Here’s to the best-looking and the most high-functioning home office on the block…yours!! Armed with this handy checklist, now you can. Furthermore, with American office workers forced to self-isolate and work from home – whether it be a spare room – or a spare corner – there’s never been quite such a demand for home office furniture and equipment.
Firstly, let’s face it, before this, shopping for a home office would never really have us thrilled to bits, because generally speaking, office furniture – such as an office desk or a chair – does not score very high on looks. So also, the left and right brains are at odds like no other time. The left brain wants a home office that functions like the Oval Office and is high on comfort – albeit sometimes at the cost of looks. Conversely, the right brain sometimes yearns for a drop-dead gorgeous Instagram-worthy desk and chair – functionality and comfort be damned!
Nevertheless, the good news is that Home Office furniture has come a long way finally having turned the bend. Consequently, we no longer have to compromise – or denounce comfort while going for good looks for the home office. Besides, neither wants to give up an arm and a leg to get there. Now, not only can both brains settle on a happy middle ground between looks and comfort, but also do so without paying astronimically high prices.
Here are 6 of the best home office must-haves. The best home office on the block must do all of the above two things – look good, make you feel comfortable, and work hard – so you don’t have to – without getting you down in the dumps. In fact, four things, to be precise. I stand corrected.
(1) Comfy Chair
First things first. Let your home office chair be the most comfortable chair in the house. When you are the boss, you can do that.
If you like modern furniture and are thrilled with Industrial style – this rough and ready office with a wireframe Bertoia reproduction chair is for you. As one of many seats designed by Harry Bertoia in 1952, the Diamond Chair made from filigree steel wire mesh, is perhaps the most favored by manufacturers of modern furniture and is equal parts refined and edgy.
On the other hand, if you are a worshipper of all things traditional – do it in style with an office wrapped in leather and gold, and marble. Dig around for sources to make the home office look like a million bucks – without spending a million – or even a fraction of it. Therein lies the trick.
(2) Large desk –
Buy the largest desk that your space can accommodate. Functionality means being able to spread out – there should be room on your desk for all your necessary doodads such as notepads, mail, to-do lists, a large enough computer monitor or two – for designers – and plenty of storage space close at hand. This office from scores big on that requirement.
For instance, the above homeowner – or their Designer – could have chosen a smaller size desk and centered it along the back wall. However, they chose to go with an oversized desk that fills up the entire space – thereby providing plenty of space for working as well as making a bold design statement in the bargain.
(3) Storage, storage, and more storage –
These are the three buzz words of a high-functioning home office. There must be a place for everything and everything in its place. Organization is the key to winning the contest for the The Best Home Office On The Block
If you are a neat freak – like yours truly – go for open shelving. Use some quirky storage ideas for all your books and things.
If you prefer not to have open storage, invest in a cabinet that works as hard as you do to keep clutter out of eyesight and off your mind so you can focus on what’s more important.
(4) Doors –
Anybody who has had a zoom meeting interrupted by children, parents, and or dogs and cats will appreciate the need for doors to your home office. Shut those doors and you are the lord – or lady – of your own castle for 8 hours every day.
(4) Good Lighting –
Both ambient and task lighting is a must for a high-functioning home office. Light is a necessary ingredient for long hours of work. Think Task lighting that does not cause eye strain. In order for that, the light source must ideally be above your eye-line with ambient lighting behind. Ambient light is an important ingredient for robust mental health.
If the room has large windows that receive adequate daylight during the day one trick is to push your desk closer to a window and then arrange the rest of the furniture around the desk as a hub – with the desk in the center of this hub.
How does one create a hub off to one side of a room you ask? Here’s where your skills – or those of your designer – with creating a floor plan comes in handy. Just remember to proceed methodically and take good measurements – it’s that easy!
(5) A Floor Plan –
A functional furniture layout with open traffic pathways is crucial to a well-designed space since it helps to de-stress other than promoting harmony and mental well-being. One of the most important steps to create the best home office on the block is to measure the space carefully – especially if you have a tight space. The floor plan must be drawn to scale. This is the design equivalent of measuring twice and cutting once. This step takes some time. However, It saves a ton of time and resources by helping to avoid costly mistakes later on – or worse – after the fact.
This is the last piece of the puzzle that a lot of home office users forget or forego. Therefore, it results in a home office that makes you tired and lethargic or anxious and edgy – both obstacles to a high-functioning office.
(6) Personalize –
Finally, set up your office with accessories and decor items that are meaningful to you. Items that spark pleasant memories. Items that make you feel calm. If you and your office speak the same language – it will feel less of a drag when you are cooped up – and your workday will pass quickly.
Resource Guide – Office under the stairs and Attic Home Office pics courtesy bobvilla.com
Before we get started on how to steal a Paris Apartment look for your own home, one thing to keep in mind is that most Parisian apartments start with more than we can hope for in a standard American apartment building – quite a bit more. Most American apartments start with a white box, whereas Parisian apartments already have great bones. Herringbone parquet floors and double windows down to the floor – with French doors – that let in lots of light. Some apartments also have what is know as Trumeau. These are old original mirrors above the fireplace which are found in French châteaux as well as apartments.
