Monthly Archives: January 2010

We’re Goin’ to Vegas!

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That’s right!  The decorateITonline Creative Team is off to the World Furniture Market Week in Sin City in search of fabulous new goodies for the STORE!  We’ll be running our designer shoes ragged in search of the hottest new furniture, accessories, and housewares from around the globe (and checking out every hospitality suite, happy hour, and free buffet that we can find!).  Stay tuned for live updates from the show on Twitter and Facebook and VOTE on the items you think we should carry!

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IT’s On Sale – This Week’s Hot Items!

This week we’re in a MODERN sort of mood!  These hot Contemporary Classics are 20% off for this week only!  And, as always, the shipping is FREE!  Click on the STORE page to check them out!

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Chrome Adjustable Height Table: Inspired by the timeless early-20th Century designs of Eileen Gray, this elegant occasional table is as functional as it is beautiful. The top can be adjusted to several different heights by lifting the side lever. Glass and chrome plated tubular steel.  Regular $270/Now $216!

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Bubbles Rectangular Mirror: This quirky mirror/wall-hanging features a series of circular cutouts for a funky retro-modern look. It makes a fun accent in a contemporary hallway, great room, or kid’s room.  Regular $335/Now $268!

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Luna Leisure Chair: Clearly stunning, this retro-modern dining/occasional chair features a transparent acrylic seat and chrome plated steel base. A striking addition to an ultra-modern interior or a unique contrast piece for transitional spaces.  Regular $675/Now $540!

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Ask IT: How Big should my Dining Room Area Rug be?

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I recently read your post about “Choosing the Right Area Rug” and found it helpful, but it didn’t cover my specific question.  We have a formal dining room with hardwood floors and would like to add an area rug, but we keep hearing differing opinions on what size it should be.  In your opinion, what is the correct size for a dining room rug?

Dave and Linda

Great Falls, MT

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Hi Dave and Linda,

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Thanks for the question.  Choosing an area rug for the dining room comes with it’s own set of rules in regard to size.  Basically you want the rug to be large enough that the table and all the chairs will be sitting on on it when they are pushed up to the table (whether they’re occupied or empty).  This requires a minimum overhang of 20″ on each side of the table.  So, if your table dimensions are 30″wide by 72″ long, your rug dimensions would ideally be at least 70″ wide by 112″ long.  It is also important to mirror the profile of the table by keeping the overhang amount the same on all four sides of the table.

Our STORE features a wide assortment of area rugs in different sizes to fit many spaces, or, if you need a very specific size, most local carpet retailers can cut and bind broadloom into absolutely any size you need to ensure a perfect fit!

Email your questions to: askIT@decorateitonline.com.  If we feature your question on our blog, we’ll send you a $10.00 gift certificate toward your next Store purchase (of $50.00 or more)!

How to do IT: Measuring a Window!

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The right window coverings can make or break a room, and one of the most important factors to consider when choosing window coverings, regardless of the type, will be the size of your windows.  In order to get an ideal fit for blinds, shutters, and curtain panels, it is imperative that correct measurements are taken prior to ordering.  The following is a step by step guide to help you get the right measurements for your window:

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1. Always use a metal tape measure.  Plastic or cloth measuring tapes will stretch and sag leading to inaccurate measurements.

2. Record measurements in Imperial units (inches) rather than metric, and round all measurements to the nearest 1/8″.

3. Measure the width first, then the length.  Make sure to clearly document which is which on your notes.

4. Consider the type of window covering you will be using when taking the measurements and where it will be mounted.  Most Venetian blinds, Roman shades, and roll-down blinds mount inside the window casing.  In this case, be sure to take all measurements inside the window casing.  First, measure the width at the top, middle, and bottom of the window.  Write down the smallest of the 3 measurements as your width.  Do the same with the length, measuring the left, middle, and right sides, but in this case write down the longest of the 3 measurements if you will be using Venetian blinds, Roman shades, or roll-down blinds, and the shortest measurement if you will be using verticals.  Also, make sure to measure the depth of the casing (from the edge of the actual window frame to the outside edge of the casing trim).

5. For outside-mount window treatments, like curtain panels, most vertical blinds, and valances, you must also measure the outside measurements of the window casing as well.  For this purpose, draw a rough sketch of the window, showing both the window itself, and the casing.  Write the measurements on the sketch, indicating which measurements are inside and which are outside the casing.

