Interior Inspirations from My Web Favs, Part 1: Houzz

This is the first in a series of posts to introduce you (if you aren't already familiar) with some of my favorite stops for design inspiration on the web.  No idea what style, mood or atmosphere you want to create?  I have the perfect site to direct you to: Houzz is where its at!

I must warn you: A visit to may be hazardous to your productivity...! You may want to set a timer because you can lose complete track and before you realize it , you will have whiled away hours searching, admiring and even creating your own albums.  Regardless, I definitely think the possible time-sink is a risk worth taking!

Why do I love Houzz?  Let me count the ways!
  • User-friendly.  Its so organized you don't have to be a computer-whiz.  Its pretty easy to search and find what you are looking for! 
  • Filters. You can search by style, space, or even metros - from the most basic to unique approaches to design.  If you wish, you can narrow in on a location or any combination of the three options.
  • Ideabooks. In case you don't want to get that specific, you might just want to make your trip over to Houzz a quick stop to simply browse and swoon over the ideabooks - yup, how nice is that...other people have done all the searching for you!   It can be a great afternoon pick-me-up when you need a break from work and just want to look at something pretty.
  • Buzz. Love this!  Users can upload their own images and get feedback from other readers or use this area to "buzz" about a detail or design you found and admired.  I love to see the work of my colleagues in the design field and I have to tell you, it is fun to see the creativity of some of the  DIY crowd too. Creativity is never-ending!
Check it out and please, let me know how much you love it!  And if you spent too much time.. woops, sorry, but you can't say I didn't warn you!

Just look at what caught my eye while searching by categories:

Search = "Architects":

Filter by Style = "Eclectic":

Search Photos = "Funky":
 Pink bathroom- apartment therapy eclectic bathroom

Search Ideabooks = "Storibook":
Austin Patterson Disston Architects traditional bedroom
So tell me, how much do you love it and what has caught your eye?

The Essential Elements of Spa-tacular Bathrooms

Longing for a day at the spa? The type of place, “Calgon, take me away” infers? Well, most of us are not able to pamper ourselves at a spa every day, but you can create a luxurious bathroom that will help you relax, refresh and feel like you've taken a little escape.
From a tight budget to an extravagant remodel, there are many options to create a spa-like retreat.
First, clean out the clutter. You don't see bottles and products littering the counters in a spa, so take that cue and organize and find accessible, yet hidden, spots for the things that are necessary.
Some "Spa-tacular" features to consider:
  • A steam-shower, whirlpool or jacuzzi tub. Though expensive, it’s one of the most impressive changes you can make. You'll look forward to relaxing soaks in the evening after a long day. If you are putting in a shower, consider a full glass door to keep things ope, maximizing the visual perception of the space.
  • Natural stones and tile. Beautiful stone tile immediately evokes images the beauty of our natural surroundings; peaceful and serene.
Master Bathroom & Vanity modern bathroom
  • A gorgeous marble looks shiny and pristine, especially when kept in an all white color scheme.
  • Quality or custom cabinetry.  There are numerous options in vanity styles, from furniture-styles that resemble antique bureaus to contemporary and modern designs. The key is to be sure it works functionally and aesthetically. You may or may not need to be sure it has storage space for all of the accoutrement that would otherwise take up counter top space.
  • Lighting. Use soft lighting and as much natural light as possible.  No one looks or feels wonderful under bright, overhead lighting.  Install a dimmer and use sconces to light the mirror.  Adding a couple candles or even a small crystal chandelier can add ambiance.

