Category Archives: Home and Garden

Leather and Microfiber Options

As a loving owner of a cat or a dog, you know that selecting the best upholstery for your couch can be a little complicated. If you are a realist, you must have realized that not just your prized sofa, but most of your home is at the mercy of your beloved pet. Even when not trying to destroy your upholstery willfully, simply by climbing, sitting or walking on it, your pet can exact a heavy toll.

Here are some problems you might have had to contend with:

  • Claw marks and scratches
  • Pet hair clinging to the upholstery
  • Dirt marks
  • Stains from accidents or throwing up.
  • Best Couch Fabric for Dogs

While you should definitely consider training your pet to behave, why not also make it easier on yourself by choosing upholstery that is more pet-friendly? Select a fabric that has a tight weave that does not have much texture since that can easily get caught in claws. Stay away from light colors unless you have a well-behaved and well-trained pet. Select a fabric that you would buy for a heavy usage area. And consider that leather and microfiber are best-suited to life with pets.

 

Leather

Leather is one of the best coverings you can choose, period. It is long lasting and actually improves with age and use. It is easy to maintain, comes in many colors, and is available at different price points.

When it comes to pets, it can stand up to most. When pets climb on it, it is easily cleaned; pet hair is easily removed because it doesn’t cling to the leather.

It is possible for your cat to leave holes in it if it uses your sofa as a scratching post, but that behavior should be discouraged no matter which upholstery material you choose. You can clean leather yourself, but if it’s seriously soiled, you can have it professionally cleaned.

Microfiber

A close second to leather is microfiber, a synthetic fabric.

  It is also a good choice, simply because it is easy to clean and maintain and wears well. Microfiber is also more affordable than leather and can be found in many colors.

Your pet’s claws won’t get caught in it because there are no loops in the fabric. It is not a hair magnet, which is great if your pet is a long-haired breed.

Stains are easy to clean off microfiber, should accidents happen. Just make sure to blot most of the mess with a clean towel and then clean with a little soap and water. But make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.

 

Other Considerations

You may find that a patterned fabric works better than a solid, but it is best to avoid any fabric that is nubby or heavily textured because your pet’s claws can easily get caught in it. Besides, it might be too much fun to scratch. It goes without saying that fragile fabrics, such as silk, wool or linen should be avoided or used only where your pet is not allowed.

Create an Allergy Free Home with the Right Furniture

Living with allergies is challenging, but you can furnish so that you alleviate some of the challenge. Some common allergens in the home are pet dander, dust mites and pollen, and while it is not possible to get rid of them completely they can be minimized to mitigate the sufferings of those who are allergic to them.

Maybe keeping your home clean and dry is the most important step to take when you need to minimize allergens inside a home.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends aggressive cleaning as a step to keeping your home allergy free.

Dehumidifiers and air purifiers have a role to play as does temperature control. Another step you can take is discouraging pets from sleeping on your bed. Additionally, any mold should be promptly removed, by professionals if need be.

Some common sense precautions include avoiding water stained carpets, ceilings or tiles in a home, and removing them as soon as possible to get rid of pollution sources.

In addition to these steps, the furniture and decor you select can play a big role in keeping a home allergy free.

 

Go for a Clutter Free Look

Avoid overstuffed furniture and prevent crowding furniture in any area. You should be able to go around the furniture so that you can access all areas of the room to clean it. It is important to get rid of all dirt and debris on a regular basis, and frequent cleaning is essential to keep allergens to a minimum.

Make sure to have enough storage in a child’s room where toys can be stored to protect them from collecting dust. You may also want to avoid keeping books and collectibles in a bedroom because these can collect a lot of dust. Keep nightstands free of objects so that the air around the bed is clean.

 

Choose Upholstered Furniture Wisely

Leather and vinyl are probably the best upholstery choices for allergy sufferers.

These materials can be cleaned easily, and today you can get leather in a variety of colors and looks. Buying a good quality leather sofa can be expensive, but the investment pays off in the long run.

