Live Happily Ever After: Creating a Fairy Tale Interior

Once upon a time, there was a home that captured storybook allure with luxe fabrics and delicate details.

Pretty accessories, elegant touches, and finishes fit for a king all combine to create a fairy tale interior. From delicate pastel palettes to chic chandeliers, this sweet and sophisticated style is dreamy, decadent and perfect for any home.

Twinkle twinkle

Pretty statement pendant lights and elegant tableside fixtures create the perfect amount of illumination for a fairy tale interior. Create this look with layered lighting: choose a sophisticated statement pendant and complement it with dimmed floor lamps or bedside lighting.

Glass, nickel, and high-gloss finishes are all princely illumination options, and work perfectly in the master bedroom, dining and living areas.

design1

Photo from Zillow listing.

Powdery pastels

Create a space straight out of a storybook with soft and lustrous pastel colors throughout the room. Choose a satin-finish paint for the walls in a soft white or powdery gray, and add plush upholstered pieces in muted neutrals for additional elegance.

Top off the look with airy drapery and linens, and soft, tufted textures throughout.

design2

Courtesy of AdamHunterInc.

Enchanted embellishment

One of the most beloved characteristics of fairy tale interiors is their decadence and grandeur. From crown molding to ornate coving and ceiling medallions, fairy tale style is nothing short of sophisticated.

For your own enchanted space, consider adding molding. Moldings add shape and dimension to a room, lending an opulent feel to the design.

Accessorize the room with ultra-feminine furniture and velvety fabrics topped with masculine elements like fur and metal fixtures.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Plenty of sophisticated touches can be added for your own personal pampering. Ornate fireplaces, cozy curtains, textured tapestries and delicate details all add their own fairy tale flair. Four-poster beds covered in sensual fabrics, vintage throws, and tufted pillows create decadence, while calming colors create a restful haven.

Combine your favorite fairy tale elements to create an ambiance perfect for a beloved storybook character. Bring the look into modern-day design with transitional elements, or keep it classic by playing up its old-fashioned appeal.

Posted by Kerrie Kelly on Zillow

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Your Super Simple 3-Step Program for Houseplant Maintenance

You’ve kept a collection of houseplants alive. Congratulations! Now this is how you can make them thrive.

Shutterstock ID 349499291; PO: Cat Overman;

Shutterstock ID 349499291; PO: Cat Overman;

There are no one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to houseplants, and a plant tag can only tell you so much. Each species is unique, hailing from climates ranging from dry deserts to Mediterranean landscapes to tropical rainforests, and even two plants of the same species can have totally different needs depending on a number of factors. Fertilizing depends on the type of plant and the label instructions, while pruning times and methods rely on a plant’s blooming time and growth pattern.

Grow a lush and flourishing indoor garden filled with a variety of plants by following this three-step program. Start with a good reference, and inspect for problems every time you water. Finally, fill out a maintenance checklist for each plant in your collection to provide the most personalized and accurate care possible.

Find a reference

Since each plant has entirely different needs, it’s essential to find trustworthy references that will tell you everything you need to know about each specific plant.

While you can find info on any plant with a quick Internet search, you’ll find that some sites have more information on certain plants than others. If you own a collection of houseplants, I highly recommend picking up a book such as “The House Plant Expert” by D. G. Hessayon.

Inspect while you water

Even with all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips, your senses are the best tools in your arsenal. Every time you water, inspect each plant for problems such as pests, yellowed leaves or slow, lanky growth.

Shutterstock ID 224849716; PO: Cat Overman;

Shutterstock ID 224849716; PO: Cat Overman;

Refer to the list below to help you narrow down problems, or check out this info on troubleshooting houseplant problems.

