Archive for Home Decorating

Make Your Home Feel Good with Color Psychology

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Pat Hansen

SunroomHome décor is often viewed as a matter of aesthetics or what looks attractive.

Proponents of color psychology believe that the colors you use to decorate your home can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of you and your family.

If you like the idea of using color to create an emotionally healthy home, color consultants say you should first consider the primary function of each room. Although it can’t be proven scientifically, color consultants say some hues work better than others at encouraging certain activities.

Gathering Room (Fairfield New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones HomesLiving Room and foyer paint colors: Warm tones like reds, yellows and earth tones like brown and beige work well in both the living room and foyer, because they are thought to stimulate conversation.

Kitchen paint colors: Color consultants say that if you have fond memories of spending time in the kitchen when you were a kid, it might make sense to create same color scheme in your grown-up kitchen.

Kitchen, Nook, Great Room (Lot 389 | Manors of Deerwood)If there is no particular paint scheme you remember fondly, reds and yellows can be great colors in the kitchen as well as in the living room and foyer. If you are watching your weight, however, you might want to keep red out of the kitchen. The restaurant industry has long recognized the appetite-stimulating power of red décor.

Dining RoomDining room paint colors: Because it is stimulating, red décor can be great for a formal dining room. In addition to encouraging conversation, it whets the appetites of your guests.

Bedroom paint colors: BedroomThe bedroom is where you go to relax. Cool colors like blues, greens and lavenders can be great choices here because they have a calming effect. The darker the hue, the more pronounced the effect is believed to be. Reds tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate; blue does just the opposite.

Bathroom paint colors: Whites and warm colors Bathroomhave always been popular choices for bathrooms, in large part because they connote cleanliness and purity. Today, the master bathroom is also used as a private retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation. Many people feel comfortable with blues, greens and turquoises because these colors give a sense of being clean, fresh and calm.

Home office paint colors: Productivity is the Home Officename of the game here. The faster you complete work-related tasks, the more time you’ll have to spend enjoying family and friends. Color consultants agree that green can be a great choice here. Green is the color of concentration; it’s one of the best colors to be surrounded by for long periods.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to consider making your home more appealing to buyers by repainting the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath with a warm, neutral color. Staging consultants will usually recommend this, especially, if you currently have white walls.

Decorating with Boughs of Holly

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , on December 20, 2013 by Pat Hansen

For centuries, Europeans have decorated their homes and churches with greenery at Christmas. The tradition predates the Christian era. Pagan societies like the Romans, the Celts and the Norse observed Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, by decorating with cuttings of holly, ivy, bay, fir, rosemary, laurel, boxwood, mistletoe – any plant that remained green when woodlands and fields turned brown and bare. Holly, with its bright red berries and shiny green leaves, was perhaps the favorite ornamental.

Holly (kfjmiller | morgueFile)

(Photo credit: kfjmiller | morgueFile.com)

For the Romans, holly was sacred to Saturn, the god of agriculture, whose late December holiday, Saturnalia, provided the occasion for a week of raucous revelry. The Druids believed holly repelled evil spirits and protected people from witches and mad dogs – a superstition that persisted throughout the medieval period and caused many to keep holly in their homes or wear it on their clothing as a charm against witchcraft.

Early Christian leaders tried without success to stamp out these pagan rituals and decorating customs. The more pragmatic among the clergy decided to convert the holly tree to Christianity by attributing Christian symbolism to its prickly leaves, or the crown of thorns, while its crimson berries became the drops of blood on Christ’s brow. Its capacity to remain green all year long became a metaphor for eternal life after death.

Holly is decorative in another way—its wood is hard, close grained and when the tree is cut during winter, almost white. These features make it ideal for furniture makers to use for inlay. The wood is also good for making musical instruments and piano keys. American holly, plentiful along the Eastern Seaboard, can grow as tall as forty or fifty feet, but few have trunks thick enough to yield more than small pieces of wood. Of 300 species of holly, about fifteen are native to North America. The most common of these is known as American holly. Its berries are poisonous; only the females have berries.

Holly Plant  (hotblack | morgueFile.com)

(Photo credit: hotblack | morgueFile.com)

Ever since Christmas carols began in the fifteenth century, holly has figured prominently in their lyrics. The ever-popular “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” has been sung since the Renaissance. In old England, more than the halls were decked with holly boughs. In some towns, so were the streets. A half-century before Columbus brought news of a new world across the sea, Englishmen were erecting upright timbers in the streets and adorning them with boughs of greens. For most Englishmen and most who immigrated to the colonies, Christmas decorations meant indoor greenery.