If you must have fabric upholstery be prepared to clean more often than you would with leather. The idea is to get as tight a weave as possible so that particles don’t travel through it. Vacuum thoroughly to keep it dust-free. Also remember, organic fabric is not necessarily hypoallergenic. Some materials such as organic wool can still cause allergies.

 

Bare Floors Are the Best

It is best to have bare floors as they can be cleaned easily and thoroughly. Carpets and rugs, on the other hand, can be the greatest repositories of dust. Dense or high piles on rugs and carpets are the worst. Dust settles into the fibers making it impossible to get rid of it completely.

If it is not possible to remove the carpet, use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter frequently.

Throw rugs and dhurries are better than carpets, especially look for those with a low pile or those that are washable. Also, make sure any rugs or underlays are low VOC products.

 

Avoid Heavy Curtains and Drapes

Blinds could quite possibly be the best window treatment for an allergy free environment inside the home but avoid accordion pleated ones. Metal Venetian blinds are better than wood, as wood can also harbor mites.

If you must have curtains, use light cotton ones. These have the advantage of being easily washed to get rid of any dust that may settle on them. Completely avoid heavy drapes or ones that pool on the floor.

 

Protect Your Bed

Beds need special attention because pillows and mattresses are also a breeding ground for dust mites. Besides the obvious, which is laundering bedsheets and pillowcases at least once a week, it also helps to encase pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers. These covers are available in fabric and also as airtight, zippered plastic coverings that prevent a person from coming in direct contact with them.

Better still, you can find mattresses and pillows that are made from hypoallergenic material. It still makes sense to find out what is in your mattress and make sure that you are not allergic to it. Many mattresses do contain latex which could be a source of allergies for some. If you are not allergic to latex, then it might be a viable choice as it doesn’t encourage dust mites.

Easy to Assemble Furniture

We heart companies that make beautiful yet affordable furniture, whether it be from an online retailer or everyone’s favorite Swedish flat-pack furniture retailer. Truthfully though, putting together flat-packed finds can be hard– not to mention time-consuming.

 

Thankfully, a startup furniture company called Greycork, based in Rhode Island, aims to take the hassle out of assembling furniture. Everything they sell takes minutes to put together, and just as amazing–no tools are required.

 

And here’s the frosting on the cake: Greycork sells a living room set called Felix, which includes a sofa with a chaise, coffee table, end table and bookshelf, all for less than $2000. You can also purchase each item separately. 

Greycork’s co-founder and CEO, John Humphrey worked the assembly line in his family’s furniture factory. His experience helped to inspire his decision to create a collection of living room furniture that was easy to ship, and just as necessary, a cinch to assemble.

 

Shown here is Greycork’s flat packed sofa. The frame is warp resistant MDF, and the legs and the back frame are ash — that’s the same wood used to make baseball bats.

 

All about seating and cushions

If you want to judge the quality of a sofa, go beyond what it looks like. Quality goes deeper than looks, and that is why two identical-looking sofas can vary so much in price. What lies inside determines how your sofa rates for quality.

The frame, seating support and filling not only determine your sofa’s level of comfort but also its ability to retain its shape and stability in the years to come.

Here’s a closer look:

The Frame

How long a sofa will last and retain its shape depends largely on the frame, and a high-quality sofa always has a strong, sturdy one.

  • The best frame is made out of kiln-dried hardwood. The process of kiln drying removes all moisture from the wood, enabling it to retain its shape and stability over a long period of time. A frame made of green wood can shrink or crack as it dries. Soft wood can bend and break easily, while knotted wood is prone to cracks.
  • In a good-quality frame, the joints get special attention. They are glued, dowelled, and screwed. The corners are further strengthened by the addition of reinforcing blocks for extra support and strength.
  • Generally speaking, plywood and particleboard frames are inferior, especially if they are held together with staples. However, additional layers of plywood can help reinforce the frame, so as you can see, construction matters as much as material. If you must choose a sofa with a plywood frame, make sure it has at least 11 to 13 layers of plywood.
Seating Support

The seating support is also an important component in determining the quality of a sofa. It works in tandem with the frame and the filling. A sturdy frame provides an anchor for good seating support and filling augments it. You should always test the quality of seating support by sitting on a sofa before you buy it.

