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If you haven’t seen the new online magazine from Ashley Furniture, Trend Watch, check it out. It’s practical and a quick read. (You can also subscribe to get it free every month). This month features a pretty cottage-inspired collection. Also information about setting up a great TV-watching room for fall.

Go to www.AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com, or click on the link below for the current issue.

http://s7d3.scene7.com/s7/brochure/flash_brochure.jsp?company=AshleyFurniture&sku=AFHS%20Trend%20Watch%2DSept%2DFinal&config=AshleyFurniture/AFHSTrendWatch&locale=en

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The summer might be almost over, but there’s still time to tackle a remodeling project or two before fall begins. Kiplinger.com has assembled a list of 8 DIY Projects To Add Value to Your Home By Labor Day, 5 of which are listed below. Each costs less than $500, requires less than a day’s work, and will increase your home’s value.

1)     Add a Backsplash
Estimated Price: $14 per 12-by-12-inch tile

The easiest way to add pizazz to your kitchen is with a new backsplash. You can go from country to modern in a snap with a variety of options for finishes and colors. To save money, time and frustration, consider the peel-and-stick tile options now available. The messier grout-and-tile approach will add $50 to $100 more in related supply costs but will appeal more to prospective buyers.

 2)     Install Vanity Cabinets & Toilets
Estimated Price: $200 (vanity), $250 (toilet)

Even relatively minor updates to your bathroom can produce a return on investment of 172%, according to HomeGain.com’s 2009 Prepare-to-Sell survey of 1,000 real estate agents nationwide. Because toilets fit neatly over existing plumbing, they’re surprisingly easy to install. Look for modern water-saving models that will both save on your water bills and appeal to energy-conscious buyers when it’s time to sell. If you’re feeling creative, save hundreds of dollars by using an old dresser as the foundation for a new vanity. Simply cut out room on the top to hold a basin sink and to connect pipes.

3)     Paint a Room
Estimated Price: $30 per paint can

It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to immediately transform any room in your house. You’ll earn a 250% return on your investment in freshly painted interior walls, according to HomeGain.com’s survey. Just be sure to test colors — Home Depot sells 8-ounce sample cans of paint for $3 — before buying the full batch of paint needed for the room. Limit costly mistakes and spills by splurging on drop cloths and painter’s tape.

4)     Install Crown Molding
Estimated Price: $5 per linear foot

Crown molding in your home compared with none in a similar home in your neighborhood could make a difference when it’s time to sell. You may not get the money back, but it’s a feature that most buyers appreciate when looking for a home. Fair warning: Installing crown molding might be the trickiest task on our list. There’s a lot of geometry involved — along with a nail gun and a miter saw. Follow the “measure thrice, cut once” rule to limit waste.

5)     Replace the Front Door
Estimated Price: $150-$500 or more

As the first thing prospective buyers will see upon entering your home, a new front door will more than recoup your investment. Expect a fat 129% ROI on a steel door, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2009–10 “Cost vs. Value Report.” Bonus: Buy a qualifying energy-efficient door and reap a tax credit of 30% of your cost (up to a maximum of $1,500 in 2009 and 2010 combined).

View all 8 DIY projects in this slideshow: http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/slideshows/slideshow_pop.html?nm=RemodelingValue

Craftsman is a uniquely American interior design style… suiting the sturdy living, smart choices and  natural simplicity inspired by America’s earliest pioneers.

But Craftsman style wasn’t born in America. The story of this style begins in England… near the end of the Victorian era.

By the late 19th century, a movement was afoot in Britain to return to simplicity and authenticity. The elaborate, over-the-top look of Victorian had become just too much for at least a fraction of intellects and artists.

William Morris championed the epic new cause to eradicate Victorian excess. At a time when machines and synthetic materials were taking over, Morris argued for a return to hand crafting and nature-inspired aesthetics. Better quality, he believed, would equate to better morality and healthier homes, communities, and lifestyles.

Morris formed a company and a movement to produce simple hand-crafted textiles, ceramics, furniture, wall hangings,    metalware, stained glass, wallpaper and furniture.

His home, the Red House, became a poetic icon of the movement. Its rough-hewn red bricks and high hedges blended into the countryside; the picture of security outside a modern new world.

