Pet-friendly decorating tips for a home you and your furry friend will love

Parents are always aware of their young one’s safety and comfort, and they also consider their kid’s messy habits before picking out new furniture and decor. The same strategy can be applied to pets, too, and I know many of you think of them as family, too. By remembering your furry friend when decorating, you can design a home that is comfortable for both of you and still be able to enjoy a stylish space. These pet-friendly decorating tips will help get you started.

1. Opt for rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpet

Carpet traps bad odors and hair, making it hard to keep it clean. Rugs, on the other hand, are easier to clean and much less expensive to replace. Natural-fiber rugs like sisal are affordable and more durable than synthetic materials.

Natural Fiber Rugs

Photo credit: Bryn Alexandra

2. Set up a space just for them

I know pets aren’t people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy having space to themselves. Everyone in the home has a bedroom, so set up a small area in a room of your choice where a dog or cat can go to eat, sleep and play.

Pet's Area

Photo credit: Room Service – Decorating 101

3. Choose comfortable and stylish bedding

Animals love their naps. Give your pets the comfort they deserve with a plush bed made just for them. With so many options available today, you won’t have any trouble finding a bed that is both comfortable and stylish to match your home’s decor.

Dog bed

Photo credit: Etsy

4. Match upholstery to your pet’s fur color

Your puppy is cute, but he sheds a lot. The next time you’re searching for a new sofa or chair, try matching the upholstery to his fur color. It won’t solve the shedding problem, but it might help hide some of the hair so it isn’t too visible to guests.

5. Choose plants carefully

Certain plants are poisonous to animals, so make sure the plants you bring inside won’t hurt your pet. Learn which plants are toxic to animals here.

Your pet is family — there’s no question about it. Follow these pet-friendly decorating tips to offer your family a comfortable and safe place to live.

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

 

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

Create a cozy reading nook in your home

Curling up with a good book in a cozy spot is a great way to spend a rainy day…or any type of day for that matter. While I can always get comfortable in bed or on the sofa, there’s something about a reading nook that I find luxurious and pleasant. It makes for a great reading experience, whether you prefer Jane Austin classics or are rushing to finish the Game of Thrones series. Try creating a reading nook in your own home with these five essentials. Trust me, you’ll never want to go back to reading in bed again.

1. A comfortable seat for lounging

Comfortable chair in reading nook

Photo credit: Lisa McDennon Design

The size and shape of your chair or bench will depend on your own reading preferences, but comfort is key. Without a comfortable seat, you’ll be forced to move right as you’re getting to the good part in the story!

2. Seclusion

Secluded Reading Nook with curtains

Photo credit: Pinterest

Reading in a secluded spot will help prevent distractions and make it easier for you to get lost in the book. Consider hanging up a stylish curtain to create an environment better suited for reading.

3. Proper lighting

Add light to your reading nook

Photo credit: Pinterest

Inadequate lighting can cause eye strain and headaches. If your nook is located directly by a window, you may not need much task lighting. Otherwise, consider installing a lamp, wall sconce or pendant light fixture.

4. Blankets

Reading nook with blankets

Photo credit: Pinterest

It doesn’t feel right to curl up without a blanket. In the summer, opt for a light blanket that you can use to feel cozy without becoming hot. Replace the blanket with a thicker alternative as the weather becomes chilly.

5. Shelving

Reading nook with shelving

Photo credit: Pinterest

A book shelf in your reading nook is convenient. It allows you to choose a book or switch authors without actually leaving the area.

There are a lot of different ways to design a reading nook, but these five essentials will ensure your space is comfortable and functional.