6. Measure all windows in the room separately, even if they appear to be the same size and shape, as there will likely be minor variation in size between all your windows.

7. Double check all your measurements prior to ordering or altering your window coverings, just to make sure.  Dad was right when he told you: “Always measure twice, cut once!”.  Also, if you are ordering blinds from a retailer (either online or in-person), make sure to let them know that the measurements are “exact”, meaning that no deductions have been made for extra fit room.  Most blind manufacturers will automatically deduct 1/8″ to 1/4″ from your measurements so the blinds will fit easily into the opening.

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If you have specific questions on window coverings or measurements, email us at:  askIT@decorateitonline.com.  If we feature your question on our blog we’ll send you a $10.00 gift certificate toward your next store purchase (of $50.00 or more)!

Ask IT: How do I Create an Interesting Feature Wall?

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For the past few years I’ve seen the term “feature wall” used in decorating magazines and I’ve had a few friends who created feature walls in their own homes by painting one wall a darker color.  I noticed that some of them look good, but other ones look a bit out of place.  My house is a 1970’s carbon-copy bungalow with little-to-no architectural character.  I thought a feature wall might be a good way to liven up my living room, but I’m afraid to do it and have it look bad.  What are your thoughts?

Juanita

Oakland, CA

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Hi Juanita,


Great question!  Painted feature walls can be one of the best ways to add drama to a lifeless room, but they can also be one of the more difficult design elements to work with.  The important thing to keep in mind when creating a feature wall is maintaining balance in the space (see our January 18th blog post on Creating Balance in Your Room).  Here are a few feature wall ideas and tips to help you out:

Color: The first factor to consider for your feature wall is the color you choose for it.  If you are looking to keep your existing color on the adjacent walls, then you must choose a color that will be complimentary for your feature wall to avoid that “off” feeling.  For a monochromatic color scheme the easiest way to do this is to choose a lighter or darker shade from the same gradation chart (most paint retails put the full gradation range on the same paint chip swatch).  If you are looking for a more dramatic impact choose a color from the contrasting end of the color wheel.  For instance, if your walls are green, red would be a suitable contrast color, while blue and yellow would not.  Likewise, if your walls are blue, orange would be a nice accent, while green and purple would not.  White, brown, black, and grey are considered neutrals and pair well with almost any color, but keep in mind the shade of the color as well.  If the existing paint color has a muted or “muddy” tone, so should your feature wall color.  If it is bright and saturated, or soft and pastel, your feature wall color should be as well.

Patterns: Another great way to add drama to a wall is to incorporate a pattern onto it.  In the room on the right the designer created a stencilled white floral motif against a background just slightly darker than the main wall color to create the illusion of a floor to ceiling headboard.  Other great pattern ideas include stripes, a plaid look (with a series of criss-crossing vertical and horizontal stripes), various geometric shapes, or painted “frames” to add visual punch to wall hangings.  For a subtle impact try using painters glaze over your existing wall color for the pattern.  This will add a bit of visual texture to the wall without being overwhelming.

Balance: This is the perhaps the biggest factor to consider when adding a feature wall.  A visually “heavy” feature wall in an otherwise light room will always look out of place.  The key is to guide the eye to the feature wall without dominating the entire room.  For example, if you have a large open-concept kitchen/great room with dark cabinets and a light wall color, try adding a dark feature color on the wall opposite the cabinets.  Or, in a large room with a window, use a dramatic color on the wall opposite from the window, then accent the feature color with curtain panels that incorporate this color on the window.  A few upholstered pieces in the same color as your feature paint can also help to balance the room if they are placed away from the actual feature wall.

Mirror: Another great idea is to create a mirrored wall that reflects the rest of the room.  This creates a “negative” feature wall (in a good way!) that will both visually double the space and add extra visual weight to the existing focal points, views, etc.  Also, hanging pictures on the mirrored wall adds an interesting visual effect and provides context to the reflected image.

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Email your questions to: askIT@decorateitonline.com.  If we feature your question on our blog, we’ll send you a $10.00 gift certificate toward your next Store purchase (of $50.00 or more)!

IT’s On Sale – This Week’s Hot Items!

Go glam with this week’s Hot Feature Items!  20% off our everyday low prices, and the shipping is still FREE!  Click on the STORE page to check them out now!