Renovations and construction not in the plans? There are many ways to create a spa-inspired bathroom that do not involve major changes to your space.  For a little money and a little effort, you can do a variety of projects that will give your bathroom a new look.
  • Paint!  A fresh coat of paint can give your bathroom a completely different feel.  Choose soothing colors such as warm neutrals, clean whites, and pretty pastels.  If you would prefer color to neutral, choose nature inspired greens and blues or flattering pinks and purples. The all white look is also always fabulous (as you can see from many of the photos).
  • Frame your face! The mirror is one of the most important elements in the bathroom and believe it or not, changing this one feature can have huge impact. Ditch your frameless mirror for something with a little more character.  Your mirror will take on the feel of a wonderful piece of art and create a whole new look in the space.  You can also simply make a trip to the hardware store for four pieces of wood molding and create a frame around your existing mirror. Remodelaholic had an excellent guest post showing a before and after bathroom transformation that did just that!
Hollywood Glamour traditional powder room
  • How will your feet feel? Comfortable rugs will make a huge difference in your morning routine.  Find a plush rug that pads your feet or go for a lovely rug you might not ordinarily think of putting in a bathroom.  Go for the unexpected and use the rug that makes a stylish impression.
  • Storage. Utilize interesting baskets and storage pieces.  Those items that must reside out in the open will look far prettier in baskets, cubbies or attractive storage containers than splayed across the counter.  Hand towels also look nice displayed in a small basket next to the sink.
 Photo: My Home Ideas
  • Seating. If you have a bench area, great but most bathrooms do not.  Bring in a small upholstered chair.  It makes a great statement piece - and of course, inevitably creates the perfect stashing spot for a change of clothes, a stack of towels - besides its true purpose... a place to park yourself!
  • Consider a new set of towels.  Let's face it, there is nothing worse than stepping out of the shower and grabbing a towel that feels anything but wonderful.  Thick plush cottons, velours or waffle-weaves.  Invest in some luxurious towels that not only look great but FEEL great! You may even want to think about a new plush terry robe for the true spa experience.
  • Don't forget the details!  Fresh flowers, scented candles, or a relaxing CD can make all the difference when you are staying in for an evening of pampering or in your daily routine.
  • Pretty and Private.  Did you notice the window treatments in most of these shots? Privacy is the obvious consideration, but don't just think of function.  In addition to a functional shade or shutter, consider window treatments that are soft, breezy and easy-care to add to the airy appeal.  Linen-looks, cottons and some poly's are perfect options.  And for style: relaxed roman shades, cafe curtains, or simple panels will provide both, simplicity and style.
Photo: My Home Ideas
Whether you choose to make small or large changes to your bathroom, a spa bathroom makeover can make a huge impact on your day.  Now what are you going to do to create the spa experience in your home? Any great ideas you used in creating your spa-tacular "get away"?.  Please do tell, we'd love to hear it!

Designer Nurseries Shift Into High Gear by Going Neutral

We know the idea of designing a nursery is exciting, not to mention a fantastic excuse to do a little shopping! But before you grab that can of pink paint or hit the aisles for every baseball-themed item you can find, why not do something a bit different? Gender-neutral nurseries offer all the cuteness you crave. Think gender-neutral sounds boring? Think again. Check out these fabulous rooms to create energy and whimsy for baby, plus a little serenity just for you.

Here's an excellent example of how to use a theme without overdoing it. Counting sheep is no fun unless you're in this adorable nursery. The black swirl pattern of the sheep's wool in the artwork over the crib gets repeated in the crib bumper and chair fabric. The tree branches in the bottom photo mimic the swirl as well. Sure, there are sheep -- in the mobile, on the wall, and in the crib -- but they're not so in-your-face as to shout "sheep"! We also love the buttercup checked paint and white sheers and cornices to soften the look.

This next room by designer Angie Hranowsky uses a more muted yellow and pairs it with a soft turquoise blue. See? Blue isn't just for boys. This nursery establishes unity with color and repeated banding in the beautiful roman shades, pillow trims, and chair border. The large, white, plush area rug anchors the room while also creating softness. And who doesn't love the idea of a day bed in a nursery? Hey, parents need to snooze on occasion! Don't be afraid to mix and match your furniture. There's no rule saying you need to buy a set.

Little Crown Interiors took a beach theme to a sophisticated level in a nursery that uses orange for a pop of vibrancy. We like the idea of establishing a theme with accessories. Fun shovels hang as wall art and a starfish pillow accents an oversized chair. If you tire of the theme, simply re-accessorize. (Yay for more shopping!) Another idea we love? Placing a changing pad on top of a dresser. No need to purchase a separate changing table you'll use for a short time -- at least until that little one gets feisty!

When it came time for designer Mark Cutler to create a space for his daughter, he went all out. Okay, so you know this one is for a girl, but we think it'd work great for a boy, too. Cutler used wallpaper in moderation, literally framing it with orange on one wall to create the impression of art behind the crib, and then using it again on just one wall. The paint and drapes create visual breaks amidst the variety of fun patterns.

So, are you getting ready to design your kids' room? Share with us. We'd love to hear what great things you have planned.

Finding Your Perfect Mate Part 2: The Styles of Sofas

In our previous post, "Finding the Perfect Mate", we brushed up on the basics of sofa construction - ins and outs of what to look for and know before buying.  As a review of those points, I found a perfect illustration from C.R. Laine, detailing the anatomy of what goes into a fine quality piece of furniture:

But I know, what you really want to do now is start shopping!! You know what you need to look for structurally, now your challenge will be to decide on the style that will look and function best for you and your home.