By Wendy Weinert

Lighten Up This Summer

Although home design evolves at a more leisurely pace than runway fashion, the 2014 Dallas Lighting Market tradeshow revealed an array of trends that mean big changes for the year ahead. And what better time than now—a season of renewal—to refresh your abode with cutting-edge lighting products and accessories? This season, be on the lookout for innovative technology and materials, new takes on tradition and playful explorations of scale and detail. Whether your home has a contemporary, transitional or traditional vibe, you’ll discover a wealth of on-trend luminaires for every style of décor. Check out some of our new favorites:

1. HAUTE TECH No longer the rising indie star, Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are gaining mainstream super-fame as more lighting manufacturers start building elegant fixtures around the high-tech, energy-efficient module. Small-scale LEDs make it possible for designers to go beyond the boundaries of incandescent lamping in pursuit of sophisticated luminaires that provide illumination in ways that weren’t possible until now. Sonneman - Chromaglo Square Pendant   Consider Robert Sonneman’s Chromaglo Square Reflector LED Pendant, which simultaneously directs light downward from one LED source and upward from another, creating a balance of ambient and task illumination.   ALR-5563-DBRZ-INSTAL Justice Design Group’s Fusion Framed Rectangle LED Wall Sconce with dimmable LED is another great option. A bathroom-friendly wall fixture, it exudes warm light, dims down to 5%, and is rated for a seemingly infinite 50,000 hours. (Remember replacing burned-out bulbs? So 20th century.)

COMING SOON: After 30 years in the fan industry, Fanimation Fans is taking a new twist on technology with the launch of fanLink a universal ceiling fan remote control with Bluetooth capability that lets you control your fan(s) right from your smartphone. Once you take it for a spin, we suspect you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Sonneman 16-light

Taking cues from mid-1960s artists ranging from George Segal to Laddie John Dill, lighting designers are transforming plexiglass, acrylic and other future-forward materials to create shapes and effects that are inconceivable with glass. Fusing LED-technology with intricate geometric compositions of white etched or clear crystal acrylic, Sonneman’s 16-Light Lattice Square Pendant is nothing less than a modern lighting masterpiece.

2. METAL MANIA The Industrial Revolution may be long gone, but its legend lives on large, turn-of-the-century industrial-style warehouse lights, smaller sconces and swing-arm lights. Hudson Valley Lighting’s Pelham collection fuses proto-contemporary lines with machine-age details to provide distinctive downlighting for kitchen islands, dining rooms and other spaces. Plus, it’s available in rich finishes, ranging from bold Aged Brass to smooth Satin Nickel, to complement a variety of interiors. Although Bitcoin dominated the buzz online, the gold standard prevails offline in luxe aged and hand-rubbed brass tones. Hudson Valley Lighting exercises the Midas touch with the retro-inspired Ashland flush mount fixture and the fanciful Amenia semi-flush mount—note its unique ring-and-rod suspension. Calais-CMYK And if you’re seeking a gilty pleasure, pun intended, the Calais Chandelier from Troy Lighting was meant for you. A combination of hand-crafted aged wood and distressed gold leaf, it adds just the right amount casual opulence to a spring makeover. 3. BOLD SCHOOL More is more, and these distinctive styles prove it through a convergence of big ideas and intricate details. Dolcetti Corbett Lighting’s award-winning Dolcetti collection features exotic shells, shimmering crystals and steel accents. Vertigo And its Vertigo family—dramatic spirals of hand-crafted iron—is designed to leave you dizzy in the best possible way. But even when Corbett minimizes the scale, they amp up the glamour. The Barcelona Silver and Gold Leaf Mini Pendant shimmers with the intensity of jewelry fashioned by a master, and it’s so fabulously ornamental, it becomes makes an undeniable statement. As a perennial industry innovator, Varaluz has acquired legendary status for eclectic designs, recycled content and unsurpassed hand-craftsmanship. With the introduction of the Wright Stuff Chandelier, Varaluz takes a simple concept (early aeroplanes) and elevates it sky-high. Flow And their new Flow collection unites rhythmic and organic shapes with two-tone finishes, creating a sense of fluid motion, even in stillness. A BRIGHTER EVERYDAY There’s nothing like new lighting to transform the way you see your home—and the way others see it, too. Explore these emerging technologies and innovative trends to find new ways to brighten up your home and your life. By Wendy Weinert

The tiny house movement: what it is and why it’s so popular

Tiny house

Photo credit: Hooked on Houses

Lately I’ve been hearing or reading a lot about “tiny houses” (also called “small houses”). It has made me curious, so I wanted to take the time to learn more about what these tiny houses are and why so many people are talking about them.

