There's not many things that make your home prettier and cozier than a Christmas tree during the holidays. This will be Chris and my first Christmas in our new home, and what better way to bring in the season then a tree? Luckily, I was introduced to Treetopia, a company that makes ASTONISHINGLY realistic faux trees, as well as wreaths and garlands. I chose the Brooklyn LED Spruce tree, and it's gotten nothing but complements so far.
I even put together a little video so you can watch the entire process of me setting it up:
Looks pretty easy right?!
As promised, here are some shots of our finished tree, along with some close-ups so you can see for yourself how realistic it is.
The folks at Treetopia gave me a little survey to fill out, which I'm sharing below. I'd love to hear some of your answers to these questions!
How did you get your start?
I was looking for ideas to decorate my studio apartment. I used as blog as a means to store all my ideas and other people started coming across it, and it just grew!
Favorite place to be for the holidays?
On my parent's farm by the fire.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Staying in and watching old Christmas movies with my mom and sisters.
How do you describe your holiday decorating style?
Simple, but warm and cozy.
Favorite Holiday Food?
My mom's lemon sweet breads!
Best Holiday Indulgence?
Also my mom's lemon sweet breads!
Best Holiday Gift Ever Received?
Managing to get my 3 sisters and I all together, even if only for an evening once a year!
Regifting - okay or not okay?
Okay! If you know the recipient will truly love it than giving it a new home and keeping one more thing out of a landfill or the attic is a good thing!
What is your favorite piece of holiday décor and why?
My wooden nativity. It was passed down from my grandmother.
What are your favorite places to get holiday design inspiration?
What is the most over-the-top holiday design you've seen?
Yards filled with inflatable seasonal characters.
Any holiday decorating tips you'd like to share?
Sticking to a color scheme can really make your decor look chic and not just hodgepodge.
Mind sharing with us what you'll be doing for your home this Christmas?
My future in-laws are coming over, and we will also be heading to my parent's farm for Christmas brunch.
Welcome Tom! Tom McShane, professional blogger and lover of home renovations, is going to be a guest blogger today!
We’re all trying to clamp down on our spending, and the purse strings are tighter than ever. It’s always a great idea to save money where you can, particularly when it comes to redecorating or renovating rooms in your home; the costs can easily mount up. There’s plenty of ways you can save including choosing ornaments and artwork from charity shops and car boots, and utilising old or bought fabric to make curtains and matching cushions rather than buying new.
But there are a number of areas which you should still be prepared to spend on – not out of snobbery or out of showing off brand-name products, but out for quality, longevity and a room you’ll be happy with for years. Here’s our top five;
1. Solid Wood Furniture
The allure of cheap flat-pack furniture or factory-made fittings can sometimes be too much to resist, but you have to ask yourself – when you last bought some, how long did it stand the test of time? The answer is usually that they don’t last very long; they’re not particularly sturdy and are easy to damage but difficult to repair. Buying quality made (usually to order) solid wood furniture may cost you quite a bit more compared with the cheaper counterparts, but you’re more likely to get a nicer looking product that’s sturdy enough and will last for decades. The last thing you want is a flimsy MDF wardrobe falling apart while it holds some of your precious belongings.
The same can be said for rugs, and even carpets – cheap usually means an inferior quality. Investing in a quality rug, for example, means it’s going to be a much better made product that’s likely to last for years ahead of its cheaper counterpart. Both rugs and carpets deal with a lot of heavy footfall, so while a handmade or designer rug might cost two or three times as much it’ll last you a lot longer – a cheaper option looks attractive, but the cost can rack up as you replace it every year. The more you spend on a rug the more scope you have for design, size, colour and quality; while opting for cheaper rugs can seem like an attractive way to cut down on your budget, it can end up costing you more money in the long run and throw off the room with a design that perhaps doesn’t look quite right.
This applies to everything from cookers in the kitchen to televisions in the living room and it’s not brand snobbery to suggest that spending that bit extra and sticking to well-known makes and models is the better option. A 40” TV for £200 from a supermarket might look like a stunningly good deal, but it’s usually too good to be true – you get something that doesn’t perform as well, has a much cheaper look and feel, and won’t last as long either. There’s also a safety point of view – skimping on things like cookers, stereos and fires means you run the risk of a poor quality product causing damage to your home, or harm to yourself and your family. Getting a good deal is important, of course, but buying as cheap as possible could end in disaster.