Things you need to think about: back cushions, arm height and size, seat styles and base.... do you want a skirt? Decorative legs? These elements, along with fabric selection, alter the "feel" of a piece, taking it from a contemporary, edgy piece to one that may be more traditional or tailored.

Variations in the shape of the back of the sofa change both the style appeal as well as comfort.
  • A tight back is an upholstered back without removable cushions. It can provide an elegant, tailored or formal look to the sofa. It is often used for modern and contemporary pieces.
  • Pillow-back sofas have cushions that are detached or semi-attached, creating a soft, casual look. This type of back is comfortable and great for areas of high-use and relaxed entertaining.
  • A tufted back offers added elegance, giving much more luxurious and formal appeal.  I often think of a tufted sofa as a timeless classic, perfect for a library or office. Upholstering it in a bright turquoise with raspberry accents changes that theory though!

The seat of the sofa has similar composition and terminology to the back.
  • A tight seat has no individual cushions. It most often is more tailored and sleek and less ideal for lounging or relaxing.  Although, as seen above, there are always exceptions!.
  • A loose seat is the most comfortable type of seat and the most common seen in rooms where comfort is the primary concern. A word of caution when purchasing leather: a quality sofa will have leather on both sides of the cushion.  I have seen instances where a heavy-weight muslin is used on the underside - it reduces cost/price.  The problem with this is that you will never be able to flip the cushions. You want to be able to flip your cushions!
  • A single cushion allows a look close to that of a tight seat but with the comfort of a cushion. The drawbacks to this style are that the fabric can sometimes buckle in the middle the cushion can pop up on one side when you sit on the other if it is not dense enough. It is much easier to provide stability to smaller cushions than one large one. If you decide to buy a single cushion, I recommend a firm density for the insert to allow the cushion to maintain its shape.

    A change in the arm styling creates a completely different silhouette to a sofa.  Though sometimes not seen as obvious a consideration as the back and seat of a sofa, the arms are an essential part in creating the "look" as well as the amount of space the pieces takes up in a room.  Some squared and rolled arms, for example, can create a heavier look, both in appearance and actual measures.

      The skirt or lack thereof is also an important element of style.
      • A skirt can give a sofa a traditional appearance, yet within the category of skirts, we can have everything from a tailored conservative skirt to one that is much more feminine. Kick pleats, box pleats, and dressmaker skirts all create different looks.

      • Exposed legs can also run the gamut of styles. Squared wooden or metal legs can appear contemporary, modern and clean-lined, while carved wood and casters can cross lines of traditional to retro.

        Six of the basic sofa styles most often seen on showroom floors include the English, Tuxedo, Camel-back, Chesterfield, Lawson and Mid-century Modern.  
        • English Sofa: The English sofa typically has a tight back and loose seat cushion, with a roll to the arm and a back that has a slight curve away from the front. When you sit in an English sofa, you will notice that you sit back in it. Though you can certainly have an English sofa made with a skirt, traditionally only casters are seen.
        • Tuxedo Sofa: If you are in the market for a contemporary sofa with lasting appeal, the Tuxedo could be the perfect fit. The Tuxedo’s arm seem to blend into the back as they all come to the same height. With extremely clean lines and a modern yet timeless feel, the Tuxedo sofa is a sophisticated choice.
        • Camel-back Sofa: One of the most traditional sofa styles, the Camel-back, also referred to as a Chippendale, dates back to 18th Century London and the furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. The serpentine curve on its tight back is its distinguishing feature.
        • Chesterfield Sofa: For your office or library, an iconic choice would be the Chesterfield upholstered in leather. Tufting throughout the back, and sometimes seat, the Chesterfield is the quintessential masculine sofa.
        • Lawson Sofa: The Lawson has a low squared off back, with lower square or rolled arms. Usually seen in loose seat and loose back, the Lawson sofa is a comfortable choice for a family room and is seen with or without skirts.
        • Mid-Century Modern Sofa: This sofa looks like it would be at home in a space with retro appeal. The clean, square lines seem to float on thin legs giving it a sophisticated and streamlined, yet fun, look.

        I could continue this already very long post, however I think I've covered a lot of ground! You see the point:  no matter what your taste, style, or needs, there is sure to be a combination of back, seat, arms, and skirt that will look fabulous in your room!

        I hope you have a better idea of what to look for in a quality piece and this has helped you to hone in more closely on what you like.  Happy shopping!
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