It shouldn’t sag, and it should provide good support in the seat and in the back.

  • The eight-way hand tied springs system is one of the best support systems. The craftsman connects each spring to the adjoining one with a strong twine. The twine passes front to back, side to side and then diagonally in both directions, thus tying each spring securely.
  • Another method is sinuous spring construction. Sinuous springs are “S”-shaped and run from the front of the seat to the back. These springs are supported by additional wires that cross from side to side. This also makes for a strong seat, and it might be the preferred option in a sleeker style or smaller frame because it requires less space.
  • The third option is web suspension, in which bands of webbing cross the seat and back. These are then attached to the frame to make a platform for the cushions. Webbing can be made of either natural or man-made fibers, and if it is used alone doesn’t make for very strong support. However, in better-quality sofas, it is used with a tensioner that fastens the webbing securely to the frame. The web suspension is the least preferable of the seating support options.

 

Cushion Filling

Now that you have considered the frame and seating support, it is time to look at what kind of filling is used for the cushions.

  • The most common filling is high-density polyurethane. Obviously, the higher the density, the firmer the cushion will be. Foam can be wrapped in softer material or cotton to make it softer. Dacron-wrapped foam is the cheapest option, but it won’t last as long.
  • Make sure that you are getting high-density foam because lesser-quality foam can start breaking down pretty quickly, causing sags, and the fabric does not stay taut when that happens.
  • If you want a really soft seat, consider down cushions. These are considered to be the premium choice, and as you might imagine they are also among the most expensive. High-quality cushions have down-proof ticking under the upholstery fabric to prevent feathers from poking through. Cushions filled just with down are high-maintenance and can need daily attention.
  • Down used in combination with other materials is also a good option but also another expensive option. Pads made out of a Dacron polyester fiber and down, known as Blendown pads, are wrapped around high-density foam.
  • These pads can also be used with springs that have been wrapped up in foam. High-density foam surrounds the springs, which are then wrapped in down pads. The result is a soft surface with a strong, resilient support inside. This is a good option because the cushions do not lose their shape easily.

Bottom line: Quality doesn’t come cheap, but a good-quality sofa will stay more comfortable and retain its looks for a long time. So consider buying the best quality that you can afford.

Furniture Solutions For Small Space Living

For the past several years, living in small spaces has been the growing trend in American housing markets. From micro-loft apartments to entire houses that consist of no more than a few hundred square feet, small spaces offer a streamlined, minimalist approach to life and possession along with the added benefit of a much smaller carbon footprint. And while the micro-lifestyle might seem at odds with the American tradition of big homes and wide open spaces, the fact is, we kind of love these tiny spaces. We’re fascinated by them and the thought that it might be possible to fit our entire lives into such small spaces. The challenges that such a life offers haven’t only sparked the imagination of the design-loving public, they’ve captivated the minds of furniture designers as well. The key, it seems they’ve found, is to find ways to create things that are also something else. And as expected, what they’ve come up with is pretty incredible. So if you’ve ever thought about making your own foray into the world of micro-sized living, or if you’ve got a small space at home that could use some customization, here’s a look at 8 transformable pieces that will make it possible for you to live big while living small.

Any of us who have ever lived in a studio apartment are likely familiar with the constant struggle of deciding whether we want to allocate what little space we have to either the living room or the bedroom. To say nothing of the time it takes to get used to the fact that visitors are constantly trying not to sit on our beds. Enter Resource Furniture, which is pretty much the go-to for anything you might need when it comes to transforming furniture pieces for every room in the home. To help clear up this age old conundrum, Resource offers the Nuovoliola 10 Murphy Bed. Hidden away in a cute little 3-seat sofa, this queen-sized bed not only disappears seamlessly into the decor, it also transforms with a minimum of hassle. The shelf that sits above the sofa even transitions smoothly into becoming the foot of the bed, offering additional nighttime storage without any extra attachments or transformations. Now the space where the bed used to go is the perfect place for some additional seating, and you can have a complete living room as well as a full bedroom without an inch of extra space. 

