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Create joyful bedrooms that please both teens and adults

Sometimes it seems that adults and their teenage children have little in common, but both share a love of comfortable, happy spaces.Where you live - not just the town or the street, but the space - makes a huge difference in your outlook on life, and you can make a happy space anywhere. House Beautiful magazine shared some gleeful ideas for incorporating happiness into bedroom decorating.Accent with orange pillow shams and a bedspread, suggested designer Susan Noble Jones, referring to the master bedroom in a cottage in New Orleans."Orange is warm and bright, and those attributes, to me, equal happiness," she noted.Get in the groove, added Katie Maine of Maine Design, who transformed an ordinary attic space into a much-treasured teenage refuge."It would have been a sad little attic-like space if we didn't make an effort to turn it into a super-groovy teenage girl's room. To make the room seem bright, we added skylights and printed the wallpaper on Mylar to reflect the light around."Begin with the bed House Beautiful also looked at the focal point of the bedroom - the bed - and identified some cheerful improvements. Sara Ruffin Costello, a New York interior designer who moved to New Orleans, share her expertise on ways to transform a bedroom by redecorating a bed. In one Louisiana home, she opted for a somewhat disheveled approach."It's more romantic, a little sexier than a perfectly made bed ... The linen sheets are unironed, the duvet and blanket are a bit rumpled, the pillows tossed in an imprecise pile - perfectly imperfect!" she remarked.Real Simple magazine presented other ideas for making the bed inviting and relaxing, including using nature-inspired patterns on the bedspread. A printed bedspread is almost always a traffic-stopper and can set the tone for the entire room.Light well and romantically Real Simple offered guidelines for lighting bedrooms as well, beginning with the theme: cozy, warm and cocoon-like.Lighting sources should coexist with the bed but not be focused on it, and track fixtures should be pointed at the dressing area instead. Bedrooms offer plenty of options for gracious lamps for reading or wall sconces with flickering electric candles that frame the bed on each side. Bedrooms are also the perfect spaces for dimmer switches, which may be accented by decorative switch plates and outlet covers that extend the thematic and romantic appeal.

Decorating outdoor space for spring? Think Cafe de Paris.

Late winter is the perfect time for California Dreaming - or even Parisian Dreaming - if you have a deck or patio yearning for spring.Since it's always better to start with a theme, why not go to the sidewalk cafes of the Left Bank for inspiration? Just about anything that works there, in terms of lighting and decorating, can work in your home's outdoor annex just as well.Buy bistro table and cafe chairs  You might start by borrowing a wonderful idea from the French - cafe seating, with cafe chairs clustered around two or more bistro tables, assuming you have enough space. If not, you'll get great results, plus a feeling of intimacy, with a single table and two chairs. EzineArticles pointed out that you can simulate a charming cafe in almost any outdoor space, from balconies and patios to concrete slabs and patches of dirt. It's the romance, not the real estate, that counts.Then give it a personal touch: Buy tables first, then add chairs, bar stool or benches.Real Simple magazine recommended choosing the furniture carefully, beginning with wrought iron, a sturdy material that stands up to wind and weather gracious and does look, after all, authentically Parisian, and quoted Ashleigh Kosin, owner of Bell Tower Outdoor Living Company, about how to keep the pieces looking new. "Purchase touch-up paint when you buy wrought iron," he advised. That way, you can give the seams a bit of care as the season begins and ends, minimizing the chance of rust.Plant for perfection Your location, season and the hardiness of various plans will determine what you can do, but plants generate an atmosphere that is downright healthy, just as they do in a home or restaurant.HGTV opted for punctuating a porchful of plants with a floral rug in shades of green and yellow. Add a cart, fill it with plants and candles, and let the romance -or relaxation - begin.Light up the night Better Homes and Gardens magazine identified some truly brilliant ideas for lighting decks and patios, beginning with blending deck lighting with screens. Not only does this give you more quality time outdoors, but wiring outdoor lights to decorative screens adds subtle illumination, ideally similar to a full moon.Another small but stunning improvement is to replace standard switch plates and outlet covers with your choice from an assortment decorative versions, with themes and colors that add just the right touch, no matter where you live.

