Buy Amish Oak Furniture

When the first Amish arrived in the United States, they primarily settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As populations grew, settlements spread and there are now major settlements in Holmes and adjoining counties in northeast Ohio, and in Elkhart and nearby counties in northeastern Indiana. All of these communities are surrounded by forests filled with White and Red Oak, as well as Cherry, Maple, Hickory, and Black Walnut. Always self-sufficient, the Amish have taken full advantage of this bounty of beautiful wood to build their own furniture.

During the past century, the primary occupation of farming has been supplemented by woodworking. At first, the general public could only purchase Amish furniture directly from an Amish shop or nearby retailer. But now Amish woodworkers cooperate with “English” businessmen who distribute their goods worldwide via the Internet and we can all enjoy the beauty of Amish craftsmanship in our own homes. First the wood is plain sawn or quartersawn in “English” or Amish mills. Not only is the plain-sawn technique faster, but it produces a wide and long open grain effect, accented by long dark lines that reveal the growth rings. Rough to the touch, these growth ring lines create a textured surface. You’ll find that most dining tables and wooden dressers are crafted from plain-sawn oak. Amish furniture makers prize quartersawn oak for its beautiful rayflake grain designs. It is also resistant to the effects of atmospheric moisture. When cut this way, white oak is very durable. If properly finished, it will not likely rot, decay, cup, twist, or crack.

The problem with the quartersawn milling technique is that it’s very labor intensive. The first step involves cutting a whole log lengthwise into quarter rounds. The quarter rounds are then cut perpendicular to the growth rings, rotating the length 90 degrees back and forth with each cut. The end result is a feathered or furry grain both beautiful and strong. In contemporary Amish mills, this cutting is now done using saws powered by diesel generators. The generators are an allowed form of electricity because the Amish retain control of the power source.

Once the wood is processed, the Amish craftsman carefully chooses the perfect piece of lumber from the mill offerings for each piece of furniture. With an artist’s eye, he will select complementary pieces to create a lasting masterpieces for any home. Generations-old techniques are employed in the construction of each custom piece from a dining table to oak dining room chair. Dovetail joints are used for drawers, and slats and support pieces are connected in the mortise and tenon fashion. Each piece is finished with exceptional care, following multiple sanding and finish-application steps. A properly cared for Amish furnishing will retain its original finish for its lifetime.

The traditional methods of handmade solid wood Amish furniture construction stand out in direct contrast to imitation mass-produced furniture imported from overseas, which is usually made of particle board and veneer. Be sure to carefully inspect any prospective furniture; there are many of these imitation Amish-style furniture items on the market, and you want to get what you’ve paid for. By purchasing a genuine Amish furniture item you are making an investment in an item of decorative utility that will last for generations.

The Elegance of Amish Bedroom Furniture

The bedroom is a place of rest and refuge, and its furniture should reflect peace and security. Well-made Amish furniture can provide just that. Amish furniture is crafted by hand using the best traditional furniture-making techniques known today. Fathers and sons work side by side, building furniture that will endure for generations. Only the best woods are used, selected for their superior quality and beautiful grain. You can trust that each piece of genuine Amish furniture is crafted of solid wood construction, with no particle board or veneers.

Amish furniture requires a substantial investment, but it will far exceed your expectations. When considering Amish furnishings, look for the highest quality construction materials and techniques. Make sure each piece is crafted of solid wood; this includes solid wood backs on upright pieces such as dressers. A variety of woods are available; most common are oak, quartersawn oak, cherry, maple, hickory, and sometimes pine. The best quality hardwoods are always kiln-dried. This insures proper moisture content, which helps to prevent splitting and cracking throughout the life of the piece.

If you are looking for an entire bedroom set or a single piece like wood dressers, be sure to carefully examine the construction. Using generations-old techniques to build solid and enduring works, the Amish are renowned for their handcrafted furniture. For pieces such as dressers, nightstands, chest of drawers, armoires, and chifferobes, check that they have quality drawers that will hold up under rigorous daily use. The dovetail joints holding the fronts and backs of the drawer boxes together should have very tight tolerances. Also keep in mind that French dovetail joints have less storage capacity than English ones. Don’t forget to inspect the drawer slides to make sure they ride smoothly in both directions.

As the centerpiece of a bedroom set, beds should always be constructed with solid-wood side rails and slats. This will eliminate the need for metal mattress frames. The cross slats should always be tongue-and-grooved or doweled into the side rail. Beds that are constructed in this manner will be extremely sturdy with no swaying. For headboards and footboards, look to be sure they’re constructed with full mortise and tenon joinery, further providing superior strength. Although beds are available in many different styles, most common are Mission, Shaker, Sleigh, or Traditional. However, true Amish-made furniture can be custom-ordered to fit your exact needs.

Be sure to also consider the finish when selecting a quality piece of heirloom Amish wood bedroom furniture. The best craftsmen will ensure a smooth surface inside and out by sanding down the wood in several steps. Some shops follow a five-step process to finish each piece of furniture, using a top-grade catalyzed finish so strong it’ll stand up to acetone nail polish remover. Through this process, every surface—from top to side to underside—is finished and sealed to protect your investment for years to come.

The Amish Family and Dinner

One of the central elements of Amish culture is family. Amish couples generally have seven to ten children, and the family unit is often made larger by elderly members. As you can imagine, in an Amish household meal times are often quite lively. Since the fathers and older sons work nearby in fields or workshops, and mothers and older daughters work around the house, the entire family is able to gather together for daily meals. The Amish consider this to be a treasured time of family sharing and bonding, something we rarely see in our busy world. The Amish also maintain close ties with extended family and members of the local settlement community, and it is not uncommon for them to spend their free time visiting during meals. Weekly church gatherings are also held around the family dining table, as well as the large wedding celebrations held by the Amish.

Amish woodworkers labor long and hard to provide high quality and enduring oak tables, wooden dining chairs and dining furniture for their families, communities, and the “English” around them. The effort is worth it, as each craftsman gains great satisfaction in creating heirloom pieces that reflect Amish values of utility, simplicity, and excellence. Not only are they built in the Amish tradition from the finest wood, but these superior pieces become centerpieces in the home, complementing the family meal-time tradition. In the interim, they live with the bride’s family and seek out foundational pieces to build upon, including a dining table. They know that their dining table will become a treasured, long-lasting heirloom as it proves its worth over and over again as a centerpiece for family bonding.

While large family gatherings to celebrate special events and holidays have always been part of American culture, many families today have rediscovered the value of regular family meal times. More and more people are actively striving to reinstate this crucial time of family bonding in their own daily routines. As more and more gather round the table, many families are choosing to add significance to traditional meals and special family gatherings with a durable Amish-made dining set or oak dining table.

Farming has traditionally been the mainstay of the Amish economy, but high land prices and a growing population have forced many young men to pursue a craft such as furniture building. Outbuildings are often converted to woodshops, or otherwise new buildings are built to house new woodworking businesses. With a growing number of craftsmen, a thriving market for handcrafted Amish furniture has developed. With so many woodworking shops, a wide variety of furniture has become available in many styles. Amish furniture can even be custom-ordered according to preferences in wood type, leg style, skirting, dimensions, and finish. Traditionally, Amish craftsmen sell their creations directly from their own shops, but many have now partnered with local “English” businessmen to distribute their goods in nearby stores or over the Internet.

Amish dining sets are available in a wide variety of styles, including Mission, Shaker, Windsor, Queen Anne, French Country, Hoosier, sheaf-backed, Franklin, Malibu, Portland, and more contemporary designs. Amish craftsmanship dictates that you will never find imitations or laminates. Rather every piece is crafted from the highest quality woods, such as solid oak, cherry, walnut, maple, and pine. In selecting a dining table, you need to consider the leg supports, which might be the basic four legs, trestle or pedestal. Likewise, table tops can be circular, oval, square, rectangular, or octagonal, and leaf styles come in side drop, separate center, or stowleaf.

