Unexpected Beauty: Exposed Plumbing

Usually, we think of plumbing as a necessity, but rarely do we see it as beautiful (aside from choosing faucets, of course). Pipes sit neatly tucked away behind sheetrock and tiled walls, or hidden from view underneath a vanity. Yet, lately, exposed plumbing has begun to gain popularity - and for good reason.

When done right, exposed plumbing can be absolutely stunning. It gives an almost industrial edge to design, and - dare we say it - adds a touch of glamour to the space, too. Not sold on the idea of exposing your bathroom’s pipes? Read on - we’ve got a feeling that this collection of our favorite designs is definitely going to change your mind. 


Minimalist Style

The easiest way to incorporate exposed plumbing - especially if you’re not sure you’re ready for a busier visual take - is to keep things simple. By exposing only the piping from your showerhead to your handle, it emphasizes the straight and clean lines of the plumbing, keeping the overall focus on the room itself. The plumbing, by effect, is merely an added jewel - it gives the bathroom a touch of interest without becoming the centerpiece.


Industrial-Inspired

If you’re ready to kick it up a notch, go for an industrial-inspired look with edgy knobs and attachments that add an element of contemporary flair. Whether you opt for vintage-style faucets or modern amenities with long and sleek silhouettes, adding more exposure to your plumbing will certainly make a statement.


Open & Airy

Aside from the shower area, we love the idea of incorporating exposed plumbing at the sink. This look is all about keeping things open and airy. With a pared-down vanity - either with a “floating” mount or on metallic legs - you have added floor space where you can show off your floor tiles, add a decorative basket, or let your sink’s plumbing shine. 


Artistic Statements

While plumbing is, of course, functional in nature, it also has the potential to double up as art. With exposed pipes, there’s no limit to the creative ways to arrange them. Try exposing your plumbing from your sink to the ceiling to add visual height. Or, create a pattern to keep your eyes moving across the wall. With horizontal piping, you can even get some use out of it as a towel rod. 


In short, plumbing is more than a conduit for water - it’s a chance to let your expressive side come to life. Your bathroom doesn’t have to stay within the bounds of the expected - experiment a bit, and you just might find you’re ready for something completely different. And that’s the kind of design we love.

By Megan Johansson







Stair Affair

Who says art needs to be confined to the walls? One of the most overlooked opportunities for design pizazz is, in fact, the staircase. Traditionally, this piece of a home has been primarily about function, but there’s no reason you can’t pair it with a bit of style as well. Given the architectural interest and variety in staircases, there’s an endless array of creative solutions to choose from. Be it an infusion of color, an optical illusion, or a pattern showcase, your stairs are more than steps to the next floor; they’re an extension of your home’s personality.

As you contemplate how to transform your staircase into a work of art, read on for some of our favorite unique takes on this classic architectural staple. There’s a style for everyone, guaranteed.


Color Infusion

Because a staircase naturally works as a visual anchor within a space, infusing it with a bold color (or a few) can make a stunning impact. Plus, by using color in your design, there’s no limit to the combinations possible. Try a runner in a single hue for a dramatic statement, or use a different shade on each step for an alluring gradient style. Just remember to balance your staircase with the rest of the room - by keeping the walls and surrounding decor largely neutral, your staircase will be jaw-dropping without feeling overwhelming.


Pattern Play

Whether plaid, striped, or ultra-whimsical, your stairs can - and should - tell a story, and that’s where pattern play comes in. Do you adore classic literature? Create artwork that mimics your beloved shelves. Prefer timeless style in your decor? Go for traditional textures and lines that suit the rest of your space’s aesthetic. Whatever your preference, patterns are a great way to make your staircase an instant conversation piece.


Optical Illusions

If you’re drawn to modern art and are ready to think outside the box, consider creating an optical illusion with your staircase. After all, your steps don’t necessarily need to fit within the confines of what is typical. Instead, play with curves, screens, and light, and we guarantee you’ll have a staircase that is unexpected in every way. However, keep in mind that this is definitely not a DIY project - you’ll want to enlist the expertise of an architect and get familiar with your local building codes to make sure your design idea will work. Your original plan may be extraordinary, but in order to pass inspection, a few things may need to be tweaked. With the help of a pro team, though, there’s always a way! You’ll have a staircase that defies conventions in no time.


Light & Bright

While many staircases are solid structures located on the interior walls of a home - especially those from earlier eras - a more modern option is to place the staircase directly in front of a window. Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to block the sunshine. Make your staircase visually light by opting for steps that “float,” giving you unobstructed views to the outdoors. And if you don’t have a large picture window to work with? Try incorporating artificial light on each step or in the railing - not only will it help to illuminate your path in the dark, but it will create points of interest as the shadows and light play together.


Staircases are convenient for transporting us where we need to go, but it never hurts to have a little fun in the process. Use your staircase as an architectural opportunity and you’re sure to have a design that wows for years to come.

By Megan Johansson

Embracing the Last of Patio Season

Modern Patio Inspiration to Transform Your Space

It’s official - there are only a few weeks left before fall makes its annual debut. As sad as that may be for you summer lovers out there, there is definitely still plenty of time to soak up the last of the patio season. Plus, don’t forget that those crisp early days of fall are pretty perfect for enjoying the view from your deck or porch with a favorite cocktail in hand (that is, as long as you have a few extra layers on and maybe a roaring fire). 

So, to remind you that patio season isn’t over quite yet, today we’re sharing some of our favorite modern patio designs out there - because getting inspired to do one last outdoor refresh this season is what we’re all about.


Black & White Chic

A forever favorite palette, we can’t get enough of patios that embrace this bold duo. There’s just something so chic and sleek about it, and it instantly turns a run-of-the-mill patio space into a head-turning lounge zone (plus, it’s the perfect contrast and background for those fall colors). To get the look, be sure to keep your lines crisp and to layer up plenty of texture and patterns - it’ll give your space a touch of an eclectic vibe that you’re sure to love.


Planter Perfection

You may be wondering why we’re bringing up plants this time of year. After all, now is not the time to start your seasonal planting given those high and dry temps. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a touch of greenery in your space. Stick to heat-friendly arrangements (like succulents and cactus plants), and for florals, consider adding in a few planters of fall blooms (like mums or celosia). And remember that even though they won’t get a ton of outdoor show time, the planters you invest in alongside those plants will be absolutely gorgeous year after year.


Fire Pits

The best way to continue to enjoy your patio through the upcoming chillier temps is to have warmth at the ready. We love the idea of incorporating modern fire pits into your outdoor space, and with the wide range of styles and options out there, you’re bound to find the perfect fit. Be sure to consider what the needs of your space are, though, before you run out and buy one. While gas units are convenient, you do need a tank hook up, so there is a bit of maintenance involved. Similarly, biofuel is a great option because not only can it double as a table (depending on the shape), but it can also be used indoors during the winter months. If you live in a condo with strict gas rules, this is an ideal option - just know that like gas, you will need to refuel the ethanol container every so often. Of course, there’s also good old fashioned wood burning fire pits that simply can’t be beat for their warmth and ambience. And if smoke bothers you, there are some amazing smokeless options on the market as well. Just be warned: with patio additions like these, you may be tempted to stay outside even when winter starts rolling in.


