Author Archives: A. Antonow

Dramatic Wall Art to Invigorate Your Home

Sometimes, simple posters or small framed art just don’t cut it. In many rooms (especially bedrooms and living rooms) bold art on the walls can create an important focal point for the room and can create a theme for the entire space. And, let’s face it: a big, bold beautifully decorated wall often adds that touch of amazing that you’ve been looking for. There are a few basic ideas for making it happen:

Bring the Indoors in

A large tree (painted or even made with real wood or papier-mâché) creates a dramatic look and is terrific for a living room where you want to create a natural look or for bedrooms where you want to create a fairy-tale feel. You can even hang decorations, bird cages, or strings of lights in the branches and leaves. If you want a green home, you can use trees that have already been cut down. For some great ideas on incorporating trees into your home décor, check out this blog site. If you prefer to go with paint, this Apartment Therapy blog post shows you how to create a dramatic tree mural.

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Trees aren’t the only things you can bring indoors from nature. A dramatic vertical garden can also create a stunning focal point in a dining room, kitchen, or living room. It is a very eco-friendly option and can also help you improve indoor air quality. To find out how you can start your own wall garden, you can check out this site.

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Water, Water Everywhere

Waterfalls and fountains are another great choice for living rooms and dining rooms. These walls not only look amazing, but they can help combat stress and dry air. In many cases, homeowners also find the sounds of water soothing and very pleasant. Check out this Freshouse blog post to see how waterfalls and fountains can fit in with any décor. Full-size aquariums are also a great option — as long as you are willing to put in the work.

Cover your Walls with Stone, Brick, or Wood

If you want a Western, rustic, or masculine look for studies or living rooms, this is your best bet. These types of walls are a bit more of an investment, because of the materials involved, but the final look will last for a long time. If you are lucky enough to live in an older home, simply exposing existing brick or wood can be enough. One caveat, though: keep in mind that all-wood or all-brick walls can make your room look tinier. If you have a smaller space, consider having one wall of brick or wood and keeping the rest of your walls a lighter color to create the illusion of light.

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Add a Huge Fireplace

Instead of just adding a stone wall, you can create a dramatic fireplace that goes from floor to ceiling. Not only does this look amazing, but if you live in a cold climate, it can make your home cozier. Just make sure you check with local building codes and with your insurance company before you decide on this home improvement; to the fire hazard fireplaces can change your insurance policy and there may be some strict rules in your area about installing new fireplaces or wood-burning stoves.

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Put Your Bed up High

A loft bed or tree house bed is a great idea, especially for children’s rooms. Not only is having a tree house inside lots of fun for kids, but it can look amazing and it saves a ton of floor space in small rooms. If you decide to go this route, though, you need to make sure that the structure is safe. There are kits available for parents who want to build this type of whimsical room within a room, and some the treehouses that you can create this way are truly spectacular. Check out this Inhabitat blog post for ideas.

Books

If you are a reader, putting in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves is a practical storage solution. It can also look amazing. Don’t just limit yourself to book shelves, though. Huge stacks of books against a book wall can look amazing, too (just make sure they are not in danger of toppling over). If you have books you no longer need or no longer use, you can even use them to create your own wall art. For example, check out the book headboard below. You can read this blog post here to get some more ideas about decorating with books.

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Floor-to-Ceiling Murals or Art

Having an entire wall that is awash with color and texture can create a really dramatic look, especially in open-concept homes that have a modern feel to them. This can be a great way to ensure that your home stays personal and not too clinical if you have a lot of simple lines in your space.

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It’s time to get dramatic about your space. Big, bold art on your walls can really make a big difference — just be sure to keep things simple by sticking with one dramatic piece per room to keep things from getting overwhelming.

 

Making Your Dorm Room Into Something Amazing

If you’re moving into a dorm room this fall, you may want an amazing space that lets you study and entertain in style while showing off your chic sense of décor. Unfortunately, if you are like most students you have been issued the standard, impersonal shoebox of a room and you may have a budget that makes it hard to splurge on terrific pieces. Even so, there’s hope if you want to make your dorm into something special.

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Take care of the floor

Dorm room floors are often unattractive and may be poorly maintained. Use carpet remnants from a carpet depot or rug store or even a few inexpensive rugs to brighten the space and to make your dorm room floor something you don’t mind walking on. Just make sure you don’t make it hard to open your door – you need the ventilation under your door to prevent condensation and mildew.

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Layer and don’t worry too much about matching everything up

Lots of layers of color and texture add some interest and personality to your room. Pile on bed linens, curtains, and even fabrics on walls and ceilings. Just don’t worry about matching everything up – just keep colors complimentary and contrasting. If you don’t have the money to match everything up, creating a more funky mismatched look is the next best option – and it will keep things fresh and unique.

Upcycle items rather than buying new

Your parents and friends may be willing to donate furniture and décor items which you can re-do with new upholstery, paint, and a little imagination. Scour local second-hand shops and garage sales for furniture and other items you need. If you have inherited some ugly pieces and need a little inspiration or how-to help, check out this Pinterest page for ideas and step-by-step instructions.