The term, Arts-and-Crafts, was coined in 1888, after Morris and friends were rejected by The Royal Academy. Much like urban artists frown on folk art, this high-brow art institute frowned on ‘craft’ as inferior to ’art’. Undaunted, Morris promptly created an Arts & Crafts Society to revive  interest in hand-crafting skills using local materials and   medieval building techniques.

But Morris’ simple, honest, undecorated looks found their greatest audience in America. In 1897, Chicago established its own Society of Arts and Crafts. A year later, American Gustav Stickley began production of settles and sideboards that featured the hallmarks of the style, including visible peg joints and flat wood slats. Stickley promoted the new look in The Craftsman, a monthly magazine devoted to the style and its ideals.

Frank Lloyd Wright also found inspiration in the style. His Prairie Style architecture and fascination with simple Japanese design inspired a use of natural materials and flat, horizontal lines.  Both were dramatic contrasts to elaborate Victorian architecture with its pointed turrets.

The simplicity of Arts & Crafts in America also meshed with native and Spanish-inspired Mission styles. The country’s rustic past made it open to simple hand-crafting and utility as inspiration for a product’s design.

 Today, Craftsman furniture and room designs are uniquely American in their use of sturdy, smart and simple products. The style may go by many names… Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman or Southwest. But whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s still one of America’s favorites.

Read all about this much-loved style in our Room Planners magazine.. Click on the magazine, or on this link to open: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/07-2010.pdf (You can also subscribe here to receive our free online magazine every month).

Or check out our Craftsman RoomCue. It includes ALL the information and inspiration you need to pull together a Craftsman room like the pros!

If visiting New Orleans isn’t in your immediate travel plans, check out these movies! They capture the street scenes and interior design of this charming city and style. (To read our special issue on New Orleans, including photos, furnishings, paint colors and ideas for recreating New Orleans’ interior design style, click on the magazine cover to the right, or on this link:  http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/06-2010.pdf ).

Here are our top movie picks for capturing New Orleans interior design, past and present:

* A Love Song for Bobby Long. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s worth a watch. Apart from being a really good movie… it offers a charming look inside a Creole cottage!

* Interview with a Vampire. Ok, a little blood to deal with on this one, but the interior shots from the 18th century are rather spectacular.

* Double Jeopardy. Good New Orleans interior design scenes toward the end of the movie. Also good outdoor scenes in and around the French Quarter.

* A Streetcar Named Desire. Even in black-and-white, this movie captures the languid heat and interiors of French Quarter homes.

* King Creole. You get to see and hear Elvis Presley and see scenes inside his character’s French Quarter home. 

A Love Song for Bobby Long

A Love Song for Bobby Long

Interview with a Vampire

Double Jeopardy

A Streetcar Named Desire

King Creole

New Orleans’ music, muffeletta and Mardi Gras may  garner the most tourist attention. But until you’ve seen this city’s homes, you haven’t really seen New Orleans. Such a unique mix of homes… from Creole townhouses, cottages and shotgun homes to majestic Greek Revival mansions… is unlike anything you’ll find in any other city.

Second only to New York as the largest port of entry into America during the 19th century, settlers arrived in New Orleans from all over, bringing their style preferences with them. The French brought their love of dressy décor. The Spanish brought their knack for building houses that last forever and look better with age. Neighboring islanders brought their open-air living and breeze-management skills!  Americans of British descent (who flocked from the northeast to New Orleans after LA was purchased by the United States) brought their love of Greek Revival and Queen Ann Decor.

 New Orleans’ rich, varied history has left us with a style of home décor that really can’t be found anywhere else. In fact, there’s no one style of  furniture that identifies a New Orleans home. But whatever the influence, what’s common to the most historic New Orleans homes is a love of an elegant past; toned-down to suit a languid, tropical lifestyle.

Interiors renovated in ‘New Orleans’, or ‘Creole’ (French and Spanish) style today may follow the  relaxed traditional styles the city is famous for. But they’re also likely to mix old and new into a unique, very personal style. In many ways New Orleans offers fresh inspiration for today’s trend to eclectic, collected-over-time rooms.

