Thursday, November 27, 2008

Colin and Justin's 12 Quick-Fix Solutions for Holiday Decorating

We love to entertain, particularly during the holidays. And for us, creating atmosphere is a critical starting point for everything that comes thereafter -- just try getting into the party mood if you haven't properly decked your halls. Try these 12 seasonal styling tips. Simple, but, hey, even at Christmas less is more!

1 Nothing sets the scene better than sweet aromas wafting through the air. Try scented candles -- these days, even supermarkets sell an assortment of fabulous olfactory delights. Or, back in bonny Scotland, we have an old but favourite trick: chuck a couple of vanilla pods into your log fire to promote mood.

2 As an alternative to standard name cards, tie Christmas gift tags displaying guests' names around the stems of wineglasses.

3 Wrap oranges with a cross of red ribbon and stud the flesh with cloves. Instantly gorgeous, and they smell better each day. After Christmas, once the oranges are completely dry, pop some into the back of your wardrobe to freshen your clothes.

4 Forget tradition -- indulge your senses with whatever colour combos you like. We're currently working on a festive aqua and silver living room and a marshmallow pink and duck-egg blue dining room.

5 Use gold- or silver-ink pens to write guests' names on extra-large leaves like those from a castor oil plant, and use as chargers under side plates.

6 Slip lottery tickets inside store-bought Christmas crackers as an extra surprise.

7 Arrange a snaking line of brightly coloured votive holders (with flickering candles in each) down the centre of your dining table. Simple but very effective.

8 Arrange white Christmas lights in a favourite glass vase as an instant conversation starter. Simply switch on and let the twinkling begin!

9 IKEA sells gorgeous glass prisms that will add sparkle to pretty much anything you like. Using fishing line, hang them from your tree or a light fixture, or arrange in an artistic grouping at your window.

10 To create a minimalist display, spray dried flowers white and silver, and arrange inside a large, clear tank vase filled with white pebbles.

By Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan

Colorwashing Walls

The technique of colorwashing walls is easy to master. In addition, it adds soft-focus color to your room and visual interest to your walls. If your wall has blemishes, scrapes, or other imperfections, colorwashing may be the answer to your problem. In heavily trafficked areas like hallways, or in bathrooms where humidity can effect the appearance of walls, the gentle color variations of colorwashing can make any wear less noticeable.

Use a 1:1 ratio of latex paint and wallpaper paste. The color of the base coat, as well as the intensity of the top coat, will effect the overall look, so you may want to test your mixture first to make sure it is what you really want.

Load the tip of a very wide brush with your latex-paste mixture and "dash" a few strokes onto the wall. Then, without reloading the brush, use side-to-side, diagonal sweeping brush motions (like you are making large, loose X's across your wall) to blend the paint evenly. You may also use a sponge to create the colorwash effect, but you will have to experiment with the sponge strokes depending upon the type and size of sponge you use. Finally, use a dry brush to blend any noticeable seams.

Colorwashing with two layers can add subtlety of color and even more interest to your walls. Again, you may wish to experiment with color layers before you apply the color so that you can achieve the desired effect on the first try.

To colorwash with two layers, simply follow the above steps twice, allowing the first coat of paint to dry before starting on the second. A lighter color on top of a darker color will soften the effect of the darker color. Two complimentary colors similar to each other on a color wheel can produce a new, vibrant shade.

Colorwashing can be done quickly and easily to disguise imperfect walls with a sophisticated finish. It's fun and requires only materials and application tools.

By Dorothy Edison

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...

Want a way to catch and reflect light in your home? Nothing does it better than a mirror. Mirrors are great for creating an illusion of space. Mirrors have been used to make commercial buildings look more spacious, and these same techniques can be used successfully in your own home.

Try the following "decorating with mirrors" tips:

*If you have a wall in front of the entrance as you enter your home, then hang a unique mirror on that wall to open it up and add interest to the area.

*Try staggering mirrors on either side of a narrow hallway or stairway to give the illusion of width.

*To make a hallway or stairway appear longer, try positioning a mirror at the end which will double its length.

Wrought iron mirrors are popular and can be used as a home decor accent with most decorating styles.

*Collections of unusual mirrors can be used behind a sofa or in a hallway. They can be arranged in groupings or combined with paintings.

*You can use several hinged mirrors placed together behind candles or flowers on a mantle or table, thus "multiplying" the effect of your decorative accents.

As with your artwork, choosing the right frame for your mirror makes a world of difference. The frame adds to the look of the mirror and enhances the space around it.

The use of long, tall mirrors spaced across a wall is a nice change from the more traditional wall-to-wall mirrors.

*Make sure mirrors reflect only attractive objects. Do not place a mirror directly across from a waste basket or cluttered area. Try placing it across from a window, a lamp, or a favorite painting.

*Miniature mirrors can be used as a decorative touch on throw pillows, curtains and placemats.

*Put a mirror on the ceiling of kitchen cabinets or the pantry which will help you see what's on the top shelf.

*Mirrors can also be used in the dining room to showcase your table decor. Use a mirror instead of a placement at each place setting. They will naturally draw attention to your table and by using bright and decorative dishes you will create a stunning display.

Since mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, they offer limitless decorating possibilities.

Make a mirror the focal point in a room. Consider investing in a really unique, classy mirror and frame that complements the rest of the decor in the room.

*Remember to hang mirrors at a usable height!

by Lynn Cressy