My husband has always considered himself a modern, renaissance man with a heavy touch of old school respectful values.  He is open minded when it comes to music and design and follows along as I try to explain what an artist was expressing in an art gallery. But as modern and upbeat as he seems to be, there are things that he carried forward from growing up and one of them is his preference for a comfortable reclining chair.

 

My husband’s father was famous for going to sleep every night in his reclining chair. Acting like he was watching the television show and sometimes surprising us for really still being awake.  It was part of the tradition of the household and everyone respected it.  Little did I know that my husband would end up picking up this tradition and so it came as quite a surprise to me when his response for a birthday gift was indeed, the chair.

 

It has to be known that my husband asks for very little. Give him his outdoor fireplace and a deck to relax and he is a happy camper.  So, of course, when he asked for a reclining chair, I wanted to make sure that it was one that was comfortable and would last. I already had the feeling that he was emulating the behavior of his Dad and if that was the case, the chair would get some good use.

 

The right reclining chair has to have the ability to adjust the back to the correct level as well as the footrest extension. In his case, he didn’t want leather or even faux leather, but wanted a microfiber material. He said it would be more comfortable, kind of like sitting on a nice blanket. Given the fact that he would probably be having a drink or snacks I also knew that microfiber was easily wiped clean.

 

When the day came that the chair arrived I didn’t think he would be as pleased as he was. He centered it in just the right place. Took his shoes off, adjusted it and kicked back. That’s all that he wanted. That was it. He watched TV for about thirty minutes and the next time I looked around, he was asleep.


My best friend was never a wine drinker, in fact the entire time that I knew her she always preferred beer. She and her husband actually took up making their own beer for quite some time and so I was absolutely floored when she announced that she fell in love with wine.

 

A lot of things change when your best friend moves away. You lose all of the updates of the many small and large things that happen in their lives that just aren’t conveyed in phone calls or emails. This was what happened when suddenly, my beer drinking friend developed into a wine connoisseur. As with everything, she didn’t just enter the world of wine, she embraced it whole heartedly.

 

When we finally had a chance to visit her she proudly escorted us through her collection of wines. She had domestic, French, some that had been made locally and even some from countries that I didn’t know existed. Her wine bottles were kept in the ‘spare room’ and were carefully layered on the shelves of an old bookcase.  Beside the bookcase she had a small array of various wine glasses and then proceeded to show me the correct way to ‘cork’ a bottle of wine.

 

It was just by chance that my best friend and I happened to get married in the same year and we often gave each other quirky little wedding gifts. It was, however, apparent to me that this year’s gift to her was going to be one that she would not only use, but greatly appreciate. I decided to get her a wine rack to replace that old bookshelf.

 

She didn’t have a huge collection of wine as she was perpetually buying and sharing it, so I purchased a lovely wine rack that would hold about twenty four bottles. The underside was slotted so that she could hang her glasses and on the top she could use it for entertaining with cheese and fruit.  Upon arrival, she unpacked the box and immediately called me. Her voice was incredibly excited and she said “how did you know?”  She had been looking for a wine rack for a long time and just hadn’t found one that she liked.

 


Microwave Cart

Watching your child move out of the house can be a stressful time. Half of you is happy that they are going to become independent while the other half is yelling inside your head that they are still too young. You are trying your best not to be the overbearing mom and at the same time keeping a list of all the things they need. 

 

This was the case when my son left home and seeing his face I remembered how I felt when I moved away. Excited, a bit frightened, but most of all exhilarated. We gave him the usual amount of older furniture to outfit his apartment and he loaded everything in a truck and he has his best buddy drove off into the sunset.

 

The first number of weeks he called quite a bit, asking questions about how cable was hooked up or how to set up an automatic deduction in his checking account. Then things settled down and we checked in with each other about once a week or so. In the following months he and his best friend moved to a couple of different places, each time looking for that perfect apartment. On the last venture we all agreed that we would be heading their way and would stop in to see them. Little did we know that when we arrived they were in mid-stride of yet again packing up.