 The charm of a New Orleans home is its atmosphere more than its style… a sense of oldness, sensuality and faded elegance. It’s a blend of aged patinas, plaster, brick, painted shutters, waxed wood, tarnished  metals and rich mahogany furniture that give a Creole interior so much charm. There’s no effort to conceal age or history here.

New Orleans French Quarter home

New Orleans Creole cottage

New Orleans Greek Revival home

For more information on New Orleans style decor and interior design, check out our special New Orleans issue of roomplanners magazine. Or sign up to receive roomplanners magazine free each month.

 

Check out our 7 home style trend predictions for the coming year. For examples of these trends,  click to read our May 2010 RoomPlanners magazine.

1. Hand-hewn materials
For 2010 and beyond, expect to see more raw and natural furniture    finishes and materials.

From weathered, hand-waxed or reclaimed woods to matt, nubby linens to hammered metals… we’re moving toward high-touch, irregular, aged and imperfect surfaces. The trend reflects our ongoing fascination with one-of-a-kind flea market finds, a more casual lifestyle and an appreciation for     products that look planet-friendly or recycled.

2. Bring in the reinforcements
After nearly 300 hundred years spent taking structure away from furniture to make it more elegant and lightweight, it seems we’re adding some of it back, with inspiration from furniture designed prior to the 18th century.

Carved, turned or heavy low stretchers in rich wood finishes are being attached to legs or central braces. The look is heavy, weighty, masculine and reassuring… perfect with hefty leathers, jacquards and nail studs, or updated with faux suede for a more contemporary look.                                      

3. Steely Resolutions
It’s hard to beat industrial furniture for its efficient, straightforward design. The clean lines of shelving, drafting stools and work tables  recall old city factories, art studios and lofts.

Industrial motifs are inspiring furniture for any room, but the look is retro and warmed up with aged metals, chunky wood in whiskey barrel, bucket or waxed finishes and hefty cross braces. The look is retro, reliable, masculine and versatile.

4. A Day at the Spa
In a world that feels chaotic, loud or way too busy, a hotel or resort-inspired style seems the perfect way to make our home feel like an oasis of calm.

Hotel and spa-styled furniture is drawing on contemporary lines, natural materials and Japanese influences. Clean, low and horizontal, it simulates the calming effects of the horizon line. Natural textures and light woods in dry, matte finishes seem to bring the outdoors in… and a lack of ornament creates the look and feel of quiet.

5. Unmatched living rooms
Mixing and matching fabrics and styles in our home isn’t a new idea. But that doesn’t make it any easier to pull off!

Professionally-designed coordinates have always been popular, but they’re getting more interesting… especially in living rooms, where matching sets are being re-thought. The loveseat is being inspired by the settee; a non-matching, wood-framed seat that doesn’t match the sofa. It’s also giving way to chairs with patterns and styles that complement rather than coordinate with the sofa and each other.

6. One-of-a-kind accents
Our desire to recycle, shop at flea markets, be unique or live with less decorating rules is increasing interest in one-of-a-kind items.

This collector trend is less about owning a precious 18th century antique as it is about owning unique, single accent pieces imbued with history, character or an interesting story behind its acquisition. An aged finish or unique feature alone can make them conversation-worthy. Contrasting plain and fancy materials and textures makes it easier to mix unique items successfully.

7. French-inspired glamour
Not to be outdone by the trend to more masculine, pre-18th century looks, the trend to unbridled glamour shows no sign of letting up.

The look is undeniably French-inspired, reflecting updated 18th century rococo and baroque influences mixed with 20th century art deco. Button tufting and gilded, silver or mirrored finishes add dressy opulence, but may be mixed with weathered woods, antiquing effects, or chic, neutral colors for a more relaxed look.

To receive our free online monthly magazine (filled with practical interior design tips), subscribe here.

If a room re-do is on your to-do list in the near future, count yourself lucky!  This year’s new home furnishings promise to be some of the most exciting we’ve seen in awhile.  

So many compelling new products, in fact, inspired us to devote an entire issue to the 10 most beautiful new furniture collections hitting stores in 2010.  As far as we know, it’s the first of kind. But our furture style issue is unique for another reason too.