Decor Favorites

For a quick patio refresh that’ll give you instant autumn vibes, you can always upgrade your decor. Now that the nights are getting cooler, you’ll definitely want to keep things feeling cozy and welcoming, and the best way to do that is with string lights, blankets, and pillows. These additions are incredibly easy to pull off, and they have a major impact on the way your space feels. String up those lights around the perimeter or even under your umbrella, and layer up those textiles so there are plenty to go around. Our favorites for this season are Fairbault’s wool blankets and the modern pillow collections at Room and Board and Bludot. Oh, and don’t forget to invest in a stylish s’mores kit and bar cart - with a warm drink and a piping hot dessert, you’ll be blending summer and fall like a pro.


As we head into September, we say go ahead and ditch those end-of-season blues and instead embrace the last of summer every moment you can. It’s fleeting, yes, but we promise that with a gorgeous new patio aesthetic, it’ll be worth every second.

By Megan Johansson

Headboard Inspiration

A bedroom isn’t complete without a headboard to anchor it all visually, but that doesn’t mean you always have to opt for the typical and expected. If you’re on the hunt for a bedroom upgrade, you’re in luck because today, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite headboard inspiration pieces to get those ideas churning. After all, as unique as your personal style is, your bedroom ought to feel the exact same way.


Go for Texture

Contrast can be a magical tool in design, no doubt, but there are few places where it makes as big of a statement as your bedroom headboard. Sure, you can keep things simple and prop up a traditional headboard against a plain painted wall, but why not play with texture instead? We love pairing textured accent walls with intriguing headboard fabrics and designs because it’s an instant statement piece. No more worrying about which art to hang above the bed - with a headboard look like these, you’ve got a show-stopping aesthetic built right in.


Incorporate Shelves

An often overlooked option for headboards is their functional capabilities. With traditional headboards, of course, you have to rely on nightstands to showcase your favorite books or set down a pair of glasses before bed. However, headboards can be surprisingly versatile if you know how to creatively use space to your advantage. Go for a deeper headboard that can act as a shelf to charge your phone, or create an inset shelf in the wall to display your items. Whichever option you choose, a headboard with shelves can make a world of difference (and free up that precious floor space!).


Embrace Wall-to-Wall Style

There’s something so stunning about a headboard that breaks the rules. To achieve a bedroom look that is outside the box, don’t be afraid to embrace wall-to-wall (or floor-to-ceiling) style. These headboards manage to keep the eye moving while simultaneously making the room feel much bigger than it actually is. With visual wins like that, how could you go wrong?


Opt for Unexpected Shapes

Though the majority of headboards stick to the usual rectangle shape, there’s no reason you can’t shake things up a bit. We love headboards that defy the norm and provide a touch of whimsy in a space. Like highly textured headboards, these beauties double up as art and keep your bedroom feeling fresh and new each and every day. Sometimes, the unexpected choice can be the most impactful one.


Designing a bedroom can be a challenge, and while it’s easy to take the expected route, it can feel boring and leave you unsatisfied. So, instead, as you finalize your bedroom refresh, make sure to take some time and choose the headboard you really want. Go for bold, whimsical, unexpected, and jaw dropping. You’ll find it’ll make the room come alive, and we guarantee you’ll never regret it.

By Megan Johansson

Modern Home Libraries

Inspiration for Creating the Perfect Reading Nook

Whether you gravitate towards mystery and detective fiction, or are a lover of memoirs, books tend to be a very personal and nostalgic part of our lives. Yet, too often, books are relegated to unkempt piles or shoved into a teetering bookshelf just to make space for other things. But, why not embrace our favorite reading essentials and prioritize a home library instead? 

To help you pull together your dream library, we’ve compiled our top five tips for displaying those beloved titles. Because once you’ve embraced book style in your home, we’ve got a feeling you’ll want to spend every spare moment cracking open those spines.


Tip #1 - Don’t Shy Away from Color

While a monochromatic library can be stunning, books aren’t usually bound in the exact same neutral shades over and over again. To reflect your eclectic taste in genres, don’t be afraid to embrace a little color in your design. It doesn’t have to be floor-to-ceiling boldness, but even a touch here or there can help to make your home library feel inviting and filled with personality. We recommend choosing an anchoring color or two, then peppering it around the room to help things feel curated and cohesive. If there’s any room in the house to experiment with a splash of a unique shade, it’s definitely the library.

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Tip #2 - Prioritize the Cozy Factor

A structured chair or two in your home library is great, but you also want to be sure to prioritize that cozy factor and incorporate plenty of areas for comfortable reading and lounging. After all, this is bound to be one of your favorite spaces in the house, so making sure it’s a place you can kick back and truly relax is essential.

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Tip #3 - Let the Light In (Natural/Windows & Artificial)

Good lighting is a must have in a home library. For obvious reasons, you need light to read, but it can also make or break the room’s overall aesthetic. Try to set up reading nooks near windows for access to ample natural light, and if your space isn’t filled with those jaw-dropping floor-to-ceiling windows we all love, be sure to incorporate plenty of other light sources (e.g. uplighting on your bookshelves or floor lamps near seating areas) to make the room feel as intimate and well-lit as possible.

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Tip #4 - Give New Life to Unused Spaces

Don’t forget that a home library doesn’t have to have a predetermined set of dimensions. In fact, if all you have is an unused space at the top of your stairs or a previously blank wall above an entryway, that can be the absolutely perfect library. Before lamenting that you don’t have an entire room for your books, consider areas in your home that are unused or oddly shaped – a custom built-in bookcase with a comfortable chair can be a total home run.

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Tip #5 - Organize for Maximum Visual Impact

Finally, one of the most important finishing touches for a home library is its organization. Sure, you can toss books any which way on a shelf, but there’s something so visually stunning about an organized bookshelf. Whether you prefer to organize by height, color, or outward vs. inward-facing spines, keeping a catalogued system that helps to accent the room’s vibe will give things a streamlined and purposeful look.

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Creating a home library isn’t as impossible as it may seem, and you don’t have to have vaulted ceilings and a sliding ladder a la Beauty and the Beast either (though we do love a good library ladder!). Working within the confines of your space is key, and if you incorporate these tricks, there’s no reason you can’t display what you love and create the ultimate lounge getaway in the process.

By Megan Johansson

All-White Interiors

How to Incorporate the Look 

There’s something so fresh and invigorating about all-white interiors. They’re both modern and timeless at the same time, and with an ability to instantly transform a space into a bright and welcoming realm, they’re trendsetters time and time again.

Yet, to achieve this look takes more foresight than simply swiping on a coat of paint and updating the color of your furniture and décor. If certain key elements are missing, all-white spaces can quickly feel cold and sterile, and for a home environment, that’s certainly not the ideal scenario.  

