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Furnishing Tips to Create the Illusion of Space

Since the economic downturn, millions of people have turned to renting over home ownership either because their homes were foreclosed upon, or because there was just no money to buy. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, the number of folks choosing to rent increased by 22 million between 2006 and 2014. Because the bulk of these rentals are within large metropolitan areas, this shift can mean not only downsizing the volume of home furnishings, it means learning to decorate with an eye toward creating the illusion of space. Below are a few helpful home decor ideas from Visualistan.com that will not only make an apartment or smaller space look and feel larger, but will help to create a coherent, functional layout in any size home.

Before getting started with creating your space, it is always best to plan and sketch your layout first. This not only saves your back from repeatedly moving furniture, but it will allow you to visualize how things will look once in place.

When planning your layout, it is important to consider function before all else. Will this be a room where people regularly gather? And, if so, how many and to do what? Below are some basic industry guidelines that will help to create a physically comfortable and visually appealing space:

1) In any room, seating should never be more than 8' apart in order to ease conversation.

2) In the bedrooms, allow at least 24" between the wall and the bed.

3) In the dining area, make sure to leave 48" between the table and the wall or nearest piece of furniture for comfort in moving about. If there is to be no traffic in a particular area, 36" of space should suffice.

4) For any room where television watching is the primary function, the ideal distance between the set and the seating should be three times the size of the TV (measured on the diagonal).

Beyond pure function, when planning the layout, consider floating larger pieces like sofas, loveseats and chairs. By positioning furniture 3"-4" from the wall, you create the illusion that the wall is further away than it really is.

One final thing to consider when sketching out your plans is angles: Know that symmetry in furniture placement creates a formal feel, while asymmetry or angling lends to a more casual feel.

Once your furniture is in place, it's time to go about decorating. The following hints are tried and true ways of creating the illusion of space in even the smallest of rooms:

1) Reflect the room: Carefully positioned mirrors are an ideal way to draw light, color and space into a room. Face mirrors lengthwise to increase the effect.

2) Consider stripes: Adding stripes to sofas or rugs (also placed lengthwise) helps to visually elongate a room.

3) Go see-through: Using glass or lucite pieces always adds an airy, open feeling to any space.

4) Hang low: Placing artwork lower on the wall creates the illusion of a taller ceiling.

5) Vary lighting sources. Instead of relying on one overhead light or two main lamps (as is often done on end tables in bedrooms or living rooms), strategically place floor and table lamps throughout the space. This inevitably creates texture and variation as it draws the eye toward different corners of the room.

It goes without saying to always keep rooms free and clear from clutter and unnecessary items. If toys or paperwork are inevitably going to pile up, use clean-lined storage bins to keep them contained in between use.

Enjoy your new spacious living!

Quick Projects for the Holidays or Any Time

Looking for a great last minute project? Whether you are an ardent do-it-yourselfer, or simply wishing for a unique way to make your home more festive this holiday season, Memphis design maven Amy Howard has just made it a whole lot easier. You can find her At Home line of paints, stains, lacquers and other do-it-yourself supplies at select area Ace stores. Known for her quality products and simplicity in design, there are dozens of projects that can still be completed in time for the holidays.

The following two project ideas from Amy Howard are not only simple and elegant ways to spruce up your holiday home decor, they can both be wonderful gifts or accent pieces for any occasion at any time of year.

Gilded Tile Trivets
For this project, you will need:

• Amy Howard at Home Gilding Size
• Amy Howard at Home Gold Leaf Sheets
• Ceramic Tile
• Orange tissue paper
• Foam Brush
• China Bristle Brush
• Damask (or your choice) Adhesive Stencil Pattern.
• Amy Howard at Home High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Bright Idea

1) Start with a clean, dry tile (a gentle degreasing agent like Simple Green is recommended).
2) Apply stencil to the top of the tile and with the foam brush, apply a thin layer of gilding size. Wait for gilding size to come to tack (20-30 mins).
3) Once the size has come to tack, apply gold leaf sheets in a linear motion (up to down, left to right) to the entire surface. Be sure to overlap the edges of the gold leaf sheets approximately 1/2".
4) Once the gold leaf is laid, place orange tissue paper over the tile and burnish thoroughly, but gently by hand. Remove tissue paper and using the bristle brush, remove any shards or extra pieces of gold leaf.
5) It's now time to lift the stencil, spray with Bright Idea to seal and voila! In just a few minutes, you've transformed an everyday tile into an elegant trivet, perfect for holiday coasters or to wrap in bows to give as gifts.

