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Interior Designer Newport Beach

    6 Houseplants To Help You De-stress….!

    When your indoors are ready for a refresh, here are 6 houseplants to help you de-stress. Stuck at home during a pandemic, we all need less stress and anxiety in our lives these days!

    As a Designer, one could suggest a dozen different ways to achieve the same, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve a lot of time and resources – two things that we’re all trying to preserve in these unnatural times – well then, turn to nature….! 

    Indoor plants not only add esthetics to a space, they also make your home feel more cozy and welcoming. Additionally, they’re good for our mental and physical health. According to a NASA study report houseplants can reduce indoor air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Some plants can remove high concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon. Moreover, recent research shows that plants have the ability to boost mood and creativity, as well as reduce stress. However, how to decide which houseplants are worth the care and investment and which to stay away from. Read on….!

    Gone are the times when having an indoor garden while living in a small apartment was not a possibility. We are all have been familiar with a room that was either too dark, or too damp, or an overly dry environment that is not exactly a suitable plant habitat. These days, a wide array of plant species are available that have been known to thrive in the care of apartment dwellers time and time again.

    However, before you rush out the door or off to your computer to start checking off your own list of top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, sit down in the room where they are going to go and take some mental notes. Notice the way daylight enters the room. Indoor plants that prefer bright light generally need south-facing windows, where the most concentrated light is available. East or west-facing windows are also fine and here is where you put plants that don’t need a lot of direct sunlight. if you don’t have windows or sufficient natural light, nevertheless you can still own houseplants. Just get an LED grow light!

    Many different types of plant lights are available, including floor lights and lights you can clip to an end table or bookshelf. The good news is that plenty of plants tolerate low light conditions. Also, if your pets are nibblers, buy non-toxic plants.  So without further ado, here is my list of the top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress.

    Dragon Trees or Dracaenas

    These are very easy to grow tall indoor plants. If you are a plant newbie or a very busy person, this is the plant for you. These plants enjoy moderate to low light conditions. Do not place in full sun as it will burn the leaves. 

    Dracaenas are drought tolerant, so you don’t have to water them very often. Overwatering is one of the main causes of death for the plant. Depending on how much light this plant receives, you can water it every two to three weeks. 

    Dragon Trees are sensitive to fluoride – which as it turns out, happens to be a form of industrial waste product that humas are sensitive to, as well – so when it comes to your plants, it is always best to water them with distilled water if your tap water has high fluoride levels. This plant is an excellent air purifier helping remove formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.

    Areca Palms

    These are different from palms such as the Parlor Palm, so try not to confuse the two because the level of care for each is quite different than the other.  Areca Palms thrive in well bright areas but with indirect sunlight. The leaves will turn yellow if exposed to too much direct sun. These plants don’t do well in low light rooms either.

    This is not your plant if you are a casual gardener with nary a green thumb because this one does do not do okay if neglected. It needs to be watered often enough to keep the soil moist in between waterings. Do not let its soil dry through.

    These palms look great as indoor tall plants adding a slightly exotic slightly tropical wow factor to your space at their full height of 6 to 7 feet. However, because of that, these can be expensive to buy but since they grow relatively fast – roughly 6″ to 10″ per year – you can probably purchase a table top plant and let it grow. 

    Birds of Paradise

    Aka Strelitzias are comparably easy to grow and maintain among all the indoor tall plants. They grow fast and is a gorgeous plant to display – with leaves that unfold as they grow.  It is a surprisingly adaptable plant that grows well in low light and direct bright light conditions.

    Bird of Paradise thrive in moist soil conditions but make sure the soil is not too soggy. It is okay to water once a week from spring to fall then let the top dry out just a tad in winter before you water it again. It is better not to soak it in too much water.

    Having said that, since this is a tropical plant, it will enjoy regular misting to increase the level of humidity required for this one to thrive.

    The African Milk Tree

    This is a low maintenance indoor tall plant. The only thing this one needs to survive is bright light. This is your plant if you have full time work or babies – or both!!

    Watering should be limited to once a month indoors but keep in mind this plant will die if watered too much.

    This is an ideal indoor tall plant for people who do not have green thumbs, or has a busy life with very little time to care for plants.

    Philodendron

    These trendy plants are not just favored because of their photogenic look but because they’re pretty easy to maintain. Expect to see a new leaf weekly in the warmer season. Moreover, you can propagate them – split off a leaf with a node and re-pot or gift to a friend to grow in their own home.

    Large-leafed philodendron plants, including the monstera – which is the most photographed one of them all – need water every one to two weeks, allowing for the soil to dry out between waterings. This is your plant if your place doesn’t get direct sunlight. This one just needs a spot that receives bright to medium indirect light.

    Monstera was among the most effective at reducing air pollutants, like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, in the Nasa study.

    The Fiddle Leaf Fig

    Last but not the least, of all the 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, this is my personal favorite and at Tori Black Homes we use it often in clients’ homes – either in groups with other plants or singly. They blend in subtly with most modern and/or traditional décor without making your living room look tropical or majestic. These may be sold as small plants or as tall indoor plants. 

    While the smaller size plants are widely available for purchase, the tall trees are a bit harder to find and perhaps because of it’s recent popularity, tend to be more expensive than Palms, Birds of Paradise or other tall plants.

