How To Make A Minimalist Spaces That Feel Oh So Luxe

It’s amazing how fast items can start to take up room in my house. Like most people, it’s not as though I intend to build up clutter; I just find it hard to get rid of things as fast as I accumulate them, both for sentimental reasons and because it’s so easy to procrastinate on getting organized.

But lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to eliminate excess items in my home, and the idea of living more simply has stolen my attention (as if someone just told me there’s cake nearby).

I love the look and wish I could incorporate the Scandinavian / uncluttered trend more often, but it can be tough to limit items when you’re always remodeling the way I do (since home renovation requires a lot of power tools and supplies).

That’s partly the reason why I like to look through so many minimalist interiors as inspiration. When done the right way, incorporating this design style has some serious appeal and personality. Just a few appropriate cozy and visually interesting elements are all it takes to get the clean but comfy look I crave.

Here are the five things that make me swoon over minimalist rooms.

1. Natural Wood
Look at a spread of minimalist home design photos and you’ll quickly notice how natural wood tones are key to ensuring that the space feels less stark. For me, it’s warm wood shades like maple, honey, and walnut that add the most drama without overwhelming.

Take for example the wooden doors in my friend Ann Marie’s old kitchen — it has just the right amount of visual contrast while still looking spotlessly clean:

A kitchen with white cabinets and stainless steel appliancesImage: White House Black Shutters

This DIY coffee table from “I Spy DIY” also keeps it simple, but it’s the natural tone of the wood and the textured sides of the slab that make it far from boring (and also warm up the grays in the rest of the room).

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2. Exposed Brick
If you look at pictures of minimalist rooms, architectural details take center stage, such as an accent wall of exposed brick. Even if you whitewash or paint the brick to match the other walls (or even go with veneer for the same effect, like Mandi Gubler did in the photo below), the variation in texture adds charm.

3. Warm Metallics
Minimalism is traditionally associated with stark white and black, which often can feel harsh, but you can include accents of color that warm up the room without disturbing their minimalist appeal.

Warm metallic tones are perfect for this. Shades of copper and gold continue that sleek, simple look while amping up the luxe factor. Ashley’s (“Hither and Thither”) home is full of these kinds of details (as well as a few more elements on this list):

4. Textured Fabrics
In the same vein as a brick wall, warmth and coziness can be added through fabric and other items that add texture instead of color. I suppose sometimes the mix of textiles in design is more aligned with the concept of Hygge (pronounced “hue-guh”) the Danish word for coziness and a concept for living simply. But a chunky knit throw blanket or a nice textured rug can add depth as well as invite friends to settle in.

In my own living room, I like to keep the color scheme fairly neutral, but it’s the textures on the pillows and planters that provide the little details that keep the room from looking too blah.

Provided that you cleanly edit the color choices, minimalism is all about keeping balance around the room. Amy of “Homey Oh My” (below) shows this idea off well in her living room with a textured rug and a simple basket for storing items to keep clutter off the coffee table.

Marble coffee table with white rug with black accentsImage: Homey Oh My

Emma’s cowhide rug and two-by-four coffee table (and oh look … natural wood again!) follow right along with this style, too.

5. Plants, Plants, Plants
It’s never a bad idea to bring more of the outside in (well, except maybe pests). But have you noticed the last element that keeps sleek rooms looking lively? Plants! Whether it’s bouquets of flowers or potted houseplants, varied height plays a big role in keeping things looking uncluttered. I think the greenery adds a lot of life and cheer (especially in routinely disappointing spaces, like my laundry room).

Maybe it’s about getting older and realizing that I am happier when I have less around me to feel anxious about (or clean). Or maybe it’s the desire to need less. Or maybe it’s just with so much else keeping me busy on a daily basis, adding more negative space (subtracting to add, I suppose?) is the calm I need at the end of the day.

But regardless of the reason, I’m getting better at figuring out how much nicer a home is without a bunch of clutter in my way.

Learn More About The Guide to Re Imagining a Potential New Home

Exposed brick, black and white, French doors. If you asked me what classic aspects of design I’d like in my dream home, I’d probably check every box. It’s that eclectic mix of old and new, home and travel, fun and sophisticated that can make buying a home and decorating it such an exciting challenge. But surely, at one point or another, many classic features were once a trend — the new thing on the market that everyone had to have.

However, unlike the way shoulder pads and babydoll dresses stuck around for what seemed like decades, the advent of the internet and Pinterest seems to speed us more quickly through the things that are new, and then now, and then passé. “Trend” has become a dirty word — almost synonymous with stuff that’s so of-this-minute that we’ll blink and it’ll already be outdated.

But does it really have to be this way? In my opinion, no.

As much as I might like bohemian and French, industrial and mid-century, and even coastal, I have a limited budget. I can’t afford to constantly replace the stuff that goes out of style. After all, I specifically decided to buy instead of rent to avoid wasting money on things that aren’t a return on my investment!

So, I chose to find a house with good bones — the kind of home with the right space, the right light, and a layout I can invest in for a few years. And after DIYing for the better part of a decade, I’ve learned a few good rules for making sure the home decor I choose lives up to those same investment expectations.

#1 Mix Instead of Match
I suppose you could call my style “global eclectic.” But really, that’s just a fancy way of saying, “I often don’t like any one particular style, and matchy-matchy just isn’t my thing.” I have a Moroccan-inspired peacock mirror in the hallway, modern blue dining room walls, industrial bar stools in the kitchen, sheepskin draping over my chairs in the living room, and antique items sprinkled everywhere. Not any one style really reigns!

