Decorating with Vintage Luggage

Consistently at thrift stores and flea markets you can find old fashioned, vintage hard sided suitcases. These outdated accessories might not suit today’s traveler but they can make wonderful decorative elements for the home. Look for vintage suitcases that are in good shape, are unlocked or have a key, and are free from musty scents and mildew.

Vintage suitcases can be used in many rooms of the home as creative storage. A stack of vintage suitcases can be used as a nightstand next to the bed or a table in the entry. Placing a piece of glass cut to match the top of the suitcase will protect the suitcase from water marks. If the exterior of the suitcase is not in the best shape or you dislike the color, you can paint the luggage to suit your décor. Matching the color of the suitcases to your existing wall or floor color can help tie it in with the rest of your design.

Luggage is great for storing kids toys as well as odds and ends in the craft room. You can put vintage style luggage tags on the handles to indicate what is stored inside to keep things organized. A vintage suitcase in a guest room can hold essentials like an extra toothbrush or sleep mask for your guests.

There are so many ways to use vintage luggage as decorative storage in the home. Keep an eye out the next time you visit your favorite thrifting haunts, flea markets or antique stores.

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Pretty Pansies

Along with Spring flowering bulbs, pansies are another sure sign that the warm days of summer are just around the corner. Pretty pansies will quickly begin showing up in garden centers and at nurseries in wide flats of glorious color. Perfect for window boxes, planters and borders, these hardy flowers look delicate but can handle a cool dip in temperatures. The colors available in pansies are sure to inspire beautiful Spring decorating both indoors and out.

Looking at this picture of a table of pansies at a nursery shows the wide range of pansy colors. Each flower is center by a splash of black, an excellent tip for decorating with bold colors too. Reds, purples, yellows, whites and the green of the foliage can all work together because of the unifying element of black at the center of each flower.

Pairing contrasting colors together like red and blue, or purple and yellow, can work in a number of rooms and decorative elements. A predominately white area rug could have all of these colors and feel balanced with the white background. Other options for even bolder area rugs are a pair of contrasting colors with a black accent. The black will make the colors pop even more than they do against the white.

Pick up the colors of pansies in other seasonal accents like table decorations and napkins for the dining table. Perfect for Spring holiday meals and brunches. Accent the colorful table with small bouquets, or nosegays, of pansies for a colorful Spring table.

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The Argument for Area Rugs

Perhaps you just installed real hardwood floors and want to show them off. Perhaps you aren’t sure what size, material or style rug to buy. There are many reasons why you might not have an area rug in your living room or dining room, but today we’re going to look at the argument for having area rugs in seating and dining areas.

This open concept living and dining room has a beautiful, shiny hardwood floor that flows between the two areas. The floor is gorgeous and should be a focal point in the room. However, by not having any area rugs, the furniture seems to float in the space. Given that there is not a great deal of space between the living area and the dining area, the two areas blend together.

Using an area rug in the living room seating area would help distinguish this part of the room from the dining room. An area rug that was large enough so that it could go under the chairs and coffee table would make these elements feel like they belong with the sofa as a unified group despite being different in styles. Area rugs can anchor a seating area, or dining table, in a space because the rectangle, or square, of the rug creates a boundary.

An area rug under the dining table would also help anchor the dining area, helping to make it feel more like a defined space. Large rooms that have multiple functions need to have clear delineations of activities. Otherwise they can feel cluttered and confusing to the eye.

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Saving Up for Home Projects

Did you ever have a piggy bank when you were a kid? Were you the kind of kid who was good about putting money into the bank and saving for something you really wanted like a bike or game or new jeans? Or were you the kind of kid who spent the money in the piggy bank almost as soon as you put it inside?

Some people are just born savers while others of us struggle to delay gratification and save up for the big purchases. With today’s economy, credit and financing might not be as easily come by as they have in the past. If we want to make a major purchase we have to save up for it.

Owning a home means there are always a list of want-to-do’s and have-to-do’s. Wanting a new bathroom or hardwood floors is different than having to replace a broken water heater or leaking washing machine. Saving a little each month or by paycheck is a great way to be able to afford the want list while leaving the emergency fund for the need list.

Bigger purchases like flooring or a kitchen remodel might take months, or every years, to save up for. The less you have to finance or put on credit is always better so even if you can put away a percentage of the project’s budget in savings, you’ll be ahead of the game. Smaller wants like a new sofa for the family room or area rug for the bedroom can be saved up for more quickly.

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Multi-Functional Furniture for Small Spaces

Studio apartments and small rooms can benefit from furniture that serves multiple purposes. Combining functions in a single piece of furniture can save precious space in small rooms. If square footage is an issue, consider furniture that can do double or triple duty.

In the room pictured here there are two multi-functional pieces: one is the table and the other the sofa. The table pivots to turn from a two tier console table into a desk or dining table. When not in use as table or desk, the top returns to a more narrow profile to save on space.

The sofa turns into a bed when the back reclines. The model is a popular option and provides another choice besides a futon or sofa bed. During the day the sofa provides comfortable seating for two and the desk chair makes room for three to sit comfortably in this small space. This combination can work for a home office as well as a small guest room or studio.

Ottomans that also have storage can be used as a portable coffee table or bedside table. Choosing a storage ottoman in place of a traditional coffee table will provide much needed storage in a small space.

Flooring in small spaces can make them feel larger. Dark colors can expand the feeling of the floor as can stripes, both subtle and bold. A room size area rug will be a better choice than a small rug that will draw attention to the small footprint.

