Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bedding 101

As the nights get colder and the days get shorter we all crave a nice cozy bed to end our long days with.  What constitutes "nice" for some, means something else to others.  Not only does the type of mattress matter when it comes to getting that good night's sleep, but so does the bedding we choose to sleep in.  Most of us just throw on a sheet, duvet or a blanket or two and a couple of pillows, not really considering the fabric we are surrounding ourselves with and with all that "thread count" talk, can you really blame us?  So that's why I'm going to shed some light on what all this means and hopefully help you get that "nice" cozy bed you've been craving. 

Thread Count
What exactly is thread count?  It's simply the amount of horizontal and vertical threads in one square inch of the material.  The higher the thread count the softer the sheet and ranges anywhere from 80 all the way up to 800.  Depending on the material, a higher thread count doesn't necessarily mean higher quality, and they aren't guaranteed to last longer.  Your best option is to choose a cotton-blend with a 180-200 thread count.  

Facts About Cotton
Cotton ranges in price, depending on the percentage found in the sheet, not to mention the different types being used.  The most expensive being Egyptian cotton.  It's known to be one of the most luxurious, soft and durable options, but   it's important to look at the percentage actually being used.  A cotton/polyester blend is the best option for most, one being more affordable and the second being able to withstand wrinkles more than other blends.  

Flannel and Silk
Made from a wool textile and cotton blend, flannel comes in a wide range of thread counts, making it a cozy choice for the winter.  Most manufacturers won't list the percentage on labels due to the fact that they feel it isn't important and less applicable to the material.  I wouldn't recommend this for the summer or for use in warmer homes.  Silk is a breathable fabric that pulls moisture from the body during the heat of the summer and holds the body heat in the winter.  For people with allergies this is a great choice, being hypoallergenic.  

It's all about personal preference when it comes to choosing your pillow/s. Fatter pillows allow for a side sleeper to have more neck support while a back sleeper should stick with a flatter one.  Of course the size reflects the size of the bed.  Twin pillows for twin beds, queen pillows for queen bed etc.  Cheaper pillows are great for decor purposes while more expensive pillows should be used for sleeping.  What's used inside of the pillow is very important especially for those with allergies.  Down or feather filled are not great choices in those cases, even when the label reads "hypoallergenic".  Consider "hypodown" pillows which are specially processed to be hypoallergenic.  Foam pillows hold a better, firmer shape while the down allows your head to sink down into it.  All pillows should have casings and are not dust-mite free.  Polyester is a happy medium between foam and down. 

Duvets and Comforters   
Originating in Europe, duvets and duvet covers come in a vast array of designs and most duvets today are filled with duck down/feather combinations, with goose being the more expensive option.  The higher the quality the less likely to leak feathers.  You can also get duvets that are filled with synthetic fibers as well.  Comforters are basically thicker blankets that are filled with polyester batting.  Before making your choice of cover, keep in mind the temperature of the home and the environment which you are sleeping in.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fueling The Urge To Purge

With the holidays upon us and perhaps you have guests arriving soon, there's never been a better time than NOW to purge.  Remember when you cleaned out that closet in the Spring and the feeling you got was so much lighter, like a huge load had been lifted?  Well wouldn't it be nice to have that feeling every season?  I don't think enough attention is paid to that prouder feeling that comes from cleaning stuff out of our lives.  So that is why I say let's decide now that you're going to start a new monthly, weekly, or even daily ritual of throwing things out and letting things go. could change the world!  (Or least YOUR world).  What a great place to start!

So how do you know what to throw out?  Luckily, the rules of disengagement are really simple:

One.  If it-the thing, the belief or conviction, the memory, the job, even the person-weighs you down, clogs you up, or just plain makes you feel bad about yourself, throw it out, give it away, sell it, let it go, move on.

Two.  If it (see above), just sits there, taking up room and contributing nothing positive to your life, throw it out, give it away, sell it, let it go, move on.  If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward.  Throwing out what's negative helps you rediscover what's positive.

Three.  Don't make the decision-whether to toss it or keep it-a hard one.  If you have to weigh the pros and cons for too long or agonize about the right thing to do, throw it out.