In my mind, decorating where it looks like a single store threw up all over a single room is a quick way to Outdatedsville. Collecting pieces from different trendy styles keeps things fresh and unique. Take, for example, Beth from “Home Stories A to Z.” Her gorgeous bathroom mixes subway tile, global-inspired cement tile on the floor, modern urban fixtures, and farmhouse features like shiplap walls and vanity. Stunning!

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#2 Give Trendy Features a Limit
Large items like couches, beds, and architectural details (like French doors) can still be fun and interesting, but I tend to play it safe by picking one feature on that item that’s somewhat trendy, such as exposed legs (often seen in mid-century furniture), but with a fabric that’s neutral. Rather than going with a piece of mid-century furniture (trend) in the color of the moment (trend), you choose one or the other. It translates well from one style choice to the next. It also lets all of the other, more permanent features stand out, such as a cool archway (or in my case, the big bow windows!).

#3 Edit, Edit, Edit
Trends that you wind up loathing over time are the ones that you see everywhere. They’re like that boyfriend you fell hard and fast for, and then woke up one day and can’t stand his laugh. Some things are simply never meant to stick around, and that’s OK. Just make sure these aren’t the pieces you invest in. For trendy items, look to bring them in through accents. When you tire of them and want to try out something new, you can then switch them out without making your wallet wince in pain.

Clutter is also what makes a trend look dated. It steals attention away from cool architectural features that should get more of a spotlight (like my big windows, which again, I LOVE). Too much of a good thing is never wise (except breakfast food). So when you like something, go ahead and try it out, but layer it in rather than buying every item of a single collection. Edit out the pieces that don’t fit, and you’re set.

Stacy Risenmay knows this more than most. With her tiny 1938 home filled with four boys, she’s an expert at getting rid of what isn’t needed while still making her house look gorgeous and full of style.

#4 Remember That Styles Are Cyclical (So You Can’t Really Go Wrong)
These days, a lot of trends are about nostalgia (subway tiles, open shelves, old-school kitchen faucets, reclaimed wood, etc.), so it should come as no surprise that plenty of what we call trends are cyclical. They’ll come into fashion, they’ll be overdone to the point we are tired of seeing them, we’ll move on, and then when it comes back in style, we’ll find it refreshing again.

But what is it that keeps these things coming back again and again? It may sound cheesy, but I think it’s all about the way we feel in a space — a happiness and simplicity. That’s why I like the concept of “classic with a twist.” Sure, it could be out of date as far as what’s popular in stores over the next 10 years, but the “classics” I see trending lately are just a recycling of a period that already came and went. That’s really kind of great, because it takes the pressure off. Finding a twist on an older design rather than reinventing the wheel is a simpler goal and something I’m less likely to mess up.

Take, for example, my kitchen’s two-tone cabinets. It’s a vintage look that was made popular again over the last 10 years, and although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I get compliments on how retro and modern it looks at the same time.

#5 Focus on Your Faves
I hate burlap. HATE it. But you know what? Some folks love the look of it so much, they make that scratchy fabric into pillowsthat they lean against in their bedrooms every night. But I’ll admit, as I’ve seen the use of burlap grow in popularity or used in a beautiful room, I question whether or not to buy some for a table runner. The key of knowing when you’re liking something versus being influenced by outside forces? Your gut.

Some homes just have that “it” factor. And you walk away from that house wondering if you too should buy all of the same stuff they did. But it’s not really the couch that’s making the house feel that way; it was that the person who picked it out did so because they freaking love the item.

Take Charlotte’s sofa, for example (below). She knew she was dropping a lot of money on it, she knew it was green, and she new it was velvet. But she dove right in. It makes the space, but if you knew her in person, you’d also realize that no other sofa really quite captures her the way this styling does!

I doubt any reader who has checked out my blog could accuse me of being trendy. In fact, I never really set out to be the kind of DIYer who put a clever spin on everything I touched. And that’s OK, because all I’ve ever really wanted to do is give myself a house that I enjoy living in. So, I pick out pieces that truly speak to me, and forget the rest.

Mixing antiques with modern pieces makes the whole house look like it was collected over time (because it was), but also adds personality unique to me and how I express my style — one that can’t be repeated as easily as shopping through a catalog.

At the end of the day, it’s my home, and the important thing is to make sure that I’m buying it, installing it, etc., because I enjoy seeing it every day — not because someone has once again done something really spectacular with plywood. (I’ll still pin the heck out of it, though!) I truly believe that’s what makes a home both trendy and timeless simultaneously. Loving the home you live in never goes out of style.

Your Dreaming Outdoor Space

A funny thing happened this summer after leveling out the backyard. For the first time since moving into my house, I actually began to picture my dream backyard space. And the truth is, I have a long way to go.

For myself and plenty of other first-time homeowners, it seems to be a little easier to picture the future potential of interior spaces, like where the Christmas tree is going to go during the holidays, what hardwoods might look like instead of ugly carpet, etc. But if you’re anything like me, being able to see a yard’s future potential just doesn’t come to mind as easily.

I think it’s mainly because where the interior typically has defined areas and specific functions, the yard often starts as more of a blank slate (or in my case, a mess that has to first be cleaned up before a blank slate is possible). As a result, I wound up constantly second-guessing my outdoor project plans, putting them off, and taking years longer than I probably should have to get started.

If I could go back in time, I would have started on my dream yard a lot sooner. But now that I’ve had the opportunity for some trial and error, I can now see what I was missing all along. The key to adding the wow factor for a beautiful backyard is actually quite simple: divide and conquer.