 

We sat down on the few pieces of furniture that remained in the place and shared an evening of pizza and beer. I looked around and saw that they had their microwave propped up on a counter, surrounded by all of their seasonings and some of their cookware. After a great visit we returned home and my son called me to let me know they had finally found just the right place and they wouldn’t be moving for a while.

 

As a ‘home warming gift’ I ordered him a microwave cart, with wheels, and lots of storage drawers with doors that closed.  In this way, just in case they decided to move again, it would be easily rolled, containing all of their spices and kitchenware. It was probably the best gift I ever gave him because in a year or so, they moved again.


Patio Furniture

We don’t actually have what one might call a patio, it is actually an enclosed back deck. When we bought our home we fell in love with it, especially because it had a spa. We have managed to maintain the wood in excellent condition and have had a number of lesser quality patio sets over the years.  Now that it was time for a new set, my husband and I discovered just how personal a set can really be.

 

When our son was young we didn’t buy anything nice for the back deck because he and his friends hung out there and typically there was always something that was spilled, broken or ripped. Now that he had moved out of the house, it was our time to enjoy the back deck and I decided that I wanted a circular rattan look sectional with gorgeous red pillows. My husband, however, had other ideas and began telling me the advantages of an L-shaped set with lighter colored pillows that would contrast the wood.

 

I was quite surprised that he took an interest in the type of patio furniture we would have, but since he had plans of having his friends over for barbeques that would now not be interrupted with yelling kids, I figured he had a right to make his own choices as well. After much discussion, I made my case for choosing the set I wanted and he basically let me know that he just didn’t like it.  My reason for a circular set was that it would be more comfy. It had a glass table in the center and we could sit around and talk. His reason was that the L-shape was more spread out and he and everyone in attendance could talk while he was barbequing in a more open setting.

 

Marriage is all about concessions and continues that way throughout life. We have concessions about various duties that we have around the house and each one gives 150% to the efforts. One of the things that my husband was not real good at was cleaning. So when I looked at his L-shaped patio set and saw that the cushions he insisted on were white, I reminded him that if we got the set, he would be responsible for keeping it clean.  The next week, we ordered the circular set with the red cushions.

 


When we bought our home we loved the construction and the layout but knew we were in for a challenge when it came to the bathrooms and the kitchen.  It was built in the 1980’s and was complete with Formica ‘everything’ in the typical style of the day.  The hurdles that needed to be overcome meant we had to gut each of the rooms and do a complete facelift on everything.

 

Kitchens are fairly easy to redo as there are so many styles and we definitely wanted to replace the white with strips of wood-look, with solid kitchen cabinets. But bathrooms are a lot more personal and I had a particular decorating concept in mind for those. The master bathroom had a 72” Formica cabinet with the traditional large industrial mirror and two drab white sinks. There was no difference between this bathroom and any of the cheap hotels that you had ever been unlucky enough to get stuck in, and it had to go.

 

The first step was to make a decision on the color scheme and I decided that a black cabinet was absolutely required. We were doing the shower in an ash grey slate and a black cabinet would allow any complimentary colors, depending upon the mood.  Due to my husband’s habit of slamming drawers, I had paid extra to get soft closing drawers in the kitchen and I wanted the same for the bathroom. Since I make use of every possible space, I wanted to use the ‘end cap’ as a bit of shelving.

 

The sinks had to be unusual and while I loved the idea of ‘free standing’ I could see my husband dropping something on them and there they would go. I found the perfect look with elevated sinks that stood out over the cabinet, and yet were sturdy and strong with rectangular round edges.

 

The best part of all is that this set came with two matching mirrors!  Once we had everything set up I quickly removed the ghastly large mirror and when the two mirrors were hung, it was a perfect situation.  The final ‘color for the moment’ was lavender in towels and room accents and finally, we had a bathroom that we could love. 