Frugal options for do-it-yourself decorating

Do-it-yourself projects will always cost less than hiring a contractor, but some decorating projects don't cost anything at all.If you approach a decorating project with a budget of zero, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can work with and where you can find it.Start in Australia That's the home of RecyclingNearYou, an environment-friendly collection of ideas for reusing and repurposing almost anything. For example, instead of buying coasters to protect a table, consider what fun you can have gluing two old CDs together to create a truly unique coaster. Or, collect your old wine corks and store them in a mason jar. Not only do you have an intriguing decorative accent, but you also have a stamp to use when painting. If you glue the corks to a plank of wood, you'll also have a most unusual corkboard for hanging in your kitchen or home office.Come the holidays, you really don't need to buy a tree when you can simply gather branches and make your own. Simply arrange them in a tall vase or large pot and start decorating.Real Simple, real frugal Real Simple magazine offered an array of no-cost ideas for working with what you already have to craft a new look. For example, begin with a basic headboard and hang a splashy quilt over it. Now you have color, character and a quilt that will keep you warm.Another Real Simple idea is really quite fun: Take your old bracelets - and this works with a little girl's bracelets as well - and turn them into napkin rings. It's easy and free, yet it manages to add whimsy and personality to any dining area.You can also paint the legs - just the legs - of a battered old chair. You now have a side table for holding magazines that camouflage a worn-out seat beautifully.Woman's Day magazine also uncovered some unique ways to use items already in your home - or, more likely, in your storage area. Take the immense platter you use only at Thanksgiving and give it a new home on your living room wall, or take your ice bucket to the guest bath to cradle guest towels.Little purchases for giant impact Don't overlook the power of details, and craft shops can be your ally for selecting ribbons, buttons and yarn that you can use ever so creatively.Decorative switch plates and plug covers can also add a spark of genius at a relatively low cost, especially if you choose a theme like music and dance or gems and jewels.

Fresh ideas for decorating with dividers

Creative room dividers blend the openness of a large space with the utility of defined rooms for an engaging new look.Dividers have many functions, including delineating specific spaces, adding extra privacy, concealing clutter and, best of all, creating decorating touches that refresh a room. There's really no limit on what you can do.Better Homes and Gardens magazine, for example, suggested using windows as room dividers - a brilliant idea, since there's no reduction in ambient light. The article indicated a wall of multipane windows between the living room and the front hallway results in an airy feeling for both areas. Shelves below the windows not only add another point of separation but open storage and display areas as well.A variation on the windows theme is to use built-ins as dividers. Storage and style happen simultaneously with a wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry that fashions a cheerful separation between front entry and kitchen. Frosted-glass inserts on upper cabinets produce out-of-sight storage with a breezy feel. Better Homes also showed how to define space with beams and columns: A home with an open floor plan and vaulted ceilings is warmed up beautifully with rustic wood beams and columns affixed to the walls and ceiling. Not only do they break up the space into manageable areas, but they form a false doorway between entry and living room. Since these are structural additions, you can also take the opportunity to decorate with designer switch plates and plug covers.Screen it for simplicity Elle Decor called decorative screens one of the best ways to add drama and functionality to a space. Elle quoted New York designer Milly de Cabrol about how these panels can add glamor to a space: "Screens really do decorate a room ... Everybody hides things behind screens," de Cabrol told the news source.She added you can use them as headboards, with suitcases hidden behind them or even set one up to camouflage guests' coats during a party. They are particularly lovely when covered in silk or lacquered with exotic landscapes.What's more, screens come ready-made in a wide range of styles and themes. If you have a country home, for instance, you might prefer a wooden three-panel glass screen. De Cabrol remarked that its carved wood detail and painted finish on one side give it a versatile charm:"It's got that rustic French feeling, so it's perfect for a country house ... The glass panes are also wonderful because the light shines through."