A plant needs to be watered more if:

  • The top inch of potting mix is dry
  • Leaves are wilting (unless soil is moist)
  • Water runs over the soil and drains along the sides
  • The plant feels lighter than usual

A plant needs to be watered less if:

  • The soil feels more soggy than moist
  • The roots are beginning to rot
  • You see fungus gnats every time you water

A plant needs fertilizer if:

  • It has been over a few months since purchasing the plant
  • The time-release fertilizer pellets or fertilizer spikes are spent
  • The palm fronds are yellowed
  • The plant is growing at a glacial pace
  • It’s been over a year since you fertilized
  • You can’t remember the last time you fertilized

A plant needs to be repotted if:

  • The existing potting mix drains too quickly or slowly
  • The plant’s roots coil tightly together in the pot, forming a solid mass
  • The potting mix is practically older than dirt

A plant is getting too much sun if:

  • The exposed leaves are getting scorched and bronzy
  • It’s a shade-loving plant but is receiving direct rays of sunlight

A plant isn’t getting enough sun if:

  • Its new growth is spindly and stretched out
  • The plant actually appears to reach for more light
  • The leaves are very dark green
  • It’s in a room without a window, such as a bathroom

Create a care sheet for each plant

You can solve a lot of problems with a good reference and eye for detail, but it can be difficult to keep track of an entire collection of plants around the house. For example, two rubber trees (Ficus elastica) in the same house require different care depending on a number of factors: the brightness of the room, your home’s heating system, the type of potting soil, the overall health of the plants and even the type of fertilizer being used.

Instead, create care sheets for each plant. (We have one you can download and use.) Print one sheet for every houseplant in your collection, or keep notes on your computer, tablet or phone if that’s more convenient for you.

Fill in the basic needs and take notes whenever you feed, repot, move and prune plants, so that it will be easier to diagnose problems that arise. Place the worksheets in a folder and use them to pencil in dates on the calendar to remind you when it’s time to fertilize or prune.

Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow

How to Pet-Proof Your Home So It Doesn’t Look Like It’s Gone to the Dogs

Wavebreakmedia/iStock

A pet makes a wonderful addition to any household. Cats and dogs mean furry snuggles and tons of comic relief; they can also teach us all a few things about unconditional love. Unfortunately, they also bring with them some less desirable traits: sloppy table manners, a propensity to break things, and truckloads of animal hair.

It’s true, pets can be messy. In fact, your beloved animals can actually ding the value of your property if you’re trying to sell by adding scratches to your doors and floors, funky, semipermanent smells, and other flaws that prospective buyers might just catch. However, there are precautions you can take to pet-proof your home so that their negative impact is greatly reduced.

Follow these tips to do dog-and-cat damage control.

Create a separate eating area for them

When Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Woolwich, NJ, remodeled her kitchen, she took the opportunity to turn a room in her basement into a kitchen that caters specifically to her nine dogs and four cats. The vet took her old cabinets, a small refrigerator, a microwave, and even a Keurig machine downstairs to create an eating space just for the animals.

“They eat down there so they won’t scratch the new kitchen cabinets when they are excited and jumping up to see their food being prepared,” says Morgan. “We keep their food in the downstairs refrigerator and warm it in their own microwave. The Keurig is for making hot water to rehydrate or warm meals.”

“It was the cat, honest.” Chalabala/iStock

Get smart about flooring

Not everyone has room to create a second kitchen for their cats and dogs, so Morgan also recommends bamboo flooring in common areas.

“Bamboo is much harder than most woods so it doesn’t scratch easily,” she says. “It also has no grooves between boards like other hardwood floors. Grooves are a real pain when there is a urine or poo accident.”

Tile is another good option, says Morgan, who used that material in her sunroom because it’s easy to clean. She also recommends recycled tire rubber flooring as a great basement floor covering for people with kids and pets.

“Phenomenal product, comes in large rolls, used in a lot of gyms,” Morgan says of rubber flooring. “Comes in an amazing array of colors and thicknesses.”

As you might have guessed, carpet is not a terrific choice. “We have no carpet, other than on the stairs,” notes Morgan. “Carpet holds hair and odors and is an allergy disaster for people with allergies.”

Decorate your windows wisely

Pet owners should also pay special attention to windows in their home.

“Curtains, for their own sake, should not drag the ground”, says Michelle Newfield, a veterinarian in Slidell, LA. “Exploring kittens love to climb them.”

