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Decorating a New Home? Here Are 5 Resolutions You Should Embrace After a Move

The moving process can be pretty work intensive. If you’re selling, staging your home so that someone will fall in love with it and buy it is a job in itself. Then, there’s the task of packing and clearing out your old place. And then there’s the actual move, unpacking and decorating a new home.

Many movers feel like they never want to move again, or at least they may want to set up their home differently the next time around. Here are five moving “aha!” moments and the lessons they provide on decorating a new home better and more easily the next time.

1. Some of the stuff you packed (and carried) should have been left behind

The most common realization during the moving process is that you have far more than you thought you did. And honestly, how much of it have you even used recently? Many movers end up realizing that a sizable percentage of the stuff they paid to move should have stayed behind. Moving it wasted time, effort and money.

It’s time to clear out the clutter, even if you have no plans to move soon. You’ll feel better about the space you make and you’ll be ready when it’s time to pack things up.

new home decorating

Even if you have tons of storage, like this large cabinet unit, keep only the items you use regularly. Image: Banda Property

Resolution: Packing and purging are two different tasks. Trying to clear out during the packing process is way too much work in a short time span. Start the editing process at least two months before you move. Take on one room at a time and decide what gets thrown out, recycled or donated. That way, when it’s time to pack, you’ll have less to handle.

2. Some of the furniture from the old home may not fit in the new place

One of the common problems when moving furniture from one place to another is that the scale or style of the major pieces doesn’t work in the new place. You can have a garage sale and practically give the pieces away, then have to spend money on new ones – or you can shop smart next time.

Modular furniture items can be used in different ways and take up minimal space. Color is infused in the form of small, affordable accessories. Image: Caitlin Wilson

Resolution: Your main furniture pieces should be classic in style, neutral in color and as modular as possible. Look for sofas or sectionals that can be separated into smaller pieces or can be expanded into large ones as needed, like the Tillary collection from West Elm. And once you move in, invest in bold or colorful accent pieces to give your classic neutral furniture some pop. It’s much cheaper to buy some graphic pillows or an area rug than it is to replace a sofa that’s too style-specific.

3. Heavy furniture makes moving and rearranging harder

It used to be a fact that the heavier the furniture, the better the quality. But that is no longer true, thanks to manufacturing and material advancements. And once you have to haul your heavy, giant sofa up a few flights of stairs, you may not love it as much as you once did.

new home decorating ideas

The dining table and benches are surprisingly strong yet lightweight, thanks to the hollow steel tubing frames. Image: Photo by Pixy

Resolution: Consider the weight of furniture before you buy. Look for pieces that are well constructed but feature lightweight materials. Even better, consider buying furniture that breaks down easily, or even flatpacks like these pieces, to save you time and money on your next move. Even if you’re not planning on moving, lightweight furniture makes it easier to rearrange or clean around it.

4. You loved the home staging of your old place so much, you considered staying

Did you fall in love with your old home all over again after the home stager worked their magic? You’re not alone. What’s the secret to the way your home looked so awesome after being staged to sell? Simplification and a few applied design principles.

new home decorating ideas

Stagers focus on creating a room layout that features soft, neutral colors and furniture pieces that don’t compete with the room’s architecture or view. Image: Georgia Home Staging

Resolution: When decorating a new home, set it up to look like it’s a model home – and live that way every day. That means that clutter is non-existent, everything is put away and every room has the right touch of accessories and color. Burn fragrant candles and enjoy your home!

Here are some great articles to check out to get you started:

And when the home doldrums set in, rearrange your furniture and accessories. Freshening up your space every few months can work wonders for the energy of the room.

5. Paint and decorate right away or it’s not going to happen

Let’s be honest. If you’ve moved in the last couple of years, you probably have some boxes you still haven’t unpacked. Or home improvement projects you wanted to tackle and never got around to starting. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot and before you start settling into a daily routine.

A single wall was painted in a rich mocha tone to create a focal wall. Image: Unique Spaces

Resolution: Decorating a new home needs to happen right away. If you have projects you want to do, like upgrading lighting, painting or replacing the flooring, do them before you move in – or right when you do. It’s far easier to get the messier projects like painting and flooring done before you arrive, but if you can’t do them in advance, make them a priority when you move in. Unpack all boxes ASAP. And if you’re burnt out and rethinking painting the living room in a pumpkin spice shade, paint just one focal wall in the color. You’d be amazed what one single bold wall can do for a room.