 


I suppose I should have noticed early on in our relationship that the man who would eventually become my husband was a ‘collector’. But, when you are in the first shades of blossoming love, many of those small details fade into the background. His obsession with collecting seems to have run in the family and when I look back now, I realize I really was ‘blind’ with love.

 

My (then) boyfriend didn’t have very much when it came to personal belongings as he shared a small house with a few other people and I really wasn’t sure which items belonged to whom. The living room in that house was set up kind of like any ‘guy house’: couches with foldup TV trays next to each one for all of their drinks and a rather crusty looking item that served for a coffee table for their snacks.

 

Over the years I began to recognize that my husband adored not only seeing movies, but actually owning them and their living room was typically strewn with DVD’s and covers, most of which were quite undiscernible as to the matching set. The collection and the mess seemed to have a life of its own, growing and spreading as time went by. It wasn’t until we got married that I found out all of these belonged to my husband and I had no place (or desire) to keep them.

 

Marriage is all about consolations and I knew that one of mine would be his DVD collection. I had managed to convince him not to bring the giant horsehead lamps that he seemed so proud of and so I was stuck with the DVD’s.  We had to come to some kind of resolution otherwise the living room mess would simply be transferred to our new home.

 

One of the wedding gifts that we gave ourselves was a larger, sixty inch flat screen television. It was then that I found the TV stand that answered my prayers. The shelving was created so that it could hold hundreds of DVD’s, all hidden behind doors.  We worked together, putting everything in alphabetic order and this became a total success that accommodated all of our needs.


Whether you have two kids or one, there will come a time in their young lives when they will want to have bunk beds. For my son, it was because they had sleepovers and he wanted a separate place for other kids to sleep. As a parent, we were once left with only the choice of the traditional style bunk beds and then, when they outgrew them, we had to invest in a standard bed. That time has ended and I am so thankful for the L-shaped bunk bed.

 

Unless you had a custom set created, old school bunk beds brought little in the way of anything other than just two beds and many of the kids often thought of them as childish. Given that they were ‘kids’, they still wanted to think of a sleepover as a more mature adventure and somehow bunk beds just didn’t seem to play into that theme.

 

It wasn’t until I discovered the L-shaped bunk beds that I realized that this was the answer to the problem of growing kids.  The set had a lower bed that looked like a standard bed, extending out into the room. The sides and front had all kinds of nooks and shelves to hold all of their prized possessions and the very top had almost a hidden ‘loft’ style bed. The beauty of this is that it was done in a gorgeous wood that could appeal to boys or girls.  Unlike traditional bunk beds, the ladder was tucked nicely onto the side.

 

One look at this set and my son’s eyes lit up. He began talking about having friends over and using the shelves for their many games. After we got it, this became the highlight of the neighborhood and the kids that came over to visit badgered their parents so much that a few of the neighbors ended up buying one.

 

The nicest part of all is that as your child matures, they have a standard bed below that they can live with comfortably without the ‘baby look’ of a traditional bunk bed. The upper loft has a nice hideaway appeal and the soft rounded wood sides make the entire set safe.


The concept of sleeping as close to the floor or on the floor on simple mats has been a tradition in Asian cultures for centuries.  The Fujian platform bed is a common bed type that is used in both China and Japan and other Asian countries. It allows for the streamlined and sleek modern look combined with the customs of the area.

 

One of the most popular bed styles today is the Fujian platform bed. The bed can be used as a single platform with a simple mattress or can hold a standard mattress for more comfort. Unlike Western beds, there is no need for a box spring which typically is the main cause for so many discomforts in bedding.

 

The low to the floor design brings an easy and comfortable feel for sleeping and rest and the typical style usually includes low night stands for each side. The single mattress has an elegant appearance when you cover it with just a fitted mattress cover. You can use a comforter or throw for a layered look.

