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Top home decor trends of 2012

  • Written by ARA

From warm woods and creative colors to memorable murals and tailored textures, interior designers and industry experts predict 2012 will offer a multitude of options for those interested in giving their homes a fresh look. Even better for today’s cost-conscious consumers is that many of the trends are easy and inexpensive.

The facts about furniture

According to Emmy Award-winning home design expert, author and TV/radio personality Christopher Lowell, upholstered furniture coverings are being driven more by texture and less by prints. Yesterday’s bulky, stationary pit sofa will be replaced by lower backs and seats along with smaller “footprint” pieces clustered into conversation groups for more flexibility and ease of interaction. Stacy Garcia of Stacy Garcia Design Studio sees a movement of woods from very dark mahogany and espresso to lighter and mid-toned woods, with raw, natural walnut, cherry and white oak being especially prevalent.

Make a statement

For homeowners interested in adding life and personality to a bedroom, living room, family room or office, a decorative wall mural is a quick, cost-effective way to go, explains Todd Imholte, president of Murals Your Way, whose products have been featured on the TODAY show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Divine Design, Man Caves and Moving Up. With 25 mural categories including Disney, famous artwork, cities and cityscapes, nature and sports, as well as the ability to create murals from favorite photos, the choices are virtually unlimited. The company also recently launched a repositionable wallpaper line.

The right touch

According to Lori Dennis, interior designer, author and upcoming star of HGTV’s new show The Real Designing Women, next year’s textures and fabrics will include iridescent metallic woven within fabric; strong patterns and bold prints; modern floral; tailored woven fabrics like tweed, herringbone, plaid and houndstooth; velvet/velour, sumptuous dupioni silk and faux fur. Natural fibers such as bamboo, jute, eucalyptus, cotton, silk, wool and cork will remain popular, adds DeAnna Radaj of Bante Design LLC.

A splash of color

Deborah Wecselman of DWD Inc. suggests starting with neutral hues of taupe, beige, cream, gray, black and white, and then adding unexpected pops of color with bold accessories from bright yellow paintings to royal blue vases. Dennis echoes this vibrant color spectrum, with rich jewel tones like emerald, amethyst, sapphire, ruby, garnet and citrine along with deep teal, fuchsia, honeysuckle, coffee and gold.

Light up your life

According to Bradburn design team manager Martin Lucki, lighting options will include linen shades with clean tailored lines and a play toward texture. Lamp bodies will be made of carved reclaimed woods deftly finished in soft, neutral tones that showcase the natural wood grain. Beverly Hills designer Christopher Grubb of Arch-Interiors Design Group, who considers decorative lighting “the piece of jewelry in a room,” recommends architectural sconces for applying makeup or shaving to avoid the shadows cast by overhead lighting.

Please tread on me

Kitchen designer/blogger Susan Serra sees a renewed interest in woven or knotted textures on rugs with “back to basics” motifs that harken back to simpler times. These rugs are easy and cheerful to live with, make a design statement, and serve as interesting foundations for rooms with upholstered or casework furnishings most often seen in neutral colors.  Lowell also sees a trend toward investment area rugs on tiled floors or those resurfaced with wood or faux wood veneers for better wear and tear and a greater perceived home value.

Decorating on a dime

According to artist/designer/author Pablo Solomon, people will continue to look for unique, cost-effective ways to improve their homes. They’ll buy and restore secondhand furniture, swap artwork and accessories with friends, and use yard sale proceeds to purchase new items for their homes. Consignment stores and estate sales will be hot in 2012, adds best-selling author and home design expert Lauri Ward of Redecorate.com, with people discovering the benefits of buying older, distressed pieces that are well made and affordable. Chairs and sofas that can be reupholstered or slipcovered, and cabinets for storage, will be sought for their quality as well as the aesthetic interest they add to modern rooms.

Create a tablescape to remember

  • Written by ARA

14380_B6_rgbHoliday traditions may vary from home to home, but one of the most cherished sights each year is universal. The holiday tablescape: the place where all the luscious treats of the season await all the special people in your lives.