Have you moved recently? We’d love to hear what you learned from your move and how you’ll approach decorating a new home.

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Which Uses More Water: Taking a Shower or a Bath?

If you’re trying to save money, which bathing option uses more water? How can you tell?

Comparing a shower to a bath is like comparing apples to oranges.  That’s because you measure showers by duration (how long the water is running while you’re in the shower), but you measure baths by the amount of water it takes to fill up the bathtub (regardless of the time).

As a general rule, taking a bath uses more water. However, these are some factors to consider when trying to determine which method is more (or less) water efficient.

Which uses more water: the shower or the bath? Image: LEAN Home Remodeling

How big is your bathtub? According to data from the USGS Water Science School, the average person needs 36 gallons of water to fill the bathtub. However, a larger than average tub will need more water.

Do you fill your tub all the way to the top? Image: Janet Brooks Design

Another factor to consider is how much water you’re running in the bathtub. It takes more water to actually fill to capacity, compared to filling it halfway or three-quarters of the way full.

The amount of water used during a shower depends on its duration. Image: Reid Architects

How long are your showers?  Are you singing one song as you shower or a compilation of greatest hits? The longer you remain in the shower, the more water you’re using.

Letting your shower run means more water consumption. Image: Rockridge Fine Homes

Also, leaving the water running while you’re lathering your hair and/or shaving causes you to consume more. Think about it: if you wash your hair in the bathroom sink, you would cut the water off during the lathering process.

Rinsing and repeating could be costing you when it comes to water use. Image: Sisters in Sync Design

And speaking of lathering, are you doing it for a minute, two minutes, three minutes, maybe more? If you lather for three minutes with the shower running, and then you rinse and repeat, you’re wasting a lot of water.

How water-friendly is your shower head? Image: Key Residential

Another factor that determines if you’re wasting water in the shower is your showerhead. On old showerhead can use up to five gallons of water per minute, according to the USGS. However, a low-flow showerhead only uses two gallons of water per minute.

The fabulous shower below has six body sprays, fixed and hand-held shower heads, as well as a rain shower head. If you’re using all of these bells and whistles, you’re probably wasting a lot of money in the shower.

Time your showers to evaluate water use. Image: Drury Designs

One way to evaluate your use of both water sources is to take a timed shower to see how long it lasts. Let’s say it was a five-minute shower. The next day, run water in the bathtub (and try to adjust the faucet level so it’s similar to the same water flow you have in the shower). Again, set your timer so you can determine if you reach your typical bathtub level in more or less than five minutes. If it takes longer to fill the bathtub, you’re using more water to take a bath.

However you choose to get clean, be aware of your water consumption. Image: thirdstone inc

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Defining a House Style: What Is a Ranch Home?

Until recently, the ranch home was the most popular home style in America. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what made this style capture our hearts for decades?

It’s time to take a closer look at exactly what goes into a ranch home. Read on to learn more about its history, the distinct types and some distinguishing characteristics. Chances are good that by the end of this post, you’ll fall in love with ranch homes all over again.

ranch home

Traditionally, ranch home design blends into a California landscape. Image: Zias Building Design & Documentation

History of ranch homes

The inspiration for ranch-style homes as we know them today can be traced back to North American Spanish Colonial architecture. Like ranches, these homes often featured single-story options that were best for battling the Southwestern heat. Rooflines were low with wide eaves. These homes were often U-shaped rather than straight across, but it’s easy to see the similarities.

By the 1920s, true ranchers — though they were then known as “ramblers” — came into existence. The style experienced its true boom in popularity after World War II, where its ease of construction and customizability made it a favorite among the many returning soldiers who were looking to settle down with their families.

By the 1950s, ranch mania had hit full swing. This style of home accounted for nine out every 10 new homes in America, and each region had put its own spin on the look. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when tastes veered more toward two-story living again, that production truly slowed down.

types

Some ranch subtypes have multiple levels. Image: Croteau Contracting

Types of ranch homes

California ranch

Originally designed by architect Cliff May for his own personal use, this style of home was meant to be sprawling and to blend in with the California landscape. It borrows influence from the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as Spanish Colonial architecture. These homes stand out for their L- or U-shape with a courtyard in the middle.

Suburban ranch

This is the version of the ranch that was made popular in the post-World War II boom. These homes are essentially smaller, simplified versions of the California originals. They’re often built on concrete slabs and feature tract material. However, they still share the open concept floorplan and connection with the outdoors with their predecessors.

