Thinking Outside of the Box with Decorative Boxes

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More than just about any home decorating item, our choice of accessories expresses our personality and gives visitors to our home a sense of who we are. From the wide variety of decorative accessories from which we can choose, decorative boxes offer much in the way of both style and functionality.

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Decorative boxes are made from a variety of materials; while options in wood boxes are quite likely the most abundant, you’ll also find these boxes made from porcelain, ceramics, lacquer, and other natural materials. If you favor an ethnic look in your decor, boxes that reflect the art of a specific culture provide a warm touch that adds interest, and since you can place things inside of the boxes, a side bonus is that you gain additional storage. It’s rare to find a home that doesn’t need a place for keys, mail, office supplies, the remote control, and the variety of odds and ends that are a part of our busy lives.



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These accessories are also very effective in a grouping to make a statement; for example, several decorative wood boxes of varying sizes and shapes on a side table make for an interesting display that adds stylistic interest to a room. And remember, the storage capacity inside these decorative wood boxes can always be put to good use.

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You can also think about displaying a single decorative box in a special place like a recessed wall niche; this treatment turns a box that might otherwise be unassuming into a treasured piece of art. Wood boxes made from precious woods such as mahogany can serve as an artistic focal point, highlighting the beauty of the natural wood grain as well as the artisan-level workmanship.

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As attractive as decorative boxes are, it’s also important to remember that they can be useful in storing items, as well. Picture a striking wood box on a table next to your favorite reading chair; it’s the ideal place to stash your reading glasses and your favorite novel. Or how about a decorative box perched on a buffet near the dining table; it would be perfect for storing the salt and pepper shakers and perhaps a few napkins. For functionality and decorative impact, boxes cannot be beat.



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Set of 2 elegant treasure boxes wrapped in two tones of gray mist faux cobra skin with polished nickel trim and feet


interior setting featuring a rattan chair with gray finish with off white woven fabric cushions


contemporary interior design with rustic furniture and accessories


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The Consummate Guide to Decorating With Mirrors

luxurious study decor featuring elaborate mirror, elegant desk and armchairs; home office design ideas; decorating inspiration

Want to add amazing depth to your surroundings without studying for a contractor’s license and knocking out walls? Decorating with mirrors is about more than just practicing your selfie poses or making sure that your style is on point before tackling the daily commute.

As some of the most under-utilized elements in interior design, decorative mirrors can imbue your spaces with a unique dynamism that will make you rethink your surroundings. Here’s how to take advantage of these functional fixtures like a true style artist.

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Playing With Light and Space

To understand the roles that floor and wall mirrors play in home decor, it’s helpful to examine basic human perception. Consider what happens when you gaze into a vanity mirror or similar reflective surface: Although you know that it’s just an illusion of space, your eyes instantly fall for the pretense.

To the human mind, mirrors unlock the gateway to expansive depths that always float tantalizingly just beyond reach. You can leverage this concept to the fullest with a few simple tricks:

  • Add a decorative mirror to a cramped foyer to open up the space.
  • Place mirrors across from windows and outer walls to spread natural light around the room as the sun charts its way across the sky.
  • Use mirrors to make hallways and other intermediary spaces more visually engaging.

From building a sense of space to boosting illumination, reflective fixtures have an inherent power to brighten up your mood. Unlike painted accent walls and other features, however, they let decorators achieve such wonders with a minimum amount of effort. They’re ideal for changing spaces without throwing existing arrangements off balance.

living room decor with golden convex mirror over the fireplace mantel flanked by stately cabinets, and two yellow armchairs; living room design ideas

The Venetian Mirror: An Intersection of History and Modernism

The history of mirror making goes back millennia. Only recently, however, did humans develop the artistry and technology to graduate from polished stone to smooth glass. In the Middle Ages, artisans in Venice, Italy, pushed the envelope further than ever before, resulting in larger glass surfaces that were more stable and durable.

The earliest Venetian mirrors were insanely expensive and limited in size. As such technologies reigned supreme in the ensuing centuries, nobles got the most for their money by purchasing gold leaf mirrors that made up for their diminutive nature with ornate borders and frames.

