Update Your Outdoors: Swoon-Worthy Porch Swings

Is your porch or deck boring and uninviting?  Check out these tips for selecting a stylish porch swing that will create instant comfort and decor in your outside space!

When the cooler evenings of late summer and early fall arrive, there’s nothing better than watching the sunset from a comfortable porch swing.   A beautiful porch invites us to bring our lives outdoors, invites our friends and loved ones in, and encourages us to step away from our hectic lives for a moment and just be.

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A well-designed home creates a space where we are truly comfortable, and that space isn’t limited to the insides of our homes.  Creating an inviting and stylish exterior design requires just as much thought as an interior design, and furniture is a large part of that.  This week, we will focus on how to choose the right porch swing for your exterior.

CONSIDER YOUR SPACE

Whether you have a large covered front porch, a deck, or no porch at all, there is a swing that will suit your needs, but you must first consider location and space.  In choosing a location for your swing, make sure that you have sufficient space.  A gliding swing requires no overhead support and much less space than a traditional hanging porch swing, so it can be used in almost any space with minimal effort.

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If you have a porch with beams sturdy enough to support the weight of a hanging swing, you’ll also need to have sufficient space for the swing to move freely.  Plan at least 4 feet of swinging room  and 6 inches of space on each side.  Standard swing sizes are 4, 6, and 8 feet, but you’ll need approximately 2 feet per person with extra room for larger adults or wiggly kids.  17 inches off the floor is a good starting point for hanging height.

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CHOOSE YOUR SWING TYPE

  The traditional porch swing is a wooden hanging swing, but there are many other choices available:  gliding, a hanging swing/stand set, a single or double, hammock, unusually shaped swings, or even a porch bed!

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SELECT THE RIGHT MATERIAL

Whether your swing will be exposed to the elements or not will greatly influence what type of material your swing should be made from.  Teak and cedar are good choices for a swing that will be exposed to weather, as they naturally resist rot and decay and weather well.  Other woods such as oak, maple, or pine, metal, wicker, and repurposed headboards, chairs, doors and even wooden pallets can be used to create beautiful porch swings.

For assistance in designing your swoon-worthy porch space, feel free to post comments or ask questions!  CT Interior Designer Melanie Langford of All About Interiors is glad to help!

For further information:  This Old House

The Difference Quality Furniture Can Make

The difference in a decorated room and a well decorated room can simply come down to the quality of  furniture used in that decor.  I have found over the past 14 years that introducing at least one quality heirloom piece in a space can make the room feel high end and make all the difference in the world.

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Who better to explain the differences between “box store” furniture and quality heirloom furniture than Stuart R. Kent, Owner & Master Craftsman
of Stuart Kent & Co.

Understanding Heirloom Furniture

“Once upon a time furniture was one of the most valuable and important things a family or business could invest in. Furniture buying was predicated on the notion that we would buy the very best we could afford, and in most cases, we saved hard to afford even better. Homeowners and businesses endeavored to craft environments that they loved being in. They carefully created spaces that defined their interests and made clear statements about them as people. Historically we believed that investing in quality furniture was an important contribution to the growth of long term wealth within families. We made these investments because we understood that good pieces appreciated as they were handed down through the generations. Furniture was purchased from this perspective worldwide for the last several centuries.

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Over the past four decades the practice of investing in good furniture has changed. Mass manufacturing in foreign markets drove down the global cost of furniture, and in most cases, the quality went down with the price. Technology is leveling the playing field for those of us committed to making great furniture, by enabling us to compete at market competitive prices – with better quality furniture. In my company for example, we employ a marriage of computerized cutting equipment and traditional woodworking for fine joinery and finishing, in order to craft the finest pieces that can be made. Our goal is to create something, that when it receives our name, will be something you will cherish, something that will increase in value, something you will show off. We call this heirloom furniture, I’ll explain.
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To call a piece of furniture heirloom quality, every aspect of the piece must meet specific criteria. First and most importantly are the materials. Engineered materials like plywood, fiberboard, and plastics are great for all kinds of things, but rarely do they appreciate in value. To the contrary, good quality hardwoods, fine veneers, cast bronze or brass, copper, cast iron, quality steels, leaded glass, full grain leather, and fine textiles – will and do, often appreciate in value (just ask Christie’s). Next is the quality of manufacture. The best furniture must be robustly joined with well-crafted, appropriately sized and correctly applied joinery. Mechanical fasteners can be used, but only where necessary, they must be of the highest quality, and correct to the period and style. Finishes must be appropriate to the design style, for example, a 19th century highboy would never be painted or finished with a lacquer of any kind. Instead, the chest would be finished with hand rubbed shellac or a traditional varnish made of natural oils applied meticulously in thin layers by hand. A Barcelona chair must be chromed at the highest quality standards, upholstered with the finest leather, and joined with stainless steel machine screws, or it is just an imitation.

