Buying an oriental carpet

Oriental carpets are special things. They are works of art, paintings made in fabric, but they are also utilitarian; you can walk on them or hang them on your living room wall.

Their aesthetic value is recognized by all societies and has remained undiminished over thousands of years. But like any other highly-developed art, there is an enormous lore about carpets, and it can be difficult to know where to begin when choosing a carpet. Here then, is a guide to oriental textiles for the budding “ruggie” from carpet showroom in hagerstown.

A good rug is knotted of high-quality wool or silk. Wool is the commonest material, and doesn’t stain or wear as easily as silk. Good wool must be both strong and pleasantly smooth. Kurk wool is one of the softest and sturdiest. Some natural oil should be present in the wool to keep it soft and shiny. Chemical washes, which make carpets look beautiful and shiny by artificial means, also make them brittle. Since the 1920s chemical dyes have been widely used, especially in Iran, and while they are as attractive as natural dyes, the Turks are returning to the use of natural, traditional vegetable dyes.

The more knots per square centimetre, the stronger and more expensive the carpet will be. Beware of carpetshops that measure knots in square inches; the numbers being higher with inches, it’s a way of suggesting the carpet has dense knotting. Fifty-six knots per square centimetre is very good, 20 is not so great. A 5’x 8′ carpet with 500,000 knots in it that took three weavers and one master weaver one year to make can cost $5,000.

Their designs and colors are myriad and specific to the individual weaver – b y its nature, a handmade carpet is unique. In general though, rural rugs made by nomads tend to be geometric in pattern, and city-made rugs tend to have floral motifs, particularly in Iran, but these styles are often seen blended together in one carpet.

Rug styles are influenced by the success of a design in the Western market, and weavers are quick to copy a successful design from another area. Consequently, it is difficult to strictly categorize rugs according to type, especially the newer carpets. What can be said is that they tend to follow tribal, not national, boundaries.

Carpet padding types

Question: I plan to buy a carpet. Some say I should use a thin pad under the carpet and some say I should use a thick pad. I called the carpet mill and they said they didn’t know anything about padding.What kind of pad should I get?

Response:

Thicker is not better in carpet padding. Look for density rather than thickness.

Padding for residential use should be 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick. Padding that is more than 1/2-inch thick will cause too much flex in the carpet and result in it separating from its backing. Also, furniture is more likely to leave permanent indentation marks when you have thick padding.

Furthermore, carpet installed over too-thick padding cannot be properly secured to tack-less stripping. So it will start to lift along the edges and start to develop wrinkles and buckles.

And finally, according to our carpet experts, 1/2-inch padding will void all manufacturing warranties on your carpet. You can find more information in carpet stores Stillwater.

Some carpet padding is necessary, however, to provide resiliency to the carpet and help it resist crushing and matting. Padding also improves insulation and sound absorbency and softens impact in case of falls.

There are basically three types of padding on the marketplace, all varying in thickness and density.

URETHANE FOAM may be “prime” urethane, which is solid in color, or it may be “rebonded urethane” which resembles multicolored confetti. Rebonded urethane is constructed from scraps of recycled foam which are glued together to form a slab and then sliced to the proper thickness.

Minimum density should be 2.2 pounds per cubic foot for prime and 6 pounds for rebonded urethane. A good choice for residential is rebonded foam, 3/8-inch thick, with a 6- to 8-pound per cubic foot density.

RUBBER WAFFLE is made from natural latex, preservatives and fillers. It has a life span of 10 to 15 years unless exposed to flooding. Density is rated in ounces and the minimum recommended for rubber waffle padding is 48 ounces per square yard. Minimum thickness should be just over 1/4-inch.

FELT is the longest-lasting type of padding. For years it was made from horsehair and jute (which were sensitive to dampness) but is now available as a 100 percent synthetic. Felt is often used in commercial heavy traffic settings. It is the product of choice under Berber carpets, which need a solid foundation for best performance. The minimum density of felt should be 22 ounces per square yard and a minimum thickness of 1/4-inch.

