How to create a welcoming porch

I don’t know about you, but I want my home to feel welcoming to guests. A welcoming home means that friends and family will feel more comfortable during a visit and may even mean that they will be anticipating their next stay! While every room in the home can be decorated to feel inviting, the best place to start is actually outside, since the front porch is the first “room” guests will see. Here are some of my favorite ideas for welcoming guests into a home:

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I like to think of the front porch as being an outdoor living room, where you can socialize with close friends and family while enjoying the nice weather. A porch swing is a popular choice for kids and adults alike, but if your space isn’t big enough you can also seat guests on a smaller patio chair.

Make it cozy with a rug
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Photo credit: Pinterest

A rug instantly makes any room I’m in feel more cozy. You probably use a rug to cozy up the living room, so why not do the same for the front porch? A welcome mat can also look inviting, especially if you’re working with limited space.

 Add light for nighttime
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Photo credit: Pinterest

It’s hard to create a welcoming vibe when your front porch is completely dark. Plus, evenings are often the best time to enjoy a front porch – when the weather isn’t so hot. Try using a couple of outdoor wall lights to invite guests outdoors.

 Paint the door
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Photo credit: Pinterest

You don’t have to paint the front door to make it welcoming, but I love the idea of a a bright-colored door! If you have a small front porch, this can be an easy way to add color and style without cluttering the area.

 Complete the look with a few final touches
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Photo credit: Pinterest

A couple of potted plants, a few accent pillows on your swinging chair and a hanging sign on the door – these types of finishing touches are perfect for tying the welcoming look together.

Does your front porch invite people into your home? If not, try out a few of these welcoming ideas!

By Wendy Weinert

How to buy the right entertainment center for your space

Pretty soon it will be your turn to host movie night. Do you have everything you need to make the night perfect?

Movie-Night

You’ve picked out promising movies, purchased your favorite brand of popcorn and prepared your spare blankets and pillows. But what about that dinky TV stand you’ve been meaning to replace?

Picking out the right entertainment center can feel like a daunting task, but you can make it less of a challenge if you narrow down your choices. Follow these three steps when picking out an entertainment center and find the perfect match for your space:

1. Measure your space and TV: Never just guesstimate how much room you have. You always want to be sure that the entertainment center will fit, otherwise you might just have to take it right back to the store. Normally, the more space you have, the bigger the TV stand you can buy. You’ll also want to consider how large your TV is though. A really tiny TV might look even smaller if you have a big entertainment center. If you have a lot of room and a decent-sized TV, you’ll have more options, such as three-piece centers.

First, you will want to measure the TV. Typically, the TV stand will say what size TV they will hold but if you have the exact measurements, you will be 100% sure it will work for you. When you measure the TV, make sure you take the height, width, and depth of your TV. Do remember that the number on your TV box only measures the screen size diagonally and doesn’t include the frame.

TV measurement

After you have completed accurately measuring your TV, you will then want to measure your space. This room measurement is essential to which TV stand will ultimately work. You do this by measuring the floor space you have available for a TV stand. If your TV is too large for a TV stand that will fit your space, you may want to consider mounting on a wall rather for a space savings. Make sure you sit on the couch/sofa/chair to determine the line of sight (the middle of the TV should meet the line of sight of a person when seated).

Line of sight

2. Determine your storage needs: Do you need an entertainment center to store your many DVDs and Blu-rays? Then you’ll need plenty of shelf space and possibly spare room so you can add to your collection. Other items you might want to store include video game consoles, DVD players, stereo equipment, books and décor items. Knowing exactly what you’ll want to display or store will also help you decide if you want hidden shelves or not.

tvstand3. Consider style, color and material: Once you know how big you want the entertainment center to be and how much storage space you need, you can then take some time to think about the style. The TV area often becomes the focal point of a room, so you want to make sure the entertainment center stands out and impresses. Match the style of the center to the room’s, whether it is modern, eclectic, contemporary or rustic.

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Bellacor Number: 632753

Follow these three steps and you’ll be able to pick out the perfect entertainment center for your space.

By Wendy Weinert

Draperies: good for entertaining and everyday living

The scenario: You’re hosting an event in a few weeks. The goal is to revamp your home to look party-ready. But, no matter how many times you rearrange your furniture, your main rooms, such as the dining room and the living room just looks a little blah.

When you’re hosting a party or entertaining friends, it’s normal to want to freshen the look of your home. And the good news is you can! Or, at least, you can a little. While you might not be able to completely make over your room, you can at least add some visual excitement by replacing your old window shades or curtains with a stunning new drapery.

