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Decorating for two – double the fun, double the challenge

There comes a time when even the most independent and carefree woman must settle down. And sometimes it’s no easy thing as you’re accustomed to having things done your way; even a piece of clothing thrown randomly on the living room couch may bug you terribly at first. But one of the secrets to a happy co-existence is learning to compromise. Even the most stubborn and proud personalities have to learn to compromise if they want a peaceful relationship. In return you get to experience so many beautiful things. No more lonely nights for starters; but you also gain a best friend waiting for you at home, eager to learn about your day or laugh at your jokes, or someone who’s just there in times of trouble. And on the more practical side, you get to share everything, including bills, expenses and household chores.

For some people, moving in with that special someone is just a natural step in the development of a relationship. Others may find it difficult to combine lifestyles and daily routines. Here are a few decorating tips that will help you create a nurturing environment for the both of you.

Adopt a neutral design scheme. Personally, I’m a big fan of white interiors as they induce a state of relaxation and innocence. But if you want to establish a serene atmosphere you can also use decor pieces, rugs, furniture, picture frames or bedding in shades of gray, creamy beige and brown. Or use a neutral color palette as your base and toss in a textured pillow in a fun print or a vivacious houseplant for a plus of energy.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate a few masculine touches. A rougher approach to a design scheme can actually do tons of good to a place. It adds personality, strength and a more down-to-earth feel to a home.

I for one just love what exposed brick can do to a room. It’s a bold move but the effects can be spectacular. It’s a look that many think fit for a bachelor’s pad but it can perfectly complement a contemporary, minimalist design scheme fit for two.

Keep it comfortable and cool. Luckily for us, most men don’t have strong opinions about home décor so it’s pretty much up to us to beautify the space. You must know by now what he likes to do when he’s at home or what his passions are. If he likes reading let him have a reading nook, get a comfy armchair and a lamp, put them somewhere near a window and his corner is all set. If he’s a gamer, make a little room for his PlayStation. He’ll be glad to know that you’ve been thinking about his needs, too.

Remember, it’s his home, too. I know we’re ladies and we need our makeup, cosmetics, skincare and other beauty products, it’s what keeps us looking fresh and glowing all the time, am I right? But instead of having them lying all over the place, keep them looking neat somewhere in the closet or in the bathroom.

Romantic, whimsical style is a definite no – no. No pink or orange walls, get rid of the flowery, mushy linens and oversentimental decorations. Instead, focus more on creating a pleasant, more functional environment that could transform the apartment into a real home for you both.

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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Design ideas, Relationships, Urban living

 

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Give your home a vacation-inspired makeover

Summer is a time for outdoor fun, relaxation and daydreaming. And when it’s over it’s nice to have some things around to remind of its beauty, maybe let it linger a little bit more inside our apartment homes.

Whether you want to hold on to your sweet memories or just feel like engaging in a DIY project to refresh your quarters, here are a few inspiring ideas to get you started.

If you’ve had your summer vacation at the beach, chances are you’ve collected things like seashells, sea glass, pebbles or rocks you deemed interesting. If you haven’t, keep it in mind for your next escapade as these natural treasures make great decorative elements.

Pebbles used in home decor

I, for one, am proud of my collection of vacation gems; I’ve brought home little stones and rock bits from Dubrovnik, pebbles from Crete and seashells from Antalya, Turkey which I’ve used as décor pieces all around my apartment.

Decorate house plants with seashells and stones

If you’re looking for a way to add a personal touch to your home, grab a glass vase or jar and fill 1/3 of the way with dry sand; then add a few of those marine stones you’ve collected. They will look fantastic on a shelf in the living room or on the kitchen countertop, charging the space with positive feelings and a plus of energy.

Pebbles collected from Dubrovnik

However, if you forgot to fill your pockets with pebbles and conch shells, you can use the same glass recipient and fill it with sand, but replace the pebbles with a picture of yourself or a loved one. Place it somewhere where it can be easily seen, on a coffee table or mantle, to be sure it makes an impression.