So that means we need to pay attention not only to what you put into your room but also what the frame of your room looks like.
….In a Paris apartment – or home – are never plain. If you are in an apartment where you are allowed to re-paint, go for a layered look with a subtle tonal textured paint on the walls. However, avoid the sponge-painted look of the seventies as that may end up looking inauthentic and not Parisian. If you are an expert – try rag glazing. On the other hand, if you are like most of my clients who are not – read on.
For this, you will need:
Two 1/2 gallon cans of paint in two colors
A one-gallon paint can – empty
Step ladder if needed
Buy water-based or latex paint – not oil-based – in two very similar – as in next to each other on the paint deck – shades. Get half a gallon of each – most standard-sized rooms need 1 gallon of paint. I like the look of a flat finish so I would use flat finish for this. Open the can of paint that is a slightly darker color – darker than the other. Using a roller – paint your walls covering them well. Allow to dry. Next, open the can of paint in a lighter color. Thin this down with paint thinner in a half and half ratio – half paint and half thinner. Using a brush, paint over the wall using vertical and horizontal strokes. Do not worry about total coverage and do not worry about brush strokes. Let dry. Cover the entire wall with a top coat of clear acrylic – to make the walls somewhat consistent making it more resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Especially if there are young ones around. This particular paint treatment will give you a bold layered look. That is one way to steal a Paris Apartment style for your own home
Milk Paint or Chalk paint produces a more subtly textured wall. Both paints give amazing rich and complex paint finishes. It comes in powder form and only needs to be mixed in with water so you can monitor how thick or thin you want the mix to be. Thinner coats produce the best results. Chalk paint finishes are thicker and more consistent, whereas milk paint is often less predictable. Milk paint ages beautifully, looking more polished with different levels of sheen.
I like Milk Paint because there are no fumes during use, and is safe enough to go down the kitchen sink. If you want to learn more about using Milk Paint and all it’s advantages – I am going to do a tutorial on it soon, so stay tuned. For now, just know that mixed milk paint goes bad quickly so use it on the day it is mixed, or leave it overnight in the refrigerator and use it the following day. Milk paint soaks into the surface instead of forming a coat as regular latex wall paint does. If you have trouble with the paint not adhering to your previously painted walls, get a bonding agent like Milk Paint Ultra Bond for non-porous surfaces.
Hemp oil is a great top coat for milk paint. The oil gives your walls a darker, rich color and luster. Top coats are optional but they protect paint from moisture and wear and are best for bathroom and kitchens.
Chalk paint can also be mixed to create custom colors. You can uses Annie Sloan, or Websters Chalk Paint. Similar to Milk Paint you can apply this paint with a brush or roller. Brush strokes crate interest and add texture. Chalk paint distresses well.
If you are doing a large room, the price of store-bought chalk paint like Annie Sloan may be prohibitive. However, you can follow my recipe below to create our own home-made substitute for great results.
Home-made Chalk Paint Recipe:
One Cup Latex Paint (flat)
A 1/4 Cup Calcium Carbonate
An eight of a Cup Water
Depending on the size of your room, a gallon of paint could be more than enough. Do not worry about getting every lump out of your mixture, because that is what will give you the streaky look of a Haussman interior – that is my tip number one on how to steal a Paris Apartment style. Annie Sloan has tutorials on Chalk Paint but you do not need them for what we are trying to get done.
If you’re really in the mood for that one-of-a-kind dreamy finish for the walls in your home (time and budget permitting), opt for a lime wash. That is the real thing, but that is a story for another day.
If glazing or lime washing your walls like a Parisian is a no-no – you can think about adding statement-making wainscoting. For a modern take on the wainscoting concept, you can paint one wall of the room in a contrasting color from the rest of the room. Then install a grid pattern batten molding from baseboard to ceiling. It should be painted the same color as the wall where it is going. This is a nice way to create a feature wall – and one of my top tips on how to steal a Paris Apartment. Alternately, you can have batten or wainscoting only half-way up the walls from the baseboard to a chair rail going all around the room. Batten must be the color of the wall. Wainscoting looks best painted white.
However, avoid shiplap – as that will not give you a Parisian or European look. If you are in a home of your own and time and budget allow a remodel, spring for a wider baseboard. Most spec home builders go for the skinniest stock baseboards to avoid ramping up the cost of your home. So if and when you have a chance to add value to your home – as a Designer, one would suggest, go for it,
….Of original herringbone Parquet floors found in most Parisian apartments – cannot be found in most American homes and never in American apartments. However, the look can be substituted with wide plank engineered wood floors, to achieve a similar result. Having said that, if you bought a home and have the time and resources for a new floor, that is awesome. If not, most American landlords will perhaps not give permission to re-do their apartment floor. Nevertheless, we have a fix.