Amish Furniture & Craftsmanship

The Amish name is synonymous with beautiful and high-quality solid wood furniture. Amish creations are made exclusively of solid wood and thus are strong and durable, built to last for many generations. This quality wood is rendered beautiful by superior workmanship that is unequaled in a modern world where nearly every product on the market is mass-produced. Furniture making has become an art form in Amish culture, crafted not so much due to personal pride but as a special form of worshipping their God through action.

Always Amish craftsmen take great care in selecting the right wood for their project. Oak and quartersawn oak are the predominant woods used in the construction of most pieces, but sometimes projects call for other woods such as cherry, maple, hickory, black walnut, cedar, and even pine. Prized for its beautiful grain lines and honey coloration, oak is widely distributed in the United States and Canada. But other types of wood fit other styles, such as cherry for Queen Anne pieces. Cedar makes a great wood for storage chests, in that its lovely scent is perfect for storing clothing and other linens. Another popular choice is either hickory or maple, which are both light colored and extremely hard.

The most recognizable styles of Amish furniture are Mission, Shaker, and Queen Anne, but designs range from artfully simple to ornately curved. Pieces come in a variety of other styles, including Traditional/Heritage, Contemporary, Bavarian, Bunker Hill, Carlisle, Hampton, McCoy, Modesto, Slat Mission, Shaker Hill, Spring Hill, Rio Grande, Royal Mission, West Lake, Southwestern, Rustic, Cottage, and Beachfront. Mission and Shaker designs feature simple square designs; other styles have much more curve and ornamentation, such as Queen Anne and Bunker Hill. Most Amish furniture available today is made by Amish woodworkers from the Lancaster and Indiana communities, but styles can vary from area to area. Each woodworker adds his own individual touch to his work, so any Amish piece you acquire will be unlike any other.

Whether you are looking to furnish your bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, or home
wood office furniture, there are Amish pieces available. It seems that the most popular pieces, however, are beds, dressers, and oak dining sets. Acquiring a matching set for any room will help create a distinctive room décor. There are also heirloom-quality baby cribs and rocking chairs available if you’re looking for a more distinctive piece. For the newest trend in Amish furniture, look for outdoor pieces for your patio or deck. No matter what you have in mind, there is definitely something for everyone.

To this day the Amish remain free from electricity. However, they do take advantage of diesel generators to power pneumatic or hydraulic tools to mill and construct their fine furniture pieces. The use of these generators doesn’t contradict Amish belief systems, because they remain in Amish control whereas electricity is supplied and controlled by the outside world. The generators are nice, because they allow more time for the final finish detail work to still be done by hand. The craftsman also spends time carefully selecting each piece of wood, so that the colors and wood grains work together to create a harmonious effect. Once an older son completes his formal schooling, his father will then train him in all the particulars of woodworking, passing his expertise on to the next generation.

In years past, you could only find Amish furniture in antique shops and local stores. But today a large number of these local shops offer online shopping and Amish furniture has become accessible to the world. Online availability is set up by “English” intermediate businessmen who either buy directly from the Amish or work with them to establish and manage an online storefront.

How To Warm Your Bath

Nothing is more luxurious in winter than a warm bathroom. Happily, almost anyone can achieve this luxury without sacrificing period style or overrunning your budget. Many of the most desirable options are also the most affordable. For instance, plug-in electric towel warmers can be had for under $150, whereas overhead rain shower fixtures start at around $60. For as little as $200, you can easily find a good pressure-balance mixer. At the other end of the spectrum, for those with money to spend, you may want to consider a jetted pedestal tub or steam shower system, which might set you back a few thousand dollars.

If you’re in the market for a towel warmer or radiator, they come in two basic styles: the traditional round tube shape and the flat-panel “Euro” style. Another option is a tubular towel-warming basket. This handy basket can be mounted in tight spaces to keep hot fluffy towels within easy reach.

Every towel warmer will generate heat, but some of the more powerful hard-wired versions can rightly be considered radiators. Inexpensive electric models that put out 100 watts or so are great, because they not only dry the towels in the bathroom but also reduce dampness and mildew. If they’re sized and placed properly, the more powerful hard-wired electric or hydronic towel radiators can easily heat larger spaces. Even better, neither gets too hot to touch. An electric towel warmer should only reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Hydronics can range between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on how hot you keep the system. These radiators can provide your bathroom with zoned heating.

When choosing a unit, you need to consider the amount of tile or stone, the type and location of existing heat sources such as steam radiators or forced air, and how many windows. A good dealer can help you find the perfect unit to suit your needs. If you can’t even fit a small towel warmer, see if you can find room along the baseboard for a couple of horizontal radiator panels, which should keep your tiny bath nice and warm.

When it comes down to it, however, it’s the water in the bath or shower that warms the most. Especially if you are upgrading the shower anyway, be sure to install a pressure-balanced or thermostatic mixing valve. Inexpensive and simple, a pressure-balance valve will keep the water pressure in the shower constant, preventing sudden fluctuations in water temperature caused by such incidents as a flushed toilet, for instance.

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated system, then consider a thermostatic valve, which mixes hot and cold water to fairly precise temperatures (within one degree Celsius of the setting). You can count on these valves to regulate fluctuations in the incoming water pressure as well.

For a truly luxurious valve, plan on spending at least $1,000, although you can easily spend more. Conveniently, many of these mixers are available in suites that include period-inspired shower heads and cross-handled knobs or levers. Even better, some come with memory settings. This feature allows each family member to choose and record a preferred shower temperature for the perfect shower every time.

If you can’t get enough humidity in winter and you love your shower, a steam shower is another great option. To install one, you’ll probably need a major retrofit, since there must be a spot for the generator and you may have to make modifications for the steam shower doors. On the upside, you’ll use very little water for a twenty-minute steam: only about two gallons. But a basic system starts at around $3,000, including the generator, steam head, and temperature controls. Once you’ve added any extras such as stereo speakers, light, and aromatherapy packages, the price will go up.

Are you one of those people who prefer an old-fashioned tub for your bath? Reproduction roll-top designs with claw feet begin at about $1,000, and you can choose between either cast iron or the more environmentally friendly acrylic. Unsurpassed for soaking, these deep tubs also come in double-ended styles that accommodate two, or multiple children. You can specify claw feet in the style and finish of your choice, so your new tub will complement any décor. For a dramatic flair, you can go with a custom-made tub in copper, steel, marble, and even teak.

If your dream bath is a traditional tub with a water- or air-jet system, your best bet is to go with a pedestal or Roman tub. The skirt will conceal the tubes and motor. Any bathtub can be turned into a home spa with strategically placed jets. A fully equipped air-jet tub isn’t cheap. Expect to pay upward of $4,000.

Leon Tuberman ownes a manages a Los Angeles furniture store that specializes American made solid furniture that's handmade with the best material and using the finest building techniques. Whether your looking oak bookcases or oak file cabinets they have exactly what you need.

Copper in the Arts & Crafts Movement

The Arts & Crafts furniture movement is associated with elegant wood furniture and beautiful oak office furniture. However, wood isn’t the only material associated with the era, during the American Arts and Crafts movement, craftsman found copper finer and more attractive than iron, and less expensive and easier to work than silver. Thus copper became the premier metal for decorative ornamentation during this time. Not only are copper decorative wares such as hand-hammered lamps, chargers and candlesticks iconic collectibles now, but copper is an exemplary material for architectural use. Copper sheeting makes the best downspouts, half-round gutters, and flashing. Copper is a metal that adeptly straddles the line between function and art. For instance, the stunning, motto-embossed fireplace hoods at Craftsman Farms are among the era’s most memorable works.

Considered the oldest metal in use, copper is enjoying renewed popularity. These days copper can be found almost everywhere in and around the house, from reproduction copper and mica lamps to copper basins that can be used in either the pantry or the garden. Copper is still fondly associated with the objets d’art of the original movement and is used in many of the beautiful reproduction available today. But the use of copper for functional items like range hoods, sinks, lighting, and architectural trim continues to be far more persuasive today than it was a hundred years ago.

The most popular place for copper is in the kitchen, especially in the form of hammered copper sinks. These sinks are crafted out of heavy-gauge copper and then chemically patinated to stabilize the finish. Another great place for copper is range and fireplace hoods, which adds tremendous drama to any room.