Four.  Don't be afraid.  This is your life we're talking about.  The only one you've got for sure.  You don't have the time, energy, or room for physical or psychic waste.
Gail Blanke, Throw Out Fifty Things-Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Not Just About Wallpaper...Try These Painting Techniques!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All About The Guest Room For The Holidays

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cottage Style In And Out Of The City

"A mostly neutral palette allows the view to be the star attraction"

We all remember going to the beach as a child.  For most of us, we are now taking our own kids there and reliving the days of splashing in the ocean, soaking up the sun, taking in the smells  of the sea air and making new memories.  But there is something stronger that we long to hold onto and that is bringing the calm, fresh, airy feeling into our homes all year long.  There are many ways to get the look and feel of a cottage, while still staying true to your everyday life.  Here are just a few.  

Built-in Character
Panelling & painting in a warm white injects character

Make The Kitchen Roomy
Incorporate an island and large table for guests

The Warmth Of Wood
Adds classic cottage charm for the casual-contemporary feel of a home

Mix Old & New
The marriage of old & new works well for a classic cottage look and feel

Have Fun With Fabric
Hits of colour feel fresh making the space feel light filled all year long

Keep It Neutral
Camel & Cream

Blue & White

Green & White

Brown/black & white

White on White

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Value Of Staging

Staging works.  Delivering a big punch and tangible results.  Staging has changed the real estate market and when that market is good, Staging brings in top dollar, which often means an amount over the asking price;  when the market is slow, Staging keeps it moving.  
Increasing numbers of sellers are beginning to understand that Staging can increase the sale price of their home.  A carefully staged home can sell for 6 to 20 percent more than the list price in a modest neighbourhood.  In a high-end neighbourhood, this can be as much as 20 to 25 percent more. Staging does in fact create a ripple effect:  It impacts homeowners, the real estate agent, the neighbourhood, and the mortgage company, which in turn affects the economy in general.  

Your Return On Home Improvement Investments

Investing as little as $80 or as much as $3,000 will bring you closer to the sale of your home.  Below are some home improvements that are sure to increase your home's value.

Lighten and brighten.  Cost, $86-$110, increasing the sale of your home by $768-$935, bringing you an average return of 769%.  84 percent of agents recommend this improvement. 

Clean and de-clutter.  Cost, $305-$339, increasing the sale of your home by $2,093-$2,378, bringing you an average return of 594%.  91 percent of agents recommend this improvement. 

Fix plumbing and electrical.  Cost, $338-$381, increasing the sale of your home by $922-$1,208, bringing you an average return of 196%.  63 percent of agents recommend this improvement. 

Staging.  Cost, $212-$1,089, increasing the sale of your home by $2,275-$2,841, bringing you an average return of 169%.  76 percent of agents recommend staging.  

Kitchen and bath upgrades.  Cost, $1,546-$2,120, increasing the sale of your home by $3,823-$4,885, bringing you an average return of 138%.  83 percent of agents recommend this improvement.

Repair flooring.  Cost, $1,531-$1,714, increasing the sale of your home by $1,714-$2,267, bringing you an average return of 50%.  62 percent of agents recommend this improvement. 

Paint exterior walls.  Cost, $2,188-$2,381, increasing the sale of your home by $2,907-$3,233, bringing you an average return of 34%.  57 percent of agents recommend this improvement. 

Replace carpeting.  Cost, $2,602-$2,765, increasing the sale of your home by $3,585-$3,900, bringing you an average return of 39%.  65 percent of agents recommend this improvement.  

(Proven strategies from the creator of Home Staging, Barb Schwarz and costs are typical and based on geographics only.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Decorating 101: Transform a troubled room in an hour, a day or a weekend!

You don't need to take out a second mortgage to transform your troubled space into one you'll love.  In as little as one hour, you can make noticeable improvements to any problem area.  Listed below are some issues many people face and with some simple solutions, you too can revitalize your home and make a statement, one that you, your family and guests will delight in!

In An Hour:
(We'll use a living room as an example, but you can apply these rules to just about any room.)

Clear out any unnecessary clutter in the room and off the floor.  
If you find you have a sectional that is just too large for the room, split it up to create more of an open space .  
Add some pillows.  This is actually a really easy and inexpensive way to add colour to a space.  Another really inexpensive way is to look in your own backyard!  Look for branches and pretty flowers to bring inside to freshen up the look and add more colour.  
Lastly adding new lighting, will give you a completed look.  They should all be on dimmers to create any type of light you need when you need it.