Newfield suggests thick blinds for window coverings (think wood or even faux wood, material meant to stand the test of claws). “And be sure to secure the cords out of reach,” Newfield says.

Wooden blinds: Pet claw–tested and approved. studiocasper/iStock

Wooden blinds: Pet claw–tested and approved.
studiocasper/iStock

Set up some barriers

If you have a beloved vase or rug that you fear could be ruined by your pet, the answer may be as simple as setting up a barrier to keep curious creatures out.

“Most animals explore their environment with their noses and mouths,” explains Patrick Mahaney, a vet based out of Los Angeles. “It’s common for indoor and outdoor items to be sniffed, licked, or chewed upon, so it’s crucial to use physical barriers. Baby gates, doors, screens, and other barriers can do the trick.”

Or, if it’s all but impossible to keep your pets off your gorgeous new couch, try a different type of barrier by covering it in a large throw blanket. That way, they can lounge and shed with abandon; then, when company comes, you can lift it off and see a clean couch!

Keep pet paraphernalia out of sight

There’s nothing like a gnawed-on ham bone in the center of your living room floor to ruin the ambiance. So get a cute basket in which you can stash pet toys and set it off to the side and out of sight. You can also give pets a place to call their own that doesn’t detract from your design. Place a cozy crate or dog bed in a kitchen nook, under a table, or in a corner. We’re not saying pets should neither be seen nor heard, but, well, sometimes that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Posted by Brittney Gilbert on realtor.com

The Fine Art of Setting Up a Christmas Tree Without Destroying Your Home

Frank Rothe/Getty Images

OK, it’s officially time to set up the picture-perfect Christmas tree! But if the thought of wrestling a 7-foot-tall Norway spruce through the door, into a tree stand, and then decorating it to the nines sounds dicey, that’s because it is. One wrong move could wreak havoc on your home—and do serious damage to those warm and fuzzy holiday feels. So follow these Christmas tree setup tips so you can keep your home safe and yourself sane through this critical early stage of the holiday season.

Prepare the way

Before you set out to find this year’s tree, do yourself and your home a favor and take care of some small chores that will save you time and trouble later.

“Prep the house first,” says Debi Staron, co-founder of Dr. Christmas, the company that has trimmed the trees of A-list celebs such as Heidi Klum and Kate Hudson. “Move furniture out of the way; protect the floors. Fresh-cut trees can have sap dripping from various areas that can damage your hardwood floors, carpeting, or linoleum, especially if you have to lay the tree down. So it’s best to put out a sheet or cardboard to protect your flooring.”

If you’ve ever found yourself in an open field surrounded by fabulous Fraser firs and become so enamored with one that you neglected to realize it will take up 80% of your living room, you’ll appreciate Staron’s next tip: Take some measurements.

“Christmas Vacation”: Apparently Clark Griswold didn’t measure height and width before bringing this behemoth home. giphy.com

“The average person doesn’t know the height of their ceiling,” she says. “Don’t fall in love with a tree that won’t fit in your home. After you’ve measured for height, measure for width.”

Make sure the tree is all you’re bringing home

Sometimes Christmas trees can come with, um, a few unwelcome guests.

“Christmas Vacation”: Leave unwanted visitors at the tree lot. giphy.com

“While at the lot, ask them to give it a good shake,” says Staron. “Not just to shed those loose needles, but to get rid of bugs and spiders and other creatures who love to live in there.” Gross.

Anchor it correctly

“Elf”: You never know who might try to climb your tree, so anchor it. giphy.com

 

If you have curious kids and/or cats, you may be afraid to leave the room for fear that they’ll attempt to shimmy their way up to the star and topple your tannenbaum. That’s why it’s a good idea to anchor your tree, Staron suggests. Stand it in the corner, and wrap fishing line around the trunk and then secure each end with hooks placed on the wall or windowsill.

“They only leave pin pricks, and you can putty it later. But, really, no one will even notice,” she says.

