A Man’s Guide to Holiday Decorating and Entertaining

I was one of those guys who didn’t want to waste money on stuff to that would only be put out for six weeks and then live in storage for the rest of the year.  After getting comfortable in my surroundings, I like to keep things fresh and like to change things up a bit.  The holidays are a great time to spruce things up and create an atmosphere that will help induce the Spirit of Christmas.

Use Colour to Unify

I wanted a touch of holiday style in my pad, but true my own tastes. I’ve come to rely on colour to tie things together.  In my home, I’ve used red and silver to give my place a fresh seasonal look, while still looking masculine.  I’ve used this colour scheme on my Christmas tree and then carried it throughout the house so it looks like a complete thematic setting.

 Decorate Don’t Camouflage 

I hear this on the radio one day driving to work and it is so true.  It’s nice to dress your home in the holidays, but you don’t want it to look Christmas threw up in your living space.  It’s better to find ways of decorating that compliment the space you worked so hard to put together rather than cover it all up.

Candles

You can never have enough of these and they always evoke a sense of warmth and intimacy. I learnt that smell can really create ambiance and candles help to achieve that.   It’s worth it to spend a little more and get soy based candles seem to last a little longer.  One word of advice if you use scented candles-keep them off  your dining table.  The olfactory focus of the dining table should be the aromas of the food and not the candle.

Keep It Simple

As a guy, I don’t think many expect me to have an exquisitely appointed holiday home.  However there are a few things I can do to evoke a sense of the holidays within my home.  Shiny coloured Christmas balls in bowels and in vases is my go to decoration since my place is a bit more contemporary.  I’ve also found that garlands are my friend, just use sparingly.  i have one of these elements in each room to ensure there is some Christmas presence no matter where I go.

Make an Event of Holiday Preparations

Still not sure of what to do or how to go about it? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.   I’ve made preparing my home for the holidays an annual social event now.  I gather some friends over food, throw on the carols and boom! Instant boost into the holiday season.  Not only does it inspire the rest of my friends to get their places ready, but each year my place has a slightly different look not to mention it gets done so quick!

For more expert advise on holiday decor and entertaining check out these inspirational and informative links:

http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/talent/colin-cowie-on-holiday-entertaining-a-71672

http://www.marthastewart.com/296590/holiday-party-decor-with-colin-cowie

Finding Space in Your Kitchen

This post is for Chef Marilu in response to her request on tips for small kitchens.

The kitchen is perhaps the most practical room your home.  It probably has the most stuff in it too, depending on how big it is.  When I first moved in my place, I probably had just as many boxes for my kitchen as the rest of my house combined.

I’ve got 2 basic concepts to keep in mind…

Maximize the Space You Have

Take note of what space you already have and look for ways to increase its storage capacity.

  1. Keeping the kitchen uncluttered makes it look bigger, but takes the stress off of trying to make it “showy”. Keep as many things as you can off the counter tops and in the cupboards.
  2. Increase your cupboard space by using shelves that literally bring your storage up.  In cupboard shelves and baking tray organizers make accessing it’s contents easy and save space.
  3. Nest your flatware (dishes) as much as possible.

Think of Your Space Before You Add to It

  1. Gadgets are cool, but only stock your kitchen with the things you use the most.
  2. If there are alternate places to store things like extra paper towels, cleaning supplies or that coffee maker you only use when entertaining other than the kitchen-do it.  Only keep things you need to easy access to close to you.

That’s all I can offer Marilu, but you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out these videos with cool space saving tricks.

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Space Using Furniture

They sure don’t build them like they used to.  Sure, newer spaces are outfitted with more luxurious finishings.  They can make living in a shoe box feel like you’re a king.  You can redesign all you want, but the space you have is the space you have and you-gotta make it work.

Living in a smaller space can be a challenge sometimes and what you bring into your place will affect how you live.  Space saving and multi-functional furniture is probably worth the investment.  Not only does it allow you to make the most of what you got, but it helps maintain a sense of the trendy and state of the art.

Here are some really cool furniture ideas:

This is just one example of how furniture  manufacturers are  designing to solve problems. The company that produced this video is aptly named Resource Furniture.

If anyone else comes across other cool furniture ideas like this, please let me know.

Festival of Lights: Day 7

Lighting a Bathroom 

To light a bathroom with the desirable amount of light for the vanity/mirror, to avoid shadows, install a bathbar at least 24 inches wide over the mirror, plus two wall sconces ( one on either side of the mirror) at least 60 inches above the floor.

If you have a double sink vanity, use a bathbar that is almost as wide as the mirror, or two fixtures ( one mounted over each sink).  The bathbars should be mounted 78 inches from the floor, centered over the mirror.

If yo have a very large bathroom, beside the vanity/mirror lighting, you will probably need an additional flush mount, semi-flush fixture or even a small chandelier for a designer touch.

