Spring decor trends: Mix of modern and eclectic, with a dash of Marsala

The Associated Press

Spring is a favourite transitional time for lovers of home decor. Shaking out the rugs and washing the windows after a long winter feels satisfying, and then there’s the prospect of perhaps replacing some old, shabby furnishings with fresh new pieces.

Spring’s also when we start to see the decor trends that will find their way home both figuratively and literally through summer and fall.

For 2015, these trends include a firm embrace of midcentury modern; emerging Art Deco; strong textures; organic modern (a blend of rustic and contemporary); and a colour palette centred on sophisticated pastels.

READ MORE: From ice cream pastels to deep hues – 2015 home colour trends

Motifs from the Far East, Morocco and India remain strong, but now there are more Greek and South American elements, including Hellenic patterns, blues paired with crisp whites, native motifs, and colorful, woven textiles and baskets.

Ikat and chevron, workhorse prints for the past few years, are being edged aside by medallion and tile patterns, bold preppy stripes, and new twists on damask, geometrics, colour block and watercolour prints. Kate Spade has collaborated on a new collection with West Elm, for instance, that includes chairs and bedding in fun, sophisticated graphics, florals and spatter prints.

The other news is that designers are mixing things up, so an antique Bentwood chair can be paired with a glossy red desk, for instance, or a rustic flat-weave rug can sit in front of a 19th century marble mantel, or a farmhouse table can be placed under an ornate glass chandelier.

“Design pros have always known it’s the combination of finishes that give a room style – it takes the sleek with the matte; textured with flat; and a mix of painted, wood, ceramic and metallic finishes for a room to look ‘done,”‘ says Elaine Griffin, a New York-based designer.

Now, thanks to home-design TV shows and social media, we’re all becoming more knowledgeable decorators.

Mass-market retailers are not only offering more products that straddle styles, they’re doing a better job of showing us how to use them. In-store displays and free design advice help shoppers envision how pieces can work at home.

“We’ve become semi-pros at DIY decor,” says Griffin.

Feeling confident and inspired? Let’s look at some of what spring’s got in store.


Griffin sees midcentury modern becoming even more entrenched in the decor landscape. The pieces are comfier than the originals because of modern construction methods and materials.

“The new shapes are the love children between midcentury modern’s twigginess and the traditional overstuffed look. They’re so fresh-looking that they’re irresistible,” she says.

West Elm’s Peggy collection of trim, tailored sofas and loveseats feature nubby cayenne or pebble-grey upholstery tucked under slim, pecan-stained legs. The Crosby collection puts a tufted cushion on a trimmed-down wingback that’s especially smart in armchair and sectional versions.

Urban Outfitters’ Sterling sofa and Dagmar chair fit the vibe, as does the Draper media cabinet, which resembles a retro hi-fi console.

Griffin says Art Deco will really start to emerge this year.

“We’re seeing its first wave now in the new linear, jazz-inspired graphics and block prints,” she says. “I’m predicting that we’ll be seeing Deco-inspired furniture and accessories for fall 2015 and spring 2016, viewed through the sleek aperture of midcentury modern.”

The sophisticated style’s got legs in both traditional and contemporary decor, so there are lots of ways to incorporate it.

Ethan Allen has the Shelton sofa with high, curvy arms, the Atwood chair with two swooping sides, and a chic little nickel-plated side table. Urban Outfitters has a vintage-style velvet chaise and fainting couch available in of-the-moment hues.


A heady blend of plum, wine and burgundy, Marsala is Pantone’s colour of the year, and while it’s likely to be more prevalent come autumn, you can jump on the trend now by adding dashes of the hue.

Overstock’s Presley throw pillow comes in a striking deep-red-and-white houndstooth print. The Calantha wall mirror features a lacquered frame carved in a floral design. And Safavieh’s Palmer ottoman pairs cream-and-red, windowpane-printed cotton with nickel rivets for a versatile little bench.

Look for colour used in dramatic ways: a navy lacquered cabinet (at CB2), or a glossy burgundy vanity (Hastings Tile & Bath’s Made collection). Black is back, in a sexy bowfront chest at Wisteria, on walls (Noir is Pratt & Lambert’s colour of the year) and in Pottery Barn’s new Stinson bedroom furniture with curly, barley-twist details. Griffin predicts that kitchens with a lot of black – mixed with lighter woods or white – will be hot this year.

Sophisticated pastels – what Griffin calls the “Jordan almond’ hues – grace textiles, case goods and even lamps, with mint green and blush pink being the dominant colours. Wisteria has a collection of sleek, contemporary, sea-foam green acrylic desks and tables with a waterfall edge.