In A Day:

One day may not seem like enough time to redecorate a room, but a few small improvements can make a huge difference.  For example, is that sectional or sofa suffering from stain overload?  You can easily get a slipcover or even better steam clean it and bring it back to it's original state or at least close to it.  
Adding art that is pleasing to the room will liven up the space and make it feel more complete.  
Once the sofa is cleaned, why not add an area rug?  The room will feel more cozy and comfortable and make it a space you will want to come home to.  
To complete the one day redesign, adding a coffee table and accessories from around the house (I fully believe in reusing, recycling), will add that finishing touch to the space.  

In A Weekend:

So what can be done in a weekend?  Repaint the walls in a warm neutral that is pleasing to everyone.  
Finding a new sofa that may better fit the space and your needs.  
After finding the perfect seating drapery is a nice finishing touch.  Keep them close to the paint colour for an airy feel and opposite for a more dramatic space.  
If storage is needed, depending on your needs, it can be found at almost any big box discount stores.  

Finally the easy and affordable improvements are done and you certainly didn't need a construction crew to do it.  Just some tips, time, a few dollars and some elbow grease was all it took.  Don't be surprised if you're the new neighbourhood design king or queen!  That my friends is decorating 101.  

(Photo courtesy of Emily Hagerman Design)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's Blooming? Tips on bouquets and centerpieces.

Where do I start and what's a fringed parrot tulip?

Who knew that choosing those fleeting little things called flowers could cause such an avalanche of indecision?  There are endless options, and it really is next to impossible to make flowers look bad, after all, they're flowers, not cummerbunds.  Whether you plan to use a pro or go the DIY route, after reading this series on What's Blooming, (which will arm you with practical information, of course), you're friends will be coming to you with advice!  So go on-gather ye rosebuds (or ranunculus) while ye may. (Oh, and by the way, that's a fringed parrot tulip you see here. You know, just in case.) So let's put your petal to the metal, starting with these considerations.

What colours do I want? Start assembling your palette on your own by following a few guidelines.

  • Decide which colours in both your ceremony and reception locations you want to enhance or play down.  If there are yellow walls, choosing yellow flowers isn't the best choice, as they may just disappear against the walls.
  • Consider the lighting you have to work with.  A daytime wedding, sunlight will flood into the space, so pale colours may get washed out.  So try using warm colours in low-light settings, which reflect light better.  Cool colours recede into darkness.
  • Pick three colours to start.  You can always add more later.  
  • Weigh neutrals as carefully as you would other colours because sometimes they can dilute a palette.
  • Make a trip to the paint store and head to the paint chips.  Pick up ones that appeal to you.  

There are three different pieces of the pie when it comes to your floral budget.  

  • In order of importance:  Flowers for the reception.  This is where you will spend the most. 
  • Flowers for the wedding party and immediate family members.  These are heavily photographed, so don't be tempted to cut corners.  
  • Flowers for the ceremony.  Sometimes there are limitations on decorating at ceremony sites, so check with the officiant.  You may not need these at all.  
  • Another way to save money is to avoid planning your wedding near the floral-heavy holidays, otherwise you could be dealing with supply-and-demand issues, which in turn could jack up the prices.  
Did somebody say style?
Casual, formal or wild and carefree?  That is the question.

  • Certain colours and blooms evoke different levels of formality, partly depending on how they are arranged.  
  • Most flowers don't fall easily into one category or another, but generally speaking bright colours and dynamic shapes have an informal feel, while muted monochromatic or single-variety collections appear more formal.  

(Courtesy of Real Simple Weddings)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Get Organized Now And Start Living Beautifully In 2010!

You Can Conquer Clutter!

Getting rid of clutter is a challenge make no mistake.  It comes in but never seems to stop.  Soon you find yourself in a sea of it literally drowning.  Never fear, there is hope!  Getting organized means changing long-held habits and below are some tips to help you rediscover your rooms, find storage space, make all those piles disappear, and bring calm into your home, office and personal life.  The goal is to make your life easier, more organized and beautiful!

What's Your Clutter Style?