The next thing would be to find out from the landlord if he might allow us to put down stick-on adhesive decorative tiles. Tiles that appropriate the look of French Limestone and slate tiled rooms. Octagon white tiles with smaller corner “cabochon” black tiles in between. That is what all the best Parisian foyers are wearing. Add a black border all around the edge of the room and viola…you’re there….!
Lowes has a peel and stick parquet-look floor as well as Peel and stick versions of tiled limestone and marble floors. You can either go crazy, or restrained, according to your taste and sale. And that is one more way to steal a Paris Apartment. Peel and stick tiles adhere to most vinyl concrete and wood floors. Check the retailer/manufacturer’s instructions.
3) Crown molding
…is a decorative element used for capping cabinets, columns, and, most often, interior walls at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Often, crown molding is created of wood, but in recent years, plastic and foam options have become more readily available. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) versions are popular as well. The latter are more flexible, they paint nicer and they react better to fluctuations in temperature.
Usually, apartments and some newer homes come with a standard 2 ¼-inch casing around windows and doors and a 3 ½-inch baseboard which runs along the bottom of walls and no crown molding.
A modern selection of crown moldings currently available to consumers make it easier than ever to take a room from blah to beautiful. There’s an immediate impact that crown molding brings to a room. For homeowners, it adds value to the home – which is a selling feature. If there are two identical houses next to each other and one has crown molding and the other one doesn’t, the home with the crown molding will be worth more.
Crown molding in both traditional and modern styles are available. Prices for moldings are reasonable and installation time is minimal. A seasoned DIYer should not have a problem installing their own crown moldings using a miter saw. If not, you can always go to Angie’s List and get a guy.
….in Parisian apartments are opulent – both the material and yardage. To get the same look in your home, make sure you measure the windows. When ordering fabric yardage make sure it covers two and a half to three times the width of the window. Also make sure the curtain rod is wider than the window opening. There needs to be space to the left and right of the window opening to stack the curtains when they are open so as to let in light. This is the right way to get that true Parisian feel.
In a room with regular height ceilings, the curtains must hang close to the ceiling – 2-4 inches from crown molding if you have it. Measure to the floor then deduct 1 inch to make sure your curtains wont drag each time you open and close them. If you want your curtains to puddle on the floor in true Parisian style, add 3 to 4 inches to the length. Make a simple diagram of your window and write down inches right and inches left. Measure the window – with trim – and note this number. Next, measure the inches above the window and inches below your window – skip the latter when measuring for French doors or patio doors. Now you are ready to order a window covering that shows off your sense of style – and establishes you as the new master on the subject of how to steal a Paris Apartment…!
5) All that glitters
….isn’t always gold but it does always spell Parisian glamour ….and a little je ne sais quoi. A touch of gold makes the room glisten in the evening light when entertaining with friends and lifts your spirits on quiet nights while enjoying a glass of Prosecco as you mull your next move on how to steal a Paris Apartment.
…especially one or two carefully chosen ones are a Parisian apartment must haves. Traditional antiques in the form of vintage accessory items or place settings, in a modern interior. Alternately have modern antiques such as a pair of chairs, an iconic sofa or a single case-good item or an accessory piece in an otherwise traditional setting. The trick is to mix in the old with the new or vice versa. A few vintage pieces add another layer to your re-created Paris flat.
The trick is to make your antiques look as though they were in the family for centuries instead of being staged. The most important lesson on how to steal a Paris Apartment would be to shop for antique items that are functional and then use them everyday.
….is an important part of the Paris apartment decor. Parisians tend not to shy away from color. Think big bold pops – especially if your walls are neutral tones. Plan out color, size and theme. When it comes to size – here’s where you won’t go wrong with up-sizing.
As for theme – this is where you get to infuse your own personality. Choose art that aligns with your hobbies, your travels your favorite color. Trust your gut and trust your taste. Avoid family portraits or your wedding photos on the walls of your living room or family room – those do have a valuable place in your home – elsewhere.
Avoid generic prints that are this season’s favorites on Pinterest. When choosing a color – remember to mix but you do not necessarily have to match. Shop for unique pieces with personality in eye-catching frames.
….are a homeowner’s – or renter’s – best friend. Statement chandeliers are a great idea when you feel you only have the strength to go for a big impact piece and call it a day. Shop for chandeliers that work with your style – whether it’s a traditional French number dripping with crystal,
…..or a modern chandelier – unique and distinctive. Sometimes a single stylish ceiling pendant can spell the difference between a half- finished room and a well-designed one. If you chose the right one it can say a lot about your style by not saying too much. And that is how to steal a Paris Apartment. You can also check out some of my favorite recipes here. Let me know how they turn out. I love hearing from you guys. As always, if you have any questions about my E-design packages (the basic e-design package is currently 40% OFF during the pandemic) or want to chat about anything else design, you can always contact me at toriblackhomes.com
More is more…and MORE is in…!! If the words Maximalist Design conjures up visions of over-the-top, stuffy rooms cluttered with tchotchkes and keepsakes gathered over the years, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. This is not your grandmother’s maximalism….!
