A TV Stand for the Collector

I suppose I should have noticed early on in our relationship that the man who would eventually become my husband was a ‘collector’. But, when you are in the first shades of blossoming love, many of those small details fade into the background. His obsession with collecting seems to have run in the family and when I look back now, I realize I really was ‘blind’ with love.

My (then) boyfriend didn’t have very much when it came to personal belongings as he shared a small house with a few other people and I really wasn’t sure which items belonged to whom. The living room in that house was set up kind of like any ‘guy house’: couches with foldup TV trays next to each one for all of their drinks and a rather crusty looking item that served for a coffee table for their snacks.

Over the years I began to recognize that my husband adored not only seeing movies, but actually owning them and their living room was typically strewn with DVD’s and covers, most of which were quite undiscernible as to the matching set. The collection and the mess seemed to have a life of its own, growing and spreading as time went by. It wasn’t until we got married that I found out all of these belonged to my husband and I had no place (or desire) to keep them.

Marriage is all about consolations and I knew that one of mine would be his DVD collection. I had managed to convince him not to bring the giant horsehead lamps that he seemed so proud of and so I was stuck with the DVD’s.  We had to come to some kind of resolution otherwise the living room mess would simply be transferred to our new home.

One of the wedding gifts that we gave ourselves was a larger, sixty inch flat screen television. It was then that I found the TV stand that answered my prayers. The shelving was created so that it could hold hundreds of DVD’s, all hidden behind doors.  We worked together, putting everything in alphabetic order and this became a total success that accommodated all of our needs.

Goodbye Formica Bathroom, Welcome Wood and Porcelain

When we bought our home we loved the construction and the layout but knew we were in for a challenge when it came to the bathrooms and the kitchen.  It was built in the 1980’s and was complete with Formica ‘everything’ in the typical style of the day.  The hurdles that needed to be overcome meant we had to gut each of the rooms and do a complete facelift on everything.

Kitchens are fairly easy to redo as there are so many styles and we definitely wanted to replace the white with strips of wood-look, with solid kitchen cabinets. But bathrooms are a lot more personal and I had a particular decorating concept in mind for those. The master bathroom had a 72” Formica cabinet with the traditional large industrial mirror and two drab white sinks. There was no difference between this bathroom and any of the cheap hotels that you had ever been unlucky enough to get stuck in, and it had to go.

The first step was to make a decision on the color scheme and I decided that a black cabinet was absolutely required. We were doing the shower in an ash grey slate and a black cabinet would allow any complimentary colors, depending upon the mood.  Due to my husband’s habit of slamming drawers, I had paid extra to get soft closing drawers in the kitchen and I wanted the same for the bathroom. Since I make use of every possible space, I wanted to use the ‘end cap’ as a bit of shelving.

The sinks had to be unusual and while I loved the idea of ‘free standing’ I could see my husband dropping something on them and there they would go. I found the perfect look with elevated sinks that stood out over the cabinet, and yet were sturdy and strong with rectangular round edges.

The best part of all is that this set came with two matching mirrors!  Once we had everything set up I quickly removed the ghastly large mirror and when the two mirrors were hung, it was a perfect situation.  The final ‘color for the moment’ was lavender in towels and room accents and finally, we had a bathroom that we could love.

The Perfect Outdoor Fountain

Throughout time people have appreciated the sound of running water. There is an innate sense of soothing and cleansing that we receive in the water movement and it has a calming effect on both body and soul.  Selecting the right outdoor fountain can bring an element of tranquility and peace to a patio or deck and is probably one of the best items you will ever purchase.

In days gone by we were limited to fountain styles that emulated bird baths or some kind of statue. Today’s fountains are designed for enjoyment and have an element of nature combined with art and light. The best style needs to be made of durable materials while blending with the outdoor environment and are often crafted to look like rocks or bowls. Those that have the longest lifespan are typically made of resin and fiberglass and stand up to the rigors of the climate changes.

If you have an expansive outdoor area then you can select a fountain that takes up a bigger space, but many are opting for the vertical style. These are usually set with a cascading effect for the water as it runs from one container to another. The tiered look cam be enhanced with softly lit LED lighting that will complement while not overpowering the environment.

Most of the outdoor fountains operate with standard tap water and the ‘bowls’ can have water plants floating inside or additional flowers planted around the fountain. Any water that splashes out assists in the growth of planters or flowers and helps to blend the fountain as part of the natural surroundings.