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Plain-Jane alternatives would eventually supplant many finely wrought, handcrafted mirrors. Now, these styles are coming back as designers rediscover their raw aesthetic appeal. Features like Renaissance and Baroque filigrees, scroll-work and beaten leaf may hearken back to the magnificent settings of past eras, but they’re surprisingly at home in modern digs.

Going Beyond Mere Functionality: What’s in a Frame?

The reemergence of Venetian and gold leaf mirrors as interior decor elements is partially due to their easy versatility. For instance, even if you festoon your walls with sizable mirrors, you usually don’t have to move mountains to accommodate them.

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Follow these two rules for frame success:

1. Use distinctive mirror frames to create arresting visual layouts.

  • Many mirror frames could stand alone as art pieces. Leverage these fancy fixtures to inject controlled irregularity into flat, even surroundings to make them more interesting,
  • Reinforce the patterns in other fixtures and upholstery with clean designs that repeat similar shapes and colors;
  • Create interesting viewpoints that take in entire rooms, and break up spaces between cabinets and other heavy furniture with low-key mirror elements that put visual dead zones to work.

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2. Build around mirror frames to create unifying themes.

  • Decorative mirrors shouldn’t be afterthoughts. Make yours the focal point of a decor scheme by establishing them as centerpieces and working outward.
  • Creating mirror-centric interior schemes is a smart way to ensure that your home decor doesn’t clash. For instance, you might offset a complex Venetian mirror from other fixtures to avoid visual clutter. In more cramped layouts, you’ll want to use smaller wall mirrors with more geometric frame elements.
  • Skinny end tables, lamps, plants and other interior design standbys make perfect complements to mirror nooks. In larger spaces, you can combine these elements with mirrors to break rooms into functional subdivisions without having to impose solid barriers using furniture.

Make Decorative Mirrors Part of Your Home Decor

Luxury bedroom design with beautiful upholstered bed, paneled walls and elegant mirrors. Bedroom design ideas; master bedroom inspiration

There’s no universal standard of interior design, especially with something as versatile as wall mirrors. Thanks to their power to take on the aesthetics of their surroundings, Venetian, modern and gold leaf mirrors lend themselves to easy expression. Adding the touch of humanity that comes from a hand-carved Italian mirror lets anyone bridge the gap between functionality and high-class appeal.

How do you plan on integrating a mirror into your surroundings? Share your ideas in the comments, or stay tuned for further inspirations.

Inspiring Deep-seated Design Transformations With Floor Lamps

Modern setting with adjustable floor lamp, side table and slick couch; modern decorating ideas

In an ideal world, you’d be able to design your surroundings from the ground up. Unfortunately, reality has a way of bringing your interior design dreams screeching to a halt, especially when it comes to home lighting. Could floor lamps hold the solution?

Modern setting with adjustable floor lamp, side table and slick couch; modern decorating ideas

Overcoming Common Design Hurdles

For all of the amenities that they enjoy, those who reside in modern spaces face unique design challenges. Imagine that you’re an up-and-coming renter. After a long search, you finally laid eyes on the pad of your dreams, but it’s not quite perfect yet. No matter how stylish your tastes may be, however, your landlady is unlikely to be as enthusiastic about you adding ceiling fixtures or sconces to suit your preferences.

Maybe you’ve decided to move on to home-ownership so that you can flex your freedom of expression. If you’ve just spent tons on a down payment, then you might lack the funds for major overhaul projects. You could also feel wary of making permanent fixture changes that might not appeal to prospective buyers who want to start with a clean slate.

The Floor Lamp Solution

It’s easy to see how such situations might seem like impossible quandaries. Fortunately, you don’t have to feel like your back is against the wall because floor lamps offer mind-blowing levels of flexible functionality. While static fixtures definitely have their place, diving into impromptu, ground-based improvements could be just what your design strategies need to evolve.

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Mastering Design Intersections: Form, Function and Fashion

It’s not always easy to approach creative design problems. Lamps come in so many different flavors that many people find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of choice. While this is certainly better than starving for options, it does force you to consider your moves carefully.

When you’re searching for a handy guidepost, utility isn’t a bad place to start.

Your efforts will prove more impactful when you’re aware of the common ground between the way you use lighting and how it looks. Just remember that functionality should come before form or fashion.

