Monday, May 3, 2010

New Blog! New Website!


We have a new website that is much more user friendly! We will be posting comments, photos, articles, pictures, etc there.

Please stop by and visit us at -

Monday, February 1, 2010

Myth Buster: Is Bigger Always Better?

Exploding the Myth

Typically, decorating advice focuses on the all-encompassing goal of making the space look bigger. Unfortunately, with this line of thinking, the focus is in the wrong place.

If your main goal is to create a larger living space, it' would be much easier to just go out and buy futons for beds, and throw pillows for sitting on the floor, and you're done with decorating!

However, if your goal is to create light filled rooms that are comfortable, inviting and harmonious, you'll want to make certain decisions that will accomplish that goal. So how do you maximize the space you have, no matter the size? Start with these ten steps.

1. Put rooms on a diet. Too much furniture is a common problem in small spaces. Get rid of the things that don't support the main purpose of the room.

2. Downsize. Oversized furniture might look good in the furniture showroom, but it can overpower a smaller room. Proportion is key. Smaller pieces for smaller rooms. Try a loveseat for seating instead of a full size sofa.

3. Put paint in its place. In a smaller home, color is best as the background for a room, not the focal point. Use a neutral color throughout the house or several shades of the same color.

4. Black is back. A dash of black is an important element in any room. It adds depth, creates a focal point and causes other elements in the room 'pop'.

5. Flower power. Flowers are important and often overlooked as an accessory. As living art, find at least one place in your home for fresh flowers and change them often.

6. Mirror, mirror on the wall. A well placed mirror adds depth to any room and reflects light, making the space appear brighter and larger.

7. Forget the skirts. Show the legs on your upholstered pieces. This creates a feeling of more space by allowing your eye to travel across the room and see more of the floor under the furniture.

8. Be selective. Put out only your favorite things. Accessory clutter will destroy the beauty and grace in any room.

9. Don't overdo the windows. Keep window treatments clean and simple. Sheer fabrics, fabric shades and some blinds help prevent a 'heavy' treatment from taking up too much space in a smaller room.

10. Let there be light. Good lighting is critical in a smaller home. Two key elements are 1) soft lighting for warmth and 2) focused lighting for tasks. Use dimmer switches, candles, and floor lamps for ambiance and variety in your lighting.

Remember, for any size space the goal may not be to 'make the room look bigger', but it could be to make the room more comfortable and inviting. . . no matter the size!

Please let me know your thoughts, comments or questions. I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is The Federal Energy Tax Credit a Farce?

Have you heard in the news about the Federal Energy Tax Credit?

Some window treatment manufacturers have gone so far as to take this opportunity to make claims that their products may qualify for the Federal Energy Tax Credit offered by the US government.

There was an ad on TV last night about Hunter Douglas products that ended with a statement along the lines of... "certain Hunter Douglas products qualify for the Federal Energy Tax Credit."

This type of deceptive advertising only leads to confused and disappointed consumers, especially when they find out that there is only one product in the Hunter Douglas line that is certified for the tax credit. And even only under CERTAIN (dare I say... impossible) conditions, will it qualify for the tax credit!

Unfortunately, it seems as though NO actual window coverings qualify for this Federal Energy Tax Credit.

Buyers beware!

Ask alot of questions...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Decorating with Black

Black has an amazing power to solidify any color scheme, pull together wayward, mismatched pieces of furniture, and give your home a touch of true Hollywood glamour. Check out these top 10 tips for using black in your décor.

1. Keep it minimal -
Too much black in any room is too much. Add white and other colors to play up the contrast and keep the room pleasing and balanced.

2. If you like contemporary décor - You'll want to have at least one main piece of furniture in black - couch, ottoman, chair, armoire, etc.

3. If your taste is more cottage décor - Add a few weathered pieces of black furniture. They'll ground all the pretty whites and pinks and add a grown up sense of style.

4. Red, white, and black - Considered the most romantic color palette, is an almost fail-safe scheme. Use bright white trim to contrast the brilliant red, while the black acts as the anchor.

5. Let your sense of fun and adventure come through - Try a bold wall color. Be sure to tame it with touches of black in your accessories, side chairs or smaller upholstered pieces.

6. If you're nervous about adding black - Start small by coating minor architectural details in black such as picture frames, accessories, pillows, towels, etc.

7. Punch up your bland color scheme - If your room needs 'something', but you're not sure what, look to black to create a much-needed design statement in any room.

8. A Classic - Want a pop of interest in any room? A black-and-white tiled floor should do the trick. Almost any color will combine easily with this look, and the furnishings can be as glamorous as you'd like.

9. Stylish Flooring - Black in an area rug is a great grounding element. Just be sure to use the black elsewhere in the room as well.

10. Rinse and Repeat - Repeat the use of black throughout the room with window treatment trim, pillow accents, iron light fixtures, etc. for a well-coordinated use of the darker tone.

There's a real boldness and zing when decorating a room using black. Go ahead, start using more black in your décor. It's great for adding sophistication, style, or a sense of whimsy. Don't you just love the look?


B & W living room with polka-dots and stripes

Photos courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

Will you leave a comment? I really enjoy hearing from you. Could we do something better? I'd really appreciate your opinion. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video - Fabulous Fabric Shades!

