Smart Storage

One of the revelations of living in a small home is that choosing less square footage doesn’t mean you necessarily have to make do with less, just that you need to be super smart about how you organize the space you do have. And, once you go into “storage genius” mode, it tends to have a ripple effect – many tiny homes end up with as much usable storage area as places with a larger footprint, thanks to the space-savvy residents. Here are a few small space storage secrets that will come in handy no matter the size of your home…let’s learn from the masters!

A classic hideaway storage solution does double duty in Mary Lee’s Life in 300 Square Feet. These crisp and stylish storage ottomans hide away plenty and tuck neatly under a floating shelf for seating that is there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.

Let your storage solution also help to define your space.

Think outside…the linen cabinet. If your dedicated storage for towels and hairdryers and the like is limited (or non-existent!), consider adding a piece of “furniture” to you bathroom.

Always consider removing closet doors. This photo from Erin & James’ Easy to Live In is a perfect example of a doorway that, with a standard door (or even a folding style), would eat up lots of floor space and prevent the sofa from fitting into this opportune spot. By using a curtain closure instead, it’s streamlined and the door doesn’t affect the ideal flow of the room.

Embrace decorative storage opportunities. If you love books (and who doesn’t?) you know that finding room for all of your beloved tomes can become a challenge. Luckily, books are also awesomely attractive. This example from Jason’s Charm & Potential shows that, with a little styling magic, a shelf or two worth of books can add some welcome visual interest to an unused fireplace. Win, win.

Caring Your Garden!

  • Avoid annoying little flies by being careful not to tip tea and coffee into plant containers. The sugars left in the compost make it an ideal breeding ground for sciarid flies.

  • Use trough planters as natural screens. They reduce noise and are useful as barriers to separate walkways etc.
  • One of the most common causes of plant death is over-watering. If in doubt, leave it to Ambius, the experts!
  • Your plants need water, light and warmth to survive. So when you’re off on holiday, don’t forget about your green friends. Make sure that someone else knows to keep the blinds open and the thermostat up.

  • Peat free compost is suitable for all your indoor plants.
  • Variegated plants (featuring leaves with white edges or white flecks) often need more light than their green cousins. Keep them nearer to a window so that they can get all the light that they need.
  • Plants acclimatise slowly to different surroundings by changing their leaf orientation and structure. If you can, try not to move them around, as they may not adapt as easily as you think.
  • Plants reduce stress. See our Plants in Buildings website for more information.

  • You can still have plants where space is at a premium. Some of the latest designs use tall containers to show off the plants, whilst taking up as little floor space as possible.
  • Regularly prune your plants to stop them becoming ‘leggy’. Once they’ve lost the foliage on their lower branches, it’s very difficult to get it to return.

Houseplant Tips

Houseplant tip #1: Warmth

Since most houseplants are tropical, temperatures are important. Most of our homes are warm enough (although cooling it off by a few degrees at night would actually help our little green friends). Most common houseplants dislike hot and dry conditions. They prefer a cooler, more moist condition than is typical in our homes. If you have a thermostat that allows you to adjust the settings, drop the temperature about 10 degrees at night and you will find some plants will reward you for it. For example, Phalaenopsis (or Moth) Orchids tend to bloom with short days and cooler nights!

Houseplant tip #2: Light

Plants need light, but different plants have different requirements. Try to match indoor plants to the environmental condition of your home. There are 3 key aspects of light to keep in mind: Intensity, Duration and Quality.

  • Intensity is the strength of the light.
  • Duration is the length of time the light is available. Compare an east window with a south window.
  • Quality – there are many artificial light sources, but nothing beats the natural light of the sun!

Another often overlooked secret is to clean the leaves. Dirty leaves block sunlight, glorious sunlight.Wipe the leaves with a damp sponge, or if your plant is easy to move, simply put it in the shower for awhile. Keep the temperature of the water tepid, not warm or cold. Another benefit of showering your plants is that insect populations might be reduced as they might go down the drain with the dust.