I have put together 10 easy tips on how to create a joyous oasis of maximalist luxury in your home, without it looking cluttered or busy. Maximalism is not so much a style as it is an escape from a world and culture that at times seems bleak and boring since it was born out of a reaction to the minimalist movement.
A Maximalist space can be in any period, style, or trend. It can be applied to a small room, making it look like a luxurious little jewel box or a large room where it makes a statement. The basic elements of a maximalist home are pretty much the polar opposite of a minimalist interior. The minimalist preference for white walls and quiet color palettes are a no-no for maximalism. The bolder, brighter, and more color-splashed it is, the better.
In the words of Jonathan Adler, “minimalism is a bummer. When you’re about to kick the bucket, you don’t want to look back and see an endless haze of beige.” I have worshipped at the altar of both. I have lived through my minimalist period and celebrated my unabashedly maximalist phase and reveled in the joy of each, at different phases of my life. Here are some quick tips on how to create a maximalist oasis. Let your soul spread its wings and have its own maximalist moment.
COLORS – Take a look in your wardrobe for cues on what colors make you happy. Painting your walls the same color as your favourite skirt or summer jacket or pantsuit will make you feel empowered and confident working in this Home Office and walking through that stylish Indigo hued Art Deco style Hallway, every day. Against this rich backdrop, the white and occasional black of the furniture in the foreground is what makes the walls pop but yet does not overpower the room.
LAYERS – This is a little tricky to pull off – but not if you follow the simple rule that I have followed a hundred times with clients and am sharing with you now. Select an item of clothing in a bold color from your closet. At the paint shop, match the color of the wardrobe item to a shade on the paint deck (or what’s closes to it) and note down the name. Now, on the same paint chip go to a shade that is 1 or 2 or 3 steps up or down from your original selection to start building your color scheme. Note down the names of each shade. These will be the colors for your wall paint and the dominant color for wallpaper, rug, sofa, and curtains but, remember not to stick to solids. For instance, layer a solid color sofa on a self-patterned rug and curtains in bold patterns against the backdrop of small-patterned wallpaper on one wall or two. This will give you a wonderfully layered look that is luxurious and comforting at the same time, like this Traditional style green-on-green Drawing Room, steeped in eye-catching opulence.
DRAMA – Add red in measured doses and you can never go wrong. However, an entire bedroom with red-painted walls may not be the ultimate relaxing space. In the bedroom below, the bold red Art Deco style headboard against the dark blue walls are softened by a lavender lamp shade. Clever blending of all the different colors together stirs in excitement into the space without making one feel anxious or irritating. Bear in mind, lavender is red and blue mixed together but in inequal ratios. As I always say, it’s all in the details.
BOLD CONTRASTS – To create this effect, pull colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel in a split-complementary or tetradic color scheme. The blue, watermelon, orange, green, pale yellow, and brown contrast with as well as complement each other well in the living room below. As do the patterns (stripes with large scale prints) and textures (plush with shiny finishes), to create a sophisticated, eclectic interior space that you will not easily tire of, no matter how long the stay-at-home lockdown lasts.
LARGE SCALE – The oversized scale of the artwork, the floor to ceiling bookshelves and the plush overstuffed sofas against the floor to ceiling window coverings in the room below, joyfully plays up the maximalism in this Eclectic style home.
PATTERN PLAY – The prints on the wallpaper, the fabric canopy, the bedspread complement each other and work well in this pattern-on-pattern blush themed English Country style bedroom below. By varying the scale of the prints on the furnishings, as well as by contrasting dark and light wood finishes, It feels calming and serene despite the use of multiple patterns.
GLAMMED UP – Walls clad in luxe wallpaper and velvet-upholstered chairs with brushed nickel finish detail gathered around the burnished wood dining table with a rich, dark sheen topped with a stylish chandelier, ups the glam factor of this Modern style maximalist dining room below.
BLACK IS A BEAUTIFUL BACKDROP – A rich glossy black finish instantly dresses up this jewel-like kitched with mirrored backsplash – like wearing a string of black pearls paired with a white silk blouse to a posh but fun gala.
ANIMAL PRINTS IN SMALL DOSES – Animal prints are a great way to add pattern and instant glamour to a space – but in small doses, such as an ottoman, a pillow cushion or…. if you dare…an area rug.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN IT’S PLACE – Maximalism is not about rooms packed wall to wall with furniture and accessories. Rather, it is about curated collections carefully edited with a keen eye and a disciplined approach. The Transitional style Family Room showcases the homeowners’ collected treasures from travels around the world separately on the built-in bookshelves and in an antique chinoiserie armoire so it still manages to look neat and orderly by following the rule of – a place for everything and everything in its place.