Split-level ranch

Though these houses look like a traditional suburban ranch from the street, they actually feature three levels of living. In these homes, the front door leads into the main living area, dining room and kitchen. Then, on one side of the home, there is a half-staircase leading up to the bedrooms and another half-staircase leading down to additional living space.

Raised ranch

Sometimes called split-entry houses, these homes got their name from the fact that, when you walk in the door, you have a choice between walking up or downstairs. In these homes, utilitarian spaces like garages and rec rooms are often directly beneath the kitchen, bedrooms and main living area.

Storybook ranch

Also known as Cinderella ranches, these homes distinguish themselves: Unlike the simple exteriors common in ranch homes, these are full of charm. Exposed rafters, diamond-shaped window panes and ornamental trim are common features.

characteristics

Ranch homes are always low-lying. Image: South Pointe Construction

Defining features of a ranch home

Exterior:

  • Long, low-pitch roofline
  • A mix of materials on the exterior (most commonly stucco, wood, brick or stone)
  • Cross-gabled, side-gabled or hip roof
  • Deep, overhanging eaves
  • Large windows
  • Sliding glass doors
  • Attached garages
  • Back patio

Interior:

  • Single-story living
  • Open concept living area, dining room and kitchen
  • Separated bedrooms (usually three)
  • Full basement
  • Simple adornments and architectural details

With simple trappings and lots of opportunities for customization, it’s no surprise that ranch homes are still popular today. Does this style attract you, too?

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12 Dreamy Velvet Sofas You’ll Love

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Velvet sofas have found their way back into our living rooms. Once thought of as formal, velvet sofas and chairs had a renaissance in the 1960s when global decor was hot and earth tones ruled. 

Your velvet sofa can be a statement piece that you decorate around, rather than a predictable staple in your living room. This is your chance to lose the beige couch and dated accent pillows.  The new velvet sofas are often rich with jewel tones like royal blue and emerald green, but pastel colors are popping up in our living rooms, too. Here are some of our favorite velvet sofas in luscious colors: 

Velvet Sofas in Jewel Tones

A velvet sofa in a jewel tone doesn’t have to be formal (unless you want it to be). The styling and shape of your sofa is the determining factor in how it will fit with your decorating style. Clean lines in any fabric are perfect for mid-century modernor contemporary style, while soft sofas that sink in when you sit are a natural choice for boho or global-chic rooms. More traditional styles like the classic Chesterfield sofa can work in a variety of decorating styles, not just formal spaces.

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navy blue velvet sofa

Gertrudes Chesterfield velvet sofa in Navy, by Willa Arlo Interiors, is a focal point for a simple living room. The sofa’s silver nailheads highlight bright metallic accessories. Image:Wayfair

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purple velvet sofa

The Harcourt Chesterfield Sofa in purple is a bold color choice for your living room. Image:All Modern

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green velvet sofa

On-trend brass legs give the Avec emerald green sofa contemporary flair. Image:CB2

Pretty Pastel Velvet Sofas

We can’t hide our love for today’s pastel colors in decorating. The pastel trend is still going strong and is showing signs of joining ageless neutrals in our homes. It’s okay to treat your pink or pale blue sofa as a neutral, adding saturated accent colors to complete your palette. The popularity of brushed gold and copper lighting and fixtures makes them a stylish match for these softly-colored fabrics.

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Aqua velvet sofa

The Gilmore Chesterfield Sofa in turquoise blue is an easy addition to your living room and works in any decorating style,  from beach-inspired to modern farmhouse. Image:Wayfair

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pink velvet sofa

It’s easy to fall in love with the Kendall velvet sofa in blush pink. (We have.) Image:World Market

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blush pink velvet sofa

The Leonelle slub velvet sofa in Rosewood has a comfortable vintage style. Image:Anthropologie

Velvet Sofas in Rich Neutrals

Do you love the idea of velvet, but think it may be too fancy for your living room? Look for a neutral sofa that fits into your color palette. While neutrals are a simple way to provide a backdrop for your favorite accent colors, you’ll want to order or bring home several fabric swatches to make sure you find the right one. Neutral colors can be warm or cool, so they’re not completely interchangeable in any color palette.

