The Spring Cleaning Guide

Now that spring is here, it's the perfect time to get your house ready for warmer weather, more entertaining, and some good old, well, spring cleaning. Spring cleaning has been around for ages and it's suggested that the origin of it dates back to the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. For the New Year, everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. Other cultures have very similar traditions during the spring time. Whether it's wiping down those high-dust areas, or updating your furniture, we always think it's best to start with a list to help you organize and prioritize.

Spring Cleaning

1. Inspect Your Furniture and Take Notes

As you begin spring cleaning, take a look at your furniture. Are there items that need a touch-up on polish or paint? Are there items you want to keep or get rid of? Has the family sitting chair seen better days? Do you want to reupholster it or invest in a new one? Take a look at your upholstered items like sofas and ottomans. Are there stains? Tears? Make a list so you know what materials you need to make everything as good as new. This way you won't forget everything and if you need to make a trip to your home hardware store -- you won't forget anything. 

2. Take a Step Back

Take a step back and look at the room as a whole. Is the layout right? You've probably had the same room layout for a couple of years but maybe there's a different way to approach the room. Is the sofa against the wall? Does it have to be? A new layout will help you feel like you're in a completely new space. Eliminating or updating furniture will help with this. As you figure out what pieces are old or won't work anymore, you'll be able to re-design a space in addition to cleaning.

3. Give Your Furniture Some Love

Day-in and day-out, your furniture sees a lot of use. Whether it's your family-old dining table or your family-friendly sectional, it's good to have your items routinely cleaned (or clean them). Especially upholstered items which attract dust, dirt, and spills over time. Make sure you consult the manufacturer's cleaning directions first so you can read up on the best way to clean it. Test a hidden spot on the furniture first to see how the product mixes with the materials. With upholstered furniture, focus on the smaller spots and blot any spills immediately. If you are using a cleanser, opt for the mildest option possible with a soft brush to work into the fabric's fibers. And don't forget to vacuum it after to absorb all the dirt and chemicals.

For leather furniture, use a damp (but not soaking wet) cloth to clean built-up dirt. Always make sure to use a white cloth so you don't deposit any dyes on the furniture. And you'll want to vacuum with the leather furniture as well. For wood furniture, make sure to wipe all dust with a soft damp cloth, cleaning the surface in a circular motion. After cleaning it, you can then oil or wax it, depending on the type of wood and style.

And remember, the best way to care for all of your furniture is to try and tackle any stains as soon as they hit. And don't be afraid to call a professional for larger stains. 

4. Donate or Throw Away

It can be hard to say goodbye to things. Especially when you have a history with them. But sometimes you have to face the facts: your beloved coffee table has seen better days. And it's not just furniture -- sometimes it's time to get rid of those mail piles that seem to collect over the years. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you haven't needed it for the past year then think about if you'll use it next year. Is it something you really need? Or is it something that could be eliminated to open the space up and make you feel more clutter-free? 

Spring cleaning can be an overwhelming time -- so make sure you set aside a weekend or a couple days to it. So you can really get rid of things you no longer use and then clean your home from top to bottom. 

How to Master This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the best time of the year to sit down with family, say thanks, and enjoy a deliciously prepared meal. But it can also be the best time for things to go wrong. Your dog could eat the turkey (it happens quite often!), your pie doesn’t cook right, or there isn’t enough seating. It seems like there are endless things that can go wrong. We’ve got some tips for you to make sure that you’ll have a wonderful meal and a great time with family.

Master This Thanksgiving

Gather Your Recipes

A week or two before Thanksgiving, lay out all the recipes you plan to use. Take inventory of all the ingredients you’ll need across all of the recipes. This will help with a couple of things. First, you can check your pantry and fridge to see what you already have. Second, this will then help you create a master grocery list in advance. You may have to buy certain things in increments. For example, you may need to buy pears a couple days in advance for ripening. Try to avoid shopping at the grocery store at least a day before (or on the day of!) Thanksgiving.

Make a Schedule

While you have all of your recipes laid out, take notes of how long each dish takes to prepare. This will help you create a master calendar where you can block off the exact stages of food preparation. This way you’ll know how early you need to wake up, how many helping hands you need in the kitchen, and when exactly dinner will be ready. Be sure to factor in time to set the table and add some décor items!

Going Shopping

Before you head out to the grocery store, group your grocery items by aisle. You’re probably familiar with your grocery store layout so you can figure out which aisles you’d like to hit first. You’ll have a fast and easy shopping trip. And don’t forget your list!