Close your eyes for a moment and remember walking into the dining room where the table is overflowing with memories of holidays past. Remember the sights and the aromas. The red, green and cream linens handed down through generations are pulled out to form the foundation of the holiday table.

The special china, crystal and platters that rarely leave the cabinet – except around the holiday season – are front and center.

And in the center of the table – with all eyes upon it – the main event; the star of the show. Will it be Chateaubriand? Prime rib? Hickory spiral sliced ham?

Now open your eyes – it’s time to plan your own holiday feast. So roll up your sleeves, open your browser, bring out the family treasures and let the magic begin. Start with the star attraction: the flavorful foundation of your holiday spread.

“Our customers ask us all the time for ideas to make their holiday meals special,” says Edward Scavuzzo, president of Kansas City Steak Company. “Year after year, they keep coming back to the tastes that bring back memories of holidays past. Once they’ve selected the meat that will be the star of the meal, the big decision is out of the way and there are lots of options to round out the perfect holiday meal.”

While there are all kinds of lists of best holiday menus, these stars are sure to be at the top of the list for your 2011/2012 centerpiece meats:

• A hickory smoked spiral sliced ham from the Missouri Ozarks, brown sugar-cured and slow-smoked over hickory. From the moment the smells waft from the kitchen until the last bite is gone, it’s always a crowd pleaser.

• A roasted steakhouse rub prime rib roast is perfect for making any occasion a celebration. There’s just something about a perfectly aged, well-marbled, succulent boneless prime rib, topped with delicious blends of spices that may include espresso beans, salt, brown sugar, garlic and chipotle pepper.

• A decadently juicy Chateaubriand is always a special holiday treat. You won’t find a more tender holiday treat to grace your holiday table.

• And last, but certainly not least, a hickory smoked turkey. For some, the traditional Norman Rockwell tablescape will always spur holiday memories that are so vibrant, you can almost taste the turkey.

Once you select the star of your tablescape, the anchor of your meal, it’s time to plan the rest of your meal.

It’s never been easier to select side dishes – there is an abundance of holiday gourmet guides, dessert guides, wine lists and online resources to help you choose the perfect complements to your star.

If you’re hoping to simplify your life this year, companies like The Kansas City Steak Company can be a great resource for planning your entire meal.

Just add family, friends, a table, your own unique holiday touches and perfectly prepared food. You get all the credit for creating a magical tablescape and a meal your family will be sure to remember for generations to come.

Don’t Be Fooled by Invisible Home Intruder—Mold Often Hard to Detect...Vulnerable Groups at Risk

  • Written by Craig Hawkins, EnviroShield
This time of the year we spend the majority of our time indoors. For certain folks more susceptible to respiratory viruses, it’s important to make sure our homes are free of airborne contaminants. We asked Craig to help us understand the risks:

Question: If I don’t see signs of mold/water damage, is it safe to assume my home is free of contamination?

Craig: Our experience over the years has shown that is not the only way to detect problems. There are places in our homes that no one ever goes to like the crawl space and or the attic of your home. There could be a bathroom vent in your attic that does not vent to the out side of your home but into the attic space and with that hot humid air creates a petrie dish for mold to grow. I just saw a crawl space that had a hot water leak which created steam in the crawl space and that also produced in a very short time mold in the crawl space that needed to be remediated or cleaned up.

Question: Can these accumulations cause people living in my home to experience health issues?

Craig: In certain homes these colonies can absolutely produce enough organic compounds to cause allergic reactions, sickness, and extreme cases cause you to be hospitalized with an acute asthma attack.

Question: How does mold enter my home in the first place?

Craig: Mold is considered ubiquitous, meaning it is everywhere. It needs three things to start a colony. #1 Temperature 45 degrees F – 120 degrees F. #2 Minimal moisture source – 60 percent relative humidity or above.  #3 Food: wood, sheetrock, paper, etc. That being said, mold is most likely to grow where there is water or dampness – such as the areas we discussed earlier.

