Friday, October 30, 2009

An Ode to 70s-Style Living

“In a factory space or an industrial space, there’s a certain level of finish that’s not there,” he said. “You make do with chewing gum and tape.” Last December, Mr. Miller, who had spent more than a decade in Brooklyn lofts, rented a different kind of apartment — a conventional 600-square-foot one-bedroom in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with distinct separations between the living room, bedroom and bathroom.

His intention was to turn it into a “completely designed space,” he said one that was finished right down to the refrigerator door — but there was a catch: he had only $5,000 to spend. Also, because the apartment was a rental, the renovation couldn’t be structural and it had to be portable.

For inspiration, Mr. Miller looked to the design of the 1970s, he said, which had “a populist luxury: polyester, Pop Art, plastic.”

He was also fond of the era’s wall-to-wall carpeting, which migrated from houses in suburban America to sunken living rooms in SoHo. “This was glamorous at the time,” he said. “Taking references from the common home and making them luxurious, in a silly kind of way.”

And so Mr. Miller’s apartment became an ode to the carpeted sunken living room: the 250-square-foot living area is organized around a platform raised on the perimeter and sunken in the middle; on the side near the kitchen counter, it rises high enough to function as a bench.

Mr. Miller describes it as “a landscape architecture of carpeted boxes.”

The platform was constructed out of plywood — $700 worth, assembled in Mr. Miller’s studio in Brooklyn — and covered in a chocolate-brown polyester carpet that cost $1.68 a square foot.

Most “cheap colors are really awful,” Mr. Miller said, explaining why he chose this particular rich brown. “I remember the colors being dead, without any intensity.”

To disguise the nonworking chimney and create a sense of height in the room, he designed a headboard-like panel (made of plywood strips, padded with three-quarter-inch-thick polyester batting and covered with brown cotton) that extends up to the eight-and-a-half-foot-high ceiling.

The carpeted area is furnished with a few items of his own design including what Mr. Miller calls “giant coasters” — four 16-inch-diameter disks of medium density fiberboard stained black and sprayed with clear polyurethane — that rest on the floor and serve as informal tables.

Several other black elements were added to the space to complement the coasters: an Ikea bureau opposite the foot of the platform, laminate on the kitchen counter, a bar stool, Ikea hanging lamps over the bar and tiles on the kitchen backsplash.

But the appliances in the kitchen, which were old and unsightly, still presented a problem. The refrigerator, for example, had a slightly uneven texture.

“I wasn’t going to buy new appliances, so I had to find a way of masking them and making them look less cheap,” Mr. Miller said. “So I reversed the grid of the tile, and used black eighth-of-an-inch masking tape, and taped it horizontally across the refrigerator, dishwasher and oven door.”

In the bedroom, the queen-size mattress is set within another platform to make it seem as if “the room was designed for the bed, instead of the bed just being stuck into it,” he said. What gives the room drama, though, is Mr. Miller’s antler chandelier over the bed.

The bathroom was the one room he left untouched, except for replacing a regular overhead light bulb with a red one, so the room glows a soft, skin-flattering pink.

At night, Mr. Miller said, his favorite place to be is on the top level of the platform, near the headboard, where he can look out the window, “like a bird on the highest branch.” His girlfriend, Julia Chaplin, a journalist who lives in Manhattan, offered a less romantic view of the virtues of Mr. Miller’s new space: “I never knew how cumbersome chairs and tables are,” she said.
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Hearths desire

When artist Cathy Azria first began to twist steel loops and rods together, her intended home for these sculptures surprised many: she put them in the fire. This was not to temper the metal further but to turn what has been the focal point of the home for centuries, the fireplace, into something whose mesmeric powers would be intensified even further. Designed for the flames to lick and creep through their nooks and crannies, her “fire sculptures” even begin to glow as they conduct the heat.

“Even just a decade ago fireplaces were removed or bricked up and heating generally was hidden away,” says Azria, whose number of commissions has doubled over the past year. “Or a fireplace was a space that we didn’t quite know what to do with – so we put pots of dried flowers in them. Now we’re seeing them as statements again.”

What Azria’s hectic workload reflects is not only how instinctively drawn we are to the movement and heat of flames – their comfort and their danger – but how that instinct has been somewhat repressed by style over recent decades. For architects of the 1970s and 1980s the fireplace came to be totemic of traditionalism, suggestive of dusty, fusty, cluttered Victoriana, and at odds with the sparse decor of minimalism, in which household heating was far too functional not to be tidied away.