Though no written sources describing colonial Virginia Christmas decorations have been discovered, historians have concluded that the usual English traditions continued in the colonies. Virginians considered themselves English in every sense of the word—clinging to Old World traditions while trying just as hard to keep up with the latest London fashions.

English prints of the eighteenth century picture holly arranged in pretty vases, stuffed into crude pots or stuck between the wooden muntins and the windowpanes. Decorating impulses did not stop with houses and churches; taverns and eating places had their share of greenery as well.

By the 1800s, holly was known as the “Prince of Evergreens”. It was everywhere—its prickly sprigs were wedged behind picture frames and clocks, twisted around the chains of chandeliers, arranged in vases, fastened to the tops of draperies and even stuck into holiday dishes as a garnish. Some of Virginia’s earliest Christmas trees were holly.

Not until the early twentieth century did magazines and decorating guides begin to encourage women to adorn the outside of the house as well as the inside with wreaths of holly or other evergreen. The days before Christmas were spent cutting cedar pine boughs and holly for decoration. All the windows had holly wreaths and Christmas gifts were wrapped in holly patterned papers tied with red ribbons.

WreathHolly wreaths were among the earliest Christmas decorations used at Colonial Williamsburg. When the restoration project funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. opened to the public in 1934, there were no decorations at all on the exhibition buildings at Christmas. No one had anticipated guests during the holidays. When guests did come, and they came in great numbers, the subject of appropriate Christmas decorations was raised. The next Christmas, plain wreaths made of holly and other native evergreens were hung on the doors of some buildings, followed the year after by the fruit-bedecked versions that have epitomized the Williamsburg Christmas ever since.

Enjoy Summer on a New Front Porch

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle, Sell your Home with tags , , on June 5, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Outdoor living spaces are one of the most popular design trends of the past few years in both new home construction and remodeling, and it’s a trend that looks like it’s going to be around for many years to come. Judges for the 2012 Best in American Living Awards, an annual National Association of Home Builders competition, noted outdoor spaces as an essential design trend that has expanded to homes nationwide and is at the top of many home buyer and renters’ must-have lists.

Front Porch (Sonja Lovas | flickr.com)

Photo credit: Sonja Lovas | flickr.com

Whether you’re remodeling to make your home better-suited to your family’s current lifestyle or to spruce it up to be more attractive to potential buyers, adding a front porch can be a great option.

Here are some considerations you should think about when planning your new front porch, whether you plan to construct it yourself or hire an experienced contractor:

Size

The porch is an accessory, so it shouldn’t overwhelm the main structure of the house. It should, however, be large enough to look like part of your home instead of an afterthought.

Think about what you want to use your porch for. If you envision dining al fresco with your family during the warm weather months, you’ll want a porch that’s at least eight to 10 feet deep to accommodate a good-sized table and chairs. Six feet or so should be sufficient if you just want to place a loveseat or a couple of chairs outside.

Location

If your home has the flexibility, what side of your home your porch is on can also be an important factor. A south-facing porch will take advantage of the sun’s heat, but could also get uncomfortable during the summer in hot climates. If the idea of cocktails at sunset is appealing, place your porch facing west. Early risers may want maximum light to read the paper and sip coffee with eastern exposure.

Don’t forget about accessing the porch from the home, and what design impact that may have on the interior rooms. For example, you may want to install French or sliding glass doors from the living room or kitchen to create an entrance to the porch.

Front Porch (jade | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: jade | morgueFile.com

Features

In order to ensure aesthetic continuity, try to use the same materials to build your porch as are used in the home – especially the exterior surfaces. This includes coordinating millwork and other design motifs so that your new porch integrates smoothly with the rest of your home.Also take into account other factors that could affect your enjoyment of your new porch. Consider installing screens if you live in an insect-friendly area, or glass windows so you can extend the days of the year you can use the porch in cooler climates. If you plan to use the porch during the night hours, make sure you install either sufficient lighting or outlets for lamps. A ceiling fan is a good idea to make the space more comfortable in warm temperatures.

Before you know it, you and your family can begin to relax and enjoy the summer season from the comfort of your new porch—or have an attractive feature to offer to would-be buyers.

This article is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders.

The Art of Pisanki Easter Eggs

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays, Lifestyle with tags , on March 27, 2013 by Pat Hansen

The centuries-old art of pisanki is a wax-resist method of dying Easter eggs, much like batik. The word comes from the verb “to write” – as the designs are not painted on but written with 100% pure beeswax. Every Eastern European country has its own version.