Faucets and decorative hardware also benefit from a copper finish. In most cases, brass and bronze fittings are finished with a chemically applied coppery hue. A fairly soft metal, copper develops an attractive patina or coloration when left on its own, but fingerprints and other human contact will make it blotchy and unattractive. Fortunately, patination provides a stable coating the creates the look of age.

Decorative lamps and fixtures can be beautifully crafted from copper, especially when paired with mica or art glass and treated to hand hammering and patination by a real artist. Hammered finishes are often found in reproduction vases, chargers, and other tabletop accessories, but be aware that some work is better than others. You can find wonderful, affordable hand-worked copper in the Michoacán region of Mexico. If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, many local artisans craft reproductions of chargers, candlesticks, and other vessels that closely copy period originals but at the same time are imbued with their own personal sense of the Arts and Crafts spirit. If you want a more unique piece, other artisans branch out in different directions. For instance, Repoussé has become popular, a hand-worked and hand-tooled technique in which one creates more figural, three-dimensional results, requiring a superior level of craftsmanship.

Copper is also wonderful in the garden, as copper basins make excellent birdbaths and fountains. Copper is also great in the water-channeling devices known as rain chains, which have channeled and stored rain water for hundreds of years. Frank Lloyd Wright found a stunning way to incorporate a sculptured rain chain in one of his Usonian houses. The rain chain’s long linear skeins of rings, inverted bells, or fluted cups make a useful and beautiful addition to any garden.

Get The Right Flooring

Whether you're planning on getting Amish bedroom furniture or purchasing an elegant set of wooden dining furniture just ask any interior designer to name the first element to consider when finishing a room, and the answer will likely be flooring. Builders agree, it sets the mood.

Many more professionals these days are bypassing tile and carpeting, and going with wood. But what kind of wood should you go with? Solid hardwood? Engineered wood? Reclaimed antique wood? There are a lot of options out there, but making the right choice according to your tastes and circumstances is easier than it appears. Following are some important factors to consider, as well as advice from the experts.

Which Wood-Flooring Type Should You Choose?
Solid Hardwood: Many shy away from solid hardwood because it expands and contracts and sometimes creaks. But its natural beauty adds value to your home. Further, it can be re-sanded and refinished, so it’ll retain that value.

Engineered Wood Floors: These floors are made of thin sheets of wood that are glued together and refinished at the factory. This results in a more stable product than solid wood, because it resists buckling and warping. Engineered wood floors were developed to be glued over concrete, but they can also be nailed or floated, whereas solid wood can only be nailed to a subfloor.

Reclaimed Antique Wood: This flooring option is custom made one plank at a time according to the customer’s specifications. It is especially stable because it can cut from the center section of a beam.

Finished vs. Unfinished
If you go with solid hardwood flooring, it’s available finished or unfinished. If you’re trying to match an adjacent floor, you’re better off going with an unfinished option and staining it to blend. By finishing the floor on site, you will insure a more uniform color and finish. But do take into account that an unfinished wood floor will probably take several days to install, stain, and finish.

On the other hand, finished wood (both solid and engineered) is factory sanded, stained, and finished. Thus it’s much easier to install and requires less time, not to mention that there will be no on-site sanding and finishing. Finished wood is an especially good option for high-traffic areas because of its durability. Another plus is that it’s less expensive than unfinished wood.

Important Things to Consider
One feature that’s becoming more common is radiant heating, where the heat source is under the floor. When this is the case, then engineered wood is preferable over solid hardwood because of its durability. The National Wood Flooring Association also recommends using quarter-sawn or rift-sawn wood due to the durability factor. According to the NWFA, strip flooring is preferable over plank flooring, since narrow boards expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity less than wide ones.

For those homeowners who live at the beach, Stoddard again recommends an engineered wood, because it’s scratch-resistant and therefore less likely to be damaged by sand tracked in from the beach, and it also requires less maintenance. Engineered hardwood flooring is clearly the best option for any interior that’s not environmentally controlled, such as those in cottages, summer homes, or below-grade installations.

Some Simple Design Tips
When personalizing a room, understated detail is important. One nice option is to use a lighter wood overall and then add a dark border. Another great idea is to drop in a maple medallion that looks like an area rug.

It’s become more and more popular to mix woods from room to room. Dark woods, like walnut and cherry, work well in cozy rooms such as a den or bedroom, but it’s best to choose a lighter, brighter wood, such as maple or birch, for the kitchen.

If you are going for a formal, traditional, or historic look, then darker wood is the way to go. Country, casual, and contemporary homes are better suited to lighter woods. Design your floor to complement fabrics, furnishings, and accessories.

Current Trends in Wood Flooring
The latest trends in flooring include hand-scraped wood and “exotics” from far-off lands. Woods such as Brazilian cherry, Santos mahogany, and Amendoim have delightful grains and colors. All are available both in solid hardwood or engineered wood.

Owners of historic homes on the Eastern seaboard are increasingly going for the old look and simplicity of woods such as Old Groove Eastern White Pine, which are prized for their old look and simplicity. Likewise, dark woods have definitely become the “in” thing, with walnut being the most preferable option.

DIY & Maintaining Your Wood Floor
Almost 30 percent of homeowners install wood flooring themselves. If you’re handy with a nail gun and saw, then you can do it. Many resources are available to help you with this project, including instruction books and information online.

One of the great thing about wood flooring is that it’s low maintenance. Keep a step-off mat at any doorway, and then all you need is a regular schedule of sweeping and vacuuming. One thing to remember is clean up any standing water immediately. It’s not a bad idea to keep an extra box of wood in case you need to replace a strip.

Fortunately, natural hardwoods survive many household mishaps much better than laminates and synthetics, since the grain and pattern of solid hardwoods go all the way through. Even nasty scuffs and burns that would permanently damage a synthetic surface can be easily repaired.

Reproduction Lighting

So many lighting reproductions that are available for outdoor use today are not just style-friendly but style-specific in ways that add architectural richness and detail. Lighting reproductions have been around for a while. Early American fixtures, for instance, have been popular since the 1920s.

But as authentic period examples become increasingly rare, today’s best reproductions often replicate those pieces’ quirky imperfections. Just about any of these designs can be rated for use on the porch, around an uncovered entry or alongside a path in your yard. For Early and some Colonial Revival homes, options include rectangular lanterns with or without guards, and onion and globe lamps with decorative carry straps for wall, ceiling or post mount. Authentic materials are often used for these replications: tin, terne, iron and copper.

Gaslight Fixtures
Does your home date to the mid to late 19th century? Then you have the option of choosing real gaslight for fixtures closely modeled after the flared, multi-paned shades, lantern shades, globe shades and acorn shades. Not sure about the gas? Charleston Gaslight offers gas and electric options for both 19th century and Early American fixtures.

Mission-style Lighting
With the popularity of Mission style dining furniture and Craftsman furniture it has never been easier to find good Arts and Crafts and Mission-era lighting to match. At least a dozen manufacturers base their reproductions on true period examples. Others offer sophisticated interpretations of early-20th-century classics in materials like copper and bronze. You can find reproductions that are tailored for specific uses that go beyond the door entry and lamp post. Coe Studios, for instance, offers a Mission-inspired bronze footlight. Brass Light Gallery offers versatile designs that easily morph from entries and porches to column mounts and garden path lights.

Electric-Era Lights
Almost every style made after the 19th century revolves around electronic-era lighting. These styles include facsimiles of Colonial Revival fixtures, reproductions of “medieval” designs originally found on Tudor and Spanish Colonial Revival homes, the classic over-the-garage bare-bulb industrial light, and Atomic Age fixtures from the sixties. Clearly, “electronic-era lighting” refers to electric fixtures, but most will accept GU24 bulbs as well. All these designs are available in cast iron, aluminum and bronze, and often display inventive finishes that capture the authentic look of black enamel and unlacquered bronze.

