Define Your Style Home Design Ideas

Define Your Style: Home Design Ideas.

Leonardo Da Vinci once said, -Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication- and when it comes to interior design this can often by the best route to take if you don’t trust your own design instincts.

There is a danger however, that your house will blend into every other Magnolia drenched, carbon copy home that we see cloned on every street in Britain today.

Why do we practice such safe design? Is it because we suffer from a lack of imagination, or are home owners up and down the land just not brave enough to experiment? Maybe in this difficult economic climate we cannot risk straying from that safe colour palette of cream and white?

I say, why create a -blank canvas’ (just in case you move home), for someone else to put his or her stamp on. Look for inspiration everywhere and don’t fear your own style. There are several ways in which you can experiment without breaking the bank and below are a few ideas and tips, which could inspire you to create your own unique groove.

Firstly, do a little research. Websites such as www.housetohome.co.uk have a fantastic gallery of pictures and suppliers that can inspire you and are less likely to be found in the house next door.

Create a mood board. Collect images, colour swabs and fabric samples in order to focus your ideas and inspire you. This way you will be able to see which colours and styles go together and it will also help you commit to only buying what you need.

Steer clear of the plain and create simple elegance by choosing a simple colour palette but also experimenting with different textures of paint and fabrics. B&Q have a paint colour mixing service, which can match any of your favourite items.

Add a splash of colour by adding cushions and throws or curtains. Cushions, and more surprisingly curtains, are easy to make if you have a bit of time on your hands and you can get quality designer fabrics at greatly reduced prices online. Stores such as www.digbyandwilloughby.co.uk sell designer fabrics at 10 a meter instead of the recommended retail price of 30 to 100 a meter. If you don’t fancy making curtains yourself, Digby & Willoughby can get these made up for you. Alternatively breathe life into a favourite chair with new upholstery with Fabrics from Digby & Willoughby.

Accessorise with one or two unique pieces such as a beautiful free standing mirror or a piece of artwork. To save some pennies you could visit auction houses such as www.lotsroad.com or www.criterionauctions.co.uk . I recently found a fantastic seascape oil painting in a charity shop and a beautiful art deco bedroom suite on www.freecycle.org so keep your eyes peeled.

Love the traditional? Experiment with mixing the traditional with the new to avoid being old fashioned. Choose classic wallpapers with a funky twist from companies such as Cole & Sons and Zoffany to create a feature wall. Visit reclamation yards such as www.wellsreclaimation.com or sites such as www.salvo.co.uk to find beautiful antique wooden furniture and natural materials to create a classic and unique vintage look.

A statement piece of furniture can be the inspiration for the design of your whole room. Cover an old chest of drawers or table with fantastic hand printed wallpaper, protected with layers of clear varnish and jazz it up with new or antique handles. Try www.emmamolony.com for hand printed wallpapers. Go off piste, I recently purchase antique music scores from a local bookshop, which cost me 30p each and they make the perfect vintage wall coverings.

If you religiously follow modern styles, what is the buzz from the world of interior design, what are the hot colours for 2010?

Colours from Mexico such as, burnt oranges, sunny yellows, gingers and taupe’s are on trend. Various shades of midnight blue with greying whites are in vogue and as well as being chic and ultimately classic, they would be a good long-term investment. Soft vintage colours, such as neapolitan pinks and yellows reflect the current boom in homemade crafts and reclaimed materials. Other colours in style for 2010 will be natural hues, soft beiges and nudes with green or purple accessories.

There are plenty of ways to create your own unique style and to update your home. And remember, to play on the words of Jim Rohn, -if you don’t design your own style, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!’

Helena Searle

January 2010

Add Impact to Your Landscape and Garden Design with Statues

St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, is a familiar Catholic religious statue that is commonly seen in dozens of locations throughout most communities. Not only do many property owners buy St. Francis bird baths and bird feeders to dress up their gardens, but Saint Francis statues can also be spotted in church courtyards, religious schools, and hospitals. Maybe it’s the kindly and gentle image that St. Francis projects that makes him such a universally appealing image to display. As a religious statue, its message of honoring nature and all its creatures is one to which many people can relate, even if they’re not particularly religious.