How to add magic to a young child's room

The same premise that makes Disney World so special is one you can use in decorating a room for a young boy or girl.It's magic. Surprisingly, with a little creativity, that magic can be achieved enjoyably and without great effort or expense.HGTV devoted several articles to the subject, and the result is a wealth of ideas you can adapt for your home, even if the budget is limited. Home decorators at HGTV recommended you consider creating a miniature art gallery - actually a wall of artwork. Begin with a colorful bedspread and carry the colors to the wall of gallery-style art. Your little one may even be old enough to help you select the "artworks" from flea markets and craft shops. It's enjoyable, it's inexpensive and there are no wrong choices.Imagine a timeline Another approach is to use the child's actual photo images and build a photo timeline showing little Courtney as a newborn in her brother's arms, a 1-year-old celebrating Christmas and a 5-year-old on the steps of her kindergarten. The possibilities are endless, since you can add to or redo the wall as the child grows to adulthood, blending old and new and keeping it fresh, relevant and fun.Add a reading nook Real Simple magazine introduced a school-days theme with built-in seating for sharing books with your child any time - not just bedtime. Large cubbies store books efficiently and attractively, and recycled school lockers can hide items of all sizes that would otherwise occupy floor space - and not so attractively.If your child is a Winnie the Pooh fan, you can even add a special switch plate to the wall, or choose from a wide array of decorative switch plates with animal and sports themes.You can display your child's own artwork, masterpieces all, by hanging them on wire you can string from wall to wall for a practical, affordable alternative to tape or nails. Promote play Bedrooms aren't just for sleeping, and Real Simple shared ideas for making the space playful as well. You can design a play area using a low table with storage drawers beneath for clothes for dress-up, blocks for building castles and masks for creating scary characters. The magazine even identified toys you can make, including a sailboat fashioned from a milk carton and a barn made of cardboard, toothpicks and popsicle sticks, accompanied by horses from wine corks and sheep from of balls of yarn.Inspiring your little one's imagination - now that's magic.

Tips for decorating in the spirit of high-end hotels

Sometimes a "staycation" is just what you need, and you can make it fabulous with some hotel-inspired decorating.California Home + Design magazine identified several hotels around the state with sensational do-it-yourself ideas for homeowners.San Francisco's Japantown is home to Hotel Tomo, which, with its anime murals and unfettered use of Japanese pop culture, is a good illustration of high style, low budget. The standard headboard in rooms in the hotel have been replaced with an inexpensive sheet of unfinished plywood, bolted to the wall and enlivened with spots of color added by the pillows, bedspread and table-topper.In Palm Springs, the Parker is known for playfully themed rooms like the Gene Autry residence, where the singing cowboy once lived, and for its artful use of textures in decorating. One room, for example, features wire seats covered with a textural lambswool, though you could also choose faux fur or chenille to give them a unique character. The hotel uses this approach in many rooms with pillows and throws with a soft and cuddly feel.Killefer Flammang designed guest rooms that beautifully highlight the understated elegance of the Hotel Wilshire in Los Angeles. Especially noteworthy is the unconventional choice and placement of art. The gorgeous blue of a painting increases in impact if it's small and placed off to the side, adding drama in a way a larger, more centered piece could not.Woman's Day magazine also featured hotel-driven ideas for turning a simple space into a sumptuous refuge.In the bath, think spa Women's Day quoted Kris Kolar, vice president and style director for Robb & Stucky, about one of the easiest ways to transform a bath:"In good hotels, the mirror in the bathroom's going to be huge ... The right mirror will make the whole bathroom look more expensive - and larger, too."Another way to make a bath more polished is to install elegant switch plates and decorative plug outlet covers that either complement or contrast with key colors and themes.Approaching your bath as a mini-spa may come to life with plush towels, pretty flowers and flickering candles, it also demands a certain mindset, added Kolar:"Things are more Zen in both the bathroom and the bedroom at upscale hotels." she added.Chinese antiques or reproductions tend to induce the relaxing atmosphere of a resort spa, she said, and a  bamboo bath mat features clean lines, organic materials, a neutral color - and a relaxing vibe.  

