Home Design and Trends: Color My World!

April 9, 2010

Easy Ways to Add Color to a Room

It’s easy and fun – but don’t go overboard. Pick one wall or one piece of furniture and get comfortable with injecting some color into your life!

1) Wallpaper one wall: Pick one wall and a great looking wallpaper with pattern, color, or both! Vertical stripes will add depth while a pattern will be easy to hide your seams. So, whether you’re a professional, or just trying it for the first time, choose accordingly.

2) Try a large piece of furniture in a great color: The key here is to not make it look like a carnival funhouse – although I’m sure the kids would love that! Keep your room in a neutral color and then add an eye-catching sofa or chair in a color that you like and works with existing hues in the room. Think of it like an outfit. If you have a neutral outfit in greys, blacks and whites, you can add a bright colored shoe and it works!

3) Paint something other than the walls: Sure, the walls are great for painting, but what about the ceiling or the floor? Try an unexpected color in a pplace you might not expect it. I had a friend who had a sweet kitchen that had a bistro feel to it. They had great appliances and the walls done in a calm golden color and then Pow! You looked up at the ceiling and you saw a rich brick red. Such a wonderful rich color – warm and perfect for the kitchen!

So…give some color a whirl and you’ll be hooked! I know I am!

Home Design and Trends: A Little Paint Goes a Long Way!

March 29, 2010

Sometimes I am not able to commit to a lot of time to spruce up my home – or maybe I’m loving a color but can’t see it everywhere in the room. I have to take a step back and just do some updates with simple projects like…

1) Painting Furniture – Tips and tricks: Don’t be afraid to go with a potent color, especially if the walls and the trim are neutral. Before painting, prep furniture with a flexible-foam sanding sponge, which can “get around curves, legs, and grooves,” says Cathie Filian, a host of the DIY Network’s Creative Juice. If the piece has a wax finish, remove it with denatured alcohol first.

Best paint for the job: “High-gloss paint will turn a piece into a strong focal point,” says Edward Schaefer, a decorative painter in North Bergen, New Jersey, while “semigloss will freshen it up without emphasizing flaws.”

2) Painting an Inexpensive Mirror – Tips and tricks: A plain mirror can have an expensive custom look when you paint it a color that coordinates with others in the room, says Schaefer. To work most effectively, position the mirror so you can paint evenly around the edges. Place a small mirror over a sturdy bowl or a large one on a small stool, and put down newspapers to catch spatters. Using a brush the approximate width of the frame will help minimize dripping.

Best paint for the job: A paint with a glossy finish will give a frame “a little sheen,” says Filian. Interior designer Robert LaHatt suggests adding a few coats of clear varnish for a lacquered effect.

3) Painting Interior Doors – Tips and tricks: Changing the color of an interior door can take a room from drab to fab. But too much contrast between the door and the wall can be jarring, warns Filian. If your walls are bright, choose a similarly lively color for the door. If they’re subdued, go for a soft shade. Be sure to paint the frame too, so the door doesn’t seem to float in space.

Best paint for the job: It’s easiest to clean smudges and grime off gloss or semigloss paint. But avoid paints that are super-shiny―they tend to reveal even the tiniest nicks and dents.

4) Painting Stair Risers – Tips and tricks: A dark color in a glossy finish hides scuff marks best. (When risers get nicks, says LaHatt, just “fill them in with a Sharpie.”) If you want to test colors before committing, cut cardboard pieces to the size of the risers, paint them, and position them on the steps to approximate the effect. When you’re ready to go, prime the risers, then add at least two coats of paint. If you wait a day, then add a third coat, the paint will be even more durable.

Best paint for the job: Semigloss and high-gloss finishes withstand high traffic best.

Now…if my husband takes the kids to a movie for a few hours, I can totally get some of these projects done!

Home Design and Trends: When to Hire a Pro When You Can’t “Do It Yourself”

March 15, 2010

When to Hire a Pro When You Can’t “Do It Yourself

Find out when it pays to call for help in some common situations.

Problem: You’d like to spruce up your house, but you can’t seem to find the right red paint to complement your olive green couch.

Solution: The color consultant. She can help you select colors that work for your space and spare you from testing 15 different reds on your walls. She can also lead you to unexpected, possibly more daring choices.

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Problem: Your bookcases are buckling under their heavy load.

Enter: The carpenter. A professional knows exactly what to do, from choosing the right veneer to finding the proper wall studs that will prevent it all from crashing down. You can call Practical Remodeling & Repair in Wisconsin Rapids.

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Problem: Your energy bill has gone through the roof, and you still feel a chill.

Enter: The energy auditor or rater. These pros come armed with sophisticated equipment to trace even tiny air leaks and will prioritize problem areas in your home. Some local utility companies will send a contractor to you for a free basic inspection. CMS Construction can also advise on going greener and saving energy in your home.

