Author Archives: A. Antonow

Bedroom Ideas for Globetrotters

Do you love to travel? Whether you love to see the world from your armchair or whether you are actually out there, blazing new trails, you can use your passion to create a unique and beautiful bedroom. There are several things you can do to bring a little global mystique home:

Maps and antique maps.

You can find these easily at any bookstore, used bookstore, or estate sale. Even antique maps are sometimes quite affordable and look great in frames. Best of all, they give you a few great decorating options:

  • Cover an entire wall with maps of places you have been or places where you would like to travel
  • Use inexpensive maps as wallpaper or to cover furniture (a dresser covered in maps and varnished looks amazing, especially if you distress the finished piece to make it look antique)
  • Put a huge world map on your wall and use decorative pushpins to indicate where you have traveled
  • Frame antique or vintage maps and put them all over your walls
  • Place maps under glass on tabletops

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Globes.

Huge or tiny, globes look great and they are very inexpensive. They look terrific clustered together or you can use one large globe on the floor for a more dramatic look. If you can get your hands on a bunch of inexpensive globes, they are also great for DIY décor projects. You can cut them in half to make cute bowls or cover them in paint to create customized art. To get some more ideas, check out this Babble post.

Souvenirs and treasures.

If you travel, what do you do with all the items you bring back with you? A great option is to display them. Group postcards and other treasures on walls, on a dresser, or on a side table. There’s no need to hide them away or let them gather dust.

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Suitcases.

Most of us tuck suitcases away in closets or under the bed, but suitcases can be a great way to decorate and even add a little storage space to your bedroom. Look for vintage suitcases or suitcases you really like and stack them high, from largest to smallest. They look terrific and can store quite a bit. You can also create a stack of suitcases to serve as a nightstand by the bed.

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Furniture with a global feel.

If you want to create an exotic look, check out bamboo furniture or wicker pieces. For a Far East look, add a few statues, a water fountain and plenty of throw pillows and rugs in jewel tones. Or, put a huge canopy bed in your room (or even a hammock) and top it all off with a huge mosquito net for a very Isak Dinesen Out of Africa Look. You can see more about how to pull the look off at this blog. If European is more your style, local antique stores will usually have some older European pieces that can help you recreate the look of that Spanish hotel where you stayed last year or the Italian café you visited. The main thing with furniture is to stick with one theme and one look rather than mixing and matching styles too much. To get some more ideas for your room, check out this blog and this post.

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A well-traveled style looks amazing and is quite easy to incorporate in the bedroom. If you want to be dreaming of globetrotting adventures, a few tweaks can have you looking forward to your next vacation even more.

Decorating Your Home in Vintage: How to Make it Work

Vintage home décor is very popular right now, but it can be a tricky look to pull off. For one thing, it can be hard to find true vintage pieces or even vintage-inspired pieces for every room in your home. Too much vintage in the wrong combinations can also just make it appear that your home hasn’t been updated since the 1950s – not exactly the chic look you’re trying to achieve. Here’s how to get it right:

Stay within one style

It can seem like a cute idea to have a 1950s room, a 1970s room and a 1960s kitchen, but going overboard can just make a space look overwhelming and overdone. To find out what style suits you best, check out what vintage pieces you already have – what era do they represent? Do you have a collection from a specific era? That can be a great place to start.

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Don’t get too attached to just vintage – mix and match with modern pieces

Decorating entirely with vintage items can easily look overdone. You sometimes do see someone so dedicated to a particular style and they manage to get it right, but it’s a huge undertaking, and these people usually end up on reality TV – probably not your ambition for your house or apartment. Look for simple, modern furnishings in neutral colors to showcase your vintage finds. They will actually highlight them and make them stand out.