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Household Caution: Wet Floors

We’ve all seen the wet floor sign at the mall or at a restaurant, but probably don’t have one in our own homes. Slippery floors in the kitchen or bathroom can be just as dangerous in our own homes as they would be out in public. Choosing the right type of flooring for the kitchen and bathroom and using mats and area rugs can lower the chance of slips from wet floors.

Certain stones like polished marble and granite can be extremely slippery when wet. For a bathroom with polished marble tile floors, a bathmat with an anti-slip grip on the back is a good idea near the tub and also near the sink. Tumbled stone has more of a surface texture and can be a better idea for the bathroom floor. Smaller tiles with more grout lines can also create a more textured surface that will not be as slippery when wet.

Water in the kitchen is not as much of an issue unless there is a spill. Wood floors can be slippery depending on their finish and texture. Laminate floors offer a smooth surface that can be very slippery when wet. Stone, especially slate, has more texture. This isn’t to say don’t have smooth surfaced hardwood or laminate floors in the kitchen. A mat in front of the sink can catch errant drips and spills while rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher.

If you have a polished stone or laminate floor, make sure to wipe up drips and spills right away so you don’t create a slippery surface for yourself and your family.

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Naturally Woven Fibers

Words like jute, sisal, abaca and rattan sound exotic. These natural woven fibers are a strong and durable material for home goods. Jute and sisal are typically found in area rugs while abaca and rattan are used for furnishings and accessories. These woven plant fibers create a great texture for rugs and furniture that can add texture to your décor.

Sisal comes from a type of agave plant; the same type of plant that brings us tequila and agave sweetener. Jute is a plant fiber that is typically spun into ropes. It is second only to cotton in terms of volume produced. Abaca comes from the same plant that gives us the fiber for manila envelopes. Rattan comes from a type of palm tree and produces a hard fiber that can be woven into seating and tables.

These natural materials are typically inexpensive and can be found in a wide range of styles. The plant based materials are quickly replenished, making them a better option than old growth or slow growing woods. Bamboo is another fast growing material that is used as both a fiber and wood product, as seen in bamboo flooring and cutting boards.

Jute and sisal rugs add great texture and a durable surface to the floor. These rugs can range from doormats to room size area rugs. Rattan furniture also readily accepts paint and stain for a customized look. Both jute and sisal rugs can be painted with stencils or a border, this is a great way to add a personal touch.

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The Armchair Designer

There used to be an expression about armchair travelers. These are people who explore the world from the comfort of their own living rooms rather than partake in actual travel. A twist on this phrase today is the armchair designer. We are quickly becoming a country obsessed with decorating. There are multiple television networks devoted to design and home projects. Shelter magazines, once the best resource for interior design trends and tips, have declined in number only to be replaced with thousands of blogs about decorating and design.

The move to the internet has allowed more people to learn about and share ideas about design. Top designers still set the bar and the trends, but DIY has transformed homes across the country with a little imagination and some elbow grease.

While some armchair designers are content to watch design programs and judge or dream based on the designs they see, many people are inspired to decorate or redecorate their homes themselves. Seeing rooms transformed from ordinary to extraordinary is great entertainment, but it is also empowering. Being able to share projects on blogs and get ideas and feedback from readers and other bloggers creates a sense of community and support. Showing off your custom painted area rug, board and batten paneling or the chandelier rescued from the trash is fun and may even inspire someone else to be creative.

There really has been no better time to jump into the world of design from the comfort of your own home.

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Keeping Your Home Cozy in the Winter

A cozy scarf can keep you warm in the cooler months of the year. There are better options than a scarf to keep your home cozy in the winter. Keeping a house cozy is a matter of stopping the cold air and keeping the warm air inside. Doors and windows are the biggest culprits when it comes to drafts and cold air. Seal around your windows and doors, or invest in new doors and windows that can better prevent heat loss.

Cold floors are one of the worst things in a cold house in winter. Putting your feet down on a cold floor right out of bed or the shower can be jarring. Having a cozy area rug or thick bathmat can make a soft and warm place for your feet. Heated floors in the bathroom are even better. Installing heated floors throughout the home can be expensive, but if you live in a climate with cold winters, may well be worth the extra cost.

Along with rugs, curtains can be used to keep rooms feeling cozy. Thick curtains that are lined can keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Close them at night but open them during the day to let the sunlight inside. Come summer’s hot months, reverse this and you’ll keep the sun’s heat outside.

Winter is perfect for knit accessories for both fashion and your home. Cable knit sweaters and cashmere scarves for you, cable knit pillows and cashmere throws for the home.

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Tone on Tone Texture

This beautiful living room is a wonderful example of using texture rather than color to add interest to a room design. Bathed in creamy neutrals, this monochrome living room feels sophisticated rather than boring. Texture plays a big part in the overall success of the room design.

The limited number of design elements in this living room means that each one needs to be a standout. Clean lines and luxurious textures dominate the contemporary space where lots of color and patterns would be the focus of a traditional style living room. Clean lines on the sofa, console and the stone floor make for a minimalist space that could feel cold and impersonal. The thick shag rug changes that feeling.

Adding texture like the shag area rug or a Flokati rug adds a strong textural element to a contemporary space. The cool stone floor becomes an inviting place to sprawl out or sit. Keeping the tone of the rug similar to the stone allows the contrast in texture between the rug and stone to be the focus.

Mixing textures up between design elements calls more attention to each element. The juxtaposition between smooth and rough catches the eye. Where color or pattern might be the focal points in a room, in this space the focal point is texture. Texture could be brought up onto the white sofa with a pillow in the same white or cream that has a lot of texture. A Mongolian lamb pillow would be a great addition and echo the thick texture of the area rug.

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