Monday, July 30, 2012

Backyard Love Affair - Top Five Tips For Designing An Outdoor Space

More Americans are showing their love for the great outdoors with their homes according to the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey.  AIA surveyed architects nationwide to discover home preferences. 

“In the last few years, outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must-have items for home owners,” says Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist. Nearly two-thirds of the architects surveyed said that outdoor living space, covered outdoor space, and outdoor rooms are increasing in popularity. Architects also reported higher demand for exterior and security lighting.

Creating a brilliant outdoor living space can be done on a budget. By using what you already have, limiting purchases to the basics, and creating a focal point, you can easily and inexpensively create a welcoming outdoor living space in your backyard.

Ask yourself how you and your family currently use the space, and how you would like to use the space. The answers will help you determine what you need to take away or add to your current outdoor space.

Focal Point
Similar to creating an inviting indoor living space, the backyard living space needs a focal point. The focal point may already exist, in the home's architecture, in the landscaping, or in a backyard structure including a gazebo. Or, add your own focal point.

Fire Pit Table
One of the most popular and easy additions to the backyard outdoor living space is a fire pit table. The fire pit table can be low to the ground, with a wide perimeter where guests and family members can place cups or glasses. The fire pit adds instant warmth to any backyard.

Water Element
If you already have fire, add water. A water element creates a soothing and pleasant addition to the backyard outdoor living space. It could be a small waterfall as part of the landscaping, or an artificial pond for real fish. Small stand-alone water fountains or bird baths offer inexpensive ways to add a water element to the space.

Mix and Max Outdoor Seating
Invest in an outdoor furniture set with a love seat, chairs and table. Mix and match pieces by shopping at local consignment, used furniture, close out stores and yard sales. The styles and materials do not have to match. You can spray paint all of the pieces the same color to make them appear as a cohesive set. Add outdoor cushions to the pieces to make them more comfortable.

One of the best investments you can make in your outdoor space is a table with an umbrella. With four to six chairs, the table becomes an instant gathering place for your family and friends. Use the table to eat meals, play board games, or just relax, comfortably, while sitting outdoors.

Pick a table and chair set that is easy to clean, is durable and can be folded or easily stored if you live in a seasonal climate.

Lighting is not something home owners would overlook in their indoor spaces, and it should also be considered for outdoor spaces. Invest in solar lawn lights to mark or make pathways to outdoor living spaces which are not adjacent to the house.

Festive string lights add a touch of whimsy to outdoor spaces and can be found in many styles; boxy Asian-inspired lanterns are always fun. Tiki torches, citronella torches, and floating candles in your water element also add soft lighting to backyard outdoor spaces at night.

With some inspiration and a little thought, you can turn your ho-hum yard into a extravagant outdoor entertaining space. 

Photo: Home Channel TV

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

La Barge Furnishings: Elegance, Style, Craftsmanship

This week, we’re stepping back in time to highlight the beauty of the Baroque era.  In the 17th century, European design leaned toward exaggeration, and over-emphasized brilliance.  We, as interior designers - love over-emphasized brilliance. Who doesn't? The spreading Renaissance carried this free manner everywhere, and for two centuries, most European art was Baroque. 

Motion is the essence of Baroque - large curves, fantastic and irregular - twisted columns, broken pediments, and oversized moldings.  Everything was calculated to strike the eye.  Baroque is a masculine style, while its feminine counterpart, Rococo, came in the 18th century substituting prettiness and charm for Baroque magnificence. 

Beautiful mirrors with curves and carved ornamentation are always in style. For example, an over scaled Baroque mirror from La Barge dominates and makes a grand statement in a dining room over a sideboard or in a large entry way. A Grecian crackled gold finish and rub-through set this mirror apart. A mirror such as this can add eclectic interest to a room that is modern and sleek where a statement piece is needed to shake things up a bit.  
If you’re considering the addition of a Baroque piece to your home, look for classic pieces that stand the test of time. And know - that you can’t go wrong with La Barge, a featured line here at J. Douglas Design.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fabric Frenzy - Fall Upholstery Preview

It’s the time of year when textile suppliers and interior designers share their newest fabrics as well as what we can look forward to in upcoming upholstery fabric trends. The exciting news - is that there are lots of new looks and exciting new patterns. 

The beauty of working with upholstery is it gives you the opportunity to keep up with the trends and quickly and easily gives your home a new look.

You can expect to be seeing:
  • Lots of custom patterns that are exclusively being created by fabric designers through digital printing.
  • Summer is all about neon’s and bold bright colors, (rarely do we use in interior design, however) the fall and winter are bringing a darker color palette with black and white patterns, deep purples, emerald greens, and dusky pinks.
  • Velvets are back once again, this time in softer subtle styles and in burnout designs.
  • Leather embossing has reached a whole new level adding weave design illusions, and punch-dot patterns with whimsical touches.
  • We will find that tapestries have been simplified and scaled-down. The overly busy look is on its way out. However, many tapestries are timeless and rich - and typically work well as an accessory both with style, and quite literally with historical significance.
  • Novelty forms like ransom note letters, stylized numbers, vintage album covers, urban landscapes, paper doll patterns, and dog designs. These are great, unique ideas for eclectic types, but be careful with these sorts of trends in your home as they lose favor quickly and date your design. Use these sorts of fabrics/textures in ways other than upholstery, such as framed pieces, wall art and other accessories around your home.  Remember the 'denim sofa' from the 80's? No, you don't; and thank goodness. Luckily, the moment that thing hit the market, it went out of style. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

J Douglas Design: Home Accent Today 2012 Retail Star!

Only 50 independent home furnishings retailers nationwide are honored with the privilege of being on this renowned list. The businesses selected for the list, which honors retailing excellence, have demonstrated that they operate successfully in their marketing areas, exhibit strength in merchandising, display and/or advertising, and have a positive presence in their local communities.

"There has never been a tougher time to be an independent retailer, with ongoing competition from chain stores, the increasingly significant role of online retail and the difficult economic climate," said Jenny Heinzen York, editor in chief, Home Accents Today. "The 2012 Retail Stars have taken on these challenges with a combination of clever entrepreneurship, innovation, merchandising, customer service and marketing. We are delighted to recognize these talented merchants, and, as always, encourage everyone to support their own local businesses." Home Accents Today editors focused on independent and family-run retailers, specifically those considered specialty, home accent or home furnishings stores.

The list, now in its eighth year, was compiled and narrowed down by research analysts and editors of the publication. "Those who are celebrated have created businesses that embrace the powers of excitement, innovation and creative ingenuity," said Jeffrey Portman, Sr., president and COO, AmericasMart Atlanta. "They understand that excitement equals engagement. And engagement delivers sales."J Douglas Design: Home Accent Today 2012 Retail Star!