Don't Get Fleeced Buying Your Sheets

Once you've bought your wooden dressers and your wood beds and you have your bedroom furnished just the way you've dreamed of it's time to consider picking out the linens. Of course, not all sheets have not been created equal. Are you considering taking out a second mortgage to afford those 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets at $500 a pop? Before you buy anything, stop and do the math. At that price, you’ll be paying $1.25 per thread! Read this guide and avoid being sent to the cleaners at your next white sale. Here is a quick glossary of terms to help you better understand the complicated world of sheets.

Thread Count: Known as the “TC,” this is the number of threads per square inch. Try holding your sheet up to the light. Can you make out the actual weave of the fabric? Then you’ve got a low thread count on your hands. The higher your sheets’ TC, the softer and more lustrous your bedding will be. High TC sheets also tend to be more durable and less prone to shrinkage.

Combed Cotton: This is a cleaning method that eradicates impurities and gets rid of any short, less desirable fibers.

Muslin: This cotton fabric is considered to be at the low end of the cotton spectrum. You may want to steer clear of muslin fabrics, or you may be sleeping on one rough and tough sheet. Muslin is often used in children’s character theme bedding. The TC of these sheets ranges from 128-140.

Percale: A smooth, flat, closely woven and combed fabric, percale comes in 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/poly blends. Percale is finer than muslin, with TCs ranging from 180-200.

Pima, or Supima: It’s long fiber staple makes this high-quality cotton somewhat similar to that of Egyptian cotton. Geography is what separates these two fabrics. Egyptian cotton grows along the Nile, whereas Pima is grown in the American Southwest. Extra-long staple Pima is used to make Supima. The luxuriously soft feel of Pima and Supima make these fabrics extremely desirable in bedding. The TC of these fabrics range from 200-300.

Egyptian Cotton: At last we come to the cotton queen of the Nile. Grown along the famous Nile, this exemplary cotton owes its durability, luster and silky feel to its extra-long fiber staple. The superior quality of this fabric is bolstered by TC ranging from 200 all the way up to 400.

Don’t Get Fleeced: What You Need to Know *When comparison shopping, don’t be fooled. That $1500 300-TC Pima cotton designer sheet is no different that the 300-TC Pima non-designer one for $150. Once you have all the facts, don’t be afraid to buy that private label.

Buying American will save you big bucks. The price of imported white goods can quadruple due to import duties and other fees. Lastly, by taking good care of your sheets, you can stretch your dollars by making them last longer. According to experts, if you rotate your sheets once a week, you can extend their life for a good ten to fifteen years.

Organizing Your Office

Is your home office in a corner of the family or living room? Here are some ideas to help you organize your home office, no matter where it’s located.

Invest in Adequate Furniture
Above all, offices need a clear work area. You need adequate space for computer hardware and peripheral equipment, reference materials, your files, and supplies and paper. When purchasing office furniture, whether its bookcases for your library or a file cabinet for your important papers, your priority should be making sure it has ample space for work and storage.

Establish Activity Centers
For an efficient office, create different activity areas. Designate a “work center,” which should include a clear workspace, the computer and frequently used office products. You should also have a “reference center,” where you can store binders, manuals, a dictionary and professional books and materials. Office and paper supplies can be stored in a “supply center.”

Properly Place Your Hardware and Peripherals
Your computer equipment should be positioned according to frequency of use. If you use your printer on a daily basis, make sure it’s within easy reach. For those of you who only access the CPU for troubleshooting, store it under or next to the desk. Likewise, if you seldom use your scanner, place it outside the work area. When you are setting up your hardware, keep access to drives, trays and cords as open as possible. Finally, keep those tangled cords away from drawers and out of your leg room.

Establish a Paper-Processing Area
There should be a place within your work center for those papers that need immediate action. Find an accessible place within your view to store those papers associated with clients or ongoing projects. It’s helpful to establish a permanent file system for any papers you may need to occasionally reference.

Contain Unruly Wires
A great tip is to fold mailing labels back on themselves around each cord and then label the wires. This can be done for any cords to the electric supply, as well as for cords that connect different components to each other. Cut down on cord clutter by bundling like wires together. For instance, bundle your computer wires with your stereo speaker wires.

Take Care of Your Media and Computer Equipment
Be sure to use a surge protector for any delicate electronic equipment. Just make sure it’s UL listed and is a transient-voltage surge protector. Here it’s better to go high-end. These are built with replaceable fuses and will last a lot longer than less-costly models.

To clean your CDs and DVDs, a used fabric softener sheet makes an ideal lint- and static-free rag. Cut down on fingerprints by handling CDs by the rim. Clean the backside of the CD, as that’s where the information is stored. Start at the center of the CD and stroke out to the edge, rather than cleaning in a circular motion.

To make the most efficient use of your office space, you often need to stack your equipment. Don’t stack anything with venting on the top, such as amps or satellite receivers, because they might get too warm. Rather, simply use small plastic cups, or chair-leg protectors, as spacers when stacking.

Keep your computer screen clean with a lint-free cloth, such as an old T-shirt. Spray water directly on the cloth and wipe clean. Don’t spray the screen directly. An abrasive substance should never be used. Window cleaner is another no-no. Just stick to a lint-free cloth and water. You can always consult with your monitor’s manual for the proper way to clean the screen.

Reducing the Clutter at Home

It’s easy to let paper get the best of you and your space. Don’t let your paper get out of control. Start by creating an easy-to-maintain system to manage the paper in your office.

Do you have a spot for those incoming bills? Is there a specific place you store the newspaper when you get it and don’t have time to read it? How many magazine subscriptions do you have? Do you actually read those magazines? It will help tremendously if you designate a specific bin, box or basket for your mail, newspapers and magazines. Just as you have a home you return to each day, so should your paper.

Don’t pick a box or basket that’s too large. Then you’ll be tempted to save several weeks’ worth of newspaper instead of just a few. Remember, that a week-old newspaper is full of week-old news.

Watch Out for Large FurnitureLarge furniture is one thing that can really clutter up a room, making it much harder to feel organized. The huge desk seems like a good idea, but most likely it has become just one more surface for you to dump stuff on at the end of the day. The size of your furniture should mirror the size of the room. Make sure the size of your furniture meets the size of the room. “Less is more” is a good rule of thumb to follow here. You can easily create space and reduce clutter by having less furniture.

Combat Closet ClutterEveryone always complains about having no space in their closets. This is a common complaint, but it helps to remember that it’s not the closet’s fault. Start getting your closet in order by following these quick and easy tips.

Ask yourself, “When is the last time I sorted through my things?” Do this before you do anything else. You’ll be shocked at what you have. An important rule to follow here is, if it doesn’t fit or you don’t wear it, then don’t keep it!

When it’s time to put it all away, organize like items together. For a nice touch, use the same kind of hangers. Looking for extra storage? Use the inside of the closet door. Find places at eye level or below to store those frequently used items. Long-term storage items can be stored up high. By storing smart, you can keep your closet super organized.

To keep your closet tidy, before you purchase that new pair of shoes, consider whether you have room for them. The most important rule to follow is the “one in, one out” rule: If something comes into your closet, then find something to take out.

Create More Space In Your Small Kitchen

Where do you spend most of your time in your home? If your family is like mine, it’s most likely in the kitchen. When the kitchen becomes the center of the home, no matter how large that space might be, it never feels big enough.

Several years ago, after completely redesigning the floor plan, I remodeled my kitchen. First, we knocked down a wall (which was a lot of fun) and installed a garden window over the sink, even with the countertop. Then we added both an island with an overhang, with room for three chairs or stools, and a food-prep peninsula at table height, also with an overhang with room for three or four stools.

Following are several ideas to make any kitchen feel and look larger. Remember, it’s not necessary to follow all of them, but even implementing one will make a big difference in your kitchen.

Create More StorageFor better, more efficient storage, install a base cabinet with roll-out shelves rather than one with a door that swings open on hinges. A cabinet like this makes a great place to store your most-used appliances. The nice thing about pull-out shelves is that items stored way in the back are easily reached.

Redo Your CabinetsTry adding glass fronts to your wall cabinets. Better yet, replace those solid cabinet doors with glass fronts along one wall. This is a great way to give your kitchen a more open feel.