Houseplant tip #3: Water

Plants need water. Plants tend to need less water during the winter than when they are actively growing; however, different plants have different water needs. During their active growing season, most tropical plants need moist, but not soggy soil.Consistently moist is a phrase I use many times each day.

How do you get consistently moist soil without over watering?
Good question! Each plant is different, they use different amounts of water based on how they are potted, how much sun they get, how warm they are…etc. The only way to truly know the answer to that question is to know what your different plants need and then observe the plant in its new environment and be ready to react to changing conditions. Some plants need to dry out slightly between watering, some need to stay moist at all times, and others need to dry completely between watering. One great thing to help with water spots on leaves after you water them is using a leafshine to spray on.

Houseplant tip #4: Humidity

Heating in our homes dries out the air to desert-like conditions.During the summer most homes (without air conditioning) have humidity levels in the 40-60% range. This is perfect for indoor plants. It is dry enough to inhibit fungus, but moist enough to keep them comfortable. During the winter however, with our heaters blazing, it is common for humidity to drop below 30%. Desert air has 10-30% humidity…much too dry for all but the cactus and succulents. Rooms, such as the bathroom or kitchen, which tend to have a little higher humidity, are a little more plant friendly. If you want to keep your plants in drier areas, there are some things you can do; adding a humidifier to a room will definitely help, but there are easier ways.

Houseplant tip #5: Rest and Feeding

Just like people, plants need rest too. After a long season of growing new leaves, branches or perhaps flowers, plants need a break during the winter. You may notice plants that all summer had shiny new leaves will suddenly start to lose a few leaves as the days get shorter. Perhaps the leaves start to turn yellow in the middle of the plant, or maybe they simply look dull and not as happy as they did in the spring and summer.

NEVER fertilize a plant that is too dry. If the plant is dry, water it well and then feed it a couple of days later. Plants that are stressed should not be fed and if there is ever a doubt just skip the feeding. Plants will do much better for much longer without food than with too much food.

Housplant tip #6: Re-potting

Winter isn’t really the time to be re-potting,but we can’t help it when we find the perfect pot!

Remember that the plant is resting during the winter and you don’t want to encourage new growth when the light requirements can’t be met. Don’t hesitate to buy the new pot, just set the plant in the container until you can re-pot it in the spring; it is bad to have a pot that is too large. When you are shopping for a new container for your beloved plant, keep the size no more than 2” or so larger than the existing pot. If you love to redecorate with different colored pottery, you can always pot your plant in a cheap plastic pot that you can move from container to container without disrupting the roots. You will cut down on the mess of re-potting all the time and your plant will thank you for it!

Tips to Build Children Bedroom

Don’t add your fantasy into theirs.

Decorating a room provides a great opportunity for children to express their personalities, and can be a great opportunity for parents to learn more about their kids. “I’ll ask a child what her favorite color is and the mom thinks it’s blue and the girl will say red,” says designer Sherri Blum of Jack and Jill Interiors. “One girl wanted a workstation in her room for doing art. Her mom didn’t know how important art was in this girl’s life.” Blum assures clients that they will have final say but always tells them, “If you really want pink and your daughter wants lavender, we can redo your room in pink.”

Don’t spend big money on trends.

Only follow the trends if they work for you, your child’s age and your home. For example, fluffy Flokati rugs are a tactile draw for children, but impractical when it comes to clean-up and safety.

Do get funky with accessories.

Accessories are a great way to introduce a trend, because they don’t cost a ton of money. “Beaded door hangings — sure!” says designer Lyn Peterson. “Or punch up a bed ensemble with cute pillow cases.” Blum worked with a 7-year-old girl who wanted a pink camouflage comforter. “The mother was really turning up her nose at it, and I could see that the girl wasn’t going to love it for too long. So we compromised; we made throw pillows in pink camo fabric.”

