Uncategorized May 23, 2023

Staycation Innovation – Make Home the Only Place You Want to Be By: Jennifer McGuire

Staycation Innovation – Make Home the Only Place You Want to Be

If your own backyard is likely to be your leisure-time destination this summer, you may as well daydream some plans to amp things up out there. Ponder these fun and fabulous ideas that just might get your wheels turning and help make your home the best getaway of all.

Alfresco Pizzeria

Patio kitchens have already impressively elevated the concept of cooking outdoors by incorporating sinks, refrigerators, warming drawers and even wine coolers. Consider a novel component that will really kick things up a notch. If you love crispy brick-oven pizza, what better way for you and the family to enjoy a piping hot slice than in the fresh air and under a twinkling canopy of stars? Conduct some online research and sketch a few layout options that make sense for your space. With a touch of imagination and an investment in a bit of creative masonry, you and the whole troop could soon be sinking your teeth into an alfresco-prepared, pepperoni-covered creation that deliciously celebrates the season.

Tranquility Space

The peacefulness of a water feature is the perfect addition to a budding backyard oasis, and an ideal focal point that complements both small and larger spaces. Wonderfully delightful options include waterfalls and fountains that produce the pleasant sound of trickling water, vibrant koi fish for visual appeal, or the addition of native plants and flowers to attract wildlife such as chirping birds and frogs. Be the architect of your very own happy place. Add a hammock or stylish swing chair to the tableau and you’ve just found your new favorite book nook – so you can tackle that summer reading list in blissful comfort.

Gaming Arena

Whenever the family is gathered for some quality time together, a little lively competition can go a long way. Any number of nifty games can be set up and enjoyed right on your own lawn. A rousing round of bocce ball, croquet or even traditional cornhole will be enough to liven things up at home and get everyone joining in the fun. The key is to create a dedicated recreation space. For something like classic horseshoes, for instance, you can jazz things up by incorporating special features like retaining walls and backstops to make the arena feel official, and bordering landscaping to help separate the area as a designated gaming spot. Once you’re all set up, choose your teams carefully and let the tournament begin!

Entertainment Hub

If you envision whiling away the lazy days of summer poolside or out on the patio, rest assured that you won’t have to give up your favorite technologies at the same time. It’s possible to sing along to the musical hits of the 80s and even binge watch that hot new drama everyone’s talking about as you kick back and enjoy the great outdoors. Wireless connectivity has become increasingly advanced, including hidden speakers and waterproof flat screen TVs that offer perfect sound and image quality while seamlessly blending in with your natural outside space. Introduce such high-tech conveniences to your out-of-doors living area and benefit from the very best of both worlds.

As you can see, there’s no need to wander very far to make the most of the season. If you’re feeling inclined to give the yard a little tender loving upgrade, the ultimate summer vacation may be just a few steps away – right out your own back door.

Uncategorized May 23, 2023

Stylish Illumination to Brighten Your Home By: Jennifer McGuire

Stylish Illumination to Brighten Your Home

Lighting has come a long way since the days of an ordinary square of frosted glass adorning the center of the ceiling. With an almost unlimited range of options, interior lighting today is creative, versatile and every bit as important as the furniture you choose.

Inside the home, light serves to helpfully illuminate the spaces where we work and play, but it also creates an overall mood. Successful lighting design involves more than simply tucking a few extra lamps into dark corners. Whether you are planning illumination for a remodel or supplementing your current array, here are a few points to keep in mind.

Let’s Be Practical

Fixtures should be bright and focused for cooking, desk work, reading, grooming, crafts and games, while general illumination should allow for ease with cleaning and other practical housekeeping tasks. Motion-sensor staircase and nightlights add an extra measure of safety.

A Matter of Attraction

Place the light where you’d like to direct focus. Use a spot or up-light to draw attention to a particularly attractive architectural feature, sculpture or large potted plant. A framed photograph or painting can be showcased using a mounted picture light from above.

Set the Mood

Dimmer switches alter the ambiance easily and dramatically, turning general illumination and task lights into party lighting. Nearly every fixture and room can benefit from this simple hardware adjustment. And while high-wattage overhead bulbs are ideal for playrooms or workspaces, they’re not particularly flattering. Select softer, warm-tone bulbs for dining room fixtures and chandeliers.

Variety and Versatility

Rooms that serve multiple purposes will require a number of different light sources. A kitchen island requires plenty of light for food prep and homework, but a softer glow is in order when it doubles as a bar or buffet when you’re entertaining. Versatile, USB-chargeable LED lamps can be moved around where light is needed most – from room to room or even to brighten up the patio or porch.