From pastels to 'Noir' the colours of 2015 decor

This photo provided by Sherwin-Williams shows the COTY kitchen in the colors of Hubbard Squash and Coral Reef. Coral is one of this spring’s ‘it’ colors, and Sherwin-Williams has picked Coral Reef as its color of the year. Lighthearted yet sophisticated, it’s got a tropical vibe but looks good in northern light as well. Pair with black and white for drama, or coordinate with soft neutrals or pastels like pale green and butter for a more peaceful look. AP Photo/Sherwin-Williams

Textured linens, silks and cottons in tone-on-tone or colorful embroidered prints, embossed fabrics, leathers, and luxe velvets will grace drapery, upholstery and rugs.

We were introduced to warm metallics last year; this year, we’ll get to know them better. Lighting and accessories are being rendered in brass, copper and rose gold.

At the modern end of the spectrum, powder-coated metal is showing up in pastels and bright colours, in fun wire lounge chairs at Land of Nod, file cabinets at CB2 and steel baskets with birch handles at Ikea.

Bernhardt’s new collection includes a brass-clad dresser and several gold or silver side tables and benches – elegant jewelry for a room.

Nate Berkus’ new collection for Target features geometric metallic motifs on pillows and an interesting piece of wall art. Faceted lamps and bath accessories come in white and brushed gold.

“I gravitate toward pieces that feel architectural,” Berkus says. He mixed “beachy touches” of colour for a vibe he considers “’70s modernism.”

Pierced metal lampshades could only be found at high-design ateliers a year ago, but now Ikea’s Nymo collection comes in black or white with copper interiors.

Lighter woods reflect both mid-century and farmhouse modern esthetics; look for light oak and pine, maple, walnut, acorn and beech.

© The Associated Press, 2015


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Budget Bathroom Makeovers

Budget Bathroom Makeovers

If a major bathroom remodel isn’t in your budget, simply updating a smaller aspect of your bathroom can still have significant impact. New tile, cabinets, lighting or plumbing fixtures can give the room a whole new style. Update the walls with a fresh coat of paint or use drywall to provide texture for a faux look. To keep up with recent trends, some people are even updating their electrical systems to accommodate in-bathroom TVs, stereos, and towel warmers.

To get the most out of your makeover, keep in mind how the bathroom is used and choose projects that will have the greatest impact as well as will positively affect your daily routine. The key to a small bathroom makeover is to pick one or two projects and focus all of your creativity and budget on those.

1. Add colorful tile for personality

Brighten up a neutral bathroom with brightly colored tile. If tiling your entire bathroom is out of the question, mix and match tile colors above the sink or bathtub to create your own wall mosaic. Consider choosing a colorful grout to further customize your creation.

2. Revilatize your cabinetry

Give life to old cabinets by restaining, painting or refacing them. Or replace them altogether with new cabinets. While bathroom cabinets can help set the tone of the room, they also need to be functional. Choose cabinets that provide adequate storage or add additional shelving to your current cabinets.

3. Change your light fixtures

Swap out your old light fixtures for newer ones that allow the option of having softer light for those relaxing evenings in the tub as well as brighter light for getting ready in the morning.

4. Replace your plumbing fixtures

Nothing dates a bathroom like a dingy, basic 1970s chrome faucet. Today’s faucets have become the inspiration for an entire bathroom. From elegant waterfall to traditional fixtures, chrome to brass, there are more options than ever to choose from.

5. Try a new wall treatment

The simplest—and most inexpensive—way to update any room is to tackle those walls. The small space is the perfect place to try a bold color or bright shade that might be overwhelming elsewhere in your home.

6. Upgrade your electrical to enjoy entertaining and relaxing benefits

People are spending more and more time in their bathrooms these days—relaxing, rejuvenating, and just hiding away. And, now there are more uses for an electrical outlet than a hair dryer. Consider upgrading your electrical system to allow for entertainment (TVs and stereos) and relaxation (jetted foot tubs and facial saunas).

See the full article in HomeAdvisor here.

Assemble-it-yourself furniture embodies hand-eye-brain connection we all have

It is an important component of our human intelligence that we ought not to ignore in education.


One of the unexpected by-products of moving to Piper Shores and then becoming a grandparent has been furniture assembly.

It started with the under-bed storage drawers. Our cottage has only four rooms, and moving from larger houses has meant an investment in ingenious storage options. So the drawers came on Halloween — all ready for assembly. Who, me?

Turns out, I loved it. It was still warm outside, so I laid out a mat in the garage, studied all the directions, unpacked and checked off the components, and started in. I handled each piece, laid it out in what I hoped was a logical order, assembled my tools, and started talking to myself about what I thought I was doing. The first one was a challenge. The second was confirmation. By the third and fourth, I was riffing on the directions.

