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Posts Tagged ‘Home’

Dining rooms are the one room in the house that often gets overlooked. Situated somewhere off the kitchen, a hallway, entry, or all three, this room is commonly underused and neglected. Furniture companies want you to buy the matching table, chairs, sideboard…but I love, love, love to decorate this room with unexpected touches and a bit more creativity. Just like the kitchen, a dining room should be a place to gather. Even if you don’t have a formal dining room, the table and chairs that you do dine at are what you need to focus on.

My family and I play board games, read, draw, and basically goof around at our table. It sits between a very large fireplace and a 3-panel glass door that overlooks the backyard, so it’s a cozy place to be in the winter and every other season allowing nature to take part in the fun. Right now, I can see the snow falling and my dogs playing and making tracks that they’ll run through again and again. The birds are eating their food from a feeder tucked away in the apple tree, and pine boughs are gently swaying under the weight of all that snow. Even if we don’t always sit down for dinner, we are always at that table. Decorated with a flat-bottom basket filled with a lantern, tea lights, and a vase of greens, it’s often strewn with books and papers ready to pick up when needed. Life happen at this table—breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, serious and not-so-serious talks, late night homework sessions, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Choose a table you love. Rectangle or square, round (perfect for tight spots) or oval; it should feel good to sit at. Mine happens to be a table that was made for my mother more than 40 years ago. It’s seen its share of everyday living, and because it’s made from a soft wood, I can still see the impression of a word or two every now and then, so it’s draped with a large fabric remnant I use as a tablecloth. Those words etched into its surface are from my children and I couldn’t bear for them to disappear with a sweep of a sander. And let’s not forget the chairs. Don’t bother matching. Swap out the two end chairs for upholstered wing chairs like I do, or swap out side seats for a bench, or better yet, a settee or sofa. Add pillows; toss a throw or two over the backs to make dining, talking, or just being as comfortable as possible. Tables don’t need to be centered in the room either. Dare to move the table to the side of the room so the dining room can now become a multi-functional space.

A dining room should more than just a place to dine, it should be a room used often, and with love.

For more dining room inspiration, check out my other posts here, here, and here.

Kim Merritt – http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/

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Homes are like people; it’s the life that exists inside them that is important.  Don’t be limited by stereotypes, consider these “truths” next time you hesitate to love a small space:

Always paint with light colors: Of course this will brighten a room, but a dark color in a well-lit room can look even better – cozy, welcoming and warm.

Small room, small furniture:  Be wary of the doll house look. Yes, there is wonderful furniture out there that is scaled for apartment living, but too much of it can make a home appear off-balance and well, a bit weird… Combine large and small pieces for symmetry.

Using little, or no accessories, will make it appear larger:  Avoid clutter, but do use your accessories to enhance the space. Mirrors will always bring in more light, and cluster your wall accessories a bit higher than normal to create interest and draw the eye upwards.

Beige and white all the way: Neutral pallets are a wonderful base for any home, but they have to be amped up with texture and/or color (otherwise the room will just float away into a sea of nothingness).

Keep floors clear and open: Area rugs are great in small spaces. They can visually anchor an entire room, and, an oversized rug, will usually make a room appear bigger.

Place sofas and chairs against the wall for maximum space:  Yes, it will give you more square footage, but not necessarily more space. Experiment with angles and different furniture placements before placing them against the walls.

Built-ins and storage units are too big for small spaces: This is where you may need to measure and be creative. Think corner units, shelves placed high up and shadow boxes for display. Mount a television on the wall, or place it on (or inside) a piece of furniture that has additional storage.

Never underestimate the value of a small room; use it, play with it, experiment with scale and color. Make it into something wonderful!

http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ And, thanks to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/davemorris/ for the use of his photograph.

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This time of year just begs for us to go outside. For me that means just another excuse to decorate! Before the daffodils have finished blooming my head is reeling with ideas and dreams of what I would like to see in my garden.

Not surprisingly, most of my thoughts turn to nooks; places to sit, read, sleep or eat. I covet outside rooms where I can be with friends or just sit and watch the day go by. 

My grandparents lived in a row house when I grew up. The garden behind the house was a perfect rectangle, about 20 feet wide by about 40 feet long. Little concrete paths leading to compact, tidy shapes that were filled with vegetables and flowers. A compost pile and a greenhouse were neatly placed at the very back, next to a wooden gate that led to the neighbor’s garden.

My grandfather would be considered a Master Gardener by todays standards; it came easily to him, and he knew instinctively how to combine the art of design with the necessity of function. I loved that garden. To me, it was crammed full of adventure, constantly changing and filled with places to explore.

In the middle was the perfect patch of mown grass, often scattered with daisies and the occasional toadstool (just enough to keep the fairies occupied). But, the most special part of all was the secret garden.
When you walked out the back door, to the left you were met with a rose-covered wooden structure. Another turn led you to an opening.  Inside the opening was a room completely filled with roses. I can still see the room in my head.

There was a bench inside, and I would sit and try to break off the thorns on the roses without hurting myself; when successful I would drop them on the ground, forgetting that later on one of us would probably step or kneel on them. When Summer was at its fullest the room was like a beautiful cave that transported you to another world. You were hidden from view, surrounded by the almost overwhelming scent of tangled roses. Winter made it harsh and cold looking, still beckoning, but not quite as friendly to small children.

All it takes to create an outdoor room is an idea. It doesn’t have to be literal, it just has to have a feeling. Think of what you would like it to be, then dream about how you will get it there.

(of course, if dreams don’t do the work for you, feel free to use plants, furniture or structural pieces)

Wendy Wrzos  www.thebluegiraffe.com

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