If children and pets aren’t an issue, securing your tree is still a great way to protect your furnishings. Staron recalled a client who hired Dr. Christmas after another company neglected to anchor the tree and it, along with a bevy of glass ornaments, came crashing down on a baby grand piano.

Fireproof your tree

Nothing can ruin the festive mood faster than having to make a 911 call. Fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires caused by Christmas trees each year from 2009 to 2013, according to the National Fire Protection Association, resulting in an annual average of seven deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in property damage.

Check your tree’s water level daily. giphy.com

To prevent your tree from becoming a fire hazard, first start by selecting one with fresh green needles that don’t fall off when you touch them. If your tree is already cut, ask for it to be cut again so it’s ready to start drinking once it arrives in its new home.

“If it’s not freshly cut it won’t draw up water,” Staron says. So just how much needs to go? According to Purdue University’s Forestry and Natural Resources, a tree that has been cut for more than six to eight hours needs to have a half-inch or more cut off the butt end before it’s placed in a tree stand and watered.

Decorate with care

The holidays can be stressful enough without having to spend hours untangling and stringing lights, only to find out they don’t work. Staron says do yourself a favor and store lights by wrapping them around a cardboard tube with the plug easily accessible.

Wrap light strands around cardboard to prevent tangling. youtube.com

And, oh yeah—if you’ve got cats, keep glass or breakables closer to the top where they’re less likely to get knocked off and broken.

Don’t place breakable ornaments on low-hanging branches. giphy.com

 

Posted by Liz Alterman on realtor.com

 

 

Combining Houseplants for Decorative Arrangements

When it comes to potted plants, “the more the merrier” makes a great rule of (green) thumb.

If you aren’t already making your own container combinations with houseplants, you’re really missing out. They bring a bit of the outdoors to even the smallest spaces,  and are a lot easier to water than plants grown on their own.
Here are nine reasons you should be combining your houseplants, and how to do it in nine easy steps.

9 reasons to combine houseplants

1. Less watering. Watering an assortment of potted plants can be a pain. With a combo, however, you just water once.

2. Living flower arrangements. Flower arrangements are great, but there’s just something so captivating about a living ecosystem in your home. In addition, living arrangements are more economical than cut flowers over time, because they last a lot longer.

3. Fits your decor. Going for a traditional look? Use cast iron plant, parlor palm, and ferns in an urn or terra-cotta pot. More modern? Plant snake plant, Haworthia and Gasteria in a sleek container. Primitive tropical? Fill a rattan basket with an exuberant pot of rainforest plants.

4. Stays alive. Even if a plant or two dies, the others will quickly fill in the gap. If you’re impatient, all you have to do is tuck another one in its place.

5. It’s therapeutic. Successfully cultivating life just feels good. You’d be amazed by how relaxing and rewarding an occasional trim or topdressing of soil can be.

6. It’s a garden, indoors. A well-planted arrangement truly feels like a little piece of garden in the middle of your home — minus the creepy-crawlies and hard work.

7. Ideal for small spaces. Everyone has room for an indoor garden. These arrangements can range from just a few inches wide to taking up as much space as a dining chair. No matter the size, the impact is huge.

8. A creative outlet. If you get your kicks from cooking, crafting, drawing or writing, then just look at an indoor arrangement as an extension of your craft. It’s a recipe of plants; a craft that hot-glues itself in place; a masterpiece in four dimensions; an adventure in your mind’s eye.

9. Year-round gardening. Throughout most of the country, winter puts the garden on hold for a few months. In the Deep South and Southwest, summer keeps you in the air-conditioned comfort of your home. Your indoor garden will keep you company until nicer weather.

How to combine houseplants

Now that you’re ready to plant your own indoor living arrangement of plants, here’s how you do it. Note that it’s almost exactly like planting an outdoor container combo.