And then the grandson arrived. Suddenly we needed a changing table, a crib, a playpen. All these things came in kits that were now my job. (Deb assembles anything with batteries.)

This time I began on the living-room floor. Unpack and lay it all out. Find the directions. Scrutinize them. Match every piece to its picture. Handle every piece and do the same for the hardware.

On this adventure, I met the furniture fastener. This gizmo enables the stable uniting of furniture components at right angles without nails, glue or complicated joinery. There’s the bolt and its offset socket. You screw them together and it makes two pieces of wood form a solid right angle. It’s magic. I’ll bet the invention, or the innovative transfer of these fasteners from some other enterprise, has revolutionized the knockdown furniture industry. Both the under-bed drawers and the crib used these fasteners. I loved them.

But with the changing table came an unexpected challenge: the cam lock.

I had never seen or heard of a cam lock before. I now knew the principle of furniture fasteners, but not how this one worked. The day of the changing table we had no Internet. There was no one to ask and no way to look anything up. What to do?

I handled the cam lock pieces and talked to myself. How can it work? How does this little round piece fit in and grab the bolt piece and tighten it? How does the bolt get attached to the brace? Nope, that doesn’t work. Nope, that doesn’t work. Oooh, there’s a Phillips head thingie in the top, maybe it screws into this little socket in the brace here — it does! And then the two cam lock pieces attach like this! Oh, isn’t that pretty!

My verbal description today is a poor rendition of what I call the problem-solving monkey mind at work. In some way, not accessible to my consciousness, through patient handling, looking, experimenting, trying, failing, jabbering to myself and attentively waiting some more, the insight arrives.

A more sophisticated label might be the hand-eye-brain connection inherent in everyone. Every craftsperson, whether auto mechanic, artist, plumber or quilter, recognizes its value. It is an important component of our human intelligence that we ought not to ignore in education. Maria Montessori, Herbert Spencer and John Dewey are examples of those who knew this a long time ago. Heck, Aristotle did, too.

It’s the part of the human mind whose operation is triggered by new experiences and the need to solve real-world physical problems, grafted in some way to what we already know, feel and can do.

Having these insights and finding the ways forward is also full of pleasure and feelings of accomplishment, even if you don’t know quite how you did it. The results and the mastery are what matter. After you do it a few times, you know to trust yourself to do it again. It’s the interplay of theory and practice. It’s one of the principles behind applied research, internships, undergraduate research and experiential education of all types. We need to leave space for it in schooling.

P.S. to teachers of what they used to call industrial arts and/or English: the Wikipedia entries for cam locks and furniture fasteners in general are highly deficient. (I looked them up later.) Your students could create a wiki about them: history, description and use, with graphics. Maybe Wikipedia would put it up. Let me know.

Theodora J. Kalikow is interim vice chancellor and president emerita of the University of Maine System. She can be reached at kalikow@maine.edu.

Kitchen Remodeling: Step-by-Step

Kitchen Remodeling: Step-by-Step

In many ways, deciding to move forward with your kitchen remodel is the toughest decision you have to make during the project. It’s the decision to proceed that commits you to such a significant project. And while setting your budget, figuring out the materials you want to use and the contractor you want to hire can be challenging, they don’t have to turn your big project into a big headache. Here’s what you can do to ensure your kitchen remodel goes as smooth as possible.

Step One: Plan, Plan, and Then Plan Some More

What don’t you like about your kitchen? Odds are there are quite a few things. Maybe it’s as simple as replacing your appliances, cabinets, and counters. Or maybe it means gutting the room and changing the layout. Your goal here is to figure out exactly what would make the space work best for your home and lifestyle, which, if you’re like 49 percent of homeowners, is to make your home more comfortable and livable.

While the planning phase can be the longest phase (don’t be surprised if you spend months planning your kitchen) it’s also one of the most enjoyable. This is the time when you can let your imagination run wild as you try to define the design direction you want to go. And while it can be hard to nail down the exact style you want, it’s easy to find inspiration, especially with all of the online resources that are now available. One design tool that we happen to really like is our very own DesignMine. Whether you use DesignMine to find and save photos that inspire you, or prefer to clip images from magazines or other online resources, saving the images and showing them to your contractor is the best way to articulate your vision.

Step Two: Budget

Defining your budget is important enough to warrant its own step, but there’s a good chance that you’ll start hammering out your budget during the planning phase. In fact, some folks prefer setting their budget before they get too deep into the planning, since knowing how much they have to spend affects the scope of their remodel and the materials they choose. However you choose to go about budgeting, we recommend checking out our Cost Guide to get a better idea of how much others in your area are paying for their kitchen remodels. When budgeting, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to factor in the cost of obtaining permits. Each municipality handles the permitting process differently so be sure to do your research.