If you’ve got more wall space than floor space, yet you still find yourself in need of extra seating whenever company comes, Studio Dror has just the thing for you. Just one of a number of transforming miracle works by the ingenious designer, Dror Benshetrit, the Pick Chair takes just a second – and only one hand – to morph from captivating wall art to comfortable seating and back. And if you feel like you need just as many transformable pieces for when you’re leaving your apartment as you do when you’re in it – don’t worry, Dror’s got you covered. The rolling Tumi suitcase expands by stages, ending up twice as large as its original size. And in just a few snaps, you’re back where you started – with a modestly-sized carry-on that’s easy to store without taking up too much extra space in your micro-loft or tiny home.

The great thing about an industrial loft space, even a small one, is, well, the space. The floor plan is completely open, you can arrange your rooms however you’d like, and with their nice high ceilings, you’re sure to have an amazing amount of space overhead. The issue with that last part, of course, is that you can’t really use any of it. But that’s about to change. The Vancouver, Canada-based brand, Expand Furniture, specializes in transformable small space solutions of every sort. But perhaps their most intriguing offering is the do-it-yourself loft space that not only promises open plan denizens everywhere more space in which to live, it offers them more floors on which to enjoy it. Now it may not turn your loft into a duplex, but one or two of these in a loft could add a home office, a bedroom, or even just extra storage space, all while helping to give definition and separation to the rooms beneath. Pair one of these with the right size of murphy bed on the ground floor and you could have a multi-bedroom home in no time – and with room to spare. 

Easy DIY Bathroom Ideas

Add a spa-like feeling to your bathroom by building a beautiful cedar bath mat to place outside of your shower or tub for a luxurious bathroom update.

After a long day at work, soaking in the tub is an easy way to relax your tired muscles, but an easy way to make your time in the bath more relaxing is to have a tray to place lit candles and a good book to read while you soak.

Replace your old standard toilet paper holder using a small length of pipe, a door pull and a short piece of rope or leather cord to craft your own chic toilet paper holder.

 

Learn how to make this DIY toilet paper holder, or see how to take the same design to make a Palm Springs, Scandinavian and natural themed toilet paper holder at Design Love Fest.

Painting your bathroom cabinet doors and drawers is simply a matter of a bit of prep work and some paint and you can easily make a big impact in your bathroom with just one can of paint.

 

Find out how to affordably refinish your bathroom cabinets to update them with a fresh new look with the tutorial at Stephanie White.

Hide those ugly cardboard tissue boxes by making a tissue box cover for $3 using Birch plywood. Once completed the tissue box can be left natural, stained or even painted to match your bathroom decor.

 

Learn how to make your own DIY tissue box cover at The Merry Thought.

Never run out of toilet paper in the bathroom again by creating a stylish way to store extra rolls of toilet paper in your bathroom by decorating a glass vase with copper tape.

 

Find out how to make your own DIY toilet paper holder at Design Improvised.

 

Buying Furniture Tips

Before buying furniture, you should know how to find the best match for your needs. Every piece of furniture has certain elements or features that determine whether or not it is a good fit.

There are some general rules that apply to all furniture purchases, but sometimes you have to consider more specific parameters. And let’s face it, furniture is such an investment that understanding how and what to buy makes sense. Otherwise, the process can become confusing, intimidating and ultimately frustrating.

A sofa is one of the most important furniture purchases for your home, so before you buy a sofa make sure you are getting one that fits your needs.

A sofa that is perfect for your living room could be a terrible idea for your family room. First, figure out how you want to use your sofa and who will be using it. Determine whether your sofa is a good fit for your space and since there are sofas to fit any style of room, look for one that satisfies your own personal sense of style. The fabric you select for your sofa contributes immensely to its usability and beauty.

Just as when you buy any furniture, you should be confident that you are buying the best quality sofa for your budget, and that it offers you the comfort you need from it.

A sleeper sofa is a great multifunctional piece of furniture with the potential to turn any room into a bedroom. You can fit a sleeper sofa in so many places – a child’s room, an office or even an appropriately sized alcove.

Almost any sofa can be bought as a sleeper sofa, and sleeper sofas come in all sizes. If you only have room for a twin bed, find one in a chair. A slightly bigger room might be able to accommodate a full-size sleeper sofa, which could function as loveseat when not in use for sleeping. A sofa that seats three people easily can be transformed into a queen-sized bed.

Buy furniture that functions both as comfortable seating and a comfortable bed in any size, and what’s more many sleeper sofas come with hidden storage.

DIY Headboards That Stylish

When both space and money are tight, a headboard is one of those items that stays on your décor wish list. But thanks to the following DIYs, you don’t have to go without this stylish staple. Each of these small space friendly ideas will wake up a tired bedroom with unconventional style without busting your budget.

If you like to read before lights out, a cushy headboard, like the no-sew project shown here makes sitting up in bed super comfy. To make you’ll need two items you can find at many big box stores: a bench cushion with a washable cover and wall-mounted coat rack.

 

Want to make a bookish statement? One clever do-it-yourselfer upcycled old encyclopedias and atlases into a one-of-kind headboard. See the DIY.

Anyone can fake a headboard with paint. This mountainscape is easy to create with painter’s tape.

 

Fans of Scandi style love plywood décor for its warm and natural beauty. You’ll need one sheet to make this lovely headboard. Just mount to the wall and attach an IKEA RANARP clip light.

If you think nothing is duller than neutral colors, you can spice up your bedroom with this splashy headboard idea by Five Mile Factory.

 

To make, just map out your design on a pegboard with painter’s tape before painting.

You’ll find macramé wall hangings similar to this beauty by Macrame Forrest over many guest beds at the swanky Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon.

Create an expensive looking headboard using faux tin ceiling tiles. You can paint them, and they’re also easy to hang with double stick tape.

How to Choose the Right Sofa Color

A sofa is one of the top three furniture expenditures at home, so choose your sofa carefully. Like other major furniture purchases, your new sofa will be with you for many years. Whether you call it a couch or a sofa, that large and (hopefully) comfortable piece of furniture in your living room can make a big impact on your color choices for the rest of the room.

If you’re starting a decorating project from scratch, a sofa can be chosen first so you can decorate around it.

A showpiece sofa as inspiration for a room could be upholstered in a vibrant luxury fabric, or covered in a colorful print. It is a focal point of the room.

If you are adding a sofa to an already decorated room or if you’d prefer the sofa play a supporting role, then choosing color becomes very important. Choosing a new sofa for an existing color palette means that you’ll have to decide if the sofa will be neutral, or if it will take on an accent role.

There are designers that favor a sofa that matches the wall color to unify the room and make the room look larger. This is a creative idea for a harmonious color scheme. If you are buying a sofa to match your wall color, then changing the wall color in the future could be complicated. The most common approach is to choose a sofa that complements the other decor and is not the center of attention nor camouflaged into the wall color. This is why neutral sofa colors are the most popular for most homes.

 Should You Choose a Light or Dark Sofa Color?

Once you decide if your sofa will be an accent or neutral color, you’ll need to decide if your sofa will be light or dark. Your floor color has a big effect on choosing the right sofa color. If you’re considering a potential sofa sitting on your floor, will it float on a sea of dark wood flooring or carpet or will it blend into it?

Because a sofa is traditionally large and upholstered, and most fabric absorbs light, it can darken a room considerably. A trick I use when considering a new sofa color is to find a sheet or blanket in a similar color and drape it over the existing sofa. This gives you an idea of how the color will look, and if the sofa will be too dark or too light for the room.

