Sofas, couches, davenports – What’s the difference?

I’m sure many of you grew up like I did thinking that sofas, couches and davenports were all the same thing. I’ve always thought they were synonyms you could use interchangeably and that certain regions in the U.S. preferred one word over the other, much like soda vs. pop. You can imagine my surprise, though, when I discovered that the words sofa, couch and davenport in fact have three separate meanings.

Couches

Fainting couch

Photo credit: South Shore Decorating Blog

Although invented prior to this time, couches became very popular in the Victorian era when they were referred to as a “fainting couch.” Couches during the Victorian period were usually armless and most often used by women wearing corsets who needed a resting place to catch their breath.

Sofas

Emerald Home Furnishings Grey Carleton Nail Head Sofa Sofa is said to have come from the Arabic term “suffah.” Originally, the word was used to describe a bench with arms and cushions. It was designed just for sitting, while the couch was created for both sitting and lying.

Davenports

Davenport

Photo credit: Spanish Hills

The word davenport actually describes a specific type of sofa, made by the manufacturing company A. H. Davenport and Company. Davenports were similar to futons, as they could be converted into a bed. Today it’s hard to tell the difference between a couch, sofa and davenport. While doing research, I came across numerous definitions and opinions that often contradicted each other. For example, some agree that sofas are more formal than couches and are mostly used for special occasions. Others say size matters and that sofas are typically larger than couches. The word davenport is often used to describe any sleeper-sofa, regardless of the manufacturing company. Additionally, many have decided that their former definitions no longer hold true and the three terms can be used interchangeably. What about you? Do you use the words couch, sofa and davenport to describe different pieces of furniture, or do you use one word over the others due to your upbringing? Tell us your story! By Wendy Weinert

Decorating for an open floor plan

Open Floor Plan

Photo credit: Sublime Decor

Homeowners have made open floor plans a popular layout style, and depending on your space, you may find it a suitable design choice for your home as well. Instead of separating each room with walls, open floor plans combine rooms such as the kitchen, dining room and living room into one large open area. I find open floor plans very appealing in smaller homes, and the layout works well for those with more square footage as well. It’s a refreshing feeling to walk into a home with an open-floor layout. With fewer walls and longer sightlines, the style is soothing and instantly creates a less cluttered appearance.

If you decide on an open layout for your own home, or if you are at least considering the option, strategize how you plan to furnish and decorate before you start tearing down walls. Decorating with an open floor plan isn’t the same process as if you were setting up each room individually. With no dividing walls, you have to find a way to create distinct spaces that still fit under one cohesive style.

Defining distinct spaces

Open floor plan

Photo credit: Freshome

To design an open floor plan that works, use furniture and accessories to create distinct rooms within the large area. Although there are no walls separating each room, there should still be individual focal points for each room, such as a pendant over the dining table or the entertainment center in the living room.

Another trick you can try is to divide the rooms not with walls, but with furniture. A large shelving unit can help you create clearly defined spaces, without losing the benefits of an open floor plan.

Creating a unified look

Unified look in an open floor plan

Photo credit: Pinterest

Creating separate rooms that also look cohesive can be a challenge. Tie the rooms together by decorating each space in the same style and color palette. If you’re decorating the kitchen to be mid-century modern for example, search for furniture and accessories that fit into that style as well. Even though each room will have very different purposes and furniture, they will look unified.

With furniture in the right place and a specific style carrying the overall look, you can create an open floor plan that not only works, but amazes.

By Wendy Weinert

 

Turn your bedroom into a luxurious hotel room

I love staying in hotel rooms. After a busy afternoon of sightseeing or trip activities, a classy hotel room is the perfect way to end the day. It’s simple, yet sophisticated decorating scheme creates a luxurious feeling that helps me to unwind, relax and rejuvenate.

If relaxing in the hotel room is your favorite way to vacation, too, you might be happy to know that a bedroom can offer the same luxurious feel. Simply incorporate some of these tips into your room’s design.

Photo credit: Chic Coastal Living

Photo credit: Chic Coastal Living

1. Decorate in all white to create that elegant and clean look. If all white isn’t your style, complement the color with dark gray or metallic accents.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

2. Treat your feet each morning by placing a plush, good-feeling rug next to your bed. You’ll be sure to wake up on the right side of the bed this way!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Hang up a crystal chandelier to enhance your bedroom’s luxurious style. Consider installing a dimmer switch for mood lighting!