“Fireplaces were like lipstick on a gorilla – unnecessary, a conventional appliance that didn’t suit the modern, urban home,” says Henry Harrison, a former architect and founder of The Platonic Fireplace Company. “But that’s changing.” Asked to commit the heresy of installing a fireplace in a client’s home, he saw the firelight and realised not only that nothing had effectively replaced the fire as the most humanistic, most satisfying centrepiece for the domestic setting but that, with the right contemporary design, it actually made a statement other decorative flourishes rarely could. Others agree: an estimated 50 per cent of all fireplace sales are now contemporary. “And, more than that,” he adds, “they are now perceived less as a luxury and more as a necessity by homeowners – and increasingly in the commercial world too, in bars, restaurants and hotel lobbies.”

Sales of fireplaces inevitably peak in the run-up to winter but interest in them has also been boosted by the recession, both because property prices are encouraging more homeowners to upgrade rather than move and because they are going out less and cosying up more. Some are willing to invest in a fixture that will increase their home’s value by an estimated 5 per cent and, as a byproduct, keep them toasty.

But, more than this, what is driving demand is the sheer range of impressive fireplaces available: “goal post” gas-fired styles, the sleek “hole in the wall”, the “extraction system as industrial modern art” look, and the popular, super-simple “line of flame”. Then there are curvy, wood-burning models that hang from the ceiling like landing UFOs or grow out of the floor like titanium toadstools. Styles linear or organic are hot now, such that the function of the fireplace has for some come to be secondary to its looks. Small wonder, then, that it was a sculptor, Dominique Imbert, who launched fireplacemaker Focus Creation. His first hearth and surround was designed to heat his studio but his company has since completed projects such as outfitting the headquarters of architect Norman Foster, a man not known for his love of the olde worlde. Indeed, this year Focus’s Gyrofocus model – just over 40 years old now – was nominated for the German Design Council award and won first place in Italy’s Pulchra competition. The Gyrofocus was selected from 721 items as, with Italian hyperbole, “the most beautiful object in the world”.

“Fireplaces used to be made as though they came from the Middle Ages – they were faux in that way, even while interior decoration around them was becoming more contemporary,” says Imbert. “People laughed at my designs when they were first launched. They were simply too different from the received concept of what a fireplace should be. Now that is more the norm and the difference is what is driving interest and encouraging people to buy.”

While building homes without chimneys might at first seem to prohibit a fireplace, Harrison reports that the desire for the homeliness that a fire brings is such that among his clients he is seeing an increased readiness to take on the technically complex and expensive process of having a chimney built, “even though doing so can cost the same as putting in a heating system for an entire house”.

Technology, however, has helped put fireplaces where they would not otherwise be easily situated, too – in effect, wherever a gas supply can be connected. Flueless systems have broadened the possibilities for homeowners, not least because of their efficiency. Generally, flueless fires offer 90 per cent or higher thermal efficiency – 5kwt of every 7kwt of heat from a conventional fire goes straight up a chimney – and are cheaper to run, at about 7p per hour compared with 25p for a conventional fire.
Indeed, efficiency is increasingly a draw for those with green leanings. While gel fires have been largely discredited as little more than expensive ornamentation, ethanol fires are on the rise, since a chemical property of the fuel sees most of the energy transformed into heat with zero carbon emissions. “On top of that the flame itself is very attractive,” suggests Jean-Charles Cheung, managing director of EcoSmart, manufacturer of fires that run on ethanol produced from domestically grown sugar beet. To offset the impact of packaging and transport, the company plants two trees per customer. The next step, Cheung predicts, will be fuel derived from seaweed – it takes up no land, which might be better used by agriculture, nor does it put any pressure on water supplies.

But he is honest in his assessment, suggesting that an environmental concern in fireplace selection is a new criteria, if one of growing importance, and secondary to matters of style and convenience. As Munro notes: “The guy who has a certain upscale lifestyle and might want to make a fire part of his decor isn’t the type who wants to come in on a Saturday and spend an hour trying to get a fire going.” Yet, for all that levels of CO2 emissions might prey on some conscientious minds, fears of escalating gas prices or restricted supply are now even provoking renewed interest in solid fuel fires or, alternatively, stoves, according to Max Davies, director of London Fire Designs.