Style is subjective and can be less important to the value of a piece than the build quality and authenticity. Consider that original Philadelphia Chippendale and Shaker furniture pieces are widely regarded in the antiques world as American premium collectibles. To the contrary, connoisseurs of contemporary design might gravitate towards furniture from the Nakashima, Eames, or Gustav Stickley workshops. While individual pieces from either of these styles may gain more value due to provenance, as a whole, the styles are similar in overall value. The commonality between them is monetary appreciation.

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The way furniture is cared for and the role a piece plays in a collection is also important to its long term value. Good furniture needs to be used because it is made to serve a purpose. Usage also adds authenticity to an heirloom, and gives it a role in a collection. Refinishing or painting a great piece can often decimate its value, because an important part of the piece is no longer original. Nobody understands this better than great Interior Designers. They often search high and low for a few special pieces that have real value and appeal to a client’s personal aesthetic. Designers then craft an environmental experience around that sense of value and concept of style. A central idea in good interior design is that the space and objects in it have purpose, rather than being props, even if that purpose is purely aesthetic. The most important pieces in that collection then gain provenance within a family or business, as they show up in photos or other documents. If they are well cared for and maintained, these pieces will typically be handed down from one generation to the next and gain value with each passing.

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It is important to understand that to be an heirloom, a piece does not have to be old, it has to be right. What I mean is that copies of old pieces, even when made to the best standards by the best craftsmen, are just that – copies. A piece must be original, it must possess great proportion, be scaled correctly, comprised of the best materials, constructed to the highest standards, and it must be authentic. Maker’s marks like stamps, medallions, and even signatures help – but a bad piece signed by a good maker is still a bad piece, and a great piece not signed is often forgotten.

As you think about buying furniture remember this; nobody one will ever show off their fiberboard, drywall screws, and catalyzed lacquer – but they will show off their handcrafted solid cherry farm table with mortise and tenon joinery, finished with linseed oil and wax, signed by a Master.”

Thank you so much Stuart for helping my readers understand the huge difference that a quality heirloom furniture piece can create in their home. ~Melanie Langford, All About Interiors

Stuart Kent Co

I am entirely impressed with the quality and craftsmanship that Stuart Kent creates.  At Stuart Kent & Co. they make heirlooms for clients that share their values. They make articles to enhance environments and enrich your memories. What they produce requires attention to detail, mastery of hand skills, focus, and patience.

 

 

Decorating In A Small Space

Decorating in a small space can be a challenge.  Below are super simple ways on how to handle your decor in a small residence.

If the size of your space is posing design challenges, remember the key to developing a comfortable living area is having a space-efficient plan.

Every square foot is usable,  and choosing the right piece can make all the difference in making your room feel bigger than it really is.  Style placement and functionality are the key components when battling small square footage.

 Clean lines

Consider the clean, simple lines of contemporary furniture or at the very least, transitional pieces.  They will help to improve sight lines and minimize visual clutter.   There are many contemporary sets that come in smaller sized proportions so you can save space and still get the look you desire.

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Go upward

Square footage is measured side by side, but life isn’t two dimensional.  Make the most of your small space by going vertical.    Mix in some taller pieces that serve dual functions such as a table lamp that also serves as an end table or an entertainment center that also has tower shelving for books and pictures.  You can also utilize  your wall space upward for storage by adding shelving.

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Functional Furniture

Utilizing multipurpose pieces is an intelligent way to avoid overcrowding.  For example, you can use a coffee table that works also as storage and a work space all in one.  Or a vanity table in a bedroom that can also double as a desk.

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Keep it Simple

It is entirely possible to go overboard when decorating, so try to avoid using busy patterns.  Sticking with solids and simple patterns will help keep the palette clean.  You can still have fun with color but keep it simple.

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Making every inch count is entirely possible in a small space.  Just remember, clean lines, simple pattern or solids, go vertical and multi function your furniture and you’ll have yourself a very usable and pleasingly decorative space.

For assistance with decorating your small space, feel free to comment or ask questions! All About Interiors, CT Interior Designer, Melanie Langford is glad to help!

Blog post taken from Raymour Flanigan Article.

5 Top Decorating Secrets No One Has Told You

Shhh… want to know a decorating secret?  How about 5 decorating secrets that no one has ever told you about?

There are tons and tons of decorating tips that make any room look fabulous and professionally done.  But some of the best decorating secrets are kept to the professionals.  I will reveal 5 decorating secrets that no one wants you to know.