To help guide you through your own design, we’ve pulled together a list of our must-haves for creating all-white interiors. Add these together and you’ll have a sleek and chic space that will give off all kinds of positive vibes you’ll absolutely love for years.


Interesting Architecture

The first thing to consider before opting for all-white is your home’s architecture. Does your room have interesting details like historical plaster moldings or exposed ceiling beams? Are there floor-to-ceiling windows that bring a flood of natural light and a pop of outdoor color into the space? Do you have an original fireplace and mantel that will serve as the center point of your décor? Creating interest in an all-white space can be a challenge, so if you have these types of visual pockets already built in, it will help to soften the starkness of a bright white shade and will add much-needed dimension and depth.


Unique Furniture & Lighting

Another key consideration is your furniture and lighting. While these may seem inconsequential, they can actually work as their own form of architecture within a space, giving height and shape to specific areas and creating ingrained focal points that purposefully direct the eye. In terms of lighting, remember that soffit lighting, sconces, chandeliers, and pendants will all give off a different vibe, so it’s important to determine what your functional needs are and which areas you want to highlight within the room. Furniture-wise, consider the dimensions and scale of your space – do you need low-profile silhouettes to account for low window ledges, or do you want to opt for an unexpected furniture shape to add softness and contrast to a room already filled with crisp straight lines? Choose your furniture and lighting wisely, and they’ll instantly become part and parcel of your space’s architectural charm.


Loud Statement Piece

Finally, an all-white interior isn’t complete without a loud statement piece that anchors the room. Whether that’s a jaw-dropping art piece or an enormous light fixture, you absolutely need something that will define your room and add a major splash of visual contrast. Because white spaces can sometimes feel overly monochromatic, a touch of flair can go a long way towards pulling the room’s elements together and creating an organic sense of movement.


Though white is simple, it’s a go-to designer’s choice for a reason. Its versatility is unmatched, and by tweaking the shade slightly, you can go for a cool and bright aesthetic, or opt for a warmer and creamier hue. Whichever white you gravitate towards, just remember to keep in mind your home’s architectural details, choose your furniture and lighting carefully, and incorporate a bold statement piece – with all three of these steps in place, your all-white interior will be magazine-worthy in a snap.

 

By Megan Johansson

 

Art Inspiration

Minimal & Modern Prints to Upgrade Your Space

A home isn’t complete without unique art that both fits the space and speaks to your style. And whether you lean more towards landscapes or abstract prints, a minimal and modern display can instantly add personality. Read on for our favorite types of art inspiration and why they just might be the perfect fit for you.


Nature

Calming and familiar, artwork that evokes scenes of nature is truly timeless. From watercolor interpretations to bold photography or side-by-side features of animals, incorporating depictions of the outdoors tends to make our spaces feel connected and alive. Especially in city dwelling environments, adding a bit of the natural world to the indoors can make a major difference in how we feel each and every day.


Abstract

Abstract artwork is always a great option to give a room an immediate dose of the unexpected. With its unpredictable shapes and lines – often in a playful color palette – abstraction gives texture and helps to create drama. Especially if the rest of your décor is pared down and minimal, a piece of abstract art can be a much-needed infusion of surprise in an otherwise still environment.


Color Blocking

Similar to abstract art, color blocked prints are a splash of personality just waiting to adorn your walls. Usually made with about four or more colors, each work is completely unique and an instant built-in statement. Plus, by opting for one of these, it can serve to anchor your space and help you curate the rest of the room’s palette. Simply work your furniture and other décor elements around your favorite piece, pull out the key hues within your art, and you’ve got a room that feels like it’s ready for a magazine photoshoot.


Sculptural

For a total stand-out aesthetic in your space, we recommend opting for modern sculptural wall pieces. Their 3-dimensional and textured elements make these art pieces the ideal balance of visual depth and minimalism. Plus, there are endless styles and shapes available for you to choose from, meaning that you can take a more understated route (like an oversized metallic disc), or put together a gallery collection of multiple curated pieces (like the shape shifting spheres depicted below). Sculptural art is undeniably beautiful, and without a doubt, will help your space feel like one-of-a-kind.


Black & White

Simple, understated, and classic, you can never go wrong with a black and white print. But don’t be fooled – while these minimal styles are neutral in color, they absolutely pack a punch in terms of visual appeal. If you want something bold to take center stage, try an oversized print with abstract lines and shapes. Or, go for a more subtle sketch or portrait for a sense of calm and beauty. Regardless, we love them all and find that they’re the perfect additions to any room’s color scheme.


We don’t know about you, but all of these gorgeous prints and pieces have us dying to revamp our own spaces. And with spring in full force, well, there’s really no better excuse for a touch of change and a total décor refresh.  

By Megan Johansson

Modern Window Treatments

Spring is still a bit out of reach for us here in Minnesota, but there’s no doubt it’s on its way. We’ve been on the upswing for several months now with daylight increasing a little more each day, and we’ve got to say that it makes a major difference in our spirits to once again see the sun after 4pm!

So, to celebrate the its return, we’ve rounded up our favorite modern window treatments that let that light flood in nice and bright during the day, but still give you needed privacy at night.


Solar Shades

Not only are solar shades a sleek and minimal approach to window treatments, but they’re also incredibly functional. The filtered material allows you to still maintain a view of the outdoors while also blocking direct UV rays from your home. This helps immensely in terms of keeping heat out (especially once those summer temperatures rise), which in turn helps you save big time on your home’s energy bills. Plus, you can customize your solar shades to whatever level of opaqueness you prefer. Go for a lighter version if you’re craving a brightly-lit space or opt for a higher UV blocker if you need more shade (e.g. in a west-facing bedroom). Either way, these are excellent window treatment options that we highly recommend.


Draperies

For a timeless look that also offers a great deal of privacy, you can never go wrong with draperies. And whether you pair them with shades for a layered design, or use them alone, they’re perfect for adding dimension and incorporating unique colors or patterns into your space.

Just remember that when it comes to hanging drapery panels, there are some basic rules to follow. First, make sure your rod hardware is quality-made and strong enough to hold your draperies (whatever fabric it may be). Second, you want to install your drapery rod above the top of your window to give visual height to the space, and you want your rod to extend over the width of the window on each side (the full window should be able to be covered). Finally, make sure your draperies extend down to the floor – going too short will make your room feel stunted and off balance.


Roman Shades

Roman shades are a beautiful and classic window treatment option that many of our clients prefer because they’re a great in-between option if you’re not sold on either curtains or traditional shade styles. They use less space than a curtain, but because of the way the fabric folds together when opened, they also add more visual dimension than the simplicity of solar shades. Especially for smaller windows, like those above the kitchen counter or above a breakfast nook, roman shades can be a beautiful way to add texture and interest to a room.

 


Blackout & Dual Shades

Of course, if what is most important to you is privacy during those evening hours, then there are always blackout shade options to consider. While full blackout shades will completely eliminate any view to the outside, there are other more flexible options available, too. With dual shades, you get three options in one – either open the shade completely to let in full sunlight, pull down the sheer shade to let in soft filtered light, or pull down the opaque shade for full UV blocking. For those who crave variety, this option definitely fits the bill.