Secrets for decorating your bath: It's all about the small stuff

While remodeling an entire bath can be pricey and messy, redecorating is a simple matter of attention to detail.You may privately want a claw-foot tub, but your left brain decided that it just wasn't worth the cost or the chaos. So where do you go from there to give your bathroom a refreshing new face?Start small When you don't need to remove and replace major fixtures, redoing a bath can be wallet-friendly fun. House Beautiful magazine called on well-known designers to help compile a list of little things that can mean a lot when redecorating a bath. Noted interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale put it succinctly:"Make your bathroom feel like a spa. Buy fabulous overscale towels in a new color. Add a few small candles and light them at night when you have guests." New York designer Ashley Whittaker suggested you first look in the mirror and create some fun:"Find a great antique mirror for your powder room. The slight mottling of vintage glass seems to make those tiny lines and wrinkles miraculously disappear. And when people know they look great, they have more fun."Way beyond white If your bath is white, white, white, Real Simple magazine showed how to change all that with a touch of pink. Not only can you transform the entire space by simply adding a new overhead fixture, but you can also hang a dramatic magenta shower curtain to focus on the most relaxing area of the room. If you don't want to replace light fixtures, you can adopt a small change with a big impact: Replace existing standard switch plates and outlet covers with new ones that feature the theme or colors you want to accentuate.Designer Mona Ross Berman told House Beautiful that bold colors in a bath make a remarkable statement:"Powder rooms are places where you can gild the lily ... We used a loud geometric in a bright ocean blue to give it a slightly over-the-top feeling." For design consultant Ellen O'Neill, however, there's nothing quite like red and white stripes for achieving drama:"There's a discipline to stripes ... When I worked at Ralph Lauren, we attended stripe class - awning stripes, regimental stripes, ticking stripes - I love them all."Towels from her former employer's collection complement the look.A final thought from Real Simple: If you have room, consider adding an old hutch or antique kitchen cabinet to the bath. Not only will it give character, it will also contribute precious storage space for towels, shampoo, soaps and towels.

Perk up your closets, and organize your life

If you've ever stood in front of your closet half-awake and felt your wardrobe spinning out of control, now is the time to get inspired and take action.Cleaning and organizing closets may be considered one of the least interesting household projects, but all that can change with a spark of inspiration and a few good ideas.USA Today once called Julie Morgenstern, professional organizer, productivity consultant and author, the "queen of putting people's lives in order." House Beautiful interviewed her on the subject of transforming closets, and she replied that the secret might be in shedding what's not needed rather than organizing what's there:"Not long ago, I shed most of the clothes in my closet. I asked three questions of each garment: Do I love it? Is it flattering? Is it the image I want to project: receptive, strong, sexy? Before I knew it, my closet was 80 percent empty."The feeling, she said, was amazing: Not only did the closet feel light and fresh, but she actually slept better that night than she had in years.What to throw out The question, of course, is what to shed, and Morgenstern had a laundry list of answers: Anything that doesn't fit and probably will be out of style when it does, anything that's stained, torn or has lost its shape, shoes that hurt and out-of-style belts and scarves.​Morgenstern recounted a simple question that will help if you have trouble separating the trash from the treasures. She advised asking yourself the following:"If all of this were to be gone tomorrow, what would I miss? Write your answers on a sticky note and post them on the wall. Keep referring to it while you sort and shed."Take the next step Real Simple magazine compiled a number of suggestions for transforming the resulting space into an area that's both functional and attractive.If your closet is large enough - and definitely if it's a walk-in closet - add a mirror. The simple act of hanging a mirror turns a closet into a dressing area, and you can make it even more engaging by adding a cedar switch plate or decorative plug cover.For steadying piles of sweaters, use shelf dividers, and pack accessories such as scarves and underwear in clear plastic drawers. You can also consider using customizable wire drawers to help items stay in place, and if your handbags tend to land in a large pile on the floor, know there's a better way: Simply hang the bags on shower curtain hooks.The result will be a delightful space to encounter at the start of your day.

