Archive for the ‘Favorite Things’ Category
This month, I was invited to preview the Lake Forest Showhouse, an annual tradition sponsored by the Infant Welfare Society. In all its grandeur, the Lake Forest home designed by renowned architect, David Adler, contained an endless supply of beautiful and innovative designs provided by interior designers, landscape architects and suppliers of every kind of product for the home you can imagine.
With 7-10,000 visitors expected over these few weeks, (ending May 19) the $40 ticket prices raise considerable funds for a charity that does good things for so many. Many other organizations are jumping in to offer showhouses, hoping to get the same turn out as the Infant Welfare Society Showhouse events.
SHOWHOUSES OFFER CHANCE TO GIVE BACK AND PROVIDE TARGET MARKETING CAMPAIGN
I asked Farrow & Ball, a high-end paint and wallpaper company from England why they have participated as a supplier, donating so much time and thousands of dollars in gorgeous paint and papers, and they responded: “It is a relevant way for Farrow & Ball to be of service in their local Chicago community while reaching an audience who is interested in their product.”
INTERIOR DESIGNERS OFFER SOURCES AT SHOWCASES
Most decorators offer the names of the pieces they are showing at these showhouses, so viewers can get ideas and maybe even shop by themselves. Usually, there is a caveat. You need to have a pass at a design center to shop for many of the pieces showcased in the home. Still, the donation to charity and the ability to walk through your dream home may be just the perfect outing for anyone looking for the most unusual ideas for their home. With some homes having more than 30 designers showing off their interior design skills, you can compare the work of these artists and use this as a chance to hire the best designer for your own home.
Photo credits: Farrow & Ball
WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE: PRESERVING PICTURES AND OTHER MEMENTOS
Losing my father recently I was comforted by looking at old photos and reading letters from people whose lives he touched in so many ways. I cut out old pictures from the newspaper and began to make collages, and framed them. Nothing warms my home up like looking up and seeing a picture of my father.
Mementos of a loved one often get stored away to look at later, but when taken out of the cabinets, can add so much happiness to your life.
PRESERVE SPECIAL MEMORIES
I ran across the most charming of stores recently called Ben’s Garden, in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York (there is also a location in Huntington, New York). Selling a precious collection of custom keepsake decoupage pieces, trays, paper weights, and stationery at stores like: Anthropologie, ABC Carpet & Home, Dean & DeLuca, and Kate’s Paperie, Ben has created a national following for creating special keepsakes and charming art pieces. Ben Busko is a most talented artist, offering gift ideas for family, friends, teachers and other special people in your life. Send in old letters, wedding invitations, photos, or your child’s artwork to create lasting memories in preserved art. For under $100, you can touch someone special with a keepsake.
DOWNSIZING OR REFURNISHING? DONATE YOUR FURNITURE TO THOSE IN NEED
There is a wonderful way to improve other lives while improving your home. The Furniture Bank has 70 locations throughout the country, picking up furniture from your home or store and delivering it to those in need. With more than 1 million homeless in America, gently used furniture donations are greatly needed to provide comfort to seniors, battered women, the unemployed and students.
The Furniture Bank works with donators and the recipients of some very functional furniture. A side benefit of donating furniture is being able to write off furniture donations from taxes. You may also wish to send a check to the Furniture Bank.
Some local furniture stores are even offering discounts of up to 10% if they work with a local furniture bank to donate furniture. Ask your local furniture store.
How to Donate Furniture if You are a Homeowner
Visit www.furniturebank.org to find one of the 70 locations for pickup across the United States. Each furniture bank operates independently and decides which items they are willing to take. Large items like beds, sofas, dressers and lamps are all functional pieces that families starting over need.
Donate Furniture if you Own a Hotel or Other Business
Businesses can reap the benefits of donating gently used furniture. Many banks will pick up the furniture even two or three hours away.