Large Saint Francis statues are available in a variety of sizes, materials, and finishes. Through the use of different processes, sculpture studios that create St. Francis statues, and figurines can achieve a number of interesting effects. One 24-inch statuette that’s available uses a green tincture to mimic the appearance of aging copper. Another approach to creating an antiqued look on a statue is by painting it in Sorrento Sandstone. There’s a 24.5-inch St. Francis bird feeder for sale that uses that exact technique. If you’re looking for garden statues that will add some visual interest to your landscape design, another one to consider is a 33-inch St. Francis sculpture made of stained cast stone. It’s somewhat of a clay color, which darkens and changes tone when it gets wet.

Statues of St. Francis are also made of other materials, including resin stone mix, cast brass with a bronze finish, painted cast stone, and fiberglass. Do-it-yourself landscapers and gardeners will like a 48-inch fiberglass St. Francis statue holding a basket that can be purchased over the Internet. The basket makes an attractive flower pot or plant container. A 32-inch Saint Francis bird feeder cast from a wood carving is another religious statue that would complement a backyard, church, or memorial garden.

Another unique St. Francis of Assisi garden statue is a 42-inch Saint Francis water fountain made of relic barro stained cast stone. The statue pumps 180 gallons of water per hour and shows subtle color changes after it rains.

An unusual custom that has its roots in folk lore, is the practice of burying a figurine of St. Joseph in one’s yard, upside down, to supposedly speed up the sale of a residential property. When the home does sell, the (former) owner then digs up the figurine and displays it in their new home. There’s actually a kit on the market created with that use in mind. It consists of a 4.5-inch figurine of Saint Joseph holding a baby in one arm and a bouquet of flowers in the other. The miniature St. Joseph sculpture includes information on this unique custom and directions for its use.

Other popular Catholic religious statues that can be purchased for home or public display include statues of Jesus, Good Shepherd statues, guardian angels, and Madonna statues, also called Our Lady of Grace, Mother Mary, and Lady of Guadalupe.

Joel Sussman is an Internet marketing specialist with Mountain Media, an e-commerce development and hosting company in Saratoga Springs, NY. Among the firm’s clients is Saint Francis Garden.com, an online store featuring religious garden statues.

Garden furniture For An impressive Home

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Building A Night Garden

The week before last I was lucky enough to attend Custom Houses Grand Designs convention, wherein over a thousand different exhibitors displayed a range of new products, techniques and disciplines, applicable not only to interior design and decoration but also (on a smaller scale) to horticulture and outdoor decoration.

In this regard, the overall focus largely fell to the advertisement of commercial ventures such outdoor furniture (which will be covered in our next segment) or ecological building alternatives, but there was one exhibit that struck me as particularly unique – that of a night based garden.

The impetus of the design lay in the philosophy that due to the hectic lifestyle required to support a grand outdoor space, many of us dont get the choice to enjoy our garden during the daytime-ironic no? So, The 24 Hour Garden, as it was so aptly named, was built with not only its lit aesthetic in mind, but also the applications it might promise after hours, particularly those of hosting and catering.

It seemed a topic not oft discussed in conventional garden design, so I wanted to set aside some column inches to suggest how one might go about building your own space whose usefulness is complete, regardless of whether the clock reads lunchtime or late-o-clock.

Lighting

Despite the night garden being traditionally a dimmed place, lighting is an essential component to make the space both useable in the summer months, and visually accessible in the winter, however, like the palette you choose for your planting, lighting is, at best, a subtle art, meaning that although it is a characteristic of the day time there is no need for yours to be reminiscent of blazing sunshine. Indeed, as any photographer will tell you, the nightscape provides lighting opportunities not available when sunlight is abundant – hence the attraction of black and white celluloid where the light becomes a means of punctuation rather than the prose itself. The beauty of modern lighting is the variety of different forms it comes in: stairway lighting, underwater illumination, overhead down-lighters or vertical up-lighters, not to mention those concealed within the plants themselves. This latter is a popular option as it helps negate the tone of artificiality that the plastics and metals of a lighting system evoke. The underwater light is also a marvellous addition to the night garden which, while not particularly functional, gives an access to view any wildlife inhabiting your ponds you might not otherwise be privy to.

However, the likely motivation for building or adapting a night garden is so you have the means and the place to entertain and to relax afterhours and to this end I would also recommend, either recessed walkover floor lighting, or focal point spot lighting rather than harsh floodlighting as is so often seen in gardens. Floor lighting is a softer option and will not threaten any trip hazard in the twilight, particularly with the use of frosted lenses, while spotlighting will lend a glamorous red-carpet feel to not only the garden but to any tree canopies above it too.

