Accents for All: Choosing the Perfect Accent Piece

Add a dramatic burst of color without compromising your coordinated color scheme with an accent rug like this from Anji Mountain.

Add a dramatic burst of color without compromising your coordinated color scheme with an accent rug like this from Anji Mountain.

There are plenty of rules in life and at this point in yours, you’re probably tired of following them. However, when it comes to designing a fabulous space, there’s one rule we’ve found that will make the process of picking the perfect accent and decorative pieces so simplified that you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to rebel in the first place.

60-30-10 = 100% Chic

Interior designers and colorists the world over swear by the 60-30-10 rule when it comes to implementing a color scheme for any room or space. 60% of the space should be the dominant, primary color, 30% of a secondary, complimentary color, and 10% of an accent color. The idea is that the dominant color sets the tone for unifying the space’s theme, while the rest compliment and add character to make it your own. Adjusted for decorating, the 60-30-10 breakdown translates to wall color, upholstery/furniture, and accent pieces, respectively.

A 60-30-10 decorated room brought to life with bright accents. As seen on Marie Claire.

A 60-30-10 decorated room brought to life with bright accents. As seen on Marie Claire.

The simplest way to ensure an always-elegant and personalized decorative theme is to choose a classic, timeless wall color which you know you’ll love for a long time and stick with neutral colored upholstery and furniture. This way, you’re free to go wild and experiment with accent pieces like throw rugs, decorative pillows, lamps and lighting, side or coffee tables, lounge chairs, and any other items that can easily be updated or changed when the mood strikes you.

Accommodating Accents to Fit Your Style

Does this black and white chair from Monarch Specialties say "boring" to you?

Does this black and white chair from Monarch Specialties say “boring” to you?

There are a few avenues to choosing a perfect accent piece, but it all comes down to preference. You can choose white or neutral colored walls, bold upholstery and/or window treatments, and stick with basic black, white, or black and white accents. You might opt for a daring, bright wall color, neutral upholstery and trimmings, and go crazy with a brightly patterned rug. There’s no wrong way to choose an accent, but try to have the 60-30-10 rule in mind to retain a balance and avoid overwhelming the eye.

Another aspect of accents that you should keep in mind is functionality. Most people might think that accents are just that – purely decorative pieces meant to add aesthetically to enhance design. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Of course, you always have the option of purchasing a large, decorative ceramic dog like Joey did on Friends, but your accent furniture can be practical too. Bookcases, storage ottomans, side tables, and chairs, are just a few of the “essentials” that can also be used as accent pieces.

This bold, multi-functional storage ottoman from Office Star is a perfect accent piece for the practical and space-conscious decorator.

This bold, multi-functional storage ottoman from Office Star is a perfect accent piece for the practical and space-conscious decorator.

The Power of Plants: Choosing the Perfect Houseplant

When the weather finally catches up to the calendar, green grass and fresh flowers will be in full bloom outside. But if you’re getting impatient with the slow rise in temperature and want to bring spring indoors, there’s plenty of houseplants and potted greens you can bring in your space.

Benefits of Houseplants

Aside from looking pretty, indoor plants and flowers have several other significant benefits. All plants produce oxygen which is pretty important to your lungs, and your life in general. Having plants in your home not only releases necessary oxygen, but certain types of plants actually purify the air, serving as an all natural filter. According to an extensive study by NASA, some of the best plants to rid the air in your home of toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia (among other pollutants) are English ivy (Hedera helix), peace lilies (Spathiphyllum), and Chrysanthemums. The increase in oxygen and natural dehumidification of these plants also positively impacts other areas of well-being, like improving sleep, reducing headaches, and eliminating household allergens like dust.

Houseplants not only enhance your space, but your health and well-being too. As seen on Decoist.

Houseplants not only enhance your space, but your health and well-being too. As seen on Decoist.

