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Dazzle guests immediately with an elegant entryway

Focusing on the living room, dining room and kitchen is immensely important for homeowners who often host guests, but the real interior expert knows that the foyer sets the groundwork for the rest of the home. Committing an entryway error can mean giving new guests the wrong impression the moment they're invited inside. Instead, use your foyer to portray the elegance present in every other room of your house or apartment. Necessary accessories There are several functional and classy foyer items that are used by entryway professionals that you can use, too. A few little accessories make all the difference in your home's front room. A mirror is one critical element of the entryway.A mirror can liven up a barren wall or open up a smaller foyer space, and it has the added benefit of showing you what you look like just before going out into the world. It's a must for people who pride themselves on always looking their best. Almost all interior decorators hate the idea of leaving shoes lying around in the front room, but for homes with expensive rugs just outside of the foyer, leaving shoes at the door is non-negotiable. That's why incorporating a sophisticated shoe shelf can relieve a lot of stress for homeowners. Buy a shoe shelf that is small but has enough space to accommodate house guests. Diehard decorators can invest in a shoe shelf with a door to hide the mass of footwear. It can be a bit of an eyesore.Artwork adds style The entryway is a perfect place to show off a bit of artwork to give guests a sense of your space and add a feeling of Zen and introspection before perusing the rest of your home. Try putting an small sculpture on a table against the wall or put a favorite painting near the doorway. Whatever you choose, make sure the piece says something about yourself or the rest of your home.Don't be afraid to be a little artsy with other features in the front room, too. Use a different, more elegant interior front door handle or use a unique switch plate for the light switch just on the other side of the door. Expertly changing switch plate styles in the foyer can show your true entryway genius. Use a nature themed switch plate for the porch light or try and match it to the exterior of the house. At the same time, use a more decorative or fancier switch plate for the switch that controls the interior lights. Mixing styles is both functional and classy in this context. Your guests won't ever have to ask which switch controls what, and the attention to detail is sure to catch their eye.

Controlling light can help treat light sensitivity

Photophobia, commonly known as a sensitivity to light, is fairly common and can often be alleviated with simple changes to your home and office lighting.While this sensitivity may be the result of a corneal abrasion, burn or disease, according to the National Institutes of Health, that's usually not the case, and simple remedies such as wearing dark or tinted glasses, darkening the room or avoiding direct sunlight may help quite a bit. Some people experience light sensitivity without any eye disease. It's wise, of course, to have your eyes checked by a professional if you suddenly notice this sensitivity. Otherwise, there are steps you can take to feel better. The U.K. Royal National Institute of Blind People, dedicated to eye health education, asserted that there's a scale of light sensitivity, and some people are simply more sensitive to light than others. Also, growing older can bring about sensitivity, since eye changes occur even when without disease.Ways to feel better The most obvious way to ease the discomfort of light sensitivity is by wearing hats and sunglasses that shade eyes from light and glare. The National Eye Institute, part of the NIH, recommended choosing sunglasses with care. While they're certainly a great fashion accessory, their real job is to protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.Control your environment Even if it's not a question of light sensitivity, you may discover that the lighting in a room is just too bright, but without it, the room is too dark. The simplest answer? Replace standard wall switches with dimmer switches, which give you precise control over the intensity of the light. Most often used with incandescent, not fluorescent, lighting fixtures, they work well in most homes and many offices and can be attached to almost any internal lighting to vary the brightness or dimness. Basically, they work by increasing or decreasing the amount of power supplied to the light.Pick your spots Ideally, you could use dimmer switches in every room, but start with the areas you use the most or that have the greatest impact on your electric bill. Some surveys have shown, surprisingly, that the master bedroom lighting accounts for as much as 15 percent of electricity consumption - and that's including high-use appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and washer/dryers.Remember, too, that dimmers are decorating tools, so you might consider adding elegant switch plates, decorative plug covers and versatile wall lamps when you install the switches.

