Kitchen Secrets | Cool Solutions and Finds

Even if you don't cook a ton, if you use your kitchen a little bit, you understand the sheer joy that comes with a great storage solution or simplified way of completing a task.  We've see a bunch of stuff out there about "cool kitchen gadgets" and "great storage solutions" and what not, but this list really seemed to have some interesting items...things that we actually hadn't seen before (what?!)...so we wanted to pass it along.  Some of them are decorative while others are pretty sweet storage solutions so just pick and choose what you can use!

For starters, this crumb catcher is pretty much the whole she-bang!  I don't know about you but i HATE crumbs!  It doesn't matter where they are in my kitchen, they drive me insane.  If you've got granite counters you have a catch 22 because the granite often hides the crumbs visibly but then you don't think to clean them up and, before you know it, you've got crumbs everywhere!  If you've got a more solid surface countertop like quartz or corian, you see every little crumb so you're in constant clean up mode...but at least you know where to clean up and they can't sneak away from you.

Aside from that, you also have the option of customizing your recycling drawer.  This cool set-up allows you determine what kind of storage works best for your recycling needs instead of just having two trash cans.

As far as some fun design ideas for kitchens, check out this copper backsplash!  We looooove copper and are excited about the impact it's making on design.  So to have this kind of option is pretty sweet! The nice thing about a copper backsplash is that if it gets wet or discolored, it's ok!  The natural petina copper achieves over time just adds to the visual interest it provides!

Other than that, we are loving the idea of adding additional legs to your kitchen island.  It's just a new approach to the kitchen that has been constantly evolving.  Kitchens are meeting places, they're communal areas for families and friends to gather over food and drink, so be sure it's a comfortable space.  This idea just gives that island another little nudge in the i'm-furniture-but-also-functional direction.

Finally, these hidden shelves pretty much make our life when it comes to kitchen design.  Not only do they add gobs of storage but they are sleek and hidden and don't take away from the overall look of the design.  They're like the perfect mix of function and style in a room like the kitchen!

Did we give you some ideas for your next kitchen remodel?  We hope so!  Kitchens are the rooms to spend money on!

Tile | All About The Terminology

Tile is a tricky business.  There are a ton of different kinds of tile out there which means different applications, different product to go with it, and different terminology.  As a homeowner, you may have a little knowledge of tile from your own home projects or maybe even just reading up on things, but there's a whole lot of secondary terms that can be associated with tile and tile installation...just talk to a tile installer.  Once they get into a space and start pulling the tile out and have a better idea of what's behind the walls, all sorts of things start coming up.  So today, we're here to inform.  We found this great article on Houzz that breaks down a number of different tile terms (along with their definitions) and we think it's pretty much genius so we're sharing.

Common types of tile include ceramic or porcelain and natural stone

Ceramic Tile is "classified as nonporcelain and porcelain. Nonporcelain, usually with a decorative glaze, is softer and less durable than porcelain, which has a slightly different composition and was fired at higher temperatures. For the tile shopper, “ceramic” usually refers to nonporcelain ceramic. It’s suited to walls and floors and lighter wear than porcelain" according to Houzz.

Natural stone tile is something made of, just that, natural stone.  It may be travertine which is very common, marble, or granite.  Travertine and marble are two of the most common.  Natural stone tiles are often very porous and require additional sealant.

To install tile, there are a number of different products that can be used: epoxy grout and cement grout are options to finish the tile once it's laid.  Mud and thinset are the two products used to adhere the tile to the floor.

According to Houzz, epoxy grout is "a durable, stain- and chemical-proof, resin-based grout. It’s costly, has a plastic-like look and requires extensive cleanup of residue, but it sets faster than regular grout and means no more scrubbing."

Cement grout, however, is made from a cementitious powder mix.  It is not waterproof however it is easier to work with than epoxy grout.  It also looks somewhat plastic-y so it could look odd when used with a natural stone tile.

Mud-set is a term derived from setting tile in a mud-bed.  Instead of using a thin layer of setting material when laying the tile, the installer will create a thick bed of setting material.  This adds water resistance to the tile base and stability to the floors since they are on a much thicker layer of mud that separates them from the sub floor.  This type of setting helps prevent tiles from cracking.  Mud-setting tile is still recommended for certain types of tiles but is very labor intensive so it isn't done as often anymore.

Thin-set is a tile installation method where the setting material is laid very thin.  In this scenario, the installation is much less labor intensive.  It is a commonly used method of installation because there are so many improvements in tile products to help prevent water damage and cracking that the setting method isn't the only way to prevent that.

Mosaic tile is a small version of the tile (often 1/2"-2") that comes on a sheet and is sold by the square foot. A pencil tile is a 12" long, thin (usually 1" thick) piece of tile that can be a finishing piece for the tile edge.  Subway tile is a rectangular tile that is usually laid in a brick pattern.

Tiles can come honed or polished.  Honed tile is less slippery than polished tile because it does not have the full polish applied.  It often has a smoother, softer look and is appropriate for high-traffic areas where someone might be at a higher risk of slipping.

Tile is complicated.  There's a lot to know and subsequently, a lot that can be accomplished!  Get to know tile.  It can definitely work for you!

Rugs | Why We Love Them

One of the hardest things for clients to stomach is an expensive rug.  In a lot of people's minds, rugs are just something you walk on and if they're literally going to be under your feet, why would you put a lot of money into something that's just going to get walked on.  Here's the thing with rugs--they're so much more than just something to walk on.  Rugs are MAJOR players in your room game.  Even if they're not the obvious MVP in a room, they're the real MVP because they pretty much make every other major piece of furniture work.  Here's how....

