Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What to Expect From a Kitchen Expo

Kitchen expositions can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never attended one before. What can you expect? Most kitchen expos offer everything including the kitchen sink, which can make choosing one that best fits your needs challenging.

The first thing to know is that there are a few different types of expos. There are the weekend shows, which can be cross-country or local, and expo showrooms that have a permanent retail location.

Typically, weekend shows have the latest and greatest products, and offer a one-stop shopping experience. And, because you are working directly with the manufacturer at the weekend shows, you may be able to get a lower price on products and services because retailer overhead is eliminated.

Expo showrooms offer a coordinated buying experience, allowing consumers to work with just a few vendors and/or service providers, rather than a different one for each part of your kitchen project. Moreover, the showrooms often buy in bulk, and thus can pass along the savings.

To make a decision on which is right for you, recognize what your needs are, what designs you’d like to see in person, and what questions you have. Next, do a little prospecting: Check out some Web sites and take a look at a list of vendors that will be showing at the event/showroom, and which professionals will be available to answer your questions as well as any other services they may provide.

What to expect from a kitchen expo:

  • Trade professionals to answer your questions
  • New product releases and innovations
  • Hands-on experience (vendors will have tile samples, color swatches, etc.)
  • Free seminars
  • First peek at kitchen trends
  • A forum to meet and share information/contacts with other consumers

All of these services are available for you to get ideas and buy products for your own home. Consult the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Web site (nkba.org) to find an expo near you, and you’ll have a chance to see samples of products such as the newest in counter tops and cabinets to transform y our home and add to its appeal. View displays of kitchens, windows, appliances, furnishings and more. Come with ideas, photos and an open mind. At the very least, you’ll leave with inspiration.

The Curious Art of Observation

How do you get your news? In the 19th century, Expositions and World’s Fairs entertained and educated with displays of the new and exotic. Curiosity drew large crowds who were intrigued and inspired as they viewed the latest finds and newest creations. In 1851, Prince Albert’s Great Exposition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park hosted nearly six million people, including such notable and diverse personas as Charles Darwin, Charlotte Bronte and Samuel Colt.

Today, even with the Internet’s world-on-a-screen at our fingertips, our curiosity craves in-person experiences. Recently, a 340-ton boulder drew onlookers for days as it was trucked to its destination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The space shuttle Discovery’s pre-retirement flight piggybacked on a jet was a thrill to see, now an earthbound exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Many discoveries were made in the Victorian era when science and the arts were commonly practiced, and not the domain of experts. I recently learned about Genevieve Jones, whose desire to document the nests and eggs of American birds became a family project. Gennie’s passion was further inspired when she saw hand-colored engravings from John James Audubon’s book The Birds of America at Philadelphia’s Centennial International Exhibition. Now, a new book, America’s Other Audubon, celebrates the amateur naturalist and shares her notable accomplishments with a 21st-century audience.

To reinterpret or recreate period decor, architectural details and gardenscapes, we Victorian homes enthusiasts must be skilled observers, too.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Romantic Living - Have a Parisian Breakfast at Home

Start the day with a French-style breakfast at home!

One of the most delightful experiences of being in France is having your first meal of the day at a sidewalk cafe. There’s no better place to savor your first cup of cappuccino and buttered croissant than at a petit outdoor table with the morning sun gently warming you as you watch the fashionable residents stroll past.

How’s how to recreate the sidewalk cafe feel in your own home:

romantic homes
  • A small round table is the foundation of your at-home cafe. If it has an elegant style, like this classic marble tabletop, it does not require a tablecloth.
  • Have your cappuccino (or coffee) in a café au lait bowl and pretend you’re in Paris. You can find these bwls in most home-décor and culinary shops.
  • Add eye-opening color to the table with an assortment of fruit tarts that will give you a sweet start to the day.
  • A pewter-and-glass pitcher makes for an interesting and elegant serving piece.
  • A warm loaf of French bead should always be on the menu at your cafe, as should a small vase or pitcher with delicate flowers.

What is a ‘Romantic’ Home?

romantic home
Every so often we editors gather to discuss what defines a romantic home. Pretty, feminine touches such as pillows, candles and personal mementos? Check. An abundance of vintage details that pull on a nostalgic feeling? Check. Cozy nooks and spaces? Check. Soft hues such as white, pink and celadon? Check.

However, the most romantic homes I visit have less to do with the props than with the leading characters. It’s the people who live there, their stories, passion and warmth that come alive through pieces that were thoughtfully acquired and arranged. They are fully involved in their home’s design and, like any good relationship, it’s a constant process that always needs a bit of work.

Throughout our website, we will show you inspiring places, but if you look closely you will also see the dweller’s personality in every image. Just find our website here.... Home Magazines

A Craftsman Kitchen

Sue Abbe Kaplan fell hard for the coastal charm of Venice, California. She loved the gardens in its neighborhoods and its one-of-a-kind walk streets, the sections where homes on opposite sides of the street are separated by pedestrian walkways instead of roads with garage access through the alleyways.