Red Lacquer Mirror
Say Happy Holidays to your visitors by transforming an old or plain mirror into a brilliant, festive piece for the entranceway or foyer. All you need is a mirror, a bristle brush and a can of Amy Howard at Home High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Brisson Red. For the holidays, placing brass or mercury accents around the mirror lend to the feel of the season.

Catching Up with the Latest Design Trends

While cutting-edge, luxury home design may seem quite irrelevant to the average homeowner, keeping up with the latest trends is actually a valuable tool in maintaining or increasing the value of one's current home regardless of the price range.

Just as those crazy, exaggerated fashion runway trends trickle down to the everyday consumer in a more subdued manner, so too do home trends set the standard for what will eventually become mainstream. Understanding these trends can help guide homeowners when it comes to basic repairs and renovations - keeping their home up-to-date, relevant and ultimately salable. And, if keeping your home for a lifetime is the plan, knowing the most up-to-date design and building trends can help increase the quality of everyday living by providing smart and often simple solutions to practical problems.

Boston real estate power duo Tom Matthews and Joanne Taranto share some of what they see happening in the world of home design and building on TomandJoanneteam.com and the range of ideas is rather impressive. From simple color schemes to high-tech advances, the following trends are sure to spark the imagination and offer-up some practical home design solutions.

Color Palettes:
We still have a few months to wait for Colors of the Year from the folks at Pantone and Sherwin Williams, but 2015 showed the continuation of a long trend of vibrant color. Sherwin Williams unveiled a stunning coral and Pantone named Marsala - a deep, rich coral brown as their choice of the year. If you're willing to lay out $750 for Pantone's color planner for 2016, you can get a preview of what's to come, but for the rest of us we will have to sit and wait.

Practical Solutions:
"Specialized storage" is an interior design trend to look for in the coming years. Losing ground are stuffed attics, basements and closets in favor of storage space that is built-in and in closer proximity to the actual living space where items can be more easily accessed. Mudroom bins for pet food and supplies are particularly hot and underseat storage may soon be standard fare.

High-tech Trends:
Smarthomes are dramatically increasing in popularity as the technology becomes more accessible. Features such as keyless entry, remote security, lighting on demand and temperature control are all finding their way into the average home by way of smartphone apps. Even technophobes are coming to understand the ways in which many of these trends can save time and money and increase quality of life. And, since wireless technology makes for easy retrofitting, many of these features are more affordable than ever before.

3D printing is perhaps the most new and enigmatic building trend out there, but it actually has very practical applications. It is best explained by imagining your home computer printer on a massive scale. And, instead of releasing ink onto paper, 3D printers release materials such as plastic or molten metals into whatever shape they were programmed to create. This process will enable builders to fabricate durable building materials on site with more precision, less waste and eventually at a lower cost.

The one trend for all homeowners to look out for, is solar conversion. On the fast track in development are solar shingles and solar glass windows - features that experts say will eventually become standard offerings. By converting solar energy into usable power in the home, these innovations have wide appeal not only to environmentally conscious homeowners, but to folks looking to save money in energy costs and see a higher return on their investments.

So, the next time you come across an article illustrating cutting-edge, luxury trends that appear to have no bearing on decisions you make for your home - take the time to check them out. As far-fetched or complicated as some may seem, most are grounded in practical solutions for better, more simple living.

It's Finally in! Pantone's 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid

Pantone's color system has informed and inspired countless industries for generations. From clothing designers, to home improvement experts to cosmetic manufacturers, Pantone's singular approach to mixing and matching color has been the most influential in the world since the 1960's. And so, in 2014 don't be surprised if everything from tea pots to tank tops appear in their color choice of the year: Radiant Orchid.