Step Three: Find Your Pro

It’s no surprise that the right pro is critical to your remodel’s success. And while most homeowners are careful to do their due diligence and get estimates from at least three pros, 53% of homeowners we surveyed still worry about their pro not charging a fair price. Knowing how much others are paying for similar projects goes a long way towards easing those fears.

When it comes to finding and hiring your pro, we recommend getting estimates from at least three contractors. Using HomeAdvisor’s ProFinder will ensure you find a reputable pro you can trust. During the bidding process be sure to ask them all the questions you might have regarding the scope of work, their level of experience (ask for references), whether they’re licensed, insured, and bonded, the permit process, construction schedule, payment schedule, and any other questions you have. Don’t worry about asking a stupid question. This is your project and your money. If you want to know more about a facet of the project, ask them about it until you get the answer you’re looking for. If the contractor seems annoyed with your questions, don’t hire them.

Step Three: Find Your Pro

Speaking of payments: NEVER pay for the project up front. If the pro requires a deposit, get a receipt. While there isn’t an industry standard regarding payments, many pros structure their contracts in a manner that requires payment once certain milestones are hit. Carefully review your contract to ensure the timeline, payment terms, and project scope aligns with your expectations.

Step Four: Surviving Construction

Want to make your remodel as smooth as possible? Then you need to discuss the game plan with your contractor before they get started so both of you are on the same page. Schedule weekly project update meetings and daily check-ins to ensure you’re aware of how the project is progressing.

Step Four: Surviving Construction

You’ll also want to figure out how you’re going to handle your meals during construction. If it’s a quick remodel you’re probably ok with going out to eat while kitchenless. However, if your project is significant enough to require a few weeks worth of work, you’re going to want to set up a temporary kitchen (small fridge, hotplate, lots of paper plates) or figure out an alternative that works for your situation. If you’ve got the vacation time, getting out of dodge could be a good idea.

Step Five: Finishing Up

After days, weeks, or months of construction, your dream kitchen is a reality. And while your new kitchen might look done, it’s not. At least not until you and the contractor do a thorough walk through to ensure every last detail is to your liking. Don’t worry about being nitpicky, they’ll understand and will work with you to make sure the project is completed properly and to code.

Full story from HomeAdvisor.com can be found here.

6 design trends to heighten your home’s style in 2015

Posted: February 14, 2015 – 12:05am
   As the new year kicks off, it’s the premier time to refresh and refocus on certain aspects of your life … and the home is no exception. Say goodbye to lackluster interiors as renowned interior designer and DIY television personality, Taniya Nayak, has forecasted the top trends for 2015 that will be sure to enhance and revive any home.

Deep, rich wall hues

Be bold with shadowy and opulent tones; there are many ways to infuse a rich color scheme into your space. “Don’t be intimidated by dark hues,” says Nayak. “Incorporate shades from the same color family throughout a room with a coordinating accent wall, rug and decorative pieces – such as pillows and blankets. This creates a bold, yet harmonizing visual.” “The concept of a ‘pop’ of color is blown up in 2015,” adds Nayak. “We’re seeing deep, rich hues adorning walls, lavishly upholstered furniture pieces, window treatments and area rugs. This year, we like to say ‘go bold or go home.’ When painting with deep colors, imperfections are more visible than with lighter shades. To ensure your painting project is flawless, use FrogTape brand painter’s tape to achieve sharp paint lines. The tape is treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, which prevents paint bleed, leaving you with an impressive, crisp edge.

Make gallery walls

Create a room that’s uniquely yours by making a gallery wall with items of your choice. Display an array of mirrors, framed family photos, sketches or even postcards – the key is to be creative and be yourself! “2015 is all about you,” Nayak explains. “Hanging a variety of frames or objects in a well thought-out cluster on the wall provides the perfect place to showcase pieces that are important and meaningful. When people walk into your home, they’ll know exactly what you love.”
Bold patterns in

neutral colors

Although neutrals provide a calm palette, it’s possible to infuse bold statements into these rooms, as well, with the use of patterns. Revitalize your room with a geometric rug in an earth tone, and also add window treatments with a daring floral design in a complementary, yet understated, color. When mixing prints, pair structured, linear patterns with organic ones for a look that’s polished, and not too “matchy.” “This is a beautiful way to add drama and what appears to be ‘texture’ to a space,” adds Nayak.