Photo frame from vacation in a glass vase with seashells via modishspace

Maps or brochures of the places you’ve traveled to can be turned into great art pieces to color up your walls. Assemble a collage of your journey logs, travel ticket stubs and maps and complement the arrangement with a vacation picture of yourself and your family. That should trigger a few happy memories every time you walk by.

Additionally, if you like buying souvenirs and pottery specific to certain cultures or regions, such as handcrafted mugs or plates, think of personalizing them with suggestive prints or photos of your vacay and put them on display on a wall or shelf. For little or no cost, you can give your apartment a whole new and invigorating look.

And for all of you mountain vacationists out there: know that a walk through the woods can get you genuine art pieces that will render your home unique in an instant. Gather a few twigs and branches and arrange them artistically in a vase; driftwood can be used as the focal point in a cottage-style design scheme for example, either placed in a vase or standing by itself, or leaning against a wall.You can also pick up pine cones and acorns which you can easily pile into a nice bowl for a most delightful effect.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Design ideas, Urban living

 

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Smart and easy DIY projects for an inviting home

If there’s something I dislike more than a gloomy day, it’s a gloomy interior. From time to time, I feel an acute need to bring in new design elements and make my home vibrate with positive energy. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love these DIY ideas as they are easily achievable and can instantly revive your quarters.

#Jewelry holder. Any girl who cares about her image would appreciate a little visual help when it comes to matching jewelry with the day’s outfit.

I must confess I’m not a morning person, nor do I enjoy my coffee on-the-go, so I’m always looking for ways to make my mornings easier. Turns out this jewelry holder was just what I needed to start off the day right. And it’s an easy DIY. Order a cork plank online, Staples should have them in stock, and use it as backing material. Then, you can either use an old milk box (primed and repainted) like I did, or buy a frame and have it cut as per desired size. I finally dressed the cork board into a textile fabric and glued it to the wooden frame. And voila, my jewelry holder in place.

DIY Jewelry holder

Having all your jewelry pieces at hand can help save precious time when trying to mix and match. In addition, it’s a great way to color up the walls of a bedroom or add functional appeal to a plain bathroom.

#Greenery. I’ve always been a fan of greenery and its tremendous effects on the living environment. Beside playing a major part in refining home aesthetics, houseplants do a great job in cleaning the air of toxins and carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen.

Slipper orchid

Vertical gardening can be the best choice if you’re rather tight on space as most of us urban apartment dwellers are. Williams-Sonoma offers a wide selection of freestanding planters that can be placed indoors. Just fill the cells with your favorite herbs or other houseplants, and water as needed through the top irrigator; the hidden collector tray catches excess runoff.

Free standing vertical garden via williams sonoma

Make a statement by mixing freshly cut flowers with a few branches. That should add a plus of vitality to your home. You can also bunch together a group of freshly cut single stems, for a touch of simple beauty.

Contemporar flower arrangement via Flower Factor on Flickr

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Apartment living, Design ideas, Urban living

 

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Five businesses that should consider social media a must

Five businesses that should consider social media a must

Surviving the social media jungle can be a real challenge for marketers. Always engaged, staying sharp and open to interaction, monitoring feeds and coming up with catchy messages to post on a regular basis…that’s no easy thing. Yet it’s all worth it. There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing those leads converting into sales and knowing that you did that.

The modern world is defined by social engagement and connectivity. The rise of the Internet as a universal communication tool has opened a world of possibilities for e-marketers.

I’m still amazed at how some companies, such as apartment communities or hospitality units don’t use social media to promote their brand. Here’s how I see it: first of all, the basic account for all social media channels is free; even if you won’t see a lot of sales coming directly from your profile, you’ll get tons of exposure. That’s got to count for something, right? Other people pay big bucks for getting that kind of exposure the old-fashioned way.

Then, social media is not as aggressive as traditional marketing channels so prospects won’t feel bombarded with sales ads and targeted campaigns. Most social platforms display user-friendly interfaces and offer tons of options for users to avoid getting spammed with promotional material. The real challenge you’ll have to face as an e-marketer is going around all that and make customers feel that they want to interact with you and have you as a Facebook friend.