The energy and diversity of the city appealed to her. Venice “felt right,” but it took 12 years before she made the move from Westwood and apartment living.When Kaplan bought her 1,200-square-foot, 1913 bungalow in 1998, she didn’t know much about Craftsman architecture. It was her desire to transform the all-white, cottage-styled bungalow to a home with personality that motivated her study of the Craftsman era.

“My goal was to bring back the feel of the house,” Kaplan says. “It has beautiful flow.”  The comfortable ambience she’s achieved may look casual but it’s actually the product of a good eye and the right combination of furnishings, textiles and fixtures in concert with the talents of interior designer Dayle Zukor. Kaplan and Zukor’s collaboration is smart, sophisticated and subtle.

Kitchen Redux

kitchen design
As a new homeowner, the kitchen was the first project that Kaplan tackled. She converted an all-white room with generic cabinets to Craftsman splendor with all modern appliances. As it worked out, the kitchen was renovated twice. The first time, she installed upper cabinets made of light maple with glass and wood doors. The bottom cabinets were refaced to match. Ritson built her a stunning island with drawers and a cutting board that can slide for use in two directions and a marble top for baking. She installed a compact wine cellar and new wooden floors.
In 2007, Kaplan grew tired of the glass-door cabinets that required dishes be stacked neatly all the time. She installed new drawer and door faces with a darker wood color and slag glass for the cabinet doors. She replaced the original cook top with a modern one.

A Bit of Notoriety

Kaplan is known as an active leader in the Venice Walk Streets Neighborhood Association, and her bungalow was part of the annual Venice Garden and Home Tour in 2007. A book titled Cottages in the Sun, The Bungalows of Venice, California is due out this spring that will feature Kaplan’s home along with 27 other distinct architectural and decorating styles in the neighborhood (see page 58).
What started out as a labor of love has brought Kaplan a slice of architectural immortality and that is a good thing.

Victorian Lifestyle: The Rules of Mourning Fashion

victorian styleIf you’ve seen BBC’s 2001 miniseries Victoria and Albert, their 1975 miniseries Edward the King, or GK Films’ 2009 film The Young Victoria, you have an idea about how ritually complex the business of mourning was in 19th century Britain and America. Following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria mourned him for 40 years until her own death—and her own subjects followed suit. The rituals and complexities of mourning dress in England went through all levels of society; widows were expected to adhere tightly to mourning fashion and social constraints.

Mourning clothing of the upper class showed a woman’s wealth and respectability. Though the cost of a mourning wardrobe was of no consequence for the socially elite, women of the middle and lower classes had to struggle to appear fashionable. To adhere to the all-black rule, they would dye their clothing black for the mourning period of twelve months, then bleach them white after the year had ended.

Believe it or not, that mourning period could last even longer, with clearly defined stages that could drag out for more than two years! For the first year, she was in full mourning and as such would wear dull-surface black clothing, such as the dress I have included above. A weeping veil made of black crepe was an essential part of this ensemble. During the first year of mourning, a widow’s activities were also restricted, and she was only to go out of her home to attend religious services.

After the first year, a widow entered second mourning, which lasted another full year. During this time, a veil no longer had to cover the face, and the black clothing could be trimmed in lace and ribbon. The final stage, half mourning, lasted from three to six months. Color was introduced into clothing and jewelry. Acceptable colors included burgundy, gray (hardly a color, right?), lavender, mauve and purple, as seen in the dress above.

In Victorian England, these mourning rituals stayed firmly in place until Queen Victoria’s passing. With the introduction of the Edwardian era, fashion and societal rules about mourning were greatly eased. Then World War I forever changed a woman’s role in British society; ironically, while women across the world grieved together for husbands and sons who died on the front, the social requirement for women to publically display their grief vanished.

Today, the tenants of Victorian mourning are often viewed as harsh and impractical. Once an integral part of life in the 19th century, mourning clothing is now highly sought after by collectors and museums.

Pure And Simple: How Houseplants Can Be Stylish And Healthy

Sure, that Boston fern softens the corner of the living space, but did you know that it is also purifying your air, ridding it of common household toxins?

While it is true that having and tending to plants in the home can soothe the senses and lift the spirits, there is scientific evidence that indoor plants have a positive physical impact on their immediate environments. These benefits include purifying the air, adding necessary humidity and boosting oxygen levels.

houseplant decoration
A study performed by the University of Agriculture in Norway concluded that indoor houseplants improved the health of human inhabitants by increasing moisture levels in the home and decreasing dust. Study participants reported 30 percent fewer incidences of coughing, sore throats, fatigue and other cold-like symptoms.

Indoor air pollution and toxins are introduced into the home from a variety of sources, including cleaning products, paint and even furniture. Formaldehyde is a common byproduct of furniture, cabinetry and building materials, particularly in particle boards, pressed wood and paper products, and is released into the household air. It can be found in virtually all water replants and fire retardants, and there are also natural sources, such as natural gas and kerosene. Benzene, another known carcinogen, is used in the production of some rubbers and plastics. Philodendrons and peace lilies are two varieties of indoor plants that are particularly effective at siphoning those chemicals out of the air and producing clean oxygen.