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Problem: Your china cabinet is full of unused mint-condition heirlooms.

Enter: The eBay drop-off store. These independently owned stores handle everything from photographing to shipping. Stores known as Power Sellers, such as iSold It, may fetch a higher price than you can, and there’s usually no charge if an item doesn’t sell.

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Problem: Despite your best efforts, your house always seems to be a disaster zone.

Enter: The house cleaner. One person or a whole crew will do the dirty work for you, whether it’s a weekly visit or a job every few months―all in a couple of hours. There are several independent cleaners in Wisconsin Rapids, but you might want to try a listed cleaning service.

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Problem: Your home computer has taken mutiny to a new level.

Enter: The home-technology consultant. A pro will save you time on tasks like setting up a computer and rescuing a hard-drive crash and make all systems go by the end of setup. There are a couple in Wisconsin Rapids like ZAXX or RCO Computers.

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Good luck!

Home Design and Trends: Let it go to your head…board!

March 9, 2010

Do It Yourself Headboards

Every room needs a focus and in the bedroom, it’s no different. Try the key word…bed! Every bed should have a headboard…and I’m not talking the traditional headboard (although some are just beautiful: strong woods and great finishes). I think it’s time to think outside of the box(spring).

Try some of these ideas:

  • Salvaged wood can be painted and stenciled for a really inviting vibe (see photo).
  • A collection of mirrors transforms a boring bedroom into a DIY dream.
  • A rescued mantelpiece and old doors become shabby chic headboards.
  • How about the old shutters you pulled off the house last year? With a little sanding, and a fresh coat of paint, you’ve got a unique headboard solution!

Any more ideas? Feel free to share!

Home Design and Trends: Get Creative!

March 3, 2010

If you’re longing for the warm weather that’s just around the bend, don’t delay—jumpstart the spring season by adding bright bursts of color throughout your home. From one-of-a-kind stairways to stylish shelves and adorned drawers, let the sun shine in with lovely, unexpected accents in every room of your home.

Paint Possibilities
A bucket of paint in a fun, vivid color is one of the easiest—and most inexpensive—ways to instantly transform an ordinary item.

  • Stylish Wooden Staircase: Look around your home for large, showcased features that are often ignored when it comes to decorating. Your wooden staircase is the perfect example! With a pencil, ruler and painter’s tape, work your way down your stairs, measuring approximately 3 inches in from each side of the step to create a “runner.” Tape off the inner section and sand it down with sandpaper, then apply a base primer. Once dry, color in your runner with at least three coats of latex paint to stand up against high foot traffic.
  • Tip: Choose one bright color for your staircase, or paint each step in a different complementary hue!

Pretty Papers

    • A Perfect Fit: Select a gorgeous wallpaper or specialty liner paper, then trim it to size with a craft knife or scissors and fasten it in place with an all-purpose spray adhesive, smoothing away any air bubbles with your hands.
    • Tip: A decorative liner is the perfect way to spice up an everyday piece of furniture, but it serves an additional purpose. The paper will keep the lined surface protected from dirt, dust and nicks.

    • Easy Removal: It’s important to fasten your liner paper in place with a spray adhesive. Otherwise, the paper will slip and lift up, sometimes trapping smaller items beneath the paper. However, if you’d like to remove the liner at any point, simply apply an all-purpose adhesive remover, available at most craft and hardware stores, to safely and easily remove the paper with no damage to your furniture.
  • Take advantage of the countless textures, patterns and color combinations that abound in specialty papers, using your selection as a stunning, unexpected liner on bookshelves, pantry shelves, or drawers in a dresser, desk or kitchen.When it comes to sunny touches, it’s all about refreshing your surroundings in small, special ways that make a big impact. Once you get started, you’ll be inspired to add bright twists of color to every corner of your home.

Home Design and Trends: Decorating with Brown

February 22, 2010

Decorating With Brown
By Nicole Sforza

Use it to make a bold statement―or as a modest sidekick to brighter hues.

Blend red, yellow, and blue (the primary colors) and you get brown. “That’s why every color goes with it,” says New York City interior designer Elaine Griffin, a huge fan of this hardworking neutral. “With dark brown paint, the walls are the star and the objects play second fiddle. With light brown walls, the reverse is true.” At either end of the spectrum and anywhere in between, brown is known to make people feel safe and comfortable, grounded and at ease.