For the first time in a long time, no single style trend is leading the way. We’re free today to use our location, our favorite vacation destination or even our personality as a catalyst for our home’s style.

 A wider variety of furniture styles is  making that easier to do. Vintage finishes are becoming as plentiful as polished, glamorous ones. Hefty, masculine looks are balancing thoroughly feminine looks. A trend to cleaner, contemporary styles is mixing with a trend to more historical references. And some these furniture trends are even combining in a single room!

With the housing market showing some signs of life, there’s a new energy to lighten up, freshen up and mix up furniture designs. Maybe it’s a hope that the worst is behind us, maybe it’s the energy we feel at the start of a new decade. Whatever it is, get set for some head-turning home fashions as we head deeper into the 21st century.

Click on our magazine above to see our top 10 favorite furniture collections, along with the home furnishing style trends leading the way. Or use this link:  http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/05-2010.pdf

Want to subscribe to our free online magazine? Subscribe here.

Kermit, the Frog, wasn’t sure about being green, though he did conclude in his famous Being Green song that “it’ll do fine”. But green lovers everywhere know that  nature’s favorite hue won’t just do; it can do wonders!

Green colors can’t be beat for their restful, quiet and balancing  effects. Green is a favorite for hospitals, schools and TV studios because it heals, restores and calms us.

But the exact green paint color we choosee use can make as much of a difference in how our rooms feel as our choice of green, blue or red.

In fact, today, color can  determine a room’s style almost as much as furniture. So it’s more important than ever to understand what different colors, even varieties of a single color like green, do and say inside a room.

 Check out our 12 favorite green paint colors for interiors inside our April issue of RoomPlanners magazine. (Click on the magazine cover (left) or on this link: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/04-2010.pdf)

(To subscribe to our free monthy magazine, visit www.roomplanners.com).

If you’ve ever shopped for green paint colors, you probably concluded that there’s more variety in paint colors than there is in nature. That’s a scary thought! So we thought we’d try to simplify things a little.

Take our what’s your green style quiz inside our April issue of RoomPlanners… then check which green hue you’re most suited to! Click on the magazine (left), or on this link: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/04-2010.pdf.

To subscribe to RoomPlanners magazine (it’s free!), go to www.roomplanners.com.

The movie set decoration of  It’s Complicated  (Universal Pictures, 2009) showed us the latest interior design trend toward casual elegance… inspired by a blend of American and European gourmet and wine country influences, a desire for quieter homes with more organic materials.

Writer and director of It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers, is already well-known for her portrayal of women as strong and independent; she’s becoming as well-known for the fabulous interior design ideas she packs into her  leading lady’s home. The movie set of her latest movie follows on the heels of another  memorable home in Something’s Gotta Give (Columbia Pictures, 2003). And if the influence of her most recent set decor on interior  design is anything like the last one, it’s likely to inspire more than a few home makeovers!

Jane (played by Meryl Streep) owns a Spanish ranch in southern California that blends Italian, French and California country styles. In a nutshell, the home is sophisticated without being fancy.   Terracotta-colored accents seem inspired by the rooftops of Santa Barbara. Antiques mix with high-end furnishings. Belgian linen pillows and cashmere throws are tossed over French chairs and slip-covered sofas. A  gourmet influence (Streep’s character loves to cook and owns a bakery) is seen in the charming, though slightly makeshift kitchen.

Meyers went after “a quiet palette” and the home is certainly serene, with even Streep’s ex-husband Jake (Alex Baldwin) commenting on how ‘quiet it is here’.

For a closer look at how the set design team pulled off one of the most exciting movie homes we’ve seen in quite a while, check out our March 2010 issue of RoomPlanners. (We’ve also included some of our top picks for wine country furniture inspired by Tuscany, Provence and Sonoma!). Click on the magazine cover on the right to open, or click on http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/03-2010.pdf

If you’d like to receive our free magazine every month, visit www.roomplanners.com and sign up!

Here’s a few other blogs and articles about the It’s Complicated movie interiors…

From Remodelista…
http://www.remodelista.com/posts/steal-this-look-its-complicated-kitchen-accessories

From Traditional Home…
http://www.traditionalhome.com/design_decorating/showhouses/set-design_ss1.html

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