Question: If I do discover a problem, how do I choose a water/mold damage company?

Craig: The first step is to call your insurance company and also a water damage company.

I would use this checklist:

1. Guarantee — Look for a company that provides a guarantee for mold remediation after the water dry out is complete.

2. Experience — Make sure that the water damage/mold remediation company that you choose has the training and the certifications that are necessary for the type of job they are doing for you.

3. Containment — A 1-inch by 1-inch area of mold creates millions of spores that are released into the air during the cleaning process, which can be very dangerous to the health of everyone in the home.

Only water damage companies that utilize what’s called a HEPA Negative Air System to direct the contaminated air should be the ones you use.

7 Strategies to Keep Control of your Remodeling Budget

  • Written by Nip Tuck Remodeling
Have you ever heard the complaint ”it took twice as long and cost twice as much…I’m never remodeling again!”?  This is a common problem and can be avoided in almost every case if you approach your project with a planning mindset and a realistic goal for the investment in your home.

Inevitably, a new client will ask me “how much will my project cost?”  There is not any black & white answer when you are talking about a remodeling project.  What I can tell you is that regardless of your budget, a properly planned and executed remodeling budget will be about 30 percent labor & installation and 70 percent materials. This means that you, the homeowner, really are in control of up to 70 percent of your budget and can keep it on course if you work closely with your contractor and honor a few basic concepts.

1. Fail to Plan….Plan to Fail.  One of the top budget busters is to start construction without a well-documented plan. A fully documented scope of work will tell you what will happen, and a complete list of what you have chosen will tell you exactly how much it will cost and when it can be delivered to your home.  There are a myriad of decisions to be made during a construction process, but selecting just the right tile or plumbing fixture should not be one of them.  Feeling pressured to make a decision or going with the product that is “fine” because it is available will leave you with a bad feeling well after the project is finished.

2. Hiring a designer can actually save you money.  Shopping for your remodel is one of the exciting parts and can also be one of the reasons a budget gets blown before you even get started.  A short example of this is a client that goes with her girlfriend on the weekend to the supply house recommended by her contractor, budget figures in hand.  The supply house is closed for the day, but another “boutique” supplier is in the same parking lot, so the women decide to stop and look.  Long story short, a lovely wall tile with a shimmering finish and individual glass decorator tile samples leave the store with the client, and from that point on, nothing else will compare and the tile budget has now almost triple.  Professionals will design for your tastes AND honor your budget.

3. Beware of the “cruise ship” mentality. Invariably, something will come up while you are remodeling that might not have been considered in the planning stage and you ask your contractor to take care of it “while they are here.” If enough of these type of things occur, you can be looking at a substantial uptick in the cost.  All is well and good during the process, but then at the end you get a huge change-order bill at the end (remember the free-wheeling spending on the cruise ship?). Go back to your plan, be thorough and detailed and stick to it as best you can.  A detailed plan will pre-plan for many of these types of budget creep, and pay for changes as they come up so you will be very aware of the addition.

4. Prepare to compromise.  Remember the designer tile story above?  Know yourself and your tastes as you prepare your remodeling budget.  Understand that choosing the most amazing tile, glass sink or designer light fixture will require a compromise on another line item to balance your budget.  Your designer and contractor can likely recommend areas you can safely save some money without taking anything away from the overall design.

5. The value of working inside your existing structure.   Updating and remodeling your home is intended to create a new space that will be comfortable, fits your tastes and living habits, and of course enhances the home with beautiful products and craftsmanship.  Maximizing space and function while keeping major plumbing and electrical components in the same place will save time and money in your budget.  Removing interior, non-bearing walls to make more room is popular and can be easily accomplished with a modest amount of additional labor.

Keep in mind that if you are trying to keep to a tight budget, removing structural walls and moving plumbing can be a significant increase. You can ask your contractor how to “value engineer” just the right solution.