Since a considerable part of his business is the supply of bespoke fireplaces – created from scratch or commissioned to replace period fittings that have been damaged – Davies is not unused to dealing with wealthy clients. “Many British cities comprise mostly old housing stock and so have chimneys, and often it’s a priority for a new homeowner to fill an empty fireplace with a fire or to put in one they like,” he says. “A fire is transformative to a home. We’re even finding that some customers want them purely for decorative purposes, so they’re even more concerned that a fire looks good even when it’s off. In fact, the pieces they buy often don’t even work – but they still make a difference to a room.”
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2,000 year-old Roman vase identified

The vase is one of only 16 known in the world and was brought to the attention of the world by experts from Bonhams Auction house. Possibly the most important of its kind on the planet, the 33.5 inch high vase would have been made for only the well-heeled Romans in about the first century.

It is similar to the incomplete and damaged Portland Vase held in the British museum, but is bigger and far more decorative. A battle scene showing 30 white figures adorns the spectacular vessel that is likely to re-write the history of these pieces.

It is owned by a collector "from the continent" who took it to Bonhams in London to be identified. Though the owner was said to be aware that it was of high quality, he had no idea just how significant it was. At present, there are no plans for it to be auctioned and scholars could be studying it for decades to come.

Made by the Roman Empire's finest craftsmen, the vase was formed by two pieces of glass, one cobalt blue and the other white. After cooling it was cut down to create the cameo-style decoration.

All known examples were made within the space of about two generations, experts believe. Chantelle Rountree, head of antiquities at Bonhams, said: "It is of major international importance. Academically and artistically it is priceless.

"Scholars will be evaluating this find for decades." Richard Falkiner, one of the experts who has examined it, said: "As far as I can see, the repairs make it look as though it has been out of the ground since at least the 18th century, possibly 16th."

Experts from the auction house are continuing to study it. They have not put a monetary value of the vase, but said ultimately it might go on display. The Portland Vase in the British Museum served as an inspiration to many glass and porcelain makers from about the beginning of the 18th century onwards.

Wedgwood's work was clearly influenced by the vase that has now been usurped as the finest example of its kind. The Portland vase stands just nine inches high, is missing its base and has been restored three times It is supposed to have been discovered by Fabrizio Lazzaro in the sepulchre of the Emperor Alexander Severus, at Monte del Grano near Rome, and excavated in about 1582.
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A Christmas gift from Antler Homes

On the first day of Christmas, you could be decorating your tree in a brand new home, thanks to Antler Homes.

This prestigious housebuilder is offering you the opportunity to be in your new home with plenty of time to finish your Christmas shopping, if you reserve at The Crescent in Kings Hill now.

Featuring a selection of four bedroom townhouses and semi detached homes, alongside luxury one and two bedroom apartments.

The Crescent has something to suit all needs. Regardless of size, all homes at this magnificent development are finished to the highest specification and benefit from custom built kitchens complete with fitted appliances.

Layouts have been carefully considered, with houses comprising open plan kitchen and family rooms and generous living rooms, with selected rooms benefiting from French doors leading outside to the turfed rear garden. The apartments are equally as impressive, featuring unusually spacious living accommodation and en-suite facilities and built in Hammonds wardrobes to the master suite.

If you reserve one of these stunning homes at The Crescent now, Antler Homes will guarantee that you will be waking up on Christmas morning in your brand new home. So visit this inspiring development now to find out how Antler can help you celebrate the festive season in style this December!

Offering every modern amenity, Kings Hill benefits from extensive sports and leisure facilities including an 18-hole PGA golf course and a David Lloyd leisure centre. There is also a vast choice of shops and a comprehensive range of education facilities. Transport links to and from Kings Hill are excellent, with immediate access to the M20/M26 leading towards the M25 and Greater London, as well as a railway station at nearby West and East Malling.
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Interior decoration style Bazaar

As soon as you do with the tour coming to the family, you can actively interior decoration for your home beautiful on. To loved ones as you, your children and dear friends to visit, with the pants back and enjoy a fresh space and the children visit.

Tends that women love is decorated with pretty xắn, fun, gentle, flowers that curve bending eel, display the collection, information architecture ... They love the colors rạng ro, gentle undertone, tea color, white. In addition, they also enjoy fine style, elegance, tradition, nature, and decorated by France, England and Italy are ... Tips? Please decorate your house how you like it previously son or elaborate example of the new clothes .... we would introduce how interior decoration style Bazaar, a proof for an interior beauty .
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Its a wrap

First you hear that leather supremo Bill Amberg is wrapping recycled chair frames with dyed rawhide in an experimental project with designer Martino Gamper.