1. A Place for Storage
When I first bought my house, I had no idea how important the space in my one-car garage would be. Even though I do an annual cleanout, it’s just not enough space for renovation supplies, outdoor equipment, paint, power tools, and lumber. The items I need for the interior upgrades compete for storage space with the equipment to maintain a healthy lawn and garden, leading to one massive mess that I’m constantly stepping over (and bumping my shin into).

Through years of organizing the interior spaces, I’ve learned a key lesson in home improvement: Make the space around you work for how you live your life.

I know that sounds like strange and obvious advice, but it isn’t until you live in a space for a little while that you realize what your habits are. Many times, new homeowners, including myself, will work toward a design that is totally wrong for them, focusing on how it “should be” and neglecting the reality of their everyday needs.

If you have an aunt who has that formal living room that never gets used, you’re plenty familiar with this concept. She’s basically paying for hundreds of square feet of underutilized space, heating and cooling it, and for what? A nice couch that the family never sits on?!

This same lesson works for outdoor spaces: It’s about how the space gets used today, tomorrow, and a year from now. Have a place for gardening tools, the mower, etc., in an easy-to-reach and well-organized location, and the existing space is much more efficient.

The garden improves by force of habit because you’ll be going out there more often, working in your garden more often, etc. Since I’ve used just about every possible square inch of my garage, my next big project will be building my own outdoor storage shed, ideal for gardening and related equipment.

The design of the structure will be custom, but I’m taking heavy inspiration from fellow bloggers, like “Finding Silver Pennies.” Rather than just serving as a dumping ground for extra stuff, this shed is more like an extension of the home’s design. I love the idea of adding trim, decorative hardware, and little garden boxes!

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2. Room for Entertaining
When I moved into my house, there was one space that I knew would need an upgrade: the 8-by-10-foot slab leading out from my kitchen and into the backyard. Prepare yourself for a hideous photo in 3 … 2 … 1 …

It’s my only true space for placing outdoor furniture at the moment, and even though it got a little bit of a makeover a few years ago (below), what I really want to do is expand this space for more guests and entertaining (just two seats aren’t going to cut it!).

For a while, I thought that I might have to hire help to expand the patio or bust up the concrete, but that might not be necessary. Kelly from “View Along the Way” came up with a great DIY option for her slab-turned-wooden deck, which I think is a genius option!

Before: Like mine, it wasn’t much to look at:

After: No more stepping down onto discolored concrete:

By building a new deck (or extension) over existing concrete, I have the option to expand the area as a whole. I’ll have to add some supports in expanded areas, but it beats having only 80 square feet of space for furniture. Guests won’t be crowded, and I’ll be more inclined to actually use this area rather than constantly avoiding it.

3. A Beautiful Garden
It’s hard to plan for a beautiful garden if you have a habit of killing indoor plants. If you too have a black thumb like I once did, take it from me: There’s hope! The secret is to pick plants that are either native to the area or to the natural climate you live in, which allows the plants you pick to thrive — even if they’re eventually neglected (ahem, guilty!). In the southeastern U.S. where I live, that means plants like hydrangeas, azaleas, and gardenias.

 

Local nurseries and home improvement stores often carry plenty of options that do well in your climate (and the less exotic choices are often the most affordable plants, too).

I’ve also found that raised garden beds have been the easiest to start with since they help deter weeds and provide plenty of quality soil for growing. They can even help cover neighbor-neglected fences, like the one to the right of my property. There was nothing I could really do about a fence that I didn’t own, but I could try to dress it up from my side!

Before: While I’m glad my neighborhood doesn’t have the added expense of an HOA, it does mean that neighbors have to work out problem areas amongst themselves. With a little creativity, I took a neglected fence and made it into something I liked.

An old, mossy wood fence with patchy grassImage: The Ugly Duckling House

After: By adding some low-maintenance garden beds along one side of my yard, I created a spot that would eventually fill in with a living, flowering hedge.

A garden bed against a fence with brown mulch and plantsImage: The Ugly Duckling House

The plan is to later expand on this concept with the rest of the yard once the new deck and shed are in. These two additions will open the door for creating new gardening spaces next to each structure. I suppose I won’t get to call myself a black thumb for much longer!

4. Nighttime Lighting
I just love the idea of nighttime outdoor entertaining. Cozy seating, plenty of space for evening chatter, and the ambiance of delicate lighting make for a breathtaking space. Stefanie from “Brooklyn Limestone” has a great example of how to separate zones in the yard using outdoor lights (below). This small patio area is surrounded by a series of string lights suspended above, which separates it from the hammock and dining area nearby.

5. An Inviting Fire
Once the need-to-have things are in, it’ll be time to build some furniture and create a fire pit area for people to sit around and enjoy the new yard. There are lots of DIY options out there, and since store-bought kits for fire pits tend to be on the pricey side, I’m planning to use inexpensive concrete blocks, similar to how “A Beautiful Mess” created their awesome s’mores fire pit.

After years of working on the interior, one tends to lose a little momentum and inspiration to keep the DIY train moving along. But transitioning my thought process to these exterior improvements has given me a serious boost in energy to continue making changes and hang on to my home improvement mojo.

New homeowners: Don’t make my same mistake! Start working on your yard as a process long before you think you’ll need to.

Now that I know the true potential waiting in my backyard, I can focus on making these dream outdoor zones into a reality. With any luck, this will be the year for lots of outdoor entertaining in a brilliant new space.

An Easy Ideas for People Who Hate Yard Work

Look at those smug neighbors, lounging around on their stylish teak patio furniture, sipping cocktails, and loving life. Meanwhile, you’re behind on mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges. Who has time to prep for a patio party when you can’t even keep up with the regular stuff? Shouldn’t you get to kick back on your lawn, too?