Why not help someone else in the coming year? Visit www.furniturebank.org
If you have ever walked into a furniture store and then into a clothing store, you’ll begin to see recurrent color themes. Our eyes begin adjust to these colors, and that’s how trends are born. Though I’ve vowed to never follow trends in color or fashion, (my friends would agree), I am interested in trying out small additions of the latest colors trends. It is easy to become stale in your sense of design and fashion, and adding a pop of a hot color doesn’t have to make you look trendy, just updated–there’s a difference. The Pantone group carefully selects after doing a lot of research on environmental and consumer trends, news, new technology and other noteworthy events, and their research paves the wave of the future, in how we see the world, our homes and closet. Selecting some key colors can make all the difference in the world when you are selling a house or just refreshing your look.
In my own home, I have decided to reupholster some furniture in my living room and office. Though I am careful to not go overboard in buying the hottest trends in fabrics, I am selecting fabrics that reflect a slightly updated look.
2013 PANTONE COLORS
This year’s hottest colors are emerald green and pale purple. Here are examples to whet your appetite:
WAYS TO INCORPORATE 2013 PANTONE COLORS QUICK AND AFFORDABLY
1. Paint a wall–this is easy and an affordable way to bring life into your home and freshen things up a bit
2. Paint a baseboard or molding a different color–why not take advantage of the 2013 color trends without making a long term investment?
3. Add a blanket or pillow with your favorite hot new color—maybe add a small geometric–your home will instantly look updated and fresh
4. Get an inexpensive poster, new or old, frame it in a Pantone 2013 color
5. Buy a kitchen appliance, small or large, in a hot new color—who says you have to take your kitchen appliances off the counter? Keep your favorite, or most frequently used appliance out. You’ll be surprised at how your family and friends will notice and compliment you on it.
6. Buy new knobs for your desk drawers—knobs usually run $5-20, but give a little burst of life and color that can modernize your office space
WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE WITH YOUR NEW HOME? DOES YOUR HOME TRULY REFLECT YOUR OWN TASTE, OR SOMEONE ELSE’S?
Through all uncertainties of the real estate market and the economy you might say that home decor has changed for most homeowners. Stodgy, impractical and stuffy furniture of the 70′s and 80′s, the look of our parents’ generation, has given way to more functional, comfortable and affordable fashions. Picking up the basics at places like Costco and fashionable, urban, flea markets, have become the norm.
MY FAVORITE FREE RESOURCES TO HELP GET IDEAS ABOUT FURNISHING YOUR HOUSE EXACTLY TO YOUR LIKING
- Dwell( ideas for a more efficient house, soup to nuts)
- Reader’s Digest (decluttering ideas–fresh and new ideas that will make your life a lot easier)
- Oprah Home (multiple choices displayed for every piece of furniture you will need)
- Martha Stewart Home (smart, fashionable choices for each room in your house)
- Homeportfolio.com (lists thousands of choices of products and design ideas, and links to the sites where you can buy them–saves huge amount of time)
- Lesliehindman.com (great Chicago-based auction house that offers monthly auction in a wide variety of styles, periods and prices–take advantage of the great auction prices right now)
- Designspongeonline.com (perfect place to get ideas that are well thought out and executed-no need to hire a designer if you go to this site–artistic, creative, easy to use and fun!)
- Decor8blog.com (special finds and secrets from around the world, for all the little details of your house, with links to the nation’s best stores, all in one site)
- Freshome.com (displays latest design and function characteristics for every piece of furniture you buy)
- Trendir.com (the latest in materials, colors, textiles, trim)
- Homedesignfind.com (beautiful layouts of entire room designs–great place for room design ideas)
- www.houzz.com (best ideas for rooms, places to shop, color schemes)
While buying a first home or condo can be a major accomplishment, furnishing it can be especially challenging for buyers of small homes who want to make their living space functional and comfortable, yet practical for entertaining and accommodating overnight guests.
Home furnishings expert and Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever! author, Jennifer Litwin, says there are many “tricks” to making a small home more functional and appear more spacious. “I recommend using oversize mirrors in small rooms to make them look roomier and give them dimension,” she says. “I also suggest using furniture that is tall, with lots of storage, rather than wide. For example, a buffet with cabinets above it can be used for storing dishes and china.