Fingers crossed we get a spring heat wave here soon, but in the meantime, be sure to consider which window treatments will be best for you by the time the sun is out in full force. The more preparation you can do now, the more comfortable the seasonal transition will be.

 

By Megan Johansson

Shower and Bath Storage Solutions

Storage solutions in the shower or bath are so often overlooked, but they’re essential to completing your bathroom and making your life manageable and simple. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to precariously stack all of your family’s shampoo and body wash bottles on the edge of the tub, only to knock them down every time you need something. So, today we’ve rounded up our favorite shower and bath storage solutions to make your remodel complete. From built-in shelves and benches to free-standing stools, the options are endless, and we promise they’ll completely transform your home’s bath into the spa-like atmosphere of your dreams.


Benches

Benches are a sleek addition to any standing shower and we absolutely love to use them. Not only are they great for sitting down and relaxing (especially in steam showers), but they also double as convenient storage spots where you can easily place all of your shower essentials. Plus, they help immensely if you have any mobility issues or injuries, making showering as comfortable and easy as can be.


Niches

Incorporating a niche into your shower or bathtub is always a great idea. Functionally, it provides a handy perch to store your soaps, so you can keep everything up off of the ground or the bathtub ledge (no more tripping on stray loofahs). Architecturally, it adds a nice pop of interest, and can be a great opportunity for you to incorporate unique materials into the space (think everything from back-painted glass panels to patterned tile or solid surface materials). Beyond that, niches can be lit with LED lighting, so you can relax whenever you have to take those early morning or late evening showers instead of being blinded by those bright ceiling lights.


Wall-Mounted Options

Sometimes a remodel is limited on space and there’s no option for working within the inside of a wall. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same storage capabilities. Wall-mounted options like hooks, shelves, and trays, can be incredibly stylish and they work in exactly the same way as niches do, easily holding your shower/bath items or towels in a minimally and aesthetically pleasing way.


Free-Standing Stools

If you already have a gorgeous bathroom you love, or simply want to add another layer of storage, then free-standing stools are a great option. They’re small and flexible, so they’re never in your way or taking up too much floor space, and you can shift their location any time you need to. Plus, having a stool is incredibly versatile – you can use it for just about anything. Set a few freshly-folded towels on it for guests or use it for your robe or other personal items you don’t want to take in the shower with you (think glasses, jewelry, etc.). Or, why not use it as a spot to rest a calming candle and a glass of your favorite wine? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a soothing bath at the end of a long day.


Towel Bars

Towel bars are commonly seen outside the shower, but I definitely recommend using them inside. As long as they’re big enough, they can be quite convenient spots to store towels for quick dry-offs. Even better, why not install a towel warmer? After all, nobody likes that momentary rush of cold post-shower. A hot towel can make your experience absolutely luxurious.


Of course, no rule states you can only enjoy one of these storage ideas – in fact, layering a few can make for a bathroom getaway that you absolutely love to spend time in. And frankly, you deserve it. So, the next time you step foot into your revamped space and admire how sleek and chic your storage options are, remember to pause, take a breath, relax, and enjoy - there’s nothing quite like it.

 

By Megan Johansson

Smart Homes

How Technology Can Improve Your Life

It’s no secret that technology is everywhere these days. Nearly everyone has a device (or more) glued to their hands at all times, and from one little gadget, we can access an unlimited amount of information. So why not harness that power in your own home? 

Enter in the concept of smart homes. While they’re convenient and can be whimsical and fun (think cute features like a toilet with music and changing lights), they can also save you a ton of money, reduce environmental impacts, and up the safety factor for your family.

On board yet? So are we. Let’s take a look at some of the best that technology has to offer for your home.


Convenience

Do you ever lie down in bed at the end of a long day only to realize you still have to walk across the room to flick off the light? Well, there’s a solution to that (and so much more). With smart home technology, remote access via a phone is all you need to make your life a million times easier (and eliminate the need to get up once you’re already tucked into bed).

Let’s say the garage keypad is frozen and you’re locked out. Or maybe you need to let people into your home when you’re away or not able to come to the door (e.g. you’ve had an injury and can’t get out of bed to let in visitors). Simply tap the app on your phone and voila! Door unlocked. Opening and closing your shades can be automated, too, since you can set up a program that draws the shades at a certain time at night and opens them again in the morning.

With smart technology, there’s no more hassle – just pure, wonderful, convenience.

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AXIS Gear - Source


Safety

Next up on the list is a biggie – the safety of your home. With smartphone connections, you can monitor everything from smoke and fire detectors to any potential water leaks – all of which could save lives and save you from costly repairs.

Take Flo by Moen, for example. A partnership between Moen and Flo Technologies, this smart system monitors water and detects any leaks by conducting daily tests on water pressure, flow rate, and temperature. If there’s a danger of pipes freezing or catastrophic flooding is detected, it can even shut down the water completely in your home. Much better than coming home to an unintended indoor swimming pool, wouldn’t you say?

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Flo by Moen - Source

Flo by Moen -    Source

Flo by Moen - Source


Security

Your family’s security and well-being are essential and incorporating smart technology into your home can instantly put your mind at ease. From your smartphone, you can set up a variety of alerts to let you know if there’s an intruder, when the kids have arrived safe and sound at home, and if there are any unnoticed unlocked doors or open windows in the house at night (amazing, right?).

Beyond this, there are some fantastic partnerships in the works to prevent things like package theft, which constantly seems to be on the rise – especially during delivery upticks around the holiday season. Amazon recently partnered with MyQ LiftMaster garage door system to allow drivers to deliver your packages directly inside the garage instead of leaving them exposed on your front stoop. And while this may seem like a simple solution, it definitely wouldn’t be possible without technology, and smart home attributes like this one can make all the difference (and save you from losing those important purchases).

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SimpliSafe – Source

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Amazon Key & MyQ - Source


Energy Conservation

Finally, smart homes have major impacts on the environment, and this focus has been the driving factor in many smart technology developments. With your smartphone, you can automate exterior light shutoffs during the day, set up lawn irrigation based on the weather, close or open solar and thermal shades to coincide with the sunrise and sunset, and opt for a smart thermostat to keep your house comfortable without wasting unneeded energy (our favorite brand is Ecobee).

 

Ecobee Thermostat & Sensor -    Source

Ecobee Thermostat & Sensor - Source

Ecobee Thermostat & Sensor -    Source

Ecobee Thermostat & Sensor - Source


Smart homes can literally be life-saving and are absolutely worth the hype. And while there are some up front costs (smart switches and outlets like Insteon), it’s actually surprisingly affordable – especially since you can add components over time. Plus, it won’t require extensive changes to your home (don’t worry – you won’t have to re-wire your entire electrical system). Keep in mind, though, that while there have been major steps in terms of innovation for smart homes, not all vendors are compatible with one another yet, so you may experience a few initial bumps in the road.

 

But, with the ability to control your home – even when you are away – well, that’s worth every penny.