Confirm the Guest List

If you’re having relatives and friends come by for Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you confirm the guest list a couple days in advance. This will help you keep tabs on that grocery list and also make sure you can plan for extra seating if needed. You never know when an extra guest will tag along! And we’ve got some great ideas for extra seating.

Prepare Some Appetizers

Chances are guests will arrive early, or things may not finish cooking right on time. If you’re still getting things ready as people arrive, this is a great time to have appetizers and cocktails ready. Have these out in the living room – away from the dining room and the kitchen. This way they will all gather in a separate room and you can “effortlessly” get everything together.  

How to Maximize Seating During the Holidays

With Thanksgiving, football season, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and other gatherings, you’ll be entertaining a lot more in the coming months. And most likely you’ll have guests gather in the living room to be near the fireplace, the tree, or a holiday movie. And with more entertaining, comes more guests – and a need to maximize seating. Your sectional for six or sofa and loveseat may be more than enough during the year, but now you’re scrambling to find seating for friends and family. We’ve got some tips to make sure everyone has a seat while your living room stays clutter-free.

Cocktail Ottoman

During the holidays, a larger ottoman becomes your best friend. The cocktail ottoman is usually square or rectangular and takes the place of the coffee table. When you need two to three extra seats, you’ll be able to use your ottoman. And, with the addition of a serving tray, you can still use your ottoman for food and drinks. Having an upholstered ottoman in the center of your room also adds coziness and luxury to any room. Like the Diamondback cocktail ottoman shown below. 

Cocktail Ottoman

Accent Chair

If you’ve got the space for it, invest in one or two accent chairs. For a larger space, invest in two wing chairs to add a statement of  elegance. For a smaller space, look for one or two slipper chairs in a fun color or fabric to add some pop. We love the sophisticated style of the Diamondback accent chair for some extra seating. 

Blog Accent Chiar

Small Ottoman

If you plan on keeping your main coffee table, then look for extra seating in smaller ottomans. These smaller ottomans are great because they tuck under furniture (for example a sofa table or coffee table). And they’ll add a bit more visual detail and color to your living room. Like the Ritz ottoman, which is perfect for someone in a much smaller space.

Small Ottoman

Bench

If you’ve got a long or narrow space, a bench is a great way to add a lot of extra seating (usually about three to four per bench!). Like the Avenue bench. And when the holidays are over, you can store your bench somewhere else – like the foot of your bed. It’s a great multi-purpose piece that you can use in any room of the house. And if your bench is high enough, you can use it in the dining room for extra seating. 

Bench

Sources: Domicile Interior Design, Toby Fairly Interior DesignLDA Architecture and Interiors, and CWB Architects.

Planning for the Right Dining Room Table Size

Whether you’ve just moved into a new space or are looking to update your dining room before the holidays, choosing a new dining table can be tricky. Especially when dining tables come in so many sizes and shapes, it’s important to make sure you find a dining table that is both right for your room, your family, and for existing or new chairs. This way everyone can gather around the table this holiday season. We love how the Ashton dining room collection fits so well in this room.

Dining Room Table Size

Shape

First, think about the shape of your dining room. If your dining room is rectangular – then a rectangle or oval table makes the most sense. If your dining room is square – try for a square or round table. Once you’ve figured out what shape will work best for the space, you can plan out size and seating.

Size

Table size is very important to scale just right in the dining room. Try cutting out butcher paper or folding a bed sheet into the size of the table you plan to buy. This way you can see the size and shape come to life in the room. And, if the table has leaves, try and “create” this size too. You’ll want to know how the room will look once family is in town!

When measuring, there are some standard rules that will help you find the perfect table. First, take a look at the width. For round or square/rectangular tables, make sure your table is at least 36” wide so you have room for place settings and food. Usually as the table length increases, so does the width.

You’ll also want to make sure that your guests can get up and move around the room easily. Try to allow for 42” to 48” inches between the edge of your table and the walls (or the closest piece of furniture, such as a sideboard).