The lowdown on hardwood floors

This weekend The Flooring Warehouse in Hamilton will be running clinics on how to install your own hardwood flooring.

As overwhelming as that kind of project sounds, Shane Taplay, a flooring consultant at the store, says today’s products have simplified the work involved. There’s no sanding, staining or sealing required.

According to Taplay, pre-finished wood flooring, which comes in a rainbow of colors, is made with a baked-on coating that is more durable than the urethane coatings available for unfinished hardwood.

At The Hardwood Flooring Stores in Burlington, sales representative Zane Kushnirak tells his clients that the hardest thing about laying their own floor is getting started.

He points out that consumer demand for hardwood floors is being influenced by the availability of product options, unheard of five years ago, and the fact that hardwood flooring isn’t as expensive as it once was.

“Most people are spending between $3.50 and $5 a square foot,” he says. “If they’re doing the installation themselves, we tell them that for every 200 square feet of flooring they should add on an additional $40 for materials they’ll require to lay the floor.”

When it comes to choosing pre-finished hardwood there are three categories to choose from — solid 3/4-inch, laminate or parquet.

According to Taplay, the first is the most difficult to lay because it has to be nailed down, get more information.

Concrete floors

Laminate flooring, on the other hand, was designed to go over concrete sub-floors and isn’t nailed down. Taplay explains that a foam underlay is glued or tacked down. Carpenter’s glue is applied along the outside groove of each plank of wood and the boards are then tapped together.

“They interlock much like Lego to create a floor. All you need for installation is a hammer and saw,” he says.

Taplay notes that consumers are often under the impression that laminate hardwood isn’t real wood and that it can’t be sanded and refinished.

In fact, just the opposite is true.

“If you can get four sands out of solid planking, you can get three sands out of laminate,” he says.

He also points out that laminate hardwood is ideal for basement applications because it isn’t affected by dampness. It can also be laid over vinyl flooring, ceramic tiles and hardwood.

As for parquet flooring, Kushnirak says it is the easiest to install. All that’s required is the proper adhesive and a saw.

At approximately $2 a square foot, he says it is also the best value for your money. The one drawback — parquet isn’t popular in Ontario.

Three grades

According to both men, pre-finished plank hardwood comes in three grades: select, mid-grade and rustic. Those divisions are based on such characteristics as grain, number of knots and mineral streaks and color continuity.

Kushnirak adds that parquet flooring comes in two grades: select and rustic.

The following are some tips about laying your own hardwood floors, courtesy of Taplay and Kushnirak:

There are a large number of hardwood-flooring manufacturers, 50 per cent of them Canadian. Keep in mind that sometimes you pay extra for the name not the quality of the product. Shop around and compare apples for apples.

Buy the proper product for the proper application. For example, waxed wood floors aren’t suitable for kitchens where they will be subject to water damage.

Consider which grade of hardwood will best suit your budget and your taste. Try to look at the products separately rather than putting select against mid-grade or rustic.

Fashion colors may be attractive, but they are also trendy. Natural wood grain colors never go out of style.

If you prefer waxed floors, some companies do produce pre-stained hardwood with a wax finish.

When you buy your wood flooring let it acclimatize before you lay it. Leave it in the room where it is to be installed for at least three days.

If you are going to rent equipment, such as a nailer, reserve ahead of time.

When you measure your room to find out how much flooring you’ll need, allow for an extra 5-7 per cent for cutting waste. Since wood flooring is sold by the box, the experts recommend buying an extra box just in case you need it. If you don’t, you can always return it.

Save left-over wood for future repair jobs.

Flooring stores that cater to do-it-yourselfers also lend tapes, and in some cases have instruction brochures.Staff will also provide you with all the assistance you need.

Vinyl flooring – visual tricks

Most people would never consider resilient flooring the obvious solution to a room with an awkward floor plan. But remodeling with flooring is second nature to designers and remodelers, who know how it can be used to alter the perception of a room’s proportions. “Consumers shy away from using flooring to achieve special effects because they fear making a mistake,” explains Leonard Ludivico, vice president for product styling and design for Congoleum.

