Activities to Make Your Dinner Party a Blast

Have you struggled to host dinner parties in the past? If you’re tired of throwing parties that don’t quite live up to your expectations, simply reconsider your party strategy. A dinner party often requires three things in order to be successful: delicious food and drinks; great atmosphere; and last, but certainly not least, entertaining activities!

You might not have considered party activities in the past, but without them, your event might end up being a dud. So don’t let all the work you put into the menu and décor go to waste. At your next dinner party, try incorporating these three activities and make your dinner party a smashing success!

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Play games
Playing games is one of the easiest ways to loosen your guests up and liven up the mood. It’s also an activity that can be done before, during or after the meal depending on the game. Be sure to consider your guests beforehand to decide which games would be most appropriate. If many of your guests are meeting for the first time, play an icebreaker game so everyone can get to know each other. If you have a more outgoing group, play a fun game of charades in the living room!

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Set up a “photo booth” area
Taking pictures is not only a great way to capture a fun evening, but it can also be a fun activity! All you need for your home photo booth is a digital camera, a tripod and a backdrop. If you have a large piece of artwork hung up you can simply use that as the background. Otherwise, any type of printed fabric such as a blanket could also be used. Set some goofy props nearby such as wigs or large glasses and your friends will have a blast taking silly pictures all night.

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End the night with dancing
After everyone’s done eating your incredible food, keep them from feeling sleepy by having a dance party. Simply clear out your coffee table and rugs, turn on an upbeat playlist and show off your sweet moves!

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Hosting a dinner party is more than providing a delicious meal. Be sure to also include some fun activities and keep your guests entertained throughout the evening!

Adding Elegance and Charm with a Chandelier

Overall, there is one dominating, ongoing lifestyle motto: “Better and best, not more or most.” This continues to impact lighting design and trends in crystal lighting. Crystal chandeliers are growing in popularity due to the variety of designs available, ability to blend into both traditional and contemporary environments, and their meaningful and emotional value.

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Schonbek Chandelier

Traditionally, homeowners add grandeur to their home by placing chandeliers in common areas. Homeowners enjoy the ambiance of a chandelier among their guests in entertaining areas such as, living rooms, foyers, and dining rooms. However, with the introduction of new chandelier styles and colors, homeowners feel inspired to place chandeliers in more personal spaces such as bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, or kitchens.

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Chandeliers add a sense of elegance and mood to any space. Although you still see a majority of crystal chandeliers in foyers and dining rooms, the use of crystal chandeliers has expanded.  We have seen crystal chandeliers migrate into the bedroom, kitchens, even walk-in closets and bathrooms. With new styles, the possibilities are endless!

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Schonbek Chandelier

Due to technological advancements, there is diversification in lighting manufacturing capabilities. The inclusion of crystal in these designs coupled with the most surprising materials and lighting technology is a trend that will continue well into the future. Crystal remains a key ingredient in cutting-edge lighting design; new and unexpected crystal applications are being designed and used. The illuminated candles and brilliant sparkle of crystal chandeliers provides multiple light points and creates a vivid, less static environment. From this, beautiful functionality warms the atmosphere of the room.

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A home is a place for rejuvenation and comfort. Each room in your home is touched by personal items that evoke emotion and reflect your individual style. When decorating your interior, meaningfully objects that shape the space around you are essential. As well, there is a growing sense of timeless value expressed through carefully considered investments that correspond to a more sober and austere lifestyle.

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A Schonbek chandelier, proudly made in the U.S., promises an expression of calm elegance, with its delicately handcrafted metalwork and precious crystals. With various application potential, a Schonbek chandelier can beautifully contrast a modern interior or perfectly complement a traditional room. No matter the application, each authentic Schonbek masterpiece shines with its own special character and will illuminate generations to come.

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Schonbek Chandelier

A Swarovski chandelier is an object of atmospheric beauty achieved through the very best of today’s design innovation. As if by magic, a Swarovski chandelier creates awe and is certain to surprise as it takes crystal and light to dazzling new heights. It captures and communicates a broad spectrum of styles and desires ideal for residential and hospitality environs alike, fulfilling the highest technical standards of modern illumination.