Consider a space that just feels too dark no matter what you do. While you might find it tempting to place a lamp in the middle of the room to brighten up everything, centrally arranged concepts aren’t always as navigable as they are visually striking. If your lamp gets in the way or feels like a cold, forlorn island amidst a sea of bustle, then your layout may be doomed to fail.

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Cozy contemporary white living room with a comfy couch and a floor lamp

It’s never a bad idea to branch out and explore.

Key concepts to remember include:

Similarity: In the realms of design and art alike, visual unity helps communicate broader ideas that are greater than the sum of their parts. If a lamp that you love isn’t a flawless fit for a room, don’t be afraid to check out items from the same collection or manufacturer. Or swap centerpiece lighting for smaller versions of similar styles spaced at more regular intervals.
Variation: Floor lamps stand apart as self-sufficient furniture pieces. Their comparative independence and sculptural artistry let you get away with styles that aren’t perfect one-to-one matches for your other decor. Use lamps that contrast with the shapes, colors and materials of their surroundings to give your layouts enhanced depth.
Artistry: Artistic flair takes countless forms. Do you prefer sleek, spartan floor lamps or lean more toward the stately ornate? Since these lights are so self-contained, you should feel free to explore the nuances of styles that you might not have considered: The results of combining them with other elements could pleasantly surprise you.

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Taking Back the Power: Go for Your Ideals

One of the best lessons that any aspiring artist or interior designer can learn is to take the plunge. You’ll never know whether your aesthetic intentions will bear fruit if you don’t let them grow. Home lighting lets you plant the seeds in fertile soil.

Still struggling to get started? Here are some tips that you can put into practice right now:

Take pictures from different angles: Viewing a room from multiple perspectives makes it easier to choose a floor lighting solution that holds up to scrutiny from all sides.
Consider varied light levels: Your room may be blessed with bright windows or shrouded in the comforting privacy of solid borders. In either case, it’s important to account for how your new lights will interact with what you’ve already got going on.
Build on themes: Your room’s current layout may be the result of convenience or intentional placement, but interiors tend to exhibit a sense of self-organization after being lived in for a while. Regardless whether you want to strengthen a weak motif or counteract one that’s overwhelming everything nearby, you’ll need to establish a baseline to make a real difference.

Home lighting is an amazing medium for free-form self-expression. Adding a floor lamp or two is an easy way to insert your unique personality into a space. Why not build a lighting arrangement worth basking in?

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Counter and Bar Stools: Secret Weapons for Creating High-functioning Seating Spaces

Interior design is a genuine art form. Just like painting or music, there are countless ways to get your message across, so your choices ought to reflect your personal decor goals.

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The quest for interior perfection isn’t just a matter of satisfying your aesthetic tastes, however. In high-traffic zones, such as kitchens and dining spaces, it’s equally important to give rise to something functional that makes occupying each room fun and engaging.

sleek modern kitchen with modern counter stools

Bar stools have the unique power to bridge the gap between traditional home decor and the type of high-functioning furniture that you’d expect to find in a welcoming place of business. These fixtures are essential components of any layout vocabulary. Here’s how to speak the language of stool-based kitchen design and really express yourself.

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Basic Counter Stool Anatomy

Many people find it easy to design with classic furniture like chairs. If you’re unfamiliar with modern kitchen seating, however, then it can help to start with a basic understanding of the key parts:

Base: This element supports the stool’s seat and provides a stable contact surface that keeps everything from sliding around too much. Bases may feature separate legs or single posts with wide, weighted bottoms.

Stretchers and Footrests: Similar to traditional wooden chairs, stretchers span between individual legs to offer greater stability. They also provide a comfy perch where you can rest your feet instead of letting them dangle. Many modern counter stool designs feature rounded or ring-shaped stretchers that primarily serve as footrests.

Seat: Stool seats include a wide variety of sizes and profiles. While some include cushions, craftspeople mold others into comfortable shapes designed to accommodate your posterior. Seats may be attached to stool bases with fixed components, rotating mounts or threaded posts that you can turn to adjust the seating height. Some also include backs that make them similar to tall chairs.