Photo credit: Welke

Photo credit: Welke

4. Get rid of the clutter, and don’t let the clutter return. A stress-free environment is one of the main reasons why I love staying at hotels. Messiness and disorganization create just the opposite.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

5. Hang a soft robe on the door and let yourself enjoy some nice slippers, too. It may seem like a small touch, but details matter.

Photo credit: Decoist

Photo credit: Decoist

6. Decorate with sophisticated artwork and flowers. Be careful not to overdecorate, though, as the hotel style features a simple elegance. A small vase on the nightstand with a couple of your favorite paintings on the wall will do.

chaise

7. Set up a place to lounge. With the hotel vibe you’ve created, your room will certainly be the most relaxing spot at home. An elegant chaise lounge chair will complement your luxurious bedroom nicely and will provide a place to sit when you need a break.

The bedroom should be your sanctuary, so design it like the hotel rooms you love so much! When you need to relax, you can head to your room, turn on some soothing music and experience true bliss.

By Wendy Weinert

The art of hanging your artwork at home

Hanging your artwork is, quite frankly, an art in and of itself. If your favorite painting is hung too high or too low, the room’s proportions and balance will be thrown off. Grouping pictures can be a challenge, too, as this strategy usually involves trying to create a put-together look with different-sized frames.

Although hanging artwork isn’t easy, take heart in knowing there are strategies that will make it less of a nightmare. Here are some tips I’ve found most helpful.

1. Hang art at eye level (or 57 inches from the floor)

Guests shouldn’t have to strain their necks to appreciate your art. That’s why it is usually recommended to hang pictures at eye level. Of course, “eye level” isn’t an easy height to guess. A more accurate method for determining eye level is to hang art so that the center is 57 inches from the floor. If you’re hanging art in a room where people spend most of their time sitting, you might consider lowering the art for a better view.

Photo credit: Forever Cottage

Photo credit: Forever Cottage

2. Group pictures about two inches apart

If you’re hanging art salon-style, where you group a collection of pictures close together, just be sure there is an equal amount of space between each frame. Two inches is usually recommended, but if you’re hanging smaller frames you might consider spacing each picture one and a half inches apart.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Be patient and expect some trial and error

If you hang your art but it looks “off” for some reason, some adjustments may be needed to make it feel right. This is especially true when grouping photos together, as you’ll have to rely mostly on your own judgement to mix and match sizes. So you don’t make unnecessary holes, make a paper template to tape on the wall before you use a nail. Have some fun rearranging the templates to get the look you want. It may take time, but I guarantee the effort is worth making. Once you master the art of hanging art, you’ll be able to show off your fabulous collection with pride.

By Wendy Weinert

Layer your rugs for an interesting look

Photo credit: The Glitter Guide

Photo credit: The Glitter Guide

I don’t know if you all have heard, but layering rugs is in style – and I love that it is. I think there are many benefits to laying one rug on top of another. For example, if you have a beautiful rug that you want to display in the living room, but it is too small, layering a larger rug underneath is often the perfect solution. Layering rugs can also lend a designer look to your home, as it is bold and sometimes tricky to pull off.

If you like the layering rug trend as much as I do, here are some ideas for making it work.

Photo credit: Carla Aston

Photo credit: Carla Aston

1. Combine bright colors and interesting patterns with a neutral rug

One of the easiest ways to pull off the layered look is to pair a natural fiber rug in a neutral color with a very detailed and colorful one. When placing the colorful rug on top, make sure there is an equal amount of exposed rug around all sides underneath. Bonus point: this could also help you save some money, as large Oriental rugs can get expensive!

 

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

2. Use two or more rugs to create one larger rug

Instead of placing one rug directly on top of another, try setting them up side by side, with the edges slightly overlapping. This style is popular when using cowhide or sheepskin rugs, but you can try the look with other shapes, fabrics and styles as well. Just be sure the two rugs complement each other in some way.

Photo credit: SF Girl by Bay

Photo credit: SF Girl by Bay

3. Create an eclectic style by layering two different patterns

Layering a neutral rug with one that features intricate patterns and a variety of colors is easy. Pairing two or more rugs together that all show different patterns is much harder! To create a cohesive look, try finding different rugs that all feature a similar style. Two tribal-print rugs make sense together, but a tribal print mixed with a floral pattern might not.

These ideas will help get you started, but there are other ways to layer rugs as well. Play around with what you have and see what works!