Don’t buy twin beds.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is not thinking ahead, says Blum. “The little boy who’s 4’10” now may be 6’3″ in a few years,” she says. “It’s important to think ahead to the future needs of the child and the future needs of the room.” Buy at least a full-sized bed if the room is big enough to handle it. Interior designer Ann Fox, based in Dallas, notes that homes there tend to have plenty of space, so she advises moving toddlers straight from cribs into queen-size beds.

Do consider built-ins.

Often when a child goes off to college, their room becomes a home office or a guest room. Built-in shelves and even desk space are “great for a study or den,” says Cathy Whitlock, a Nashville-based interior designer.
Bookcases or display cabinets are one of Lyn Peterson’s three most important items to invest in for a child’s room (the other two are the bed and good lighting). Shelving offers a place to display their stuff, and having plenty of space for books encourages kids to read.

Don’t spend more than you can afford.

It’s easy to get sucked into spending more than you planned, especially since kids don’t separate “need” versus “want.” Have your child make a list of all the things he or she wants for the room, from rugs to a lava lamp. Then, commit to the three most important and add the rest of the list as your budget allows.

Do buy a few, high-quality items.

Generally, there are three transitions in the life of a kid’s room: The move from a crib to a big kid bed at age 2 or 3; the changeover from the toddler room to a kid’s room from ages 6 to 12; and then another redecoration at age 17 or so.

Tips for Choosing Mattress

#Determine your budget and needs.

Are you waking up with aches? Are you not sleeping well? Chances are you need a new mattress. Before you research your options, determine your budget and personal needs.

#Do your homework before you begin shopping.

Research your options before you buy, choosing the mattress size and mattress type that will suit your individual needs. Think back to a time where you slept great at a hotel or friend’s house. Use that as your starting point to help narrow down choices.

#Choose the right type of store. Start with a store you trust.

Furniture stores, department stores and sleep specialty shops all sell mattresses. Look for a retailer that provides you with the right information and attention. If you don’t know where to shop, ask friends and family for their suggestions.

#Utilize the Retail Sales Associates.

Work with knowledgeable salespeople who can guide you through your bedding choices. Ask questions and look for detailed explanations when needed. If you don’t feel your salesperson is knowledgeable or helpful, take your business elsewhere.

#Test-drive your new mattress.

Once in the store, follow the S.L.E.E.P. test. Remove your shoes and lie down on several different models in various positions. (It’s best to go mattress-shopping in comfortable pants so you can move around.)

#Go the extra mile.

During your test drive, be sure to spend extra time in the position you usually sleep in. It can take up to 15 minutes to relax enough to feel the true support of a mattress, so don’t rush it. The more time you take in a store, the less likely you’ll have buyer’s remorse later on.

Top Tips for Scandinavian House

Renowned for their simplicity, utility, and beauty, Scandinavian homes have a pure, pared backed style that is centered around warm functionality, clean lines, flawless craftsmanship and understated elegance. The use of light is considered to be extremely important, and many Scandinavian homes  are characterized by the use of earthy muted tones, honest materials and minimal ornamentation.

1. Floors

Wall to wall carpets never took off in Sweden and all truly Scandinavian interiors will have a wooden, preferably light, floor in all rooms apart from the bathrooms.

2. Colour

White walls and cool grey and blue textiles definitely gives off the right ambience of a Scandinavian interior however there are more colourful textiles from the likes of Marimekko in the 60s pop vein and the much more decorative Josef Frank from the 40s. Both very different, both very Scandinavian.

3. Materials

Wood, and don’t be afraid to show it. Incorporate cladding on walls and even ceilings to add texture and warmth. Use a grey oil to take the yellow away from woods like pine or oak.

4. Form

Clean lines from architecture to furniture.


5. Function

A truly Scandinavian interior is very livable.

6. Furniture

There are such incredible pieces from several manufacturers. From the mid-century period designers like Hans Wegner, Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen stand out and their pieces are just as beautiful today as they were when they were conceived.

7. Put a fireplace in the corner

Scandinavian winters are much harsher than those in the UK and most apartments and houses have an original fire in the living room. Unlike British fireplaces that are usually the focal point of a grand room, these are often very simple columns (many originals from the 19th century are beautifully tiled) and are located in the corner of the room.