Add Light
Choose under-the-counter lighting—it will make your kitchen appear larger. Don’t forget to select light colors for your cabinets and countertops!

Create Height with Taller Wall CabinetsTry removing those soffits. Install your cabinets to the ceiling. You can also “stair-step” the cabinets. First start with a taller cabinet. Then line the others progressively shorter. The open space that’s created above the shorter cabinets makes a great space to display your collectibles, baskets and teapots. You can store those seldom-used pieces, such as holiday dishes, on the top shelves of the taller cabinets.

Bring the Outdoors In
Wherever possible, enlarge those windows. Another great way to get more light in is to replace one with a garden window, installed at countertop height. For an even brighter kitchen, add a skylight or sky pipe.

Streamline Your KitchenOnce or twice a year we all go through our closets, getting rid of those clothes we no longer use. The same should be done in the kitchen. Be sure to regularly reorganize your kitchen, getting rid of all those items you don’t use. This simple chore will make your kitchen feel much more roomy. When your kitchen is cluttered, it will always feel smaller.

Build a Useful Island Do you have an eat-in kitchen, but there’s no room for an island? Consider replacing the kitchen table itself with an island. An island will not only give you an eating area, but you will also have added space to store seldom-used items. This is an easy project. Start with base cabinets either table height or counter height. Then simply top them with a countertop material. To make room for chairs or stools, extend the counter 12 to 16 inches beyond the sides of the cabinets.

Install Storage Trays
Specially made narrow trays are available at hardware stores and home centers, and can be easily installed on the back of false drawer fronts ant the sink and cooktop. This is a great way to reduce your clutter around the stove and sink.

Free Up Counter SpaceTired of cluttered countertops? Free up your counter by installing an under-the-counter microwave, can opener, spice rack or toaster.

Open Up Those WallsIs your dining room next to your kitchen? Consider opening the wall between them. Be sure the wall is not load-bearing before starting. If it isn’t, then this could be a simple do-it-yourself project.

Create Open Shelving
Add open shelves to your kitchen, especially if you have colorful plates, glasses, teapots or other collectibles to display. Open shelving always makes a small kitchen look larger. One option is to simply remove the doors from your cabinets and paint the inside a bright color. Another way to go is to take down the cabinets altogether and instead add colorful shelves to make the room feel more open.

More Kitchen Storage For Less Money

Ask any woman what she’d want in a redesigned kitchen. Most, about ninety-nine out of a hundred, would immediately respond, “More storage!” Totally redoing your kitchen may not be feasible for you right not, but there are several simple options available for adding storage space.

When faced with storage issues in your kitchen, a good place to start is with your cluttered cabinets. First, get rid of all that stuff you don’t use! When you’ve done that, you’ll be amazed at all the room you have left. Whether you attack your cabinets or not, here are some inventive solutions for creating more storage in the kitchen.

Look to the Ceiling
Do pots and pans take up an incredible amount of your kitchen space? Consider getting them out of the cabinet and hanging them up. Try this simple, inexpensive idea for hanging cookware:

Find an old or new window and attach “U” bolts or eyebolts to all four corners. Then find secure ceiling joists and hang the window from there, using eyebolts, “S” hooks and chains. Fasten plain or fancy towel bars to the edges of the window, and use “S” hooks to hang pots, herbs and utensils from the bars.

The window makes a marvelous display shelf for collectibles or plants. This space can be easily transformed by adding decorative touches such as hanging wire baskets, bundled herbs to dry or other colorful displays. Try tying colorful colanders together to create a bright storage space for fruits and vegetables. I actually have a friend who stores her table goods here, such as napkins, knives, forks, spoons and rolled-up hand towels (which she uses as placemats).

Take Advantage of Available Wall Space
Nail a piece of lattice or a pre-made trellis to the kitchen wall to create a unique space to hang utensils, pots and pans, dish towels or oven mitts. Think of all the options—you get the idea!

Why not add shelves to your walls? This is a simple and inexpensive storage solution for any room. Here you can display all your favorite teapots, pitchers or platters that have been hiding away in a dark cabinet somewhere. So dig through those cabinets. I’m sure you’ll find many pieces that will add interest and color to your kitchen.

Rework Your Cabinets
Do your large base cabinets seem to do nothing but collect clutter? Then this is a simple solution for you. Base cabinets, after all, are really nothing more than big boxes. Often these cabinets go back a whopping two-feet deep! It’s no wonder, then, that we constantly find ourselves on our hands and knees, searching for something way in the back. These tips are meant to help you rework those big base cabinets, but also consider them for the smallest of your cabinets.

Creating the Perfect Spa

Modern life is crammed with fifty-hour workweeks, with any free time being filled with meetings, soccer games and obligations to schools and community—the list seems to go on and on. It seems that most people struggle to find a bit of solace in their lives. It seems that there is an endless stream of things to do and very few opportunities to deal the effects of the resulting stress.

As you wind down after a hard day or gear up for a new one, can you think of a better way to relax, clear your mind and get some perspective than by immersing yourself in the comforting elements of a spa right in your own home? Water is the perfect relaxer, especially when combined with aesthetically pleasing accessories. Think out-of-the-box and create your own relaxing space. Even in the smallest bath, there are many spacious, simple solutions available. You might want to try an Asian-inspired open-base vanity and faucet or a traditional console lavatory. Look for new formats in tubs that offer the luxury of a deep soak or the exhilaration of a hydro- and air-jet massage.

For the ultimate wake-up-stimulation or end-of-the-day-relaxation experience, a shower powered by multiple heads and body sprays may be just the thing. Want an even richer spa experience? Consider a combination steam and shower unit. Nowadays, you can effortlessly create the perfect spa bath to suit your needs. Want a true spa feeling? Look for a bidet. The use of these traditionally upscale fixtures is becoming more widespread in new construction and remodeling projects.

Nowadays, there are so many new products available that make retrofitting your existing space practically effortless. Tearing into your bathroom’s drywall is not always necessary These soothing ideas are good options, whether you’re building from the ground up or looking to remodel. There are relaxing options to accommodate any plan, no matter what type of space you’re working with—all with the same luxurious result.

How Color Affects Your Mood

When making decisions about your home décor you should be aware of the affects that colors can have on your mood when they are used on your furniture, floors, and walls.

Yellow seems to capture the joy of the sun and can communicate happiness. Yellow is a perfect color to use in dining rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Yellow is a happy color and is uplifting and energizing. Using yell in small spaces like halls and entries can make the space fell welcoming and expansive.

Red has been known to speed respiration and heart rate and to raise blood pressure. It is normally not used in bedrooms because it is too stimulating, but if you will only see the room after dark when it lit by lamplight, the color will be muted. This can make the room look rich and elegant. Crimson can cause some people to feel very irritable. If you really like red, but it bothers your mate, try using it with small touches in upholstery fabrics and accessories.

Orange is much like red and is very stimulating. Orange used in its pure form may be rather difficult to live with. Using variations of orange like shrimp, coral, peach, salmon, and terra cotta are often more pleasing variations. Peach will give a nurturing and restful feeling in a bedroom and will flatter skin tones when used in a bathroom. Using shades of orange in a family room or a living room will bring energy and warmth to the space. Using orange in a kitchen that faces west however, can make the room feel unpleasantly hot.

Blue is known to lower the blood pressure and will slow the heart rate and respiration. Since the color blue is considered to be relaxing, serene, and calming it is often used in bathrooms and bedrooms. Be careful when choosing your color though. A soft pastel blue may look lovely on a paint chip but when it's used on the walls and furnishings it can look unpleasantly chilly, particularly if the room gets natural light. If you choose to use light blue as the main color in a room, be sure to use warm hues in fabrics and furnishings to balance the room. Using warmer blues such as periwinkle or bright blues like turquoise or cerulean are perfect for use in rooms where people gather because they are very relaxing.