    Fiddle Leaf Figs are easy to grow and care for but it works better if you find the perfect spot for it in your home and get the hang of the watering schedule. These plants need a lot of bright light so put it near a south-facing window and let it catch the morning light. Water it once a week.

    Place your plants in a cluster to highlight a corner of your living room room or place one graceful tall plant in a pot or basket strategically placed near a large window. Decorate with a raffia coffee table or an indoor swing if you are going for the Boho Chic look.  Alternately, furnish the room with a deep cushioned velvet sofa and camel leather armchair with hints of aged brass if you want a glam Hollywood Regency look. Or instead, add one single tall plant to a room with streamlined Scandinavian furniture, linen or burlap curtains and soft fluffy cotton pillows for a minimal Modern European look.

    If you would like to learn about growing edible plants such as salad greens, cherry tomatoes, and microgreens in your indoor kitchen and herb garden, see my tips on How to Create an Indoor Edible Winter Garden.

    Happy decorating….and healthy eating!  

    Photo credits – Scandinavian sofa and plant image courtesy Toris Design Box – 7 Paths to Serenity in Your Home. Dragon Tree in window image courtesy – Trees.com. Bohemian bedroom with Palm image courtesy – My Domain. Blue dining room with pair of giant Birds of Paradise and African Milk Tree images courtesy – Balcony Garden Web. Living room with black & white striped rug and Fiddle Leaf Fig image courtesy – Decor Aid. Music Room with Eames chair photo credit Tori Black Homes.

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    How To Steal a Paris Apartment

    ….In 8 Easy Steps

    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.

    1) Walls

    ….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
    • Paint thinner
    • Roller
    • Brush
    • Painter’s tape
    • Dropcloth
    • Step ladder if needed
    • Latex gloves

    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,

    2) Flooring

    ….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. 

    4) Curtains

    ….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.

    6) Antiques

    …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.

    7) Art

    ….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.

    8) Chandeliers

    ….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

    Photos courtesy : 

    Walls – Paris apartment living room with sofa and black leather chair – from Curbed.com – photo courtesy https://archive.curbed.com/2017/12/13/16772948/paris-apartment-renovation-diego-delgado-elias Living Room with lime washed grey and white color-blocked walls from dwell.com -– photo courtesy https://www.dwell.com/home/drab-lancaster-city-row-home-gets-a-pear-colored-facelift-b1c4fdab/6511315640289697792 Dining Room with woodland mural from – Architecturaldigest.com – photo courtesy https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/parisian-apartment-french-decorating-ideas Lime washed gray bedroom walls – Photo courtesy Emily Henderson – https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/limewash-paint-mountain-house-ask-the-audience White dining room from Curbed.com – photo courtesy https://archive.curbed.com/2017/12/13/16772948/paris-apartment-renovation-diego-delgado-elias Photo of Board and Batten wall courtesy Pinterest. Living Room with mustard yellow sofa photo courtesy Living Room with mustard yellow sofa from Apartmenttherapy.com – photo Courtesy https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/minimal-and-modern-decor-apartment-photos-266003

    Flooring – Paris Interior with parquet flooring from onekingslane.com – photo courtesy https://www.onekingslane.com/p/4722965-tufa-wall-mirror-gold.do Photo of black and white marble floor at YSL new Headquarters courtesy of wsj.comhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/exclusive-step-inside-ysls-new-parisian-headquarters-11550238900 Peel & Stick tile flooring photo courtesy lowes.comhttps://www.lowes.com/pd/Achim-Retro-20-Piece-12-in-x-12-in-Geometric-Peel-and-stick-Stone-look-Commercial-Residential-Vinyl-Tile/1001824298

    Crown Molding – Courtesy homedit.com  – https://www.homedit.com/paris-themed-room/ Crown Molding – Photo courtesy decoholic.comhttps://decoholic.org/gorgeous-modern-french-interiors-40-pics/?subscribe=success#507 Living room with fuchsia sofas and crown molding from 1stdibs.com – Photo courtesy –https://www.1stdibs.com/blogs/the-study/parisian-apartments/

    Curtains – Blue curtains photo courtesy – houseandhome.comhttps://houseandhome.com/gallery/hilary-swank-paris-apartment/attachment/2-hillary-swank-paris-apartment-living-room-blue-sofa/ Orange curtains from 1stdibs.com – photo courtesy – https://www.1stdibs.com/blogs/the-study/parisian-apartments/

    All that Glitters – Photo courtesy thecuratedinterior.com

    Antiques – Antique copper cookware Photo courtesy https://kasha.paris/architecture/the-collectors-eye/ Tulip chairs and gramophone photo courtesy decordemon.comhttps://decordemon.blogspot.com/2014/01/apartment-in-marais-paris.html

    Art – Living room with oversized art photo courtesy Decordemon – https://decordemon.blogspot.com/2014/07/muriel-reuss-eclectic-apartment-in-paris.html

    Chandelier – Traditional crystal chandelier from homedit.com – photo courtesy https://www.homedit.com/paris-themed-room/ Art Deco chandelier – photo of Jonathan Adler Nixon cocktail table courtesy jonathanadler.com

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