It's important to identify your clutter type before dealing with it.  There are four main types of clutterers:

Obviously collectors collect things, but their collections are never complete.  On the journey to complete them, they find more things to collect along the way, never ridding of anything, just adding to the clutter.  

This type of clutterer keeps their stuff packed away and hidden so an outsider won't see it.  Concealers love storage containers of all kinds, often stacked neatly and sometimes even labeled.  This doesn't reduce the clutter but merely rearranges it.  In turn, it keeps accumulating.  

A person who keeps everything, basically a pack-rat.  Stuff comes in and never goes out.  A sense of stability and security come along with an accumulator.  Most don't see the clutter as a problem.  Even when there is no more space for it.  

With this type, nothing stays around long.  Once a newspaper is read (ie: yesterday's paper), it's outa there.  They make every attempt to control their space or reclaim something lost in their youth.  If the clutter is not by their own doing, it throws the tosser off their sense of order and neatness.  

So How Do You Tackle Clutter?

De-cluttering can be very draining in every form, not to mention most clutterers are extremely attached to their things.  As they say, every journey begins with a single step.  So why not start at the beginning and removing stuff gradually is the key and a great place to start.  Even the most emotionally attached clutterer can let go and when he gives the sign he's ready to de-clutter, a coach or professional organizer may be necessary. 

There are dozens of ways to get motivated and not all will work for everyone.  Here are five options to consider:

1. Think ahead.  The long term benefits of having less clutter in your life speaks for itself if you break it down.  What would it feel like to be able to have friends/family visit?  What if you could find paperwork easily and actually pay that bill on time?  Would you like to see those stairs again?  
2. Benefits along the way.  You will really reap the benefits just from quantifying your clutter.  You'll get excercise as you walk those boxes and bags up and down the stairs (the ones you can see now!).  Maybe even get to know that nice lady or man at the thrift store.  
3. Timing is everything.  Find out for example when a good time to drop off any charity items or donations is.  For larger jobs, perhaps a friend with a truck can help during a visit (to your new clutter free space of course!).  Don't wait for a rainy day.  It's difficult to move or transport stuff.  
4. Lock yourself in.  Consider arranging ahead of time for good will to pick up any large items, especially if you're a procrastinator.  Put an ad for a garage sale in the local paper for a specified date.  A date you would like to reach a clutter goal.  If you miss the date or aren't ready, you have wasted money on the ad.  
5. Beware of backfires.  Do not reward yourself with buying more stuff once you have reached your de-cluttering goal.  Instead, why not reward yourself by making something for someone else?  Tossers don't have to motivate themselves to get started.  Their challenge is to find ways to slow down and take stock thoughtfully instead of tossing items so quickly. 


I have made it a rule in my housekeeping arrangements to have a set place-nail, box, bag, nook, or closet-for everything from a clothes-pole to a darning-needle.  I have made it a set rule, never to be departed from, always to put a thing away in its exact place as soon as I have used it. 

-The Old Farmer's Almanac, 1883

(Source-Cut The Clutter and Stow The Stuff, Lori Baird)

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Colour Of Love

Red as the breast of a robin
Red as the petals of a rose
Red as the rays of the evening sun
Red as a firelight glows
Red as your lips raised to mine
Red as a glass of red rich wine
Red as the dress you wore
When you promised to be mine
Thelma S. Pierce McBurney

Here Are A Few Ideas To Incorporate For A Special Valentine's Wedding Day!

Print your seating plans with red type.
Favour boxes wrapped with red and white striped ribbon, topped with handmade cream and red roses.
Perfectly round floral ball of red carnations on mirrored acrylic make a stunning table statement.
Mini chocolate bars wrapped in messages of love are a tempting treat and make a great favour or add them to a candy bar.
Bridal bouquet of clustered blackberry foilage and red adrenelin roses.
Pretty double sided invitation cards with a crimson vintage heart motif. 
White chair covers adorned with a red sash and a pretty posy of a single rose or roses. 
Pretty red damask table linens. 
Red roses and spider orchids combined with bold succulents to form a striking bouquet. 
Enchanting invitations and matching place cards with rose and ribbon detailing.
Incorporate red lanterns that can be hung or left free standing.
Place settings with crisp white napkins and heart shaped name cards tied to a romantic vine wreath.


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