Seating

Speaking of entertaining for guests, this is where seating comes in. It’s very important to think about seating and eating space, especially for the upcoming holidays! Once you’ve decided on a table size, it’s good to know what the table can fit. This can vary on shape and leg/base placement. For a quick and easy answer, the table manufacturer or retailer should be able to recommend your table’s seating amount – even for when the leaves are extended. A great rule is to make sure that each person has about 2 feet of table space. Here are some standard seating recommendations for different table sizes:

When you’re planning for a rectangular table, think about how many feet long the table is:

  • 4' long seats 4 people
  • 5 to 6' long seats 6 people
  • 7' long seats 8 people
  • 8 to 9' long seats 10 people
  • 10 to 11' long seats 12 people

And when you’re planning for a round table, think about the pedestal bases:

  • 3' wide with a pedestal base seats 4 people
  • 4' wide with legs seats 4 people
  • 5' wide with a pedestal base seats 6 people
  • 5' wide with legs seats 4 people
  • 6' wide with pedestal base or legs seats 8 people
  • 7' wide with pedestal base or legs seats 9 people

If you want extra seating for when the table is extended, invest in two extra chairs. When they’re not in use, you can place these on either side of an entry way for a polished look.

Chairs

Make sure when you’re investing in new tables or chairs that you measure the chair seat height and the table height. You wouldn't want to get a new dining room table where the chairs are too high – or even too low – for eating. Most dining room chair seats are between 16” and 17” high for a table that is 26.5” tall, and 18” high for a table that is 28” to 30” tall.

Looks We Love: Industrial Chic

We’re loving one of the latest trends to hit the home design world – the industrial chic look. Inspiration for this look comes in many ways – from old factories and warehouses to farmhouses to old New York lofts. The industrial chic look uses reclaimed or recycled wood, exposed brick, pipework or unique and aging metals, and clean lines. And this style goes great with all different colors, patterns, and textures. Don’t be afraid to mix softer pinks and greens with these harsh metals – it will create a stunning, yet contrasting design. Some great examples include coffee tables with old metal pipes for legs or dining room tables made with old barn doors. It’s the perfect blend of old and new.

Industrial Kitchen

You can also bring the industrial chic look to light! Cool and brightly-colored pendants are refreshing and whimsical over a kitchen island, while Edison bulbs make an edgy statement. Mix and match metal lights with recessed lighting so you’ll still get the brightness you need and an edgy look. We love some of these inspiration designs from Andre Rothblatt Architecture, Emily Winters, and Holly Marder.

Industrial Kitchen

Industrial Hallway

Get the industrial look for your home! Here are some ideas to get you started. We love the style of the retro Avenue Sofa with a more neutral color paired with the edgy exposed Edison bulb light.

Industrial Chic

Products (from left to right): Edison Bulb Light, Zig Zag Pillow, Avenue SofaIndustrial Soap Set, Pacifica Cocktail Table, and Cole Mirror.

Q&A: Designing with a Long Living Room

Question

I just bought a small condo and I am looking to buy living room furniture. My dilemma is the size and shape of the room. It’s oblong and I’m trying to maximize my seating. How can I best arrange the room to have the most seating but not just put all the furniture against the wall? — Teresa, Delray, FL

Answer

This is a question that our Design Experts are often asked. In a perfect home, a living room space is more square, but many dwellers face the challenge of the oblong living room. Especially in a smaller-sized condo, you want to get the most out of your space with seating, comfort, and decor. At the same time, you don’t want guests to feel cramped. Fortunately these longer, narrow living room spaces are a blessing in disguise and there are several ways to make it work. Think about what you’re using the room for. Do you entertain frequently? Are you looking to relax? With a longer living room, you have the opportunity to break up the space into sections. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the main area should take up 3/4 the space while the smaller area, such as a reading nook, dining area, additional seating, etc. fills up the rest.

For a combined living and dining room, shift the focus of the space to entertaining and mix similar furniture lines and colors. This will help tie the two sections together. For example, pairing the Alcove table and Alcove chairs with the Paris Collection sofa and loveseat to maximize seating while allowing for foot traffic. For a more formal living room look, opt for a wider sofa with two opposing chairs. For example, pair the Colette Collection sofa with two Colette Collection accent chairs. This arrangement is perfect if you have a TV or fireplace across from the sofa as the main focal point.Or, if you’re looking to relax in the space, create a reading nook with either one or two chairs on the opposite side of the room.

Helpful Tips

  • Draw up a floorplan of the space to see what types of furniture you can fit, and where.
  • Look for longer rugs that will fill the room to visually tie the sections together.
  • Match your largest furniture item (most likely a sofa) with your longest wall for space efficiency.
  • Bring your sofa about two inches out from the wall to add an illusion of more space.