Purple used in its darkest shade, like eggplant, offer a rich, sophisticated and dramatic look to a room. It is often associated with creativity and luxury. When used as an accent or secondary color it gives a room wonderful depth. The lighter shades of purple, like lilac and lavender, will give a bedroom the same soothing quality that blue offers without the risk of creating a chilly feeling.

Green is considered to be the most restful color to the eye. When the refreshing quality of blue is combined with the yellow, green is appropriate for any room in a home. Using sage green or a medium green in a kitchen will cool the room and when used in a living room or family room will encourage relaxation. It is great for a bedroom because it promotes togetherness and comfort while being relaxing and pleasant.

The neutrals, black, white, gray, and brown, are basics in any decorators tool kit. While all neutral schemes will fall in and out of fashion, their true virtue lies in their flexibility. You can add color to liven a room up and take it away to calm it down again.

Black is best to use as an accent in very small doses. Many experts agree that every room should include a touch of black to ground the scheme and provide depth.

Budget Decorating

You can decorate your home without it costing a fortune. With an open mind and a little creative thinking, you’ll be surprised at the dramatic difference you can make in the look and feel of your home. Follow these simple and budget-friendly tips—your friends will be sure you’ve got an interior designer on speed dial.

Revamp Boring Walls with Decals
Are you looking for a creative way to revamp your walls but don’t have the time or money to wallpaper or paint? Removable peel-and-stick wall decals are just the answer for a unique and artistic wall makeover. Go from drab to fab in minutes flat! With this foolproof decorating solution, you can bring a splash of color and high design to your boring white walls. So unleash your inner decorator! Wall decals are available in a variety of styles, colors and sizes so you can let loose your own personal style in any room of the house.

Unearth Those Thrift Store Treasures
You can reinvent your style rather inexpensively by shopping for furniture at thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales. Whether you’re hunting for that mid-century modern piece or something more rustic-chic, there are always treasures to uncover, often for a steal. If the piece you find isn’t just right, don’t worry. You can transform your thrift-store treasure into a work of art simply with a good sanding, a coat of paint or even some new upholstery. Plus, you can feel good about your purchase. After all, “going vintage” is “going green.”

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
You can add dramatic flair to any room in your house with a perfectly positioned mirror. Adding a mirror to a small space can make it seem significantly larger, and mirrors can really intensify the light in a dim or shadowy room. A mirror can be helpful in creating an artistic focal point for any room. Try leaning a tall mirror against a wall and see what happens. A mirror can be an inexpensive investment that is smart and stylish, and is sure to have a bold, eye-catching effect in your home. Look for these fabulous accessories in places like discount stores, yard sales and on eBay.

Let the Light Shine
With good lighting that is strategically placed, you can completely transform the look of a room and considerably improve your mood. There’s no need to settle for harsh overhead lighting. Instead choose from a variety of more illuminating options, such as an attractive floor lamp with an ambient glow. Finding the right lighting doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Check out discount stores and secondhand shops to find the perfect shape and style to fit your décor. Use this simple yet powerful decorating solution to transform any room into an artistic showpiece. Then you can happily bask in the warm glow of home-decorating success.

Use Nature to Spruce Up Your Home
Why not decorate with plants? This is an affordable way to wake up any space by bringing the simple beauty of nature into your home. By coordinating your plants with your décor, you can create a harmonious and Zen-like atmosphere in your home. If you’re going for a more modern appeal, choose contemporary-looking plants with long, sleek lines. With the wide variety of planters available today in stylish shapes and colors, there’s no need to sacrifice function for style. Breathe new life into that old teapot or decorative bowl. Use it for a planter and put your own personal touch on display.

Get Creative with FabricFabric can provide an instant update to any home. Try changing the fabric on key decorative pieces, such as a chair or sofa, or add new patterned throw pillows and curtains to the room for a distinctive effect. You can experiment with fun new patterns and textures for very little money, waking up your space and giving your home a finished feel. For you craftsters looking to try your hand at DIY projects, such as making your own bed skirt or headboard, check out the discount table at your local fabric store or dig up some decorative quilts or bed sheets for inexpensive sources of fabric.

Develop into Your Own CuratorBy becoming your own curator, you ensure that fine art doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Do you have one of those vintage magazines with stunning black-and-white photos lying around? What about a beautifully illustrated book of botanical prints? Grab a sharp razor blade. Now you’re ready to transform these unconventional images into fine art for very little money. Choose photos from the same source or with the same size and theme, and group them together on the same wall for a symmetrical, uniform look. As a finishing touch, complement your creations with attractive frames.

Strike Up Some Style
Candles are not only inexpensive, but they add style, charm and warmth to your home. Try placing a candle in a decorative beaded holder for a more glamorous look. Or if you’re looking for a more illuminating effect, arrange several tea lights on a mirror. For a more natural, organic look, try arranging branches or greens around the candleholder. Candles that both meet your budget and suit your style can be found just about anywhere. Fabulous deals can be easily found at your local dollar store or neighborhood drugstore.

10 Simple Steps to Stress Free Sleep

Your bedroom is meant to be a peaceful escape from the flurry and pressure of the outside world. However, it seems that all too often the stresses of the day work their way into the spaces where we are meant to be the most relaxed. Such disturbances lead to problems with insomnia, which in turn can cause major health difficulties. Luckily, it is surprisingly simple to remove those unwanted distractions from your bedroom so that your sleep can come easier. Combat those late-night problems. Make your bedroom a safe, peaceful place to relax and sleep. Here are 10 simple places to start:

1. The television needs to go. The television needs to be removed from the bedroom and placed instead in an entertainment system in the family room or living room. When you watch TV in bed, you can stop yourself from getting a good sleep.

2. It’s time to move the computer. Create a new space for the computer in your home office, or at least give it its own nook in the family room or den. This way you’ve gotten all your work-related stress and worry out of the place where you should be focusing on relaxing and sleeping.

3. Remember to choose appropriate colors for your bedroom. Color theory indicates that different hues have different effects on people. The cool colors that reside on the left side of the color wheel provide a sense of calm. Pick one of these colors for the bedroom, avoiding any of those bright, loud colors that are more exciting than soothing.

4. Get rid of any excess noise. Keep stereos, televisions and other noisy electronics out of any adjacent rooms. Most contemporary homes aren’t built with soundproof walls, and the resulting noise that bleeds through can keep you awake at night.

5. Block any light coming into your bedroom. Find some light-blocking window treatments to install in the room. Even at night, plenty of outside light can easily find its way into the bedroom, disrupting your sleep patterns. Keep your bedroom as dark as you can, something that is particularly important for those who work at night and sleep during the day.

6. Try adding a little light. If you sleep more comfortably with a little light, then add a couple of nightlights or a dimmer switch to the room, rather than sleeping with the lamp on.

7. It’s also a good idea to check your pipes. Loud pipes will wake everyone up when one person visits the bathroom in the dead of night. Locate the source of any clanging and banging, particularly if your bathroom is next to your bedroom.

8. Also, seal your doors and window. Secure your doors and windows so they are draft- and rattle-free.

9. Keep the air in your bedroom clean. To keep air quality at its best, try using an air purifier or humidifier. Allergens and excessively dry air can easily disrupt your sleep. They also make waking up extremely unpleasant. Also, many of these machines produce a white noise that will conveniently drown out other distracting night sounds.

10. Finally, organize your bedroom. Rearrange your closets so that you have a home for all your clothing and personal items. It’s stressful to live in a chaotic, messy space. It’s impossible to fall asleep when everywhere you look there are shoes and clothes scattered all over the floor. It’s easier to sleep well knowing that everything is in its place.

Organizine Your Kitchen in 9 Easy Steps

Kitchen tasks can be divided into four specific categories: cooking, baking, eating and food storage. If these tasks can be divided so effortlessly, then it makes sense to divide your kitchen equipment by task as well and to store them in specific areas. Here are nine guidelines that will help you create a kitchen where all of your tools are easily accessible when and where you need them.

1. First, place all of your food preparation items as close as possible to the sink. Here you would include gadgets such as a food processor, a salad spinner and your favorite bowl.