Visually, rugs fill up a lot of space.  Yes, they don't completely fill a room all by themselves, but they do make a space feel pulled together and finished.  That sofa and chairs is basically just floating their if it doesn't have a rug to ground it.  A rug basically defines the space.  Even if the furniture IS the space, it doesn't look like the space is complete unless there's a rug to group everything together.

Rugs are one of your main color providers.  Way too many people think that the walls should have all of the color.  False!  Walls are really just the background.  Walls should't be the focal point, they should be something to build off of.  A rug, however, can have a lot of color and pattern without making the room feel smaller (like colorful walls tend to do).  A rug can be all of the pattern in the space and be all the pattern one rooms needs.  If you feel safer purchasing neutral furniture, don't be afraid to get a rug with pattern, it'll bring those beige sofas to life!

Aside from defining spaces and adding pattern, rugs can actually make rooms feel bigger if they are the right size and are laid the right way.  On the other hand, one way to instantly make a room feel smaller is by purchasing a rug that's too small for the space.  A larger rug accentuates the open space and draws the eye out from the center.   We understand that the price of rugs jump with the sizes, however, you're basically wasting your money by purchasing a rug that only fits under the coffee table--you can't walk on it or put your feet on it so it's not functional.  It may add a little color but it's making your space feel smaller so it's probably doing the opposite of what you want it to.  Buying the right size rug will be worth it!

Finally, rugs help with acoustics.  Ever walked into a big empty space and heard the echo?  A rug will help eliminate that.  Because rugs add a thick padding to the floor, they help absorb any extra echo.  The more padding, the better the sound absorption. :)   

Bottom line is that rugs are important!  Even if you can't afford a big thick rug, at least try to get the big thin rug.  The visual finishing an appropriately sized rug accomplishes is worth the money!

Summer Time | Bedrooms

For some, summer is their favorite time of year.  The kids are out of school, BBQs and pool parties are always on the calendar, and the atmosphere is just overall more relaxed.  However, summer time is also the hot season.  Especially if you live in Florida.  Once July hits, you're basically living for the AC until about mid-September.  Rain is also a constant in the summer but it's ok because it cools things down a little bit. Sleeping when it's hot is the worst so today we're going to share some tips on how to cool down a bedroom with more than just the AC for summer time.

Light, airy fabrics are a must in the summer.  Anything dark and heavy is just going to make you feel warmer even if the temperature really isn't higher.  Go with something light in color and breathable.  Cotton is always a good go-to but linen is nice choice as well.  Because linen is a natural fiber,  it breathes and allows for you to cool off a little.

We don't always think about lightening up the thickness of the bedding but a thinner comforter or duvet will also make your nights a little more restful.  All duvet fillers come in different thicknesses specifically for the seasons, so take advantage of a thinner filler.

Consider the decor as well. Artwork and accessories that look a little more like summer (ie. warm weather wildlife, coastal pictures, bright florals, and greenery) will also make you think of summer.  So place these little reminders through your house during the summer months to bring the "outdoors to inside", organic feel around your house.

Finally, bring on the sunlight!  Open the windows and let some natural light come in.  Even though it's warm outside and the tendency may be to keep the sun (and heat) out, the truth is that natural light releases endorphins and will naturally lighten your mood.  So even if it's hot, you're happy! :) 

I'm going to be honest--by the end of the summer, I'm ready for it to be over because it's so hot. However, there are some good things about this season so we might as well learn to embrace it!

All About | Foyers

A lot of people have mixed emotions about foyers and entryways.  They are small rooms so they don't require a lot of work, but they're also low priority rooms so they rarely get any attention.  The problem with this is that the foyer is typically the very first room guests see when they enter your home.  It really is a major impact room because it basically sets the tone for the rest of the house.  For this reason, it's important, not only, for Foyers to be addressed but also for them to be styled in a way that sets the tone for the rest of the house.  If you're wondering how to accomplish that, you've come to the right place!  Today we're discussing key elements of foyers and helping you determine what yours might need.

Even though the foyer isn't really a room where people will lounge, it does need to be functional and appear comfortable.  A comfortable looking foyer makes for an inviting home.  So consider adding some sort of bench or ottoman for seating.  Even if this isn't a place where guests will sit for long periods of time, it may be a place where they'll set their bags down or sit to put their shoes on.  A bench also says, I want my guests to be comfortable.  It's subtle but it gives off a vibe that lets guests know, I've got you in mind!

Usually a foyer doesn't have any more than one large piece of furniture (bench, ottoman, console...), but once that piece is established, you have to build the rest of the foyer around it.  A piece of art in a foyer is key.  It adds color and left to what can be a very cold space.  If you've got a console, a bowl and plant, maybe a lamp are all decorative and functional items to have on top. Just be careful not to clutter up your foyer with too much stuff--that kind of greeting can make guests feel cramped and uncomfortable.

Be sure to address your entryway floor.   It can be hard to spend the money on a nice area rug for a foyer because it can quickly get dirty in such a high traffic area.  You have to consider, though, that the floor of the entry is a big part of what guests see as they enter.  A small accessory or lamp might be missed in the overall feel of the room but a blank floor will leave it feeling unfinished.  A rug warms things up and, for practicality sake, helps with sounds absorption and dirt-tracking. :)

Be sure to consider your overhead lighting in a foyer.  Because there are so many sizes and shapes of entryways, the lack of walls in your foyer may limit you on the number of place to add furniture.  In this scenario, the overhead pendant is your hardest working piece.  A foyer pendant has the ability to transform the room by not only adding light but adding art and movement.  We view lighting as art because it's sculptural so we place a lot of value on good lighting.  Don't go cheap.  Find a light that you're proud of!

If there's anything we can impart on you today, it's that your foyer should be tidy and inviting.  So if it's a collection of shoes, mail, and bags, you may want to re-think what pieces are in the space and how it's used.  Remember--best foot forward!