4. Electrical Fittings (e.g. lights)
This kind of follows on from the safety aspect of choosing a good home appliance, but is just as important (if not more so) when it comes to wiring and electrical fittings. It can be quite tempting to choose cheaper light fittings, for example, but these have the potential to break easily, be unsafe and be unreliable, tripping your fuse box. Go for well-known makes or buy from reputable department or home improvement stores – you don’t have to spend a lot for the sake of it, but choosing cheap for cheap’s sake is going to cause a problem at some point.
Never has the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ been truer than when it comes to contractors and professionals working on your home. Whether you’re hiring someone to fit your kitchen or re-do the wiring in your living room if you choose someone based on a cheap price, then you’re letting yourself in for a disaster as it’s often too good to be true. You could be left with a room that’s poorly fitted or designed and is potentially unsafe, too. Always use accredited contractors where possible (such as the NICEIC for electrical work) and always get references, ask about past work and check reviews online. There’s nothing worse than spending thousands on redecorating or renovating a room, only to have a sub-par contractor leave you with something you’re unhappy with. Never skimp on contracting work!
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – lover of interior design, home renovations and professional blogger for Rug Centre Online. While he can’t help but grab a bargain, Tom prefers to strike the perfect balance between getting stuff cheap and getting quality.
Today I wanted to introduce to you Map My State, a product with a really cool concept. Map My State specializes in unique typography designs featuring states, cities, countries, and more. I requested a map of Spain highlighting Segovia, the city I lived in part-time for 2 years, and look what they sent!
Ben and Ashley came up with the concept in 2011 when they were looking for a unique way fill up wall space in their home and their clever idea turned into something more. They were selling their designs on various websites until they opened up their own website this year. If you don't see the state, city, or country your in, don't worry - they can do customizations by request.
I think these mugs would make great groomsmen gifts for my fiance's groomsmen in May!
You can get more than just prints of their site too! They do coffee cups, t-shirts, and baby onesies too!
Just in time for your holiday shopping, or to get your own - use this little gift from Map My State - a coupon code for 20% off!! : decorology
Chris and I bought our first home this year, and so far we love being homeowners. We know that one day we will need room to grow, so when we start looking for our next home in 5 - 7 years, we are going to want to sell our home at a great price. We have already been researching the best investments to make in your current home to increase it's value. Here are some tips from realty pro Kathy Doyle to help get us started:
Use trends that fit the style of your house. If you have a Cape Cod beach house, do not remove the beautiful wooden floors and cabinetry for stainless steel and radiant heated cement. Take all trends in mind with your home’s style and unique footprint on the real estate landscape.
Have an updated home. Buyers of luxury and high end properties are looking for a house that is move-in-ready, in line with the investment they are making. The last thing any buyer wants is to envision a major remodel in their future, after spending millions on the home itself. The most important wonderful impression that must be made is a modern, updated kitchen. Top of the line fixtures and appliances are key. The top must-haves for appliances for today’s luxury buyers are a sub-zero refrigerator, excellent water filtration system, center island and second sink, dishwashers, trash compactor, and plenty of storage space. Beautiful bathrooms with tasteful design are also very important to the discerning buyer. (Me: Our home is very, very far from a luxury or million dollar property, but these principles can be applied still, just with a lower price point.)
Top Kitchen Trend: Warm and Inviting. Forget the trendy kitchens of years past which came across as cold and utilitarian. Today’s top trend in kitchens is to embrace the space as the center of family and entertaining life. The color schemes for today’s top kitchens are warm and inviting to all the guests in the home. It is common for the kitchen to open into other entertaining spaces so that guests can mingle while hors d’oeuvre and drinks are being prepared. No more stuffy chef’s kitchens of years past, modern luxury is comfortable, warm, and casual. (Me: One of the first projects we have in mind for our home is either opening up the dividing wall between our kitchen and living room as a breakfast bar, or removing the wall entirely.)
Eco Friendly can be chic via Ozvip Be Eco-Friendly Today’s buyers want to purchase a property that is friendly to the environment and on their wallets. When they purchase a home with large square footage, buyers must take into account long term energy and utility costs. So build savings into the home. Buyers love homes with double paned windows, lots of natural light, low-energy appliances, low-flow toilets, excellent insulation, and solar panels. Eco friendly is wallet friendly, and maintaining a luxury property is much nicer if you save money on utility costs at every turn.