2. Next, store your pots and pans near the stove. I find it really convenient to keep my pots and their lids together.

3. For me, baking is really a special occasion, so it’s fine if these items aren’t right next to the sink. However, if you bake every day, it makes sense to store your baking pans, mixing bowls and measuring cups closer to the sink. Either way, be sure to keep all your baking supplies together.

4. Organize your dishes, glasses, silverware, napkins and placemats in such a way so that the actual task of setting the table will be quick and enjoyable. In other words, these items should also be kept in an established area. As you know, the first three of these have traditional places in your kitchen. Keep napkins and placements in the drawer closest to the area where you’ll be dining. Plot your command stations so that they follow a logical flow of energy consumption. For instance, if your placemats are kept at the opposite end of the kitchen from where you eat, you are wasting steps. When you waste steps, you waste time. You need to direct your life force, not squander it.

5. Remember to create a home for your containers and other food-storage items. You are really wasting your energy and time if you are walking around in circles looking for tinfoil in one area of your kitchen and one of those infamous plastic storage containers in another. Try not to set up your kitchen so that you are constantly muttering under your breath, “I can’t ever find anything in this kitchen!”

6. Small tools can be stored in drawers in related bunches. You don’t want to be looking for a rolling pin and come across a knife sharpener and a tea ball in the same place. If you are lucky to have enough drawers, then place baking items in one, cooking utensils in another and other specialty gadgets, such as that pizza cutter in a third.

7. Many cooks have found that a container on the counter to house their most frequently used tools can be very helpful. Use an attractive container, if you can find the counterspace. Then keep those tools that you don’t use very often in a drawer.

8. Remember those drawer liners, to prevent slipping and sliding. Additionally, you might want to find some small containers in different sizes to store your tools. It would be a shame to organize everything only to find a chaotic mess the next time you opened your drawer.

9. In every kitchen there is the one drawer that I have dubbed “the guy drawer.” Here reside the screwdriver, a small hammer and perhaps some picture hooks or nails. You can find fabulous multi-sectioned plastic containers that will help you tidy this drawer and its numerous treasures. Try and keep your macho supplies to a minimum. It’s a good idea to store them low to the ground in one of the deep-bottom drawers. If you can find room for a small toolbox in your pantry, you might be able to free up this drawer altogether.

10 Simple Steps to More Romance in the Bedroom

As the most romantic room in the house, the bedroom should tantalize each and every sense. The following 10 suggestions can transform a regular bedroom into a romantic haven.

1. Focus on Comfort
What’s the first thing you see when you walk in the room? It’s the bed, and it should draw you in. Your sheets should be as comfortable as possible, and those with a thread count of 180 (or higher) offer a sense of soft luxury.

2. Color Your World
The color of bedspreads, pillow shams and blankets, for example, makes a statement about your room. Consider what you want that statement to be. You can do much more with the room’s color than merely updating the sheets. Partner up on a painting project and cover the walls with a warm, textured hue that fits in with the room’s other features. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to your re-decoration project, you can still make a noticeable change. Pick a new window treatment. Toss a beautiful blanket over the foot of the bed.

3. Layers of Love
In addition to color, texture plays an important role in a romantic setting too. Layer different materials to mix things up. A luxurious Vellux blanket makes a nice accompaniment for crisp, quality cotton sheets.

4. Put a Premium on Pillows
It's easy to make your boudoir a little more comfortable. Toss a handful of comfy pillows on the bed. To add aesthetic appeal, layer pillows of different sizes. Don't forget to consider your sleeping needs when making pillow choices, too. To give a boost to an aging mattress or soften up one that's a little too firm, consider using a mattress pad that adds comfort and support.

5. Seasonal Focus
With relative ease, you can keep your den of romance in tune with the seasons. A scent like vanilla might be too heavy for spring or summer but perfect for winter or fall. Keep a variety of colors of bedding in the linen closet so that you can change them in conjunction with the seasons.

6. Scents of Romance
Want to make a unique impact on your room? Select scents that pique your sense of romance. To tempt the nose with scents that flow throughout the room, use oil diffusers essential-oil infused candles. For some, flowers = romance. Lavender and rosemary are good choices, and they can be the filler for sachets kept in closets. Bring those scents into the bed itself by using a lavender infusion when you wash your sheets. You can do it in just a few steps. The first step is to put lavender flowers into a small muslin sachet. Heat three cups of water to boiling. Next, put the lavender sachet in the water. Keep the combo covered on low heat for 15 minutes. You should include the liquid in the rinse cycle when washing your sheets.

7. Shed Some Light on the Matter
The last thing you want in your bedroom is too-bright light. Lower-wattage bulbs are good choices for a bedside lamp, as is a soft, pink light. Want to make a truly special setting? Candles are the way to go. Be sure to douse the candles before turning in for the night.

8. A Sound (and Romantic) Investment
Music and romance go hand in hand, so keep a few favorite CDs and a small stereo in your room, too. To create a peaceful sanctuary, hang thick curtains, which offer a pretty and practical solution that keeps noise out and romance in. Keep the curtains’ appearance in mind, too, as they’ll need to fit in with the visual mood. The television can be a romance killer, so if you have one in your bedroom, put it somewhere else.

9. Think Small
Now it’s time to make the room reflect the two of you as a couple. Put a photo and perhaps a souvenir from a favorite trip in a prominent place Brainstorm a list of ways that you can make the bedroom your special place.

10. Work as a Team
Think you know what pushes all the right buttons for your partner? You might learn some surprising new tricks as the two of you work together on building a more romantic room.

Redo Your Bedroom In 9 Easy Steps

Looking for a way to create cozy comfort without the stress of redoing your entire bedroom? Think about the following modest tips to give your bedroom a new look and comfort feel.

1. Try to bring in chenille, fleece, raw silk and soft wool fabrics as a way of giving your bedroom a warm sensation. When a chill arrives in the air, wrap yourself in flannel sheets or for extra warmth go for a down comforter. (If allergies are a problem then substitute feathers for a synthetic down comforter.)

2. Don’t let your hardwood floors freeze your toes during the winter; throw down a cozy area rug.

3. Where have your put your bed? Squared off against your door? Are your pillows right under a window? A person’s personal energy is greatly influence by where they sleep. All of these factors can contribute to the well being of your overall health, mental attitude and love life. A line of red tape on the mattress where it faces the door or window can help. Negative energy is deflected by the color red. Take your bedroom from dreary to love nest using this easy to follow feng shui tip.

4. To create a warm glow, why not swap out your lampshades to comforting colors of yellow and gold? Try a dimmer switch on your overhead fixtures as a way of controlling the brightness. Here’s a quick and easy step towards having a comfy glow for the bedroom. Create a grouping of candles on a small plate and set it on your night stand.

5. Having mirrors to reflect the light in your room will not only create a warm atmosphere but won’t bust your budget. If you want a easy tip to make your small bedroom seem larger, try putting a big mirror over your dresser. A large mirror placed over your dresser will make a small bedroom seem much larger.

6. Having a chenille blanket on your bed will keep you warm and comfy through the long winter chill. A red, purple or deep brown variety of a soft chenille blanket will give your room even more of a warm feeling.

7. Think more pillows and less stuffed animals! With plush pillows filling up your bed space you’ll be creating an inviting atmosphere. One way to make it interesting is with a wide array of sizes and textures. A wonderful addition for the winter months are soft down pillows.

8. You can also repaint your room as an inexpensive way to make a huge change. Increase the warmth of your bedroom by selecting earth tones such as reds, camel, butterscotch or honey gold. For a more cool and soothing feel, try blues, lavenders and some shades of green.

9.You’re bedroom should be overflowing with the things you love. Family photos on dressers or night tables are perfect. Why not move some of your kid’s artwork off the fridge and into frames for your wall? Consider a small shelf for your candlestick.

Change your look this Summer

1. Light Linens for Summer Summer is just around the bend, so even on a shoestring budget, now’s the time to make your home ready for the season. For instantaneous summer style, follow these simple, affordable ideas to lighten the look of your home. Those velvet pillows and cozy down comforters you love all winter long can start to feel unbearably heavy and hot once summer arrives. Summer is all about fresh and easy. So send your dark, heavy linens on vacation and break out lighter, brighter ones. Summer cries out for chiffon, satin, and sheer and lightweight fabrics and bedding. You can find them inexpensively at your local fabric or thrift shop.