Yes, you should. It’s just a matter of designing your landscape so it requires less attention from you. Here are a few strategies to help:

Use Rocks for Interesting Landscape Features
Grass doesn’t grow on rocks. Besides stating the obvious, what that really means is that they’re the perfect, versatile tool for creating a low-maintenance outdoor space. Use them to create walkways, or group them together to form decorative outcroppings.

You can even lay out stones to be ornamental dry creek beds. Small yards, especially in desert climates, can be completely rocked over, or you can use them as strategically placed accents.

And if you’ve got spots that are constantly wet, they’re great for keeping mud (and mosquitoes!) under control because they’ll help the water run off instead of collecting.

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Add a Rain Garden if You’ve Got a Soggy Spot
Lush rain garden in front yard with brown mulch, plantsImage: Rain Dog Designs LLC

Speaking of wet areas, do you have a depressed corner of the yard where puddles rule?

Try a rain garden, which is kind of a mini-wetland that reduces storm-water runoff. And done right, they’re almost maintenance free because they require no mowing, no watering, and little weeding.

They make much prettier focal points than soggy grass, too.

Rain gardens are fairly easy to create, using gravel, sand, and native plants. The idea is to slow down rainwater so less of it goes into the sewer system, and more is used to nourish plant life.

DIY the Easiest Deck Ever
Decks do require some maintenance, but you don’t have to mow ‘em every weekend, that’s for sure. And a platform deck — no steps, no railings — is the easiest of all.

A light-colored deck with patio furniture at nightImage: Alexi Politis at Seeking Alexi

“There are lots of dense hardwoods like ipe and cedar, redwood and composites that last a long time and are very low-maintenance,” says Tomi Landis, president of Landis Garden Design in Washington, D.C.

While you’re dreaming of your new deck, think about this: How you will use it?

“Will you be using it in the morning while having coffee?” Landis asks. “If so, it should be oriented to the east. If it’s mainly for dining out in the evening and having cocktails, it should be facing west.” But be sure shade is available in the hotter months.

Switch to Tall Grass That Never Needs Mowing
Contemporary backyard patio and garden with tall grassImage: Carol Heffernan

Not all grass is created equal. Tall grasses, like switchgrass, bluestem, muhly, and fountaingrass, all grow fast and require very little TLC. Nor do they ever get mowed.

“Native grasses are a great solution to a lot of landscaping problems,” Landis says. They soak up lots of water and provide an organic privacy screen while trimming your mowing time.

How to use tall grasses:

Group along a fence line.
Group into geometric patterns in your yard for a clean look.
Go more random for a more natural look.
The most maintenance you’ll do with these is cut them back in late fall. They dry up in the fall, which sends some of those glorious long leaves flying across your yard. But they can be used as (free!) mulch or ignored. They’ll do no harm.

Create Pathways to Reduce High-Maintenance Grass
Like the rocks above, pavers (sometimes called “steppers”) are decorative stones used to create pathways that need little or no care. “A stepper in a natural shape looks really great in a lot of contexts,” Landis says. Traditional house styles like bungalows, colonials, and Victorians tend to go well with more natural pavers, like flagstone.

If your house is more on the modern side, opt for some rectangular or square pavers.

Go For Fake Grass — No One Will Know (Seriously)
Fake grass used on a steep front lawnImage: John Riha for HouseLogic

Some purists might consider fake grass to be over the line, but the newer faux turf doesn’t make your yard look like a putt-putt course, nor does it get so hot it burns your feet like the fake turf in your parents’ day.

“It’s great for somebody with no time on their hands,” says Doug DeLuca, founder of Federal Stone and Brick in Sterling, Virginia. “It comes like a roll of carpet, you set a bed for it with gravel, then use sod staples to hold it down.”

It doesn’t need to be cut, watered or fertilized, and pets can’t kill it.

Plant Your Own Mini Forest if You Get Lots of Rain
Native habitat in a back yard with bird bathImage: RDM Architecture

Where there are trees there shall be no grass. But there will be shade, and that’s a plus for picnicking and lawn-chair lounging.

“Trees can soak up a lot of rainwater,” Landis says, and therefore, need a lot of water. Consider your local climate, as soaking up water can be good or bad. Do you need to sop up excess water? Is the yard already too dry?

Keep in mind that native trees are less maintenance because they’re adapted to your area. Color is the secret to a stunning yard, but that doesn’t mean you need to plant a garden full of labor-intensive dahlias.

It means choosing bright pots, benches, bird baths, Adirondack chairs — anything that just sits there and looks lovely while you pour the cocktails.

The options are as numerous as the Pinterest search results for “yard art” (which is somewhere between 5,000 and infinity).

And if you decide to pop some colorful flowers into your colorful pots, what could be better a better backdrop to your finally-realized cocktail party?

Learn More About Hooked on Bedroom Remodels

Peter Pan and his adventures battling Captain Hook are equal to our wildest, most enjoyable dreams. Is it any wonder, then, that all of Peter Pan’s escapades started in a bedroom? If you’re looking for a way to turn your boring bedroom into a place where dreams come true, then maybe it’s time that you give your bedroom a facelift, or more, with a bedroom remodel.