  1. Gather materials. Choose a pot with a drainage hole and potting mix. The drainage hole is important because it keeps the water from stagnating and rotting the plants’ roots.
  2. Pick your plants. Select a few plants that tolerate the same conditions. For example, don’t put a sun-loving cactus in a pot with a shade- and moisture-loving fern.
  3. Add potting mix. Fill the pot almost all the way, leaving enough room for the plants.
  4. Add plants. Slip the plants out of their pots and place in the big pot.
  5. Arrange plants. Situate plants so that the tall ones are in the rear. This ensures that each plant gets light. Put trailing plants like pothos along the edge so they can cascade over the rim.
  6. Add more potting mix. Add enough potting mix to sit level with the tops of the plants’ root balls (the pot-shaped mass of dirt and roots).
  7. Water. Water thoroughly to level out the potting mix and eliminate any air gaps. Where the potting mix has sunk, add more.
  8. Fertilize. Feed the plants according to your product’s label instructions. Authentic Haven Compost Tea is a good choice, since it’s organic and effective, and the nutrients stay in the potting mix.
  9. Properly place. Place your container combo where it gets bright indirect light, meaning that it’s bright enough to read comfortably without flipping a light switch. Some plants, such as cacti, succulents and some plants grown for flowers, prefer direct light. This means that your plants get a clear view of the sun for at least a few hours a day.

If you’d like to know more about combining houseplants, check out my book Plant by Numbers. It offers comprehensive plant listings to help you choose and combine your own designs, 50 sample combos, and everything you need to know about keeping your houseplants happy and healthy.

Posted by Steve Asbell on Zillow

Learn to Prime Like a Pro

Follow these tips from Sherwin-Williams to prep for a perfect paint job.

Paint can make more of a difference in changing a home’s aesthetic than new accessories and furniture. Why? Color makes an immediate impact because it’s on one of the largest surface areas in your home.

But a painting project that seems simple can easily go awry if the proper prep work hasn’t been done. (No one loves streaky paint.)

Avoid mishaps and get a room that’s painted to perfection with these tips from Sherwin-Williams.

Gather materials

It’s best to have all of the proper tools on hand before the first dip of the paintbrush. Sherwin-Williams suggests having the following tools at the ready to ensure a seamless painting experience:

  • Wash bucket
  • Mild dishwashing soap
  • Cellulose sponge
  • 1-inch painter’s tape
  • Flexible putty knife
  • Dropcloths
  • Primer
  • Plastic paint container
  • Roller pan/tray
  • Paint stir sticks
  • 2-inch to 3-inch angled sash paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Paint roller covers:
    • ¼-inch to ⅜-inch nap thickness for smooth surfaces
    • ½-inch to 1-inch nap thickness for rough or stippled surfaces
  • Paint roller extension pole
  • Paint rags
  • Ladder
  • Acrylic caulk
  • Caulk gun

Step 1: Wash the walls

To get a perfect paint job, it’s all about the proper prep for your walls. That starts with removing all of the loose paint and patching any holes or cracks.

Next, wash your walls. A simple dusting of the walls and trim where dirt tends to gather can prevent painting problems such as paint that doesn’t properly adhere to the wall. Experts from Sherwin-Williams recommend using a mixture of lukewarm water and mild soap and gently rubbing with a rag or cotton cloth in a circular motion. Rinse your walls using a slightly damp cellulose sponge.

Step 2: Tape it up

It may seem an unnecessary step, but taping the walls is of the utmost importance if you want to keep paint from dripping onto trim or, worse, the floor. To start, check that your walls and trim are thoroughly dry before applying painter’s tape.

Use longer pieces of tape rather than several shorter pieces. This critical step helps minimize the possibility of gaps in your tape and helps ensure paint won’t sneak through. Start in a corner, pressing to the trim in small sections as you go. To make it even more secure, use a clean putty knife to press the tape’s edges to the trim so your tape sticks firmly. This will help ensure you get a nice, even paint line.

Step 3: Grab the dropcloths

Paint on the carpet or in the cracks of your hardwood floors? No, thanks.

To avoid this, use one or more dropcloths to protect your flooring and furniture from paint drips. Canvas dropcloths are the most durable, and the fabric works to absorb paint drips and spills — and they’re reusable.

Plastic and paper dropcloths cost less but tend to slide when you walk on them, so use painter’s tape to secure the edges to the floor.