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neutral beige velvet sofa

Let the Derrill velvet sofa in Sky Neutral be your decorating canvas with colorful accessories and accent furniture. Image:Birch Lane

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Gray velvet sofa

The Bea Chesterfield velvet sofa in grey is a new twist on a classic. Pair with pastel accents for a totally updated style. Image:All Modern

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green velvet sofa

Featuring contemporary lines with mid-century modern features, the Roddy velvet sofa in Royale Apple velvet is a versatile sofa choice. Image:Joybird

Vibrant Velvet Sofas

A richly-colored velvet sofa is definitely a statement piece in your home. Your vibrant velvet sofa will be the main accent color in your palette, so you’ll want to add neutral accessories (including black and white). We love the look of bold artwork that picks up the color of a statement-piece sofa for a curated look.

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Pink velvet sofa

The Kittrell Chesterfield velvet sofa in vibrant pink is a stunning accent for a white and gray living room. Image:Wayfair

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gold velvet sofa

Get comfortable mid-century modern style with the Matrix Yarrow Gold sofa. Image:Article

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rust velvet sofa

The clean lines of the Club velvet sofa in Rust are just right for a contemporary room. Image:CB2

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Getting Ready for College? You’ll Love Kirkland’s Trendy Take on Dorm Room Design

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Every college student knows that a cool dorm room is a must-have. With that in mind, Kirkland’s decided to do some digging into the top trends for the coming school year. What it found is not surprising: If you want to stay on-trend, metals, indoor plants and chic storage options are the name of the game. Though it doesn’t have a formal dorm room collection, Kirkland’s inventory backs up its research.

We’re not surprised to see these styles top the list. Mixed metals and succulents have been some of the most popular design elements of the last few years. That said, what sets many of these pieces apart is that they feel age-appropriate. They’re cool and grown up, yet still fun and playful enough to feel right at home in a college dorm.

With options ranging from full-on furniture to smaller décor pieces, there’s something to fit just about every style in order to make your dorm room feel like you. Plus, with individual pieces ranging from $7.99 to $59.99, there’s also something to fit a variety of budgets.

Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

Check out the hottest trends in dorm room decorating:

Mega metallics

Indoor plants

Chic storage options

All items can be purchased on the Kirkland’s online store or at one of its many national locations.

What’s your favorite dorm room trend? Are you a fan of metals, plants, storage or all of the above? Let us know your vote in the comments. Photography by Kirkland’s.

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Here Are the 10 Most Affordable Cities for Renters In 2018

Zillow has released a report of the most affordable cities for renters. They looked at the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. to zero in on the 10 most affordable cities for 2018.

This isn’t a simple list of where you can pay the least amount of rent. Researchers also considered work, income opportunities and population, which add to the quality of life. To make the grade, monthly rent in these cities had to be no more than 30 percent of the average income for the market.

Is your city one of the most affordable cities for renters?

1. Philadelphia, PA

Household Income Spent on Rent: 21.9%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,083

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most affordable cities for renters

A 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,064 square foot home for rent in Philadelphia for $1,150 per month.

The city of brotherly love welcomes renters with open arms. The universities attract a large student population, making Philly a fairly young place to live. In fact, US News says, “Philly is a great spot for dating, as a little more than half of the population is single.”

2. St. Louis, MO

Household Income Spent on Rent: 22.2%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,150

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most affordable cities for renter

You can rent a large, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1,165 square foot loft with views at the Vanguard for $1,139 per month.

St. Louis is a family-friendly city. Its central location attracts tech startups, aircraft manufacturers and global financial investment companies. The charming, historic neighborhoods feature Victorian homes, farmhouses, two-story colonials and traditional ranch houses.

3. Oklahoma City, OK

Household Income Spent on Rent: 22.8%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,100

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most affordable cities for renter

A lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,245 square foot apartment for rent for $1,000 per month.

You’ll feel way out west in Oklahoma City. You’ll find cowboys and horse shows are the norm here. It’s slowly becoming more cosmopolitan with a new restaurant and nightlife scene but Oklahoma City is still home to the world’s largest cattle market.

4. Raleigh, NC

Household Income Spent on Rent: 22.9%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,441

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most affordable cities for renter

This 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,600 square foot home in Raleigh has a fenced yard and is close to the Beltline. It’s for rent for $1,375 per month.

Along with being one of the most affordable cities for renters, Raleigh is also great for job-seekers. A strong job market in research, healthcare, tech and education placed Raleigh in Glassdoor’s list of top 5 cities for jobs.

5. Birmingham, AL

Household Income Spent on Rent: 23.1%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,054

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most affordable cities for renter

Modern living featuring 2 bedrooms and 2 baths in 1,213 square feet at The Crowne for $1,015 per month. The complex includes a swimming pool and a gym.