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Come up with ways to stow your stuff

One of the big challenges with dorm life is that there is very little storage space. You will need to create some of your own. Here are a few ideas about ways to find some extra space when you live in a shoebox:

  • Put your bed on risers and use the extra space under your bed to store boxes and linens. Use a bed skirt to hide the items under there.
  • Check with your campus housing association to find out whether you can adhere things to the walls. If so, hanging shelves and racks can be a great way to make the most of your wall space.
  • Buy a storage ottoman for sitting and for storing small items.
  • Buy furniture that does double duty. A comfy chair that is also a pull-out bed for guests can be a great option. Clear off the top of a dresser to use as a vanity. Make your furniture work for the space.

For more unique storage tips, check out this handy article.

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Invest in more lighting

Dorm room lighting is usually very basic – inexpensive, functional, and usually not enough for late nights of studying. You will need some lamps and extra lights for gentle light in the evenings and when entertaining. Inexpensive strings of lights or novelty lights are a good option. This article has some good tips. In addition, be sure to invest in a good floor lamp or task lamp so that you can read and work at your desk or in your bed without getting eye strain.

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College textbooks are expensive – and so is college life. Good thing you don’t have to spend a fortune or take out extra loans to live in college style. If you’re still not sure where to start, check out this blog to take a look at some dorm makeovers.

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Stylish Hardware Fixes for Your Home

On this blog, we’ve mentioned a few times that even apartment-dwellers can easily transform their rented homes with new hardware. Hardware is truly amazing because it makes such a difference, but is easy and inexpensive to change. If you’ve never experimented with this design idea before, consider:

Knobs and pulls

Knobs and pulls are amazingly versatile and can transform just about anything. Consider changing the knobs and pulls on:

  • Dressers
  • Cupboards
  • Nightstands
  • Pots and dutch ovens
  • Doors

They can instantly transform your space. Look for unique hardware at second-hand stores, yard sales, and at your local hardware store. You can even make your own pulls and knobs. This blog post has some great ideas for DIY pulls. Another blogger here has some additional fun ideas.

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Another idea with pulls and knobs is to put them at the end of painted wooden poles to create your own curtain rods for a fraction of the cost. Just buy simple wooden rods, metal rods, or even electrical conduits at your local hardware store and choose two matching pull knobs. You can just screw the knobs in. You can paint the rods or leave them as is. The whole project costs less than $10 in most cases.

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If you have extra door knobs, you can use them inside your closet to hang accessories and ties. Or, screw them next to your window for an attractive curtain holder. Be sure to check out this blog for more unique projects.

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Switch plates

Switch plates and outlet covers are usually not very inspiring, but you can easily transform them into something special by adding some decorative switch plates. Oddee.com even has a guide here on making your own customized versions. If you can’t find great switch plates and don’t want to make your own, another idea is to place a frame around electrical outlets and light switches — even around thermostats. This will instantly add some style with very little effort.

Door handles and locks

Door handles and locks do more than just keep unwanted guests out. They can also look amazing. Swap out the door locks and handles on your door for a whole new look. Check out this website for beautiful door handle ideas. While you are making over your door, consider adding a whimsical door knocker (even on interior doors), beautiful street numbers, or even your monogram.

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Hinges

These days, it seems as though most people think that door hinges should be functional and invisible, but there are actually a range of decorative hinges and strap hinges that look great on wardrobes, closets, doors, and cupboards. Look for rustic designs for your pantry door and dramatic gothic designs for wood doors. Check out this Pinterest page to see the amazing things you can do with a few hinges.

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Hardware may seem to be one of the least interesting design elements, but it can really be one of the most exciting. Inexpensive and easy to buy, hardware can make a big difference in your home – even if you aren’t handy or don’t have time for big makeover projects.

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Acronyms You Need to Know to Keep Your Home Safe and Cozy

If you are shopping for furniture, décor items, or appliances for your home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vocabulary. Sometimes, it feels as though you need a glossary just to get through the showroom. In addition to trying to keep clear on different features and styles, you may run into these common acronyms when shopping:

CFL.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are energy-saving light bulbs intended to replace traditional light bulbs. If you are buying a lighting fixture or lamp for your apartment or house, you may notice that your lighting choice allows or does not allow CFLs. For example, if you buy a lamp with a dimmer, you will likely not be able to use a CFL light. You can learn more about these light bulbs here.

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EMFs.

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are weak magnetic and electrical fields that are produced by wireless devices and electronic equipment. This World Health Organization website provides additional details. EMFs have been linked in some studies to childhood cancers and other serious health risks, so if you are buying any electric appliances or electronics for your home, you may wish to read more about EMFs and look for appliances that produce little or no EMFs.

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FSC.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified furniture is made from wood that adheres to the sustainable forestry rules set out by the FSC. If you are concerned about the environment, buying FSC-certified furniture gives you some peace of mind. You can read more about the FSC and sustainable furniture at this site.

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HEPA.