It seems that a tiny house is exactly what its name implies. Several sources define a tiny house as being less than 1,000 square feet, but that’s generous considering many who build or buy one choose to go as small as 400 square feet or less. Although the new trend is in no way taking over, the small house movement is growing in popularity; many Americans are now choosing to downsize or start their life in these tiny homes.

Floor plans of a tiny house

251 sq. ft. of living space
Photo credit: Hooked on Houses

The question is, “Why?” Why are people choosing to live their lives in such small spaces? Well, there are many reasons, but the biggest ones are because of financial concerns, environmental impact and the desire for freedom. Tiny homes are a much more affordable and sustainable living solution, and many people use them to travel. They are, after all, a much more comfortable way of moving from place to place than an RV.

Although I’m not ready to pack up my home and move into a tiny house just yet, I think there is a lot of good in the movement. It’s an adjustment for sure, but many creative architects and designers have managed to make their small houses feel open and even spacious. It’s all about choosing your furniture and accessories carefully. A futon, for example, can be a great substitute for a couch or sofa in one of these tiny houses, as they are typically smaller and serve a dual purpose. When decorating, look for accessories that make an impact so you can still enjoy style with less decor.

Kichler small ceiling fan

Perfect ceiling fan for a small space

 

What are your thoughts on the tiny house movement? Do you think you could live in such a limited space? Write a comment and let us know!

By Wendy Weinert

 

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:

Porch_Livingroomset_Club-4

Offer a seat

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.

 

porch blog- rug

Photo credit: Pinterest

Make it cozy with a rug

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.

 

porch blog- lighting 2

Photo credit: Pinterest

Add light for nighttime

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.

 

porch blog- painted door

Photo credit: Pinterest

Paint the door

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.

 

porch blog- final touches

Photo credit: Pinterest

Complete the look with a few final touches

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

Bring personality to your dining room by mixing and matching chairs

 

Mismatched dining chairs

Photo credit: Pinterest

 

Who says your dining chairs have to match? While it’s perfectly okay to purchase a dining table and chairs as a set, you could be missing an opportunity to create a unique look for your space. Mixing and matching chairs allows you to add some fun and personality to your dining room, which is especially useful if you don’t have a lot of space to decorate.

Keep in mind as you mix chairs that there still needs to be a unifying element tying them together. Here are four unifying characteristics to consider:

Color

Even if every chair around your table consists of a different design, the overall look will still appear put together and intentional if they all feature the same color. It may be difficult to find chairs that all have the exact same shade, but you can always paint them if the chairs aren’t upholstered.

Mismatched blue dining chairs

Photo credit: Pinterest

Material 

Just like with color, you can place different chairs in the dining room that are made up of the same material, such as wood, to create a unique, cohesive look. You don’t even have to use just chairs. Consider placing a bench on one or more sides of the table and let guests be impressed by your creativity.

Mismatched wood dining chairs

Photo credit: Pinterest

Patterns

If you prefer upholstered chairs, look for different chairs that feature the same pattern. For example, if you like stripes, you can surround your table with chairs that all have the same striped pattern. Or you can mix striped chairs with chairs that have no pattern at all to keep the look from appearing too busy overall.

Mismatched upholstered chairs featuring the same pattern

Photo credit: Pinterest

Style

Every decorating style consists of unique elements, so use those elements to mix and match your dining chairs. For a traditional dining room, you can use the style’s characteristics – such as detailed carvings and dark wood tones – to find unity among your chairs. If you have a modern dining room, seek out chairs that are simple and sleek.