Some plants, like mullein and eucalyptus, are natural decongestants and can help improve lung function; extracts from both plants are commonly used as natural immune builders and herbal remedies for the common cold and cough.

Certain studies have also linked the presence of plants to improvements in work productivity and increase in memory retention. Ever wonder why bringing flowers to a sick person helps them heal? The aesthetics of flowers and plants, along with the increase in released oxygen levels among other aspects, have been shown to improve one’s mood by reducing stress levels.

Choosing and Caring for Houseplants

Now that you believe in the power of the plant, you’re probably wondering which to choose and how to properly care for it. Whether you’re looking for a micro-plant for a windowsill or to build a full forest theme, choosing the best plant for your space depends on several factors. How much space is available? How much time and energy do you have to maintain your plant (watering, fertilizing, rotating)? To how much sunlight will your plant have access? Which plant will fit in with the theme of your space?

The snake plant is low maintenance and minimalist to fit any space or theme. As seen on HGTV.com.

The snake plant is low maintenance and minimalist to fit any space or theme. As seem on HGTV.com.

If you’re limited on space and adventurous, consider a funky wall or hanging planter which require little to no maintenance after initial setup, depending on which plant you choose. If you have more space and want the most benefit from your indoor shrubbery, opt for a potted floor plant that may require more TLC. Not a fan of flowery leaves? Choose a minimalist plant like indoor bamboo or a simple orchid to up the elegance of your space.

You'd never be able to tell these mini agave plants from Nearly Natural were faux until you realized you hadn't ever watered them.

You’d never be able to tell these mini agave plants from Nearly Natural were faux until you realized you hadn’t ever watered them.

Worried you might kill your plant after accidentally forgetting to tend to it? Stick with a succulent or cactus plant like a snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) or aloe (bonus benefit: the “gel” inside the aloe plant is great for treating and healing cuts and light burns). While they may not have all the benefits of other plants, these succulent suckers can survive with minimal maintenance and still add to the aesthetics of any space. If you’re not able to care for a plant at all or are simply looking to stylize your space with greenery but don’t have the optimal conditions for a live plant, consider a tasteful faux plant.

Spring in the Air and in Your Home: Cleaning & Colors for Spring 2015

It’s been one of the snowiest and longest winters in recent memory, but this week, it’ll finally be over! Spring 2015 is here and with it comes the season of rebirth and rejuvenation. What better way to celebrate its arrival than to spruce up your living space?

Season and Nature Inspired Colors

This embroidered tangerine pillow from Chooty is a fun mix of spring color and print.

This embroidered tangerine pillow from Chooty is a fun mix of spring color and print.

While April showers have not yet arrived to bring May flowers, there’s no reason to keep your home cold and wintry any longer. Get inspired by color authority Pantone’s soft and cool Spring 2015 color collection prints. The easiest and most cost effective way to bring bright spring colors into your home without reupholstering your sofa or repainting your walls is to add seasonally colored or printed throw pillows, accent rugs, linens, or window treatments.

When looking for floral prints, ditch the dowdy and stale flowery imagery from yesteryear and venture for bold, dynamic flora-inspired prints. Statement graphic pieces can dramatically shift the mood and elevate the sophistication of a monotone room or space.

A bold and unconventional approach to floral by Powell Pink.

A bold and unconventional approach to floral by Powell Pink.

Spring Cleaning Sans Scrubbing

Sure, your home could use a solid top-to-bottom sparkling in the tradition of spring cleaning, but what your space really needs after a long winter is a thorough de-cluttering of closets and cabinets. Implement the “use it or lose it” rule to sort out unwanted, unworn, or unnecessary clothing; if you haven’t worn it since last spring, it’s time for that article of clothing to find its way to a donation box. Don’t be afraid to discard old, worn out, or damaged clothing or to give away items that don’t fit your style anymore (we’re looking at you, velour sweatpants).