Valuable tips for making a home office more livable, workable

If this is the year you'll be working from a home office, you can start by delineating your space, owning it and lighting it with care.It sometimes happens that the same people who approach most rooms of their home with a thoughtful eye to decorating, furnishing and accessorizing will treat the home office space as an afterthought. It's understandable, since it's a working space rather than a living space.That's not quite true, however: Any area where you spend a third or more of your time is definitely about living, and a well-designed home office can be quite a pleasant place to live and work.First define the space Not everyone can designate an entire room of their home or apartment to the office, but that doesn't mean you can't define the space itself quite effectively. A recent article in Forbes magazine quoted the online home decorating experts at Houzz as noting that you can create a designated workspace in various ways, such as adding a door, using a loft area or even just changing the flooring material. For example, if you've carved your home office from a corner of your wood-floored living room, consider using an area rug to represent your office area, and group your desk, file cabinets, computer equipment and other necessities into that area. The rug, by the way, need not be a major expense, and you might consider shopping for a remnant large enough to accommodate the office furniture.Now make it yours The Forbes article also mentioned the importance of knowing your personal productivity style. If you're a minimalist and wall art or files you're not using tend to be a distraction, simply replace the art with a certificate or diploma and put the files away. Shelving that can be closed is perfect for the spartan work style. On the other hand, if attractive watercolors or interesting sculptures stimulate your creativity, place them where you can see them, and work away. Light it for productivity Like any room, a home office demands a careful approach to lighting, not just for functionality but also to keep you at your best and brightest. Experiment with wall and table lamps for a soft, non-tiring effect, and think about accessorizing the light sources with decorative plug covers and switch plates to give the space a bit more personality. HGTV compiled an array of ideas for warming up the space by using  furnishings, window treatments and lighting - even a chandelier would not be out of place in certain spaces. 

Decorating ideas for welcoming spring, one snowflake at a time

Depending on where you live, today's weather may be unbearably cold and snowy: All the more reason to touch up your living space for an upcoming celebration of spring.HGTV relayed a number of ways to welcome spring, many of which you can begin well before the season actually arrives. The key is to go green, and emerald is the color of the year. Begin with the dining room If you're up for hanging a bit of wallpaper - even if it's just a single wall - a brightly colored wallpaper in a formal dining room can add the natural appeal of green and brilliant tomato red hues to make late winter and early spring meals just that much warmer. Top the wallpaper with an eye-catching switch plate or decorative plug cover, and you have a refreshing new look.Whatever you do, think fresh: Set out bowls of raw fruit, sweeten with an arrangement or bud vase of cut flowers and, if you enjoy ripe brie or camembert, place an attractive wedge in a cheese dome on the table. Finish with a bright table topper - buy one or make one from a length of any fabric that catches your fancy. While you're at it, buy several different fabrics so you can change the look as often as you change your mood.Move on to living areas The living room is another area that could use the blessings of spring, and it doesn't require an expensive transformation. House Beautiful magazine suggested piling on the pillows generously, choosing a range of colors and shapes. There's no need to replace furniture at substantial cost if you can replace pillows at minimal cost.Real Simple magazine emphasized that if you have a fairly basic sofa and arm chairs, you can actually change the theme of the room, from, say, traditional to modern, with an astute choice of throw pillows. The magazine quoted T. Keller Donovan, an interior designer in New York City and Miami on the number of pillows: Arrange an odd number, such as three or five, rather than more traditional pairs, and choose larger pillows over smaller ones. "Too much punctuation," is the way Donovan described a wild jumble of pillows.The magazine also interviewed Andrew Flesher, interior designer with Gunkelman Flesher Interior Design in Minneapolis, on the subject of fabrics, and he commented that large geometric prints on smooth, tightly woven fabrics such as cotton and linen work well in a modern environment. His basic advice about choosing colors could apply to virtually any room:"Pull them from a piece of art that's in the room," he commented, and work with it.


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