Pantone's deep-rooted influence begs the question: How do they go about choosing each year's reigning color? According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the colors are intended to be both a reflection and expression of a global "Zeitgeist" (directly translated from German as "the ghost of the times"). Depending on what the color gurus see as the current state of affairs in the world is how they decide what color to promote. Coming on the heels of last year's Emerald pick that was reportedly meant to symbolized growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid "...inspires great joy, love and health." Eiseman tells us. While some (especially economists) may argue that the need to continue on with last year's principles is stronger than ever, few can deny that there is ever a bad time to affirm the qualities Radiant Orchid embodies.

While Radiant Orchid may, at first blush, appear to be a hue far too bold to be considered as anything more than an accent color - especially when part of a more traditional home decor scheme - it's cool undertones makes it more versatile than one may think. The experts at Pantone recommend pairing it with neutrals like grey, beige and taupe to create a soothing, earthy atmosphere, and for a more vibrant look consider certain greens like olive and a deep hunter.

If you're not a fan of this year's pick, the next 365 days may be difficult, but as it always goes with color, it is best to try and keep an open mind. If you think you would never wear such a color, for example, try it just for fun. Radiant Orchid supposedly matches a wide range of skin tones, so it may be more flattering that you think. Likewise, if you are a color-phobe and have a home with wall-to-wall neutrals - especially those that coordinate and complement Radiant Orchid - grab a few throw pillows and see what happens. If you suddenly find your home full of joy and love, you will know why, when it comes to color, Pantone continues to be unmatched.

All you need is a photo and some imagination to redesign a room in the home with Crate and Barrel's 3D Room Designer.

Crate and Barrel 3D Room Designer Unveiled

Are you a Crate and Barrel shopper? Loyal customers will love their new 3D Room Designer, which will be available in all Crate and Barrel home store locations across the US on Wednesday, June 27.

The new 3D Room Designer -- developed in partnership with NedSense -- was the winner of the Moxie Award for Best Corporate Digital Innovation. It allows customers to convert a digital photo of a room into a 3D room model. Customers can then populate the room model with Crate and Barrel merchandise, swapping products and colors to find the perfect combination.

A consumer web application and iPad version are on the way.

Customers can either email their room photos to the store or bring them in by hand. All that's needed beyond that is a height measurement for the room and the width of an object on the wall in the photo. From there the 3D Room Designer will do the rest.

Sounds like a cool and fun tool for customers. Even if you don't walk away with C and B products for the room in question, you can at least get some inspiration and ideas from seeing the space virtually furnished and decorated.

Photo Credit Carl Magnus Johansson Ouch! You're on my hair!

Human Hair Furniture

Treehugger.com recently reported on a new furniture from Swedish designer Ola Giertz that uses hair from a hair salon in Helsingborg and recycled PET bottles to create two poufs. The plastic bottles were used to create the shells, and the hair was used as filling.

The transparency of the plastic poufs underlines the uniqueness of each piece, what with the randomness of the hair filling color, length and body.

No question that the product itself is unique. It's likely that the majority of would-be users might find the visibility of the filling to be a little off-putting, but there's bound to be a small number of homeowners who might enjoy owning such quirky furniture.

Would you want a pair of see-through, hair-filling, plastic poufs?

The new Man Candles.

Candles For Men

It's not much of a surprise to hear that men only make up 35% of the scented candle users in that market space. Don't believe it? Poke your head inside a candle store and count the chaps. We're betting they're always going to be outnumbered.

Yankee Candle is looking to change all that with the launch of their new Man Candles. A first-ever, limited edition line of candles, the Man Candle is created uniquely for men with scents inspired by hard work, fun and games.

Man Cave-worthy? We'll let the men out there decide.

The four scents are Man Town, First Down, Riding Mower and 2 x 4. With scents ranging from woods and musks to fresh cut grass and sawdust, Yankee Candle certainly put a bit of thought into the new line.

And apparently that thought is paying off. The company claims that one of the scents is currently the number one selling product out of their 4,000 items available and website visitors have increased by 167%.

A perfect Father's Day gift? It just may be…

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