A New Year, a New Look for Your Home

As you set your new year’s resolutions for 2013, don’t forget about your home. No matter where you live, 2013 should be the year you turn your space into a home you love! Whether you’re looking to refurnish every room or just want to freshen things up, these expert tips will help you get started:

Take Stock of What You Have

Walk through your home and consider your current furnishings and accessories. Even if you’re planning to buy an entire new set of living room furniture, it doesn’t mean everything in your living room has to go. Perhaps the end tables can find new life as nightstands in your guest room or the overstuffed accent chair would be perfect for creating a reading nook by your bedroom window. Create a list of the pieces you want to continue to use as you do today, those you would like to repurpose and those you want to remove altogether. Then create a list by room of other furnishings you might need. This will be important for prioritizing whether you want to shop for a new sofa or a new bedroom set first.

Rearrange Your Furniture

Sometimes what your home needs is some reorganization to give it the feel of a makeover. For example, your bedroom could be completely transformed by relocating your bed or even placing furnishings on a pleasing angle. This will create an artful look and completely refresh any tired configurations you’ve set up in your home.

Revisit Lighting and Window Treatments

Don’t force your beautiful decor to hide behind bad lighting. Consider how you use each space and then light it appropriately. Play around with different pieces of lighting and bulbs to find the right brightness for each space. A dimmer, for example, could be the perfect upgrade to take your dining room furniture to the next level for entertaining. And while you’re at it, be sure your windows are dressed in a way to accentuate your decor while also letting in or obscuring light as needed.

Consider Color

Color can dramatically change the look of any room. Whether you choose to paint the wall or bring in colorful new accent furniture, you will enjoy instant results. Don’t be afraid to go bold, but experiment slowly if this is something new for you and your home.

Remember: You Can Start Small

Rome wasn’t built in one day and neither will a new look for your home. But if you take it one room and step at a time, perhaps rearranging furniture today and adding a new accent table to your foyer tomorrow, you’ll be living in your dream home before you know it!

10 Tips for Decorating Your Home on a Budget

Nothing turns a space into a home like filling it with items and furnishings you love, assembled in a style that is truly your own. Whether you’re moving into a new home or redecorating the one you already have, this is a very exciting time that can really improve your quality of life. But it’s also a time when your wants may not align with what your wallet can allow.

But don’t worry – you can have a beautiful home without breaking your budget. Our 10 tips cover everything from setting your spending limits to multifuctional pieces to help you get the most for your money. So get started!

Tip #1: Create a budget, either for the entire living space or by individual room. Then make a list of what you have, what you need and what you’d like to upgrade. This will help you to prioritize the project and may shed light on the fact that you could repurpose your nightstand as an end table for the time being.

Tip #2: Brainstorm on how you would like to decorate each room, and then narrow down each space to one or two solid ideas. This way, all of your furniture and accessories can work toward these primary themes for a cohesive look.

Tip #3: You don’t have to furnish your entire home at once. Versatile pieces, such as dining chairs, can float between rooms -- from dining to the home office, to the living room when you’re entertaining guests.

Tip #4: Look for a beautiful bed to be your bedroom’s centerpiece and make the room feel complete. You can add everything else-- dressers, chests and nightstands -- over time. And don’t be afraid to mix and match -- an eclectic mix will make your home cozy and unique.

Tip #5: Think outside the house when it comes to decorative accents. You’ll bring unique style to your home by decorating with garden ornaments, architectural elements and old building parts. They’re often cheap and always distinctive. Check salvage yards and antique stores for great finds.

Tip #6: Use a bookcase in your dining room to store and display china and serving pieces. Later, when you upgrade to a china cabinet or sideboard, you can easily use the bookcase in another area of your home.

Tip #7: Create your own artwork. You can frame anything, from a beautiful leaf to a photo from last year’s wall calendar, and voila, you have art! For inexpensive frames, look in discount stores for framed prints. Remove the back (needle-nose pliers are terrific for pulling out large staples) and replace what was in the frame with your own masterpiece.

Tip #8: Choose a dining room table that will give you choices down the line. For example, choosing a smaller scale table or one with a removable expansion leaf might allow you to use the table in your kitchen or another room should you decide to replace it.

Tip #9: Go ahead and accept hand-me-down furnishings, but only if you really like them. An unwanted dinosaur won’t inspire your imagination the way an empty room can. Don’t be afraid to live with the open space for a while and consider the room you’d really like to create.

Tip #10: Sell furnishings you don’t like or no longer have a need for at a consignment shop or online. Then you can use the money you make for the furniture you really want!