 

By Megan Johansson

Non-Traditional Holiday Decor

Unexpected Modern Elements to Transform Your Home 

Red and green have dominated the sphere of Christmas decorations for as long as we can remember. And while the color combination is certainly festive and nostalgic, sometimes it pays to decorate a bit outside of the box – especially if traditional décor isn’t quite your style.

If you’re dying to showcase your own unique flair this holiday season, then this inspiration guide is for you. Everything from unexpected Christmas trees to new and interesting color palettes await – all you have to do is read on and get that seasonal playlist pumping. You’ll have a perfectly-decorated home that fits you before you know it.


Christmas Tree

Whether you’re short on floor space or are just ready for something fresh and new, these Christmas tree alternatives are sure to dazzle in your home. From the crisp and clean lines of a wooden-style tree to a collection of floating branches with colorful Christmas baubles, these modern takes on a holiday classic will instantly make you feel festive while giving your décor new life.


 Wreath

Wreaths don’t always have to be evergreen with a big red bow. Why not go for unique shapes and textures instead? Try hanging simple greenery wreaths together for a Scandinavian-inspired front window display. Or opt for a geometric wreath with subtle greenery accents. Having a wreath that reflects your personality is the key to making your home’s entrance as inviting as can be.


Tchotchkes

Perfect for decorating a mantel or any side tables or shelves throughout your home, Christmas tchotchkes are a must have. That’s why we love these modern and chic décor elements. Understated wooden trees and color-blocked wooden houses give a refresh to those classic Christmas village scenes, while simple branches in vases can help to give your vignettes height and a splash of color and texture. Don’t forget those candles, too – they help to spread that festive cheer by making the ambience relaxed and welcoming.


Garland

Adding garland to your home – from the fireplace mantel to doorways – can instantly bring about that holiday vibe we all know and love. For a new and non-traditional look, we recommend trying either eucalyptus (or other similar foliage) or adding a touch of flocking spray to your greenery to give it that silver and wintry mix. Or, if you’re all about opting for something totally different than greenery, try a geometric-shaped garland or one made of colorful poms – you’ll still get that Christmas vibe, but in a completely unique way.


Neutrals & Metallics

We are absolutely in love with Christmas décor that ditches the red & green and goes instead for sleek metallics and bold neutrals. Try pairing silver and gold for a glamourous holiday look or go for chic black and white décor that brings a sense of class and elegance to the space. And whether you’re filling your mantel with eclectic ornaments, placing unique candlesticks around the house, or creating a minimal and chic advent wreath, these color palettes are sure to make your décor one of a kind.


Wrapping Paper

Finally, Christmas décor isn’t complete without that beautiful wrapping paper making a debut underneath the tree. Instead of traditional scenes of snowmen and Rudolf, why not spring for a more modern look with clean lines and understated – yet impactful – prints? By mixing and matching a variety of textures and colors, you can achieve a curated collection of gift wrap that goes perfectly with your updated and modern home décor. 


Inspired to do that non-traditional Christmas you’ve always desired? We say go for it – after all, your holiday décor should reflect whatever makes you happy and helps you spread that cheer. Happy decorating!

 

By Megan Johansson

Designing for Kids

Tips for Creating the Perfect Kids’ Spaces

By Megan Johansson

Too often, when we think about designing our homes, we gloss over kids’ spaces, preferring to spend our time perfecting living rooms, dining rooms, and master suites. Yet, little human beings need good design just as much as adults do (if not more)! From learning to stay organized to providing plenty of space for creativity, a well-designed room can make all the difference between encouraging imagination and stifling it. Follow these tips, and your kid-friendly spaces will soon be a favorite spot in your home.


Organization

Want to instill habits of organization & tidiness? Design your kid’s room in a way that helps them achieve that goal. Have designated spaces for books, toys, and supplies so that they’ll always know where to find them and where to put them away. A clean and tidy space promotes relaxation, too, so your child will be able to take a break from playing and nap in a snap!

Source / Source / Source


Adjustability & Flexibility

Kids’ spaces should have the ability to be used for a variety of activities. From sleeping to studying and playing to crafting, their rooms should be adjustable and flexible so that they’re getting the most out of the space. Some ideas we recommend are incorporating storage under the bed, adding ample desktop space for arts and crafts or studying, and including furniture that can move around as needed.


Timeless Design

It can be tempting to go all-out with a theme in your child’s bedroom, but the trick to keeping kids’ rooms feeling fresh is to show good design that can grow with a child. Rather than having to re-do the entire look every few years, it’s always a good bet to opt for simple style that, with a few slight tweaks, can be personalized as your child reaches his or her older years.


Playfulness

While timeless design is something we love for kids’ rooms, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Kids are all about fun and creativity, so why not let their space reflect that same element of whimsy? Try creating a statement with pops of color, add in playful patterns, or top off the design with an oversized item (like a wall mural or big comfy seat).


Keep Things to Scale

More than any other room in the house, kids’ rooms need to be spaces where they feel welcome and comfortable to explore. The key with this is to keep the scale appropriate. Don’t have a bed that they need a step ladder to reach; instead, stick to lower platform beds for easy access and instant comfort.  Not only are they safer, but they’re also perfect for sleepovers!


Balance Stimulation & Restfulness

As much as kids would like to play all day and night, they definitely need balance, so their spaces should reflect that. By providing plenty of comfy spots like nooks and reading corners, it allows them to experience both stimulation and restfulness, giving them comfortable spaces to unwind whenever they need it.


Utilize Space Creatively

If you have multiple kids and are short on space, why not opt for bunk beds? As long as you utilize your space creatively, there’s no reason why kids’ rooms can’t still be exciting and fun. Simply look for opportunities to incorporate unexpected storage (under the bed, via wall shelves, etc.), and your small space will feel like the ultimate play zone in no time.


If you’ve been dying to remodel your kids’ rooms for a while now and are tired of endless piles of craft supplies, stuffed animals, and books, then follow these steps and you’re sure to have the space of your dreams. And remember - it’s never too early to promote good design!

Table Settings

A Style Guide to Fall Entertainment

By Megan Johansson

Feel that crispness in the air? See those puffs of steam rise every time you exhale? The cold weather is on its way and the season for dinner parties and indoor entertaining is here. And what better way to celebrate than with a beautiful tablescape? To kick off October, we’ve pulled together a fall entertainment style guide on how to create your perfect table setting. In just seven easy steps, you’ll have the most gorgeous dining space in town – all you’ll need is some comfort food and plenty of wine, and you’ve got a celebration for the books.


#1 – Tablecloth / Runner

The base of your dinner design, a tablecloth or runner is an absolute must have in order to dress up your dining area for the occasion. They help to anchor your place settings and lend a soft and inviting element to your arrangement. Plus, there are endless ways to incorporate these into your space, including layering sheer fabrics for an ethereal look, draping a runner loosely to give your table an unhurried and relaxed feel, or opting for a patterned runner to give your tablescape an instant pop of excitement.