Photo credits – Maximalist Interior photo courtesy Daunenspiel. Jonathan Adler flagship store NYC photo courtesy Jonathan Adler. COLORS – Electric Blue Home Office and Art Deco style Hallway photo courtesy 1st Dibs, design by Sasha Bikoff. LAYERS – Green-on-green layered Traditional style Drawing Room photo courtesy One Kings Lane. DRAMA – Hollywood Regency style Red headboard in bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. BOLD CONTRAST – Blue, orange, brown and pale yellow Mid-Century Living Room photo courtesy Architectural Digest. LARGE SCALE – Eclectic Living room with oversized artwork photo courtesy Architectural Digest. PATTERN PLAY – English Country Cottage style blush bedroom photo courtesy Country Life magazine. GLAMMED UP – Dining Room photo courtesy Ellie Koleen photography, Design by Erin Melkonian Designs, Light fixture courtesy Corbett Lighting. BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL – Bathroom photo courtesy The Tile Shop blog. ANIMAL PRINTS – Leopard Print rug in Mid-Century style bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING – Transitional Style Family room photo courtesy Tori Black Homes Interior Design.
According to Pantone, the color experts, the hot new colors this summer range from Grape Compote, a muted purple tint – to Flame Scarlet, which is perhaps the brightest, boldest shade of fiery red, just like the name sounds.
In between these two extremes, is dovetailed, the easier to live with shades of Denim Blue, Coral Pink and White White, all of which have remained ever popular summer go-to shades for Fashion as well as Home Decor through the years.
As you work these trending colors into your everyday outfits this summer, here’s a cheat sheet on how to mix and match like a Pantone expert creating color-schemes tying together walls floor, furniture and accessories for each room in your home using this year’s trendiest tints.
PURPLE – This year’s purple is a yummy hue called Grape Compote which when cleverly paired, will look as dreamy on you, as it will in your home.
The trick is here to pick the exact Pantone prescribed shade on the paint deck or color wheel and then go upwards and outwards when selecting the paint for the walls or upholstery fabric or curtains.
WHITE – Easy breezy white is a perennial summer favorite of one all. What’s not to love about a summery white dress in soft gauzy cotton?
To make a white on white room look easy-going and refreshing instead of bland and inconsequential, add a dash of texture and mix in a subtle pattern in a complementary hue or make a bold choice with contrasting black wood and metal finishes.
CORAL PINK – When wearing pink be specific as to the exact shade – because all pinks are not created equal. Pink must always be worn in tandem with either a stronger color – for dramatic effect – or with a softer color for subtlety. Keep accessories to a minimum because less is more.
Coral Pink is a beautifully soothing but tricky color to decorate with. It can end up looking too washed out and wimpy or too intense and fake looking. The trick is to let nature be the inspiration when choosing pink. Pick the variations of pink that are found in nature and you won’t go wrong.
DENIM BLUE – Nothing says summer more than blue denim – be it dark stonewashed indigo- blue or a soft faded chambray blue.
….and nothing conveys summer decor better than baby blue walls and washed blue fabric upholstered furniture.
SCARLET – It is the perfect choice for a statement-making summer dress. Alternately, pair a red-striped white top with a fun pair of red shoes. This is one of those times when you do not want to match the shoes with the bag.
A bold red-walled room makes a unique statement. One that visitors and guests to your home will be hard put to forget and dying to re-create. The trick is if you’re going to go red, go bold and don’t drop the ball. Adding an equally bold contrasting color in the same tone will make it work. Another refreshing alternative is to bring in white to contrast with and play off the red in a fun, energizing combination which is at the same time very livable.
Image credits: Purple Top courtesy Zara, White Dress courtesy Venus, White on white Living Room courtesy House Beautiful, Pink Pants courtesy Express, Coral Pink Bedroom courtesy Verandah, Blue Chambray Summer Dress courtesy Farfetch, Blue Bedroom courtesy Verandah, Red Dining Room with high gloss walls Courtesy Elle Decor,
Isolating at home in this time of Coronavirus has gotten some of us fighting cabin fever by now. Having said that, considering oneself to be among the lucky ones for not showing symptoms of anything worse than that, I decided to stay put for a bit longer and instead, make a list of the ways we can make the home feel like a luxury hotel – and make the forced isolation feel just a teeny bit, like a holiday in one of those exotic locations far far away, that is on our bucket-list.
SOFT SHEETS – THESE DAYS MORNINGS ARE FOR LOUNGING IN BED as we remind ourselves of the well-known fact that worry has no outcome and the other well-known fact that we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed, replacing your bedsheets is the easiest, and most cost-effective way to upgrade your bed to a hotel bed. However, 800 thread count sheets – the kind you sleep on at the best luxury hotels, can be pricey! So catch a sale this summer and wake up with a smile in your home-hotel room, feeling like a million dollars.
NOTE – while a higher thread count sheet stands for better quality, it’s the thread or fiber quality that matters most. A sheet of a better-quality fiber with a lower thread count will often feel softer and stand up to washing better than a sheet made from a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count. Make sense?
