Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Transforming the Kitchen from Drab to Fab

As the heart of most Canadian homes, the kitchen is where it’s at: it is the central meeting place for friends and families, the room you spend time in entertaining and experimenting with culinary creations, and the first impression guests have of a home.

But what if the kitchen is less than stellar? Unlocking style potential and increasing home equity doesn’t have to be a huge investment. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada, kitchen renovations can yield a 75 to 100 per cent return on investment.

“You don’t need tons of effort or money to gain added appeal and value in the kitchen and laundry room,” says Lorna Gordon, host of Quebec’s hit DIY home improvement show, Le Mariage des meubles. “It’s all about making the right choices to achieve that ‘wow’ factor and choosing cost-effective solutions that will give the kitchen a fresh look to fit with your lifestyle.”

1. Keep it Clean and Clutter-Free
Keeping kitchens organized not only maintains overall tidiness but also keeps headaches at bay when trying to find pesky chip clips in a pinch. Take the time to create a system that is easily maintained – consider using labels, colour-coding, slip-proof cupboard liners and in-drawer trays to ensure kitchen gadgets stay put – no matter what size the kitchen is.

Lorna’s Tip: Dress up flour, sugar and other baking essentials by pouring them into decorative glass canisters for organization that’s easy on the eyes and the wallet.

2. Play with Colour and Light
While changing floors and tile work can be a costly investment, a quick coat of paint and new lighting can transform any space for a fraction of the cost. Maximize the kitchen’s appeal with a range of lighting options. Use overhead fixtures, under-cabinet lights and even lamps to brighten different areas of the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to also use colour accents with paint to further enlighten the space.

Lorna’s Tip: Use dimmers to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. In addition, the use of spotlights and wall sconces can draw attention to artistic elements of the kitchen, such as a colourful backsplash or must-have architectural details.

3. Choose Modern Appliances
Updated appliances can instantly transform a kitchen and add incredible value, especially if they are eco-friendly. Newer affordably priced options such as ENERGY STAR® qualified Amana® Home Appliances (www.amanacanada.ca) allow Canadians to achieve a modern, fresh look while still being environmentally responsible. For example, Amana Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators and dishwashers are all ENERGY STAR® qualified. “Appliances are the stars of the kitchen and can set the overall tone of the room,” says Lorna. “With more quality options available in every price range, it’s easier than ever to achieve an updated look that fits any budget.”

Lorna’s Tip: Opt for a suite of appliances to achieve modern décor throughout the kitchen, the result will be a cohesive look that is appealing to the eye.

4. Freshen Up Kitchen Cupboards
Overhauling kitchen cabinets can be a costly investment, but options are available for quick updates that add value and impact to any kitchen renovation. Consider painting or resurfacing cabinet doors and casings for instant drama, or try replacing only cabinet doors with more modern options to give the illusion of new cupboards.

Lorna’s Tip: Replacing knobs and handles can update kitchen cabinets in a snap. Try long vertical or integrated handles for a modern look or use painted porcelain knobs to achieve a cozy kitchen décor.

5. Update the Accessories
Just like the effects of jewelry on a little black dress, accessories can breathe new life into any kitchen. Vases, coloured glass, rugs and towels all combine to create visual appeal that can pull together a room instantly. Think of every surface as a new opportunity to accessorize by using a mixture of textiles, art, lighting and glassware to add extra impact and interest to the space.

Lorna’s Tip: Thrift stores and second hand stores are filled with treasures. Look for pieces with good bones that require minimal effort to bring out their hidden potential through sanding, painting or re-upholstering. Don’t hesitate to shop in department stores to find low-cost accessories.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Decoration - fashion or lifestyle?

So you pick up your favourite fashion magazine and note the Versace runway show features bold graphic prints in vibrant colours.

The same day, it seems, you can walk into a big-box store and snap up a throw pillow or curtains in a similar print, or a host of other items inspired by what's on the runways this season. But is this a good thing for your decor?"

Movements in home decoration have always followed fashion trends, but never as quickly as they do today," said Jean-Claude Poitras, a multi-award-winning Montreal designer who left behind a 30-year career in fashion for the world of home design.

Somewhat ironically, he abandoned his own high-fashion label and designing for the likes of Le Château because he wanted to produce stylish things people would live with for more than one season. Recent projects include a contemporary prefab (or, as current terminology has it, pre-engineered) home design for Les Maisons Bonneville, and interior doors with stained-glass insets for Rona stores.