6. Have a contingency for Murphy and his friends.  Remodeling is different than new construction.  There can be many surprises behind the walls either relating to water damage or previous remodeling done in less than a professional manner, etc.

Most areas of concern can be identified prior to construction, and some assumptions made as to the extent, but there is always something to learn.  I would recommend putting aside at least 10-15 percent of your total budget for contingency and then as milestones such as demo, plumbing and electrical are passed, you can gradually relax on the “what-if” and re-allocate funds in other areas.  Knowing you have a safety net in the finances will save headaches in the long run.

7. Participate in the project.  I am often asked “where can we trim our budget?”.  The answer may be that the homeowner does all the demolition and disposal prior to the anticipated start date.  In a typical kitchen or bathroom project, this could save up to $1000 on the front end and be allocated towards something else.

You want to be careful in this area that you are skilled enough to do this and know your limitations so that you don’t create more damage and increase labor costs to repair your efforts.  Another area to save is paint, however you must remember this is a finish detail and you or someone you know will want to do a great job so as not to lessen the rest of the “professional” work you’ve invested in.

Nip Tuck Remodeling is a woman owned and operated General Contracting company located in Woodinville. We serve King & Snohomish County and specialize in Kitchen, Bathroom and Condo Remodeling.  www.niptuckremodel.com   425-681-7668   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ten festive holiday gifts to have on hand

  • Written by Molbak’s
The holidays are filled with fun surprises—a spur-of-the-moment dinner invitation, a plate of fresh-baked cookies on your doorstep, a letter from a long-lost friend. These unexpected gestures make the season truly bright, and being able to pass this generosity along to others makes it even brighter.

“You can make it easy on yourself if you simply think ahead,” Molbak’s manager Susan Burchak, explains. “Early in the season, pick up a few thoughtful gifts, wrap them right away, add a blank gift tag, and set them in a safe place.” That way, when your neighbor invites you over for hot toddies, or when your trusty delivery person arrives at night in the pouring rain, you don’t have to scramble to say thank you. You’ve got something festive wrapped up and ready to share.

Here are a few thoughtful, easy gift ideas that are destined to delight:

1.  Poinsettia perfection: Nothing dazzles the eye at holiday time like a fresh poinsettia. It’s so gorgeous, it basically wraps itself—just add a festive bow and a colorful gift tag and you’re all set.

2.  Write on: Tie a colorful ribbon around a stack of greeting cards and top it off with a matching pen – it’s pretty and practical.

3.  Raise a glass: Wrap up a bottle of your favorite vino in a festive bag, thread a pretty wine stopper through the ribbon, and you’ve got a gift that’s good to the last drop—and beyond!

4. Delish dish: Hand out a festive candy dish brimming with gourmet chocolates. The chocolates will disappear in a wink, but the dish will serve up holiday memories for years to come.

5.  Chef’s special: Wrap a copy of your most trusted cookbook in a festive dishtowel. It’s a fun gift any cook is sure to savor.

6.  Get fresh: Deliver a loaf of fresh-baked bread in a beautiful ceramic bread pan. Top it with a ribbon and a copy of the recipe they can add to their recipe collection.

7.    Bowl them over: Give them a stunning holiday bowl brimming with bright, fresh tangerines. It’s a healthy, heavenly holiday treat.

8.  Let it glow: A fragrant candle is truly a gift for the senses. Best of all, many candles are beautifully packaged in festive tins or specialty glass holders—all they need is a gift tag and they’re ready to shine.

9.  Cozy up: For a heart-warming gift, tuck some specialty teas or a pack of gourmet cocoa in a festive mug, and bundle it all together with a cozy scarf and a festive ribbon.

10.  Gift of choice: Present your giftee with a gift card to their favorite store, or a Charity Gift Card they can pay forward to their favorite non-profit. Pair it with a bright ornament and a peppermint stick, and you’ve got a sweet surprise that’s just their style.

Molbak’s gift cards are available online at molbaks.com and at our Woodinville store. To learn more about Charity Gift Cards, visit www.tisbest.org.