Finding Your Happy Thought

You might think that a professional designer has all the answers when it comes to creating the perfect bedroom design for you and your home, but much as Robin William’s middle-aged Pan couldn’t fly until he discovered his happy thought in the 1991 Peter Pan movie “Hook,” interior designer Corinne Matthews, owner of Dream Room Designs in Atlanta, GA, says that each homeowner has to figure out for themselves what it’s going to take to turn the bedroom they have now into the bedroom of their dreams. “Ask yourself, how do you want to use the bedroom? How do you want it to feel?” she suggests. “If I come in and just tell you (what to do),” says Matthews, “then it’s my bedroom, not what you’re looking for.” Instead, she encourages homeowners to do their homework, and think carefully about what they’re trying to achieve. If aiming for the brightest star in the sky and then veering a little to the left isn’t helping you get on course, here are a few more of Matthews’ proven suggestions to help you find your bearings.

  • Magazines—It’s unlikely that Peter Pan or any of the Lost Boys ever read a book cover-to-cover, but we doubt they would have objected to picking up a comic book now and again. For homeowners looking to create a perfect Neverland of their own, Matthews says that looking through design and home magazines is “a great place to start and get ideas.”
  • Websites—Websites can be equally helpful. “There are sites now that have galleries of finished bedrooms for you to look at,” Matthews points out. That allows you to see for yourself how different design ideas might translate into a finished product.
  • Think Tinkerbell—In other words, take note of even the smallest details. “Even if you see a single bed or chair that you like, it can help generate ideas to go on,” says Matthews.
  • Keep Your Radar Up—Peter Pan never let his guard down, and you shouldn’t, either. Matthews recommends that homeowners keep their eyes open when they go on vacation, visit hotels, and visit the homes of friends and family, as all of these can end up being sources of inspiration for your upcoming remodel.
  • Note What You Don’t Like—Peter Pan knows what he doesn’t like, including pirates, bedtimes, and gravity. Understanding what turns you off can be a valuable tool in bedroom design as well. “What you don’t like is just as helpful as what you do like,” says Matthews, “especially in working with a designer.”

Still Looking For Some Pixie Dust?

Despite following all of Peter Pan’s advice, and no matter how hard Lady Wendy tried, she still couldn’t fly on her own. It ended up taking a little sprinkle of Tinkerbell’s pixie dust to finally get her up and off the ground. If you’re still having a hard time getting started, here’s some pixie dust of the bedroom design variety to help you fill your sails and get your head up into the clouds, where it belongs:

  • Think Cozy—”Most homeowners are interested in creating a fairly warm space,” says Matthews, who recommends that homeowners “focus on things that make it feel intimate, romantic, and warm and cozy.” That means choosing soft, warm colors, carpet instead of tile, flowing window treatments, and comfortable bedding.
  • Don’t Overdo It—You’ll never hear those 3 words uttered in Neverland, but in bedroom design land, they’re words to live by. Designbiz.com stresses the importance of not overcrowding, noting that “the bedroom is your personal space, and should be open and not claustrophobic.” That means getting rid of the computer desk, the dressing table you never use, and replacing unnecessary furniture with less obtrusive storage solutions, like getting rid of your bedside table and installing out-of-the-way shelving instead.
  • Dream Big—If you like dreaming about your future bedroom as much as you like dreaming, period, then designing your new bedroom is a good time to let your imagination run free. After all, nobody ever accused Peter Pan of thinking rationally and keeping his feet firmly anchored on the ground. “A lot of people are looking for a master bedroom suite,” says Matthews, “including things like a built in spa, and an adjoining master bathroom.” Bedroom remodels are one place where luxury is often the rule, rather than the exception.

Trundle Bed Models

Originally, trundle beds were small—the top bed was a twin, the bottom was slightly smaller. For this reason, they tended to take the place of a twin set in a small room for a pair of brothers or sisters. These trundle beds, like a Murphy bed or bunk beds, offered more of the room for dressers, desks and play room. Today, though, trundle beds come in many sizes. And while they once never had box springs—thereby relegating them to day beds?they can come with them today. There are king and queen-sized trundle beds, and trundle beds shaped to work as a deep couch, and others that roll three beds out of two. And if the history of the servant use bothers you, or perhaps you would like to use it for guests but think it odd to have one person sleeping closer to the ground, there are models that pop up. The lower bed is on springs and elevates when you pull it out, making it the same height as the bed it just came out of.

Know How Much Treasure is in Your Pirate Chest

On a final note, Peter Pan would much rather crow like a rooster than act in a sensible manner. Unfortunately, homeowners often adopt the same mindset when it comes to splurging on bedroom remodels. Despite the fact that the bedroom is a great place to cut loose when it comes to pampering yourself, Matthews is quick to encourage people to stay within their means as they transform their dreams into reality. “High end isn’t as popular as it used to be,” observes Matthews. “There are a lot of people, particularly now, that are making changes on a more modest budget.” That’s an insight worth paying attention to, especially if you’ve been counting pennies instead of sheep. Just keep reminding yourself that the goal is getting more sleep, not losing it, and you’ll be well on your way to making all of your bedroom remodeling dreams come true!

Simple Ways to Avoid Costly Uh Ohs in Winter

Ahh. It’s summer. Time for cocktails on the deck, laughter around the fire pit, and … pre-winter maintenance? Come on.

You’re a diligent (enough) homeowner, but who wants to spend their fleeting days of sunshine on a ladder when you could be in a hammock?

You do. (We swear. Bear with us.) There’s one very compelling reason: Summer is when preparing for winter can actually be fun — because it’s not all about HVAC filters and insulation.

It can be about beautifying your home, too.

Oh, make that two compelling reasons: Winter is so. Rough. On. Your. Home. So jump at the sunny chance to do these prep projects now for a home that’s gorgeous, warm, and worry-free when winter does come. Vitamin D boost included.