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is used to describe a standard applied to air filters and some vacuums. Appliances that meet the HEPA standard must meet standards set by the United States Department of Energy (DOE). If you have allergies or are concerned about air quality in your home, a HEPA filter or vacuum may help you to remove some fine particles from your indoor air. To learn more about the HEPA standard, visit this site.

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MDF.

Medium density fiberboard (MDF), also known as engineered wood, is made from wood fibers that are bonded together with pressure and heat. Furniture made from MDF tends to be lighter and less expensive than real wood pieces and can still be durable.

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SFI.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifies wood products – including furniture and home décor items that meet standards for sustainable wood harvesting and production. If you are shopping for wood furniture and looking for eco-friendly products, this is a certification to look for. You can find out more about the SFI labels here.

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TBPH.

Often used as a fire retardant in furniture foam and other products, is(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) actually replaces older flame retardants that were considered unsafe. Unfortunately, according to this article and others, there are still health concerns with TBPH and other foam products.

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VOCs.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals which have a low boiling point and a high vapour pressure in regular conditions, which means they can easily leach from finishes or paints and into your air. VOCs have been linked to immune problems, allergic reactions, and respiratory ailments in children who have been exposed to toxic VOCs over a longer period of time. It is important to look for low-VOC paints, carpets, finishes, and stains when decorating your home, especially when decorating a baby or child’s room. To learn more about how VOCs may be affecting your indoor air quality, you can read more at the EPA website here.

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While there is no such thing as a completely safe home, being aware of what is in your furniture can go a long way towards keeping your family safe. Consider getting familiar with the above abbreviations before shopping so that you can make smart decisions – as well as stylish choices – for your home.

Décor Hacks to Transform Your Home

You don’t have to be a genius (or a trust fund baby) to make your home gorgeous. A few simple hacks can take your home’s interior from ho-hum to dazzling:

Never throw anything away without careful consideration.

It’s amazing what you can do in your home with a few items you were about to throw out. That old coffee table can be transformed into a TV table, ottoman, or shelving. There is even a tutorial online on how to transform plastic spoons into a decorative wreath (really – you can see it here). Something as modest as some cardboard can be transformed into something functional, such as a vanity (instructions here) or a room divider (visit this page for how-tos).

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If you are looking around your home and thinking that you need all new furniture, really consider before tossing anything out. You can often get a hip new look simply by repainting something you have or transforming it. If you would like some cool ideas on transforming what you own into unique décor items, check out this Pinterest page.

Invest in crown molding from your local hardware store.

It is truly amazing what some simple — and inexpensive — crown molding can do:

  • Attach it to your walls for one-of-a-kind frames
  • Add texture to walls by applying layers of it over your walls
  • Affix it to the top of bookcases and paint it to match your shelves to create a more upscale bookcase
  • Create the look of built-in bookshelves by placing several tall bookshelves side by side and applying crown molding along the edges where the bookshelves meet – you’ll get the look of one built-in wall unit if you paint the entire structure
  • Add some interest to your ceiling space by attaching dramatic crown molding in a contrasting color near the ceiling
  • Transform a chest of drawers by sticking strips of crown molding to the drawers, painting the whole piece, and adding funky hardware

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Buy wallpaper, fabrics, and paints you love in bulk.

You can transform just about any home with these three items. Use the paint to update walls, kitchen cabinets, furniture, and even floors. For some incredible decoration makeovers with paint, check out this Pinterest page.

Wallpaper is another interior design secret. It’s really not just for walls. The cool patterns mean that it can transform just about anything in your house, from old hatboxes and vases to old pieces of furniture and even doors. Try wallpapering just one wall or the insides of your bookcases for a fun look. If you live in an apartment, you can even make your own temporary wallpaper from fabric and starch (find the instructions here).

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Fabrics are another thing you will want to stock up on. You can use them to create your own curtains, bed coverings, throws, and more. Even if you can’t sew, you can use gorgeous fabrics to reupholster existing furniture. If you live in an apartment or just don’t want to bother with wallpaper or paint, you can also transform drab walls by hanging large pieces of fabric over them. If you live in a rented space, simply use tension rods to keep the fabric in place.

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With a little padding and some fabric, you can also transform just about anything into a cute seating area. For example, turn a shelving unit on its side, add padding and fabric to the top, and you have a cute bench or window seat. A stepstool or even a block of wood can become an ottoman with padding and some fabric.

Steal ideas from expensive stores and magazines and create your own.

One of the best hacks out there is simple: find a cute or trendy item that costs an arm and a leg and create your own version for a fraction of the price. This site can show you how.

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Buy inexpensive blank canvases and use them to cover up anything you don’t like.

Buy blank canvases at your local art store and paint them yourself if you are artsy. If not, use stencils, fabric, wallpaper, or your photos on the canvas to create your work of art. Then, use your art pieces to cover up cracks in the walls, unsightly air conditioners, exposed pipes, or anything else that you hate but don’t have time to fix right away.

Try a few DIY decor projects this weekend — a few supplies may be all you need to makeover your apartment or house.

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