8. Be eco-friendly

Swedes have been very quick to add eco-friendly aspects to their houses. Triple-glazing, proper insulation for walls and roofs, ground source heat pumps … all these are fairly standard in Swedish new builds. Rockville, MD roofing company Seneca Creek can make sure you home is properly insulated.


Bedroom Lightning Tips


The ambient lighting is desirable to have multiple modes and strengths oflighting to set the lighting depending on your current mood. Care should be taken that can be set so as not to shining, or it need to be possible to regulate the intensity of light.

The bedroom is a place for relaxation and rest, and lighting plays a major role in creating suitable conditions for that. Unlike central lighting, which has functional role, ambient lighting allows you to create an atmosphere for appropriate mood.

Ambient lighting can be achieved in several ways. One way is with a built-in light of the ceiling, the ceiling lowered, and it is advisable to have control of the volume.

Especially interesting effects can be achieved by incorporating LED lighting elements in the bedroom. It can be LED strips that are placed on the bottom inner edge of the bed, which will create indirect lighting under the bed.

LED strips can be placed in closets, and the edges of the pieces of furniture. By setting up walllighting behind the bed header, you can create a play of light and shadow, which will create an interesting decoration on the wall. Ambient lighting can be obtained with the use of table and floor lamps. They can be placed on the nightstands near a decorative object or the floor behind the bed, if there is free space.


Picking Paint Tips

Start Small

If you’re not sure where to begin with color, experiment in a powder room or bathroom, a small hall or area between rooms, or an accent wall. If you’re doing your own painting, pick an area that’s quick to do so you can see your results sooner, and be happy with it or change it. Look at the process as an adventure.
To get started, select a favorite color drawn from artwork, a rug, dishes and an accessory or furniture piece as a main color or accent.

Think About Your Mood

When selecting a color, consider the mood of a room. In a bedroom do you want the feeling to be restful and soothing or dramatic and intimate? Soft, cool colors and neutrals usually create a quieter feeling while stronger colors are for drama.
Do you want a dining area to feel sociable and stimulating or appear formal and quiet? Warmer, contrasting and somewhat brighter colors add to a sociable atmosphere; deeper blue-greens and neutrals will give a more formal ambiance.
Do you want kid’s rooms to create an active and exciting energy or an orderly and restful feeling? Be careful not to overstimulate your children with intensely bright hues. You may not know it, but some brighter colors can lead to unrest and irritability.

Pay Attention to Lighting

The reason why paint stores have light boxes for you to test paint chips:
  • Natural daylight shows the truest color;
  • Incandescent lighting brings out warm tones and yellows;
  • Fluorescent lighting casts a sharp blue tone.

So, a strong color might be too bright and overpowering when used on all walls or next to a large window, but it might be effective when used as an accent wall with indirect light.

Learn the Color Terms

It helps to understand the terminology used to describe color.
  • Hue is what we call a color. Red is the hue; blue is the hue.
  • The value of the hue is how light or dark it is.
  • Saturation refers to how dominant the hue is. As we go from red to pink, the red hue becomes less dominant.
  • Intensity is the brilliance of the color. The pure colors such as red are more intense than the combined colors such as yellow-green. A stronger intense color usually has a more dominant hue.

If you want a more active space, consider introducing stronger, more intense color. Even if you want a light-colored room, choose colors that are slightly more saturated than off-white or light pastel. Very light color can feel bright and stark when it appears on all surfaces in a room. However, two or more medium-light, closely related pastel colors can create a luminous effect when used in the same room.

Add Depth With Decorative Finishes

Transform flat, dull walls into interesting and personal spaces with subtle or dramatic visual texture and broken color. Burnished mineral/metal finishes and layered colored glazes add depth. Some examples of softly reflective metals are mica, copper, pewter, bronze and, of course, antiqued silver and gold.