Decorating tips for a mini makeover at a paltry price

While some remodeling projects can be costly, decorating can be strictly do-it-yourself if you're on a budget.Sure, new flooring or roofing or remodeling entire rooms can be expensive, but you can often give your home a mini makeover at a price ranging from low to free. The key is to use little things to make a big impact. For example, unexpected touches like three-dimensional switch plates or decorative plug covers give style in an otherwise ordinary spot.You're limited only by your own creativity, but following are some bright ideas that can help you start brainstorming on your own. Real Simple magazine offered an adorable and versatile idea for using cubbies, in various heights and facing front, to make side tables for displays and lighting. Inside the cubbies, the sky's the limit: Try bowls of fruit or holiday ornaments, sculptures or bits of history - anything that expresses your personality and makes you feel good.Begin at home Eclectic is always in style, and decorating in that vein lets you group any number of items in any way you like. Better Homes and Gardens magazine advised starting with what you have - a truly economical approach. Comb your cellar, attic or storage space for heirlooms and curiosities that add some spice to a shelf or table top, or scour the flea markets for antique toys or vintage fabrics.The secret is to use just a few of these keepsakes to minimize clutter and accentuate charm.Use this, not that House Beautiful magazine detailed its own array of low-cost decorating tips, such as replacing your bathmat with a real rug, your coffee table with a tray-topped ottoman and your empty corner with a potted tree. As for lighting, layered is better and four lamps trump two, since you need ambient light for mood and direct light for reading. According to House Beautiful, you should love your closets. Paint them, paper them and hang pictures in them. And definitely light them.Look locally Country Living magazine highlighted a wall's worth of wildflowers, pressed by a local artist, in the center hall of an antebellum Georgia house. Below the wildflowers, a salvaged church pew strewn with pillows sewn from turn-of-the-century grain sacks showed a most charming expression of local history.Why not try hunting for collectibles in your town? Half the fun is finding little under-appreciated gems, and you can have a great time exploring local shops, craft shows and yard sales. And don't neglect online sites like and, where one person's trash can be another person's treasure.

Make your home sunny for summer

Old man winter has skulked away for a long nap, and spring and summer are upon us. As the seasons change it can be fun to change the inside of your home to match the climate outside. Let some light in What's the point in having more hours of daylight if it's not shining into your home? Sheer curtains let the bright sunlight in, and an indoor garden can bring a breath of fresh air into the home. No matter how far from the beach you are, a nautical theme can help scare away the winter blues. Lightly colored or pastel furniture can brighten up any room, but add some sheer curtains to the windows and see it really shine. Choose classic white, or if you're going for something more colorful, lightly colored orange, pink or yellow can make it seem like the sun is shining even brighter. Tight budget? Even a simple floor-length bolt of fabric will do the trick. When night falls, you can use translucent-colored lampshades to keep the house colorful, and accessorize with spring and summer decorative wall plates. Go green inside If you're not the outdoorsy type but you love fresh herbs when you cook, an indoor herb garden is the perfect way to keep your tomato sauce flavorful. Some may relegate their gardening to the colder months, but with an indoor garden you can liven up your home and save on sun block.Organic Gardening suggests placing the plants on the windowsill for sunlight - perhaps in the kitchen for easy access. Switch on the colorful lights at night with a garden-themed decorative plug cover accenting your indoor oasis. Party on the porch Tone down the color and light scheme a little on your sun porch with white wicker furniture and a sea shell path leading up to the stairs. Better Homes and Gardens illustrates, how with a little hard work, you can create a shady outdoor spot out of the sun. 

Designers around the country spot new trends in color, accessories, window treatments

Home decorating magazines aren't the only places to find interesting angles and helpful tips: For regional trends, you might want to check local and national newspapers.Simple and natural The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported sightings of practical and renewable designs and a "less is more" mindset, and talked to award-winning Austin designer Pablo Solomon, who encouraged an uncluttered approach focusing on quality, not quantity, in selecting furnishings, artwork and floor coverings.Natural is always in style, and this season you can integrate pillows embellished with feathers and lamps adorned with faux gems, along with tall plants and pots of herbs, into any decorating motif.Bold and blush - and white For the Santa Fe New Mexican, no report of trendy styles would be complete without a discussion of contrasts, in color and furnishings. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn pointed to the return to the 1980s' use of soft pinks - blush tones - that he likes to combine with bold, masculine accents. He told the paper that he contrasts his favorite blush paint with navy blue."The deep, rich personality of the navy actually washes out the blush, almost causing it to look white, and the overall effect is fresh and gorgeous," he stated.For other designers, white itself is back in fashion. Los Angeles designer Betsy Burnham told the Santa Fe New Mexican that white is back in a big way."I used to think white walls looked unfinished," she admitted. "But I've completely come around on this one, because white is the ultimate palette cleanser. It gives every space - even the most traditional - a modern edge, and sets the stage wonderfully for layers of color in upholstery, accessories, area rugs and art."Decor: Anything you want it to be The Wall Street Journal spoke with interior designers about the key trends for 2014, and identified several that were rather remarkable. One is "books as decor," and San Francisco designer Scot Meacham Wood suggested we shouldn't think of them as reading material at all."It's a statement about not reading," he said, referring to books selected for their matching dust jackets and stacked into a colorful tabletop arrangement.Decor is no longer defined by draperies, either. Sheer window treatments are taking center stage, designers told the Journal."Everyone wants greater transparency and more light," concluded New York designer Celerie Kemble.She isn't referring to thin polyester versions, however: This year's sheers are in rich linens and wool, and you can add coordinating switch plates and plug covers with a refreshing linen motif.