Living in Birmingham revolves around sports and the outdoors. The city is home to the Southwestern Athletic Conference. And if you’re not a sports fan, there are lovely hiking trails in Red Mountain Park.

6. Kansas City, MO

Household Income Spent on Rent: 24.0%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,278

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most affordable cities for renter

Kinsley Forest Luxury Apartments offers apartments for rent. This one is $1,299 per month and includes 2 bedrooms and 2 baths in 1,010 square feet. The property features resort living including a large swimming pool area, outdoor barbecues, a club house and gym.

Spread out over two states and two rivers, Kansas City has a lively music scene. Jazz legend Charlie Parker was from Kansas City. As more millennials move to this city for its affordable housing and expanding job market, the area is quickly growing as a creative community with plenty of coffee shops, bars and galleries.

7. Indianapolis, IN

Household Income Spent on Rent: 24.4%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,204

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Resort living is possible at the Island Club Apartments in Indianapolis. A 1,055 square foot, 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath is $1,055 per month.

There’s always something to do in Indianapolis. One of the world’s largest children’s museums is here, as well as miles of recreational walking and running trails. The Circle City has plenty to offer in the form of entertainment. And for sports fans, Indy is the racing capital of the world and has plenty of professional and college sports teams to cheer on.

8. Cincinnati, OH

Household Income Spent on Rent: 24.5%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,282

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A poolside clubhouse at Stetson Square is one of the many high-end amenities available. A 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,067 square foot apartment rents for $1,320 per month.

Cincinnati attracts families due to the city’s fame for having excellent Montessori, public and private schools. Several Fortune 500 companies recruit national and international talent to make Cincinnati their home.

9. Charlotte, NC

Household Income Spent on Rent: 24.7%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,301

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Stone Ridge apartments are spacious, bright and packed with many amenities including a fitness center, a large outdoor pool area and a fireplace in many of the apartments. 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments start at $1,180 for a minimum of 1,000 square feet.

With a median annual salary of $49,600 and a vibrant nightlife, Charlotte isn’t just one of the most affordable cities for renters; it also ranks #22 in the best places to live according to US News. The charming city is still old-fashioned and full of southern charm, yet the bars and restaurants offer the cosmopolitan vibe you’d expect in larger cities.

10. Detroit, MI

Household Income Spent on Rent: 24.8%
Zillow’s Average Monthly Rent Payment: $1,209

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You can rent a large, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 3,400 square foot house like this one on Zillow for $1,350 per month in Detroit.

Detroit suffered from a mass exodus of people after economic troubles but it appears to be making a comeback. Whole Foods opened a store in Detroit’s midtown in 2013. The M-1 Rail, which is a new streetcar that runs down the city’s main thoroughfare from the suburbs, connects both worlds. Small businesses and new restaurants are popping up, making Detroit attractive to renters.

Do you live in one of the most affordable cities for renters, or do you think that Zillow missed your town? We’d love to hear which city you’d add to the list.

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4 Design Tips From ‘Queer Eye’ Star Bobby Berk

bobby berk design tips

“Queer Eye” star Bobby Berk is captivating the design world – and Netflix bingers. Image: Builder

The “Queer Eye” reboot has taken the world by storm. Whether it’s women fawning over Antoni Porowski or social media living for the next sassy statement from Jonathan Van Ness, the internet is abuzz with news about the Fab Five. Meanwhile, the show’s resident design expert, Bobby Berk, is quietly transforming entire homes in just a few days’ time.

Clearly, Berk is no stranger to the way good design can rejuvenate a space – and the person living in it. If you want to bring some of that transformation into your own home or apartment, check out these four design tips from Bobby Berk.

bobby berk - wall

Give any room a fresh feel with textured walls. Image: Bobby Berk Home

Wake up your walls

It’s tempting to adopt a set-it-and-forget-it mentality with our walls. You paint them, hang a piece of art and you’re done – right? Sure, you could be; but Berk reminds us that one of the best ways to freshen up a room is to turn to our walls, as he told Design Milk and PopSugar. He recommends using a notable piece of accent art or – if you’re ready to go all-in – a textured accent wall. Accent walls are nothing new. Instead of turning to your paint bucket, though, think about adding some structure to the wall’s surface. Wood or faux brick are great options.