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When picking a stool, remember that your design choices determine how usable the resulting arrangement is. For instance, non-rotating stools with high backs require sitters to enter from the front or sides, which could mean that you’ll need extra space between individual seats. Stools with minimal or nonexistent backs, on the other hand, might not be quite as safe for small children who tend to fidget a lot. Always base your decision on the dynamics of the space and your intended usage.

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There’s a Stool for Every Area

Your kitchen seating should fit your home’s available space. For instance, even though stools take up less floor space than many chairs, you can’t simply crowd them right on top of each other and hope that things will work themselves out. The fact that a given set of furniture seems to fit doesn’t necessarily mean that people will find it accommodating.

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How can you heighten your chances of creating a successful practical arrangement? Here are a few rules of thumb:

Most average-sized adults require no less than 21 inches of side-to-side space. Although it’s nice to get cozy with your friends, leaving people with even more wiggle room is usually better, especially when their elbows are flying as they enjoy your latest culinary masterpiece. In other words, a typical 63-inch-long counter can usually accommodate three stools, but your layout may feel more open and comfortable with just two in the same space.

one of the most popular in-kitchen hang out places is a kitchen island or peninsula that also serves as an eating bar; kitchen inspiration

Make your kitchen decor more functional with bar seating that sits well below your dining surfaces. For instance, a counter that’s between 28 and 32 inches high is usually best suited by chairs that are 18 inches high. It’s often nice to leave around 20 inches of space under the bar so that people can adjust their legs without painfully ramming their knees into a hard surface. While smaller gaps may be workable, try to remember that people feel comfortable with at least a couple of inches of open space above their thighs when they’re sitting down.

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Most kitchen countertops are around 36 inches in height. Your kitchen design may also include an island that was made to match. In such cases, you can typically get away with a 24 inch-high stool that leaves a pleasant 14 inches of knee clearance.

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The taller your bar stools are, the more likely it is that they’ll benefit from footrests or stretchers. Since kitchen counters and islands aren’t typically as high as their taproom and restaurant counterparts are, you want to provide a more comfortable, self-contained bar seating element. Try to accommodate your family members or guests with kitchen decor that they can relax on without feeling shaky.

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Choosing the Right Material

Picking smart kitchen decor is about far more than mere looks. For instance, if you have kids or a growing family, easy maintenance is a must. If your space-saving counter island doubles as a storage cabinet, then you’ll benefit from choosing a lightweight stool design that you can move aside with ease.

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Luckily for you, modern kitchen seating materials make it possible to satisfy your visual cravings and your need for utility. Metal legs come in a range of sleek, polished finishes that help you keep up the clean appearances that make your home the talk of the neighborhood. You can also select rich wooden elements that add extra warmth to the most iconic part of your home.

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In the end, it’s all about creating a cohesive sense of style. Your kitchen is the undisputed focal point of your residence. As the room where you spend the most time and make the best memories, it deserves functional bar stools and smart design placement that keeps life fresh and invigorating.

The ancient magic of Murano glass

Murano glass - Millefiori (Murrine) - a method of creating glass rods with a "flower" design visible only in the cross section

For more than 1,000 years, glass-makers in Murano island (Italy) have created glass items of unsurpassed quality and beauty. Today, Venetian glass is still made using methods developed by the ancient artisans.

Murano Island (Venice) and hand-blown Murano glass flowers

The origins of Venetian glass-making are traced to the time of the Roman Empire. During that time, the quality and beauty of Venetian glass quickly became known throughout the empire and beyond. Glass items made in Venice – mirrors, bowls and vases, sculptures and jewelry, as well as lamps, wall sconces, chandeliers and other pieces – were considered by many among the best in the world. At the end of the 13th century, the Venetian government forced the glassmakers to relocate to the island of Murano, to remove the risk of fire from the large furnaces to the mostly wooden structures of Venice. A subsequent law preventing the glassmakers from ever leaving the island also prevented the secrets of their trade from leaving as well.

hand-blown Murano glass

The early glassmakers in Murano had developed a style influenced by Muslim and Asian art, creating unique items that became highly prized by the Italian nobility and the Catholic Church. By the 14th century, these specialized craftsmen were so respected and revered, they were given special privileges (including immunity from prosecution) that no other artisans at the time were afforded. In the 15th century, the method for making clear glass was discovered, and for a time, Murano was the only place in Europe that could produce this rare and sought-after “cristallo” glass for mirrors.