Litwin, has been dubbed the “Sensible Shopper for the Home,” and is known for her trademark “chair rating system” used to rank furniture stores nationally, according to price, service, ambiance and quality. She says what’s hot now is dual-purpose furniture used for daily living as well as entertaining.
“Homeowners today want to buy practical furniture, she admits. “That’s why all the major furniture chains like Pottery Barn are showcasing furniture that is multifunctional. A perfect example of this is the captain’s bed.”
Litwin’s top five must-haves for small apartments, homes or condos include:
Sleeper sofa. A couch or chair that also serves as a bed is a necessity. Inflatable mattresses have replaced stiff bars in couches.
Tray tables. Whether stored in the closet or used as side tables in your family room, tray tables are great for entertaining. Some of the more decorative ones can be used all year-round and are great accent pieces for the home.
Folding chairs. Made of metal, plastic or wood, folding chairs can be used around dining tables or placed in living room and dining room areas to seat extra guests. The trend today in folding chairs is a chair that isn’t floppy, like the old folding chairs, often with safety closures, and doesn’t look or feel like the older-model folding chairs. Many of these chairs look good enough to leave out year-round. Ikea boasts folding chairs in durable plastic and Terje folding chairs in beechwood.
Dual-purpose ottomans and coffee tables. In all different fabrics, ottomans can provide storage for items and can serve as tables, foot rests or extra chairs. Another up-and-coming trend is the coffee table that raises and lowers to become an eating table. It’s a great place to put the pieces you don’t want out for the company to see!
Futons. Futons no longer look like the clumsy, unattractive versions seen in the 80s. Today’s host can feel comfortable having guests stay in the updated, contemporary futons, many of which come with magazine racks and drink holders. This is currently the best value in extra sleeping surfaces.
“I also recommend having easily portable or inflatable items, like chairs and mattresses, that can be stored in the closet, and taken out when company comes,” Litwin adds.
By Liz Arnold, for Real Simple
What will be collectible 20, 30 even 50 years from now? Real Simple asks experts to name the 10 home accessories that will stand the test of time.
LOUIS GHOST CHAIR
by Philippe Starck
Great indoors or – believe it or not – outdoors, this chair is a refreshing twist on the 250-year-old Louis XVI version, a court of Versailles staple that had a huge impact on furniture design.
TO BUY: $362, www.kartell.it for stores.
French designer Starck, the man behind boutique hotels like the Delano, in Miami Beach, joined forces with Italian furniture manufacturer Kartell in 2002 to create this beauty, which is made by injecting molten plastic into a mold (so it has no seams). It resides in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s permanent collection.
what the design pros say
- “Starck is channeling the history of furniture and combining it with technology to make it entirely modern,” says Richard Wright.
- “He’s a design genius,” says Jeffrey Beers. “This chair will certainly appreciate tenfold in 25 to 30 years.”
GARLAND SHADE LIGHT
by Tord Boontje
This shimmery fixture features a doilylike shade in brass or silver, which clips to the base of a bulb. You can combine shades to create larger designs.
TO BUY: $80, www.momastore.org.
In 2001 botany met bare bulbs when Dutch designer Boontje devised a pattern of leaves and flowers on a sheet of metal that could be cut with a laser. His light is now in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.
what the design pros say
- “Boontje made metal ethereal,” says Suzan Globus. “He’s the first person to push laser-cut technology to design something that many people can afford.”
- “I can see why I’d stilt be excited about this piece in 30 years,” says Anthony Di Bitonto. “Some things are too heavily styled, and they can took dated. But this is pure and simple.”
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By Penny Cockerell, The Oklahoman, for The Daily Oklahoman
There was a time when decorating your college dorm room didn’t go much beyond a bedspread, a wall poster and, if you were lucky, a framed photo of your boyfriend.
