10 Tips for a More Peaceful Home

peacefulTurn your everyday living space into a serene retreat by clearing visual distractions, softening your lighting and more

Maintaining a Zen-like space is about much more than style. It’s about cultivating a peaceful place where each object has a reason for being present, whether for its beauty, utility or both. Here are 10 ways to bring a peaceful, balanced feeling to your home.

8 Beautiful Ideas for Floating Shelves

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.56.08 PMGet clean-lined storage and display on walls, over windows and in nooks using versatile floating shelving

Floating shelves — those that attach to the wall without visible brackets — are sleek, chic and so versatile. From filling a tricky nook to customizing a workspace, floating shelves are an underrated workhorse all around the house. Here are eight ways to use floating shelves, plus key tips for when it comes time to hang them.

Get the Look of Wood Cabinets for Less

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.14.40 PMNo need to snub plastic laminate as wood’s inferior cousin. Today’s options are stylish and durable — not to mention money saving

While plastic laminate cabinets might seem like a relic of another era, they actually are a practical, affordable, and — dare we say it? — stylish alternative to conventional wood cabinetry. “The general public doesn’t have an understanding about the durability, flexibility and options that laminate offers,” says Julie Cavanaugh, the owner of Design Matters, an interior design firm in Los Gatos, California.

Cavanaugh estimates that only about 15 percent of her clients request laminate cabinet faces, and a good chunk of those are for rooms other than kitchens. But the material doesn’t deserve to be neglected, she believes. It’s usually a cost-effective option and more environmentally stable and easier to care for than wood.

Wood-patterned laminate can emulate exotic materials and graining without the limitations and scarcity of the real thing. “You can make beautiful lengths of book-matched cabinetry, because the cabinetmaker is in control of the patterning and the repeat,” Cavanaugh says. The price is another incentive: Cavanaugh estimates that laminate cabinets can save homeowners an average of 15 to 30 percent over wood versions.

Keep Your Kids Safe Room-by-Room [Infographic]

Whether you have kids living at home or just the occasional child visitor, you should know about your home’s danger zones. This infographic takes you room by room in the house to identify hazards.

The tips are cross-referenced by the age of the child and the particular room in the house, so you’ll know some of the new hazards to watch out for as children get older. Many parents already know these tips, but for those of us who only have little ones as occasional guests, this is a great reminder of the lurking hazards around your home.

keep kids safe

15 Ways to Ready a Summer Home on the Cheap

remodelSet up a comfy getaway where stress goes down the drain, without sending wads of cash along with it

So, you bought a vacation home — congratulations! But after saving and scrounging to pull off your dream, it may be that there isn’t much left over for actually furnishing said vacation home and making it, you know,livable. Once you have the nonnegotiables (working plumbing, wiring etc.) taken care of, it’s time to make your place your own. Here are 15 budget-friendly ways (including a few worthy splurges) to get your holiday cottage ready for summer, so you can get busy doing what’s really important: relaxing

9 Exit Strategies for Your Clutter

clutterHow to efficiently — and regularly — rid your home of the things you don’t want

Many of us have a problem with clutter. It can be so hard to get rid of things. Often the difficulty comes down to deciding whether something really is clutter. The struggle can be internal (“I could use this some day”), or with various family members (“Are you kidding me? That was my Aunt Agatha’s!”)

If you are desperate to clear things out of your house, a good place to start is the stuff everyone can agree needs to go. In our family no one wants to hold on to outgrown clothing, dead batteries, returnable bottles and cans, and books we’ve read but don’t love enough to keep. So why can’t we get them out of the house? Why are they piled by the door or on the end of the table, stashed in the back of the pantry or moldering in bags in the garage? Why!

I was thinking about this as we cleaned the garage last week, and then again when I unloaded a table outside our laundry room and noted the various bags of things I had carefully gathered and sorted and then forgot about for weeks on end. I realized we need to come up with a few systems for getting this stuff out of the house. We need some exit strategies.

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Dream Bedroom

Emmanuel FonteLearn the dimensions that will help your bed and more fit neatly and comfortably, so you can get a good night’s sleep

We spend more time in bedrooms than in any other room in the house. Even though we are sleeping most of that time, we end and begin our days there. An organized and well-considered space can improve your mood when you need to get to sleep, and get your day off to a good start when you wake.

Planning bedrooms starts with learning standard bed sizes, which one you prefer and which one will work in your plan. Other bedroom furniture comes in all kinds of sizes. Once you determine your room and bed dimensions, you can make good decisions about dressers, chests, benches, chairs, nightstands and so on.

Decorating With Antiques: Set the Stage With Lighting

Emmanuel Fonte AntiquesComplete a vintage scene or create contrast with lamps, sconces and chandeliers that have traveled through time

I majored in theater arts for my first two years of college. It’s a bit in my blood. My dad was in show business — mostly as a director and producer — and when I was a baby, Rock Hudson was my babysitter. Honest! He lived in the apartment next door to us, near Warner Brothers Studio.

Given that background, I’ve always believed interior decoration and design are largely about theater. That is, they’re not just about the nuts and bolts of utilitarian objects under a roof. Rather, they’re about creating a place in which to live out life’s drama — making a beautiful environment that evokes something soul-nourishing. And in decorating, as in theater, lighting is an often-underrated but vitally important element in the creation of that environment.

If you’re like me and you love to include antiques in the “set design” of your home, then antique lighting (which can be a bit of a challenge) is something you should definitely consider.

To-Dos: Your July Home Checklist

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 2.26.05 PMGet your safety and housekeeping ducks in a row so you can splash into carefree summer fun

With backyard barbecues, clambakes and beach days, July is a time when many of us spend (or wish we were spending) more time outdoors than in. This month’s checklist offers ways to slash energy and water bills, keep your garden and patio in good shape, and protect your home while you’re away on a summer trip.