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Stick with modern lines and aesthetics

One of the downsides of vintage style (and one reason why we’re not still decorating with wall-to-wall shag rugs and orange carpets) is because they can be heavy and just too much. When you pick your vintage style, be sure to check out some not-so-attractive examples of that aesthetic so that you can see where it can all go wrong. A 1950s room, for example, can easily start to look like a dollhouse with too many soft colors and lines. A 1970s home can look too heavy and dark.

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To avoid these problems, it’s best to stick with modern ideas. Look for ways to keep your home uncluttered, bright, and unfussy as a modern home. If you’re embracing a 1980s look, for example, try some bright colors and pop art but stick with a few pieces rather than too much bubblegum culture. If you love a 1970s look, try a shaggy throw rug in a soft fabric and muted color rather than a full carpet. Soften the colors a bit and keep the lighting brighter to keep things from feeling too heavy.

Invest in vintage technology and gadgets

One of the coolest things about decorating in a vintage style is that you can play around with items that are no longer being sold in your local store. An LP player, vinyl records, or fridge with an old-fashioned handle are all great throwbacks that add style to your home and give your space that vintage vibe. Look for pieces that actually work, so you don’t have something taking up space without earning its keep.

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Pay attention to color

In addition to sticking with one general style, try to stick with one color scheme, too. You can try the softer pastels popular in the 1950s or the earth tones of the 1970s or the bright punchy colors of the 1960s, but mix them all together at your own peril.

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One of the biggest delights about vintage décor is that you can play around with colors that just aren’t used anymore. Whether that’s the deep win reds and midnight blues of the 1940s or the bright pop colors of the 1960s, it can be fun to play with a palette that’s a little more unique than what you find in most homes.

Don’t just buy anything from your specific style

Learn to be choosy. One of the problems with declaring your love for anything in the 1960s, for example, is that friends and family will start showing up with cast-offs from that era that they dug up in Aunt Edna’s attic. And you might find yourself picking up that cute white (but broken) princess phone just because “it’s very 1980s.”

Don’t.

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When choosing items for your new look, make sure you ask yourself:

  • Will I actually use this or do I love it so much that I can’t live without it?
  • Is it in good shape?
  • Is it safe (keep in mind that older items may not meet current electrical standards or may be too worn to be safe)?
  • If it needs repairs, will I complete the repairs right away or do I already have a bunch of things in my home that need work?
  • Does it really fit with my color and style palette?
  • Does it have a specific space in my home where I can imagine it? (if not, put it back)

If you’re not a little picky, your home may end up looking more like an attic or garage sale rather than a stylish space, so really think before bringing something into your home.

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Look for pieces outside the Box

It’s easy to find upcycled vintage furniture and décor pieces in trend boutiques, but for a really unique look (and one that’s much easier on the budget) it makes sense to check out estate sales, classified ads, flea markets and other places for items you can restore, repaint, and repurpose. Check out this blog post to see some ideas for refurbishing vintage items and making them look great.

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Experiment just a little bit

Keep in mind that you don’t have to redo your entire home. You can start with a cluster of vinyl on the walls or a few appliances and go from there. You don’t have to embrace all vintage. A modern house with a collection or two of vintage treasures can be a great solution.

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Whether you want to go 60s, 70s, 40s, or something in between, vintage style can give your home a unique twist that you can’t pick out of a catalog. For inspiration, check out this blog post or this blog post; both are full of great ideas.

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Kitchen Design Mistakes You May be Making

Kitchens are the heart of any home. You will likely spend plenty of time in your kitchen, preparing meals and even eating. During get-togethers you may find your friends and family gravitating towards your kitchen. If you’ve checked out these kitchen tours or have looked at beautiful kitchens in magazines, you may want a gorgeous space for cooking at your house.

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Kitchens, can be tricky, though. There are many design mistakes common in this room:

Not putting practicality first

Your kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house. Of course, you want it to look great – but you also need it to function smoothly. When considering how well your kitchen works or when thinking about how to remodel the space, list the three dishes you make most often and the steps needed for each dish. How easily can you make the dishes in your kitchen now? How easily could you make these dishes in the kitchen remodel you are considering?