How do you achieve that? Well, this is a job requirement for any marketing specialist: demonstrate creativity. You have to come up with original content, new material and interesting facts on a daily basis, put it up on your site or blog and then share it on social media. Not only will this help you gain and retain customers but it will also help your business rank higher in Google’s organic search.

As a rule of thumb, post a promotional message for every other nine posts that are not related to sales or marketing campaigns. Also, studies have shown that posts with pictures get the most visibility, especially among Facebook users. Don’t forget to connect your Facebook and Pinterest accounts, to make sure you reach a broader and more diverse audience.

Additionally, teaming up with other local businesses might be a good idea that will help you maximize engagement and boost your pool of followers. Tag fellow e-businesses (not competitors) in your posts and ask them to do the same for you. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask them for free mentions, they will do it as a favor in return.

And remember, more than anything people appreciate honesty. They know that you’re there to sell something but let them feel it’s their choice what and when they want to get it. On the other hand, it’s very useful to provide information about your products, respond to comments and inquiries and be as polite as possible. As with most businesses, bad reviews are bound to come online at some point. Keep in mind that disgruntled customers tend to be very loud and vehement in their protests so it’s very important you stay calm and refrain from any unprofessional behavior. Nothing good ever comes out of heated discussions; better try to understand what the problem is, find out if it’s something that you can fix, do your best to solve it and send out a positive message. Other prospects might be listening too, and if they are reasonable people, they will appreciate your efforts and care.

Of course the list might go on and on, but I believe the following set of businesses may draw loads of benefits from setting up social media accounts:

  • Travel agencies. As they say, a photo speaks a thousand words. An active presence on Facebook and Pinterest, putting on display fabulous vacation offers, is a must for travel agents and leisure marketers.

Antalya, Turkey, Kekova Island

  • Restaurants & cafes: right about noon, everybody’s attention turns to Facebook and where to go for lunch. Make sure your specials always land in your followers’ feeds.
  • Pet stores: now there’s an image that won’t go unnoticed.. or un-liked for that matter. Acquisition follows next.

  • Home stores: home accessories, design ideas and home décor get the most hits on Pinterest. Set up a blog and start pinning your products right away, if you haven’t done it already.
  • Event agencies and services. Weddings, proms, pool parties, entertainment and social festivities always get the most interest from fans. Make yourself wanted by displaying your most successful events and boast your accomplishments every time you get the chance.
 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Technology, Travel & living, Trending

 

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Make the most of summer with a trip to Antalya

Not long ago I discovered the beauty of this mix of natural serenity and urban culture known as Antalya.
Once a major city in the Byzantine Empire, Antalya still bears the mark of an ancient civilization that sought grandeur in its every endeavor. The luxurious resorts, the grand mosques and churches, the immense flea markets, the huge ports, the hubbub of the streets, all remind of an era long gone.

We stayed at the Sea Life hotel which is located right next to the sea, on the long blue flagged beach known as Konyaaltı, one of several pristine beaches located in the Antalya region of the Turkish Riviera.

Konyaaltı features some of the clearest waters I have ever seen and it enjoys a marvelous location on the outskirts of the city with the Taurus Mountains as a backdrop. Parasailing, fishing, kiteboating, diving, swimming and snorkeling are just a few of the water sports available for adventurous tourists.

Lara Beach is one of the longest sand beaches in the area, also known as the „Las Vegas in Turkey” because it hosts many replicas of famous places around the world, always full of life and superb entertainment destinations.

Karpuzkaldıran Beach is home to the Lower Düden waterfall (a.k.a. Karpuzkaldıran waterfall), a group of waterfalls formed by the Düden River whose waters drop off a cliff directly into the Mediterranean Sea for an incredible water show 12 km north-east of Antalya.

Photo credits: Claude Valette via Wikimedia Commons

Once you’ve had your share of pool time, sun, rest and relaxation you can start exploring. Hadrian’s Gate, a triumphal arch which was built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who visited Antalya in 130 A.D, is located just off Atatürk Boulevard. As the story goes, the queen of Sheba passed through the middle arch on her way to Aspensos and spent a happy night with King Salomon.