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Sofia Black Mirrored Nesting Tables: As gorgeous as they are versatile, these mirrored nesting tables can be used together or separately. Add modern glitz to a sitting room or bedroom. Set of 3.  Regular $495/Now $396!

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16″ Corkscrew Plant:  The long spiky leaves of this eye-catching corkscrew plant flare out to give it a large visual presence. Place the pot in a larger decorative vessel for a more custom look. Regular $45/Now $36!

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Crystal Ball Table Lamp:  The slender, tapering polished nickel base is complemented by a shimmering crystal ball in the centre, giving this lamp a jewel-like glow.  The fabric drum shade adds a contemporary edge. Available in Black or White. Regular $160/Now $128!

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How to do IT: Painting a Room!

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Painting a room is one of the most dramatic, inexpensive ways to create an entirely new look and feel in a space.

Once your decorateITonline professional has helped you select the perfect color palette for your room, you’re ready to begin.

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Shopping List

– Masking Tape

– Paintbrush for trim

– Roller Sleeve

– Roller Cage

– Roller Tray

– Roller Tray Liner

– Cotton Rags

– Ladder

– Extension rod or broom handle (if painting ceiling)

– Utility Knife

– TSP (if painting a heavily soiled surface)

– Oscillating portable fan

– Paint

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Choosing the right type of paint: For most interior applications water-based latex is an ideal choice as it has low emissions, dries quickly, and can be cleaned up using soap and water.  Oil-based paints require solvent-based cleaners, and require additional ventilation as they emit more toxic gases.  Latex paint is available in a variety of sheen levels that will determine the texture and clean-ability of the painted surface:

Flat: This has the lowest reflective value and has a matte, suede-like feel and texture. Suitable for low traffic areas where clean-ability isn’t an issue, it can be used in dens, master bedrooms, and theatre rooms to provide a light absorbing backdrop.

Eggshell: By far the most versatile paint type, eggshell paint has a low to moderate sheen which is great for hiding small flaws and can be cleaned with soap and water (after an ample curing period).

Satin/Pearl: Similar to eggshell, with just a hint more sheen to it, satin or pearl finish (depending on the manufacturer) imparts a warmth and depth to the surface and is suitable for most areas of the home.

Semi Gloss: Great for doors, baseboards, and trim, semi-gloss paint is durable for surfaces that take a beating, and is scrubbable and resistant to chips and scratches.

Gloss: Similar to semi-gloss, with a bit more sheen. Suitable for surfaces that are free of flaws and scratches. Highly scrubbable after proper curing time and quite resistant to chips and scrapes.

High-Gloss: Mainly used for cabinets, furniture, and decorative elements, high- gloss paint has the highest reflective quality, but as such should only be used on surfaces that are free of any flaws or scratches as the sheen will draw attention to any textural ambiguities.  Only in oil base.

Try to choose better quality paint. This will save you both time and money as higher quality paints have a higher coverage rate and will require less coats to complete the job.   Also, if you purchase the paint a few days (or more) prior to starting the job, make sure to stir the paint for several minutes prior to using it, as the pigment may have started to separate, causing an uneven finish.

Preparing the surface: To ensure proper adhesion of the paint and to create a smooth, consistent texture make sure to start off with a clean, dry, and properly primed surface. Use a wet cloth to wipe down the walls and remove any surface dust. For extremely dirty or greasy surfaces, or those with staining from cigarette or cooking smoke you may need to use TSP (tri-sodium phosphate, available at most paint and hardware stores) and water to provide a clean, clear surface on which to paint. Next, fill any holes or imperfections in the walls with a suitable drywall filler. Make sure to leave ample time for the filler to dry, then sand the repaired areas with a fine grain sandpaper to a smooth finish (deep or large holes may require more than one round of filling and sanding to get a perfectly smooth surface). A coat of primer/sealer should be used on any surfaces that have not previously been painted, that have been painted with oil-based paint, that have been patched or filled, or that had been painted in darker colors.

Masking: Remove all hardware, switch plate covers, light fixtures, and door hinges if possible. For any items that cannot be removed, use professional-grade masking tape blue or green (it really does make a difference!) to cover them up. Apply masking tape in a long, continuous strip to prevent paint from seeping between the layers. Go back along the taped edge with a plastic putty knife, pressing firmly to make sure the tape adheres to the surface to prevent paint from seeping underneath. Make sure to cut off any excess tape.  Lay a canvas or plastic drop-cloth on the floor to avoid spills from getting on it (with a plastic drop sheet you can use masking tape to attach it to the edges of the wall to prevent it shifting).

