel or aluminum chimneys to go along with an iron base. Make sure you can purchase any replacement parts before you purchase a certain type of iron fireplace since the other parts don’t last as long as the iron base will. Why replace the entire thing if you don’t have to? Apply high-temperature paint to the iron portions of the fireplace to protect it from rust.
Copper Outdoor Fireplaces
Another common type of outdoor fireplace is the ones made from copper. While a little more expensive, these particular models are sought after for its unique and brilliant copper shade which is much different than the plain black iron types. Storing the fireplace in a dry place away from the harsh weather helps to keep it at its original color. You can use covers for copper fire pits as a way of protecting them from the rain and such without having to move them when not in use.
Brick and Stone Fireplaces
Soapstone fireplaces, brick fireplaces and soapstone masonry heaters must properly be cleaned as often as you do with your indoor fireplace. Remove the ash and debris from the fire box after use with soapstone fireplaces. A good investment is installing a chimney cap to keep leaves out of the chimney which can sometimes spark fires. Although soapstone fireplaces don’t have to be covered during the rain or in winter, you’ll still want to clean the exteriors in order to keep its attractive appearance.
It is important to the necessary time to care for your outdoor fireplace properly. With the right amount of maintenance, you’re fireplace can last you many years of summer enjoyment.
When I was growing up the choice of floor decoration was oilcloth [a thin type of linoleum], or linoleum [lino] in the bedrooms and, in the living rooms downstairs, lino covered with a large rug or, if you had a better budget, herringbone hardwood flooring with a large rug in the middle. A stair runner lined the center of the stairs held in place with a brass stair-rod.
These ideas moved on into the 1970s with fitted carpets which had large swirly patterns: you were really somebody if you could afford fitted carpets! Fitted carpets came and stayed, the only real changes being the textures and fabrics, the colours and whether the carpets were plain or patterned. These all changed according to fashion. Cork tiles made a brief appearance as being the must-have flooring options in the bathroom and kitchen. They never really went out of fashion as they are practical and warm underfoot.
However, the late 1990s was when laminate flooring made its appearance and hardwood flooring came back with a vengeance. Floors to aspire to are now hardwood floors, with the whole of the living area having the same kind of flooring. Gone are the days of the unhygienic carpeting in the kitchen: this has been replaced by a multitude of flooring options, from recycled rubber to slate, stone, hardwood, laminates, and tiling.
Many bedrooms are also finished with laminate or hardwood flooring, brightened up with scattered rugs. In my own home, however, I have retained deep-pile carpets in the bedrooms and, in all the downstairs rooms I have installed hardwood flooring which has been stained and varnished to give it a deep timbre to bring out the beauty of the wood. It is so much easier to keep clean and I believe this is far more hygienic than fitted carpets everywhere which can harbour germs deep down in the fibres.
The number of DIY shops that sell both hardwood and laminate flooring is amazing when, if you think about it carefully, fitting flooring effectively so that it looks good and lies properly, is an experts’ job. It is certainly not something I would consider doing. After all, if you mess it up, hardwood is not a cheap option – if you are paying out that sort of money, as far as I am concerned, it is better to pay a bit more and employ an expert to fit it properly. In this case, the end result well justifies the means!
So, if you are choosing laminates or hardwoods, what are you going to be looking for? Good hardwood flooring will add value to your property and will last a lifetime. If it does start to look a bit tired, it just needs to be sanded down, re-stained and given a new coat of varnish. Solid hardwood flooring planks are available in cherry, walnut, maple, and oak. Also available are other woods such as teak and bamboo which, although not a wood but a grass, is very popular in these economically sustainable times.
You’ve decided it’s time to redecorate your home, how exciting! However, you aren’t sure what direction to go with, what colors, what theme?
Take a look at going with nature. Use the natural colors of the outdoors, perhaps take a look at your favorite season. If you favor summer, think bright colors, with a lot of yellow and white, with trees in bloom and green grass or visualize butterflies and tiger lilies and whatever the flower of the season is for your area.
If you are the winter weather person, there are many elements of nature you can work with such as dead tree branches and limbs. From creating frames for pictures to decorating the frames of mirrors, you will be amazed at what you can find to do with branches and limbs alone.