Strictly speaking, Murano glass is produced by the artisans of Murano, Italy – an island northeast of Venice. Glass made outside of the confines of Murano is often called Italian or Venetian glass. This does not mean that the glass is of lesser quality – the same techniques and materials are applied to glass made in other parts of Italy. According to experts, the term ‘Murano glass’ can only be applied to glass made on the island of Murano.

Murano Island (Venice) and hand-blown Murano glass flowers

The artisans of Murano developed many different types of glass, incorporating different glass-making techniques and minerals to attain the unique beauty and quality rarely seen elsewhere.

A few types are:

Cameo – the technique of fusing two layers of glass in contrasting colors, then carving away portions of the top layer to create a design. Popular well into the early 20th century.

Bullicante – Using an exacting Italian glass-making technique known as ‘bullicante‘, skilled artisans created a pattern of evenly spaced air bubbles in layers of glass. An incredibly difficult technique to master where the artisan introduces air bubbles via the pontil rod as the glass is blown.

hand-blown Venetian glass vase made of blue and gold Murano glass

Aventurine – the use of tiny pieces of gold or other metals in the process of glassmaking creates a shimmery glass.

hand-blown golden Venetian glass bottle

Lattimo – “milk” glass technique developed in imitation of the opaque white glass from China of the time;

Lattimo - "milk" glass technique developed in imitation of the opaque white glass from China of the time

Millefiori (Murrine) – a method of creating glass rods with a “flower” design visible only in the cross section of the rod. Thin slices of these flowers are then joined together to cover a glass surface.

Murano glass - Millefiori (Murrine) - a method of creating glass rods with a "flower" design visible only in the cross section

Murano glass - Millefiori (Murrine) - a method of creating glass rods with a "flower" design visible only in the cross section

Modern Kitchen Design Trends

modern kitchen with cool counter stools

Modern style is usually associates with clean lines, no architectural embellishments, moldings or decorations, cold colors and surfaces. Some people think about modern style kitchen as uninviting and more industrial then homey look. But some of that is a misconception.

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Even though, materials like stainless steel, chrome, glass, and granite can have a cool feeling, but with loving soul and an eye for beauty you can create a warm and inviting modern kitchen where everyone want to gather. To soften up sharp a clean-line modern-contemporary look integrate soft and warm colors in your kitchen design and add natural materials like wood and stone.

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By the way, you sure know that modern decor is not a novelty. The roots of modern design go way back in Victorian era. That is when, at the turn of the last century, progressive designers and architects took the first steps away from over-the-top ornamentation and architectural embellishments. They started experimenting with simpler forms and natural materials. After that over the course of twentieth century a lot of different modern movements appeared. Evolving and growing, experimenting with new materials these movements gradually brought us to the high-tech look that been popularized in the 1970s and 1980s.

Our days, modern decor is much softer and family friendly and very popular in American homes especially in the kitchen.

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Today’s kitchen is not just a place for preparing food with reflective surfaces, hard edges, and cutting-edge technology, it is a multi functional space for family gatherings and different activities. Classical stark black and white palate for modern kitchen during last two decades has been replaced with earthy hues and warmer shades of white.

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Kitchen designers are taking a fresh approach to classical forms and traditional materials, giving them a new life and implementing principals of Green Design.

Modern kitchen’s are often designed with neutral or monochromatic color scheme. Do not be intimidated by color. In fact, the kitchen is a perfect place to add some vivid colors, because most of the wall space is taken by the cabinets usually there is not much of the wall space left exposed.

dramatic modern red kitchen with sleek lighting fixture and cool bar stools

The kitchen cabinets are the biggest investment for kitchen, so make them pop by choosing colors that will act as a perfect background. Mellow wall colors will make light kitchen cabinets blend-in, stronger more saturated colors will showcase the cabinets.

When selecting cabinets for your modern kitchen, you can pair a frameless door with a wood finish. Laminate cabinetry is still compatible with this style, but for an updated look, wood is it. For modern kitchen light woods like maple or birch in clear finish are preferable.

Texture in Interior Decorating

Beautiful blue Italian ceramic vase with flowers; decorating inspiration; decorating and textures ideas

What is Texture?