As you leave Hadrian’s Wall behind, it’s time for a road trip, followed by a boat trip and so on…Heading West, you’ll find Kemer, a vivacious resort town with great beaches and wonderful eateries, perfect for young people in search of fun and vibrant nightlife.

With every new step you take, you get further absorbed in history, mysticism and Byzantine culture. Kumluca is a welcoming town 90 km (56 mi) west of the city of Antalya, on the Teke Peninsula. Kumluca is a very wealthy district; the Mediterranean climate is favorable for growing fruit and vegetables under glass all year round. Orange trees and olive trees are a common sight all over the place and, along with fish products, they are the mainstay of the local economy.

Further west, Finike is best known for its oranges, the symbol of the town. It is much quieter than Antalya and a paradise for those seeking peace, simplicity and relaxation, all in an urban setting. Ancient and modern perfectly complement each other in this dual city with people on mopeds wandering the city on one hand and the imposing yacht marina on the other.

The remnants of the ancient civilizations that roamed the Turquoise Coast eras after eras are still visible, with antiquities going back as early as the Bronze Age. The Demre, Myra and Kekova establishments abound in lost treasures and historical monuments.

Myra’s Greco-Roman theatre is the largest theatre in Lycia and one of the main attractions of Myra.

Demre is the Lycian town of Myra. The Roman theatre of Myra is located here, still as impressive as it once was, as well as two necropoli of Lycian rock-cut tombs in the form of temple fronts carved into the vertical faces of cliffs.

Lycian rock-cut tombs carved in the cliff above the Greco-Roman amphitheatre in Myra, Antalya, Turkey

The Lycian town of Myra is also home to the Church of St. Nicholas, the saint referred to as Santa Claus.

And my favorite part of the journey: the trip to the charming Kekova Island where you can learn about ancient times and marvel at the remains of the sunken city of Simena.

As you travel the blue seas, you can still spot remnants of the old village, stairs, access gates and archways, all covered by the clear waters of the Mediterranean.

The sunken village of Simena in Kekova near Demre district of Antalya province

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Travel & living

 

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How to create an inspiring home office

As work seems to follow us everywhere these days, even at home, it’s important to build a nurturing environment so that we can give the best of ourselves. Whether you’re a web designer, a creative writer or a dedicated artist, you’ll love the idea of a cozy working nook within the comfort of your own home.

Unless you’re living in a classy mansion and you have an entire room to transform into a home office, creating a stimulating workstation in a city apartment comes with its challenges. Most renters are constantly faced with the space issue when decorating a rental home, and trying to fit in a massive desk does not make it easier. Multi-functional pieces may turn out to be life-savers in this case. Hit the flea markets or local thrift shops and find a solid armoire which you can easily revamp and turn into a great home office. As they come with many drawers and shelves, they provide lots of storage space; and what’s even better, when you’re done with your work, simply close the doors and you’re back home.

If you want to build a conventional working space, focus on delineating your environment. You can apply a fresh coat of paint onto a wall, a different color than the other walls of the room for an enhanced separation effect, and mount a few wooden shelves for holding documents, books or anything else you might need for your work. Repainting can be done in a day for very cheap, and your eyes will totally thank you. Just don’t forget to ask permission from your landlord first.

If you want to do it right, put your desk near a window as there’s nothing more relaxing than enjoying natural lighting as well as a nice view. Fresh air can do wonders on your morale; it helps productivity and makes you feel more at ease while working. For an energy boost, add a couple of oxygen-generating plants to your working space. And a really comfortable chair.

Decorating is key in making the workplace a low-stress environment. Incorporate a few personal elements, a photo of your loved ones, a calendar and your daily to-do list. This will also help you keep things organized. Don’t forget to cross off tasks as you see them done. Seeing all those things completed can give you a great feeling of accomplishment, acting as a sort of confidence booster. At least that’s how it works for me.

Certain colors are inspiring and make people feel more relaxed. Experts say purple is extremely stimulating when used in office design as it fosters creativity and meditation. Bring in a beautiful lavender vase, a lamp or a photo frame in this vibrant hue; just make sure you use it with moderation, so that you keep the mood tranquil and comforting.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in Design ideas

 

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You’re officially a grown up…now what?