If you truly can’t decide what should stay and what should go, whether you feel an emotional attachment or are just generally indecisive, there are a slew of other methods you can try. For the existential, consider the newest trend in organization, the KonMari system by Japanese organizational master Marie Kondo which begs you to ask if the item “sparks joy” for you. If not, toss it; the goal is to appreciate and enjoy the clothing you do wear in a clutter-free closet. If you’re more likely to be persuaded by logic, opt for professional organizer Peter Walsh’s “reverse hanger” trick. Have your clothing on hangers all facing one direction; if you wear an item, when you return it to your closet, reverse the hanger so it’s facing the opposite direction. After 6 months, whatever you haven’t worn (you’ll know by the direction the hanger is facing) gets tossed.

Clean out kitchen cabinets by removing all its contents, sorting items for seasonal storage, and donating or giving away wares with missing components. Invest in drawer dividers and expandable file folders to finally organize that drawer stuffed with papers, receipts, rubber bands, and whatever else you or your kids may have tossed in there.

Your organized dream closet. As seen on Flickr.

Your organized dream closet. As seen on Flickr.

Spring cleaning and de-cluttering will not only make your space more zen, but will also lend an opportunity for you to give back. Find out where to donate everything from unwanted furniture to unused eyeglasses.  Happy spring cleaning and enjoy your updated, spring-friendly home!

March Madness Must-Haves for Entertaining

Spring is all but upon on us and that means one thing for sports fans – March Madness! Whether you’re a die-hard basketball fan or a casual spectator looking for a fix during big league sport downtime, the 66 games leading to the NCAA basketball championship game lend plenty of opportunities to host a party. Make sure your home is equipped to entertain guests with these essentials for the games and all year-round!

Bar Cart

Alcohol and entertainment go together like peanuts and Cracker Jacks at the old ball game. If you entertain guests often and have the space for a dedicated entertainment room, consider a bar wall like this that can store wine and spirit bottles, glasses, openers, shakers, ice buckets, and anything else you might need to serve drinks. If you’re limited on space or don’t entertain often enough to justify a more permanent option, opt for a mobile bar cart. Bar carts store all your libation needs, but also have wheels so they can easily be moved to the living room to watch a game or dining room for a dinner party.

A mobile bar cart like this one from Sterling Industries makes for a convenient, easily accessible drink serving station in any room.

A mobile bar cart like this one from Sterling Industries makes for a convenient, easily accessible drink serving station in any room.

Stylish Servingware

A stylish glass multi-tiered stand like this one from Go Home is a perfect piece to elegantly display and serve an assortment of foods.

A stylish glass multi-tiered stand like this one from Go Home is a perfect piece to elegantly display and serve an assortment of foods.

Whether you’re hosting an upscale dinner party or a low-key gathering, your servingware is the ultimate showcase for your menu. Opt for classic serving trays and bowls in a timeless color like white to make your hors d’oeuvres stand out. Servingware in white or other light, neutral colors with limited or no other design elements are a useful investment and the perfect serving pieces for any cuisine, whether you spent hours creating appetizers from scratch or popped store-bought, frozen apps in the oven. Single, neutral colored servingware is also the easiest to build upon, so if you’re thinking of starting with a few key pieces now and ultimately growing your serving collection, white is the way to go.

Tiered stands are also a terrific multi-purpose display and serving solution that are useful for casual cuisine and elegant parties alike. Like white trays and plates, mirrored and clear glass tier servers effortlessly adapt to make whatever food is served upon them the focus of your guests’ attention.

Essential Extras

Depending on the kind of gathering you’re hosting, your seating needs will greatly vary. For sit-down dinner parties, you’re limited to kitchen and dining chairs. For a raucous dance party, you shouldn’t need any seating at all! But if you’re having a group of friends over to watch a sporting event or movie, your options are endless. Since you already have a cozy and comfy couch and are not likely to purchase a new one for a single event, consider multi-purpose seating that can be used long after your guests leave like a video/gaming rocker chair. Rockers can be used in a variety of rooms and spaces and are lightweight, mobile, and are relatively inexpensive. If your guests are the down-to-earth type, take it literally and go for multi-purpose ottomans or oversized pillows for floor seating (it’s more comfortable than you think!)