Then you spot designer Lee Broom’s carpetry collection – a sideboard, lamp and coffee table wrapped in Persian rugs.

Suddenly it seems that covering familiar objects in unconventional materials is fast becoming the latest way to dress our homes.

The concept of “wrapping” isn’t new (decoupage, the art of covering objects with paper cut-outs, was very popular in the 18th century) but the trend is gaining fresh momentum as homeowners request wraps for items such as bathtub exteriors, lavatory seats, laptops, telephones and grand pianos.

Wrapping materials, too, are developing in interesting ways. Broom’s specially woven rugs, for example, fuse 15th-century Persian patterns with English elements such as Tudor roses and the crown jewels. “I’m using them more as a textile than a carpet,” he says.

Nor is the trend confined to furniture. The inside of a London penthouse front door was recently cushioned in high-gloss red leather by London-based interior design company Living in Space. “The owners were unable to alter its exterior as all the doors in the communal hall had to be uniform,” says director Anita Kohn. “We came up with an idea that would complement the apartment’s vibrant artworks yet still include a security peep-hole and the required locks.”

An exterior door, meanwhile, was recently wrapped in weather-resistant leather at the Crazy Bear hotel in Beaconsfield, south-east England. The all-weather hide was developed by long-established specialist Alma at its factory in Whitechapel, east London, and buttoned, Chesterfield-style, with Swarovski crystals.
Amberg believes the concept is all about adding glamour. “If you wrap technology – laptops and televisions – in gorgeous leather they become much more beautiful objects,” he says. This also applies to functional items, such as the lavatory seat he wrapped in pearlised silvery-grey leather for one client. The project with Gamper, meanwhile, will steer vellum into new territory. “Rawhide stretches when wet and dries rigid so you can achieve a fit and feel similar to a drum top,” says Amberg. “Previously we’ve covered desks, cabinets, shelves and wall-panelling in vellum because it is very smooth and silky with wonderful colour variation and subtlety but eventually we’ll wrap anything people want.”

Martin Waller, of New York- and London-based interior design company Andrew Martin International, cites further reasons for the trend. “Wrapping is a way of introducing colour,” he says. “People want to add layers and textures to create a warmer, more complete feel. If you wrap a steel table with shagreen or cowhide or an antique textile you add much greater depth.”

Waller previously covered his luggage-like lamp-tables with leather but has now upped the ante with zebra skin. Kilims are used to wrap chests of drawers and he recently started covering chairs and sofa-backs with old, faded cotton flags – generally a Union flag or the Stars & Stripes. “Shagreen and parchment [goatskin], popular materials in the 1930s, are also making a comeback because they create a glamorous, glossy look that people love,” he says.

Giorgio Armani has clearly noted the trend, judging by two limited edition designs launched by Armani Casa at Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile this year. The Adelchi writing table is wrapped with brushed steel panels, finished with 24-carat goldplating, while the Camus desk is clad with tobacco-brown lizard skin.

Look closely at a bronze snake-skin-covered cabinet from Based Upon, a London studio specialising in unusual surface applications, and you realise that the textured surface isn’t skin – it is metal. This type of “wrap” works equally well for vintage or modern furniture. “We were recently asked to change the look of an old oak table, a family favourite for 50 years, so we sandblasted the surface, then brushed on layers of silvery, white metal so you could still see the grain coming through,” says Richard Abell, who runs the company with his twin brother, Ian.

Just as glossy are the designs created by Gunjan Gupta, whose New Delhi-based consultancy, Wrap, works with local artisans. Gupta marries an ancient throne decoration technique with a contemporary aesthetic by wrapping seats and stools in silver and gold leaf. The 24-carat gold-leaf seat of De Throne, shown at Maison et Objet last year, reflects and magnifies its silver-wrapped back, transforming an everyday shape into a design worthy of its name. Similarly Dumroo, a geometrically shaped low seat-cum-table, is wrapped with gleaming, reflective panels. “It reverses the notion of the ‘precious’ being wrapped [for protection or as a gift],” says Gupta.

An equally contemporary take on this ancient technique is found at the Conran Shop, where the Indian mango-wood frames of the 10-seater Kaveri dining table and matching four-drawer chest are wrapped in white metal leaf. “The table has been surprisingly successful because it has a quirky, updated vintage look that fits into any environment,” says Polly Dickens, the Conran Shop’s creative director. “It’s a big, glamorous statement that you can jazz up or tone down.”