Step 4: Time to prime

Priming may not be necessary if you’re working with an all-white wall or a paint and primer in one. However, in the case where you’re painting over an existing color, it’s typically best to prime the wall first.

Starting off with a primer base helps you get a truer color and sheen from your paint. Plus, it provides a layer specially formulated to protect your topcoat.

To get started, use a 2-inch or 3-inch angled bristle brush and paint a narrow strip of primer all along your trim and the inside corners of your room. Prime the remainder of your wall with a roller.

Use a ¼-inch to ⅜-inch nap thickness for smooth surfaces. Use a ½-inch to 1-inch nap thickness for rough or stippled surfaces. If you’re painting a room in a darker color, consider using tinted primer rather than white to ensure a true hue throughout the room.

Step 5: Mind the gap

Gaps often form between walls and trim work. The solution: caulking. Fill them with an acrylic caulk after priming the wall and trim surfaces.

Not all caulks are paintable, so make sure you read the label to see if yours is. Use the little hole in your caulk gun handle to cut off the tip of the tube at a 45-degree angle. Carefully pierce the inner seal inside the tip using the seal-puncture tool found on most caulk guns. Load the tube into your caulk gun and squeeze out a small amount to start the flow.

Have a damp cotton rag handy to clean up excess. Start in one corner of your room, point the caulk tube tip into the crack, and gently squeeze an even flow of caulk along the crack. Wet your finger and use it to smooth out and remove excess amounts of caulk. Have a damp cloth handy to wipe your finger clean. Make sure you read the label to find out the dry time for your caulk too. Some take 24 hours, so make sure to account for this!

The finishing touch

You’re ready to paint! Have more questions? Ask the experts at your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams paint store and be fully prepared to achieve beautiful painting results.

This post was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams.

Posted by Blake Miller on Trulia

 

Make a Small Home Office Feel Bigger With These Tips

Working in a small claustrophobic space can be quite depressing and far from inspiring. However, most of us are not so lucky to be working in an enormous office full of light, so we try to make the most of what we have. How can we redesign our office space so that it seems bigger and brighter without demolishing a few walls or moving to a completely different place? Here are a few tips you can use to change your working environment so that you feel happier and more satisfied.

As White As Light

The first thing you have to think about is your background. In order for it to seem bigger, it has to be light, so make sure that you surround yourself with as much white as possible. As it reflects light, it will illuminate even those spaces that do not have enough or even any windows that would allow natural light inside. White has a calming effect on people, but if it feels a little bit cold to you, it is possible to incorporate a few details in brighter colors, but keep them minimal and not in more than two shades.

Curtainless Windows

When you think about your small office design and what are some of the decorative items you can put in it to make it more personal, avoid using curtains on your windows. As they barely let enough light as it is, closing them up will do you no good. However, if you still feel the need to cover the glass with something from time to time, shades are definitely a better choice.

Only the Most Essential

Whether you are redesigning your office in a company building or your home office, try not to go overboard with the amount of furniture items, especially some larger ones that take up too much space. Now, when you think about an office, you immediately imagine large computer desk and a big comfortable chair, but is it really necessary? Lately, standing desks have become much more popular, not only because they open up the room, but they also proved to be beneficial for your health.

No Hoarding Please

Nothing makes a room look smaller than all the clutter that you never find the time to clean up. So pick up the trash bin and start with throwing all the things that you do not need: old documents, pens that do not work anymore, and put everything else in its place. You will notice just how much bigger your desk looks, and the entire office will seem more spacious at the same time.

Perks of the 21st Century

Finally, the good thing is that that we are living in a digital age so you can save all of your important documents without using large filing cabinets. You can have them all on your computer, tablet or an USB stick, and not only does it save you a lot of office space, this way it will be much easier for you to manage all the important paperwork.

Working in a small and depressing office can affect the pace, as well as the quality of your work in an extremely negative way. If you are not comfortable in it and you feel like it is suffocating, do not get devastated, as there are numerous ways in which you can make it look bigger, happier and more inspirational.

Posted by Lana Hawkins on HomeZada