By Wendy Weinert

3 ways to love your new studio apartment

Moving into a studio apartment might be a breath of fresh air for those looking to escape the roommate lifestyle. But for many, it’s a shocking change – especially those who like to live large. With the right attitude, some time and a few adjustments, I’ve found that it’s easy to love a small space. Here’s what to do so you can love yours.

Photo credit: homedit

Photo credit: homedit

Simplify

I know it’s hard to part ways with clothes and miscellaneous items that you’ve collected over the years, but getting rid of the things you don’t need is necessary (unless you didn’t have much stuff to begin with). People who don’t like their studio apartments often complain of clutter and little space. Simplifying will prevent you from becoming one of those people.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Hurry Home, Honey

Downsize

Do you really need a king bed and over-sized sofa, or could you do just fine with smaller alternatives? Downsize your furniture to match the size of your apartment. Not only will it provide more room, but the furniture will then be scaled more appropriately to the space.

Room divider

Photo credit: Apartment Therapy

Define

Much like an open floor plan (only much less spacious), studio apartments generally combine the dining area, entrance, living room and bedroom in one large room. Set up furniture and accessories strategically to create clearly defined areas. If you want some privacy in the bedroom area, I’ve found a decorative screen divider or a large shelving unit will make for a great “wall.”

You’ve always said you wanted to simplify and get organized and here’s your chance! You may need some time to adjust, but I’m sure you’ll soon come to love your new studio apartment.

By Wendy Weinert

Decorating with renewable resources: Why bamboo is good for the home

Green Bamboo

I love the concept of decorating my home to mimic the outdoors. Bringing nature inside is a great way to create an environment that can be both soothing and energizing. Designing a nature-inspired home allows me the opportunity to consider using natural materials. I’ve taken an interest in learning more about what we as homeowners can do to design a stylish space while lessening our environmental impact. And one solution I’ve found is to seek out materials that are sustainable and defined as renewable resources. Bamboo, for example, is a renewable resource that can be used to create eco-friendly furniture, light fixtures, accessories and even linens. Plus it’s stylish, so why wouldn’t I want to consider it for my home?

Bedvoyage Bamboo Bedding

Bedvoyage bamboo bedding

As I began researching more about the benefits of using bamboo, I found that it’s a great alternative to many of the materials we use today. Bamboo grows very quickly and requires little maintenance – some species grow more than a yard in just 24 hours! Plus, if harvested from bamboo farms, animals such as the panda who rely on bamboo for food are not negatively affected, while local communities are positively affected as they can build a better economy for themselves.

Fanimation Islander Ceiling Fan

Fanimation Islander ceiling fan

Wood from trees is natural, but many trees are not as renewable as bamboo. Using bamboo as an alternative to wood from other trees makes a lot of sense, because the plant is just as strong but it doesn’t take years to grow back. It also can be a great alternative to metal and plastic, which are much more challenging and time-investive to manufacture.

Neu Home Bamboo bowl by Organize It All

Neu Home Bamboo bowl by Organize It All

With so many positive reasons to use bamboo and renewable resources in general, it’s hard for me even to consider anything else! I encourage you to make the switch as well when seeking out new furniture and home decor accessories. While you may not always be able to choose a natural material or a renewable resource, making the effort where you can is the first step toward making a difference.

By Wendy Weinert

Women who have made an impact on interior design

As a woman within the interior design industry, I love being able to look up to strong and leading female designers. Last week I compiled a list of inspiring female interior designers who are currently influencing and making changes to the industry. Now I want to share with you all women who are no longer living. The work done by these women has made a substantial impact on the interior design industry. Without these women, the industry wouldn’t be what it is today.

1. Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper

Photograph from the archives of Dorothy Draper & Co.

Those who like a bold style should look to Dorothy Draper’s past work for inspiration. Dorothy never shied away from bright colors and large patterns, as she thought the vivid decorating style helped increase happiness and energy. Draper started her first business in 1925 and much of her work can still be seen today, in hotels and apartment lobbies.

2. Elsie de Wolfe

Elsie de Wolfe

Photograph from the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Often considered to have invented interior decorating as an occupation, Elsie de Wolfe is certainly a woman who has made a large impact on the industry. Her feminine designs were softer and brighter than the style many were used to at the time, and she was also well-known for making practicality a priority when decorating. De Wolfe first got into design in the early 1900s.