Accentuate the Positive

Add a bit of drama with a touch of neon, a draped light rope, a sprinkling of twinkle lights or a set of shelving lights to artistically display a special collection. Explore the unexpected – install a colorful paper lantern in a powder room or an elegant chandelier in the guest bedroom. Make an older fixture or sconce feel new again with a distinctive bulb choice. Edison bulbs have lately been having a moment, but flame-tipped, spiral, vintage diamond shapes and even amber glow bulbs can be transformative.

The Art of the Matter

Sculptural lighting has emerged as a novel way to add some character as well – a striking work of art with a practical purpose. Spindly pendant lights, funky Art Deco sconces and styles that incorporate industrial metal accents are brilliant choices to spice things up in an otherwise conservative space.

Make a Statement

Fixtures with oversized shades or in an unusual shape can become a focal point in a main living area like a family room or even a smaller space such as an office or library. New styles range from futuristic to retro 70s cool, and custom designs can incorporate antiques, found objects, art glass or metalwork.

Efficiency Is Key

Acknowledging the importance of energy efficiency, LED bulbs and fixtures are now available in a multitude of sizes, styles and brightness levels.  And with the latest in smart home technology, a single panel or remote for your entire property can manage indoor and outdoor illumination, automatic on-off, window coverings, vacation lights and much more.

Lighting can run the gamut from sophisticated and modern to traditional or romantic – and should always be uplifting and inspiring. Careful attention to illumination will enhance the comfort and overall feel of your home for both family and guests. It’s limited only by your imagination to make it brilliant!

Uncategorized May 23, 2023

Kitchen – The Heart of Home By: Jennifer McGuire

Kitchen – The Heart of Home


What magical, gravitational pull does the kitchen hold over us all? It’s a combination of things that we’re unconsciously and instinctively attracted to – comfort, familiarity and fond memories. No matter the time of day, the event du jour or the number of guests who grace your doorstep, most often you’ll find friends and family huddled inside the heart of the home: the kitchen. Its magnetic quality swirls around memory-inducing scents, the sound of flapjacks sizzling on the griddle, the rhythmic clinking of glassware toasting and the irresistible sight of delectable meals being prepared by the hands of loved ones. No wonder it’s where we want to be, and where we often choose to stay.

The ideal modern kitchen is more than a utilitarian food station, it’s everyone’s happy place focused on laughing, sharing and being together. Discover a few simple ways of blurring the lines between kitchen and living space to create the ultimate comfort zone in your home.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Keep it sleek and subtle. When designing a combined kitchen/family room, aesthetics are important. Today’s kitchen appliances go incognito when these workhorses are disguised behind custom cabinetry that hides everything from the fridge to the dishwasher. Ho-hum countertops can be replaced with show-stopping surfaces that beg to be touched such as rich marble, honed stone and dramatically veined quartz.

Incorporate the adjacent dining and family room decor into the overall kitchen design by treating it with the same decorating prowess applied to the rest of your home. Introduce intriguing artwork that’s protected under glass, objets d’art to dress up the workspace and reiterate living area fabrics on cushions for a cozier, more cohesive look.

Where the Action Is

Whether you’re into helping with meal prep, witnessing the melding of ingredients into the day’s pièce de résistance or enjoying the hustle and bustle of the kitchen vibes from the sidelines, a comfortable place to sit is a must to make the open-concept ambiance complete. A casual seating chart is preferable.

Start with comfy barstools snugged up to a beautiful stone slab island that offer front-row seats to the chef at work. Add extra seating with a built-in banquette tucked beneath a window, a large farmhouse table with ample chair space, or a couch-and-club-chair combo for even more entertaining options – all within kitchen earshot. When placing furniture and accessories, maintain unobstructed site lines and easy-access pathways to adjoining gathering areas. Flow is of the utmost importance when rooms intermingle.

Let There Be Light

One of the best results of an open-concept kitchen comes from all the light that floods in from the windows of adjacent rooms. In addition to natural light, it’s essential to brighten each of the surrounding sans-walls sections with the proper illumination. The prepping-cooking-plating area calls for bright task lighting, well served by overhead recessed can lights, under-the-counter LEDs and over-the-counter pendants that get the job done efficiently yet stylishly.

Other nearby living spaces require softer options, including general lighting, which is typically derived from a ceiling pendant or chandelier, and ambient lighting – an indirect and often more intriguing glow used to soften harsh shadows and deliver a major impact via wall sconces and torchieres. And don’t overlook unique mood lighting in all its glorious drama. With the brilliant power to set the stage and add theater to a room, its bold effects make it an impressive standout in any space.

Create the perfect gathering hub for sharing daily meals, activities, special moments and living life to the fullest. The open-concept floor plan centered around the kitchen stirs up an elusive energy that radiates out like a star and makes all interconnecting rooms feel like the epitome of “home.”