#2 – Chargers / Placemats

To help define each place at your table, a charger or placemat is a classic touch. Metallic chargers give your table an elegant and refined look, while a cloth placemat provides texture and visual contrast. Looking for something more out of the box? Try a wood charger – not only does it add a beautiful natural and earthy vibe to your design, but it also lifts your plates above the tabletop, adding depth and dimension to the overall style.


#3 – Centerpiece

The best way to transform your table from everyday use to event-ready is to add a centerpiece. Whether you opt for a stunning floral arrangement, simple greenery, or a more seasonal collection (think pumpkins or pinecones), a centerpiece is what gives your tablescape personality and lets your style shine through. This is definitely a step you don’t want to miss.


#4 – Napkins

Though they aren’t as simple to clean as disposable paper napkins, investing in cloth napkins for entertaining is something we highly recommend. They’re classic and timeless and they give your party a certain warmth and welcoming aesthetic. You can get creative with displaying your napkins, too, and they’re the perfect complement to your overall design. Try wrapping them in twine or a napkin ring and adding a sprig of flowers or greenery for a final touch.


#5 – Menus

While menus are typically popular at weddings, they’re also beautiful tablescape additions for a dinner party. Especially if you’re hosting a special event (holiday, birthday, retirement, etc.), a menu can lend a classy air to your overall design and give your guests something to look forward to as the meal progresses.


#6 – Place Cards

To add a personal touch to your party, consider incorporating place cards at each setting. Your guests will feel welcomed and honored, and your tablescape will look all the more dazzling. From simple and minimal designs to scripted and luxurious name tags, place cards give your design an intimate quality you’ll love.


#7 – Candles

Relaxed lighting is essential to a cozy dinner party, and candles instantly change the room’s atmosphere and give off a celebratory effect. Not sure which ones to choose? If you want to add height to your tablescape, taper candles are the way to go. If you’re going for a Scandinavian-inspired minimalist style, try a single candelabra. Or, if you like more of an eclectic collection, try mixing pillar, taper, and votive candles together. Whichever style you prefer, just remember to keep your candles scent-free so they don’t intermingle and overshadow the aroma of the food.


So, are you ready to host your first cold-weather dinner? Then uncork your favorite wine, take a seat by the fire, and start pinning recipes. Because now that you’ve got your tablescape perfected, all you need are a few menu hits.

Fall Fire Pits

A Roundup of Our Top Picks

By Megan Johansson

It’s officially fall, which means the weather’s taken a turn towards the cooler side of things and our thoughts are on all things cozy. The best part about this time of year, though? It’s still warm enough to enjoy your patio, and there’s nothing better than a warm fire to keep things toasty. So, grab a couple of throws, get comfortable, and start planning your fall s’mores fixings. Because we’ve got a feeling that if you don’t already have a gorgeous fire pit like one of these, you’ll want to pick one up ASAP.


Fire Bowls

Sleek and simple, fire bowls are stunning fire pit additions to your backyard. The fire is contained and often surrounded by beautiful glass, coals, or stone granules, which provides a nice visual contrast. Lit via gas, these are a cinch to start and even easier to put out at the end of the evening. Plus, they won’t give off the usual campfire smell that burning logs do – it’s the best of both worlds.


Sculptural Pits

If you’re looking to add a touch of art to your fire pit area, why not opt for a sculptural fire pit? Available in endless styles, these give new life to bonfires through artistic shapes and patterns. Go simple with an angular steel option or move more in the direction of unique and creative with a fire pit that doubles as a work of art when not lit. Regardless, it will make a stunning impact in your outdoor space.


Table Fire Pits

Table fire pits are not only beautiful and minimal in design, but they’re also incredibly practical. Large surrounding edges offer ample space to set down drinks or appetizers, keeping your fire pit at the center of your autumn entertaining.


Copper Fire Pits

These gorgeous metallic fire pits are perfect for adding a touch of intrigue to your backyard. They’re classic in shape, but definitely stand out from the crowd in color. There are a variety of copper options out there, too, so you can choose whichever style best fits. From hammered to smooth and rustic, copper pits add a splash of warmth to your space that’s ideal for those crisp fall evenings.


Sunken Fire Pits

For a bold architectural statement, a sunken fire pit is a great option. By placing your pit below the deck or ground level, you automatically create visual interest and depth in your yard – something we absolutely love. And whether you prefer to build in cushioned sofas or would rather opt for sleek wooden benches, a sunken fire pit makes for ample seating space – your guests will feel right at home.


Built-In Fire Pits

For a cohesive look, try a built-in fire pit on your patio. By using the same stone, concrete, or brick as the patio floor itself, your fire pit will feel intentional and you’ll be able to build your outdoor space around it. Rather than having a moveable/transient pit, a built-in one allows for a seamless transition visually, and it gives a sense of permanence to the space.


The shift in seasons doesn’t mean we all have to retire to the indoors for six months. Take advantage of this beautiful cool weather with a crackling outdoor fire. You’ll want to soak up the fresh air long after the sun has set (and with these fire pits, who could resist?!).

Bedside Lighting Tips & Tricks

How to Choose the Perfect Light

By Megan Johansson

Lighting is another layer of design that makes the space come alive. Different moods can be achieved by manipulating lighting, its intensity, color and placement. With so many options and technologies available on the market, figuring out bedside lighting can get complicated. This simple guide will help you make the right decision while choosing lighting solutions for your bedroom.


Step #1 – Choose Your Light Style

Not all bedrooms are created equal. Some have plenty of floor space for a nightstand and table lamp on each side of the bed. Others have room for only wall sconces. Still others allow for a mix of the two, combining styles and space-saving tricks to get the perfect balance of lighting. So before you fall in love with a gorgeous lampshade or an adjustable copper reading light, assess your room and decide what style of fixture would suit your needs and work best in the space.

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Step #2 – Make Sure You Have the Right Height

Now that you’ve got your light style in place, you need to choose the right height of the lamp or location of the sconce. Think of your reading light as a task light that needs to be high enough to illuminate the pages, but not too high to lose that soft and cozy effect. A good rule of thumb is for a source of light to be about two feet above the top of your mattress (or, about in line with the top of your pillow/headboard). Opting for adjustable versions is a great option, too, since it allows you to shift the light focus as needed.

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Step #3 – Decide on Hardware or Plug-In Fixtures

Hardwiring your fixtures requires some planning, but you’ll appreciate it once it’s properly designed and implemented. The result is a seamless design with flexible operation via switches, no visible cords, and switches and outlets that blend in with the wall color. You can even opt for smart switches with dimmers that are connected to your smart phone for easy control. In this project (below), the headboard is deep, so we added a smart phone module so the light can be dimmed or turned on or off without reaching back. It’s incredibly handy – just don’t forget to install a USB plug-in next to the bed to keep your device charged.