From catch-all to creativity: The art of coffee table decorating

Sometimes it seems like there are two types of coffee tables - the first ready for a photo shoot and the second an exercise in controlled clutter. With a bit of imagination, you can design a table all your own.The reason why the photo shoot variety isn't on the list of suggestions is because it tends to look as though it dwells independently in a space where no one actually lives, while the cluttered tabletop looks as if far too many people, none with much decorating sense, live there. The middle ground is a wonderful place to be.Less is more - space, that is Don't give in to the common tendency to cover every square inch, or even every quadrant, of your coffee table. You can adorn it with fresh flowers and lush plants, but leave room for the coffee.At the same time, Real Simple magazine recommended remembering why it's located in the living room, that treasured spot where real living takes place and where you establish the tone for your personal decorating style. If bright and airy is your aim, try an open-weave coffee table topped with a single, show-stopping sculpture. If a reading corner is your oasis of choice, skip the table and opt for an ottoman - ever so lovely for setting magazines and resting tired feet.Book in advance Country Living magazine quoted designer Gena Sigala about how to turn a coffee table from frumpy to focused, and she suggested using objects that mirror the shape of the table. A rectangular table, for example, is enhanced with a rectangular tray - always a good choice - and, of course, be sure to display your most elegant coffee table books, ideally about a person, place or thing that intrigues you."A piece that mimics the shape of your table helps organize items neatly and acts as a pretty layering element," she explained.That perfectly shaped piece can also be highly functional, such as a lidded box that becomes the new home for small essentials and ends the frantic cries of "Where's the remote?"The piece de resistance: personality Here's where you can get truly creative, like every talented designer. Think outside the box and around the coffee table by adding clever touches like switch plates and outlet covers or complementary window treatments that extend the coffee table theme to the entire living space. Then simply add what you like."Set out things that will spark curiosity and conversation, like a collection of glass bottles," advised Sigala.

Wallpaper decorating ideas that wow

If you've always loved wallpaper but weren't sure how to use it artfully, welcome to some visionary, idea-sparking approaches.First of all, remember that in today's decorating world, there are no rules. Don't use wallpaper on a ceiling or in small spaces? Sure you can - you just need a design motif, uniquely your own, and a plan. Any unusual detail, like a bold patterned paper in a tiny foyer, makes a statement.Wallpaper 101 Two things you should keep in mind as you fantasize about papering a room are that wallpaper isn't just for walls, and what works is what works for you. House Beautiful magazine interviewed Scot Meacham Wood, formerly of Ralph Lauren, on whether he believed wallpaper is in vogue. It was a good question with an easy answer: yes, totally and completely. Wood went on to elaborate that wallpaper has many decorating applications."As far as applications go, I wouldn't put too much significance on the word 'wall'  ... Cover a ceiling or line bookcases with it to liven up a room," he stated.Not one to miss decorating opportunities, Wood also advised ordering more paper than you need, saving unopened rolls to ensure a perfect color match should you ever have to make repairs and saving unfinished rolls to use as wrapping paper.Pairings and permutations In papering walls, you have a wide range of choices in terms of designs and fabrics that can give you exactly the look you want. For example, HGTV encouraged pairing the paper with a decorative item that brings it to life. In one example, a dusty green and bronze wallpaper is enriched by an elegant, upswept vase that complements colors and accentuates patterns. Another lovely pairing mixes a fresh new color with a clearly traditional pattern for a great mix of old and new.In terms of permutations, nowhere is it written that wallpaper must be made of paper: You can use natural fabrics like jute or even corkboard to cover walls in a most inventive way. Wall coverings can also be used to create a sense of age and history in a home that clearly has neither. Old-fashioned textured wall coverings can give a room depth and warmth. When using the more heavy-handed options for decorating your walls, choose switch plates and plug covers that exude understated elegance. 