Edging: Using a 2 1/2” angled sash brush (always check to make sure the brush you use is recommended for the type of paint you are using), dip it 1” into the paint, then pull it out and gently press it against the lip of the paint container (to prevent drips). Starting at the top corner, gently drag the brush along the edge (pressing too hard will cause paint to bleed onto the adjacent surface) and continue until the paint starts to thin. Then, smooth out any brush marks, drips, or bubbles, before dipping the brush into the paint again. Only cut-in small portions at a time so the paint on the edges will still be wet when you roll the middle part of the wall. For small or intricate areas you may need to use a smaller brush. Expect to spend up to $20.00 for a good brush.

Rolling: The first thing to consider is the type of roller you will use. For a typical wall surface, choose a roller sleeve with a 3/8” nap (nap refers to the thickness of the “fuzz” that will hold the paint), for fine surfaces like wood trim or doors, use a 1/4” nap roller sleeve, for light to medium textured surfaces a 1/2” nap is recommended and for heavily textured surfaces like stippled ceilings and stucco use a 1” nap roller sleeve. Expect to spend about $5.00 on a good roller sleeve, and $10.00-$20.00 for a roller cage.

– Line the roller tray with a disposable plastic roller tray liner (this will keep you from having to clean out the tray every time you use it).

– Fill the roller tray with enough paint to cover the section you are working on (keep in mind that you will be working on small sections at a time in order to maintain a “wet edge”).

– Dip the roller in the paint to load it, then roll it back and forth along the ramp of the roller tray to distribute paint evenly over the roller sleeve.

– Start by painting a vertical strip adjacent to the wet edge of the brushed-on portion, going from top to bottom, until you start to run out of paint on the roller. Roll over any drips or thicker beads of paint to smooth them out.

– In the middle section of the wall, roll the shape of the letter “W” adjacent to the wet edge of your vertical strip, then smooth the paint out vertically to fill in the wall. Continue with this motion until you get to the end of the “cut-in” section. Look over the surface while the paint is still wet to make sure there are no drips, bubbles, ridges, or missed areas on the paint.

– Continue the process from the beginning for the other walls in the room, starting with cutting-in the edges again.

– Let the paint dry for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours between coats (as different paints can have varying drying times, check the paint can label for the manufacturer’s recommendations on drying time).  An oscillating fan placed in the center of the room also helps the paint to dry faster.

Other things to keep in mind:

Ceilings: Use a long pole attachment (or a broom handle) to elongate the roller cage. Try to keep a wet edge at all times. For flat plastered ceilings you can use the same roller attachment and process as on the walls. Textured ceilings will require a different type of roller attachment. If you touch the ceiling and bits come off, that means it has never been painted and will require spraying by a professional painter (oil based paint is recommended) to avoid a mess. If it has been painted before you should use a 1/2” nap roller for a light to medium textured surface and a 1” for a highly textured surface. Many paint manufacturers also offer white ceiling paint that goes on with a slight tint, then dries white, to make it easier to see the portions you have already painted, and to avoid missing spots. Primer is not required for ceilings.

– While waiting for your previous coats to dry, wrap the roller sleeve and paint brushes tightly in plastic wrap (if using latex paint) to keep the paint from drying out and to save having to wash them out between coats. If you will be leaving the paint to dry for several hours, or overnight, wrap the brushes and rollers and place them in the freezer.

– If using latex paint, use warm water and a mild dish soap to clean brushes and rollers once you are done. Make sure to rinse them until all traces of the paint have been removed. Stand roller sleeves upright on a paper towel to dry. For brushes, lay them on the edge of the sink (with the bristles over the basin) or hang them to dry.

– For oil paints, a solvent based cleaner is required to clean out the brushes and roller.  Check with your paint retailer to determine the right product for the type of paint you are using and also about the local regulations regarding the disposal of paint and solvents.

– Before removing masking tape take a razor blade or utility knife and cut the edge of the tape where it meets the paint. This will prevent the tape from peeling off the paint when you remove it.

– The paint on the brushed “cut-in” edge portions tends to go on a bit thicker than the rolled portions, so the edge may not require as many coats as the rolled sections of the wall.