To overcome that fear, Thomas Cook, corporate creative director for Armstrong World Industries, suggests thinking of the floor as a big canvas and of the flooring as paint. New  trends in vinyl flooring: color and patterns can be used to direct traffic away from appliances and other work areas, to create an interesting focal point or to reshape an unwieldy room.

Cook isn’t talking about a single color or pattern of sheet vinyl, but a floor that incorporates two or more colors with inset shapes or borders. The only limit is your imagination and budget. If your creative juices need priming, magazines are among the best sources. There you can see the final effects, and it’s easy to copy or modify details shown in a photograph.

Another source of ideas for patterns and shapes may be the room itself. “Pick a detail, such as an interesting archway, a shape in a cornice or a hutch,” Cook says, “and repeat it in the flooring. just keep in mind that the flooring may last longer than the item you used as the basis for your design.”

PUT YOUR PLAN ON PAPER

To get an idea of whether your design will work, draw the floor plan on graph paper. Make several copies so that you can experiment with a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Once you’re satisfied with the shapes, use colored pencils or pens to experiment with various color combinations. To see what these colors might do to the room itself, borrow samples from the dealer and lay them on your floor. This will help you decide whether you want a lot of color contrast or something a little safer.

As a final test of your design, cut shapes from colored paper (available at hobby shops) and tape them to the floor with masking tape. This will tell you whether a border should be thicker or thinner, or whether a pattern is too budy–before you buy the flooring.

COST

Custom vinyl floors are relatively expensive. And trying to save a buck by doing it yourself may not pay-a slip of the knife when cutting in borders or patterns can ruin the project.

As a rule, the more colors in your plan, the mostly the floor. To ensure that your plan fits your budget, “Take your colored sketch to the store. The dealer will help you determine the cost and modify the design, if necessary,” says Cook.

VISUAL TRICKS

Borders are great traffic cops and keepers of boundaries. Too many doorways, nooks and jogs in a room’s perimeter and it begins to look like the hallway of a medieval castle. You can bring some order to the chaos with a border that fills in deviations but keeps a straight line against the inner field of color.

If you’ve got a long and narrow space that looks like a landing strip, make it appear wider and shorter by using two different colors of vinyl in alternating horizontal stripes, creating a ladder effect along the length of the space. In a long hallway, these stripes could be 12 in. to 18 in. wide; in a shorter space, 6-in.-wide stripes will work better. For a more complex variation of this idea, use 2-in.-wide contrasting color strips on one or both sides of the wide color stripes.

To make, a short hall look longer, run narrow stripes of contrasting colors parallel to the long walls. It’s the same principle as dressing short people in vertical stripes so they will appear taller.

Square rooms tend to be very static and boring, and often look either too large or too small. If you’re adventurous, split the space into large triangles of color.

If your room is large, use two or more bold, strongly contrasting colors to make the room look smaller. If your room is small, use only two colors in low contrast (off-white and medium beige, or white and pale blue) to make the room seem bigger.

A second approach is to set several increasingly smaller squares of different colors into a big square. Experiment with colored pencils and paper to see whether you want the lightest color at the room’s perimeter or in the middle. A third variation is to set a simple square of patterned flooring inside a bigger solid-color square, or vice versa.

If you want to draw people to a bar or kitchen island, make this element the room’s focal point by emphasizing the flooring around it. There are several ways to achieve this: If you’re treating your room to a perimeter border, for example, repeat it around the island. For variety, reduce or widen the border.

A second option is to call attention to the island with feature squares of color in an otherwise plain floor.

You can also create an “area rug” for the island with an accent color. If your island is too close to adjacent cabinets to be completely surrounded by color, position only two-thirds of it on the area rug so the stools can also be on the accent color.

Breakfast tables and chairs often are adrift in an ocean of plain flooring. Anchor them with a simple square or rectangle of color. To jazz it up, add a 2-in.-wide border around the square or rectangle in a third color.

