Archive for the ‘home decor tips & tricks’ Category

When parents think of back to school, so many things come to mind. Carpooling or home schooling. Denim or school uniforms. Calculators or crayons.

No matter where your kids go to school, or even their age, one supply that everyone needs is INSPIRATION. Inspired students, from preschool to grad school seem to grab the best from their education. They jump at new challenges and new assignments as they strut their ideas, good or bad.

Anyone who remembers a truly inspired moment in their education, may refer to a particularly animated or knowledgeable teacher. Or access to equipment or facilities they did not have access to at home. But actually you can cultivate “inspired” moments and stimulate yourself or your students to think outside the box in your surroundings as well.

We loved Cortney Novogratz’s post on kid’s design spaces in the home. However, you could take this play idea even farther in an adult sense with a chalkboard wall in almost any room of your house.

Chalk board paint on one wall keeps the conversation going

Spaces that change with the seasons, or even change with the conversation, inspire us to use our creativity more often. Giving your room a “voice” with a magnetic board, posting area or even velcro on pictures that can evolve throughout the year will keep your space and your family or roommates inspired. Hopefully we’ve inspired you!

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We are in a design rich society. Yet when we need inspiration, we often forget to look around ourselves. The following exercise can be a jumping point for home decor projects, all types of art work, or any creative process involving visual elements. (Even computer or video game design!)

Try this technique for some instant design inspiration:
Grab the nearest objects at hand that you find visually appealing and create a quick composition.

Still stuck? Here are a few examples:

  • Stack fabric/yarn at a store

    Image credit: dragonbrookyarns.com

  • pile spice bottles together

    A nice primary color scheme.

  • cut colors/images from magazines

    Image source: purodeco.com

Then document your “collection” by buying a small amount or capturing your grouping with a cell phone pic.

Do this “collecting process” for the following categories:
“Love the color”
“Love the shape”
“Love the texture”
“Love the style”
Now ask yourself, from the collection of colors, shapes, textures and styles, which ones work the best to convey your design’s purpose? Is the sole purpose to energize, relax, spice up, or cool down the viewer? Or does this design need to have a balance of purposes like calm-energy, or relaxing-spice?

If you cannot find the best colors, shapes, textures and styles from the ones you love, then you may have to adjust, but keep in mind, YOU are the designer. So if the project is for your own use, you should find the design elements from your best loved collection.

When to go pro:
If you have a professional design task (paid for your ideas) then this same technique can work. However, keep the scope of the project and client’s requests in mind as you “collect” your samples.

Happy Designing!

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Patio Living has expanded to areas that allow your family to relax off the family room or master bedroom. Modern furniture including club chairs and a couch with outdoor fabric make this lakeside view a great lounging area.


Modern patio with a lakeside view
Image source: picturehomedesign.com

Furniture Placement: 
A recent home staging project done by our Mill and Leaf team gives some excellent examples of a successful indoor-outdoor partnership for great home design.

Placing furniture toward the center of the room allows the family room and outdoor patio to flow seamlessly together.

During the staging process, all furniture was pulled away from windows. In the family room above, the sofa placed in front of the window was moved at a right angle to the window as a low divider between the family room and kitchen area. This photo shows how the outdoor patio then became an extension of the family room. Sticks cut from the back yard green space were placed in the moss filled mantel vase to echo the outdoor feel. The outdoor living continued on their patio.

Unique Pieces:

Seek out signature furniture pieces with a natural flair that can bring the feel of the outdoors inside. We particularly like this uplifting tree bed design and this Appalachian Side Table.

Image source: favim.com



Whenever we’re stuck on an interior design problem, we like to take a look through our favorite online and print magazines for some drool-worthy inspiration. This Design Milk article about the Canon Residence is wonderful example of how to use natural materials to “complement the interior connections to the outdoor space.”

Image source: designmilk.com, photos by Edmund Barr Photography

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Interior designers and architects have always considered lighting one of the most important choices in the overall design plan of a home.

Now, with the increasing popularity of makeover and home decor design programing on TV networks, homeowners are considering quite a few lighting options beyond simple ceiling domes or fans. Everything from glass chandeliers to iron chandeliers to more modern chandelier designs are being incorporated into living spaces to provide functional lighting and add style to a room.

Check out how the iron chandelier helps transform this room in the video below.

Considering adding a chandelier to your home? Chandelier showrooms are often pressed for space as they try to display a large selection of these large art-lighting pieces. So online sales of chandeliers have increased dramatically. Mill & Leaf features a nice selection of chandeliers. We particularly loved this display of glass chandeliers by Cyan Design, including the La Scala design.