Upgrade Your Deck So It Won’t Get Slippery — or Rot
Your deck hates winter. Like, even more than you do.

Wintry weather soaks it, freezes it, and makes it swell and shrink repeatedly.

It’s a recipe for wood rot — and an ER visit if you step through the decayed part (hello, co-pay). Even if you come out unscathed, it’ll cost you $8 to $20 a square foot to replace with just basic treated wood.

So why not be proactive and do something to protect your deck, and while you’re at it, make it prettier and more enjoyable for the rest of your summer?

Stain it with a gorgeous color to shield against water, mildew, and harsh sun.
Give it new post toppers (solar ones are a nice touch).
Add some planters for all season color.
Maybe even screen your deck and enjoy it bug-free the rest of this summer and fall?
Modern kitchen with wood floors
Spend Oh-So-Wisely on a Kitchen Remodel
6 Materials to Never Use in Your Kitchen
How to Shop for a Retro Kitchen — and Not Get Stuck with Junk
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: The Options and Costs
Light Up Your Landscape for Both Beauty and Safety on Dark Nights
You probably barely escaped a lawsuit when your grouchy neighbor (not the fun one) slipped on your dark driveway last January.

Avoid a replay (that could cost you lost work and soaring medical bills) on those how-is-it-dark-already winter evenings.

Some ways to use outdoor lighting:

Along driveways, sidewalks, porch and deck rails
Motion lights above the garage
Rope lights on deck and porch railings
Uplighting for trees and other features
LEDs last a long time and don’t use much energy. But they do require hard-wiring, which could require an electrician.

Solar lights don’t need wiring, but the light can be less bright.

Switch Your Fireplace to Gas for Instant Ambiance (and Lower Bills)
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Gas bill has you paying through the nose …

Science lesson: Most of the warm air from your beloved holiday hearth goes right out the chimney instead of into your room.

But you can reverse that climb in your heating bill by converting it to a gas fireplace insert.

Why fireplace inserts are better than wood:

You can turn them on and off with a remote.
They’ll work even when the power goes out (great during snowstorms, and possibly saving you on hotel bills).
They really do help lower heating bills.
You can even program some of them to turn on when your house reaches a certain temp.
A fireplace insert will totally revolutionize your winter — but it won’t come cheap. An insert is an investment of about $3,000 to $6,500 installed, says Charlie Turner, president of Cricket on the Hearth, Inc., in Rochester, N.Y., “but you’ll save money by using your furnace less and zone heating your living space better.”

Replace an Old Roof With a Colorful One (That’ll Keep Winter Out — Forever)
We know. You do not want to think about your roof right now.

But multiply that dread times snow, ice, and wind chill, and the appeal of a summer fix begins to emerge.

Plus, trying to make an iffy roof stretch through one more winter can mean ice dams, roof leaks, water in your walls, and interior damage. If that happens, goodbye beach getaways for the next several years.

And, yes, a new roof isn’t nearly as fun as buying that art deco dining table you’ve had your eye on. But then, maybe you haven’t seriously seen metal roofs, which come in some pretty cool colors. It could totally transform your home.

Metal roofs:

Never die. Correctly installed, they’ll last as long as your house.
Have great resale value because they last so long.
Weigh less than other roofs (less stress on your home’s structure).
Install faster than shingles because they come in sheets.
Shrug off heavy snow; it simply slides off, never sticking around.
Come in brighter colors than their muted competition.
They do cost more than traditional shingles, but if you live in an area with heavy snowstorms, and you plan to stick around for awhile, the worry-free nature of them is really sweet.

Wash Your Windows to Invite More Warming Sunlight Inside
You’re spoiled now, but think about how you’ll be salivating for sunlight in about six months.

Do yourself a sunny favor and clean your windows inside and out to bring in warm winter sunshine. You’ll save money on heating bills, brighten your house, and lift your mood.

Doing it now gives you a chance to spot potential issues such as cracked windows, a carpenter bee infestation, or warped siding — and still have time to fix them before temps drop.

If in your heart, you know you’re not going to do that (your heart always knows), a low-hassle option is to take the time in summer to book a pro in the fall — before they get swamped and won’t even answer your calls.

DIY Some Window Treatments to Keep It Cozy at Night
Wait, didn’t we just suggest allowing in the sunshine? Yes, so plan to keep your shades open during the day, but once the sun goes down, you’ll want to keep heat inside and freezing air out.

There’s a pretty neat DIY project called a Kume curtain that originated in Chile (how cool, is that?), which solves that problem.

They’re kind of like shades — but with four insulating layers that trap air, keeping your room toasty. And since you’re DIYing them, you can make them as fun and flattering as you like — while enjoying the last of summer’s warmth.

Tips To Make Perfect Kids Rooms

Designing kids rooms can be a real challenge. Your kids want a room that is all fun—from the choice of colors right down to easy toy access. You, on the other hand, need that space to be easy to keep clean and well organized. Don’t fret. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you put together your kids room so that it ends up being a place both you and your children can appreciate!

Themes and Colors

When choosing colors for your child’s room, there are a few things to consider. For starters, resist the desire to go too cute. Choose colors that are fun and lively, but also think about what your child will want their room to look like a few years down the road. If you don’t, you’ll likely find yourself calling the painter back in to cover up designs that a “big kid” will find too babyish when they get older. Also think about including a fun theme, such as farm or zoo animals. Nothing beats a good barnyard scene or animal safari when it comes to creating a place where your child’s imagination can run wild.