You can also place the color field on a diagonal so it reads as a diamond. Or combine several intersecting diamonds to define the field.

If you’ve got enough money in the budget and are up to the challenge, you can even replicate a simple pattern from a favorite quilt or drawing in your flooring design.

As indicated in the box at the bottom of this page, even a simple plan can double your costs. But if you can turn an awkward space into an inviting room, it can be worth it.

Colorful Carpet Advice

Since so many color options can paralyze people, I suggest building files of pictures clipped from magazines. This helps you visualize what furniture, accessories and colors do in a room. Darker colors make a room cozier; lighter colors make it appear larger. Take paint chips home and look at them in morning, afternoon and evening light. If you choose a monochromatic scheme, be sure to vary textures.

I use The Wagner Color Institute’s Color Response Report as a decorating resource. It tracks emotional responses to color. Since cheery yellow produces anxiety, it may not be a good choice for the nursery. Green makes us think of home so it might be the perfect color for a child going to college. Navy blue suggests trustworthiness. Blue has a tranquilizing effect and dampens our response to food.

The carpet story goes beyond color to texture.

The carpet industry’s new tufting technology has expanded possibilities. Different loop levels and combinations of short loops with cut fibers create new textures that hide dirt and are virtually trackless.

Technology also spawns new choices in color combinations and patterns. The popular sisal area rugs are being reinvented in nylon and polypropylene, making them easy on the toes, the wallet and the person doing maintenance.

I suggest that renters remember that carpet comes in 12-foot widths and that many retailers can cut a piece to fit your room, creating a wall-to-wall area rug. Further customize the look by bordering the rug with a second carpet or with fringe. When you move, roll up the carpet and take it with you to a new home or apartment.

Whether buying carpet or choosing colors,  the real key to making decorating decisions is to know what you like and what you need. The practical and comfortable approach continues to guide well-informed consumers find out more

Candles lend their special glow to holiday celebrations

Candles may have originated in Egypt, where rushes were dipped in tallow, then lighted. The cone-shaped candles have been found in the tombs of pharaohs, and a 5,000-year-old candleholder has been found in Minoan ruins on the isle of Crete.

Beeswax was a side product of beekeeping, which became a domestic art in medieval times. The wax was found to be better than tallow for candle-making, because it burns more slowly and cleaner.

Later, sperm-whale oil was used for candle-making, but that obviously is not an ecologically correct alternative for the ’90s.

Even today, light intensity is measured in candlepower.

Simple, on the surface

Candles seem incredibly simple – a wick surrounded by wax. But which wick, which wax?

“The wick can be the most important part of a candle,” says Rebecca Johnston, owner of LuminEssence candle factory and Northern Lights retail/mail-order store in Woodland Park. “The wrong wick can make it burn out, drip or smoke too much. The wrong wick in any candle can be a disaster.”

With candles, as with many other things in life, you get what you pay for, she says. And, mostly, you’re paying for wax.

Those two-for-a-buck jobs will probably burn like a house afire, and leave a big red (or green or yellow) puddle on your tablecloth. Made of poor-quality paraffin, they often aren’t much of a bargain, she says.

You can pay 10 times that for best-quality pure beeswax candles, but devotees love their warmed-honey scent and the fact that they burn slowly (about an inch an hour) and cleanly – with little smoke and dripping.

“They’re the original smokeless, dripless, long-burning candles,” Johnston says. But today, there also are some very efficient paraffin-beeswax blends, priced between the cheap and the chic.

“One thing I love about beeswax is its sensuous texture,” says Johnston, whose 2-year-old factory produces about 150,000 candles a year, most of them beeswax.

LuminEssence produces a unique, spiral-flared candle that is so popular, it’s made in secret, by workers who are trained for months before they become proficient at it. (Only about 1 of every 10 trainees learns to do it to Johnston’s standards.)

Candles brighten the day

“People are using candles year-round,” