Friday, June 15, 2018

Ideas for an Attractive and Classy Living Room

~ This is a featured post. ~

The living room is one of the most important rooms in the house in terms of the overall appearance of your house. This is because the guests and all other people who enter you house will first have a look at your living room. Thus, it is extremely important that the living room is well organized at all the times and it is the living room only that reflects your aesthetic and personal taste. The living room creates the first impression on the people who enter the house and as the time-tested proverb goes, first impression is the best impression. This is why you need to make sure that your living room is maintained in such a manner that it provides the best impression to the visitors. You can make use of the following ideas to make your living room more attractive.


Hanging a big piece of art
You should try to do something unique which catches the attention of anyone who enters your house. Given this, hanging a very big piece of art on the walls of your living room would be the perfect option. This will certainly catch the attention of anyone who enters the living room. Moreover, hanging an art piece will not only make your living room look very elegant but would also create a very good impression on the visitors who come. You can readily find a number of these types of decorative pieces of art and most importantly, many of these come at pocket friendly prices so that this idea does not put a lot of pressure on your pocket.   

Styling should be smart yet simple
It would be a very good idea to keep the overall styling of your living room very simple but at the same time it should be smart enough. It is to be made a point that the living room is not cluttered and over accessorized because this makes the living room appear to be messy. Now, for the purpose of making the living room appear elegant and sophisticated you need to choose something that is stylish and attractive but simple. You should remember that a simplified space would allow the elements that are present to shine at their best.

Decorating with show pieces
Show pieces are always considered to be extremely attractive additions. Decorating your living room with show pieces would surely make it quite elegant and attractive. It would be worth mentioning that items like the Obsidian knife would be the most unique options available in this regard. It adds up to the overall look of the living room. These knives are very attractive to look at and are not too costly as well.

Sculptural items can be incorporated
It would be a great idea to incorporate a sculptural item in the living room which enhances the beauty of the living room and at the same time creates an artistic impression on the visitors. A nice sculpture is a great representative of the aesthetic taste of the homeowner.
The implementation of these ideas can help you decorate your living room at its best. So, go ahead and make your living room more classy and attractive!  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Summer Fun and #ThisIsMyBrita

Summer quickly descended into The Six. For us, we wasted no time to retreat to our Nordic style cottage in the Prince Edward County. With reno projects coming to an end, I could now spend more time styling and we also get to plan all the exciting fun activities with family and friends. It's going to be an epic cottage season this year. 

Picture below: our cottage lakeview at sunset

Good food and wine is always part of our definition of fun. We enjoy those impromptu pasta dinners al fresco, play a trac ball game, or simply lounge and read a book in our covered porch. Summer dinner get-togethers are our favs. So I was very excited when Angie from Devon Consulting asked me to join the #ThisIsMyBrita campaign to personalize my Brita pitcher. I couldn't live without Brita, especially in the cottage country where water is a lot harder and chlorine smell a lot stronger. Brita pitcher always comes handy when we host friends and family. It's the first thing I reached out to in the fridge whenever I felt the need to be hydrated. 

For the #ThisIsMyBrita program, I was given a Brita pitcher and a permanent marker to add personal styles and touches to the pitcher. Cottage and nature-related themes immediately came to mind. As I walked by the Alanna Cavanagh's Blue Bell print I recently acquired and now hung in my foyer, the light bulb went off in my head. So here's my personalized Brita pitcher inspired by my favourite illustration artist Alanna Cavanagh. The sun in the upper right corner is a little homage to summer and cottage season.  

I then coloured all the Bluebell flowers with the purple marker that came with the package. I was so happy with the outcome that I wanted to draw another one on my other black Brita pitcher. 

So how do you like my personalized Brita pitcher? Do you use Brita pitcher at home? Do you use it more during summer months? Do share! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Portugal in One Week

We were looking for a warmer spot to visit for one week in early Spring, and Portugal seemed to have fit the bill. Most of the cities along the southwest coast are generally a day trip away from Lisbon, so that made planning our trip a lot easier. If you've been following my travelogue, you'd know I hate to pack and unpack on a daily basis. Therefore, to be able to come back to the same hotel at the end of the day was everything to me. 

Picture below: a still moment captured by my camera in the bustling Alfama district. 

We spent six days in Portugal. Our itinerary went like this:

  • Day 1: arrival the night before. Our hotel was in Baixa (downtown). The next morning started with Museu Nacional do Azulejo, then worked our way through Church of Sao Vicente of Flora, Castelo de St. Jorge to the heart of the Alfama District. 
  • Day 2: Sintra and Cascais.
  • Day 3: Nazare and Obidos.
  • Day 4: Explore the Bairro Alto area in Lisbon.
  • Day 5: Art gallery (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum), shopping.
  • Day 6: Back to Alfama district, shopping.
  • Day 7: Departure. 

Weather

According to friends with family in Portugal, this was one of the most miserable springs they've ever had. It was cold and rainy with overcast every day. The weather really surprised us when we arrived. Except for one quick shower when we were in Nazare, the weather held up. It was sunny with blue skies and warm for all the seven days we were there. The sky couldn't be clearer even when we were up in the Pena Palace. According to locals, up in the mountains, it's almost foggy at all times especially in the morning. Looks like Portugal really liked us. 

Picture below: the Pena Palace from the Queen's Throne vantage point

Sintra old town: this was our view from the steps to Palácio Nacional de Sintra. We had lunch al fresco there and had the best time people watching. 


Coasts and Waves

Portugal has stunning coastlines and wave watching was my absolute favourite part from the trip. The colour of the ocean hasn't quite turned turquoise yet as those postcard pictures of Algarve, but the monster waves more than enough made up for it. 

Picture below: Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe. 



Picture below: the quaint and picturesque fishing village Nazare and its famous crashing waves




Art

We only had time for one gallery so Calouste Gulbenkian Museum was the natural choice. We went straight to the modern art section. 






Serendipity

It takes a bit of luck when it comes to travel experience: weather, hotel, food, people encountered, places living up to expectations. Strangely enough, because I was so consumed by work before our Portugal trip, I didn't have time to do much research or planning. All I wanted was a warmer place to visit so I packed no expectations whatsoever. Yet the trip turned out to be one of the most interesting ones we've ever had. 

Picture below: Obidos, a medieval town trapped in a time capsule. 

Our first instinct was to hike up to the walls as they avail the best views. Unlike the old town of Dubrovnik, the inside of the walls facing the town in Obidos were completely open with no railings. We really put our parkour skills to test. 

We stumbled upon the Jardim Botanico Tropical in Belem on our way to lunch. It was so hot that day that we had to take a break in the shade. A group of people were patiently waiting for this peacock to fan out so they could take pictures. As soon as we approached, Mr. Peacock completely fanned out and followed me around. He even turned around a few times just so I could take pictures of him from different perspectives! If this was not serendipity I don't know what is! 

Picture below: the nerdy me next to Mr Peacock. I am 5'4" so you can tell how tall his feathers are. 

Saudade

There isn't a perfect translation for the Portuguese word "Saudade". It loosely means a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia. And that's exactly how I wanted to feel at the end of our trip. Tell me, have you been to Portugal and how was your experience? 



Renovate Your New Home on a Budget

~ This is a featured post. ~ 

If you have just moved into your new house with thoughts of making it a dream home, then one of the first things you will need to do is to renovate and redecorate it to how you want it to be. Depending on the type of house you bought, this might take a lot of work to complete. However, one thing that will be a constant is your budget for the project. However, even if you are going to be tight on your budget, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still design and build your dream home, but you might need to think of creative ways to achieve it.

Picture below: our cottage builder-basic kitchen. It would be wasteful to replace all the functional albeit very basic appliances with higher-end ones. For the time being, I decided to go for a lower-cost yet more impactful subway tile backsplash which extends all the way to the beginning of the vaulted ceiling. That brings people's attention up and away from those ugly appliances. 


Get a Professional to Assess Your Home
Hopefully, you will have already had this done before you bought the house, as big problems can be expensive to fix and a deal breaker. However, if you didn’t, then you will need to ask a professional to come in and assess what areas of the house need to be fixed and their urgency. For example, if they find that there is a problem with toxic mold, then this will need to be a priority. You can read more here about mold and its effects. As well as the professional report, you should also be discussing with each other what you want the house to look like when it's finished. Write down the jobs you need to do so you can tick them off when they are completed.

Get Builders to do the Important Jobs
Unless you are a builder yourself, there are some jobs that you should leave to them to do rather than try to do them yourself. You can always get some quotes to see what the best prices are but bear in mind that doesn’t guarantee quality work. Qualified builders or building companies will also have access to the right tools to do the job, so you won’t need to worry about buying additional things to do the job yourself. If you are lucky, you might have a friend or family member in the trade that can help you at a reduced rate.

Ask Family and Friends to Help
There will be many small jobs around the house that you might be able to ask friends or family to help complete. These jobs include painting, gardening, stripping and polishing or perhaps general cleaning up. You can even make it a special event and have a party after all the jobs are complete for the day. You can unpack the BBQ and have some snacks and drinks available for everyone. The good thing is that older kids can also help out which will keep them busy.

Learn to do the Basic Tasks
To be good at DIY, it is important that you at least learn the basics first. If you have never tackled DIY before, then there will be many tips that you can learn to make the job easier for you. You can start by looking at some online videos where people show you how to lay flooring or paint a ceiling. You can even start taking some evening classes to learn practical examples and expand your knowledge. As well as this, there are also many DIY forums on the internet with experts that can answer your questions. You will be surprised how a little knowledge can be such a great help.

Find Bargains at Auctions
If you are looking for furniture for your home, then this can put the budget up, especially for large items such as a bed and dining table. However, there are ways that you can save some money by going to auctions instead of buying them new. There are furniture and other household auctions all over the country. All you need to do is find the one closest to you and see what they have to offer. It is important to check how much they would be to buy new before you start bidding as you don’t want to spend more than you should. It is also a good idea to have a list of things you want to buy, and not be tempted by anything else while you are there. It can quickly become an expensive trip if you get too engrossed in other things.

Look to do Things That Will Save You Money
If you are considering renovating your home, then it is a sensible time to think about adding cost-saving items as well. For example, you could think about adding an energy efficient boiler system and water saving taps and shower heads. You could also ensure that all the lights use energy saving bulbs and that you use motion sensors to turn the lights off if there is no movement. Other features that can save you money are solar panels, good quality insulation, and rainwater tanks for toilet use and watering the garden.

Think About Reusing Existing Features
As you are renovating, look at what features the house already has and see if there are any that you can reuse. For example, if you have a nice stone floor in the kitchen, then consider keeping it and giving it a polish to bring it back to its best. Another area that can have some good natural features is the garden. If it doesn’t need a lot of work, then think about leaving it as it is, at least for now. You can always think about changing the layout at a later date.

Spread Out the Renovation
A good way to keep yourself within budget is to spread the renovation work out over a year or so. It will give you the time to save in between parts of the project, and it will mean less disruption to your lives as well. If you can put up with a little delay, then this is a good option for you.

Having to stick to a restricted budget can be tough, but, with some work and planning, you can start to turn your house into the home you have always wanted. 

Enjoy Your Home Through Seasons

~ This is a featured post.~

Your home should be your safe place. It should be a space that you return to whenever you want to have fun, socialize, or escape the demands of daily life. It should also be a space that you can enjoy all year round. Whatever the weather, it is important that you living space has what it takes to support your needs. If this is not yet the case, now is the time to make a change. There are so many ways for you to update your property, but you should start with the following four tips. They will help you to make the most of your home and to enjoy it through the seasons.

Take control of your temperature
Whether the outside world is boiling hot or freezing cold, it is vital that you are comfortable in your home. That is why you should get in touch with Cool Care Heating and Air Lexington SC. With this team of professionals on board, you will be able to transform your property into the perfect environment. Instead of suffering in silence, you will have complete control over your surroundings. At the touch of a button, you will be able to adjust the temperature of your living space and relax in style.

Bring in the natural light
The next tip is to bring in the natural light. Even in the warm summer months, it is possible that your home will be dark. You can resolve this situation by installing skylights and larger windows. You could also think about fitting bi-folding doors to the back of your property. So long as these additions are properly sealed, they should also help to keep you warm during the winter. Although it will be far too cold for you to sit outside, all of the available sunlight will be streaming into your home through the increased number of glass panes. 

Establish a cleaning schedule  
Another useful tip is to establish a cleaning schedule for your property. It is a great way for you to look after your home, rather than taking it for granted. All year round, you should make the effort to vacuum, dust, scrub, and sweep your living space. You should also air your property at least once a week by opening up all of your windows and doors. It might be tempting to skip this step when the weather is cold, but you need to power through. Otherwise, your property may become stale and stuffy.

Pay attention to detail
Last but not least, you should pay close attention to the detail of your design. This is a wonderful way for you to ensure your surroundings reflect the season you are in. Simple touches such as changing up your cushions, your floral arrangements, and your scented candles could have an impressive effect. You could even switch up your artwork so that you have a contrast between your summer prints and your winter works. On the one hand, this will require some additional effort. On the other hand, it could be a fantastic way for you to guide your property through the seasons. 
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