As you think about the walls, think of the mountains with the purest of snow color along with the greens of blue spruces and cedars. The ever-green trees hue will give the room pop, and bring the winter nature inside your home.
With everyone being conscious of the environment these days, making your home one with nature is a wonderful direction to go in with your decorating.
Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year no matter which part of the world you live in. The leaves are changing from greens to browns, oranges and yellows, intermixed with the evergreen trees and the grass that is still green. These shades and the clear bright sky blues can give you an array of colors to work into your home’s interior.
Imagine sky blue chairs and a grass green sofa and perhaps some bright red or yellow throw pillows to represent the bees and birds.
Animal prints are popular and so are fabrics depicting all types of animals. From tigers to zebras and even cheetahs, you can mix and match them all.
Go bold with a zebra print sofa and throw pillows that are elephant colored. No matter if you have carpeted floors or wooden floors, placing animal print throws throughout your home give it fashion, flair and comfort as well.
There are many websites that can help provide designs and ideas. You can always consult with an interior designer as well. They are a font of ideas and can often save you money in the long-term.
Give them an idea of what you are looking to achieve and let them bring you designs, concepts and suggestions. You can always go purely with what they suggest, or add your own personal touch and mix it together.
Nature is a bountiful source of inspiration for the decoration project with the endless changing hues reflected in every season. If you need some imaginative ideas, take a walk in the forest or visit the seaside. Colors and textures abound in nature and they are just waiting there to be noticed and used by you!
Few details can enhance a foyer, dining room or office more than adding wainscoting, but you don’t know where to start. While there are more complicated ways to build wainscoting panels, we will discuss the simple way to get professional results without the need of an elaborate workshop. Let’s discuss the types of panels you could build. Starting with the most difficult to the simplest, you could build raised panels, flat panels, beadboard panels, or picture frame panels.
Though the raised panels could be cut with a table saw, it is not the preferred piece of equipment and requires gluing and clamping several boards together, which always has the concern for warping using large panels. Picture framing is simply the assembly of 4 pieces of molding of equal lengths and heights across a given wall or set of walls. This method is applied between the chair rail and base board with equal spacing on all sides of each frame. The methods we will be discussing in detail are the flat panels and beadboard styles.
- As with any home improvement project, we should discuss the tools needed to complete the project. You will need a table saw, miter saw, finish nail gun, belt sander, orbital sander, and safety glasses.
- Take off any outlet covers, quarter round, and existing baseboards. Be careful to save the existing baseboards and quarter round.
- The layout plan is crucial to a smooth job. First, you need to determine if any electrical outlets could possibly interfere with the layout. A little pre-planning will help you avoid an outlet falling half-way in or out of a panel.
- The anatomy of a wainscoting panel consist of; a backband, top and bottom rail, vertical styles, style and rail molding, panels, baseboards, and cap. (before installing each piece, add glue to each joint and the back each piece)
- The backband should be the first element installed and it is used to provide a thicker edge around the doors and windows for the wainscoting panels to join into. This can be purchased at place which specializes in millwork or moldings. It is a piece of trim approximately 3/4″ x 1 1/2″ with one edge shaped. It installs on the edge against the wall, around the perimeter of any door or window casings.
- The overall height of wainscoting is generally around 36″ from the floor, depending on your preference, this could differ 6″ either way. A “mission” style wainscoting is around 54″. Either way, establish your height and level a line across the wall/s you intend to apply wainscoting.
- You need to determine the rough width you would like each panel to be either for a given wall or room. Either, you can make all the panels the same width for a given wall or you can make all panels the same width for a given room. If you choose the latter, you will usually end up one panel next to a corner or doorway smaller than the others. I suggest you treat each wall separately and make the panels the same size for a given wall, but within a few inches of the panels on the adjacent walls. While it is nice to have all panels in a given room the same size, the most crucial element to a professional job is the same margin between all sides of each panel, corner, moldings or doorway.
- Your margins are determined by the widths of the vertical styles and the top and bottom rails. For the top rail and vertical styles, I recommend using 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ lumber. The width of the bottom rail depends on the width of the base board trim. If using a 3 1/4″ baseboard, I will use a 3/4″ x 6 3/4″ bottom rail, so it will give me a 3 1/2″ margin after the baseboard is installed.