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Over-design

If you are daydreaming over home fashion magazines and catalogs of gourmet designs, you may be thinking about cute and trendy appliances, counters, and kitchens. While these can be fun to look at, they are not usually very practical. You want a kitchen that can stand the test of time, and that means erring on the side of classic designs.

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Ignoring the three most important kitchen areas

The three most important area in the kitchen are the sink, the stove area, and the refrigerator. Not only should you make sure that these areas are highly functional, but they should also be easily accessible and close enough together that moving back and forth between these areas is simple. These three areas are so important that they are sometimes called “The Golden Triangle.” To find out more, check out this great BBC article.

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Too little counter space

You need a lot of counter space for food prep, cutting, and preparing meals. This is especially the case if there is more than one person preparing meals and cooking in your kitchen. If your kitchen is too small for lots of counter space, you may want to invest in a fold-away or pull-out butcher block or a kitchen cart that offers storage space underneath and a cutting space on top.

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An island that gets in the way

An island seems like a good idea because it allows you to add storage and food prep areas in the center of a larger kitchen. But it can quickly get in the way if you keep crashing into the island or if people sitting and eating at the island get in the way of you getting to your counter area. One solution is to put a stove and sink area in your island area so that you can get prep work and cooking done right in the middle of your kitchen. Another option is to forego the island and instead use a kitchen cart that can easily be wheeled again.

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Too little storage space

Kitchens can’t have enough storage space. You need a spot to store food, pots, pans, cutlery, and gadgets. If you have a tiny kitchen, you will need to get creative about storage space. Start by making sure that you are using all your space – including the space near the ceiling. Use organization racks and plastic tubs to keep things organized in drawers and cupboards so that you can fit more in. If you have the room, you can also buy a tall pantry cupboard for your kitchen area.

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Bad air circulation and waste solutions

Kitchens can get stinky fast and they can also overheat easily if you cook or bake a lot. Install a vent above your stove so that you can take care of food odors and open your kitchen window often to air out the room. Keep a smaller waste container in the kitchen so that you take out the trash more often and prevent odors. Scented candles in the kitchen and a strict cleaning schedule can also ensure that your kitchen smells great.

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Dim lighting

You need to see what you are doing in order to whip up great meals for you and your friends. Kitchens need more lighting than most rooms. You will want bright overhead lights as well as track and task lighting to light up your counter, stove, and other food prep areas. Under-the-cabinet lights work well in the kitchen and don’t take up much room.

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Cabinets with space on top

It’s a terrible waste of space and just attracts dust (in a spot where you can’t reach easily). Make sure that your cupboards go right up the ceiling or at least don’t have that do-nothing space on top. You can place less-used items in these areas.

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Boring design

Just because your kitchen is hard-working, that doesn’t mean it can’t be gorgeous. If you add cute or trendy items, though, make sure that they are something that you can live with for a while since remodeling a kitchen is usually costly. Or, do the smarter thing and add a little spice with fun and colorful accessories that can be changed up. A fun wine rack, for example, or a new set of bar stools won’t cost much but can add a little fun to the area.

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Too many gourmet appliances

It’s easy to watch cooking shows and get over-enthusiastic about all the appliances and little gadgets that TV chefs have. Just remember that it is TV: it is meant to sell you things and is meant to be glamorous. Your own kitchen doesn’t need those things. Worse, if you fill your home kitchen with lots of appliances and items it will be harder for you to find room for it all.

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Overspending

If you want to make any changes in your kitchen, it’s important to compare prices and to work with a strict budget. This is one renovation where price can get away from you.

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Have you been making any of these mistakes in your kitchen? Now’s the time to re-do, re-think, and re-imagine your space so that you’ll enjoy spending time in this room rather than reaching for take-out menus every night.

Décor Touches to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall

Now that autumn is here, it’s time to create a cozier home for those cooler evenings. During this time of year, many of us spend more time indoors as the weather changes, and this means you may want to make a few changes to make your home comfortable:

Rethink your palette.