The 60’s mod style

The retro panache of mid-century modern decor will perk up rooms with its soft, sculptural lines, woven upholstery and bright accessories in geometric shapes. Search for vintage furniture pieces like rounded chairs and button-cushion couches with short, tapered legs to add a sense of authenticity.“We are going retro mod – way back to the 60s where design was about curvy forms, vibrant colors and eccentric patterns,” Nayak says. “Be prepared to leave your design fears at the door and go full throttle with the bright and loud elements found in the mod movement. “

Organic elements

This year, mount antlers above your mantel; or create centerpieces with shells, metallic leaves or branches for a rustic vibe. With these earthy components juxtaposed against woodsy furniture and ivory tones, you’ll create an impressive, outdoorsy aesthetic.“It’s easy to bring nature and organic structures into your home,” Nayak assures. “Leave linear styles out of the equation. Instead, think of free flowing shapes, colors found in nature and the peaceful serenity associated with the outdoors. The goal is to evoke the same emotional responses throughout your home.”
Copper metal accent

“Each year we see a particular metal rise to the top of every designer’s list; and this year, it’s all about copper,” Nayak says. Copper is a captivating metallic that adds a modern edge to even the simplest scheme. Small pieces make a big statement, so subtly pepper in copper pieces to your decor, like light fixtures, planters or table settings. Display copper cookware in your kitchen – it’s a great way to add a touch of glamour without being gaudy. 2015 is full of impressive design trends. This year, your home will serve as a canvas for self-expression.

For Your Home: Contemporary style, technology are trends for 2015

I was one of more than 125,000 housing industry professionals who packed the Design & Construction Week shows in Las Vegas last month. I logged more miles than I care to recall during my four-day marathon. Still, I only managed to tour the Las Vegas Furniture Show, the National Association of Home Builders’ Show, and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

The mega event also included the International Window Coverings Expo and The International Surface Event.

The big takeaway? The economy is in recovery – at least in the building and housing industries. The shows were packed, energy was electrifying and spirits were up.

Among the big trends: Contemporary styling and high-tech “smart” homes dominated each show.

It seems we want to control everything – from garage doors to energy systems – from anywhere in the world using smartphones. Thermostats that know whether you’re home or not and can adjust their settings accordingly are one of the features that Lennox displayed. Trane’s new heating and cooling systems constantly monitor interior temperatures to within one degree and adjust their operating capacity accordingly.

Imagine being able to lock and unlock your home, let in a repairman and watch him while he works. You would know when the system has been repaired, and you could lock up once the technician leaves. It’s all possible with today’s new “smart house” technology. These systems can be affordable and retrofitted to existing homes.

Contemporary design was everywhere. I’ve been watching this trend grow over the past three years. It started with home furnishings, and now the look is dominating the design and construction industries.

Clopay displayed the most innovative new garage doors I have seen in decades. The company’s stylish contemporary designs feature glass fronts as well as stainless steel and wood combinations. Clopay also showcased a sleek black door with a special paint formulated to stay cool in direct sun.

Interior and exterior doors are going taller, wider and more contemporary. Therma-Tru displayed 8-foot entry doors with an expanded glass selection that includes modern leaded glass and textured glass inserts with moldings and bold color options. Glass door walls that fold back for access to outdoor spaces were back again this year.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the bling of the home, and this year’s styles were sleek, minimalist and shiny. Glass was the overwhelming cabinet door material in this year’s kitchen displays. You might imagine transparent glass doors, but these were designed with solid colors and metallic backing. The doors had little or no hardware, and many opened and closed with just a touch.

Poggenpohl’s newest kitchen collection, designed by Porsche Design Studio, featured black cabinetry and a clear glass divider similar to an automobile’s windshield. The divider separates the cooking surface from the dining area without visually breaking up the space.

Wall-mounted cabinetry was the leading design trend for the bathroom. Kohler continues to expand its tub collection, introducing smaller sizes and free-standing designs with jet action. Ann Sacks introduced gold- and silver-leafed tile collections that add Moroccan-inspired glam to wall surfaces. Texture and color played a huge role in wall coverings.

It was an inspiring week in Vegas. If the crowds and creative materials are any indication of what’s ahead in building and renovation, it should be an exciting year for consumers.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com .

Home trends: What’s hot in outdoor furniture

what's hot in outdoor furniture

This photo provided by Brown Jordan shows a Marin lounge chair in flame suede with leather pillow. Brown Jordan’s Marin lounge chair, designed by Michael Berman, is an example of an outdoor furniture piece that could easily work indoors. The blurring of lines between indoor and outdoor furnishings continues to be a strong trend for spring/summer 2015. AP Photo/Brown Jordan, Roger Davies


Outdoor living spaces have come a long way from the days when “outdoor furnishings” meant a few inexpensive folding chairs around a flimsy plastic table.