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Now that we’ve shed some light on how to illuminate your home, we will end out little festival of lights here.

Festival of Lights: Day 6

Lighting a Bedroom

Pretty much any lighting fixture is game in the bedroom.   The bottom of the fixture should be at least 7 feet from the floor.  Lighted ceiling fans could work too.  Chandeliers are dramatic.

Wall sconces or lamps can be used to add more ambiance and add additional light.    If you like to unwind with a magazine or novel before bed, make sure you have at least one lamp that is bright enough to read.

Whatever your fixture choices are, I would suggest soft, warm lighting.  You don’t want any harsh lighting in room that is supposed to be calming.  This is where you sleep, so if you are blind in low light situations, then at the very least use a dimmer switch, or have a number of different lighting sources that you can turn on and off to create your own perfect lighting combination.

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We conclude tomorrow with lighting the bathroom.

Festival of Lights: Day 5

Lighting a Kitchen

The point of most of the lighting in the kitchen is task lighting.  It has to be functional over decorative.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with having both.

You can use a chandelier, a flush mount, or a semi-flush fixture as the main light in your kitchen.  the bottom of the fixture should be at least 7 feet from the floor.

To light areas such as kitchen islands, use a decorative island light with 2 or 3 shades, or multiple pendants can be installed over your island for sufficient light and to add a designer element to the area.  The bottom of the fixtures should be no lower than 30 inches above the counter top. For a very clean modern look, try recessed lighting above the island.

To light a dinette area, use a decorative pendent (single light- since this is generally a smaller eating area) or a mini-chandelier.  The bottom of the fixture should be no lower than 30 inches above the table top.  Just like the dining room, the focus here should be the table top.

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We move on to the bedroom tomorrow…

Festival of Lights: Day 4

Lighting a Dining Room

If your place has only one chandelier, the dining room is the place it should be.  Your chandelier should be no wider than 12 inches then the width of the table.  The bottom of the chandelier should be no lower than 30 inches above the table top. Remember that the main focus of the room is what’s on the table top.

For very large dining rooms, consider using multiple chandeliers.

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You can add wall sconces, or portable lamps to add more light and ambiance.  Sconces are hung about 60 inches from the floor.

Adding a dimmer switch can help create ambiance while entertaining guests.  Then when they are gone, you can brighten the lights to make clean up easier.

Chandeliers don’t always have to look feminine.

We do kitchens tomorrow.

Festival of Lights: Day 3

Lighting a Living Room

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Your main light in the living room can be a chandelier, a flush mount or  a semi-flush fixture.  The bottom of of the fixture should be at least 7 feet from the floor.

You could add wall sconces, or portable lamps to add more light and ambiance.  Sconces are hung about 60 inches from the floor.

Small rooms can be made to appear larger when you bathe a wall in light.  Guys, try to stay away from using cold white fluorescent or neon bar lights in the living room.  If you like brightly lit rooms, consider adding a dimmer to change the mood and make it bit more intimate.

Festival of Lights: Day 2

Lighting a Hallway

There should be a fixture every 8-10 feet.  Either flush mounts, semi-mouths or chandeliers can be used depending on the ceiling height.  The bottom of the light fixture should be at 7 feet from the floor.

If you have a long hallways, you may want to install wall scones for added light.  Sconces are hung about 60 inches from the floor, spaced 6-8 feet apart along the wall.

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Tomorrow we tackle the living room….

Festival of Lights: 7 Days of Lighting Tips

The days are definitely getting shorter.  For many of us it sucks to wake up and go to work in the dark and then go home in the dark.  Living in perpetual darkness can be a bit glum.  Thankfully, around this time a number of communities have some kind of “Festival of Lights” event.  So I thought I would continue the tradition here and have my own festive season inspired by lights:  I will share how to light your home, one room at a time- for the next 7 days.

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Updating your lighting fixtures can drastically change the way your home looks without a costly overhaul.  When choosing several lighting fixtures for a room , check for available fixtures from the same collection so there is some unity in the room.

You can make a room seem larger by washing its walls with even lighting.

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Or in a large room, lighting up a few areas with pools of light can make the room feel smaller and cozier.

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Lighting a Foyer 

To determine the proper fixture width; add the length and width dimensions (in feet) of the foyer together.  This number is the proper width (inches) for the fixture you’ll need there.

To determine the proper fixture height, the bottom of the fixture should be at least 7 feet from the floor.  Depending on the ceiling height, you could use flush mount, a semi-flush, or if you have a high ceiling, you may use a 2 or 3-tier chandelier.

If there is a window above the front door, center the chandelier so it can be seen from outside.  If the foyer area is large, you may want to include wall sconces.  (Yeah, I didn’t know what those were before either).  Install them about 60 inches from the floor, 6-8 feet apart.

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See you back here tomorrow to learn a few tips on lighting a hallway.