BLACK-OUT CURTAINS. It’s no fun if your bedroom windows are so bare that the very first rays of the sun hit you straight in the eye even as you are trying to decode that happy early morning dream as you wake up. If you wouldn’t pay for a hotel room that robs you of precious sleep, why put up with it at home? Am I right?
OH SO FLUFFY TOWELS!! FOR A HEAD-TO-TOE PAMPERED FEELING. Shopping for towels is best done by feeling and touching but when that does not seem possible in the short run – let’s talk about something called a ‘gram count’. The density of a bath towel is measured in grams per square meter (GSM). This number varies between 300-900. A 300-400 gram towel is thinner and lighter and is quick-drying – so this is best suited for a gym towel or a kitchen towel. A 400-600 GSM is a medium weight towel – that works great as a beach towel or an everyday bath towel. A 600-900 GSM is dense and absorbent, making it score high on the “fluff” scale but it requires a bit more drying time. Be sure to pick one that strikes a good balance between thick and absorbent, yet light enough to be quick-drying.
Egyptian and Turkish towels – Everyday towels are often made of standard cotton. Choose Turkish cotton if you prefer a thick, luxurious feel. They also become softer and fluffier with every wash. To keep your towels soft and fluffy, avoid using fabric softeners when washing. For a true Hotel look and feel, choose white towels, which look timeless and work with any style or color scheme. Stack your towels in an open-weave basket or tray for a spa-like bathroom experience.
GOOD LIGHTING. Staring into that blue computer screen is murder on your eyes. Your home-hotel needs good task lighting (a) at your desk…
…and (b) mood lighting for relaxing in the intimate areas of your home such as bedrooms. Keep in mind, for reading or working in bed the light source should be above and behind you for minimum eye strain.
A STURDY AND COMFORTABLE DESK CHAIR. Working from home on a regular basis as we are forced to, for some time now, you deserve more than a makeshift chair at the kitchen table. On top of everything else you are dealing with, you don’t have to be cramping from sitting on an uncomfortable chair for 12 hours every day. Pick one that looks as good as it feels nice and say goodbye to being a clock-watcher waiting for quitting time, even for a day!
PLAIN WHITE OR BLUE-AND-WHITE CHINA. When it comes to lifting your mood, the aroma of a wholesome home-cooked meal served on a set of pristine white platters, bowls, and plates soothes one’s soul like little else. What about you?
While blue and white dishes remind one of a very nice (but unpretentious) hotel in Bloomsbury where both the food they serve as well as the plates they serve it in, are simply ……Yummy! Stay safe, all!!
Confined indoors – when we’ve run out of craft projects and board games, and baked those fudge brownies and finished that 1000 piece puzzle for the hundredth time this week – perhaps it is time to realize that staying busy does not always lead to staying calm.
Rather than focus on the confinement, why not enjoy the placidity? I bring you 7 simple steps to creating a serene home where one feels centered yet stimulated instead of bored or anxious.
If you live in a zen gray and white minimalist loft or any other kind of monochromatic or earth-toned dwelling – you’re half-way there already! if not, it is not too late to start creating a peaceful space with some clever and affordable Interior Design tricks.
I do not suggest that you start a major makeover in the middle of everything. For heaven’s sake, no….!
What I do say is that you can have a tranquil environment, using what you have at hand, by introducing a few chosen elements that are known to create a calm and serene home, no matter what your style. Think about it as comfort food for your home when the going gets tough!
7 easy pathways to achieving that serene abode in which you will enjoy staying indoors:
Move Furniture Away From the Walls. Furniture items – sofas, loveseats, chairs should not be butted against each other. Leave a breathing room of 2 ft around furniture items to allow people to move around easily. Keep traffic pathways open. The rule of thumb is leaving a 3 ft space in front of doors and entryways. This is crucial not just for the aesthetics but for reasons of safety and to achieve full functionality of the space. Design that does not function well is flawed design.
In the bedroom, beds must not be pushed against a wall. When you push a bed up against the wall, apart from the difficulty of trying to make the bed each morning – it prevents the circulation of the energy evenly around the room and that is known to cause disruptions in our sleep patterns.
Install dimmers for soft lighting in the living room, dining room and bedroom. It introduces calming vibes. You can get a wide selection of easy-to-install dimmer switches at Home Depot and Lowes.
Deck the Walls – Well, not that kind of decking. It’s too early in the year for that! Instead, gather all your vacation pictures, or a collection of your kid’s artwork. Then enlarge them. Next, frame them in carved wood frames or simple metal frames, depending on the vibe – traditional and elegant or modern and sleek – you want to create. Hang them up on the walls in an area such as a hallway or staircase where you will pass by them every day. If you do not want to have them framed opt to mount them on hand-hewn wooden stretcher or shadowbox frames. Keep in mind they must have a common theme – vacations – or family milestones such as birthdays, graduations, weddings etc. They should all be either within the same color scheme or have similar frames.
Follow these 12 steps for hanging pictures:
You will need – contact paper, scissors, duct tape, picture wire, picture hooks, a hammer, a soft art pencil, a level or straight-edged ruler and an eraser – apart from the framed photos you plan to hang.