Furniture

So, assuming the garden is to be a place of hospitality, and now weve established how you and your guests will find their way around it, we must next discuss what it is theyll be finding their way around.

A sitting area should be one of your first considerations, mainly because unlike the lighting its value will not be detracted by the absence of darkness-you can enjoy a quiet sit down as much on your days off, as after your days on. Comfortable seating, whether freestanding or built-in is a must and well discuss this in a later article. But you might also want to making this a dining area, with the addition of a barbeque or chiminea, or even a small scale bar or outdoor kitchen, if youre budget will accommodate, in any case theres no feeling comparable to cooking, preparing and dining in the outdoors and, as such, this should definitely be considered.

General Aesthetic

Finally, we have the presentation of the garden itself and how we can make best use of the elements of night, whilst still insuring that the site is picturesque in the day time, for this reason I must reiterate the use of water. Lights will capture the sparkle of moving water as it falls, but there are few natural elements better paired then the blackness of still water at night, and the moon and stars reflection within it. It gives fluidity to an arcane archetype of our culture, indigenous to the mythology of our ancestors. Candles or lanterns also take us back to our ancient roots, and make an excellent addition to the night garden for the magical and transient quality of their light.

Wind chimes are also highly effective in the night garden, partly due to their taking advantage of what might be an uncomfortably chill breeze, but mostly due to their obscurity when placed correctly. By semi-concealing the chimes youll lend an air of mystery to the space as guests will not be able to place their songs origin. If, however, you prefer more contemporary tunes, why not install some unobtrusive speakers in your garden and enjoy all your favourite music while you entertain.

In our next article concerning the Grand Designs exposition, well be discussing the various materials and devices that were on show, both at
Grand Designs and its previous counterpart Ecobuild, that can be implemented to make your homes and green spaces more eco-friendly.

Garden furniture benches A buying guide

If you love your garden or outdoor patio and like to spend quality time here every day, enjoying the refreshing breeze, it helps to choose the right outdoor benches. Furniture benches will create a comfortable seating nook, while they will also make a style statement and add substantially to your garden decor. While these look elegant; available in metals, bamboo, wicker and even wood variety, they also allow you to enjoy the view in comfort. >

For a large garden, chunky garden furniture benches in wood make a style statement. Many types of softwood are used for making these benches, and these are ideal for a shaded spot in your garden, yard or on your patio deck. For a smaller kitchen garden or a deck outside the kitchen window, metal furniture benches with pretty intricate designs look great placed against a wall. To enjoy your outdoor benches, place them in a quiet spot, away from the wind where you can enjoy a mix of shade and sun throughout the day.

Metal furniture benches are now available in many designs and some come with graceful curves and intricate motif patterns, adding largely to your garden decor. If you have some metal accents, like a metal coffee table, wall lightings and a lamp post, choosing wrought iron will be the best choice. Also, these garden furniture benches come in all kinds of price ranges and sizes, and are better able to withstand weather changes as compared to wood. However, nothing can beat the rustic appeal of wood benches, and in a garden full of large shaded trees, these work the best. Their rustic ambience lends a lovely tone and texture, and these are more popular with older home owners, who believe that the dents and scratches in the outdoor wooden furniture will only add to its personality and charm. Bear in mind that if you opt for wood as your choice of material for garden furniture benches, you search for benches made with natural wood that is resistant to wetness and insects. Choosing any processed wood could result in your bench furniture warping and damaging outdoors, while natural wood will fare much better.

Garden furniture benches can vary in fashion from simple backless benches with wooden slats to ornately designed wrought iron benches with tie down cushions. The benches are ergonomically designed to go with the outlines of lower back for a nicely relaxed fit. Look for outdoor benches where the beauty only improves with age; owed to the materials used and the construction detailing. Prices of wood benches for your garden will differ depending on the kind of wood used in its production.

One of the best ways to pick outdoor benches is to choose a style that closely matches the garden style and dcor. For example, for outdoor patios and pool areas, wicker benches and stools work best. However, for a Victorian style looming garden, wood benches are better suited as they have an old world charm to them, while a stylishly landscaped Asian garden will fare well with metal outdoor benches in sleek designs or stone/marble benches built as part of the landscape design.