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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.

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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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Check out new exclusive designs from Schonbek at Bellacor

Chandeliers are works of art that can bring a sense of grandeur and beauty to any room. One of the most important factors in choosing a chandelier is quality, which is why we at Bellacor are excited about our new partnership with Schonbek, which will make their collection available to you on the Bellacor website.

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Since its beginning in 1870, Schonbek has specialized in the creation of custom chandeliers and has continued to influence the lighting industry with over 200 patents. Inattentiveness, quality and authenticity are the hallmarks of every chandelier that is designed and created by Schonbek, and Bellacor now makes it easier to access these exceptional fixtures.

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Along with the many brands and styles of light fixtures already featured on the Bellacor website, you can now access the exclusive designs of Schonbek. With the addition of more unique and attractive fixtures, Bellacor has an even stronger lighting section, giving you more to choose from. Although known best for its chandeliers, Schonbek also offers pendant fixtures, wall sconces, lamps and ceiling-mount fixtures. Whatever your taste, you can be sure you’ll find a design that matches your style.Amytis_by_Schonbek_AM5506-22RAY_WBG_Photo¬_Swarovski_Lighting_Ltd

Décor in seconds: Peel and stick decals change the mood of a room in no time

Patience is a virtue, but who hasn’t had a moment when they’ve looked at a room and thought “I want this to change … now!” That impulse can lead to some projects that are better in theory than in practice, and leave you mired in a ton of work. But, next time you feel hurried and harried to makeover a space, consider how decals can change the character of a room – and let you do it over and over again with minimal effort.

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Parents in particular know that kids’ tastes change and evolve, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Decals are ideal for kids’ rooms because they allow you to adapt their décor on a whim. You can choose options that coordinate with your nursery theme, and as your child grows from baby to toddler to a kid with opinions of his own, all you need to do is peel off the old and stick on the new. There are even options to add your kids’ favorite characters to the room, from Dora to The Avengers.

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For parents whose kids have left home for college, there’s always the question of what to do with that now-unoccupied bedroom. If you want to convert it to a tranquil guest space, taking down old décor and adding peel-and-stick decals can change the mood of the space without ever having to open a can of paint.

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If your home has lots of blank wall space and you’re not sure how to enhance it, there are a number of decal options that can be used to add character. There’s plenty of sophisticated imagery, from botanicals to geometrics; you could also use letters for a custom treatment that speaks to your personality. Spell out your family name, your favorite places you’ve traveled or words that you find inspirational and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind décor element.

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Ottomans: So Much More Than a Resting Place

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Like what you see in the picture? Find your ideal room here:

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After a long day, there’s nothing better than sitting back and putting up your feet – and ottomans are the perfect piece of furniture for doing just that. But often, ottomans are an afterthought, seen more as an accessory than a necessity. Designers know, however, that ottomans are a key décor element that can pull a room together and give it some extra character in addition to providing that extra level of relaxation.

So, what can an ottoman do for your room?

  • Add style. Are you classic? Contemporary? Transitional? An ottoman can help to drive the style direction and feel of your room. With the plethora of options available, the ottoman can act as your center piece the brings everything together. As an added bonus, an ottoman can be style and function and may be a place for storage, extra seating, a place to rest your weary feet, or literally just a place to put your favorite magazines and accent decor.
  • Add texture. Ottomans are available in an almost endless variety of fabrics that add visual texture to a room. Leather, for instance, offers a subtle sheen and an organic, smooth texture. Cowhide ottomans cast light differently and have their own uniquely tactile character. Other fabric options like damask, velvet or even rush grass also provide visual interest.
  • Enhance color. Whether you want to harmonize with the existing color scheme of your room or add a burst of color, you can find an ottoman that suits your tastes. Neutral shades are the most adaptable options; earth tones generally pair nicely with other earth tones. For something bolder, an ottoman covered in handwoven kilim squares, which are one-of-a-kind, will offer a rainbow of rich colors, including reds, blues, browns and golden hues.
  • Balance the look of the room. Large rooms can suffer from an excess of negative space, leaving the room feeling “off” or just a little too empty. Ottomans, alone or in pairs or groupings can add that extra element that fills the space to balance the overall appearance of the room.