Now, even though the dorm rooms themselves haven’t changed much, options for designing one that is both functional and fun make it not only possible, but a must.
Of course, colleges and universities have restrictions. And this may be your first real shot at decorating. Think of it as your first challenge with creativity.
The good news is, you’re not alone. Some really cool options are out there in bedding, wall decor, storage and more.
“Young people see a lot. There are magazines and TV shows with cool decor, and I think kids are into that. They want their rooms to be reflective of themselves,” said Bebe MacKellar, an interior decorator with Fanny Bolen Interiors in Oklahoma City.
Ruth Ellis, an Edmond interior designer, set up a mock dorm room in her home to illustrate the possibilities. The first thing she added was a circular theme of bright colors. Fuschia, lime green — all colors are available in draperies, bedding, wall art, stackable storage containers, you name it. Pick your scheme and go full tilt.
With so many inexpensive options, here’s your chance to be whimsical and sensible at the same time.
“Think about how you can make a huge splash of style without breaking the bank,” said Ellis, who just created “Girlie Girl Room,” an offshoot of her design firm, Fabulous Faces.
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- Time it right. Like clothes, furniture and other home goods are seasonal. New merchandise arrives in stores twice a year, and sales are pegged to clear out old inventory. Discounts start at 20% around Memorial Day and again around Veterans Day in November, according to Jackie Hirschhaut of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. The percentage off tends to increase as the weeks pass; you’ll find the best bargains (up to 60% off) after July 4 and Christmas. Don’t feel like waiting? Christine Edmonds, an interior design consultant at Trove Decor in Newtown, Pa., suggests you check out Room & Board (roomandboard.com). ”It sells well-built, good-value, timeless pieces that mesh with just about any decor” – and the company generally keeps prices at the same reasonable level year-round.
- Use high-tech helpers. For flash sales on high-end home goods, check out onekingslane.com and gilthome .com. Follow your local Groupon and LivingSocial feeds for housewares sales near you. And never buy anything without Googling a promo code: You might score 10% off or free shipping-which, with heavy furniture, can really add up.
- Go vintage for certain pieces. Wood furniture built 40 or more years ago is often better quality than similarly priced new pieces, according to Edmonds. ”The best bargains today are on dining tables and chairs -they’re the first thing people get rid of when they downsize,” says Carolyn Baker of Baker Auction and Estate Sale Services in Denver. ”You can find nice sets for about $200 to $400 now.” (Avoid upholstered items; the cost of replacing the fabric will ruin the deal.) Find estate sales near you at estatesales.net and auctions by searching NAAAuctions.com.
- Don’t snub flea markets and yard sales. They may seem downscale, but these days many offer fantastic deals on vintage home goods such as silverware, lamps, and cabinets that need a little inexpensive TLC (polishing, rewiring, a coat of paint). Next month is the time to check out flea markets: Vendors start discounting before packing up in October, says Jennifer Litwin, author of The Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever. To find them, go to keysfleamarket.com; to find yard sales near you, download the app iGarageSale ($1.99, available for Android and iPhone).
History repeats itself. Studies have shown that over time, people tend to make the same bad choices the second time around, and most of us are guilty of shopping at the same awful stores that we vowed we would never step foot in again.
I have also been in this rut. I vowed when the stock market crashed last year that I would explore new retailers, and new ways of shopping; I’ve been surprisingly happy with the results I came up with.
GET OUT OF YOUR SHOPPING RUT
After recently shopping at Costco (and renewing my membership for a whopping $50) I realized why I signed up in the first place. My son likes their chocolate cake. That’s it. That’s the only reason. And I paid $50 for that privilege to buy that one cake, one time.
In a recent radio show I hosted with the Miserly Mom, Jonni McCoy, listeners learned why Costco isn’t the price leader for many household products we assume must be cheaper because of their massive bundled quantities. You don’t need to be a repeat shopper. There may be other better ways to shop. You don’t need to pay anymore to belong to a “club”. Save your money.
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