Pisanki Easter Eggs (kakisky | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: kakisky | morgueFile.com

Eggs are a symbol of spring and rebirth around the world and they have become a symbol of Easter and the Resurrection. In Eastern Europe, decorating eggs during the long, cold winters in anticipation of warmer days and the end of Lent became an art form. The symbols, colors and styles all differ by country and even by region within a country. What remains universal is the drawing or writing on a hard-cooked egg, raw or blown egg with melted beeswax using a stylus known as pysak.

Pisanki Easter Egg (lukeok | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: lukeok | morgueFile.com

How Pisanki Are Made: Beeswax is heated in a small bowl or jar lid on a stovetop or hot plate, and then scooped up by the stylus as needed. The molten wax is applied to the white egg by rotating the egg, not the hand. The egg is then dyed one color. More wax designs are applied and the egg is dyed another color, and so on. The dye sequence is always light to dark. After the final color, the wax is removed by heating it gently over a candle flame and rubbing off the wax with a cloth or paper towel. The intricate designs and the beautiful colors are now revealed.

The Gift of Pisanki: Pisanki are typically made to be given to family and close friends as a symbolic wish for the gift of life. They are hollow so they can be displayed all year and saved from year to year, ensuring good health and prosperity. The krasanki, or solid color eggs, are made to be eaten. The eggs that have been blessed on Holy Saturday are considered sacred and their shells are never thrown out. Instead, they are buried in the garden or crop fields in hopes of a good harvest. The water used to cook the eggs is also saved to water fruit trees to ensure sweet fruit. At the traditional Polish Easter breakfast after Mass, a blessed egg is shared by the family while exchanging good wishes.

The Polish Art Center located at 9539 Jos. Campau in Hamtramck, carries a full line of pisanki supplies along with many Polish treasures. They also offer classes in pisanki egg decorating for ages 6 years and older. Their website is: www.PolArtCenter.com.

Make Your Home Cozier This Winter

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Sell your Home with tags , , on February 6, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Winter is as good a time as any to redecorate your home, and the right visual elements will have your interiors looking chic, warm, inviting and cozy, even in the coldest months.

Keep colors simple: Paint is perhaps the best starting point for redecorating your home and you should begin with a neutral color like white, beige or very light blue or green. Keeping the colors simple gives you a lot of freedom to play with the rest of the elements.Family Room (Galleria New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones Homes

Area rugs: Area rugs offer a very simple way to add dramatic changes to any room. Be sure to choose these in warm colors or a combination of warm colors to add to the coziness.

Use more candles: Accessories add the final, but all important touches to your interiors for winter. Candles, for example, are particularly dramatic pieces in winter because they suggest light and warmth – two things that Mother Nature doesn’t provide this time of the year.

Bring in some warmth: Decorating in winter is all about giving extra comfort and warmth to your interiors, especially when it is cold and harsh outside. Stock up on items like plush throws, thick quilts and large pillows. Place them on your sofas and couches.

Make nature welcome in your interior decoration: You can bring in plants with brightly colored flowers and mild fragrances inside your home. It will add color in your home while helping it smell sweet all the time. Other natural elements like pine cones and dried branches can be used to create interesting displays on a side table or the fireplace mantel. Pebbles and stones can be arranged artistically to increase the charm of your living space.Stairway (Galleria New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones Homes

Use traditional furniture for glamour: Add warmth to your interiors by breaking the straight lines of contemporary furniture with some more traditional pieces. The curves of the traditional pieces add a “glam” factor to a space when used as a focal point.

Use furniture with raw unfinished looks: Use pieces which reflect the outside on the inside. By using accessories and furniture with raw and unfinished looks, we bring a bit of the nature from the outside, into our homes.

These are some ways in which you can turn a cold, bleak winter into one filled with warmth and joy. Keeping it simple, yet elegant, will add to the charm of your home and make it a haven of comfort and relaxation.

Decorating With Boughs of Holly

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays with tags , on December 20, 2012 by Pat Hansen
Holly (mrmac04 | morgueFile.com)

Photo credit: mrmac04 | morgueFile.com

For centuries, Europeans have decorated their homes and churches with greenery at Christmas. The tradition predates the Christian era. Pagan societies like the Romans, the Celts and the Norse observed Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, by decorating with cuttings of holly, ivy, bay, fir, rosemary, laurel, boxwood, mistletoe – any plant that remained green when woodlands and fields turned brown and bare. Holly, with its bright red berries and shiny green leaves, was perhaps the favorite ornamental.