Basic Ideas for Modern House

Simplicity. If you were looking for a word that described what modern home decor was then that would be; it is simplicity. Of course, simple doesn’t mean boring and modern decor with its clean lines, neutral color palette and geometric shapes is anything but boring. Instead, modern home decor can be warm, inviting and completely stylish in just about any home. But how do you achieve modern home decor? Obviously, it isn’t as simple as walking into a store and choosing items that have clean lines. There takes a bit more to that and there are several basic ideas that should be incorporated into a modern decor.


The first idea is to keep it simple. Remember that word that best describes modern design and make sure that you incorporate it into your space. There is no need for the room to simply be four walls and a chair for sitting, we aren’t going to that extreme, but you will want to keep things as uncluttered as it possible. Studies have shown that clutter can lead to stress in your life so keeping your decor simple will help alleviate some of the stresses that you feel.

The second idea of modern home decor is function. Not only should your rooms be simple with those clean lines and minimal artwork and accessories, but it should also be functional. This varies greatly from room to room but when you go into a room, it should be easy to access and use various items in it. So, for instance, a kitchen that is designed with modern decor in mind should have ample workroom and everything should be easy to access.

Technology is the third idea for a modern decor in your home. It is actually a lot more than simply stating “technology” and any electronics that are in your home should work with the space. It is often recommended that all electronics be streamlined, so flat panel televisions, built in DVD players, small flat screen televisions in the kitchen, and computers tied in to a room rather than being a lump in it, are important to keep those lines clean.

Open spaces. If you are going with a modern decor, then you will want to utilize our fourth idea by having lots of open space in your home. This may not be possible in some homes that offer closed rooms instead of an open concept but you can create the appearance of open spaces by using color, fabrics and furniture. You can also keep windows coverings that are light in color and airy in feel to create an open feel in to the room, even if it isn’t.


Relaxing At Home

  • Redo a Room with Simple Changes:

The easiest way to freshen a room is to change a room’s looks with the seasons. Slipping on slipcovers, rearranging some furnishing, and adding elements of the season make a room more welcoming. Seasonal elements — plants, flowers, and other decorations — can give a room an instant facelift.

  • Move the Outdoors In

The goal of garden style is to blur the line between indoors and out, but without sacrificing all the comforts of modern domesticated spaces. Here we’ve used a rustic bench, but if you want to keep a cushy couch, just cover it with a botanical print, or even toss a picnic blanket over it. After all, there’s a reason humankind builds comforting, sheltering homes.

  • Soak Away Stress:

Wash away the cares of the day. Make your bathroom function on both the practical and pampering levels. Install a tub deep enough to soak in, add thick towels, warm colors, soft lighting, and soothing music to make those precious moments an experience that bathes body and soul, refreshing both.

  • Dream Up a Relaxing Bedroom:

Extend the calming influence of a bedroom beyond the bed: Keep only the essentials within reach and within view. Decorate the walls in the colors that comfort you, and add only artwork that makes you smile. Cover the floor with rugs or carpeting that feels best on bare feet. Cocooning your bed in yards of fabric can also help you block out the world, literally and figuratively.

  • Create a Comfort Zone

Make a place in your home where relaxing is the key function. Make it convenient for your choice of relaxing activity — reading, listening to music, or watching a movie. Put a barrier between you and the distractions of the world. Folding screens block out unwanted views and redirect foot traffic away from the area.

  • Make a Place to Plan:

What a home workspace needs is focus and convenience: Have everything you need close at hand so you can concentrate on the work you need or choose to do. Make it an inviting place by adding personal elements and comfort; look at a home office as an investment in yourself.

  • Dress an Inviting Table:

Relaxing needn’t be a solitary affair. The company of friends and family for a good meal is an unbeatable stress buster — but not if there’s no good place to gather. White china, no matter how elegant, fades into the background, so to make the table inviting you’ll have to add things — flowers, candles, linens, etc. China of a lively pattern or rich color becomes its own statement, requiring little accompaniment to set a style.