Now that school is finally over and you’re one step closer to entering the real world, it’s time to start thinking where you want to go next. You’ve probably enjoyed the fantastic mix of culture, science and fun that college has offered and you’re feeling a bit sad that you have to leave all that behind. Don’t worry though, things might get even better if you play your cards right. You’ll get to practice everything you’ve learned in school and build up your career. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be getting nice paychecks and be able to provide for yourself, rather than counting on your parents. Isn’t that a nice feeling for a change?!

First things first: you need to start looking for a nice place to live; if you don’t want to burden yourself with huge housing expenses right from the start, think of getting a roommate. It will also give you time to complete the transition. In addition, you won’t feel lonely, you’ll have someone to look after the house when you’re not around and you’ll be able to split household chores. Just be sure you know the risks; besides the fun and socializing, shared living comes with responsibilities, respect for other people’s property and personal space and sometimes even conflicts. But it’s going to be a thrilling adventure nonetheless that will teach you much about life itself.

The next step is finding employment. You’ll need to be very thorough, have a strong résumé and a lot of recommendations to back you up as good jobs are hard to find.

Good news though! The U.S. economy starts to look better in terms of job growth, industry and business development. Unemployment rates were lower in May 2013 than a year earlier in 253 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 86 areas, and unchanged in 33 areas, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

San Jose ($69,670), Washington ($63,750) and San Francisco-Oakland ($62,680) top the nation as highest paying markets.

Image courtesy of tt83x via deviantART

Click here to see the average annual pay levels for all employees within the nation’s 104 major markets or here to check out the 100 top-paying jobs in the nation as a whole.

According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries and occupations related to health care, personal care and social assistance, and construction are projected to have the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020; total employment is projected to grow by 14.3 percent over the decade, resulting in 20.5 million new jobs. In occupations in which a master’s degree is typically needed for entry, employment is expected to grow by 21.7 percent, faster than the growth rate for any other education category.

So the future doesn’t look bad at all for the new class of 2013, right?

Photo credits: Talha Tariq Photography & Artwork

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2013 in College life, Lifestyle, Roommates

 

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Light and easy dinner recipes for summer

What’s for dinner tonight? This is a question that many busy professionals like us have grown to be tired of. Especially after a hard day’s work when you can’t wait to get home to have a moment of peace and relaxation. Somehow, spending another two to three hours in the kitchen cooking does not fit the schedule. Well, I’ve been having the same problem and I think I might have found a solution: quick and easy veggie dishes enhanced with scrumptious dips.

Indeed you have to be bold to try out new recipes on a daily basis, yet it’s all worth it. You get to show off your creative skills to the entire family, eat healthily and enjoy invigorating, home-cooked meals every night. Here are a few of my favorite recipes, perfect for complementing these gorgeous summer days.

Just like diamonds, salads are a girl’s best friend. Whenever I feel like playing with flavors, I go for an enhanced version of the Caprese Salad. I actually combine two recipes to make this dish and it’s my idea of a perfect dinner, both healthy and refreshing. You just need some shredded grilled chicken breast or Parma ham for a plus of aroma, 2-3 cups of cherry tomatoes, and 8 bocconcini or mozzarella cheese. Add basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and toss lightly to combine. And there you have it, your fancy super cool dinner for a hot summer evening.

Put a rainbow on your plate. There’s an age-old Eastern belief that health and longevity depend on a balance of the five elemental energies; and that one should have at least five colors on each plate every day: red, orange/yellow, green, white and blue/purple. You can easily achieve this by combining foods from each category – vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and grains.

This Red, White and Blue Potato Salad for instance is consistent, very easy to prepare and can make a perfect addition to a nice family dinner. Go hunt for some fresh potatoes at your local farmers’ market; make sure you have Greek yogurt and mayo at hand, some cheese and some refreshing scallions as well. Add the juicy bacon and your treat is all set. Either served as a main dish or accompanying your favorite grilled foods, this flavor explosion will make your taste buds go crazy every time you have a bite.