For the Romans, holly was sacred to Saturn, the god of agriculture, whose late December holiday, Saturnalia, provided the occasion for a week of raucous revelry. The Druids believed holly repelled evil spirits and protected people from witches and mad dogs, a superstition that persisted throughout the medieval period and caused many to keep holly in their homes or wear it on their clothing as a charm against witchcraft.

Early Christian leaders tried without success to stamp out these pagan rituals and decorating customs. The more pragmatic among the clergy decided to convert the holly tree to Christianity by attributing Christian symbolism to its prickly leaves, or the crown of thorns, while its crimson berries became the drops of blood on Christ’s brow. Its capacity to remain green all year long became a metaphor for eternal life after death.

Holly is decorative in another way; its wood is hard, close grained and when the tree is cut during winter, almost white. These features make it ideal for furniture makers to use for inlay. The wood is also good for making musical instruments and piano keys. American holly, plentiful along the Eastern Seaboard, can grow as tall as forty or fifty feet, but few have trunks thick enough to yield more than small pieces of wood. Of 300 species of holly, about fifteen are native to North America. The most common of these is known as American holly. Its berries are poisonous; only the females have berries.

Ever since Christmas carols began in the fifteenth century, holly has figured prominently in their lyrics. The ever-popular “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” has been sung since the Renaissance. In old England, more than the halls were decked with holly boughs. In some towns, so were the streets. A half-century before Columbus brought news of a new world across the sea, Englishmen were erecting upright timbers in the streets and adorning them with boughs of greens. For most Englishmen and most who immigrated to the colonies, Christmas decorations meant indoor greenery.

Though no written sources describing colonial Virginia Christmas decorations have been discovered, historians have concluded that the usual English traditions continued in the colonies. Virginians considered themselves English in every sense of the word, clinging to Old World traditions while trying just as hard to keep up with the latest London fashions.

English prints of the eighteenth century picture holly arranged in pretty vases, stuffed into crude pots or stuck between the wooden muntins and the windowpanes. Decorating impulses did not stop with houses and churches; taverns and eating places had their share of greenery as well.

By the 1800s, holly was known as the “Prince of Evergreens”. It was everywhere; its prickly sprigs were wedged behind picture frames and clocks, twisted around the chains of chandeliers, arranged in vases, fastened to the tops of draperies and even stuck into holiday dishes as a garnish. Some of Virginia’s earliest Christmas trees were holly.

Not until the early twentieth century did magazines and decorating guides begin to encourage women to adorn the outside of the house as well as the inside with wreaths of holly or other evergreen. The days before Christmas were spent cutting cedar pine boughs and holly for decoration. All the windows had holly wreaths and Christmas gifts were wrapped in holly patterned papers tied with red ribbons.

HoWreath w/Hollylly wreaths were among the earliest Christmas decorations used at Colonial Williamsburg. When the restoration project funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. opened to the public in 1934, there were no decorations at all on the exhibition buildings at Christmas. No one had anticipated guests during the holidays. When guests did come, and they came in great numbers, the subject of appropriate Christmas decorations was raised. The next Christmas, plain wreaths made of holly and other native evergreens were hung on the doors of some buildings, followed the year after by the fruit-bedecked versions that have epitomized the Williamsburg Christmas ever since.

Make Your Home Feel Good with Color Psychology

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , , on February 29, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Home décor is often viewed as a matter of aesthetics or what looks attractive.

Proponents of color psychology believe that the colors you use to decorate your home can have a profound effect on the emotional well-being of you and your family.

If you like the idea of using color to create an emotionally healthy home, color consultants say you should first consider the primary function of each room. Although it can’t be proven scientifically, color consultants say some hues work better than others at encouraging certain activities.

Living Room and foyer paint colors: Warm tones like reds, yellows and earth tones like brown and beige work well in both the living room and foyer, because they are thought to stimulate conversation.

Kitchen paint colors: Color consultants say that if you have fond memories of spending time in the kitchen when you were a kid, it might make sense to create same color scheme in your grown-up kitchen.

If there is no particular paint scheme you remember fondly, reds and yellows can be great colors in the kitchen as well as in the living room and foyer. If you are watching your weight, however, you might want to keep red out of the kitchen. The restaurant industry has long recognized the appetite-stimulating power of red décor.

Dining room paint colors: Because it is stimulating, red décor can be great for a formal dining room.  In addition to encouraging conversation, it whets the appetites of your guests.