Things to consider when adding a chandelier to your living space:
  • Placement: Chandeliers are not just for dining areas anymore!
    Try adding them to an entryway, bedroom, sitting area, even a bathroom.
  • Installation: Chandeliers sold online (including this Bella Vetro Purple Chandelier by Cyan Design) are normally disassembled with clear directions as to how to slide in the pieces. If you like DIY projects, you will enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from putting it together. If that’s not for you, consider hiring a lighting contractor.

  • Ceiling height: Remember to measure! Unless it’s over a table, you should always have at least 7 feet under the chandelier. If you’ve been eying a chandelier that’s an impressive 4 ft tall, it cannot be hung on an 8 ft ceiling! Tall ceiling areas will need larger pieces or more chain or connecting bars to hang at the correct height. Mini chandeliers work great in the bath or bedroom areas that only have 8 ft ceilings.
We hope you enjoy adding some romance back to your decorating with these tips for how to incorporate chandeliers into your home decor.

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Have you ever looked longingly at modern furniture that uses polished concrete, but though it was never an option because it’s just too heavy? No longer!

There are many exciting, cool furniture designs that use new materials to get the look of cement without the excessive weight.

A new travertine stone called Pavenza looks like cement, but actually weighs less than solid wood. This large coffee table weighs just 238 pounds, where a real cement table of the same size would weigh in at 500+.

We also love these cement-look pedestals for displaying art or adding visual height to a room. Even though they measure 30, 40, and 48 inches tall they are still fairly lightweight and easy to reposition or clean.

This buffet also uses the travertine stone to get the modern look of cement for the counter, but still weighs less than 300 pounds. That’s the same weight as a normal buffet or dresser in solid wood. Cement alternatives also resist staining and clean easily, so they’re a great choice for counter surfaces on dressers or buffets that can get heavy wear and tear.

So next time you’re shopping for contemporary furniture, don’t discount pieces just because they look like they’re made of concrete. You can enjoy modern line furniture and still be able to move it around your home by taking advantage of these new cement look-alike materials.

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Vintage Typewriter

Retro Typewriter
Image source KasbahMod.com

Feeling overwhelmed by the electronic age?
Want to bring some uniqueness and flair to your home decor?
Mix it up by adding items with a vintage look to your collection!

Vintage-inspired items add a rich history element to your look that is a great balance to newer pieces. Similar to contrasting textures, the old vs. new elements in a room add the designer look of mixing uncommon pieces. Including accents from decades past helps to soften uber-modern decor and pull together furniture of different styles. It also guarantees that your home will be completely unique.

Vintage napkins

Vintage napkins
Image Source: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SimplySuzula

Another great reason to include vintage is that they just don’t make ’em like they used to! Here at Mill and Leaf we’re all about finding the highest quality products. If you’re short on budget, but passionate about the well-made items here’s the secret to a fabulous room: invest in a few key pieces.

Many top designers are creating new furniture designs with distressed finishes that capture the look of a well-loved classic. Here are a few of our favorites from the recent High Point, North Carolina Furniture Market.

Distressed Chest

Gable Distressed Chest

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When do you “weed” or add to your decor?
Chances are, if you have lived in your space more than a couple years, you are thinking of redoing at least one room in your dwelling. Funny thing about decorating, many of us add but we rarely “subtract” from our space. 

Sorting through your decor, at least in the room that you want to add to, is really a process that will help you develop a more focused style. When you take a visual inventory in the room, try to rank you items, accents, furniture,lighting even rugs or floor treatments on a scale from 1-10. 10 being the most desirable to keep. Don’t consider what the item is (ie. rugs, lamps, furniture), just sort based on desirability. If you have too many items that rank below a “7”, you are probably due for a total overhaul. If more than half of your items are above a “7” though, you can probably just weed out these low point items to get closer to your desired look.
 Now take a look at your top performers. What do they have in common from a design perspective? Color, theme, newest items, oldest? This will tell you two things: You are a sentimental/practical decorator or you are an artistic/design oriented decorator. 
If you fall into the first category, don’t despair. There are several tricks and design tips on Mill and Leaf and numerous other blog sites you can refer to. Or you can call us or ask a professional to come in for design help.
However, if you fall into the second category (artistic decorator), watch out. You may have to reign yourself in just a bit to accomplish you actual best designs in your space.
Either way, take a look at your “keep” items and re-evaluate how well they fit into your overall home decor theme and furniture needs. You might find a few that just don’t fit with the mix at this point, or would serve a better purpose in another room of your home.


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