Monthly Archives: September 2010

Choosing the Best New Floor for Your Home: Are Hardwood Floors Right for Me?

Great rooms start from the floor up, and replacement flooring often the sparks full scale decorating projects. So I created this series to help you find the perfect flooring solution for your new home or reno project.

I’ll kick start this discussion with the ever popular hardwood floors, the natural beauty, texture and visual warmth of hardwood has made it a preferred flooring choice for centuries. But is it right for you?

Here are a few of the reasons why so many people choose hardwood floors for their homes:

  • Easy to Clean – A quick vacuum and a light wash (not too much water though) is all you need to do for regular maintenance. Because there are no flailing fibres to trap dust, this a great option for allergy sufferers or clean freaks! There are several hardwood cleaners on the market but if you are going to use a chemical always choose the manufacturer recommended products to ensure that you don’t void your warranty, however I find a damp (not wet) rag works well too!
  • Hardwood has Flex – Because wood is not as rigid as tile there is a little bit of bounce when you walk on them, this slight flex will make it considerably more comfortable to stand on for hours reducing back, neck and leg strain.
  • Durability – Although hardwood will scratch and dent it is pretty hard to destroy. Minor surface scratches and wear can be fixed via a screening process where the floor is given a light sand and a new finish top coat applied. Large dents or areas of damage can typically be fixed by replacing individual planks, however this is not a DIY project and may involve refinishing the entire floor.
  • Beauty – No two trees ever grow exactly the same, so each and every hardwood floor on the planet is unique

And here are some of the common complaints:

  • Price – Hardwood is an investment in your home and often the priciest option for flooring. Once you include the materials and the skilled labour required it can take up a significant portion of your decorating budget.
  • Refinishing is a Hassle – Sanding is extremely dusty and time consuming making the process more cumbersome that other flooring options.
  • Unpredictable Outcomes – because each floor is unique you’ll never know exactly what you are getting and that makes some people uncomfortable. A good installer will use planks from several different boxes at once to create a more uniform look across the entire floor but even a good installer has no control over the variety of planks that are in the box.
  • Scratches and Dents – No matter how careful you are accidents happen, expecting a piano like finish on hardwood floors forever is unrealistic. Regular vacuuming and the diligent use of floor mats at doorways will help tremendously. Surface scratches happen when dirt and dust get dragged across the finish causing it to wear and become dull.  Using throw rugs or carpet runners in high traffic areas will also help preserve the floors finish.
  • Humidity Control is a Must – Wood is fussy, it likes a range of 35% up to 50% humidity at all times, too much moisture will cause the wood to expand and in extreme cases buckle, too little moisture in the air will cause the wood to contract creating cracks and gaps in the floor. Having a humidifier or dehumidifier (depending on your climate) installed with your hardwood is a very wise choice!

Is hardwood still an option for you? I hope so!

But, there is still a lot to consider including the variety of wood species available, stain choices and installation methods. So before you decide to invest in hardwood be sure to read the next post in the series where I’ll cover some of the options that you probably weren’t even aware of, including a caution about flooring transitions and what you’ll need to know about the sheen you select for your new floor.

In the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who currently has hardwood in their home. Do you love it? Hate it?

What’s the Best New Flooring Option for Your Home?

So many decorating projects start from the ground up, the simple choice to upgrade the flooring in a room often leads to full scale decorating projects.
Because let’s face it, if you are going to rip out the baseboards to install the new floor it really makes more sense to replace them..
and if you’re replacing the baseboards well it’s a great time to paint the walls..
and if you’re going to repaint why choose a color that works with the sofa you really don’t like anymore…
the snowball effect!

And, it all starts with the floors, so for the next few blog post I thought I’d go through the pro’s and cons of popular flooring selections to help you make an informed decision before you even step foot in a flooring store!

Impartial advice is invaluable.

Choosing the right flooring for your room ultimately comes down to personal preference and weighing the advantages and disadvantages of all of the options available. So before you start looking at options it makes sense to take stock of your lifestyle, budget and decorating style to help narrow down the list of choices. But even if the option your heart desires doesn’t measure up to your lifestyle requirements don’t dismay. There have been great advancements over the past few decades to compensate for each floorings shortfalls, so even if the option you’re considering isn’t an ideal match for your lifestyle be sure to inquire about upgrades that may increase the lifespan of your floor. Stronger finishes on hardwood, tougher stain-resistant carpet fibres and softer tile-like surfaces are now available so don’t write off you preferred choice before asking a few questions!

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll go into more detail about each flooring option but to get you started I’ve come up with a quick reference chart detailing the pro’s and cons of some popular flooring choices:

Compare New Flooring Options

This is obviously a simplified table just meant to give you an quick overview. Within each category there are exceptions, particularly where price is concerned and there is a LOT more to consider, however this is a good starting point. So I invite you to keep reading this series (as it seems I have a lot to say about the different flooring options available),  I’ll share with you some of my favourite selections and some exciting new options. I started this post thinking it would be short but I already have days and days of material written,  I don’t want to overwhelm right now though!