Bedroom paint colors: The bedroom is where you go to relax. Cool colors like blues, greens and lavenders can be great choices here because they have a calming effect. The darker the hue, the more pronounced the effect is believed to be.  Reds tend to increase blood pressure and heart rate; blue does just the opposite.

Bathroom paint colors: Whites and warm colors have always been popular choices for bathrooms, in large part because they connote cleanliness and purity.  Today, the master bathroom is also used as a private retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation. Many people feel comfortable with blues, greens and turquoises because these colors give a sense of being clean, fresh and calm.

Home office paint colors: Productivity is the name of the game here.  The faster you complete work-related tasks, the more time you’ll have to spend enjoying family and friends.  Color consultants agree that green can be a great choice here. Green is the color of concentration; it’s one of the best colors to be surrounded by for long periods.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you may want to consider making your home more appealing to buyers by repainting the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom and bath with a warm, neutral color. Staging consultants will usually recommend this, especially, if you currently have white walls.

Preserving the Poinsettia Plant

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle with tags , , , on January 3, 2012 by Pat Hansen

One of the most common questions after Christmas is “How can I care for my poinsettia plant so that it will bloom again next Christmas?”

While this can be done, it requires work, as it is an exacting process. For those who are undaunted, the process for saving your poinsettia and getting it to re-bloom begins with the care you give it the first season.

When You First Bring Your Poinsettia Home

Light – Place near a sunny window. South, east or west-facing windows are preferable to a north facing window.  Poinsettia plants are tropical and will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can provide.

Heat – To keep the poinsettia in bloom as long as possible, maintain a temperature of 65 – 75 degrees F. during the day. Dropping the temperature to about 60 degrees F. at night will not hurt the plant; however, cold drafts or allowing the leaves to touch a cold window can injure the leaves and can cause premature leaf drop. 

Water – Water the plant whenever the surface is dry to the touch. Water until it drains out the bottom, but don’t let the plant sit in water.

Humidity – Lack of humidity during dry seasons, particularly in winter, is an ongoing houseplant problem. If your home tends to be dry and your poinsettia is in direct light, you will find yourself watering frequently, possibly daily.

After Christmas Care

January – March Keep watering the poinsettia whenever the surface is dry.

April: Starting April 1st, gradually decrease water, allowing the plant to get dry between watering. Take care that the stem does not begin to shrivel. This is a sign the plant is too stressed and is dying. In a week or two, when the plant has acclimated to this drying process, move it to a cool spot like the basement or a heated garage. You want to keep it at about 60 degrees F.  Continue watering and allowing the plant to get dry between waterings.

May: In mid-May cut all stems, including the main stem, back to about 4” and repot in a slightly larger container, with new potting soil.  Water it well. Place the newly potted plant back into the brightest window you have and once again keep it at a temperature of 65 – 75 degrees F. Continue watering whenever the surface of the soil feels dry.  Watch for new growth. Once new growth appears, begin fertilizing every two weeks with a complete fertilizer.  Follow the fertilizer label recommendations.

June: Move the poinsettia outside, pot and all.  Keep it in a partially shaded location and maintain your water and fertilizing schedule.

July: In early July, pinch back each stem by about 1”.  This is to encourage a stout, well-branched plant. If left un-pinched, the poinsettia will grow tall and spindly.

August: By mid-August, the stems should have branched and leafed out. Once again, pinch or cut the new stems, leaving 3-4 leaves on each shoot.  Bring the plant back indoors and back into your brightest window.  Continue watering and fertilizing.

September: Continue regular watering and fertilizing. Make sure the temperature stays above 65 degrees F.

October: Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning their bud set is affected by the length of daylight. To re-bloom, poinsettias need about 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. You will have to artificially create these conditions and it is crucial to be diligent.

Beginning October 1st, keep your plant in complete darkness from 5 PM to 8 AM. Any exposure to light will delay blooming. Use an opaque box or material to block out light. Many people place their plants in a closet, but if light gets in through the cracks or if you open and use the closet, it will affect the bud set.  Move the plant back to the sunny window during the daytime and continue watering and fertilizing.

November: Around the last week of November, you can stop the darkness treatment and allow the plant to remain in the window.  You should see flower buds at this point.

December: Stop fertilizing about December 15th.  Keep watering and treat your plant the way you did when you first brought it home.  If all has gone well, it should be back in bloom and ready to begin the process all over again.

While the process is long and somewhat tedious, persistence will pay off with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

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