Faux Silk Taffeta Stripe Single Panel Curtain in Charcoal Grey and White, 50 X 96

Faux Silk Taffeta Stripe Single Panel Curtain in Charcoal Grey and White, 50 X 96

Draperies are a great way to add a little pizazz in a room when you’re in a time crunch. Plus, they have some pretty amazing qualities that will benefit you all year long – whether you are entertaining friends or not. Here are just four advantages of hanging draperies in your home. Draperies:

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Control light – With draperies, you can either let sunlight into your home or completely shut it out. So if you’re trying to watch a movie during the middle of the day, a thick drapery, such as a velvet or those with a blackout liner would do the trick. When you want a well-lit room, all you have to do is pull the curtains back and enjoy the natural light.

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Ellery Homestyles Absolute Zero Curtains Black 50-Inch x 84-Inch Velvet Blackout Home Theater Curtain Panel

Block out sound – Many draperies are tightly woven fabrics  or those drapes that are insulted, are better at absorbing and blocking out sound. When you have company over or are trying to relax after a hard day’s work, you’ll definitely appreciate having a drapery to help block out annoying sounds like traffic. In fact, sometimes just adding some blackout to your existing curtain is all you need to take your home to the next level of energy and sound conservation.

Blackout curtain

Ellery Homestyles Eclipse Thermaliner White 80-Inch Long Blackout Window Curtain Pair

Reduce energy – Heavy silks, wools, velvets or other fabrics can prevent heat or cold from transferring into your home. This means you won’t have to pay as much for the electric bill each year. Think of them as an energy assistant to your homes insulate properties – they will help maintain the right temperature in your home using less energy.

Center Point Energy gives some overall guidelines on windows:

  • On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let in the sun’s warmth. During the summer, draw drapes and blinds to prevent solar heat gain.
  • Close draperies and blinds at night to insulate against cold air outside.
Photo Credit: Center Point Energy

Photo Credit: Center Point Energy

Add visual appeal – Of course, let’s not forget how stylish draperies are! Find a drapery in a bold color to add drama to your living room. If you want to create a more elegant interior design, a rich, velvet drapery is the way to go. There are plenty of prints that will add a very personal touch that will be just you. Or even consider having a couple of layers to add more depth and style to your home.

Wow your party guests with a gorgeous drapery hung up in your home and you can then enjoy the additional benefits every day of the year.

By Wendy Weinert

5 easy entertaining tips for dinner parties

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Dinner parties are an excellent way to enjoy an intimate evening with friends. Hosting these fabulous dinner parties, however, is more than just hiring a good caterer or cooking up a delicious meal. To make your party special, you need the right amount of atmosphere. Here are five easy entertaining tips that will help create a memorable night:

1. Start off the night with appetizers

Before the actual meal is served, give your guests the chance to mingle by passing hors d’oeuvres and drinks around the living room. Starting with appetizers gives guest something to do before dinner is served and will force them to circulate.

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2. Create a playlist

No matter what kind of party you’re throwing, music is a must-have. Make a playlist based on the theme of the night (serve French food while listening to French music), or select songs that have meaning to you and your friends. Just be sure that the music isn’t so loud that people can’t hear each other talk!

3. Dim the lights

If you haven’t already, consider installing dimmers in your home. Dimmers allow you to set the exact mood you want without any hassle. To add even more atmosphere, dim the lights and decorate the room with a lot of candles. The soft glow will instantly transform your space and create a more intimate setting.

4. Use a throw blanket as your tablecloth

Add warmth to your room by covering your dining table with a blanket. Using a throw blanket or a quilt rather than a tablecloth will make your dining room feel cozier. To enhance this cozy look, use a blanket with warm hues like oranges or reds.

5. Set the table with a reusable dinnerware setdinnerwear

Sure it’s easier to just buy a bunch of paper plates and napkins, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Paper products are less of a hassle, but they aren’t exactly economical or as stylish. Throw a more sophisticated party instead with reusable dinnerware and cloth napkins.

If you’re hosting a dinner party, why not make it as successful as possible? You can easily make your dinner party a more memorable night by following these five entertaining tips.

How to set up the Ultimate Home Theater

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone had an impressive home theater system? With all of the equipment, technical knowledge and money needed to set one up, many are too intimidated and think it’s too expensive to think about setting one up of their own. These step-by-step instructions will help you install a respectable starter home theater that’s financially sensible to turn your extra living space into the ultimate movie night destination.

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Image Credit: via Flickr by gsloan

1. Prepare an Entertainment Room

The first step to setting up any home theater is finding the right room for it. Things like lighting and acoustics will figure heavily into your entertainment experience, so put some thought into these factors before shopping for electronics.