Style should trump the trends every time, says this designer, who is putting the final touches to his new Poitras 13, rue de l'univers collections of tableware and home linens, set to launch at the Vitre-Art showroom new month.

"Beautiful, timeless design is something you can live with and enjoy indefinitely," he said.Home Decoration "An eclectic or trendy touch here and there is fine, but you have to keep in mind it won't last." In his own home, for instance, one lime-green wall provides a vivid focal point in the overall colour scheme of grey and white.

"Bright colours are trendy, it's true," he said, "but this decor only works because I have a preference for strong, saturated colours." Should he decide to move, he can always tone down the accent wall for potential buyers who may not share his taste.

And his latest Poitras, 13 rue de l'univers porcelain dishware collections contain a nod to lifestyle trends - because not only are there stylish takes on the traditional place setting, but four collections of smaller serving dishes that are perfect to serve up tapas or to exercise a little elegant portion control.

Another downside of obsession with what's in fashion is that it tends to confuse people, he said. Poitras, who also offers style consultations to homeowners, finds most are likely to have researched the trends. But they also are just as likely to be unsure about where their true tastes lie.

"Which is why I interview them at length," he said. "It often takes time to get a clear picture of what style they really resonate with - what really fits their lifestyles."

Wanting to give your home a fashionable touch is a perfectly natural impulse, said Colleen Uncao, a spokesperson for HomeSense stores across Canada.

"Your home is an extension of your self," she said. "In the same way you like to update your wardrobe each season, you'll want to refresh your decor."
Home Decoration
And much as you won't change every item in your closet twice a year, nor should you completely redecorate. A new throw here, some cushions or a table lamp there can go a long way.

For instance, head-to-toe denim may be a trend in fashion, but an all-denim room could be boring. Yet, you might find a light-blue denim lounge such as the one in the HomeSense spring collection just the thing. Or reupholster your dining-room chairs or add some other denim accent.

"And because blue is such a strong colour in fashion and decor for spring, it's a good way to inject some life - especially to a neutral colour scheme," Uncao said.

As with fashion, however, any update should also make a statement about you, she said. For instance, getting an ottoman or other accent in a trendy tribal print makes more sense if travel happens to be one of your passions.

"And this season the colours should be bright and vivid rather than spicy," she said.

Six Trends to Consider

So which is more important in home decor, fashion or lifestyle?

"For some people, being trendy is a lifestyle," said interior decorator Diane Boyd, owner of Design Lignum Vitae in Lasalle. "Your decor should reflect your tastes, your lifestyle, and only to an extent you're comfortable with."

A stylish lady who also handles event and wedding planning for her customers, Boyd stays up on the trends. Here's her take on how to incorporate six fashion trends for spring 2010 that you might want to bring to your home:

Home Decoration1. Tribal Influences: Designers such as Cavalli, Fendi and Ralph Lauren liked this trend. And it's been a hit in home decor for a few seasons. "Many people overdo it with the prints," Boyd said, "mixing, say, zebra print with giraffe and then a batik." Warm, earthy colours are in for interiors. Pick a striking print in these shades to dominate, then underplay pattern in the rest of your room, confining it to a rug, throw cushions or other accessory.

2. A Touch of Midas: Gold and other warm metallics accented many runway collections, from Balmain's gold sequined mini-dress to a long gown at Dior, or chain-encrusted cuffs at Lanvin. As in fashion, though, in home decor the latest gold standard is muted: warm muted gold or dirty bronze. Antique gold, especially, adds sparkle and richness.

3. Denim and More Denim: Many designers embraced the head-to-toe denim trend, a throwback to the 1980s. But before you rush out and recover the sofa in denim, stop and think."As with so many trends, this one will probably get old within a few months," Boyd said. "Update your classic pieces with denim throw cushions or do your walls in denim-inspired wallpaper or paint in that colour - something you can change later."

