(BPT) – Nature is bringing a breath of freshness into home decorating, but it’s more than just incorporating flowering pots or opening windows. The latest home decorating trend features natural elements in the textures and finishes of furniture and accessories, giving homeowners an elegant – and often calming– result of blending nature and home living into a beautiful space.
“We really want to see the handprint of nature in our homes now,” says Elaine Griffin, New York interior designer and author of Design Rules. “Organic in the home is huge. It’s one of the biggest trends for the year, and it’s going to stay with us for a while.”
Bring this elegance into your own home with the following decorating suggestions from Griffin:
* Bring exotic looks into your kitchen with new cabinets that go beyond the basic oak or cherry woods. Griffin suggests using rosewood or zebra wood – woods formerly reserved for custom furniture. And as both new construction and remodeling projects embrace the open floor plan concept, cabinets are visible from several rooms, which makes it a style upgrade not only for the kitchen, but for adjacent spaces, as well.
* The latest furniture design trends also reflect the growing popularity of organic materials and textures, Griffin says, whether it’s a table tops left in the natural oak wood finish, or driftwood incorporated into furniture or accessories. The pale gray coloring of driftwood, combined with honey or pale colors used on other furniture or the walls is opening up spaces – moving away from the darker colors.
* The natural look isn’t just for the kitchen and living areas; it’s also perfect for the bathroom. Robern vanities and mirrors featuring Digital Wood harness the warmth of six different wood species using high-definition scans that are printed on the backside of the glass surface. The result: an easy-to-maintain material that won’t be affected by the humidity or heat commonly found in bathrooms.
“What’s genius about these new finishes from Robern is that they used the best technology to create a convincing representation of real wood that you couldn’t typically use in a bathroom,” Griffin says. “Plus, the collection has so many wood prints that you can get one that matches your bathroom style.”
* The era of matching all fabrics, styles and materials in a room has shifted into combining elements of all into a beautiful room setting, Griffin says.
“All great rooms need a mixture of finishes for furniture, with something that’s painted, something that’s wood, something that’s a metallic gold leaf, something that’s ceramic,” she says. “That’s the secret to professionally styled rooms.”
A trend to consider: the Belgium-influenced neo-industrial style, which brings a softer, natural yet industrial touch to rooms. “It’s a soft industrial. It means you’ve combined the wood elements with metal. And that metal could be gold leaf,” Griffin advises.
Creating warm, comfortable surroundings infused with a sense of eco-elegance is why the natural elements trend has been so embraced. About to embark on your own remodel or home refresh? Be sure to explore how bringing natural elements– whether they’re salvaged materials or realistic pretenders– into your decor can enhance the ambiance of the room.
From the belief that it costs too much to operate a pool to the misconception it will go unused, myths about pool ownership abound – and they likely dissuade some homeowners from making this valuable home improvement. If you’ve been considering adding a swimming pool to your outdoor environment, here are five common myths that simply don’t hold water:
Myth: Pools are too costly to install.
Reality: A swimming pool is a significant home improvement investment, there’s no denying it. However, the cost of a pool will depend on many factors, including the size of your yard, the dimensions of the pool and the materials you choose. When compared to other significant discretionary expenditures such as a family vacation – which costs the average family nearly $4,800 for one week of fun each year – a pool can be a high-value investment that pays for itself in just a few years. Of course, finding the right installer is key to a positive, cost-effective purchase. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) offers an online member locator to help consumers find an APSP Certified Professional in their area.
Myth: It’s difficult and costly to maintain a pool.
Reality: Long gone are the days when operating a pool pump could cost almost as much as running your central air conditioning during the summer. Pool pumps and filtration systems are more energy efficient than ever, saving money on electricity costs. Plus, improvements in filtration system and purification chemicals mean you’ll need less product to keep a pool sparkling throughout the summer. In fact, when it comes to pool maintenance, 63 percent of pool owners say maintaining correct water chemistry is no -trouble at all, according to an APSP survey.
Myth: Pools are not energy efficient.
Reality: Modern pool pumps require much less electricity to operate than you might think. Energy-efficient pumps can use up to 30 percent less power to operate. When compared to other household sources of electricity consumption, swimming pools are a small percentage of a home’s overall energy use. What’s more, these systems can be even more cost effective when solar powered. Accessories can help conserve energy, too. For example, using a solar cover on an inground pool when it’s not in use can help the water retain heat and keep debris out of the pool, which means less work for the filtration system – and you.
Myth: A pool won’t enhance my home’s value.
Reality: Buyers like homes that have swimming pools: Among people who purchased a home with an existing swimming pool, an eye-opening 78 percent said the presence of the pool contributed to their decision to buy the house, according to the APSP survey. Depending on where you live, a pool may enhance your home’s appeal to prospective buyers even more – especially if you live in a region with very hot summers or a year-round temperate climate.
Myth: If we get a pool, we’ll never use it.