Light Brown Walls

As calming as a sandy beach, light brown is “the next step up from white or ivory,” says Los Angeles interior designer Kyle Schuneman. “It offers minimal risk but much more impact.” A perfect background for blues and greens (think beach again) or dramatic jewel tones, it also brings refinement to a neutral room when it’s paired with crisp white woodwork. (Photo by: William Waldron)

Dark Brown Walls

Womblike, cozy, and luscious, dark brown makes you want to curl up with a book (or drift off to sleep). It’s also woodsy, which lends it a magical, deep-forest quality. Dark browns look fantastic paired with super-saturated bold colors, such as orange (shown right), or as a counterpoint to muted colors, like pale pink. In a sunny room, they can take on very different tones at different times of the day; observe closely when testing out.

Brown With Yellow

Friendly and inviting, this sunny combination can feel both retro and―with simple, clean-lined furnishings―contemporary. Deep brown goes particularly well with buttercup yellow; you can bring in stronger acid yellows with small objects.

Brown With Lavender

Soft, feminine purple brings a masculine gray brown to life. (“These are the colors of a perfect field in Provence,” notes Griffin.) The key is to keep the lavender to a minimum―accent pieces only―so it doesn’t overpower the earthy, neutral shade with its inherent girliness.

Brown With Blue

Even in an eclectic setting, the mix of warm brown and cool blue feels natural―think earth and sky. The gamut of combinations work (navy with camel, turquoise with terra-cotta), but a rich royal blue and a dark chocolate is especially current.

Home Design and Trends: Speaking of Spring Cleaning…

February 15, 2010

As I was taking a break from reorganizing all my clutter (see last week’s blog) I was thinking that I have some serious dusting and sweeping to do! But, I am so tired of some of the chemical cleaning supplies with the toxic smell, what it does to my hands, and who knows what else to the environment!

I was doing a little research and found some natural cleaners – some that you wouldn’t expect!

1)  White Bread and Ketchup
Use white bread to:
Dust an oil painting. Gently dab a slice of white bread over the surface to pick up dirt and grime.
Use ketchup to: Remove tarnish from copper and brass cookware. Squeeze ketchup onto a cloth and rub it on pots and pans. They should go back to their coppery color in minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

2) Oatmeal
Use it to:
Scrub very dirty hands. Make a thick paste of oatmeal and water; rinse well.

3) Rice
Use it to:
Clean the inside of a vase or a thin-necked bottle. Fill three quarters of the vessel with warm water and add a tablespoon of uncooked rice. Cup your hand over the opening, shake vigor-ously, and rinse.

4) Tea
Use it to:
Scour rusty garden tools. Brew a few pots of strong black tea. When cool, pour into a bucket. Soak the tools for a few hours. Wipe each one with a cloth. (Wear rubber gloves or your hands will be stained.)

5) Club Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Use club soda to:
Shine up a scuffed stainless-steel sink. Buff with a cloth dampened with club soda, then wipe dry with another clean cloth.
Use hydrogen peroxide to: Disinfect a keyboard. Dip a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide to get into those nooks and crannies.

6) Cornstarch
Use it to:
Clean grease spills on carpets. Pour cornstarch onto spots and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes before vacuuming.

7) Rubbing Alcohol
Use it to:
Erase permanent-marker stains from finished wood floors or solid-surface countertops. Pour rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball and apply.

Home Design and Trends: Clutter-Busting

February 10, 2010

I know that it’s snowing…and I know that we have to wait for spring to do some spring cleaning. But I can’t help but start to think of getting organized. Who’s to stop me from doing it now? Perfect idea for a snow day – free help from the kids. At least for 5 minutes!

Here are a few strategies from Amanda Hinnant to get rid of all the things you don’t want, need, or even like.

1. Act Like You’re Moving

Say you had to uproot and relocate. What would you take with you? You don’t actually have to pack up anything―just set aside the few things that you love and use and see what’s left over. “Chances are, you use only 20 percent of your stuff regularly,” says Sally Allen, owner of A Place for Everything, an organizing service in Golden, Colorado.
(photo by: Tara Striano)

Toss-It Tips

  • Envision your home as a prospective buyer might: Uncluttered spaces make the best first impression. They’re also a lot easier to keep clean and dust-free.
  • Imagine the potential buyer (or, worse, a relative) going through your closets or drawers. What would you not want him or her to see?
  • Buy containers and baskets only after you’ve decided what to keep. This way you’ll have a much better sense of the kind of storage you need.

Why It Works

  • You don’t have to get rid of things you love or need―you just have to determine what those things are.
  • If you’ve ever packed and paid for a move, the motivation for paring down your possessions will be all too clear.

2. Assess Your Rooms

Walk through your house with a pen and a notebook, writing down the activities that take place in each room and the items associated with those activities. “Then ‘purpose’ your space,” says Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order, an organizing company in Portland, Oregon. “Note your desired use for each room, even if you are not using it that way currently.” Remove anything that doesn’t relate to your proposed activity for that space.