If you’re putting a dark sofa on a dark floor, it will appear to disappear into the room. If you would like to use a dark sofa on a dark floor, you should try to make it more visible. A dark sofa with metal or light wood legs can create visual space between the sofa and the floor. The use of a lighter rug under the front of your sofa can separate the dark colors and make the sofa color pop. A light wood or metal coffee table could also help to define the sofa from the floor.

A light-colored sofa has different challenges from a dark one. The biggest challenge of a light sofa is staining and wear. Before selecting a white or light sofa consider how the room is being used now, not how you hope it will be used.

If your dog is like mine and believes that a sofa is just another large dog bed, then you would probably not want to put a white sofa in your living room without some serious retraining. If your sofa will be used by kids and pets, and you still love the idea of a light sofa, then washable slipcovers are a stylish compromise.

Things You Should Know About Sofa Colors

Once you’ve considered the light and dark of your new sofa, it’s time to think about color. If you’re not working with a showpiece sofa, then a sofa in a neutral color is a popular choice. Neutral sofas are easy to decorate around, and can easily keep up with your style as it changes over the years.

Neutral sofa fabric includes beige, gray, taupe, and cream. A matte beige sofa fabric can appear dull around other colors, but a textured beige fabric with flecks of monochromatic color can create interest without adding new colors. Gray sofas can range from pale to charcoal colors. Considered a style chameleon, gray can be sophisticated, comfortable, cool or crisp. Neutral sofas can quietly complement your other decor, but still be stylish and attractive.

A sofa of any color can be beautifully integrated into your space if you treat it as another color from your color scheme. This means adding accessories or prints in the same color as the sofa, to spread the color around the room. A sofa is a large expanse of fabric, by repeating pops of the same color as an accent, it can balance your room.

How to Make Calm And Cozy In The Family Room

There’s something truly beautiful about textiles. They are the pieces of fabric that work to give our home an identity. The perfect pillow, a beautiful throw, a handmade blanket. Each of these pieces has a story behind it. Each textile has a history to it, a level of artisanship and thought-provoking design. And each can be used to tell our own individual story at home, highlighting a color, pattern or place that we love. Many times it’s the textiles that truly make a house feel like a home.

 

Kera Thompson, the founder of Interwoven, has a focus on bringing handmade textiles from around the globe to all of our homes. This textile maven’s Salt Lake City home is a nod to her well-traveled life. From room to room you can spot an array of pieces she’s discovered during her travels. Vintage kilims, colorful kantha quilts, and Hmong pillows, are woven seamlessly into the interior. With a focus on highlighting our world’s global connection, through textiles, Thompson hopes to highlight just how interconnected we all truly are. 

 

“From my travels and experiences as a designer, mother, and model, I have realized how interwoven we are as a world community, and cherish the beauty that comes as we become aware and embrace the good around us,” remarks Thompson. “Each piece in my collection is just a small reflection of that beauty.”

Thompson’s home is Interwoven’s ultimate showroom. Each room highlights how global textiles can effortlessly fit into the most modern of spaces. In the master bedroom, a neutral bed and bedding are layered with colorful blankets and cushions. A vintage sari kantha quilt brings home Pantone’s marsala shade, while a kilim pillow adds a riot of hues to the bed.

Textiles can be expressive pieces. Many times they help us show off our individuality at home. They can be used to add color, pattern and can even be the foundation of a certain feel you want in a space. In her daughter’s bedroom, the home’s global lifestyle continues to be on display. A colorful kantha quilt from India becomes the perfect way to express a childhood exuberance.

Beyond textiles, Thompson has a way of integrating global pieces in some of the most unexpected ways. A handcrafted mobile above her daughter’s bed adds to the room’s color story of yellow, blue and bright pink.

Thompson’s home studio marries modern furnishings with the global elements that make up her shop. Among her bright blue shelving, you can find handwoven African baskets, a collection of gorgeous quilts, and piles of pillows all ready to ship out at a moment’s notice.