Modern mismatched chairs

Photo credit: Pinterest

If your dining room is lacking the excitement you would like, have some fun mixing and matching dining chairs to create visual interest. With a quirky setup, you’ll never have to worry about your style being bland or predictable!

By Wendy Weinert

 

5 home Feng Shui tips to create positive energy

5 Feng Shui elements

Photo credit: Free People blog

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that has made its way into Western interior design. When using Feng Shui, the goal is to design a home that aligns with who you are as a person. It is also a way to ensure a space allows your energy (or “chi”) to remain positive and constant. And who doesn’t want that?

You don’t have to be a Feng Shui expert to apply some of its principles in the home. I’ve gathered five easy tips that even beginners can use!

1. Get rid of the clutter

We’re all guilty of creating clutter now and then – I know I am. Living in a cluttered home can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. An easy way to keep the junk from piling up is to do a quick de-clutter session once a week.

Decluttered Living room

2. Ensure quality lighting

Dim lighting can drain our energy, so make sure each room has the right amount of light. For me, the best source of light is natural light. Installing various light sources is necessary, of course, so you can have light  during evenings or in rooms without big windows.

Natural light is the best source of light

Photo credit: Home Adore

3. Keep electronics out of the bedroom

This is hard, I know, but quality sleep and relaxation is essential for creating good energy. Not only does a TV or computer in the room tempt you to stay up later than planned, but electronics can also diminish your quality of sleep.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom4. Let nature in

Nature is soothing and the five elements of Feng Shui (wood, earth, fire, water and metal) have a lot to do with the outdoors. Wooden furniture pieces, plants and an indoor water fountain are all great ways to add nature to your home.

Bring nature inside

5. Choose colors carefully

In Feng Shui, colors are important. For example, if I want a room to be relaxing, I could use the color blue to create a sense of calm. Here is a useful guide I found for choosing colors in Feng Shui.

Feng Shui Color

Photo credit: Know Feng Shui

After applying some of these basic Feng Shui techniques, you might start to notice a change in how you feel at home. Feng Shui can help you feel happier, relaxed and more energized.

By Wendy Weinert

 

Outdoor showers – are they right for you?

Outdoor showers are becoming more and more popular these days, and when the temperature is nice it’s not uncommon for people to bathe in their backyard rather than their bathroom. Outdoor showers are a great way to take your daily routine to the next level and turn it into an exciting and pleasant experience. Even with a busy schedule, an outdoor shower allows you a little time each day to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful blue sky.

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Photo Credit: Home Bunch

If you give the idea a chance, you might just realize that an outdoor shower is right for you.

Outdoor showers aren’t just a luxurious addition to one’s home. They are practical too! If you have a pool, live by a beach or spend a lot of time gardening, an outdoor shower allows you to clean up before entering your home. Just do a quick rinse to get the sand, dirt or chlorine off and you’ll prevent tracking in dirt or carrying unpleasant smells with you indoors.

Living room by the beach

Photo Credit: http://thitomaz.tumblr.com/

Once you’ve made the decision to install an outdoor shower, carefully consider its location for an optimal experience. Even if you’re the perfect candidate for an outdoor shower, the wrong location can quickly make you regret the decision. Keep the shower away from shaded areas and make sure it gets direct sunlight. Not only will the sun enhance your shower experience but it will also help prevent scum from forming by keeping the walls and floor drier.

Enclosed outdoor shower

Photo Credit: Remodelista

Privacy is obviously another factor you will want to consider. Depending on your setup and how you plan to use the shower, you might add an enclosure. If there are windows that allow people to look straight down onto the shower, a louvered roof will keep people from being able to see into the shower, without blocking out the sunlight.

Ready to change up your daily routine? Consider moving your shower outside and enjoy an exciting new experience!

By Wendy Weinert