3. Frances Adler Elkins

Frances Adler Elkins

Photo credit: The New York Times

If you favor the eclectic style, you’ll love Frances Adler Elkins. An interior designer who’s popularity grew in the 1930s, Elkins was known for combining various styles and time periods in the same room, often mixing modern with vintage pieces.

4. Nancy Lancaster

Nancy Lancaster

Photo credit: The New York Times

Nancy Lancaster was a designer who first got her start in the 1920s. Through her work with the design company Colefax & Fowler, Lancaster is often credited for creating the “English country-house look,” which featured an elegant and comfortable style that people still love today.

5. Sister Parish

Sister Parish

Sister Parish co-founded Parish-Hadley in 1962 and the company lasted until 1999. Influenced by Nancy Lancaster, Parish expanded on the “English country house” look to create her own, named the American country style. Although Parish-Hadley is no longer in existence, Sister Parish Design, started by Parish’s family, aims to bring back her influential style.

Who are some of your favorite female interior designers? Send a comment and let us know!

By Wendy Weinert

Summer staycation ideas for a relaxing break at home

Sometimes the best vacations are spent at home. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to go out and see new places. But, I always come back home exhausted from all of the sightseeing and activities. Don’t you? When I’m looking to just take a break from work and relax, a staycation sounds much more enjoyable. You don’t have to spend time driving, waiting in line at the airport or trying to read maps. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy your week.

Plan your own staycation this summer and go back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.

1. Add a front porch swing 

Porch swing

Photo credit: Midwest Living

You won’t want to spend all of your time indoors, especially in the summer. A front porch swing is a small investment that will allow you to create a relaxing environment outside for your staycation, and for spring, summer and fall as well.

2. Organize your home before the vacation starts

Organized pantry

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

It’s hard to relax when your house is a mess. Believe me, I know. Plus, there’s a reason why hotel rooms often feel so refreshing. They’re not cluttered. As your staycation approaches, take some time to make sure everything is in order. You’ll be able to enjoy your week much more fully if you do.

3. Take your coffee outside

Coffee on the porch

Photo credit: Pinterest

Instead of chugging a cup of coffee like you normally do on mornings before work, take it outside and allow yourself to enjoy it on your porch swing or patio. Mornings are the perfect time to spend outdoors because the weather isn’t unbearably hot yet.

4. Refrain from checking emails

If you absolutely have to check your email throughout the week, set aside a time each day where you can check it…and then forget about it the rest of the day. It’s also a good idea to turn your phone on silent, and call or text only when catching up with old friends or ordering food.

Let yourself take a break this summer and take a staycation. A week at home with no errands or work to do is the perfect way to enjoy the summer and rejuvenate.

By Wendy Weinert

Backyard camping: enjoy the great outdoors without leaving home

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Pinterest

Camping is one of my favorite summer activities, but sometimes it’s hard to set aside a week or even just a weekend to get away. That’s why I love the idea of backyard camping. It gives families the opportunity to spend time outdoors and bond. Plus, staying close to home is often recommended for young children who are not ready for the full camping experience.

Backyard camping seems like a simple concept, but there are some strategies you can use to create an experience that is similar to an actual camping trip. For example, you can:

Set up a tent

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Okay, I know it seems silly to sleep outdoors when you have comfortable beds inside waiting for you. However, your backyard excursion will feel more like a bonfire than an authentic camping trip if you head inside after the fire dies down.

Design a sitting area

Seating area next to camp

Polywood Adirondack Chairs

Most campsites have benches for dining and generally people bring their own chairs. Set up your backyard to mimic an actual campsite by arranging outdoor chairs and tables near the tent area.

Install a fire pit

Fire pit

Firescapes Fire Pit

In my opinion, it’s not camping without a fire and s’mores. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a fire pit to your backyard space; you can use it all summer long! On chillier nights, make sure you have extra blankets for sitting around the fire!

Add a sprinkler

If you live within walking distance of a lake or ocean, head out for a swim in the afternoon. Otherwise, a sprinkler can add a splash of fun for the kids (and the adults).

Keep technology indoors

Phones and laptops are hard to leave behind — believe me, I know. Camping, however, is all about taking a break from technology and connecting with nature. While you might not have a forest in your backyard, you can at least enjoy the sunshine and breeze without having to check your cell every five minutes.

Roasting marshmallows

Photo credit: Pinterest

Are you ready to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories? A simple camping trip in your backyard can be a special memory you and your family will cherish for years.

By Wendy Weinert