Don’t forget your fifth wall.

The ceiling can and should be decorated too!  In fact, it adds interest, draws your eye upward and becomes a cozier space to gather in.  If your walls are neutral add a bold color to the ceiling or patterned or textured wallpaper to add a punch of color.  If you have architectural ceilings such as coiffured or barrel, by all means go to town with color to show off those decorative beauties!  It would be a sin not to!

Painted ceilings

Quality rugs can be used in bathrooms.

Yup!  I said it!  Instead of a plain bath mat, give your bathroom some class and elegance!  High quality Tibetan rugs are created to handle wear and tear and even handle moisture like a champ!  Go ahead and put your wet toes on that rug… shhh… it’s really okay!

Tibetan rug in bathroom

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Carolina Bunce creates a soothing and elegant master bath in her California home.

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Matchy-Matchy not so catchy

Dining room chairs don’t have to match.  In fact, it used to be the norm to buy matching dining room chairs and table but not so much anymore.  You are missing a great opportunity to get creative and show some personality in your dining area!  You can easily choose two different style seating that compliment each other and set them up in an alternating pattern to create a decorative look around the table.

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Wallpaper as a quick fix for damaged walls

Have a damaged wall or boring builder-grade closet door?  Cover it up with a decorative, pretty wallpaper.  Elegant or fun wallpaper is an easy way to hide a flaw in the room.   Wallpaper adds interest, color and design and is a great substitute for wall decor.

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You can even put it on your ceiling to hide water spots (make sure you’ve repaired the leaky culprit first).

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If you think an entire room is too busy with wallpaper, you can cover just one wall and have it look amazing.

You don’t need a sofa

Whhaaat???  Most homeowners believe there is an unwritten rule that you must have a sofa in a living room.  I will dispel that rumor.  It is incorrect and in fact, not having one creates a cozier more intimate setting for conversation among family and friends.  It creates the ability to be more flexible in your seating arrangement.  When entertaining guests, you have the ability to move the seating around as needed, when you use upholstered chairs or a love seat.

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Okay if that wasn’t proof enough you can have a great conversation in these chairs… here’s another!

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What was your favorite decorating tip you think you can use in your home?

So now you can go spread the word and homes all over the world can be more beautifully decorated.

Written by CT Interior Designer, Melanie Langford

All About Interiors, CT Interior Decorator.

 

5 Smart Tips For Better Organization

Do you wish you had better organization in your life?  If you are anything like me you spend each day rushing around wishing you just had 2 extra hours and or a little person to troll after you picking up and organizing whatever you just plunk down, am I right?  Being organized isn’t rocket science but it does take a bit of time initially and then discipline to stay that way afterwards.

Here are 5 smart tips for better organization so that you can save time and space.

Closet organization:  Sheet folding 101

Who’d a thunk that this was so easy!  I don’t know how many countless minutes (probably hours) I’ve lost trying to match up pillowcases to sheets.

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This not only saves space but also time.  No more searching for that set!

 

Baskets

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Baskets not only look good in your home but they also are a wonderful source for hiding the uglies of the house.  You can go one step further and organize by category and label what is inside for quick, easy access.

Command Center

A magnetic sheet on the inside of a cabinet door is a fabulous way to have all of your schedules, notes, lists and whatnot all in one place hidden away.  NO MORE clutter on the fridge door!

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Closet Organization

Upside down brackets for shelf dividers is a smart way to divide and conquer (pun intended) the closet clutter.

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Home Depot or Lowes will have these brackets in varying sizes for you to go to town on all your closets.

Speaking of closets… I am a firm believer that a girl can never have too many shoes, or boots for that matter.  That being said, at some point, you are bound to run out of space and searching around for that missing boot is just not time efficient.

 

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Take some pants hangers that you can get at the dollar store and keep your boots organized.  You can hang an additional rod low to the floor and not take up valuable real estate.

I hope you have been inspired to get organized and these tips helped you with ideas you may not have thought of.  If you need more organization in your home or some help decorating.  Feel free to contact All About Interiors a CT interior designer.

July 25, 2014 - 7:27 am

Donna Frasca - This is so fantastic and so very timely. Once BOTH my kids head out to college in August I plan to revamp the house and these projects were on the list. Oh I can’t tell you how very awesome this is. See, the simple things in life make me happy :-)
Thank you!

July 25, 2014 - 8:15 am

Melanie Langford - Donna, thanks for stopping by, so glad you enjoyed the blog~ Congrats on your kiddos graduation and I’m sure it will be a wonderful new chapter in your life! So good to hear from you. Enjoy! Melanie