To artists, architects and interior designers, the use of different textures is an essential component in the creation of a composition or the decoration of the room. A lot of different textures can be incorporated in the decoration of your home. Everything has texture. Some materials feel heavy in the room, such as marble, while other textures feel as airy as a woven basket. It is the interplay of texture, contrast among materials and the feel of a surfaces, that gives a room vigor, lifting it out of the ordinary.

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Texture exists everywhere in nature. We grasp it through our sense of sight and of touch. We see the grain in the wood and feel its splintered or sanded surface. We see the shiny or dull surface of pebbles, and feel their smooth or rough surface. A seashell, a maple leaf, a wildflower, a blade of grass, some moss, sand and sea water – each has a unique texture that deepens our experience of nature.

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The textural impact of organic materials is fundamental in interior decorating. Just as it is in nature, everything in your home influences everything else. As you concentrate on mixing the textures that life does naturally, you’ll bring out the charm and integrity of each object and add style, interest, and harmony to your home.

Incorporating Texture

What texture do you want to incorporate in your decorating schemes that will enhance your vital energy, your life force, and enrich your home decor?

If you begin to pay attention to the different textures you encounter outdoors and their effects on you, you can become skilled in the fine art of combining textures in your rooms. You will be able to establish an interplay of materials.

Stone can be brought inside for floors, fireplace mantels, and even walls. To add texture to a bland room, a scratch coat of plaster on a wall will add depth and interest.

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Glass takes on different textures depending on whether it is cut, beveled, frosted, hand blown, spun into cones, or infused with design.

Hand-blown pink amethyst and clear Venetian glass vase; made in Murano, Italy

Metals, whether stainless steel, gold, brass or silver, all shine and bring in light. Traditional houses have shiny brass fixtures gleaming brightly as a textural contrast to the walls.

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Leather sofas, benches, chairs, and books arouse a masculine refinement and sensuality, warm to the touch.

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Cotton, silks and other fabrics provide the softness a room needs for emotional and physical comfort.

hand painted English style carved wood settee
hand painted English style carved wood settee with silk upholstery

Wood, the most popular material in most homes, can be carved and cut to any shape and size, and always brings energy and sensual beauty. You can lay a wooden floor, panel your walls, and have a wooden furniture to maximize wood’s energy in your home.

room decor with English style accent table inlaid with walnut, olive burl and boxwood

To add variation to a room that’s predominantly wood, you can put a solid crystal lamp on the top of an eighteenth century heavily distressed cabinet, so that it refracts the sunlight during the day and gleams in the light at night time.

charming interior setting with solid crystal lamp with cast brass accents

A wood chair can have a contrasting hand-painted design and a silk seat cushion. Woodwork with hand-caned details sifts in light, just as trellis in the garden does. Some woods feel soft, while others have a harder appearance and tactility. Mahogany, when painted with dark stain, takes on a formality that is more elegant, yet more rigid than fruitwood or pine.

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Flowers, fruit, and plants bring in the life force of nature. Lemons, limes, and oranges in a clear glass bowl bring the warmth of the sun inside, adding texture with their bumpy rinds, shape, and color. With a woven basket filled with flowers you can achieve the effect of summer days in the garden.

solid brass bowl in crackled eggshell finish and claw feet

Exploring Textures

Explore your bond with certain substances, materials, and elements of nature. You can translate those passions into the decoration of your house.

If you love the bark of your old oak tree, you can translate it into a cork floor in your kitchen.

If you love your rustic brick patio, have old brick laid in the sun room or in front of the fireplace.

If you enjoy mountain climbing, you may want a stone fireplace mantel in your living or family room.

If you are in awe of the changing clouds, you can create that texture on your dining room ceiling by painting the flat surface with clouds to create the illusion of an infinite sky.

Should you love trees, you’ll be delighted to have bare, shiny floors to highlight the grain of the wood, making you feel as though you’re taking a walk in the woods as you come home.

If you have a passion for sand on the beaches of Florida, you can bring it home by using natural canvas on your rattan furniture in the sun room or bedroom.

If you love the coral sand of Bermuda, fill a clear glass vase with this magical substance, place some shells on the top and you’ll have a conversation piece.