Lay each photo face down on a sheet of contact paper or newsprint and trace around the frame outline with a pencil.
Now put aside the photo and with a pair of scissors, cut out the shape you traced with the pencil to make a paper mock-up of the photo.
Next, arrange the photos on the floor to create a grouping, spacing them out as you would like to place them on the wall.
When you are satisfied with your arrangement on the floor, Start taping the paper mock-ups corresponding to each one of the photos in the exact same position as you planned on the floor with duct tape or painter’s tape.
Once you have put up mock-ups to represent each photo in your grouping, trace around the outline of the paper with an art pencil.
Then peel off the mock-up from the wall. You can see the shape of the photo outlined in pencil on the wall.
Measure the center point on the top border.
Next, measure 2 or 6 or 8 inches down (depending on how large the framed photo is ) from that top center point and mark it with an X.
This X is the spot where you hammer in the picture hook to hang the photo.
Once you’ve hammered in the picture hook, take an eraser and erase the pencil outline.
Next, hang the photo.
Repeat for each photo – one at a time.
This can be a group project for an afternoon, with a task assigned to each family member. The photos (of a vacation or a special occasion) will remind the family of happy times and things that matter – and help restore good spirits to your brood, some of whom may be feeling a bit cooped up.
Another simple way of showcasing family photos is to prop the framed photos on a floating wall shelf and change them from time to time.
A Company called pictureframes.com (easy to remember) can ship your frames in 4 business days for certain stocked items. Simply go to their website and choose a frame and they do the rest.
Toss a Few Oversized Pillows on the sofa and armchairs. Large-sized pillows make the room feel inviting and cozy and are great for snuggling up for an afternoon nap. Have pairs in colors and patterns that go together – in complementary colors and patterns. They do not have to match. Here’s one of my favorite tricks – in the category of affordable design – that I often share with my clients. Buy a few sturdy washable covers for your pillow inserts and change them from time to time – to keep your space from looking and feeling monotonous.
Cover a Wall in Fabric – Introduce cozy softness to your space by covering one wall of your room in a lightweight remnant fabric in a soft earth tone. No more living with builder’s grade Swiss Coffee on your walls! The fabric must be unstitched – perhaps leftover from custom cotton drapes. You can also use an unused bed sheet or old curtains – make sure to cut out the hemmed portion at the bottom or un-hem it before starting. Try not to use patterns with precise straight lines as that will make it harder to achieve pattern-matching for the separate fabric lengths as you hang them up. Choose a simple solid or a subtle pattern like the Ikat wallpaper below.
You will need – Tape measure, scissors, screwdriver, soft towel, paint roller with low-nap roller head, drop cloth or plastic sheet, liquid starch, thumbtacks, small hand-held squeegee or wallpaper tool, strait-edge ruler, utility knife, ladder, apart from the fabric lengths you will hang.
Follow these 8 steps for creating a cozy fabric wall:
Measure the width of the wall you are going to cover. Most fabric is 45 or 54 inches wide (40” – 42” wide in the UK), so now you can calculate how many lengths you’ll need by measuring the height of the wall. It’s better to have a bit more fabric than you need, rather than not enough.
Wash the fabric lengths. Handwashing is preferable as this will prevent the edges from fraying and the fabric becoming stretched and irregular which might result in your measurements being a little off. Some people like to hand-wash them in the bathtub – I feel the handwash cycle on the washer is good. Dry them. Then snip off the fringed edges with a pair of small scissors to present a straight edge.
While the fabric is being washed, Prepare the wall. Remove all electrical switch plates with a screwdriver. Some people like to wash the walls using a sponge and bucket. I prefer to wipe off the walls with aa soft towel to get rid of any dust and grime that might have collected over time. If you wash the walls however, make sure they are fully dry before you begin hanging the fabric.
Apply starch on the walls with a paint-roller. You can use liquid starch found at most supermarkets or at craft stores. Purex Sta-Flo liquid starch is sold at Walmart and Ralphs. This way you won’t damage the wall – especially important if you are renting and you can easily take down the fabric “wallpaper” when you move. Pour the starch on to a paint tray (if you have one lying around) or into a large plastic kitchen container. For best results use a roller head with a low nap. When working on this step, cover the floor with drop-cloths or a plastic sheet. It can get a tad messy. Do not slather starch over electricals.
Hang the fabric. Get a ladder if it is a high-ceilinged room – which is always the case with me – whether I’m doing this at a client’s home or mine – since I am only 5ft 1 inch tall 🙂 This is the step that requires patience as it is a bit detailed. It may be a good idea to have a helper for this step. Have them hold down the top of the panel you are putting up as you smooth it down with a hand-held squeegee or wallpaper tool. Another option is to hold the panel in place with thumbtacks along the top edge to keep it straight. You can remove the tacks after everything is done and dry. Don’t worry if some of the fabric goes over the baseboard or fireplace ledge or window trim – as you will trim these later.
