Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Buying a New Sofa - What to Know First

What to Know Before Buying a New Sofa

As you begin your search for the right sofa, you have many factors to consider. You may think you are well informed until you reach the furniture store. Most salespeople at furniture stores are expert salespeople, not experts on furniture. You need some basic truths about sofa selection in order to get the right sofa for your room.

Almost every sofa can come in handy for a period of time. If you have a low budget and have an immediate need, you might choose a sofa that will last you for a short period of time. Be sure though, that you are willing to buy the lesser sofa in order to meet your immediate needs. Mediocre sofas will last you for at the most two years before the foam inside begins to sag and the fabric begins to fade. Is this worth even a cent of your money?
Instead, remember that you are making an investment in a sofa. The money you are putting into this sofa must be a sound investment, or you may lose more money in the long run by having to replace a substandard sofa. If you think of your sofa selection in this light, you will be able to make the best decision for your home. The four things to consider when choosing a sofa are your budget, the preferred quality, the desired appearance, and your room size.

Your budget is of great importance when it comes to the purchase of your sofa. While you should not waste your money on a mediocre sofa, you should also research the range of cost for a good sofa. If you decide that you are ready to put a large investment into your sofa, you are basically guaranteed to have a good quality sofa, with a custom appearance, and have it be the perfect size. If you want to save a little money, you can decide to sacrifice either quality, appearance, or size. The main idea is to know which one you are sacrificing by knowing the product. Most times, if you are getting too much of deal on a sofa, you can be sure that you are sacrificing either quality, appearance, or size. You have to choose your budget and know which factors are most important to you and your home.

When observing quality, you must know that quality is a variable word. What means quality to one store, will mean absolute rubbish to another. You must know about your product in order to define quality for yourself. Being aware of these following features will help you to ask the right questions when choosing a sofa.

Fabric Selection
When considering fabric selection, do they tell you what type of fabric is on the piece of furniture? If no information is provided on the fabric, what does this tell you about the quality of the fabric? If information is provided, is the type of fabric going to clean easily? Also, will it hold up after being sat on every day for four years? When a fabric has been tested for double rubs, the higher the amount of double rubs, the better the durability of the fabric.

Inside the Sofa
What type of foam is used in the backing and in the seating? Unless the foam is high density foam, it may sag within a year of purchase. If there are springs in the cushions, are they eight way hand tied? Springs are better than foam, but springs that are not tied well may become loose and cause an uncomfortable bulge in your sofa. The eight way hand tied springs are the best in sofa cushion padding.
Where was the product manufactured? Overseas production can be less monitored for quality and are more likely to have manufacturing defects. Do they truly care about the product they are making? Some soft line goods are actually put together by hand not by machines. Do they stand by their products? The better companies producing sofas will actually guarantee the product against manufacturing defects and will replace or repair damaged products.

Each of these factors is important to consider when determining the quality of your sofa. Just asking informed questions of your salesperson will help them know that you are well informed and are looking for a sound investment. Some stores you will enter may have salespeople who cannot even answer the most elementary questions. You can then make the best decision and not give these second rate establishments your business. Mainly, you want to decide in advance what you believe to be quality and stand by that decision.

Another part of the sofa selection process is determining the desired appearance for your sofa. You have to decide whether you have a specific look for your room that you would like to attain, and decide whether you want to pay the money to get that look. Many furniture stores have furniture that comes in only one fabric, so you might find the fabric you want, but not the style. Or you could find the perfect style sofa, and it is in a drab fabric. You can get a neutral sofa and add accent pillows if you are trying to save money. Another option when choosing the appearance of your sofa is to go custom. Custom furniture stores will work with you to help you choose the fabric and style of your sofa. Though this option is likely to increase the price of the sofa, you may want to pay more to get the exact color, pattern, and style of sofa that you desire.

Finally, you must know what size sofa that you need before you start shopping. Salespeople will sell you the "perfect" sofa with "incredible quality" and "exactly" in your price range, and you get it back to your house and it looks like a giant compared to the other pieces in your room. Start by measuring the available floor space. Then, always consider the other pieces of furniture in the room. If you have delicate existing furniture and you come home with a monster sofa, your whole room will feel unbalanced. Also, if you have very substantial pieces of furniture and you come home with a pretty delicate sofa, the sofa may be dwarfed and seem to be out of place. Be sure to decide on the size of your sofa and not be sold on something too large or too small.

Finding the Perfect Sofa

Always know your budget, the quality you desire, the desired appearance, and your room size when you go shopping for your perfect sofa. Give yourself a range on your budget, and decide not to sacrifice quality. Find a good balance for the desired appearance and how much you would like to spend, and be creative. Finally, never forget your room size or the balance that you need to create the most attractive and functional living space. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bedroom Organization - Tuesday Design Question

Question:  What is one product that I can buy to help me organize my bedroom?

Canvas Under Bed Storage

Most bedrooms are not disorganized because the people who live in the bedroom are unable to organize, but due to a lack of storage.  A person with endless storage is organized, clean, and has no trouble keeping it this way.  Therefore, organizing the bedroom becomes about adding storage.  One quick way to add storage to a bedroom is to utilize under bed storage containers.  Store bulky items such as sweaters and sweat shirts in these containers, this opens up space in your drawers.  Adding storage means increasing organization.

Question:  What is one product for the kitchen that will make my life easier?

Wrap Rack
The kitchen is all about accessibility.  The ease at which you can access your most used items is one of the most important aspects of kitchen design.  My life has been improved by a new addition to my pantry wall.  My husband recently helped me install a plastic wrap and foil holder for the wall.  In the past, I had all of these products under my sink, stretched out, and taking up loads of space.  Now that they are stored vertically, they take up less space and are also really easy to access.  When looking for new kitchen organization products, always consider how accessible they make your most used kitchen products.

Question:  What is one product that will make cleaning my shower much easier?

Soap Squirting Palm Brush
Though you most often think of this product being used in the kitchen, the soap squirting palm brush is excellent for quick cleaning in the shower and bathtub.  Simply fill the soap container with your desired liquid cleaning product (you can even use dish washing liquid), wet down your shower, and scrub.  While a tougher brush and soap can be used for heavy duty cleaning, this method is great for daily or weekly cleaning.


I love to dedicate Tuesdays to questions, so feel free to leave extra questions as a comment on today's blog.  I will try to answer them in next Tuesday's blog, or in the comments area.  Thanks so much for visiting!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Lazy Monday at Home

 How does home decor matter on lazy days?  If I am snuggled up in my pajamas watching my favorite show on Netflix with no plans for visitors, does decor still matter to me?  Alright, so you already know I'm going to say that it totally matters!

Fringe Throw - Etsy Shop:  Crickets Home
Even lazy days involve interior decorating and home decor.  The choices that you make on your non-lazy days will affect the quality of your relaxation times.  Today, I have been curled up on my large denim sofa covered in my cozy Navy throw (yes, the one pictured in yesterday's blog) and I have declared today a day of rest.  My cozy couch would be much less cozy without that throw.  For me, I must have a throw or blanket to feel fully relaxed.  If I was farther away from my favorite show and having to strain to see each episode, then design matters.  My design makes my lazy Monday possible.

What makes your relaxation complete?  Maybe it's your favorite throw, or your favorite patterned pillow.  Perhaps, your relaxation is aided by soaking in the rays of sunlight as they pass through an open window.  I know I love opening the windows on a fall day and letting the crisp air pass through and aerate the house.  These are just a few things that can add to the relaxation of the day, but what decisions can lead up to a wonderfully lazy day?

Having your house in good condition before entering into a day of relaxation makes the day even more sweet.  Consider in advance what you want to have done and what chore will make for one less item on the agenda for your day of peaceful laziness.  One of the cardinal rules of enjoyment is to have a space that is free of clutter and debris in order to fully be at peace.

Another important aspect of home decor that affects relaxation is the seating.  If all you have is dorm furniture from your old college days or maybe you only have formal seating, then you really must consider purchasing seating that will aid you and  your family in enjoying their time together.  Dorm furniture (or older furniture) can seem very comfortable, but it needs to be comfortable visually as well.  You gain more enjoyment from sitting in furniture that feels comfortable and looks beautiful.  Formal seating has the opposite problem.  Often a formal sofa will look wonderful, but feel absolutely rotten to sit on.  Consider having a formal room and a room for the family to kick back in.  Honestly, if you can't afford to do both, it is more important to feel comfortable regularly than to impress important guests with formal seating.

Lazy days are all about easy access.  You need to have easy access to your favorite drinks whether that includes lemonade, sweet tea, or a Cosmopolitan.  You want your coaster front and center.  In addition, it's great to have food trays in advance for eating in front of the television.  For movie nights, our family has a waterproof blanket that lays in the floor and we all pile on it to eat our pizza and popcorn.  At times, it is the decisions you make in advance that determine how easy it is to relax.

If your Monday is not as lazy as my Monday, don't consider me lucky.  This particular lazy day was not a matter of design, but was one of surprise when my son was sick this morning.  Sometimes a day at home is not planned, but with a little thought and planning any day can quickly take on hints of relaxation!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Repurposed Home Decor

Examples of Repurposed Home Decor from Etsy

We all have them.  Home decor items that no longer serve their purpose, think Ariel with a drinking glass.  The desk that was supposed to help the family pay the bills that instead is a host to papers of all sorts in assorted stacks and piles.  The wreath that looked wonderful for a few months and then lost a few shades to the sun.  The question isn't whether we have them, but what to do with all these items that take up space and no longer serve their original purpose.

Repurposing means taking an item and redefining what it is used for either by using it in a different manner or giving it an overhaul.  This either takes loads of creativity or a nudge in the right direction.  These days repurposed items are hot commodities.  Why have the same old objects when you can have new products created with the old ones?!  Let your mind expand and your imagination run wild while we look through some creatively repurposed items found on Etsy.

repurposed spigot towel rack

Here before you is a work of art, a towel rack composed of spigots.  Since I personally cannot resist placing my towels on dresser knobs, what could possibly be better than instead placing my towel on a wonderful spigot?

Etsy Shop:

map wreath

You see an old atlas where another might see a stash of charm.  Why throw away what you can use?  This wreath was made with old maps, and you can do the same with an old atlas or even a book that has outlived its usefulness.  Rather than seeing these things as one more item taking up room, consider repurposing them as craft materials!

Etsy Shop:

repurposed spice rack vanity organizer

If you upgrade your spice rack, don't get rid of the old one.  You can use it in your bedroom or bathroom!  Repurpose your spice rack as a vanity organizer.  Hang earrings on the front for easy access and place nail polish, perfume bottles, and make up in the spice holder.  Excellent way to store your beauty items and an excellent reuse of old home decor!

Etsy Shop:

suitcase nightstand

When is a suitcase no longer a suitcase?  When it's a table!  This vintage suitcase has been repurposed as a nightstand.  Not only can you dream of traveling beside such a classy piece of furniture, but you can also pack your bags . . . or your nightstand with plenty of books.  Storage and style!

Etsy Shop:

Repurposed Home Decor = endless options

The options are endless for repurposing home decor.  An old coffee table can be painted to serve as a children's train table.  An old vanity can be sawed in half to create to seperate bedside tables.  Now, before you get ready to throw an household item away ask yourself if you can reinvent the item through repurposing!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Analyzing Your Space: Elements in the Living Room

Elements in Your Living Room - Is your space for you?

If only a pair of glasses existed that was labeled “objective glasses” and once and for all we could see our space, our home clearly as others see it.  Let’s face it; our home is one of the hardest spaces in which to be objective.  Day after day, we see the mail piling up, we witness our children filling the floor with puzzles, baby doll clothes, and Thomas trains and we observe the sofa cushions that are beginning to sag with age, but within the grand scheme of things they all seem par for the course.  We could remedy these situations, but we learn to live with them and accept them.  However, through objective questioning, we can all temporarily borrow a pair of “objective glasses” and analyze our home spaces to better our day to day lives.

What is in your floor?
Working from the ground up, what items tend to hit your floor faster than anything else?  What stains appear quicker?  What items are taking up the most space?  Each of these objective questions helps you to realize the basics of what is literally in your floor.

Where do you sit?
Living rooms are meant for comfortable relaxation.  Is your seating comfortable?  Do you have enough seating?  How old is the seating in your living room?  Does everything fit well in your room?  If you cannot sit well, then the living room is not serving its function.

What do you do in the living room?
The living room is a room with many purposes and many activities occur within its borders.  What happens in your living room?  Are there any activities, such as a lively game of kick ball, that are not supposed to happen in this room?  Are you able to do everything in your living room that you would like to be able to do?  Does something need to change to allow you and your family to use the room more fully?  Just because something has always been a certain way, does not mean that it needs to continue.  Objective questions allow you to reevaluate the normal way of doing things and to find superior ways of living life.

What doesn’t belong?
What in your living room should not be taking up space?  What furniture pieces are simply filling the room and not serving a purpose?  What decorative items no longer make the room feel better, but instead more crowded?  What items are in the room for the sake of an activity that is no longer completed in the living room?  Consider this the editing stage.  Just like extra words need to be chopped out of a document, so extra decor and furniture need to be taken from a room to provide room for more decorative and more beneficial pieces.

Reaching Your . . . Objective
If you have an objective to be objective, then you have to be willing to put away feelings of attachment to home decor and furniture that have been a part of the life of the family for some time.  Home decor and furniture are there to serve a purpose; contrary to popular belief, these items are not extended family!  The moment these items stop serving their purpose, ties need to be severed.  Even if it means parting with furniture that has been in the household since college dorm days or since having your first child, you future life has no space for furniture and decor that no longer serve a function.

I hope you have enjoyed borrowing a pair of “objective glasses” while reading this blog.  I love sharing about interior design in the hopes that your home life will be bettered even in the slightest.  Feel free to submit a question for my “Tuesday: Ask an Interior Designer” blog!  This is a great way to receive objective home advice for a small question, but if you have need of more extensive design advice check out my Interior Design site to schedule a Skype session. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Home Gym Design: Creating A Naturally Healthy Home

I will not attempt to fool you into thinking that I have this ball in the pocket.  My home does not have a room dedicated to a home gym at this time.  However, incorporating a home gym into another room is not only helpful, but extremely needed for those who live a busy lifestyle.  Not everyone can cut out of their workday to spend an hour at the gym, but most people can take fifteen to thirty minutes out of their home life to keep their body healthy.

A "home gym" does not need to be elaborate.  Fitness is not about having deluxe equipment and scads of space.  These days fitness involves convenience, accessibility, and choosing to have it a part of your lifestyle.  Therefore, setting up a home gym is the best option for keeping fitness a priority in your busy life.

Cap Barbell 40-Pound Dumbbell Set
Free Weights
When considering a home gym space, free weights are a great way to strengthen the body without using tons of space.  These weights can slide under a table and still be accessible for workouts within moments.  Since the free weights are customizable, this can be great for men and women alike.  Finally, these weights are a great option for a lifestyle of fitness.  Strengthening the back and arms is a great way to burn calories and increase one's body image.

Pull Up Bar and Resistance Bands

Pull Up Bar and Resistance Bands
The door frame pull up bar and resistance bands are another wonderful option for small spaces.  Whether installing the pull up bar installed in the door of a larger closet or in the entrance to your home gym space, this is a constant reminder to workout.  The temptation will constantly arise to test your strength and who knows; maybe this will draw you into your home gym space.  The resistance bands are great not only for arm strength but for strengthening the legs.  These are perfect items to keep in your home gym space.  Remember that the home gym does not need a complete room, but merely an allocated potion within an existing room.

Cap Barbell Definity Push Up Holder

Push Up Bar
Personally, I detest putting the palms of my hands on the floor and getting uncomfortably close to the ground every time I do a push up.  That is where the push up holder comes into play.  This product makes push ups a little more comfortable and makes the angle a bit more likeable.  In order to keep push ups quick and painless, consider using these push up holders or the perfect push up product as an aid to your home gym workout.  They take up little space, but make the push up exercise much more inviting!

Valeo Foam Exercise Mat

Exercise Mat
Whether you have a hard floor or carpet, an exercise mat is extremely helpful for maintaining footing while doing certain exercises as well as providing extra padding for exercises that involve lying down or floor pressure.  This mat has elastic bands to keep it folded up when not in use.  Whether you choose this mat or another, consider matching the colors to your room decor.  A home gym can not only fit into another room, but it can look good!

Valeo Jump Rope
Jumping Rope
What is a better home gym aerobic exercise than jumping rope?  While the ceiling can be a barrier, a jumping rope can be taken out doors or in a hallway to be used.  A jumping rope is highly effective at getting the heart pumping and the heart rate higher for an aerobic activity.  Whether you are at an amateur exercise level or expert, you will benefit from including a jumping rope in your home gym space.

Home Gym
Of course, these are only a few examples of the types of equipment that you can include in your home gym.  While there is no limit the amount of items you can include in your space if you have unlimited space restrictions, but these are some great products to start with if you do have space restrictions (or budget restrictions!).  Lack of space or money never means that fitness needs to be less of a priority.  Fitness helps you to live your life to the fullest and keeps you feeling great!  Why should you sacrifice feeling great just because you lack space or money?  Make a little space and budget a little money to create your home gym; you won't regret it!

Extra suggestions for your home gym:

Valeo Medicine Ball

Home Scale

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