The location of your fountain is key to enjoyment and should always be placed just close enough to any outdoor furniture or recliners so that the running water can be heard by those that are seated. If you live in areas that have varying cold temperatures the outdoor fountains can be turned off and easily drained, preparing for warmer climate use.  Many will also cover the fountain along with all outdoor furniture just as an added level of protection.

Hands-Free Trash Cans Reduce Transmissions of Colds and Flu

If you have a family, you know that you experience the dread of each new cold and flu season. While you might constantly remind everyone to wash their hands and use the sanitizers, kids are not known for being the most hygienic and before you know it, everyone is getting sick. No one needs to remind you of the amount of time, effort and money that is wasted by catching a cold, but one of the easiest things you can do is to reduce the odds is to get a hands-free trash can.

Germs and viruses love moist locations and the kitchen and bathrooms are two of the places where colds and flu can spread quickly. There are a number of studies that have shown that trash cans, door knobs and faucet handles have high percentages of germs and viruses along with grocery store shopping carts. While you can use an antiseptic wipe at the store, you risk the chances of ridicule if you try this at home on to much of a regular basis.

The best method of reducing the spread of colds and the flu is to have a few locations in the house where you can place antiseptic wipes and encourage that the family members use them. Of course, once they do, they will go into a trash can and this is where the hands-free trash can comes into play.  They have an infrared sensor that opens when your hands get near and allows you to drop the trash into the container.  Typically, the door will open when your hand is at a distance of around six inches and will automatically shut once the sensor detects the absence of your hand.

The beauty of the hands-free trash can is that it is a larger size to allow the standard trash bag with a retainer ring to hold the bag and also offers the option to be operated manually. If there are items that are bigger than normal waste, the opening is large enough to accommodate them. Removal of the trash bag is easily accomplished with the stress free design. Each action that you take to try to reduce the spread of germs and viruses is well worth the investment.

Decorating and Furniture when Living in a Small Location

Apartment or small home living can be an intense challenge. Especially if you have been used to living in more a more spacious environment. But changing to a reduced space also requires that you make a change in the way that you view your lifestyle and this can be done with just a bit of planning.

The first thing that you need to have as a priority is the understanding that nothing can take up wasted space. This means that all of those items that you used to have laying around will no longer have a place.  The best method to approach smaller living is to make sure that each item is carefully selected with the idea that it has to be multi-purpose.

When it comes to furniture, a dining room table with leaves that fold down to a smaller size or even a coffee table that has lower shelves underneath will become your best friends. Anything like an end table or hassock needs to be able to have a storage area.  Another hint is to see if you can get items with rollers. This will give you the ability to move furniture around easily in case of guests or if you need to change the actual use of the item.

Instead of hanging those favorite pictures and prints on the walls, you will want to consider shelving and bookcases. There are a variety of shapes and sizes that fit any decorating trend and they can be used for books as well as favorite items. Since you can’t spread out, make use of taller items and go up. Vertical decorating gives you added space.

Closet and linen areas are two of the biggest hurdles to overcome because there usually isn’t much room for anything. For clothes, you definitely need to look into the vacuum bags for any of your wardrobe that much. These can be sweaters, jackets, and many of the larger and bulkier items.  Linens are a different ‘beast’ and it is all in the folding and the organizing. Experiment for tri-folding and keeping the bedclothes in a neat and orderly fashion on the shelves. It may sound silly, but you will find that you can fit more on the shelves that way.

Top Colors for that Country Home Look Part 3

Designing your country home is all about making it feel and look comfortable. You don’t have to stick with the old-school shades any longer, and instead, you can incorporate some of the newest colors that bring warmth and happiness for you and your family.

If you have rooms that are in eggshell or off-white, it’s time to give them a facelift, especially if you are thinking about selling your home. Realtor reports show that off-white tones are too flat and sell poorly. Don’t fret, you can upgrade with a white-white that gives a refreshing feel to the room and will act as an accent for all of the country woods.

If you want to incorporate the tones of a ‘red barn’ take a close look at the colors. They aren’t the cherry red that we might think, but instead, more of a rust red. In days gone by, there was a reason for that as the farmers used ferrous oxide (rust) as a way to keep mold and mildew away. This became a trend with a purpose and this color is now one of the hottest for accessories in any country home.