- Cut and install the top and bottom rails an equal distance apart. Install the top rail 3/4″ below the horizontal level line you established as top of the wainscoting. When installing the bottom rail, make sure it is installed at equal distances apart from the top rail. Any gaps between the bottom rail and the floor will be covered by the baseboard and quarter round.
- Next take an overall measurement of each wall to a corner or doorway. Subtract the number of vertical styles between each panel, as well as the styles used at each corner or doorway, from the overall measurement. I have found a 36″ panel width is a good place to start, so take the overall width and divide by 36″. If you end up with 3.68″, for example, which means you can either use 3 or 4 panels. Then divide the overall measurement by 3 or 4. This calculation will give the width of each panel.
- Install the vertical styles in each corner and next to each doorway. Then lay out the panels, remembering to allow for the width of the vertical styles used between each panel. I suggest you layout the entire room before installing the first individual panel or style used between each panel, in order to see if you have any interference or spacing issues. If all is well, install the remaining vertical styles. Now you have the frame for the wainscoting, the rest is easy.
- Measure, cut and install the plywood or beadboard for each opening. (Glue the back of each panel or vertical style which does not have a stud to nail to.)
- Then use a molding, like a “base cap”, to install around the inside perimeter of each opening, while mitering the corners.
- Cut and install the baseboard and wainscoting cap. The cap is similar in size and shape to the backbanding and is nailed to the top of the wainscoting as a ledge. You can also install some cove molding under the cap to give some stability.
- Sand the surface areas, where the rail and styles join, flush and smooth. Fill and caulk, as needed, and then paint.
Some would argue that lighting is the most important player in a room. Not only does it serve a much needed purpose, but it’s the very thing that sets the mood. When it comes to more permanent ceiling and wall mounted fixtures, changing them out year after year isn’t simple, so you’d better be happy with your selection. With so many lighting options out there, finding the one that best suits the space you’re working with can be daunting. With this guide, after laying out a few basics and throwing in a some tips, you’re sure to be up for the challenge.
Ceiling-mounted fixtures such as chandeliers, recessed, track lighting and pendant lights offer the most amount of artificial light in a given space. Chandeliers range from grand and traditional to modern and minimal. They draw the eye up and make a big statement. Traditionally just for elaborate settings or large rooms, they are now available on smaller scales and can be placed anywhere from small bathrooms to nurseries.
Recessed and track lighting are a great solution for almost every room. Recessed lights are clean and low profile, as they are integrated into the ceiling. Track lighting, featuring multiple lamps on a sleek track, enables you to direct them for accent, task or all-over use. Both options offer the flexibility of dimmer switches, perfect for entertaining. While recessed lighting is extremely functional, it doesn’t offer much in the way of warm and comforting style. The option to dim allows for more attractive wall and portable light fixtures to shine.
The appeal of portable lights like table lamps, desk lamps, and floor lamps is generally more about style than function. While they serve an important accent lighting purpose, they’re easy to replace, so they can offer a quick update to any space. With table lamps, there is plenty of room for whimsy and fun, as they usually rest on decorative tables. They’re carefully selected based on specific style that can range from small and sleek to heavy and intricate.
Less paper, fewer gadgets and shrinking computers and laptops call for more compact work spaces. This is ideal for desk lamps that are small in stature regardless of their style. From banker’s lamps of days gone by to sleek gooseneck fixtures, desk lamps serve a wide range of purposes depending on the task at hand. Floor lamps shed light on an otherwise neglected corner. Perfect for reading areas, or sitting on either side of a pair of chairs, they command attention no matter where they’re placed.
Sconces and other wall-mounted fixtures, whether ambient or task, always pack a lot of panache into a small package. Styles range from antique, elegant, to whimsical and modern to name a few. Ideal for small spaces, wall-mounted lighting is a great solution by the bed, in the bathroom, in the living room, or in the hall. They’re also a smart way to spruce up a room’s look without investing too much money or time.
Home decorating can be very fun but yet challenging at times; whether it be with western decorations or rustic home decor. Western home decor is decor that will give your rooms a look and a feel of warmth, invitation, and loaded with charm. On the other hand, rustic decor is a type of decor that will reflect a love of the outdoors and it also makes the home welcoming and homey.
Both types of these decor are perfect to add elegance and beauty to your home or cottage the western style. It adds so much charm and beauty and can be very stunning for others to walk in to.