One thing to look out for in autumn is a cold house. Bright colors that are cheering in the summer can feel cold in the fall. Great autumnal colors include reds, orange, copper, brass, rich greens, and even smoky grey. You don’t have to re-do your entire color scheme, but consider adding a little color with throws, rugs, candles, and other accessories. A great option is to add color and texture with richly textures blankets, curtains, and rugs. Thick wools, textured or nubby fabrics, cashmere, and leather are great choices for fall.

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Decorate with organic items.

Bring a little of the indoors in. Buy some fall flowers at the farmer’s market or buy some autumnal wreaths. A centerpiece of fall leaves on the mantel also works great. Or, consider orbs. Made from wicker or metal, orbs are inexpensive and can be filled with flowers or can work standalone. For inspiration, check out this article. Organic, natural items bring a little warmth into your home without costing much. They blend nicely with most décor and they can bring some nature in at a time when you are probably spending more time inside. If you’d like more tips on creating your own autumn decorations, check out this handy page.

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Pay attention to indoor air quality.

While not an interior décor item per se, indoor air quality is even more important than the items you use to decorate your home. Now that you are closing your windows more often and will be using your heating system more, you need to make sure that your home is safe and comfortable. This is a great time to get basic maintenance on your HVAC or other heating system. It’ll save you the stress of having something go wrong on the first really cold day. If you haven’t already, this is also a great time to add some plants to your home and to switch to more natural cleaning products so that you can breathe easier.

While you’re at it, check to see whether your home is too damp or too dry. You can buy a hygrometer at your local hardware store to check how your home air is holding up – it will be in the same aisle as room thermometers. If you find problems, a dehumidifier or humidifier can go a long way towards keeping your home cozy – and safe.

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Think spicy.

Candles and diffusers with rich scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, leather, vanilla, and other warm fragrances can really make your home seem welcoming and autumnal. Candles in rich colors and warm scents are an especially great idea at this time of year since they add a soft glow and a great fragrance as days get shorter.

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Add more seating.

Fall often means more entertaining, so consider adding some more seating areas for guests. Padded benches or groupings of chairs in your dining area, living area, and entrance area can create a great welcoming feel. It’s also a practical way to ensure you have room for people who stop by. A bench or cozy chair also looks great – especially if you choose seating that is rich in color and texture. If you can’t afford to go all-out with new chairs or benches, take a second look at your outdoor furniture. If you have wicker patio sets, for example, a few throw pillows and a cozy blanket can transform them into a cozy seat for a foyer or a nook.

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Give extra attention to entrances.

There will be more activity here, so re-focus from your garden to foyers, doors, and walkways. Hang an autumnal wreath on your door and make sure that your walkway is lit up for evening visits. Add some sunflowers or fall leaves to a hallway table. Since days may be getting wetter, invest in an attractive rug or mat in front of your door. Make sure your home says “welcome.”

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Think rustic.

Rustic touches are a great option for autumn. This is the perfect time to show off any decorative items you have that feature a little patina and character. Whether it’s a copper vase or an old trunk, rustic works wonderfully. Go raid your attic for a few ideas.

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A few extra touches are all it takes to help your home transition between the seasons beautifully.

Time to Re-Do Your Bedroom: Ideas for Your Project

If you hate your bedroom and want to create a whole new space, you’ll want to think carefully before you buy anything or invest any money in the project. It’s easy to head to the furniture store and buy a whole new bedroom set. That does not mean you’ll get the bedroom you want. Your project should instead follow these steps:

1) Start dreaming your way to a new bedroom

Before you spend another penny on the room, consider what you want – and what you have to work with. You will also want to look at lots and lots of photos of bedrooms and even create a file of your favorite looks. HGTV has a number of inspirational ideas for bedrooms here. You may also want to take pen and paper to answer questions such as:

  • What will I be using my room for (besides sleep)?
  • What did I first notice and like about my bedroom?
  • What do I not like about my bedroom?
  • What things in my room do I already have that I can use to create a different look?
  • How much space do I have for what I want?
  • Do I need to consider any specific needs (i.e. pets or children)?
  • Who else will be using the room, and what are their tastes like?
  • Am I drawn to modern rooms, traditional rooms, or another style entirely?
  • Which colors make me feel most at home?
  • What kind of sleep am I getting in my bedroom now?
  • What is my morning and evening routine like and what can I do to my bedroom to make these routines easier or more pleasant?
  • What bedroom have I liked sleeping in best? What did I like about the room?
  • What feelings do I want to evoke in this room?
  • If I could only change three things about this room, what would they be?
  • How often do I want to change my bedroom up?
  • Are there health concerns in my bedroom I need to address when decorating or making changes?
  • What would my bedroom look like if money, time, and practicality were not an issue?

These questions will get you thinking about what you want – and don’t want – in your new bedroom. They may also help you realize things that could affect your décor choices. For example, if you’re going to want to re-do your room often, you may want to buy less expensive furniture so that you can change it without feeling bad about the budget.

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2) Plan well

To avoid disaster, plan on paper or online before you make any changes. Carefully measure your bedroom and any furniture you think you might keep. Then, consider different colors, styles, and ideas for your room. You can use online tools to get a sense of how the space would look like with specific changes, which is very useful when comparing styles and choices. You can see a list of online planning tools here.

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3) Create a budget

Renovating or making over a bedroom can be costly, especially if you want to make changes to your furniture and the structure of the room. Create a budget for your project. If you need help, there are online calculators here, here, and here.

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4) Focus on what you can keep and work with

If your bedroom has good basics, you may find your job is much easier than you thought. Maybe you have a large closet, a decent solid wood bed, and attractive windows. Find ways to highlight what you love. For example, beautiful ceilings can be showed off with a light fixture. Rather than replacing everything, find ways to salvage what you own. If you have a nice dresser that is in bad shape, for example, you may want to repaint it and add new drawer pulls to create a whole new look. Don’t just reinvent the wheel – think about what already works and what can be make better with a little paint and imagination.

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5) Then, work on changing what you don’t love

Of course, some things will have to go – like the mattress that gives you a terrible sleep or the broken nightstand. This is where your budget comes in. Just be sure to use the money wisely – hunt around for quality items that you adore rather than settling on something that is just available.

6) Give yourself permission to have temporary items and in-between stages

Unless you hire a professional, you will likely have ugly-duckling stages where your bedroom looks less than ideal. Maybe you’ll have trouble getting the paint right or will have to wait a few months to be able to afford a beautiful dresser. That’s OK. If you can’t afford gorgeous bed linens at first, for example, buy cheap bed-in-a-bag sheets and keep saving until you can afford the items you want.

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7) Start with the basics

There’s no point in buying the extras for your room until you have the bare bones, which include:

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  • Paint
  • Bed
  • Clothes storage
  • Night stand
  • Flooring
  • Window treatments and privacy

Once you have these in place, you can start thinking about accessories and additional items. You can add a pile of pillows to the bed, for example, plants, and art for the walls. You may also want to add a vanity area or a cozy spot for reading or relaxing.

8) Give yourself a chance to rely on serendipity

You may find the perfect canopy bed at an antique market one Saturday when you are more worried about your latest work project rather than the state of your home. Or, you may find the perfect armoire at a flea market one year from now. The point is, don’t focus on getting things perfect in your bedroom. Give your room permission to change and grow by seeing the makeover process as a journey rather than a perfect room that looks as though it belongs in a magazine.

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Don’t make design mistakes because you rush too fast into your bedroom makeover. If you’re handling the re-do yourself rather than hiring a pro, take the time to carefully consider and plan the project so that you get your dream bedroom with fewer mistakes and hassles.