Teal is another color that can blend both the blues and the greens of a room. It is refreshing, natural and when wood furniture is added, it highlights as well as delights. Perfect for dining rooms, where you want to have a combination of comfort, calm and conversation.

Top Colors for that Country Home Look Part 2

Designing your country home is all about making it feel and look comfortable. You don’t have to stick with the old-school shades any longer, and instead, you can incorporate some of the newest colors that bring warmth and happiness for you and your family.

The beauty of a country home is in the natural touches. Anything that reflects nature adds a sense of comfort and warmth. The hottest color that has been incorporated into this attitude is ‘amethyst’. An incredibly rich tone that is a hint of deep purple that can be used on the walls, drapes and even accessories. It looks marvelous with natural woods or highlighted with white.

If you aren’t adventurous in your color selections, stick with the tried and true shades. They can be oceanic blue and white, the palest taupe or pulling out the colors from a rock fireplace. The goal is to create a room that brings comfort. Any of the natural colors will match wonderfully with wood furniture.

Kitchens are always a challenge because if there is one thing that you want, it’s a kitchen that doesn’t look ‘dated’. Everyone is moving back to natural wood cabinets and if you want to keep your kitchen looking ‘fresh’ you can use the wall colors to enhance and delight. Wood, combined with pale grey and highlighted with darker grey and white is the hot look of today.

Top Colors for that Country Home Look

Designing your country home is all about making it feel and look comfortable. You don’t have to stick with the old-school shades any longer, and instead, you can incorporate some of the newest colors that bring warmth and happiness for you and your family.

One of the hottest colors for bedrooms is a warm gold. This blends beautifully with natural woods as well as white and because it is a combination of tones, you can add other colors such as lavender and green. This is what is known as a ‘happy color’, making you smile as soon as you walk into the room.

In the past, taupe has always been a base color used for many country home rooms. This is no longer the case. The new color of choice is grey and due to the variety of shades, you can combine layers of pale to dark grey and let it act like an artist’s palette. It accents, without taking the room over.

Shades of blue that run from the palest wash all the way to bold dark and rich. This is perfect for a living room or dining room with lots of natural woods. These blue tones fuse wonderfully with white-white and hints of green. Blue is a calming color and wherever it is used it will create harmony.

Country Homes Can Be Anywhere

The increased interest in the country home décor is now available and even encouraged in almost every environment. There are farmhouse inspired apartments in the center of New York City and cozy wood-burning fireplaces appearing everywhere. Country home no longer demands the requirement of being in the ‘country’ and it is quite apparent that the desire to have a cozy home where you can destress and relax has no boundaries.

Although living rooms and bedrooms were part of the original concept of country home decorating, we are seeing this concept expand as people incorporate the design into almost every room. Entertaining as well as kitchens are seeing the resurgence of the locations where people gather and the comforting attitude of country home accessories adds that touch of relaxation that is so needed in today’s fast paced lifestyle.

Many are taking the decorating ‘lead’ from some of the nation’s best B&B’s (bed and breakfast) locations. Tall lofty beds with a large wood chest of drawers and of course, a toasty, fireplace. For those that have an outdoor area, you can expand the look and feel of the comfort of the country home by incorporating gardens, fountains and even fairy lights. Each environment needs to be examined for what fits for you, with the key element of ‘comfort’ as the main ingredient.


The Resurgence of Country Home Crafts

The pendulum of social interests always takes time to go from one side to another. Due to the increased interest in country home décor there is now a renewed interest in the many crafts that are associated with this style. We have made our way from the high tech and throwaway society and are now entering a realm where craftsmanship and the patience involved in homemade items has achieved value again.

With the increased number of homes choosing the ‘country home’ look, we are also seeing those that not only want to add personal touches, but to make them on their own. The idea of ‘rustic’ has taken on a very intimate concept as such items as rag rugs and even homemade quilts are making their way to the forefront of what we are devoting our time to.

Returning to a more simplistic lifestyle has its advantages and in relearning some of the incredible crafts of those of the past, we are also adding the kind of destressing that we need in our technology-driven lives. There are many that are not only learning, but adding new levels as they incorporate concepts of refurbishing, reusing and recycling to create unique items as part of their own country home décor appeal. This gives that old adage ‘everything old is new again’ a fresh new attitude as people transition into understanding that some things should be passed down to the next generations.