That’s exactly why New York-based interior designer Sandra Nunnerley used a silver-coated table made of reclaimed logs in one client’s home. She’s also taken the notion of wrapping quite literally for another client by decorating a contemporary loft space with lookalike parcels – blocks of foam seating wrapped in white felt.

Employing linens, silks, velvets and leather as wrapping materials might sound conventional but the sheer quality of finish achieved by Italian manufacturer Promemoria turns its designs into high art. Take its wall-sized mirrors with purple velvet-wrapped frames or Bilou Bilou, a frisky-looking chair with a frame and legs completely wrapped in bubble-gum pink leather. Both pieces add drama to a room. Meanwhile the Scrigno cabinet, launched at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile, is wrapped in velvet and the bronze-handled Venice chest is sumptuously covered in linen.

Designer Tara Bernerd similarly wraps mirror frames in velvet or pony skin and has covered a desk in velvet at the London club Aspinalls. “Wrapping is the ultimate indulgence,” she says. “It takes materials out of their comfort zone and adds another dimension to an interior.”

Antique textiles are used by former sculptor and artist Lisa Whatmough for wrapping mirrors, lighting, furniture and chandeliers. “Some vintage fabrics are too thin or delicate for upholstery and I found that wrapping them over period furniture created unexpected results,” she says. “I use a lot of antique kimono silks, vintage velvets and ticking but also contemporary textiles from Gainsborough Silk and Designers Guild.” This patchwork look is popular with clients looking for a single, bold piece. “It’s not only headboards they want wrapped but entire bed frames,” says Whatmough. “Chandeliers take longest as I pull them apart and wrap each piece separately.”

Whatmough’s company, Squint, also accepts bespoke commissions to wrap entire walls or columns with silk patchwork. “We apply the silks so the weave runs in different directions and when the light catches the cloth it looks very shimmery, very glamorous,” Whatmough says. And very well-dressed too.
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Debbie Travis - Color, Texture Create A Flow Between Bedroom, Bath

Q: We are remodeling our guest suite and would like some tips on how to tie in the bathroom and bedroom. The bedroom walls will be painted, but not sure what color; the white carpet is staying, and we're thinking white marble for the bathroom.

A: There should be some unifying factors that tie a bedroom and en suite bath together and make a purposeful flow.

Bathrooms have hard surfaces, which contrast with the soft textures and fabrics that dominate the bedroom. Bathroom surfaces can be given a gentler character with your choice of color, style and pattern.

Seen here, the pale marble markings in the porcelain floor tiles connect beautifully with the bedroom's soft white carpet.

Be aware of the view standing in the bathroom looking toward the bedroom. The bedroom walls are painted in a deep shade of mauve with a hint of gray in it, a wonderfully warm color that will cast a rosy hue on your guests.

The bathroom's wallpaper has pastel pink and gray flowers that float against the bedroom's saturated hues, creating a welcome balance. Design details in the bathroom have a traditional edge; a beveled countertop and deep-brown undercounter cabinetry with molded door panels connect with the nostalgic design of the daybed. Carry color from one room to the next with towels and bed linens. You can pick your towel colors from those seen in the bedspread, including the popular white.

Q: I was hoping to get decorating advice on how to create a pretty girls' bedroom for my daughters, ages 13 weeks and 4 years. We have a Cape Cod-style home, and their bedroom is built on the gable end of the house, and the sloped ceilings don't leave much room for positioning furniture.

A: These rooms with low ceilings are wonderful for young children. I am assuming that there is an area in the middle of the room where the roof peaks. This is the best position for the crib, as you will be reaching into the crib to care for your baby and will require the head room.

Then I suggest you choose low, long dressers or consoles and open shelves for storage, and a play table. Tuck them along the walls under the gables. Depending on the size of the room, the bed for your 4-year-old can run along the wall, too.

With two children sharing a room, it's important to plan easy traffic flow from the door to the crib and bed. The age difference calls for a variety of play stations. Q: We have 1980s melamine kitchen cabinets with the oak pull strip along the bottom of the doors. Is there any way to update the look without replacing them? We are putting in a new granite countertop. Have you ever done a show on this?

A: This was a makeover I did on "The Painted House," and it's included in my "Kitchen and Bath" book. The original melamine cabinets were white with the oak strip running along the bottom of the doors as you described.

We painted the cabinets a medium sky blue, and the pulls were transformed with silver metallic paint. This contemporary combination worked well with the new stainless-steel appliances.Your color combination depends on the shades in the granite. Black or dark green with gold pulls would be very dramatic, or gray, weathered wood doors with dark-gray or red pulls is an option with country appeal.
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English Decoration Style

If you are planning on redecorating or remodeling your home, then why not adopt the formal and elegant atmosphere of English country decorating?