4. Mixing Florals: A jumble of mismatched floral patterns may be a breath of fresh air in fashion, but approach with caution before adding this look to your decor, she said. "When you mix too many or the wrong patterns it will have an effect opposite to what you're after. It can actually be repelling." Boyd suggests no more than two or three floral patterns per room, making sure your prints are in the same colour family. If using a large floral pattern, let it dominate and make sure all other prints are smaller.Home Decoration

5. Colour Me Beige: From Burberry and Chanel to Valentino, shades of this hue were prevalent on runways. It's nothing new for interior decor, of course. "With the recession, people are afraid of big changes," Boyd said. "This is a classic and safe way to go for an interior colour scheme." And it can make it easier when it comes to resale, as a neutral is most recommended by home stagers. It does make sense adding a focal point, so consider incorporating a striking feature somewhere in the room.

6. Mad Men Look: The show that brought back the beehive hairdo and cat-eye makeup also helped boost a furniture trend: 1960s-inspired, sometimes called mid-century modern. Now you can get the sleek, pared-down design at many mainstream furniture outlets. If you're not redecorating completely in this look, try one funky piece - like a retro-inspired bar console or chrome-legged chair. "Then balance it with the rest of your accessories," Boyd said.
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

At home - Designing a home to dwell, not sell

Finally, welcome news for housebound homeowners. If - thanks to a housing market that sank like the Titanic - you're underwater with your mortgage, hovering at sea level or have lost so much equity that moving this decade doesn't make financial sense (and is there anyone left?), here's a perk: We now have license to decorate the way we want.

Snakeskin wallpaper, here I come! Back in the day when the housing market was hotter than a Phoenix sidewalk in summer, many of us remodeled not with ourselves in mind, but for Potential Buyers, those nondescript people with taste more boring than a city council meeting. While our expressive sides tilted toward bold wall color, zebra print carpet and mermaid accent tiles, our conservative sides defaulted to neutral paint, beige carpet and vanilla counters - to be safe.

A home with too much personality, we were warned, wouldn't sell. However, now the pasty analysts who study things like the housing market and who probably attend city council meetings for fun have observed that while the market will likely be a long time returning, home improvement spending is on the rise. That's because people are designing to dwell, not sell.

And that, fellow home improvement lovers, is the silver lining glimmering inside the housing market sinkhole: "When you update to stay, you don't have to be safe. You can have a blast," says my friend Lisa LaPorta, designer and host of HGTV's "Designed to Sell and Bang for Your Buck.""When people were buying and moving, we stressed making your home a reflection of what everyone likes. Now, finally, we can embrace our homes, and have them reflect what we love."

This is fantastic news for people like me who've been doing what we liked all along.

However, before you run off and buy those antler light fixtures or paint an Elvis mural on your living room ceiling, note that neutral, safe decor choices are still recommended for sellers, people with lousy taste and hotels. As for the rest of us? All that matters is that we love it.

As long as we're going to get comfortable where we live, LaPorta offers these game rules for those designing to dwell rather than sell:

- Gun it with paint color. Don't be neutral. Trade Realtor beige for crimson or citron, or whatever color you've been yearning for.

- Feature your collections. "Before I would tell homeowners to put away their collections and pack up their flock of porcelain roosters," says LaPorta. "Now I say create an accent wall, or design a niche to feature collections."

- Go for concept decorating. Love the jungle, Paris or baseball? Design rooms around your passions, but know - and heed - the difference between theme and concept decorating. Theme decorating hits you over the head; you tire of it quickly. Concept decorating has longevity, and is more sophisticated.

For example, if you love English Colonial, don't cover furniture in monkey print fabric; choose an abstract tropical print. For a safari theme, cover walls in ostrich leather, not the more predictable giraffe-patterned paper. In a bedroom for a boy who loves baseball, instead of a headboard that looks like a baseball cap and bat-and-ball table lamps, paint a wood bed in his favorite team's colors; add a chair covered in leather that resembles a baseball mitt. "Concept decorating is about capturing the essence, not recreating the idea."

- Roll on the paper. In "Designed to Sell," LaPorta advises viewers to steer clear of wallpaper, because "it's like a tattoo." Now she says, "Tattoo your house." Again, avoid themes and play up concepts. Go for textural papers, geometrics and stripes. Bypass anything too literal - like French poodles and Eiffel towers.

- Get trendy. But limit trendy decor to easy-to-change accessories pillows, rugs and now even drapes. Custom drapes used to be a costly investment, but today many companies will sew affordable panels using fabric you furnish, which makes changing them easier. Keep your big ticket items (carpet, cabinets, counters) neutral to create a timeless foundation for pops of personality.