Think Multifunctional

Another key to creating ideal kids rooms is to think flexibility. The needs of children change rapidly as they move through different stages in their lives, so the furniture and other accessories you choose for their room should be able to change along with them. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Purchase a crib that can transform into “big kid” bed. Doing so will save you the trouble (and cost) of having to upgrade to a bigger bed as your child grows older.
  • Buy a changing table that can be used a dresser for storing clothes later on.
  • Look into multipurpose kids furniture, such as box chairs that can also serve as tables for coloring and tea parties when they are turned on their side. You’ll be thankful for these space-saving designs as your kid’s room begins to overflow with toys and other gifts from grandparents and friends.
  • Don’t forget you’ll be spending significant time in your child’s room as well. Make space for a comfortable lounge chair or rocker for reading stories to your children, and for those inevitable late nights spent rocking or singing your little night owl back to sleep.
When the Tornado Hits . . .

While creating a fun space that fosters creativity and learning should be at the top of your list when designing a room for your child, keep in mind that most kids’ rooms exist in a perpetual state of disorder. The best defense against the mess your child creates is good organization. Have quality shelving installed in closets and along walls for storing toys, books, and clothes. Shop for wall hangings and hammocks that double as homes for stuffed animals and dolls. And don’t forget a toy box or other toy organizer that is easy for your child to open and close. By providing an easy to get to place for your child’s toys and art supplies, you can encourage them to take an active role in keeping their living space neat and clean. For even more ideas, get in touch with an interior designer or organizing consultant to help you create a space that both you and your child will enjoy.

Learn More About Bedroom Design

You’ve probably heard the statistic that we spend about a third of our life asleep. This may seem like a waste: how could we squander away all that precious time? It’s not a waste though. We live busy lives: long hours at the office, a family waiting at home, combined with the other burdens of daily living: bills, cooking dinner, grocery shopping. So sleep is essential. However, recently, people have been breaking this age-old cycle by only getting a few hours of sleep a night, and this sleep deprivation hurts you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Many people skimp on sleep due to some form of insomnia, and though this may seem like a medical condition, it is often environmental as well. Which means your bedroom design may have something to do with your lack of zzz’s.

Make the Old New

Sometimes your bedroom decorating simply needs a change of atmosphere to make it more comfortable. If the room looks a bit unfamiliar it may help to create a getaway sensation: a vacation in your own home. And the easiest way to achieve this feeling is with a quick paint job. Often cool colors are a great way to produce a relaxing feel to the room, such as soft pinks or light blues and greens. You don’t even have to re-paint the entire room to make it look different. Create an accent wall by painting one wall a different shade from the other three. Or simply paint the trim around the doors or the molding around the ceiling an alternate color. Little changes can make a big difference.

Make the New Old

Maybe you have a bedroom design that is immaculate, modern, and beautiful. But is it comfortable? It’s important that a room still feel like home, and an easy way to achieve this is by adding some creature comforts. Some personal bedroom decorations add individual character to a space and make it more relaxing. Add some comfy pillows to the bed not only to create an interesting texture but also to add a relaxing impression to your subconscious as you go to sleep. Put up a few shelves for personal artifacts and knick-knacks. Throw some artwork or photographs on the walls. Install a mirror for between $280 and $400. Add anything to make the room feel more complete and personal, and therefore more peaceful as well.

For Bedroom Design, It’s the Bed, Stupid

When it comes to politics, it’s the economy. When it comes to the bedroom and getting a good night’s sleep, it’s the bed. You need to take your time and do your research for various options. Don’t buy into every new fad that you see, but don’t be afraid to make a change, either. Take, for example, the box springs. Many people still use box springs for their beds, even though today’s high-quality mattresses don’t really need them, anymore. Instead, you can install a platform bed and storage bed frame that can almost single-handedly modernize your bedroom, increase your storage capacity or allow you to get rid of that bulky dresser, and get a better night’s sleep. Not bad for a piece of furniture.

Bedroom Feng Shui

When you hear this term, you probably think of some intimidating new-age hocus pocus that shouldn’t be taken seriously. But really, at its essence, the philosophy behind bedroom feng shui is to rearrange and declutter a space so you can get the R-n-R you deserve. The belief is that the look of a living space reflects the life of the inhabitant. Although this form of bedroom design is a science (often involving chi and energy levels) that can take years to understand, here are some quick basics that serve as good general ideas for bedroom decorating and design:

Bedroom Design Ideas

  • Remove Technology: Get the television, the computer, and the treadmill out of the room. Not only is this inappropriate bedroom decorating (what is the room: a place to sleep or an office?), but it can also distract you. It can remind you of work, daily chores, or other to-do lists when this area should be associated with sleep.
  • Remove Clutter: If you have a messy room, you probably have a messy life. And how can you relax in bed if everything is out of order. Instead, organize the room as best you can and remove all disorder and confusion from the space.
  • Soft Light: How are you supposed to fall asleep under an interrogation lamp? Not only are soft colors relaxing, but by adding a soft lamplight or candlelight, your room’s light source will feel less harsh and more like a sunset.
  • Close Openings: In order to shut out all distractions, it may be a good idea to close your bathroom and closet doors at night. Also, shut your windows and center your bed against the wall. All these components may be more psychological than physical, but the more mentally focused and centered you feel, the better rest you’ll get at night.

Learn More About Perfect Guest Room

Though homeowners spend quite a bit of time on living rooms, kitchens, and bathroom remodels, guest rooms are one of the most often neglected spaces in the house. If you’re planning on having overnight guests within the next year, consider remodeling your guest room to make it more appealing and welcoming.