bobby berk - lighting

A warmly lit room feels welcoming. Image: Bobby Berk Home

Consider temperature

If you really care about interior design, you’ve thought about every facet of every room. The paint hues are carefully selected, the textiles are thoughtfully layered, the furniture is set just so. But there’s one small yet crucial area we often overlook, Berk told Co.Design. “People don’t realize that lighting can change the whole look of a place and the feel,” he says. He doesn’t mean finding chic light fixtures, either. Berk says the amount of light and its warmth or coolness play a significant role in a room. Too much cool lighting makes a room feel sterile, and not enough light makes it feel small, as he reminded Sunset. He recommends choosing warmer-hued bulbs and checking that your lighting matches from room to room.

bobby berk - storage

Add enough storage to keep your space clear. Image: Bobby Berk Home

Find more storage

How does Bobby Berk completely transform large spaces in just a week? A key tool is storage. By finding a place for everything, you instantly make a room feel put-together. When talking about how helping Bobby Camp (Season 1, Episode 5) organize his home helped him organize his life, Berk told Metropolis, “When people are happy in their space, it really spills out to the rest of their lives.”

By creating enough storage to keep things in order, you improve your happiness and your room’s flow. Berk gave PopSugar some great tips on increasing storage: mount cabinets, create storage under bench seating or other multipurpose furniture and don’t forget about the space under your bed.

bobby berk - tempaper

Dress up your space without commitment using removable wallpaper. Image: Tempaper by Bobby Berk

Try temporary wallpaper

Berk, ever the accent wall advocate, knows that taking a big design leap can feel scary. On his blog, he points out that temporary wallpapers are an ideal way to dip your toe into a bold pattern or bright print without fully committing. He even has a line of them with Tempaper. We’ve rounded up some removable wallpaper ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Follow in Berk’s footsteps by exploring deeper hues and statement prints.

He also points out that temporary wallpaper isn’t just for walls. You can use it in the backs of cabinets and bookcases for a fun splash. Feeling overwhelmed by the print you just put up? He’s got a tip for that, too. Add some matted art to create white space that can balance the wall.

Whether you’ve never seen an episode of the showor you’re a diehard Fab Five fan, these design tips can help you transform your space. Do you have a favorite Bobby Berk design from “Queer Eye”?

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Lofts That Inspire: From Industrial Spaces to Urban Homes

Lofts have come a long way since they were first used as makeshift living spaces decades ago. Today, they have become inspiring living spaces for those who want a more urban home. Lofts began when factories and industrial buildings were erected in the late 19th century for the purpose of mass-producing goods and wares in a time period that was not known for health and safety compliance. These spaces were built for their convenient proximity to other commercial buildings and transportation hubs.

Fast forward to the 1960s. Lofts were extremely cold or hot (not properly ventilated) open concept spaces with huge windows, exposed industrial fittings and an abundance of light that made them excellent work spaces for artists. These dusty and drafty places were often at the top of a very steep flight, or two, of wooden, dimly-lit stairs and were located on some typically non-residential street. However, they slowly evolved into more permanent living spaces when artists decided to camp out and live and work in these spaces that could accommodate large works of art.

Lofted spaces make the most of the room they have. Image: Coupdeville

Many of these occupants were illegal squatters, though they made these spaces habitable with ingenuity and style. Before long, large cities such as New York, London and Toronto passed laws to make it legal — if one was a certified artist — to live and work in these spaces. Galleries soon came to discover new artists, followed by cafes and restaurants. Landlords eventually realized that all this creativity was increasing property values. Today, most loft spaces have been fully renovated and are completely habitable. In large urban areas, loft spaces can sell for millions of dollars.

New York State of Mind

New York City is home to blocks and blocks of loft buildings and spaces. One of the best known is the “Little Singer” building at 561 Broadway, one of New York City’s finest architectural masterpieces.

lofts - singer

A loft in the Little Singer Building with a dynamic view of New York City. Image: CityRealty.com

It was erected in 1903 and designed by Ernest Flagg, who later completed the 47-story Singer Tower office tower at 149 Broadway at Liberty Street in the Financial District. At the time of its completion, it was the world’s tallest building. It was demolished in 1967 to make way for the U.S. Steel Building. Flagg’s original, 12-story building would then become known as the “Little Singer” building.

Built to house the corporate offices and factory space for the Singer Manufacturing Company, it was converted in 1979. After conversion, it became a cooperative with a mix of residential and commercial uses including 20 offices and 15 live/work units for artists. It now has 22 cooperative apartments with remarkable views and outdoor spaces.