For starters, find a room with as few doors and windows as possible a basement would work wonderfully. This setup will insulate your theater from outside noise, while also keeping your sound system from leaking into other parts of the house. Think about covering up hard floors with rugs or carpeting and other surfaces that can deflect any sound. Also place drapes over any windows, and install dimmer switches to control the level of light in the room.

2. Furnishing Your Home Theater

There’s two schools of thought when it comes to furnishing your home theater, either going the luxury theater route with individualized reclining chairs, while this can get expensive buying one for each family member, and a few more for guests, it will make your theater that much more comfortable and give it a high end, luxury, custom feeling.

The other is what I call the family route, using a couple of couches for seating which is less expensive per seat and is ToshFurnituremore intimate for viewing with your spouse or kids.  If you’re going this route, you’ll likely want this room to be more multifaceted for everyday use. So, if you have the space, go for it and add some side tables, coffee tables, lamps and an entertainment center to hold and organize various media input boxes and your movies in.

If you’re up to it, and want to give your home theater even more of a custom feel with more dimensions to it, you could think about building a simple foot high platform (with a few screws, 2 by 4’s and boards of wood) to elevate the couches in the back and create stadium seating feel. Finish off the platform with red or black carpeting and even some string lights around the edges to give it a theater feel.

HomeTheatre

Photo Credit: Flickr by gsloan

3. Choose a Display

You’re making a dedicated home theater, and unless you can splurge on a 70-80 inch HDTV, getting an HD projector is the only sensible way to go. You can get a giant 100+ inch display for relatively low cost, for $800-$1200 you can get a good midrange projector, it’s even possible to even get a 3D projector in that range. When selecting a media input for your screen most any Blu-ray player will suffice, however try and opt for one that can access the internet, so you can download and use apps and receive firmware updates to keep it up to date with new features and fixes.

Now for the actual screen the image is going to projected upon, you could go either 2 ways, a roll up removable screen, or if you have a plain flat wall to project on, you can paint it to your desired size.  Use white tones in very dark rooms and grey/silver tones in rooms with some ambient light and you need special 3D projector paint if you want go to that route. Be sure to add a deep black border around your painted screen to enhance the contrast. If you want to go the extra mile, get some red velvet curtains to hang around the screen to give it a classic Hollywood feel.

4. Customize Your Sound System

Lastly, think about what kind of sound system will fit your entertainment needs. The main factor to remember when shopping for sound equipment is to have at least five speakers and one subwoofer, these can range anywhere from $200 and up. This setup is based on Dolby 5.1 surround sound, which distributes audio outputs evenly throughout your entertainment room to give you the sense that the sound is all around you, making that serial killer in the movie seem like he’s actually creeping up behind you. Make sure to place speakers far enough from the television that they won’t cause interference, or select speakers with magnetic shielding.

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Photo Credit: Flickr by PoshSurfside.com

Once you’ve figured out everything you need for your entertainment center, the only thing left is to hook it all up. As long as you’ve followed these steps to find the right equipment, you’ll have the ultimate home theater installed in no time!

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Sofa HIGH COTTON STUCCO

Choosing a sofa that reflects your style

You might think that a sofa is nothing more than a basic living room staple. But a sofa is much more than a place to sit – this key piece of furniture can define a room and even speak volumes about your personal sense of style. That’s why it pays to choose carefully when shopping for the model that will grace your room.

Before you start your search, ask yourself some core questions about your own style. Are you the type who is always entertaining? Or do you love to lounge with family? Do you gravitate toward sleek styles or seek out the comfort of traditional looks? Both your habits and your tastes should dictate what kind of sofa you choose.

Sofa HIGH COTTON STUCCO

  • If you’re always entertaining: When you constantly have a houseful of guests, whether it’s your book club friends or your teenager’s group of buddies, you need a larger sofa to accommodate those extra bodies. A sectional lets you add more space to ensure that there is room for everyone.Sofa2
  • If you like to lounge with family: A sofa that lets you stretch out and let go of the cares of the day should be your pick. A sofa with a chaise gives you the option to sit, snuggle or put your feet up.
  • If you gravitate toward modern art and sleek styles: A streamlined sofa with simple styling and eye-catching material (like leather) is the way to go. Keep in mind that comfort and contemporary design really can go hand-in-hand these days, so there’s no need to compromise your aesthetics to get a comfy couch.
  • If you love history and traditional glamor: Opt for a sofa that bridges the gap between the styles of yesterday and today. The Bauhaus USA Lafayette sofa is a perfect example – it features traditional styling like a camelback silhouette and a tufted back, but in updated, clean lines that bring it into the modern era.

Sofa styles are virtually endless, so while it might take a while to find the style that’s perfectly “you,” have no fear – your ideal sofa is out there.