Space-saving and stylish seating made easy. "Breakaway" ottoman with seating for four by Homelegance.

Space-saving and stylish seating made easy. “Breakaway” ottoman with seating for four by Homelegance.

If you’re limited on tables or serving surfaces, a fold-able tray table is an absolute necessity. Tray tables are easily folded and out of sight when not in use and can be placed just about anywhere for an instant serving station or eating surface.

Fast Furniture Fixes

No matter how clean and tidy you keep your home, spills and stains are bound to happen. Picking out your perfect furniture, from your wooden coffee table to a leather couch, was a time consuming process, but maintaining it doesn’t have to be. We’ve searched high and low for the best furniture fixing hacks using household items to get the stains, scratches, and spills out of your stuff and out of your life.

Removing Water Stains From Wooden Surfaces

Coasters were created to keep cup rings from hot beverages and ice cold drinks from forming on your wooden tables, but sometimes your guests – or even you – slip up and slap that cold beer sans coaster on the table. To get those white water stains and marks out of your wood on the cheap, all you need is salt and olive oil.

The trick:

Combine salt and olive oil to form a paste. The deeper the stain, the thicker the paste. Smear the mixture onto the stains and marks and leave for 30 minutes. Wipe off the mixture and any excess paste and your surface is as good as new!

stained wooden table

To see the full tutorial, check it out here.

wooden table following stain removal

Removing (and Deodorizing!) Pet Stains From Carpeting

Carpeted floors and rugs seem to magically attract spills and stains and if you have pets, you might find those stains to be of the unpleasant smelling variety. This easy, no-rub fix will not only remove the stains, but eliminate odors as well with vinegar and baking soda.

The trick:

Pour enough distilled white vinegar to adequately soak the stain or spot. After, slowly sprinkle baking soda over the vinegar to cover the surface of the stain. You’ll hear some fizzing as the baking soda works with the vinegar to absorb the stain. There’s no need to rub or scrub the solution, but you do need to be patient as the solution dries over the next day or two. You can let the solution work its magic openly or cover the area with a bowl or plate to prevent the baking soda from flying around or getting stepped on. Once the spot is dry, vacuum the spot and voila, the stain and smell are gone!

removing pet stain tutorial

To learn how to do this stain removal trick in more detail, check out the full tutorial here.

Safely Removing Ink Stains From Leather

Leaky pens or kids with armed with markers and an active imagination can wreak havoc on your finished leather couches or chairs. Maintaining leather upholstered furniture can be tricky and investing in a good leather cleaner and conditioner is your best bet. But if you find yourself in a bind, a dab of rubbing alcohol can do the trick.

The trick:

Dip a cotton swab or ball into rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and gently rub against the ink stain until it disappears. Use a blow dryer on low heat to quickly dry the alcohol solution and prevent it from leaving a stain of its own. Gone and done!

Note: This method works best on finished or faux leather, but may damage unfinished leather products. As with the other hacks mentioned, test on a small, out-of-sight patch to ensure your furniture isn’t permanently damaged!

Buffing/Blending Scratches On Wood

Scratches and scuffs are inevitable on hardwood floors, wooden chair legs, and tables, but filling them in is a breeze. This super simple trick will work on most light-colored wood surfaces!

The trick:

Take a raw walnut, pecan, or Brazil nut (or just about any nut, for that matter) and methodically rub it over the scratch in a buffing motion. Further fuse the oils into the wood by rubbing your finger over the scratch. Finally, buff the oils and residue away with a soft, dry cloth and enjoy your effortlessly re-finished floors!

DIY buffing wood

To learn about this and other simple life hacks that you wish you knew earlier, Buzzfeed has a pretty comprehensive list.