5 Factors to Consider when Buying Fabric Shades

Fabric shades are one treatment where you won't have to sacrifice beauty for functionality. They can be simple, sleek and contemporary or they can also be voluminous and luxuriously stylish. Below I've listed 5 factors to consider when selecting fabric shades for your home -

1. The Stack - Do you have ample space above your window for the shade to stack up when open? With fabric shades, they create their own valance so they are perfect for mounting above the window. And unlike some other treatments, fabric shades look great mounted above the window. This also helps make your window look bigger!

2. The Texture - One of my favorite places for a fabric shade is... a kitchen or a bathroom. Kitchens and bathrooms typically have a lot of hard surfaces in the room - tile floors, wood cabinets, granite counter tops, mirrors, sinks, etc. Adding softness with a fabric shade is the perfect solution for a 'hard' room and is desperately needed.

3. Room Size - If your room is smaller, choose a style that's simple with clean lines. A large billowy shade with lots of luxurious fabric could take a small room over with all the wrong proportions.

4. Upgrade Your Style - A fabric shade looks fabulous all on its own or layered together with draperies for a more sophisticated look.

5. More Bang for Your Buck - A fabric shade will last for many, many years with minimal care. There are two mechanisms that operate the shade. A cord and a pulley. No custom mounting brackets, batteries or complicated mechanisms to break, or wear out.

Regardless of the style you choose, fabric shades look great in any room, no matter the fabric or the budget!

HOT TIP: Our special this month is on luxurious silk fabrics, which would be GORGEOUS made into fabric shades! Lift up your home and lifestyle, add fabric shades not blinds. You'll be so glad you did! Ask me for more information. I'm happy to share!

Will you leave a comment? I really enjoy hearing from you. Did you enjoy the video? Could we do something better? I'd really appreciate your opinion.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Creating the Perfect 'Man Room'

So... What's a Man Room?

Oftentimes it's the woman that enjoys taking on the responsibility of decorating and creating a home environment that's pleasing and comfortable. However, it's important to remember to include the wants, needs and desires of the man of the household. Finding a solution that both husband and wife will enjoy and agree upon creates a happy, harmonious home for all.

Some particularly masculine products include:
  • Wood Blinds, Shutters, Natural Woven Shades
  • Flooring: Stone, Wood
  • Colors: Browns, Blues, Black
  • Accessories: Black, Dark Brown, Platinum
  • Pattern: Keep it to a minimum
  • Anything high tech or with electronics!

Check out this short video for ideas on creating a dream room for the often under heard spouse. The man of the house.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Boost Profits with An Interior Designer

If you're thinking of selling your home, we have licensed broker Julia Vakulenko from Florida letting us know the best ways to boost your profits.

If you're considering selling your house in today's tough real estate market, a professional eye could be a big help. When you're ready to sell your house, you want to get the most profit available. Is it ready for this venture? Are you ready? Does your house look the same today as it did 10 years ago? If so, help from an independent and impartial eye can be a big boost in profits.

1. Walk through each room in your house. Make a list of what is new and what is dated. This isn't a to-do list, just a checklist of what you see. If the kitchen still has linoleum and could use new ceramic tile or hardwood floors, put that on the list. If the bathroom has been completely remodeled, put that on the list as well. This list will help to compare your taste and perception to that of a professional designer.

2. Make sure to include the outside of your home as well. Look at any and all flower beds and shrubs. Look for plants that have gone beyond there usefulness as well as the plants that you like the most. Don't forget the rocks or mulch in and around these beds or the walkways near the house. This list should really be focused on the front of the house, as that is the curb appeal area.

3. Next, take your list with you to your local home improvement big box warehouse. Go to the respective departments and make notes on the prices of the things that you think would look nice in the rooms of your house. Here again, it isn't a list to see how much money you have to spend, just a list of items that would be nice in your house with pricing included.

4. Make sure to look at the high end and the low end to get a good idea of what it would cost if you chose to make any changes. Things like toilets and other fixtures can vary greatly in price while adding no more benefit other than aesthetics. So if you include the really pricey ones, make sure your room can handle them.

5. Contact a professional designer. Have them look at each room and get their truthful opinion. Is the paint right and complimenting? How about the fixtures and furnishings? Have them make a list for you so you can compare it to your list. Ask them any and all questions while you have their undivided attention. Take all of their advice, good, bad or otherwise. It is to your benefit and pocketbook to listen to someone else's perspective.

6. Finally, it is time for a comparison of lists. You may find that the two lists are similar or that they are completely different. Either way, this will give you another angle to look from when selling your house in today's tough real estate market. And this small piece of info can really be an invaluable tool.

This small investment can make or break whether your house sells or the house down the street sells in this tight real estate economy. Pick up the phone and contact your designer to schedule an in-home consultation today. It can boost your profits and make a tremendous difference in your bottom line.

Julia Vakulenko is a licensed broker associate with Tampa4U Realty. She has one of the hardest working Tampa Real Estate teams in Florida specializing in Tampa Condos and also in 2Va Team for Northern Virginia Real Estate. For my Florida subscribers, be sure to check Julie out for your real estate services.