2. Nature Calls Say it with flowers! They are a quick and perfect solution for brightening a drab, colorless room. Calm and soothing, these natural outdoor beauties do wonders indoors. Be your own floral arranger after you pick up an inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store. For a really eye-catching arrangement for your kitchen tabletop, trying places freshly picked purple lilacs in a sparkling glass vase. Your senses will celebrate.

3. Roll Winter Away Traditional carpets are heavy. They can weigh a room down. Summer’s here, so roll them up. Brightly colored area rugs with polka dots and stripes are a fun replacement for those carpets. Bare all for summer. If you have polished wood floors under those rugs, let them shine. Your space will be clean, airy, and seem brand new.

4. Pick Your Summer Palette Splash summer’s color palette on your walls. If your walls have always been dark, maybe it’s time for a change. When you’re picking your perfect shade of paint, just think cottage décor and cool tones. Getting the effect you desire doesn’t mean having to paint the entire room. Let the sunshine in by painting one main wall is a cool sky blue. It will make your work even faster and less expensive.

5. A Brand New Fit You always shop for fun flirty summer clothes. Now’s the time to shop for fun, flirty furniture. Your bland sofa and your boring chairs become stylish showpieces with new slipcovers you either buy or make yourself. Found at large department stores, online home stores, and even discounted on eBay, slipcovers cost a lot less than buying brand new furniture. Say “Hello summer” to everyone lounging in your living room by greeting them with the perfect summer print. A light-colored damask or cotton twill fabric is just right.

6. Decorate and Accentuate For a more lighthearted look, accentuate some special summer accessories. Accentuate your colorful gardening books or your family’s past summer vacation photos on a table. They decorate your living room without costing you a thing. Your seashells from the beach embody the summer spirit. So does the sunlight on a windowsill when it strikes a bowl of luminous glass stones.

7. Windows to the World How do you feel about a room with a view? By rearranging furniture to center it around windows and terrace doors, you can take advantage of your outside view. Your favorite reading chair and your kitchen table? Drag them away from those boring walls and place them next to an open window to shed a whole new light on things. All it takes to transform your home for summer is a little imagination and a strong set of arms.

8. Display Summer Summer is the perfect time for refreshment. Start with your walls by updating your artwork. A light or even white wood is the perfect replacement for dark picture frames. Are your hallways in need of brightening and color? Update your artwork there too. If your snowy mountain print is currently hanging, how’s about replacing it with a field of red flowers? The perfect summer backdrop is easy to achieve with a few strategically placed pieces of art in just the right frames.

Redecorate Your Kitchen

Following is a list of ideas to help you keep your kitchen beautiful, as well as functional:

1. First, I find it really important to keep the top of the refrigerator clear. I do think, however, that a modest display of cookbooks can be quite attractive. When your cookbooks are within reach, there’s more of a likelihood of yummy treats making an appearance in your kitchen. Use a nice pair of bookends.

2. Get creative with your glassware. For instance, in a glass-paned cabinet, it’s a good idea to put your attractive pieces on the higher shelf and keep the everyday ones on the bottom where they’re easy to grab.

3. I like to hang my wineglasses under a cabinet. This can be easily accomplished by installing a simple rack.

4. Coordinate the decorative items in your kitchen with the seasons. Seasonal items such as tea towels, potholders, aprons and decorative items such as fake pumpkins at Halloween can really spruce up a room.

5. I have found that my clients are divided in their opinion of what to do with the counter space in their kitchen. Most seem to like the counter clear of objects. The other group likes to see every kitchen gadget they've ever owned out and ready for action. I prefer the middle ground. Everyday items such as coffeemakers should be kept out. There’s no need to waste your time lugging it out and putting it away. But if you only use your food processor for occasional food preparation, then store it below in a cabinet.

6. Remember, counter items can be grouped into categories according to their function. For instance, your morning ritual may consist of toast and coffee. Therefore, place your coffeemaker and toaster near one of the outlets. If you are a busy mom who cooks every night, the blender, the small processor and the electric can opener are candidates for another cluster around an outlet.

7. I love plants and think they are a positive addition to every room. If you can find some counter space near a window, you can really add a bit of life and personality to your kitchen with a plant. Can't remember to water them? I'll bet you have a calendar by now with your schedule kept up to date in its pages. Pick a day of the week and make a note to water your plants. There are so many rewards. Plants not only look beautiful, they clean the air of pollutants and give oxygen to the atmosphere. There are some varieties that will be difficult for you to kill. Talking with someone from your local nursery can help you select a variety that is both hardy and will thrive in the conditions you offer.

8. Lighting can really influence the atmosphere of your kitchen. If you have the space, place a small lamp on your counter. A bright, cheery kitchen can really set off your morning as your prepare for the day. The evening meal is probably a time of lively interaction if you're a large family. Those late-night forays to the kitchen for a snack or a beverage, however, can be made in the gentle, quiet light of a lamp. My clients listen to this idea and are generally unimpressed. So I ask them if I can try a lamp to see how it looks. Every time their minds are changed. So will you give it a chance? Out of counter space? You might want to try a dimmer switch.

Redecorate Your Bedroom on a Budget

Making a change to your bedroom doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A little creative thinking and planning can make a difference whether your working on a full project or just making a couple of changes.

Here's how to get started:

Pillows, pillows, pillows. Get a few of them, the $10 kind, in whole new color palette. You can easily make a beautiful monochromatic look simply by using pillows of the same color but mixing up several textures like chenille or elegant raw silk. You can get a romantic feel by creating a layer of pillows with larger pillows in the back and smaller ones in the front.

Want to make a big impact? Then a fresh coat of paint is one the most inexpensive way to go. Don’t forget, you can easily break down process by paint only one wall and focusing on a single area in your bedroom. Want to create some texture with your older more detailed closet doors? Then paint the closet’s frame in a neutral color and the inset in a dark one. Giving a room a new life can be as simple as painting the furniture. Experiment by giving an old mule chest dressers a faux antique finish or sponge paint the bland looking armoire.

A new headboard can be rather expensive. Try something new and creative like getting an inexpensive wrought iron or picket fence at a flea market. Bed skirts are a great way to make your bed look soft and sophisticated. They’re available in several color, textures and patterns. By using a soft and neutral color you can get the most in both beauty and versatility. You do not want it to be the center of attention, but you do want it to accent your bed.

Window treatments are easier than people think. Depending on the material used, swag curtains can be inexpensive and not too dramatic. It’s an easy way to add a touch of femininity. You can do this by simply placing plant or bicycle hooks in the ceiling. Or opt for just a blind and an inexpensive garland or floral accent at the top of the window. We also adore the simple look of pre-made drapes and a basic rod with funky finials. For a large selection of all these items you can try out Target, Walmart, Pottery Barn or Kmart.

Do you have a four-poster or canopy bed that needs a little life? Adorn the poles with fabric to achieve that "pond" affect, where the fabric appears to create a "pond" at the base. Getting this effect is easy, all you need is to add about an extra 20 inches before it’s cut. Candles are a perfect decorative item that many people tend to forget. If you want a little sophistication and romance use white ones, but if you want to pull focus to dresser or night stand consider a group of colored candles. Group candles in odd numbers -- even amounts tend to be boring. Try gathering an alter of different candle heights and place them on a wall or bookshelf.

Hanging framed artwork and posters or mirrors is inexpensive and can go a long way in changing the look of room, but make sure it doesn’t clash with your current décor. Keep it simple with a neutral colored frame - black, gold, brown or white. Add shelves for another quick decorating spruce-up. Collections are perfect for displaying on a wall shelf, but try to stay away from small items. Placing a lot of tiny accessories will leave the shelf looking cramped and cluttered. Want to try something simple yet elegant? Fresh flowers in glass bottles offer a minimalist touch. Or prop up your framed pictures or paintings on the shelves.