- Add punch outside. Curb appeal matters whether you're selling or dwelling; in either case stay true to your home's architecture, and be sensitive to your neighbors. Dwellers, however, can inject more personality. Paint the shutters yellow or the front door red. Bring in other whimsical pops of color with painted flower boxes, garden ornaments and statuary. (No, not plastic flamingos.)

- Get bang for your buck. Whether selling or staying, you will get the biggest return on your investments by doing these three improvements: Paint. People will think you got new furniture. Update hardware. New handles and knobs can revitalize a home like jewelry can revitalize an outfit.

Add moldings: Nothing says old house like old baseboards. Go oversize, up to 6 inches. New baseboards, crown moldings, window casings, fireplace mantels and ledges add rich, custom detail for relatively low cost. New miter saws designed for DIY home improvers make this project even more affordable if you tackle it yourself.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Modern eco friendly kitchen decorating ideas by Valcucine

This elegant and simple ultra modern eco friendly kitchen design is presented from Valcucine. White kitchens look clean and inviting, and they’re often both modern and contemporary for decorating ideas and design kitchen at your homes. The use of special materials such as carbon, aluminum, steel or layered laminate, the very accurate planning of construction details. For cabinet doors in kitchens you can either dress up used cabinet doors by using a range of eco-friendly paints or you can use veneers that will give your cabinets a fresh look

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Cheap and Quick Decorating Tips to Boost the Value of your Home

Everyone agrees that the housing market isn’t moving as quickly as it was a couple of years ago. If you want to give your house a little sales boost as it prepares to enter the market, you can stage your home for a quick sale by following these simple tips.

Walls and Floors The two best investments you can make prior to listing a home are flooring and paint. A fresh coat of paint in a fresh, neutral shade can boost a home’s attraction and price by quite a bit. Installing new carpet also gives buyers. An instant impression that the home is well-maintained and clean. Rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens can also benefit from laminate, new vinyl, and wood flooring.

Window and Lighting Treatments You can buy well-placed lamps and well-chosen window treatments to show your home off in its best light. Your home will appear larger, cleaner and brighter with more light. Sconces can brighten up a dim hallway or foyer, while boring windows can be dressed up with window treatments. Install outside lighting too, since many buyers check out homes for sale during evenings.
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Friday, June 4, 2010

House Decorations Furniture

First of all a man home is a castle, a fortress that defends against female influences. Each bears the imprint of personality house owner. Colors preferred a man, especially unmarried, the colors are brown, green, black, red Burgundy. These colors give any heavy rooms an air of safety.

Wood is very important in the decoration of the house for a single character that represents the wood, hardy, strong. Wood is by paneling, furniture itself, floor, ceiling. Inlaid details should not be too elaborate, but rather simple geometry and how it can be subtle. As for the décor flat surfaces are preferred, unladen, so you will find tables, shelves and even walls without too many accessories. For most men decorative pillows are totally useless.

For example, walls are to hanging a clock, with shelves for books, coffee table is used to eat or to store newspapers, magazines and even to rest your feet. A man in the house you will find many personal memories such as trophies, medals, diplomas, photos and travel ceremonies, especially collections. Furniture a bachelor will always be big and very comfortable, that is a generous sofa where you can read or even sleep. You will find much furniture in leather, the sofa, the chairs. Mass will be a wood or wrought iron and glass blat. Lamps and simple white or beige colors are preferred.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Casa Elegante – Pure Luxury

Casa Elegante is a pure simbol of luxury, that I’ce decided to post under my Dream Homes collection. I know that I didn’t post to much in that category, but this house is really amazing, and I had to post about. Now let’s find a few things about this luxurious home. The home was developed by Laughlin’s Luxury Lifestyles and built by Triangle Construction and is a lavish 14,243 square foot residence. Believe it or not, the listing says this one is a certified green home. There are five bedrooms and the finishes include lots of marble and travertine as well as exotic woods including Brazilian cherry, teak and bamboo.The grounds include a large pool and spa and a dock and boat lift. Now if the pictures that I’ve posted here are not enough you can take a virtual tour of this home by going to this link, and you’ll be able to see a few 360 degrees pictures. Finnaly if you wonder how much a house like this cost …the price is $9.950,000. – Via – Luxist (Pictures Below)

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