Six on a Wave

Toronto, also known as the “Six” for its area code 416, has many residential lofts. Gone are the days of late night rock ‘n’ roll parties in warehouse spaces with paper thin walls that doubled as musician’s apartments. Today, the commerce and business capital of Canada has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. That includes many loft spaces that have been updated and renovated. One of the best-known lofts in Toronto is The Tip Top Tailors Building, now known as the Tip Top Lofts. A former 1920s industrial building converted to condominium lofts, this landmark building is located on 637 Lake Shore Boulevard West. It’s just west of Bathurst Street, near the waterfront. It was the former headquarters of Tip Top Tailors Ltd., a Canadian menswear retailer.

lofts - tip top

Tip Top Lofts in Toronto, Canada is one of the country’s most recognizable loft buildings. Image: Natasha McColl.

Designed by Bishop and Miller architects using Art Deco design, the building was completed in 1929 and housed the manufacturing, warehousing, retail and office operations of Tip Top Tailors Ltd. Tip Top Tailors eventually became a part of clothing conglomerate Dylex Limited.

In 1972, the building was designated as a heritage structure by the City of Toronto. In spring 2002, Dylex sold the property to Context Development, which converted it into condominium lofts. The conversion was designed by the architects at Alliance of Toronto. The conversion included the addition of six stories on the roof. The neon ‘Tip Top Tailors’ rooftop sign was retained and given a slant. Today, it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the capital city.

The Big Easy

Big open spaces in the Big Easy aren’t very easy to come by. In a city with a limited amount of warehouse space that fits the loft criteria, finding a unique loft space can be challenging. However, there are some excellent choices in the Warehouse District of the city. At 747 Magazine (aptly named for its address), you’ll find multi-level homes with private elevators, interior staircases and wrap-around balconies overlooking the city.

Lofts at 747 Magazine come with an unobstructed view of downtown New Orleans. Image: Meaghan Clark.

Owner John Shoup has both a workspace and private residence at 747 Magazine. He has been in the building for over 20 years. Initially used as a secondary home in the city, the entrepreneur and business owner is transitioning to this urban setting full-time. Shoup enjoys the practicality of living in the city center, while still enjoying a residence that remains very private. His view of the downtown skyline from three different angles is enviable and is something he fully appreciates.

Just three blocks away, one of Shoup’s employees, David Mahoney, also lives in a downtown loft with a great view of the city. St Joe’s Lofts is a building geared toward providing affordable living space for artists and musicians, something Mahoney appreciates. The lobby and hallways of this building is full of unique paintings, drawings and sculptures created by residents and available for purchase at any time. Mahoney enjoys living among other artists and says the creative environment helps to foster closer relationships and a neighborly attitude.

Loft living doesn’t mean you have to give up outdoor space. Image: Meaghan Clark.

Loft living benefits

Convenient access to shops, services and entertainment is one of the major benefits of loft living. Many loft residents also enjoy access to public transportation and the ability to cycle and walk. Those who take up residence in a loft gain the ability to make a unique living space that isn’t typical and that can be personalized. In short, lofts give those with vision and creativity an opportunity to create a home that inspires.

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Scrap Wood Outdoor Bench Seat | DIY garden bench plans

Add a little extra seating with this simple outdoor bench made from scrap 2x4s and deck boards. I built it in one night using nothing but leftover lumber from my DIY floating deck build.

Since I whipped this thing together as one of my hair-brained ideas at 9PM (please tell me I’m not the only one who does that???), I didn’t take a single picture while I built. So there aren’t any assembly photos. I DO, however, have some awesome gifs K helped me whip up to let you see it in action.

Leg assembly:

Then bring it all together:

And when you see those gifs, you might already know what that means: there are printable build plans, too! Click below to download them. Woodworking plans are available for FREE to all of my email subscribers (and same goes for my cross stitch patterns). So it’s really simple: if you already subscribe, you can just enter your name & email address for access on the library page (it should pass you right through; I just tested it again today to make sure it works). If not, you can sign up and have access to these plans and all the other free plans I publish.