Concepts for creating and decorating a small home office

It can be a space next to a fireplace or between two windows: Creating a small home office is all about where you find the space and what you put into it.Dismiss the notion that a small but organized home office demands a room - or even a wide open space - of its own. HGTV itemized a number of workplace-suitable areas, including the "dead" space under the stairs. The space may be tiny, but by adding a corkboard backdrop and floating shelf for your laptop, you can use every inch of it. Apartment-dwellers frequently have dead space next to the entry. Instead of filling it with an umbrella stand, HGTV proposed using it for a tiny, minimalist private office.Room with a view Nowhere is it written that the home worker can't have the finest view. If your bedroom is the only place to put your office, try a vintage desk under a large window. Not only does the view refresh your mind, it also refreshes your eyes: Many ophthalmologists suggest alternating close work on your computer with a few minutes of staring into the distance every hour.Real Simple magazine found a unique way to create an office that can appear and disappear at will. Use a white plastic drop-down desk, and get wonderful cubbies and storage compartments when it's open and a nonintrusive piece of furniture when it's closed.Shelve it all Another of Real Simple's suggestions was to build an office entirely of sturdy shelves that can handle everything you send their way, from files and laptops to a vase of fresh flowers. By eliminating the need for a desk, you free up space and let the area blend into any room from which you've carved it.Better Homes and Gardens magazine gave the shelving plan another look and recommended that you add shelves above the desk and file cabinets below for all-in-one functionality.Integrating two areas When your office is part of another room, which is often the case, the best approach is to look at the small, inexpensive additions that will make the unified area cozy and livable.First, consider the paint. Just as a folding screen separates areas in a multi-use space, a consistent color of paint unifies the areas. Use similar lighting, whether track lighting or wall lighting, and try out some unique switch plates and decorative plug outlet covers in a theme that works well in both functional areas.

How to make spring cleaning a personal spa day

For most people, spring cleaning takes less than a day but can mean so much more than a tidy home. Think about it. Far from being a day of drudgery, spring cleaning is a time to clean up, dust off and clear out - to make a break with the past that's every bit as real as New Year's Eve. Psychology Today magazine published a number of articles under an umbrella theme: Cleaning up junk can help clear your mind, and the results will be healthy for you and your home.Begin with surveillance Look around. Exactly what is all that clutter telling you? Human beings hang onto things for several reasons, and laziness is generally not one of them. For example, it doesn't take a therapist to see that refusing to let go of clothes that haven't fit for years and aren't likely to be in style if they ever do again isn't about frugality - it's about fear. We like to live in our comfort zones, even when it hurts to do so.Psychology Today quoted Ranka Burzan, professional organizer, speaker and author, on the reasons why we avoid cleaning out clutter."We always relate to routine and familiar circumstances even if they work against us. That is one reason that people stay in abusive relationships, low paying jobs and cluttered homes, because it's predictable and we become experts in dealing with unpleasant situations."Hunker down and clean up Real Simple magazine, on the other hand, focused on the joy we experience from cleaning up - and the insights it gathered in a survey of its Facebook fans. One such fan was Michelle Jesperson, and for her, cleaning comes with euphoria."My satisfaction is mostly gleaned from having a clean home with things organized and put away," said Jesperson.Does that satisfaction extend to other areas of life? Of course, Marla Deibler, Psy.D., director of the Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, pointed out, and it leads to an ability to take on projects in other areas of our lives."When we set out to accomplish a goal like cleaning the fridge, we gain confidence that we can succeed," she told Real Simple. So here's the plan. After you set aside all the recyclables and clean everything in sight, stop to admire your handiwork. Touch up any little paint chips or imperfections and maybe add some saucy new additions like switch plates or plug covers to signal a final break from the cluttered past.Now that your tasks are complete and your mind is calm, finish with fresh flowers and candles in a relaxing bath - you deserve it.

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.


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