A good rule of thumb to follow for maximum effect is to have one houseplant per 100 square feet. Consider varying placement as well, using some as hanging plants by windows and others at table or counter level—this ensures good even coverage. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants through their leaves so be sure to keep them clean and free of dust.

How To Winterize Your Summer Cottage ?

Follow these helpful tips to make a summer getaway house cozy all year long.

Cottages And Bungalows
Cottages And Bungalows

  1. STORAGE: Focus on key needs like storage. When considering a remodel, look for opportunities to enlarge or increase your storage space. Taking the time in early stages to strategize where closets and shelving can be added will serve your needs better in the long run.
  2. INSULATION: Budget for insulation; it’s always money well spent. If you’re able to splurge in areas like new windows, prioritize investments that will add to the efficiency and the livability of your home over the decorative ones.
  3. FLOOR PLAN: Be open-minded toward the floor plan. If you’re seeking a balance between comfort and efficiency while still maintaining the original cottage feel, try to view every architectural plan or change to the layout through this lens.
  4. STAY TRUE TO YOUR HOME: Think about the things you truly love that drew you to the house in the first place and try to preserve them whenever possible. If it’s in the view, then make sure you don’t move a wall that will obstruct it.
  5. NATURAL COLORS: Fill your cottage with a nature-inspired color palette; deeper hues reflect autumn and the seasonal changes you’ll see from your windows, while light, creamy shades create an airy, open feel.

Dare To Color - Home Designs

Lacking a little color courage?
Romantic designSelecting bold colors for your home decor is not as intimidating as it seems. With these tips, you can make a vibrant change to your home color scheme easily.


1) There’s room for a pop of color in every home decorating style. French provincial, early American, industrial chic. Bright bold color isn’t just a modern motif. Injecting traditional decor with vibrant shades shakes things up in the best way.

2) Rich shades can work in small rooms. While it’s true that lighter colors create an airier feeling, dark colors don’t necessarily make a room feel smaller. Use subdued dark tones to create a soft cozy space. These colors are also great at camouflaging awkward architecture, making the walls recede away and adding warmth.

3) You can mix color intensities. Going bold doesn’t mean having to go all the way. Pair a pastel mint with a zesty lime green in the same room—the colors match, balance each other out and add explosive interest.

home decor


4)  You can have two bold colors in one space. Painting an accent wall or opting for an accent piece of furniture are both great first steps. But try combining the two. As long as both shades compliment each other (think lemon yellow and bright turquoise) and each is used sparingly and equally, the space will feel fresh and dynamic.

5) Daring color and vivid pattern can coexist. Fun patterns don’t always have to be tamed by neutrals. When combined, the color and pattern can serve as a room’s primary artistic statement.

Collectibles Spotlight: Carnival Glass

What was once considered a second-rate offering becomes one of today’s top collectibles.
When the Fenton Art Glass Company started producing their Iridill glass collection circa 1908, they expected a wave of interest from consumers.  Iridill was an eye-catching style for sure with its iridescent finish over jewel-tone pressed glass. The makers hoped to entice collectors of Tiffany and Steuben glass who were drawn to the shiny textural finishes. However, the consumer rush never materialized and the line was dubbed a dud, discounted and shipped off to secondary sellers.
It wasn’t until the large quantities of Iridill, now considered cheap and plentiful, began being used as carnival prizes that they became widely beloved, and dubbed Carnival Glass.

Collectible Glass
• The iridescent finish on Carnival Glass is created by applying metallic salts to the hot surface of the newly pressed glass. A second firing then distributes and amplifies the iridescent qualities.

• Pieces with heavy, even iridescences are valued higher than those with weak silvery finishes.

• Fenton and Northwood were two prolific manufacturers of Carnival Glass. However, manufacturers, including the aforementioned, often didn’t include markings, and today it does not affect the value of the piece.

• The color of Carnival Glass is determined by the glass color, not the iridescence color. Marigold (pictured in the darker shade, pumpkin, and the standard pastel) was the first and most popular early color. It was created by spraying an orange finish on clear glass. To help determine the glass color, check the bottom, or footing, of the piece to find an unfired section. This is also a good indication of original 1920s-1930s Carnival Glass, as the bottoms were never iridized.

• While eBay is the most accessible way to search for Carnival glass, it’s often better to find venues where you can examine a piece in person.  Because of its iridescence, Carnival Glass is hard to photograph, and it’s difficult to assess the true condition, color and finish without seeing the item in person.  Of course, there are accredited sources online such as Carnival Glass authority David Doty’s site ddoty.com. For a comprehensive list of Carnival Glass auctions and conventions where you can find trusted dealers, visit the International Carnival Glass Association Web site at international carnival glass.com.