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Step #4 – Choose Your Bulb Wattage

If there is no dimmer, the final touch is to choose your bulb wattage. If you’re eyes are a bit more sensitive to bright lights before bed or you prefer to have an overall softer ambient glow, then your best bet is to go with lower watt levels (in the 25-40 range). If you prefer a brighter light for reading, on the other hand, you’ll want a watt level between 50-60 – it’s the perfect level of brightness without veering into the harsh light territory. Overall, stick to soft and warm lights (between 2700-3000K in temperature) – they’re best for the bedroom since they help to keep things feeling cozy and calm.

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Got your perfect bedroom light in mind? Then grab your favorite novel or magazine, fluff up those pillows, and get ready to settle in for a great night’s sleep. With your new lighting installed, you may never want to leave.

Water Features

How to Create a Tranquil Getaway in the City

By Megan Johansson

Humidity seems to be at its peak in Minneapolis mid-August, and unless you’re able to get away for a cabin weekend, it can be tough to find ways to stay cool.

We’ve got the perfect solution: water features. While they’re popular everywhere from hotels to corporate plazas, they’re also perfect for your own backyard. Adding a bit of Zen with simple and tasteful design aesthetic, they’ll make your home feel like its own private getaway – right in the middle of the city.

So, here’s our roundup of some of our favorite water features – and why they just might be the perfect match for you.


Wall Waterfalls

If you’ve got a smaller backyard, a wall waterfall is your best bet. Not only does it take up little ground space, but it can also create a big architectural statement. You can keep it simple with a faucet-style waterfall, or you can make a bolder statement with a full wall style feature.     


Cascade Fountain Fixtures

The multiple tiers with cascading effect add visual interest and depth. Such installations also create beautiful sound you can enjoy day and night, especially if it’s artistically lit.  There are plenty of options, too – from wall waterfall styles to stand alone fountains, you can definitely find the best fit for your backyard.


Stand Alone Water Features

For people who prefer to keep water features above ground, water bowls, columns, and simple fountains are ideal choices. They can fit just about anywhere in your garden, and they come in a variety of different shapes and styles that evoke a feeling of calm and tranquility for any space.


Ponds

If you have extra space in your backyard, consider adding a small pond – not only are they absolutely perfect for extending your garden (water lilies are some of our favorite pond-friendly plants), but they’re also ideal if you love koi or goldfish ponds. Your backyard will feel like a total oasis.


Modern Water Troughs

We love the contemporary vibes of elongated water troughs. They’re often a combination of a pond and a waterfall. Plus, they give a sense of architectural contrast to the space, whether dipping down below the deck line or raised above.


You really can’t go wrong with a water feature, especially with so many gorgeous modern designs to choose from. Each one is simple, yet makes a unique statement, which is always something we appreciate in outdoor design. Create your escape within the city with a water feature, and you might find that you’re not quite ready for summer to end after all.

Our Favorite Coffee Shops

Where to Get Your Daily Dose of Caffeine

By Megan Johansson

If you’re on the prowl for a new coffee shop, we’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite spaces right now. Not only are they stellar in the latte and americano department, but they’re also total jaw droppers in terms of design. And frankly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

So the next time you’re craving a caffeine fix and want an all-around great experience, check out some of these places – they’re spots you definitely don’t want to miss.


#1 – Parallel

Right near the IMS building, this space is a coffee lover’s delight. Black and white marbled countertops pair perfectly with a gorgeous blue Moroccan fish scale tile wall, and light wood seating brings a subtle warmth to the space. But aside from the top-notch design elements, their coffee, lunch, and happy hour specials are delish.

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Source: @parallel.mn


#2 – Spyhouse

With five locations around the Twin Cities, Spyhouse is about as convenient (and adorable) as it gets. And while we recommend ordering a Spygirl coffee with a touch of lavender (it’s a personal favorite), any item on their menu gets a five-star rating from us. Plus, their space is filled with the perfect combo of dark shades, exposed brick, and reclaimed wood – needless to say, we’re in love.

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#3 – Rose Street Patisserie

A Linden Hills gem, Rose Street Patisserie is our go-to shop for all things French inspired. Pastries, coffee, desserts, and more fill their menu, and we’re on a mission to taste it all. Don’t miss out on this one, lovers of sweets – it’s an experience you won’t forget.

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 #4 – Penny’s

Penny’s has the best soft serve in town, hands down (and believe us when we say we are big fans of soft serve). If you’re looking for dessert – or a delectable cup of coffee – then this spot is for you. With two locations (downtown and South Minneapolis – both equally stunning), you’re guaranteed to leave feeling satisfied (but still totally okay with one more cone).

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#5 – Dogwood


Located in Uptown’s Calhoun Square, on Lake Street, and in St. Paul, this open and airy coffee shop is the ideal spot to kick back and relax. It’s modern and sleek (perfecting a minimalist design), and as you sip on a delicious cold brew, don’t forget to pause for a moment and enjoy the unique art on display at each location. Day made? We think so.

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#6 – Sparrow Café

This natural light-filled corner shop has the perfect blend of eclectic décor and bright aesthetic. It’s a favorite for South Minneapolis residents, and it’s in just about the perfect location (only a few blocks from Lake Harriet on 50th and Penn). Not only do they serve grade A coffee, but they’re also next door to an adorable used book shop – Paperback Exchange – where you can pick up your next novel to read as you while away the afternoon sipping chai tea and people watching through Sparrow’s iconic picture windows.

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Source: @hunnyenergy


Whether you’re grabbing coffee with a client, working through the morning with a cappuccino in hand, or stopping by for lunch, you can’t go wrong with any of these Minneapolis staples. Because why should you settle for chains when these local spots are so stunning? There’s really no better way to enjoy that daily cup of joe (or two). We say go ahead and splurge - you deserve it!

How to Style a Coffee Table

5 Steps to Making Your Table a Perfect Vignette

By Megan Johansson

A coffee table is more than just a footrest while you watch a movie. It’s an opportunity to get creative and showcase your personal style. And while tables come in all shapes and sizes – from modern lucite beauties to gorgeous vintage trunks – the way you style them can completely change the look of a room.

The trick to styling your table is to layer a variety of items in different shapes, textures, and heights to give the surface a curated vibe. You want everything to pop on its own, but still work together as a collective piece of art.

It can be tough to get the right balance, though, so we’ve put together a guide to help you style your coffee table just the way you like it. If you follow these steps, you’ll have a perfectly positioned living room in no time.


Step #1 – Add a Tray or Bowl

The quickest way to make your coffee table feel collected and neat is to add a tray or large bowl to the mix. It allows you to group together those smaller items (think coasters or candles) that might otherwise make the surface look cluttered or random.


Step #2 – Store Remotes Incognito

There’s nothing worse than losing a remote (especially today when it seems we all have 3-4 per TV). Rather than letting them float around the top of your table (and possibly get lost in the cushions), dedicate a specific incognito zone for them so you always know where they are and they don’t take up valuable styling space. Drawers are perfect for this, but if that’s not an option, try popping them in a box or bowl on the lower shelf or grouping them together inside your tray.