Today’s outdoor chairs might be wrought iron or wrought aluminum, with upholstered seats. The table might be stone or wood or an elegant faux version of either, and would not look out of place inside in the dining room. Add outdoor sound systems, carpets and lighting, and the backyard or balcony can look and feel like an extension of the home.

That notion gets ramped up this spring and summer; manufacturers are offering new furniture, textiles and materials that resemble indoor furnishings yet can withstand the elements.

Getting the right look can be tricky; you don’t want it to seem like you just plunked a sofa from the living room down onto the patio.

How to create a chic outdoor kitchen

In this photo provided by Brian Patrick Flynn/HGTV.com, for the design of the HGTV.com Spring House outdoor dining deck, the designer Flynn made entertaining easy with a weather-resistant mobile bar cart. Flynn suggests using mobile carts as bars or buffets when space is tight and can’t accommodate console tables or sideboards. AP Photo/HGTV.com, Brian Patrick Flynn

Here’s a look at what’s hot for Warm Weather 2015:


Watch for midcentury modern styling in outdoor pieces to co-ordinate with this popular interior style. Gloster’s Dansk collection includes a chair with marine-grade, leather-look upholstery and teak tables, designed by Dane Povl Eskildsen.

After World War II, California designer Walter Lamb was helping salvage sunken Navy warships at Pearl Harbor when he started messing around with the brass tubing and fittings. His prototypical outdoor furniture collection was put into production by Brown Jordan, the Pasadena-based company that pioneered outdoor furniture. Today’s iterations of Lamb’s pieces are still crafted from brass, which you can leave alone to develop a patina or polish to retain the shine. The seats are marine-grade cording.

Luxe looks evoking old Hollywood are also in. Beautiful on an urban terrace, these pieces are chic and sophisticated, with tailoring details on upholstery, elegant finishes and striking colours.

Frontgate’s Grayson Jade collection comes in a fashion-forward bright green, in a powder-coated finish that looks lacquered. Here too, a zebra-print outdoor rug and pillows with exotic botanical prints.

Gloster’s Wedge seating has a stainless-steel base and waterproof fabric over a new type of outdoor foam that breathes well and resists mould.

And Candace Olson designed a collection for Century that includes slipcovered furniture, and a smart accent table crafted of brass-finished aluminum and topped with a faux-croc surface.


Global elements stay as strong in outdoor furnishings as they are in indoors: Those Asian ceramic stools show no signs of disappearing, and are offered in more colours and patterns than ever.

Look for Moroccan influence in lanterns, Mediterranean motifs in textiles, and Silk Road accents like elephant-shaped tables, daybeds and handcrafted accessories.


While dedicated dining areas remain popular outdoors, there’s also a trend toward “chat and chill” configurations of furniture. Indoor-style seating includes comfy lounge chairs and sectional pieces that can be grouped or separated, with ottomans, side tables and coffee tables that can also be used for casual dining.

Watch for new, portable fire pits, bars and coffee tables.

Agio, the world’s largest outdoor furniture supplier, introduces their Kolea collection this year featuring a fire pit and a sofa with built-in bar. Burnt orange fabrics and a lower profile are on-trend.


Deep indigo looks fresh and new, and so does coral. Frontgate’s got a cane-print rug in both hues.

Dark blue looks nautical and preppy paired with crisp white, apple red or sunshine yellow, so think about mixing things up in a fun way by putting the brighter hues on the furniture pieces – a wicker or Adirondack chair, perhaps – and the blues on accent pieces. Or get a more dressed-up vibe by keeping the pops of colour on accessories while the outdoor space is anchored with darker-toned furniture.

The natural neutrals – sand, mocha, charcoal, cream – stay strong for 2015. Their versatility makes them good choices whatever the climate.


Designer Elaine Smith has a new collection of luxury outdoor pillows reflecting her love of fashion, nature and exotic locales. There are Latin American and African kuba cloth prints; menswear-inspired hound’s-tooth; chinoiserie florals; whimsical bird motifs; and Missoni-inspired prints in soft green and gold. She’s added “jewelry” to some pillows, with braided frog trims and pewter medallions.


Echoing an interior-design trend, this look combines hand-hewn wood and stone (or facsimiles) and rustic touches like chicken-wire doors and weathered-look metals with contemporary seat materials and colours.

Gloster’s Oyster Reef collection features a teak farmhouse-style table, while the Pepper Marsh line pairs woven synthetic fiber with teak arms and legs.

Designer Michael Berman’s Marin collection for Brown Jordan really blurs the indoor/outdoor living lines. Teak frames strapped with yacht cording hold cushions covered in UV-resistant Suncloth, suede or leather for a furniture group that would work in an outdoor Great Room, or an indoor one.