Perhaps one of the most captivating aspects of this decorating style is the formal but neutral colors which fit with toile fabrics, formal furniture and antique accessories for an appealing effect.

With this style, you can have the feeling of the English countryside no matter where you live!When decorating of home in this style, you want to get great lighting. Consider picking out lighting that is formal but elegant which will go well with this decor.

Perhaps some brass lamps with a formal style shade - not too fancy but not plain and boring either.

You can also bring your fabrics into the lighting by using floral or toile shades on the lamps. If you are going for a more elegant style, you could even consider crystal lamps.

Your floor is an important part of your design so you want to be sure your carpets match the decor. Hardwood floors with area rugs go nice, but if you can't afford hardwood a wall to wall carpet will do as long as you keep it in line with the overall style of the rooms. In reference to colors, use creams and beiges and for style look at putting in formal style rugs or even oriental rugs if you have hardwood.

Accessories are a critical element in any interior design and adding paintings and knick knacks to your room could help augment the decorating theme. When it comes to accessories, a regal and elegant theme is terrific. Decorative accessories give a sense of personality to the room so be certain to select ones that exude your own style.

Picking out furniture which rounds out your design style will give your home a thought out charm. Generally, cherry wood pieces look great with this design theme. Typically, English country decorating works most ideal with formal style and you want your furniture to suit. You can use fabrics that are elegant like silks and even throw in some florals, toiles or even some antique needlepoint chairs for elegant accent pieces.

Your choice of window treatments can really pull your decor together. This method of decor goes nicely with curtains, drapes or shutters that have a formal look. You may think about purchasing striped or flowered curtains to complete your window design, or use formal silk style drapes.

Making the most of the English country decorating style is a great way to introduce drama into your home. By selecting the most fitting furniture and accessories, you can help make your home design look like it was decorated by a professional without having the high cost!
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Feng Shui Your Cubicle

You drag your feet going to work. You enter your small cluttered workspace, see the files that have been on your desk for months and groan.

Another lifeless day in the cubicle. When you're chained to a workspace for 8 hours a day and expected to be productive and positive, it can take a real toll on your psyche.

Fortunately, you can apply some easy Feng Shui to invigorate your tiny quarters, and invite good chi in. Before long, you just might find yourself moving on to bigger and better things! Clean & Declutter. Cardinal rules of Feng Shui apply to your workspace! In such a tiny space, anything you are not using is clutter.

Clean drawer space, remove scraps and trash, decrease your inordinate amount of nonfunctioning pens, fill your stapler and toss out the box, and remove files that are irrelevent or outdated. Trash it, Shred it or turn it over to your boss (yes, the boss with the roomy office!).

Once you've thuroughly removed the clutter, clean, using energizing scents like essential lemon oil. Clean your work surface, use an air compression cleaner on your keyboard, replace filthy old mouse-pads, wipe your computer screen and vacuum your chair and carpet, if you can.

Rearrange. If you are able, reposition your chair and computer so that you are able to clearly see the entrance to your cubicle. Keeping your back to the entryway invites negative chi, and creates anxiety. If its impossible to rearrange the space, hang or place a small mirror so that you have a clear view of the entrance.

This will give you plenty of warning next time your boss sneaks up on you, and will reflect any negative chi that tries to creep into your space. If you have accumulated files that you can't get rid of, organize them and store them neatly. If they must sit on your desk, place them flush against the wall, neatly in a work tray or other file sorter - don't be shy about asking for organization tools! You can always tell your boss that it will make you more productive!

Make it personal. A couple of beautiful plants, flowering or otherwise, are great ways to brighten the space, add lively color and breathing life to what seems like a drone existence. Place them on opposite ends of your table, or if you can, add a large potted plant near the entrance of your cubicle to invite positive chi in. One or two pictures of you enjoying life - whether with family, or on vacation, will add to the prosperity and family of your work environments - two things we often don't feel connected to while we are parked in the cube.

Just Add water. Moving water, like a table-top waterfall, is a relaxing and tranquil sound, adds humidity to commonly dry office climates (which helps ward off winter colds) and invites prosperity into your life. Adding a waterfall is ideal, but if you are unable to add a live one, a good sized picture of a water fall will invoke feelings of wealth also. Before you know it, you might have your own office - and then, you can add as many waterfalls as you like!
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