So, with just a bit of simple preparation and the right choice of materials, your painting experience can be as easy and rewarding as every aspect of the decorateITonline experience.  If you have any questions, email them to askIT@decorateitonline.com. If we feature your question on our blog, we’ll send you a $10.00 gift certificate toward your next Store purchase (of $50.00 or more)!

How to do IT: Creating balance in your room!

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Ever wonder why the rooms in design magazines look so good? Often find yourself in a room that just feels “off” but you don’t know why?  Ever wonder what the pros know to add that perfect sense of depth to a room?  The secret is balance.  Like any other aspect of our lives the rooms in our home should exemplify a balanced approach to living.  It’s the positive and negative, yin and yang, darkness and light that give a room texture and depth.

Often the one thing that’s missing in those “I can’t put my finger on it but I just don’t like that room” rooms is a sense of balance. Dark feature walls or heavy furniture on one side of a room with nothing visually substantial on the other side gives the subconscious sense that the room is “tipping” to one side.  Too much of a hard surface (such as tile or glass) in a room can make it feel cold and clinical.  Too many soft surfaces (like an excess of toss cushions with heavy drapery and needlepoint wall hangings) can make a room seem stuffy and claustrophobia-inducing.

One analogy that I like to use in explaining the need for balance is that of pairing wine with food. Just as you wouldn’t pair Beef Wellington with a fruity Chardonnay, you wouldn’t try to balance a chocolate brown armoire on one side of your living room with nothing but a skinny white floor lamp on the other.  In both cases the stronger element would vastly overpower the lighter element, disturbing the sense of balance.

Need to dress up that sofa? Try adding toss cushions that contrast with the sofa’s upholstery.  For example, if you have a cream microfibre sofa, try adding raw-silk cushions in a deep or vibrant colour.  The sheen of the silk will visually balance the matte finish of the microfibre upholstery.  Have a leather chair that’s looking lifeless?  Try draping a wool or alpaca throw over the back of it.  The soft texture of the throw will balance the harder texture of the leather.

Windows looking one-dimensional? Try layering dark panels with light sheers underneath.  Are your Venetian blinds lacking vision?  Try adding a dramatic valance to the top, or go all-out and add sheers, panels, and a matching valance…just make sure to balance the opposite wall with something of similar visual weight.  When you’re standing in the middle of the room your eye should not be drawn to one specific item or element, but instead should take in everything as a whole.

Another way to create balance is to layer pieces from different design styles with each other. One traditional element (such as a Neo-Classical sculpture or an ornate gilt-framed mirror) in a room that is otherwise starkly modern can give a sense of context and depth.  One look that I love is to pair modern track-arm sofas with French Provenciale antiques.  Found objects, family heirlooms, and flea market finds are great layering pieces.  Everything in a room should have a story (whether real or completely fabricated!). A nicely balanced room should be timeless.

Above all, have fun with your space, and when in doubt, call on the pros!  We’re happy to help!

By Jeff James (as published in Renovations magazine)

Check out our TOOLS page for more great How-To tips to make any decorating project a success!

The IT List: 10 Easy Feng Shui Tips for your Home!

Feng Shui (pronounced “fung shoy” or “fong shway” depending on region and dialect)  is the ancient Oriental art of arranging one’s surroundings in order to harmonize energies related to health, love, luck, and prosperity.  In recent years it has experienced a growing following in the Western world, especially as it relates to interior design.  Here are a few easy tips to make your home more harmonious and to encourage positive chi (the life-giving force of the universe) :

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1. A grand entry door to your home welcomes prosperity and encourages positive chi to enter the house.

2. Never place family photographs directly facing the front door, the toilet door, the staircase, or in the basement.

3. Fix any plumbing leaks or drips to prevent good luck and prosperity from going down the drain.

4. Change your furniture arrangement periodically to keep energy from stagnating.

5. Place a small fountain, aquarium, or other water feature in the foyer to encourage prosperity and luck.

6. Try not to place a television facing toward the bed, and cover or conceal your bedroom television when it’s not in use.

7. Keep your toilet lid closed when it’s not in use to avoid flushing away prosperity.

8. Clear out the clutter underneath your bed to avoid negative energy accumulating beneath you while you sleep.

9. Sofas and chairs should have high backs and substantial arms and should be positioned so that all occupants can see the door into the room.

10. Hang a wall mirror in the dining room to reflect the food and the happiness of the people enjoying it.

For Professional Advice on Creating Harmony in YOUR Home check out our SERVICES page!