Jensen Leisure’s Tivoli group of clean-lined bench seating and tables is made of roble, a sustainably produced Bolivian wood with a smooth grain.

© The Associated Press, 2015

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Creative Home Design with Flea Market Finds

Over the weekend, as I was flea market shopping for some cool antiques to decorate my apartment, I unexpectedly got inspired for this week’s blog post. Whether you’re selling your home, staging it to sell, or just looking for new ideas, flea markets and thrift shops are a great place to start.

In fact, your local flea market may have more hidden gems than you think. With the right bargain and a little elbow grease, you can turn your flea market finds into beautiful, eye-catching home décor. Or, as I like to call it “shabby chic.”

Here are my favorite home decorating ideas as you embark on your next flea market excursion . . .

1. Second hand Chairs

Next time you go to a flea market, look for second-hand chairs. They’re super cheap and very easy to make over. Just make sure the chair is not broken before making your purchase. Once you get home, just grab some fabric and a staple gun for a stylish piece of décor!

2. Dresser without the drawersSecond Hand Tips

Use your imagination when shopping for old furniture at flea markets or thrift stores. Even if a dresser is missing its drawers, the shelves are still fully functional. Give the dresser a fresh coat of paint and you’re good to go!

 3. Crate Nightstand

You may think that old wooden crates from the flea market seem useless and belong in the trash, but don’t make judgments too quickly. You can easily turn 4 wooden crates into a rustic and quirky nightstand.

4. Textile Art Better Homes & Gardens

You’ll come across all sorts of scarves, textiles and fabrics at flea markets. Just find an assortment of different patterns and colors. Then, place them in frames for unique and creative wall art!

5. Drawers without the dresserBetter Homes & Gardens

If you discover random drawers without the dresser, you can use that bargain to create extra storage in your bedroom. Just attach casters to the bottoms of the drawers for awesome and functional under-bed storage units.

6. Vintage Lamp Candlesticksshabbychicinspired.com

Turn old flea market lamps into candlesticks for your living or dining room. You’ll give your home some fabulous style that’s sure to impress new homebuyers.

7. Red Wagon Shelfporch.com

This is a great and innovative way to transform an old red wagon into a shelf that can hold even more of your flea market finds like picture frames or trinkets. Just secure 3 wooden planks to fit inside the wagon, hang it on the wall, and voila!

8. Antique Racquetball Racquets indulgy.com

These racquets can be found for a super cheap price at flea markets. So, think outside the court and turn them into mirrors to hang on the wall in your foyer or office.

9. Globe Light justimagine-ddoc.com

I probably saw over 10 globes at the last flea market I went to, and most of them had stands that were rusty or even broken. Detach the globe from its stand, secure a light inside, and drill holes along the continents for an awesome new light.

10. Stylish Mantel ehow.com

Use the mantel in your home to display all your small flea market finds. This is a great way to add a touch of vintage charm and rustic elegance.

7 home repairs you can do yourself

Before you reach for the phone to call an expert, take a minute to assess the situation. Perhaps the “problem” can be solved by learning how to do it yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. Here are some repairs you can do yourself:

  • Unclogging drain: You can usually unclog your own drains without the help of a plumber. Try this natural drain cleaner you can make yourself. And if that doesn’t work, you can probably reach into the sink with your hands to try and pull that gunk out. If that still doesn’t work, use the plunger, although you may have to use one that’s specific to sinks and showers. If the blockage is still there, perhaps you need to clear the sink trap, which you can easily do by following these steps. If the trap is clear and it’s still clogged, you might want to opt for using a drain snake, which is a long device that will go around the corners of the pipe as you push it down the drain. Use it to break up the debris.
  • Unclogging toilet: If your toilet is clogged, add hot water and dishwashing liquid into the bowl before plunging to better break up the clog. If the toilet doesn’t clear, you might want to invest in a toilet auger.
  • Dripping faucet: If you have a leaky faucet, all you need to do is to remove and replace the washer, O-ring, or seal. Get the parts from a hardware store, and make sure it’s fitted tightly. Here are some tutorials that will teach you how to fix a dripping faucet with a single handle and a two handle design.
  • Caulking: If the caulking is looking worn, it may be time to redo it. Instead of calling in a professional, you can do it yourself as this is one of the more simple home repairs. Remove the old caulk and completely clean the surface of any residue, then add masking tape on both sides of where you want to caulk to keep the caulking clean and even. There should be 1/8 of an inch between the tape. Use a caulk gun, and squeeze with consistent pressure without stopping to keep the caulking even. Smooth out the caulk so it looks more concave and molds against the surface. Remove the tape before the caulk skins over. For more clarity, check out this caulking tutorial that comes with photos.
  • Wall holes: You can fix small to medium holes in the wall without calling in an expert by applying patches over them and applying compound to cover them up. You then sand it down and paint over it. Tiny holes can be covered up with caulk and spackle.
  • Squeaky door: Has your door been making one too many complaints? Nip the whining in the bud by spraying an aerosol lubricating oil on the hinges. If that doesn’t work, remove the hinge pin, and rub it down with wire wool to remove any rust or dirt that may be causing the squeak. Lubricate the pin with oil to reduce squeaks before placing it back in the hinge.
  • Peeling wallpaper: Pull the paper back to the point where it’s firmly stuck on the wall, then coat the paperless part of the wall with wallpaper adhesive. Press the wallpaper back on, and smooth it out with a roller or damp sponge.