Step 1: Revitalizing Spare Room Walls and Flooring

First, examine the condition of the walls and flooring. Is the paint looking dull? Is the wallpaper outdated? Painting is the easiest and most inexpensive remodeling step, yet it can instantly create a fresh atmosphere that friends or family staying in your guest room will appreciate. Keep in mind that neutral or warm tones are generally the most inviting. If you want to put up new wallpaper, choose a nice soft pattern with a border to keep it simple.

What is the condition of the flooring? Is the carpet stained or worn? If so, replacing it with new carpeting will change the look of the entire room. If the carpet is in decent shape but a little matted down, you should consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner. If you have hardwood flooring, simply adding a new area rug will give your guest room a warmer touch and will make the area softer underfoot and more comfortable for visitors.

Step 2: Coordinate a Color Scheme

After deciding on colors for the room, try to coordinate comforters, sheets, window treatment, throw pillows, and chairs to match. A unified color scheme looks elegant and will make guests feel special.

Step 3: Increase Guest Room Storage Space

No one likes living out of a suitcase. No matter your guest’s length of stay, it is considerate to create storage space for their clothing and personal items while they are visiting. Clear out a drawer or two or make some space in the closet where they can hang clothes. Be sure to tuck some extra toiletries and fresh towels in one of the drawers as well!

Step 4: Remember Bathroom Access

How is the bathroom access from your guest room? Do guests have to walk down a long hall to get to the bathroom? If there isn’t a convenient bathroom near the guest room and space allows, maybe a small bathroom could be added and sectioned off within the room. This would require a larger budget but if it’s possible, your guests will be grateful.

Even a half bathroom could be added for extra convenience. This is an especially good idea if your family has frequent houseguests. A private bath in the spare room is a convenience that your company will appreciate, and will also cut down on crowding in the existing bathrooms when visitors come to town.

Step 5: Finishing Touches to Complete Your Guest Room

Sometimes the details can make all the difference in the world. Any of the following additions to your guest room will be much appreciated by all visiting guests: alarm clock, TV, radio, phone, reading lamp, fresh flowers or plants, and recent magazines or books.

Think about all of the things that make you feel comfortable when staying in someone else’s home and aim to include any luxuries you can afford in your guest room renovation. Even a few quick and simple touches can make all the difference, and your guests will surely thank you.

Tips To Building a New Home

Prospective homeowners should give careful consideration to their decisions when planning to build a home. A great home is one that you are happy to wake up in every day, which is efficient in its layout and usage, that is interesting yet practical, and that brings joy into the very basics of living. These 8 steps will help to guide you through the process:

1. Home Building: Plan and Design

The design process is the most important part of building your new home. No matter how good your blueprints are, no matter how competent your builder, your plan must be well thought out and logically developed to ensure a well constructed home that meets your needs, your lifestyle and your unique characteristics. A great home is one that you are happy to wake up in every day, which is efficient in its layout and usage, that is interesting yet practical, and that brings joy into the very basics of living.

It involves using creativity and visualization to look at the origin of your likes and dislikes and it involves honest communication with others: your spouse and/or children, your designer and builders, and your banker. Take the time to discuss compromises and different options. Visualize your finished home from the inside out, the feel of each room, corner and hallway-in short, what it will be like to live in.

2. Home Building: Regulation

Often there are many regulatory requirements that affect your project, from zoning to allowable setbacks, buildable area, height restrictions, sewage disposal, water and utilities.

3. Home Building: Budget

Too many people travel far down the road to their dream home only to find out that they can’t afford it, many times after construction is finished. Not only is it important to be perfectly clear about the overall cost of the home you wish to build, but of course, the amount of the monthly mortgage payment (factoring in for times of higher interest rates) and the effect on your overall life cash flow. And it is important not to include construction costs only.

There are additional ‘soft’ costs such as design and engineering fees, surveying, driveway and landscaping, septic fields, and building permit fees or development charges.

4. Home Building: Technical Aspects

Don’t leave out such things as constraints offered by the building site: access, wind and sun exposure, and septic field capacity.

5. Home Building: Evaluation

Assign areas where rooms will be, look at access and circulation, and begin assigning a budget. Undertake the difficult but extremely important step of matching your dream with the reality of your financial situation. It is important to build with unforeseen costs and extra spending for special features in mind. It may be necessary at this stage, to modify. Double up the function of a couple of rooms, eliminate some rooms entirely, finish the basement at a later date, tighten up the entire floor plan. The importance of this step cannot be over-emphasized. These are the critical decisions that still allow you to have the well designed and beautiful home you want at a price you can afford. At this point you may not have even looked at floor plans nor put pencil to paper. But you are well on the road to having an exceptional home.

6. Home Building: Drawing Process

This phase is best left up to a professional architect or building designer. It is helpful to both you and your service professional for you to right down some of your thoughts on paper and have a rough idea of what you want.

The professional you work with will help you establish relationships between the various rooms, help choose the primary orientation and the general feel of the home. This is the initial step to creating blueprints and should be reviewed many times by both the architect/building designer and yourself, the client. This is the time to make changes and add detail, because once the schematic drawings are finalized, it becomes much more costly to make changes so it is wise to spend extra time getting it right at the beginning.

7. Home Building: Design Development

Next comes the technical side of design; attaching exact dimensions to each room, calculating wall heights, roof pitches and stair details, construction methods, etc. Your home is definitely beginning to take shape.

8. Home Building: Working Drawings

There is little opportunity to make plan changes at this point, which become more expensive, but of course, less expensive than changes during construction. These drawings may include detailed specifications for materials and construction and schedules for doors, windows, and finishes.