So, be sure to sign up for our RSS feed so you don’t miss out on the rest of the series!
And, if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.
What’s your favourite new flooring option?

How to Decorate a Sideboard: 7 Designer Tips for Decorating Your Dining Room

Decorating your sideboard is a fantastic opportunity to spice up your Dining Room. Sideboards, Buffets, or Console tables are so much more then additional storage, they’re an opportunity to adorn your room and add a touch of personality to your space. Whether your style is traditional or contemporary here are a few essentials to keep in mind before you begin to decorate a sideboard.

1. Clutter Kills – Simplicity is key, keep your objects or groupings on display to a minimum, too much variety and texture just creates chaos.

West Chelsea Loft modern dining room

by new york interior designer Amy Lau Design

2. Add Height – Because sideboards are typically hidden by the Dining Room table you’ll need to decorate with items that command your attention and height is a fantastic solution. Try vases, tall lamps, branches or tall floral arrangements.

Amoroso Design contemporary dining room

 by san francisco interior designer Amoroso Design

4. Set the Mood – Ambiance in the Dining Room is a must have for a memorable dinner party! Adding candles or the soft glow of buffet lamps brings an additional light source to the room; this flattering backlight gives your guests enough light to see what’s going on without having to crank up the light positioned over the table. Hinkley lighting provides not only wall lights for nice backlighting but decorative over the table light options as well.

Michel Sideboard modern dining room

by philadelphia showroom usona

5. Balance is Key – Avoid having items look like they’ve been abandoned on your sideboard by crafting a balanced design. To create balance choose items that have similar visual weight to place opposite each other.

Global Living / Bluefish Home - Showroom eclectic dining room

by atlanta showroom Global Living

6. Create Interest – Variety adds interest, try using groupings of like objects that each have unique characteristics. Choosing items that have a common thread will create interest without chaos!

Split Oaks Farm Dinign Room eclectic dining room

by boston architect LDa Architecture & Interiors

7. Show off Your Style – Your home is a reflection of your style, it’s your chance to show your guests what matters most to you. So choose to display items you love, and if you’ve got too much stuff try rotating the items you display every season!

The Old Painted Cottage traditional dining room

by los angeles showroom The Old Painted Cottage

Decorating, like most art forms takes practice. Try a few different arrangements before settling on one and don’t be afraid to try something new!

A.P. House contemporary dining room

by  Aurelio Vazquez

How to Hang Artwork, Pictures and Wall Decor at the Perfect Height Everytime

One of the subtle little details that gives a home that designer look is properly hung artwork and wall decor. It’s one of the easiest things to do, however it’s probably one of the most common decorating mistakes people make! Hanging artwork too high negatively affects the rooms’ proportions and creates an uncomfortable feeling in the room (plus it makes me feel short!).

So what is the right height to hang wall decor?

Common knowledge tells us to display artwork at eye level, but what does that mean?

It turns out the perfect height is 57″ to the centre of the picture or grouping. This is the measurement that Museums and Art galleries typically use, so to confirm this I ran around the house measuring the height of my artwork just to make sure that this was an accurate measurement, and it was, every time! How simple is that?

So here is a foolproof way to measure for installing artwork:

Step 1

Measure the height of the artwork and divide that number by 2. (i.e. 30″ / 2 = 15″ )

hanging pictures walls

Step 2

Measure the distance between the top of the picture wire (when stretched) and the top of the frame. (i.e. 4″ )

instructions for hanging artwork

Step 3

Subtract the second number (distance of wire to top of frame) from the first number (half of the artwork size). (i.e. 15″ – 4″ = 11″)

Step 4

Take the number you just figured out and add 57″, then mark that measurement on the wall (in pencil). Voila, install your picture hanger on this mark, set the picture, and you have a perfectly hung artwork or wall decor! (i.e. 57″ + 11″ = 68″ )hanging pictures on walls

This method works for several differnt types of artwork or picture groupings:

display picture framesdisplay pictures

hanging picture frames

Finally, I have to share this absolutely spectacular invention for hanging wall decor, they are called monkey hooks and they are a dream to install, you don’t even need tools!

installation art

picture hanging hardware
Cross Section of “Monkey Hook” in a Wall


All you have to do is push the sharp end into the drywall at the mark you made, just make sure there isn’t a stud in the way. Turn them so the sharp end points up in the wall and then place your picture on the hook. The large size can hold up to 35lbs, they’re brilliant!

Accurate, reusable and cheep, it doesn’t get much easier than this!

Step 1 picture holders

Step 2wall hooks

DONE!hanging pictures

Check out this related blog post How to Do IT: Creating a Family Photo Wall