The Design Doctor

By Corey Damen Jenkins for Bellacor.com

In my humble opinion, Interior Designers are a lot like doctors: people come to them with ailing homes that need to be operated on. Some people get designers involved early, such as during the construction of a new home. But sadly, there are a lot of people out there who would rather wait until their home is in cardiac arrest before calling up a designer.

While DIY continues to be “all the rage” the truth is many folks make pretty expensive mistakes when they try their hand at decorating and design. In the end, what should be an enjoyable experience becomes a source of frustration. So what are five tell-tale “symptoms” that a person should accept a house call from The Design Doctor?

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Photo Credit: Corey Damen Jenkins

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Photo Credit & Interior Design by: Corey Damen Jenkins

Symptom #1: The “Play-Doh” Complex: You have good ideas but you are indecisive, unsure of yourself and become like putty in the hands of a hungry, diabolical salesperson. Folks like this end up with rooms full of hodge-podged messes.

Antidote: Like doctors making house calls, Interior Designers work with you IN YOUR HOME, not from a department store’s sales floor, so they can integrate your personal style with any space or house dilemma you may have. In other words, they care about the outcome and will work with you diligently to give you confidence as you make purchases.

Symptom #2: The “Ostrich” Complex: You are overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the process. You admit the house needs a facelift but you have no idea where to get started! Colors, patterns, scale…just thinking about these things gives you vertigo!  So you’d rather just bury your head in the sand and procrastinate.10

Antidote: A design professional will rescue you from the quick sand, and help you face the music! They have been skillfully trained to tackle all of those overwhelming challenges and can take a lot of stress off your shoulders in the process. They are also aware of cost-effective ways that can even make previous mistakes look like they were planned!

Symptom #3: The “Bottom Line” Complex: Okay, so maybe a lot of us suffer from this complex. You know the house needs to be updated–perhaps in stages over a period of months or even years–but you are naturally concerned about how much it will cost. “Budget” is your middle name…and maybe your last name too.

Antidote: An interior designer can prioritize things that need to be done, create a cost-study for you and generate a time-line. They are also well-versed in what the market has to offer in terms of cost savings–but without compromising style or beauty.

11Symptom #4: The “Doubting Debby” Complex: You are leery of making any changes because you’re afraid that they will turn out looking ugly. And then your friends will laugh at you.

Antidote: An interior designer has many specialties, not the least of which is the art of creating great looking spaces. Besides, no interior designer worth their salt will allow their work to be equated with the word “ugly”! Nothing can be possibly worse for a designer than a poor referral–it can be the kiss of death in business–so you can best believe that he or she is going to take pride in their work. They will be dedicated to making you look good as a client.

Symptom #5: The “Running Hampster” Complex: You. Are. Too. Busy. Your home desperately needs a makeover, but you are entirely too swamped with life/work/kids or lack the energy and interest to do it right now.

Antidote: Many Designers have great project management skills. They are well-equipped to negotiate and coordinate the efforts of vendors and contractors. This means you can delegate as much or as little to them to manage in your behalf and they will keep you updated on the progress.

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Photo Credit: Delight By Design

Let’s admit it and be honest with ourselves. You suffer from at least one of these maladies, right? If so, why not hire a professional that you can delegate this “problem child” to raise? I say use your energy and time for things that you really enjoy. Or if you do happen to love the art of decorating, imagine how much more enjoyable it would be to have a design coach collaborating with you, helping you to avoid making costly mistakes!

So if your house is on life-support, an interior designer may be just the “cure” needed to resuscitate it back to life. Why not call one up for an interview today?

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As Featured in Veranda: Troy Lighting brings grace and elegance with the Delacroix collection

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A lighting industry leader since the 1960s, Troy Lighting’s fixtures demonstrate their passion for quality, design, value and service. A stunning example is their Delacroix collection, which was featured in the July/August issue of Veranda magazine. Delacroix combines an old world style and aesthetic with cutting edge technology and artisan craftsmanship. This transitional piece can work well in any interior, from modern to traditional, and would look great in an entryway, kitchen or dining room – not to mention myriad contract applications.