Reality: People who own pools say they spend a lot of time in them, and it’s quality time. Seventy-six percent of pool owners say they are extremely or very satisfied with their pools. They also consider it a great place for gatherings, and believe that having a pool entices their family to spend more time together in their own backyards. Owners say they use their pools for relaxation, entertainment, celebrations and exercise, and 96 percent say they are satisfied with their pools.
To learn more about how fun pool ownership can be, visit the APSP’s website at www.apsp.org.
Start out small
If the idea of transforming a large room into a traditionally styled one seems overwhelming, start on a smaller scale, like in the master bathroom. Keep the cabinets and counters neutral and add some glamor with the wall and accent colors. Favored shades in traditional decorating are jewel tones, like topaz and golds; deep reds and rose quartz; marine blues and vibrant greens. Use accessories like embroidered towels, bronze or iron bath accessory ensembles and potpourri bowls as the perfect finishing touches.
Another great way to add traditional flair to your bath is with elegant and elaborate fixtures. Look for a faucet with unique and detailed design elements, like the new Weymouth bathroom collection from Moen. From the European-influenced decorative script on the porcelain inlays to the refined top finial, this collection definitely stands apart. And just because you’re incorporating stylish, traditional items, doesn’t mean you have to skimp on modern functionality or features. You can reduce water usage by up to 32 percent, thanks to a water-saving aerator. Tie the whole space together by selecting an Old World finish, such as Oil Rubbed Bronze, and you’ll create a traditional suite that’s comforting and classic.
Difference in the details
One of the best ways to add traditional style throughout your entire home is with architectural details, like moldings, chair rails or ceiling medallions. It’s easier to add these elements than you may think – and at a reasonable price. Peel and stick crown molding from Easy Crown Molding allows you to add the luxurious look of custom molding to your home. In less than one hour – and without tools – you can complete an entire room. Simply pick your desired trim style and width and get started.
Lush fabrics are also key to achieving a traditional look and feel in these spaces. But, don’t be afraid of the elegance found in traditional decor. Silks, satins, velvets and brocades are going to be your go-to fabrics for pillows and upholstered furniture. Be sure to stay away from solids – mixing coordinating patterns, like florals, stripes and scrolling, add even more richness. Don’t forget to make a statement with your windows, too – hang draperies that are full and heavy, and be sure to tie them back with ornate tassels for a look that is unmistakably traditional. It’s often easy to find great traditional pieces at affordable prices at department stores like Macy’s or Target. From pillows to curtains, bedding and even furniture, your local department store is one of the best places to start your traditional search.
Bringing traditional styling to your home is much easier – and accessible – than you think. With the right updates and additions to your space, you’ll achieve a look that’s timeless and refined. For more information about the new Weymouth collection from Moen, visit moen.com.
Curb appeal improvements can range from giving your home a facelift with a new paint color to changing out the landscaping for a fresh look. Here are some curb appeal projects you can take on this summer to highlight the wonderful qualities of your home:
* Enticing lighting – Lantern-lit walkways, under-shrub lighting and even soft twinkle lights illuminating a front porch all provide a welcoming atmosphere that invites visitors to your front door. Lighting can also help increase safety outside a home, as it brightens dark corners of your yard and reduces tripping hazards along walkways. Evaluate your home from the street at night and look for ways you can improve the lighting.
* A fresh new color – Everyone loves the look of a new coat of paint and whether used on your front door, shutters, trim or siding, it can really impact the look and feel of your home’s exterior. “When homeowners are planning to paint the exterior of their home, they want to make sure to use the very best paint to achieve a beautiful color that lasts,” says Scott Richards, senior vice president of marketing for Behr Paints. “We harnessed the most advanced technology to create BEHR MARQUEE Exterior Paint & Primer, our top-of-the-line exterior paint designed to achieve a freshly painted look that lasts a long time. It not only repels dirt, which can make your paint finish look dull, but it also provides early rain resistance, so it repels rain showers as early as 60 minutes after application.” BEHR MARQUEE Exterior Paint & Primer is available exclusively at The Home Depot and comes in 64 unique new colors and can be tinted to any color in Behr’s existing palette of 2,000 hues or custom color-matched. Visit colorfullybehr.com to read about everything color – from contrasts to the latest coloring techniques.
* Green and growing beauty – For green thumb gardeners, incorporating beautiful flowerbeds in strategic areas like around the mailbox, next to the driveway, along the sidewalk to the front door and around the front of the home, is a great way to add beautiful curb appeal. Continue to rotate new flowers into the flowerbeds as the seasons change, allowing you to vary the accent colors in your yard frequently.
If you don’t have the time or interest in flower gardening, however, you can create more perennial landscaping beds using hardy plants that require little maintenance. Check with your local garden shop for information about low-maintenance perennial plants, trees and shrubs to incorporate into your landscaping.
With these changes, your home’s curb appeal will invite visitors – or potential buyers – to stop and admire your house from the street. Whether you decide to DIY or hire a professional, you’ll be able to enjoy the transformation for many years to come.