 

The simplistic design is what Asian artistry has always been about and the Fujian platform bed brings a modern touch for a minimalist appeal. It makes a contemporary furniture statement for today’s existence, allowing a reduction of the stress to melt away.  Many add a waterfall fountain along with candles for a place to meditate and then fall gently into sleep.

 

The era of the bulky overburdened bedroom sets have been replaced with an area that can be both restful and a place of solace. A Fujian platform bed transforms the bedroom into a location for escape, to relax and watch television, read or just to enjoy. The wooden construction is perfect for a standard home and since it can be easily disassembled is great for a college dorm or apartment. The best part is that it is available in many standard bed sizes so an existing mattress can fit perfectly. The Western world is now discovering what Asian cultures have known for so long, and are adopting the Fujian platform bed to achieve the very best benefits of a good night’s rest.

 


My mother was in love with 1960’s style furniture. During that time, everything had sharp angled corners and was very squared and rectangular.  The era was also known for two-tone and even three-tone wood designs and our house could have been an example in a magazine for that era. While furniture styles have changed a lot, it seems that the retro look of the 1960’s is coming back into fashion.

 

Whether it’s clothes, jewelry or furniture, the vintage appeal of the 60’s is back again. Hippy style clothes is making a reappearance with free flowing tops and dresses and head bandanas. On the furniture side, the multi-layered coffee table is showing up again in the typical smaller layer at the top either centered or to one-side. If you see it now you would think it was designed for a flat screen television, but in the 1960’s it would have held a favorite vase of flowers, picture frames or a piece of art work.

 

Multiple tones typically were in a lighter and darker shade of wood and today they have taken that attitude with extreme dark complimented with a much lighter color. The contrast is brilliant and attracts the eye immediately.  Thanks to our technology driven society, there is more of a purpose for the multiple layers for both television and storage and the sleek designs have been ever so slightly softened with more rounded corners.

 

For those that want a touch of ‘glass’, frosted glass is back and there has been a resurgence in interior decorating of the “California glass’ cubes that were so popular at one time. No longer considered retro, this has entered the décor of the modern and both styles are seen in walls, furniture and even fountains.  Since many households now have a family room where they have an entertainment center, the look is combined so that it brings furniture and wall designs together.

 

In days gone by it was sometimes thought to replace furniture and upgrade, but it seems that today it is exactly the opposite. Most people are hanging onto their own personal choices, no matter what next year’s designs might bring. After all, it will eventually come back in style.


Throughout time people have appreciated the sound of running water. There is an innate sense of soothing and cleansing that we receive in the water movement and it has a calming effect on both body and soul.  Selecting the right outdoor fountain can bring an element of tranquility and peace to a patio or deck and is probably one of the best items you will ever purchase.

 

In days gone by we were limited to fountain styles that emulated bird baths or some kind of statue. Today’s fountains are designed for enjoyment and have an element of nature combined with art and light. The best style needs to be made of durable materials while blending with the outdoor environment and are often crafted to look like rocks or bowls. Those that have the longest lifespan are typically made of resin and fiberglass and stand up to the rigors of the climate changes.

 

If you have an expansive outdoor area then you can select a fountain that takes up a bigger space, but many are opting for the vertical style. These are usually set with a cascading effect for the water as it runs from one container to another. The tiered look cam be enhanced with softly lit LED lighting that will complement while not overpowering the environment.

 

Most of the outdoor fountains operate with standard tap water and the ‘bowls’ can have water plants floating inside or additional flowers planted around the fountain. Any water that splashes out assists in the growth of planters or flowers and helps to blend the fountain as part of the natural surroundings.

 

The location of your fountain is key to enjoyment and should always be placed just close enough to any outdoor furniture or recliners so that the running water can be heard by those that are seated. If you live in areas that have varying cold temperatures the outdoor fountains can be turned off and easily drained, preparing for warmer climate use.  Many will also cover the fountain along with all outdoor furniture just as an added level of protection.


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