Another exquisite option for a beat-the-heat dinner is Pasta Salad. Pasta salads make cooking very easy as you’ve got the major attraction already in the plate; now you just have to add spices and aromas to push that delightful taste to sublime. Salmon or tender turkey bites are a perfect complement to pasta salads.

And remember…there’s nothing better than a fresh lemonade or icy cold mojito to go with a lovely dinner on a steamy day.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Food, Health

 

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Life lessons from hot celebs

While celebrities are not meant to be role models – we all know their job is to entertain – sometimes there’s a lot to learn from them, from overcoming great odds to investing time and effort in charitable actions. Just think of Giuliana and Bill Rancic and their inspiring life story. Fighting cancer and trying to build up a family in the same time is no easy thing. Yet they did it! After years of failed fertility treatments, they welcomed baby Edward Duke in August 2012 and now they are ready to welcome another bundle of joy to the family!

Another great couple which I think is worth all the hype is Bradgelina. One of the sexiest women alive, Angelina Jolie is much more than a Hollywood star. She’s a dedicated wife and caring mother who decided to put herself and her family above all else. She recently went through a double mastectomy to avoid breast cancer, a move many called “brave” and “inspiring”.

“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made.” writes Angelina in The New York Times. “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”

Meanwhile, Brad Pitt is playing his own part in the fight for humanity. His contribution to providing affordable housing to victims of Hurricane Katrina as part of the Make it Right project is just as laudable.

Make it Right began as an effort to rebuild the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, an area terribly hit by the massive storm in 2005. Of the 150 homes planned for the blighted neighborhood, a number of 86 homes are already in place and have all earned LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Taking the initiative one step further, the foundation helped build an apartment building for disabled veterans in Newark, NJ, broke ground on an ambitious community development in a blighted Kansas City, MO neighborhood and partnered with Native American tribes to build homes on the Fort Peck Reservation.

Vampire Diaries star, Ian Somerhalder, has his mind set on protecting the animals and making the world, or at least part of Louisiana where he plans to build an Animal Sanctuary, a better place. The Ian Somerhalder Foundation is focused on providing a safe haven for all the outcast animals that have been neglected, mistreated and ultimately misunderstood. In addition to the animal shelter, plans include construction of a youth education center that would be home to summits on issues such as wildlife and land conservation and clean energy. Way to go, Ian!

What celebrity do you admire and look up to most?

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Celeb, Lifestyle, Relationships, Trending

 

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Home décor for the spring enthusiast

Get inspired by this fabulous sunny weather and give your home a refreshing makeover. Many modern apartments and condos include open floor plans which are great for flexibility and can be easily re-organized to suit any taste or personality.

As it’s a perfect time for reinventing and re-energizing, think of your home as a canvas and start painting. If you’re up for a major change, you can replace your old couch with a trendy sofa and make it the central piece of the design scheme. Nothing says cozy better than a nice sectional or modular sofa with deep, plush cushions where you can sit back and relax after a hard day’s work.

Leather sectional sofa

If you live in a small apartment and don’t want to disturb the harmony of the place with a large, imposing piece, try finding a snug loveseat or a two cushion sleeper that is easy to fold and unfold.

You’ll be even more content with your choice the next time a relative or friend drops by and needs a place to crash for the night. Sleeper sofas allow the room to double as guest quarters. Rather than purchasing inexpensive, low quality furniture just to fill the room, learn to prioritize and invest in quality pieces that will pay for themselves in the long run.

To complement a simple design scheme, use patterned rugs and colorful window treatments. Area rugs are perfect for creating rooms without walls in an open space or differentiate your dining room from your living room. As rugs and blinds can be pricey, it’s important to shop around and know your options well. Keeping an eye out for bargains pays out every time.

And remember, spring décor yells flowers. Nothing comes close to brightening up a bland room as placing a pretty floral arrangement in it, be it fresh cut flowers or live plants. Potted plants can be used to spruce up any apartment, placed on the window sill or included in more elaborate arrangements. Live wall art is the new trend in home design and can instantly invigorate any environment. With a little care (and a green thumb) you could even grow a herb garden in your own kitchen. Your meals will get a whole new flavor, for sure.

Have a wonderful spring!

 

 
 

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