This story was originally published on POPSUGAR Smart Living. See it here

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20150131_PopSugar_7_Home_Repairs_You_Can_Do_Yourself.html#H3wJ1Tslbyd3Coub.99

Five easy tips to add value to your home

C. MITCHELL  stuff.co.nz
Last updated 05:00, January 31 2015

LITTLE THINGS COUNT: Sometimes a lick of paint can make a huge difference to the look of your home - inside and out - and it doesn't cost the earth. You can even do it yourself.

LITTLE THINGS COUNT: Sometimes a lick of paint can make a huge difference to the look of your home – inside and out – and it doesn’t cost the earth. You can even do it yourself.


You’ve given your body an overhaul as part of your new year’s resolution – why not do the same for your home?

Here are five simple ways you can add value to your home (who knows, perhaps 2015 is the year that you’ll sell your home and make a handsome profit!)

1. Don’t underestimate the power of the entrance

First impressions count. According to the experts, people make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house. So it’s important that the entry to your home has impact.

If there is foliage obscuring the entrance, be sure to trim it back and maybe even place some colourful pot-plants around the doorway. Also assess your front door. Does it look smart? If not, give it a fresh coat of paint (don’t be scared to use a bold, contrasting colour). You can also jazz it up with a brass letterbox or a stainless steel house number.

Be sure to consider the door knob and lock as well. Make sure that there are no sticky locks that a real estate agent will have to battle in front of potential buyers and if you can upgrade the doorknob to something sturdy and strong, that’s a good idea too.

Once people step across the threshold, try and create an entrance way that is light and bright. Consider adding some indoor plants and a bold light fitting or a great piece of artwork.

2. Concentrate on the kitchen

If you’ve watched any home improvement shows, you’ll know that the experts say if you’re going to improve one room, make it the kitchen.

Typically, a new kitchen will add 4.6 per cent to the value of your home. It’s important because it’s the heart of the home – it’s where we cook, do homework, watch TV and dine with friends. So put some effort into creating a great work surface and ensure that the space is functional.

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It should be easy to move between the sink, the fridge and the prep space. If you have the money, install brand new equipment. A new splashback is also a great (and cheap) way to lift the space and add some personality to the room. New cupboard doors and handles are another budget-friendly option.

3. Add storage

One of the main things buyers want is storage. You can have the most beautifully appointed home, but if there’s nowhere for people to store their belongings, their interest will wane.

While most new homes come equipped with lots of storage, older homes tend to lack even some of the basic storage options, such as a linen cupboard or a decent pantry. Thankfully, many of the big homewares stores now offer affordable do-it-yourself storage options – gone are the days of forking out thousands of dollars on custom-made solutions.

So consider adding an extra butcher’s block with built-in cupboards to the kitchen (if there’s room), extra storage in the laundry, or a new wardrobe in the spare room. Storage racks in the garage are also a good idea.

4. Give the place a fresh lick of paint

One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is paint. It’s cheap and you can do it yourself.

It may not seem like a big change, but it will completely revitalise your home and buyers will notice. While it might be tempting to add a feature wall or get a bit adventurous with the colour palette, keep in mind that neutral colours will appeal to most buyers.

Also remember that light colours will make rooms look bigger, so steer clear of dark colours because they will make your home look smaller.

5. Update the floors

It’s easy to forget about what’s underneath your feet, but updated flooring can give your home a real lift.

Choose something that is low maintenance and will look clean in both daylight and evening. If you can’t afford to spring for new floor coverings then simply give the existing floors a bit of a freshen up.

Give carpets a thorough steam clean (you can rent a machine and do it yourself), buff and polish any hardwood floors and cover any holes or tears in vinyl floors with stick-on vinyl flooring squares. Another idea is to invest in a great feature rug to lift the living space (one that you can take with you if and when you leave!)