Toss-It Tips

  • Start with one room, but keep the whole house in mind.
  • Think of rooms that have multiple purposes as several smaller areas, so it’s clear where items should be returned if they stray. If gift-wrapping is the designated activity for a certain part of the study and you find a spool of ribbon in the kitchen, you’ll know exactly where it belongs, and so will other family members.

Why It Works

  • This strategy lays the foundation for long-term change. “By taking an `aerial view’ of your entire home, you’ll see how certain activities and their supplies are strewn throughout the home―like paperwork, memorabilia, or toys,” Norris explains.
  • Tackling clutter without knowing your priorities can be counterproductive. “People who take a `tidy up’ approach are actually rearranging rather than organizing,” Norris says. “Sooner or later, the space relapses to its original condition.”

3. Clean Out for a Worthy Cause

Getting rid of things will be easier if you can picture someone else benefiting from them (instead of how they just signify wasted money for you). Pick an organization to donate to, and learn as much as you can about it. Read the literature, check out the website, and visit the facility, if possible. (photo by: Mark Lund)

Toss-It Tips

  • Don’t just leave your stuff outside the charity’s storefront or in a donation bin, to be ruined by the elements. Deliver it in person, or find out if the organization will arrange a pickup from your home.
  • See if there are specific items the charity needs; this will make those things easier to give up. If it doesn’t accept certain items ask if it knows of a group that does.
  • If an item is truly worthless or beyond repair, don’t make the organization deal with it. Find out the proper way to junk it instead.
  • Get your kids involved, too, so they can see what it’s like to give.

Why It Works

  • Discarded items will most likely be used, worn, or appreciated a lot sooner in someone else’s hands than they would in yours.
  • You can earn a tax deduction for donated goods. But you are responsible for keeping track of donations, determining their worth, and itemizing them on your tax return.

Home Design and Trends: Lighting

February 1, 2010

Okay, I’ve tried going green. The thing is, sometimes those energy-saving lightbulbs just are too harsh when it comes to lighting my rooms. I like the soft glow an incandescent bulb gives off. I also have different uses around my home – nice bright light for my desk, something softer when dining or entertaining guests, and a cozy, warm light while reading in my cozy chair.

In doing some research, I’ve found a few recommendations that I’m ready to try:

Best for pendant lamps: n:vision Soft White G25 (14 watt), $10 for two.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours (or about six years).
Why it outshone the rest: This globe-shaped bulb looks great in a hanging fixture and casts a soft, flattering light that, one tester said, is “ideal above a dinner table.”
To buy: homedepot.com.

Best for track lighting: TCP Springlight BR30 (14 watt), $14 for two.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours.
Why it outshone the rest: Testers liked the “easy on the eyes” pinkish tone that stayed consistent from the get-go. (A few other bulbs got lighter or darker as they warmed up.)
To buy: springlightstore.com.

Best for floor and table lamps: GE Energy Smart 60 Dimmable (15 watt), $11.
How long it lasts:
10,000 hours (or about 7 1/2 years).
Why it outshone the rest: Most bulbs were too dim to use under a shade―but not this one. Although it’s bigger than a standard bulb, it will fit most shades.
To buy: acehardware.com.

Best for task lamps: Sylvania Daylight Extra (13 watt), $5 each.
How long it lasts: 8,000 hours.
Why it outshone the rest: The clean, white light will “illuminate your desktop without giving you a headache.” It took just 15 seconds to reach full brightness (some took 80).
To buy: sylvania.com for store locations.

Home Design & Trends: Major DIY Book Recall

January 25, 2010

Just a quick public service announcement for all you DIY-ers out there. I was tipped off by the blog DIY Life that Oxmoor House publishers has recently recalled some of their DIY books due to unsafe advice relating to electrical wiring. Here is the complete story from DIY Life:

Book publisher Oxmoor House recently recalled nearly one million do-it-yourself books due to bad advice regarding electrical wiring in the home. Fortunately, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), no incidents have been reported in relation to the recalled books. Regardless, the following nine titles have been removed from shelves:

  • AmeriSpec Home Repair Handbook
  • Lowe’s Complete Home Improvement and Repair
  • Lowe’s Complete Home Wiring
  • Sunset Basic Home Repairs
  • Sunset Complete Home Wiring
  • Sunset Complete Patio Book
  • Sunset Home Repair Handbook
  • Sunset Water Gardens
  • Sunset You Can Build – Wiring

According to USA Today, bookstores and home improvement stores nationwide sold the recalled books from January 1975 through December 2009. Needless to say, if you have any of these books on your own bookshelves, toss ’em.

For more information on this book recall, visit The Consumer Product Safety Commission website or call 866-696-7602.

I have found that when it comes to wiring, you should always call a professional. Why take chances? You can always check out our listing of electricians in Wisconsin Rapids in the business directory.