How to build this outdoor bench seat / garden bench from scrap wood:

What you’ll need:

Here’s how to build it:

1. Cut deck boards to length – 25 1/2″ each. These will serve as the bench seat.

2. Cut 2×4 boards to length. These will serve as the tops and middle sections of each leg, respectively.

  • 8 boards – 13 1/4″ long
  • 4 boards – 11 1/2″ long

3. Use 2 of the 11 1/2″ boards to form the top and bottom of one leg. Sandwich 2 of the 13 1/4″ boards in between these two to form a box. Screw the 4 pieces together using exterior screws (I like GRX for this because it’s self-tapping and sinks into the wood, so no pre-drilling and it won’t stick out when people sit down).

4. Insert 2 more of the 13 1/4″ boards in the middle of the box-leg structure you created in step 3, spacing them equally. Screw together. I used another scrap 2×4 as a temporary spacer to wedge in between each board as I screwed them in.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to make the second bench leg.

6. Fasten the two deck boards on top, keeping each board flush with the end of each leg. This will create a small gap in the middle of the seat between boards.

7. Finish however you like (stain or exterior paint).

Enjoy!

Short & sweet posts aren’t exactly my M.O., but what can I say? I like storytelling. However, I had JUST enough energy to save these pieces from the burn pile, and I’m glad I did. This scrap wood bench has already come in handy on the new deck, so it’s kind of nice to have a quick and easy idea ready to share. I’m hoping to build a couple more as a set once the pub shed is finished and I have more scraps. Not too bad for about twenty minutes!

Don’t forget to pin it!

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Scrap Wood Outdoor Bench Seat | DIY garden bench plans

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Misc

Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style

Puff Pastry Pinwheels are a mouthwatering appetizer, yet they’re so easy to make. Just a few simple ingredients come together quickly for a treat that’s sure to impress your friends and family.

puff pastry pinwheels are perfect for your next partyWhat’s up everybody? Pam and Sara from Biscuits and Burlap here stopping by again with a yummy recipe for Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style. Have you noticed that everything we’ve brought to the Ugly Duckling House has been either a cocktail or an appetizer? That’s because we love a party, and so does Sarah! Slap a drink in one hand and a munchie in the other and we are happy campers!

But, the truth is, we’re also known to make a meal off appetizers (and cocktails) on any given night. It doesn’t have to be a true party. It can be a party for two. Apps and a drink just seem to make any evening feel special.

Other recipes brought to you by Biscuits and Burlap

In case you missed it you can catch up by visiting our previous posts:

  • Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Dip

Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto

Puff pastry is one of those products that is so versatile. There are literally dozens of delicious treats you can make with them including desserts, side dishes, entrees and appetizers like these. If you do a search you can find lots of roll-up or pinwheel recipes, but we’ve come up with something unique with the addition of prosciutto.

And then there’s the added fun challenge of pronouncing it: Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto. Try saying that three times really fast. To top it off, there’s also Parmesan cheese. While it may not exactly roll off your tongue, these little treats are promised to make your tongue (and the rest of you) happy.

Puff Pastry Pinwheels are easy – just follow these tips

  • Use your puff pastry as soon as it thaws, or straight out of the fridge. It’s much easier to work with when it’s cold
  • Use Mozarella cheese that’s finely grated. It will make them roll up more tightly.
  • Put the whole roll in the freezer for 20 minutes before you slice.
  • Cut with a serrated knife and use a sawing motion
  • Bake on parchment paper. This stuff is like heaven on a cardboard roll.

The ingredients are few and simple: besides the puff pastry, you just need pesto (another “P” word), thinly sliced prosciutto, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. That’s it!

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Puff Pastry Pinwheels – Italian Style

An easy, but elegant appetizer. You can easily use two sheets of puff pastry and double the other ingredients to make enough for a crowd.

  • Author:Sara and Pam Brand – Biscsuits and Burlap

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (found in the freezer section)
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto
  • About 5 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 3/4 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. roll puff pastry on lightly floured surface to an approximate 10″ x 12″ rectangle
  2. Spread pastry with pesto, staying about 1/2″ away from one of the long edges
  3. Lay a single layer of prosciutto over the whole thing
  4. Top with mozzarella and then Parmesan cheeses, and then pat everything down with your hands.
  5. Starting with long edge (the one with pesto all the way to the edge) roll up, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
  6. Pinch the edges to seal.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  8. Unwrap, trim uneven ends and then slice into 18-20 slices, using a serrated knife.
  9. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

puff pastry pinwheels are perfect for your next party

Pop over to Biscuits and Burlap for a visit anytime

We would love to have you. Here are a few of our recipes that we think you’ll like, but there are plenty of others to browse around and check out!

Don’t forget to pin it!

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Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Prosciutto, Pesto, and Cheese