Step #3 – Stack Books or Magazines

Depending on the size of your table, you can either stack books inside your tray or next to it. Either way, adding a few coordinating books or magazines gives your table a visual anchor point and it gives you a chance to showcase your personality. Are you an art lover? Comedy guru? Political junkie? Invest in a few books about your favorite topics and they’ll be instant conversation starters.


Step #4 – Top It with A Tchotchke

Add an eclectic touch to your coffee table vignette by adding a tchotchke or other personal item. Perhaps it’s a small frame of your family on vacation or a vintage cigar box you found at your favorite flea market – whatever your favorite item is, your coffee table is the perfect spot to display it. Just make sure it fits size-wise and that it works with the rest of your items; you don’t want the tchotchke to take center stage, but rather work as the cherry on top of the overall styled surface.


Step #5 – Add Flowers for Height

Once you’ve got everything in place, you’ll want to consider adding a vase with fresh flowers or a potted plant to the mix. As long as you choose a vase or pot that fits the size of your table, flowers and plants can brighten up the space while giving vertical height to the otherwise horizontal vignette.


Your coffee table might be small, but when it’s styled well, it packs a punch and makes a major statement. And the best part? You can always change it up as your tastes and styles shift – just follow this guide and you’ll be sure to find the right combination that suites you.

 

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

Unique Bar Carts Ideas for Your Home

By Megan Johansson

Bar carts are all the rage right now - and for good reason. They’re the perfect visual addition to a room when styled well, and they’re functional in a way we can all get behind. Because who doesn’t love a good cocktail?

Not all bar carts have to have the same look, though. If you’re not into the typical brass two-level cart that’s popular right now, there are so many other unique options to choose from to showcase your favorite drink fixings.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite unconventional bar cart ideas for your home, which means before you know it, you’ll be raising a toast to good style.


Butler Trays

These beauties are as flexible as TV dinner stands, but with way more visual appeal. They’re easy to move and reposition around a room as needed, so they’re perfect for parties. Extra bonus? You can swap out the tray for another look if you ever want to spice things up. Try a lucite tray or a farmhouse-inspired wood tray to add a new and exciting vibe to your space.


Open Shelving

This option is ideal for anyone with a small home or apartment. If you don’t have the floor space, it can be hard to justify a cart or extra side table. But if you pop in shelves and go vertical, you get an instant bar “cart” that doubles as wall art. Does it get any better?


Hutches & Buffets

Most people don’t think of these as bar carts, but if you’re in love with a beautiful vintage or custom piece, using it as a bar can give it new life. Instead of following the crowd with the typical small cart, your hutch or buffet becomes the star of the show, and a conversation piece to boot. We can certainly all clink glasses to that.


Repurposed Trunks

Who says that trunks should always be relegated to the foot of the bed? Give a beautiful antique a chance to shine by converting it into a bar cart. You’ll have a total unique piece, and it’ll instantly add personality and charm to any room.


Secretary Desks

We love using these as bars – they’re perfect for tucking away bottles and mixers during the day, then showcasing them for guests at night. The desk itself doubles as a beautiful piece of furniture in the room, and it’s less obvious than a traditional cart.


Vintage Teacarts

Similar to typical bar cart styles, vintage teacarts allow you to display your bar collection, but in a way that evokes memories of the past. Teacarts give a sense of timelessness to a space, and they’re much more visually interesting than current cart models.


Console Tables & Cabinets

The great thing about a console table or cabinet is that it’s comparable in size to a classic bar cart, so you’re not losing space. But even better than that, it can double as an entryway table or living room piece. Opt for a table with doors to tuck your bar goods out of the way, or go for an open shelving unit for the opportunity to display your bar alongside any other personal items you love.


Tabletop Trays

Don’t have the space for a full bar? Why not use a simple tray to hold and showcase all of your cocktail goods? The best part about a tray is that it’s moveable – you can pop it on a coffee table, move it to a dining table, or store it on a dresser. It’s an instant party hit.


Your bar cart is a chance for you to think outside the box and incorporate pieces you love. So whether you’re drawn to an antique buffet or floating shelves, your home has all the potential for the perfect bar setup.  Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy that G&T. Cheers!

A Well-Styled Shelf is Always a Good Idea

How to Style Your Bookshelves

By Megan Johansson

Too often, shelves become a collecting zone in a home where books and knickknacks cover the surface without rhyme or reason. The result is a cluttered space that never feels settled.

So, why not opt for a Pinterest-worthy “shelfie” instead?  Your shelves should be a true reflection of your personality – not just a storage area.  Stick to these tips and tricks and you’ll be well on your way to perfecting your shelves (and getting some “ooohs” and “aaahs” from your guests along the way).


Vary Height & Direction

To keep your eye moving across a shelf, you want to vary the heights of the objects you use, and play with both vertical and horizontal orientations. If you have the same sized books filling every shelf, or the same sized frames over and over again, your shelf will lack complexity. Instead, try arranging your books by mixing a variety of height and thickness, or stack a few on their sides to prop up a unique tchotchke.

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Layer Books with Other Objects

To avoid having your shelf fade into the background of the room, mix and match different objects together for intrigue – say, an oblong vase next to a collection of leather-bound classic novels. Use your shelf as an opportunity to showcase your most loved items, and feel free to layer them for visual depth. Maybe you want to add in a framed wedding photo, or a sculpture you purchased on your last vacation – whatever it is, get creative with adding and rearranging unexpected items together. Styling is all about making a visual picture out of things that are different, but complementary.

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Stay Within Your Color Scheme

You don’t want everything on your shelf to be the exact same shade or color, but you do want to make sure you’re sticking to a color scheme that fits with the rest of the room. Decide on about 3-5 colors you want to use, then make those the focal points of your shelf. It’s fine to have a bit of another color in there to add in some contrast, but you don’t want to stray too far outside your chosen scheme or your shelf will feel cluttered rather than curated.

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Pay Attention to Spacing

Unless you have a plant purposefully draping down a shelf or artwork propped against the back wall, the general rule of thumb is to keep things about halfway between the edge of the shelf and the back. This provides visual depth because the objects feel like they fill the entire space, but aren’t overcrowded and falling off the ledge. If your items are all too far to the back, the shelf will feel empty or crunched, and if your items are all pushed too far forward, they feel too precarious and posed. Stick to the middle and your shelf will feel balanced.

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Watch Out for Sizing

Whenever you’re including books on your shelves, make sure to pay attention to their sizes. The spines shouldn’t be hanging off of the ledge – if yours are, then the book is simply too big for the shelf and would work better on a coffee or side table. Also, if a book is too tall, don’t try to squeeze it in at an angle – either style it on its side (horizontally), or save it for another spot.

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Incorporate White Space

Remember that every square inch of your shelf doesn’t need to be filled – and frankly, it shouldn’t be. You want to incorporate white space to allow your objects to pop. This will help you avoid the trap of adding too many things to “fill” the shelf up. A little goes a long way!

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Ready to give shelf styling a shot? These tips should give you a start, and don’t forget that the best part about shelfies is that they aren’t permanent – you can rearrange and add to them whenever you want. So, get creative and showcase your favorite things. Your shelf just might steal the show.