Roll more starch on top of the fabric and let dry.
When the starch is dry to the touch, trim the extra fabric around door and window trims and baseboard with a straight-edge and a sharp utility knife. Make sure your knife is really sharp. Go over again and again if you need to, but make sure not to pull or drag hard.
Re-install the switch plates.
Sit back and enjoy the feeling of being cocooned in luxurious comfort – that soothes your senses and might help get you and the family through tough times.
Hang Black and White Artwork on an anchor wall – either behind a sofa in the living room or above the bed in the master bedroom. Choose between a single giant art installation….
….or a pair of small prints in a unifying theme. It will calm down the room and with it, the people in it.
Add Soft Textured Throws – Get an extra-plush throw to curl into on family movie nights. The feeling is like the one you get with that first mouthful of your favorite comfort food. Select one in a soft fabric in a style that works with your room – a chunky cable-knit fisherman’s throw or a deep pile ombre faux fur throw.
Let us gather the family together and show our loved ones we love them as we enjoy our serene home, celebrating this day and the things that make us happy.
Truth be told, when we decide to cohabit, we end up spending
most of the rest of our lives in a shared space, but there are times when the
need for a separate space to call our own, arises for men, women and all
Now they don’t have to go far to get some personal
space. Give them a place to call their
own. A members-only clubhouse that feels
like home that the husband, boyfriend, partner, significant other can escape to
for some alone time, any time they need a break from that weekend to-do list
and other stuff called “life”.
Be it a shared space in a garage or an entire basement floor
or a corner of the home office or a spare bedroom, the man cave has become a
trend that is here to stay. If planned and executed properly it can add to a
First things first – Draw up a list of the features that you
will want in your man chamber – in order of priority.
Functionality of the space – Plan what
activities, other than watching TV (perhaps a no-brainer) will take place here.
How often do you plan to entertain in your man cave? What will be the size of
the group gathered here at any given time. Small weekend hangouts or large Superbowl
parties? Take into consideration that guests will need access to drinks,
snacks, proximity to a bathroom etc.,
The basics – Plan a Color Scheme, Style and
Scale. Get the basics right the first time around as mistakes can be
costly! Stick to one or two main colors
in the same or a contrasting color family and add pops of color in the same
tone and hue – in other words do
not mix warm colors with cool tones or jewel
tones with pastels. A clash of warm and
cool tones or an uncoordinated mix of styles and shapes will not allow the mind
to calm down and chill out effectively.
Interior colors that do not make you feel
relaxed or a mish mash of irregularly sized furniture – such as a sofa that is
too big for the coffee table or a rug that is too small, objects that don’t mix
well – are all going to adversely affect your enjoyment of the space.
Floor Plan – Measure the room. Taking accurate
measurements of the room is crucial in deciding how big a sofa will fit or how far
away from the television your guests may be seated for a viewing experience
that is not marred by eye strain. This step is crucial.
If I had a dime for every time a client came
to me AFTER buying the biggest, best piece of Sofa they could lay their eyes on
at the fancy retail store only to discover that the Sofa does not fit at all….. well, you get the picture. This
step absolutely needs to happen before you jump in the car to go shopping for
furniture and a big screen TV – and fall in love with that sectional couch that
looks perfect in the showroom. Remember….head before heart!!
Furniture layout – After you get measurements of
the room you must figure out things like where the sofa goes or where the telly
will be installed and what kind of table to purchase for putting beverages,
snacks and refreshments at arms length. It is essential to draw out a furniture
layout however rudimentary – drawn on a napkin or created using a dedicated
home design software.
This allows you to see if you have a clear
traffic pathway to enter and exit the room without bumping into furniture and
if you and your guests have enough space to move around the room easily. The
rule of thumb is – any furniture items should be at least 3 ft away from a
doorway. Planning a layout is the design equivalent of measure twice cut once.
The aesthetics – Style your space with your man in mind. When choosing the decor, don’t forget to have fun, but pare it down to a single dominant style, especially if it is a small room. If you love something you saw in a magazine or a film set, adapt it to your guy’s taste, improvise. Good taste is always in style, whether you’re going for a Mid Century Modern man’s den or a European loft style lair or an Industrial style retreat or a playfully whimsical Art Deco hide-out.
The preceding four steps will collectively
contribute to the aesthetics of a space, which in turn defines the comfort
level, the way you feel – relaxed or anxious and stressed out – when you step
in the room. When decorating a room – and a man cave is no exception – aesthetics
affect our mood and emotional well-being, whether we care for them or not.
Now that you’ve followed these five foolproof steps let your
ideas take wings, have fun choosing the various design elements – be it funky paint colors, bold black and
white patterned wallpaper or quaint vintage posters in rustic wood frames. Make
sure to choose upholstery and rugs that will add texture to create
interest. Pick out accessories and
artwork that speak to his passions and hobbies.
You’re on your way to creating a really cool man cave – one
that reminds us why we love men….!