Made from hand-worked iron, it also features the warmth of aged wood beading and hand-carved accents, as well as distressed gold leaf, giving it a luxurious, yet restrained feel. The French bronze finish confers a sense of classic European elegance. The Delacroix collection includes multiple pendant sizes and shapes to fit a variety of rooms and uses, all while maintaining its distinctive style.

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Troy Lighting’s dedication to unique design, superlative service and exquisite craftsmanship – all at a reasonable price – has allowed them to become an industry leader in its 50-year existence. They create both indoor and outdoor fixtures that are unlike anything else in the marketplace.

Some of Troy Lighting’s outdoor pieces have been spotted in stylish living rooms and dining rooms. Hand-forged iron, hand-applied finishes and hand-blown glass are just a few of their signature materials, which, combined in both new and classic ways, have come to establish the Troy Lighting style and brand. They take great pride in their design, engineering and inspection standards. It’s through this brilliant combination of product and service that they’ve thrived in the marketplace for half a century. Explore their whole collection, including pendants, sconces, indoor and outdoor fixtures and bathroom and kitchen lighting, all available at Bellacor.

The smallest design change that can redefine your bathroom

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Photo Credit: http://www.decorationtrend.com

The old saying goes that “little things mean a lot” – and design-minded individuals know that’s an absolute truth. The smallest details in your home, if ignored, can conspire to undo your home’s style. If you want to really send a message about your interior décor tastes, paying attention to the little things will make all the difference, from the silverware in your kitchen to the lever on your toilet.

Yes, that’s right – the lever on your toilet.

Few things in your home are likely more overlooked, but this tiny piece of hardware can play a big role when you want to revitalize your bathroom. Because it’s something that people generally assume will just “blend into the background,” making the effort to select a version with a sense of style can really have a strong effect.

A truly modern bathroom, for instance, will only look more cohesive and attractive when all the right pieces are in place. Opt for a streamlined, squared-off handle and it will only enhance the contemporary look of the room.

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ToiletTankLever_4ToiletTankLever_2ToiletTankLever_1Finishes matter, too. If your doorknob is brass, your cabinet pulls are oil-rubbed bronze and your toilet lever is silver chrome, it can look like a visual jumble. Pull it all together by using hardware that coordinates and presents a united appearance.

This one quick fix is as easy to DIY as you could hope for. In just minutes, you can switch out your levers and give your bathroom a beautiful new lease on life.

Beautiful bedrooms begin with bedding

Bedding_LushDecorIt’s the very first thing you see when you wake up and the last thing you see before falling asleep: your bedding. Interior designers know the bedding you choose can instantly set the mood and tone for the bedroom, and it should be one of the first things you consider when decorating.

Linger a little longer by creating a luxe environment with plush pieces that beckon you to hit the snooze button. Start by selecting a stylish comforter in a beautiful color or pattern. Ivory, for example, is a perfect color for bedding because it projects a clean, upscale look that stands the test of time. The Lush Decor Lucia Four Piece Ivory Comforter Queen Set is a good example. The gorgeous comforter provides an air of opulence with rich swags of fabric and unique tufts stitched to resemble white roses. The matching bed skirt and pillow shams tie the luxurious look together.

Remember, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so under that gorgeous comforter you’ll want to invest in some quality linens. Bed linens come in a variety of materials, with cotton being one of the most popular because it is soft, durable and breathes well.

When shopping for sheets, most people look at thread count. Thread count is typically in the 200-range, while more expensive sheets range from 250 to 500. But thread count is only one consideration – when shopping for cotton sheets, look for Pima or Egyptian cotton varieties, which are made from a high-end, silky thread. Keep in mind, something like bamboo or silk sheets may be a better fit for your particular sleep needs.Blanket-Thinsolate

Many people choose to rotate their bedding, not only due to changes in weather, but also to match their personal tastes. Your airy ivory comforter may be ideal for warmer months, but that colored blanket with extra warmth built-in is the perfect swap-out to add a splash of verve during winter . You’re sure to look forward to bedtime each and every day.