Got a lot of lot space? Add a pool or guest house.
Luxury buyers want Guest Space for friends and family to enjoy the benefits of their good fortune. Guest space is key for almost every buyer I work with to find their dream home. Many want pool and spa for their guests to enjoy, and any property with one or both of these amenities goes up in value tremendously. Be clever and combine them both. Build a pool, and have the pool house double as guest quarters. One client in Beverly Hills built a gorgeous indoor/outdoor pool house with a daybed which served both as a seat for evening cocktails and as quarters for overnight guests to sleep in the open air. Sauna, Gym, Home Theatre and Massage Space are also high-end upgrades that add value to today’s luxury homes.
If you are selling your home it is key that you stage for success. You want your home to feel personable, but not personal (as though only your family can live in it). So remove personal family photos, clutter, tchotchkes and the like. The right buyer will imagine their life in this beautiful space. Have style which is welcoming, tasteful, and leaves room for the imagination to play!
Find the Right Realtor
Kathy Doyle is a luxury real estate broker in Southern California. She is a leader in Beverly Hills and Malibu luxury real estate. With a keen eye for design, she loves to help her sellers make key remodels to make the most of their gorgeous properties so that they can get the highest purchase price on the market today. Buyers are looking for high end and beautifully updated homes, so to get the best price for your luxury property it is important to have the qualities today’s buyers are looking for.
this post is in partnership with Kathy Doyle Estates
House Proud: Unique Home Design, Louisiana is like a tour of some of the state's coolest, chicest homes.
A more articulate summary can be found at Amazon, where you can purchase the book:
"Experience the joy of decor and design, restoration and rebirth, color and comfort - all in the enchanting locale of Louisiana. A New Orleans-based interior designer, Valorie Hart expertly leads a private tour of the most fashionable homes in the state. Sara Essex Bradley's photographs document the personality of Louisiana's homes, from the formal Greek revival house to the warm Creole cottage, the pre-Civil war beauty to the kitschy 50s-style ranch, the grand Victorian to the modern urban loft. This is not simply a design inspiration book, but rather a thoughtful compilation of homeowners' personal stories of restoring and redesigning their dream houses - the stories of the "house-proud."
Here are some of my favorite photos, by Sara Essex Bradley. I think her photography style was a perfect match for this project.
I LOVE this living room. The ceiling to floor hallway/art gallery, the fawn inspired rug, and the picture hung over the bookcase. I don't know why - I'm just a sucker for that.
The cypress ceilings are original to this home. And check out the checkered floors. Drool.
All in all, this book is a glamorous tribute to Louisiana homes, and even if you've never been, there's plenty of eye candy to be appreciated!
Mixing and matching rugs are a great way to bring two spaces together. Using the same color options but getting different patterns or styles can help define a space but keep the natural flow of the room.
For those who love a lot of color and mixed patterns, using a rug with like colors can tie in a space. Moroccan rugs would be a great choice for this situation as they tend to have bright lively colors.
For those of you who love the simplicity and neutral colors, this is a great way to step out of your box and add a great pattern to the view! There are some amazing places that sell vintage rugs for great prices and they are great quality.
First I'm amazed by carpet tiles - now I'm looking at vinyl tiles!? Now before you say "yuck vinyl" (because that was my first reaction) take a second look at some of the pictures below. Did you know there is such a thing as luxury vinyl tiles? I did not.
Believe it or not those gorgeous wood floors are tiled vinyl! My mind is officially blown! These water resistant floors are making a huge hit these days because they are so resilient and gorgeous at the same time. Durability is something everyone is looking for and these floors are just that.
These may be more of the vinyl tile look that you are familiar but there's an added surprise to this one above. They are grouted vinyl tile! This makes it even harder to tell apart from the real thing.
If you aren't a traditional floor person don't worry - they have some pretty cool designs, colors, and styles available for you to choose from. They are also stain resistant and don't fade so you won't have to worry about losing their color.
If you aren't falling in love with the vinyl flooring like I am, you just might after you check out their prices! They are really budget friendly, which makes it hard not to add into my must haves for my home. I would have to see and feel them in person first, before making a decision, and learn about their VOC outgassing, but they definitely look good! Does anyone have any experience with these?
I have a million deadlines looming and I'm in desperate need of a little escape. One escape I indulge in a lot, especially during the winter, is a nice, hot bath. So, I thought I'd find some dreamy ones and share them with you.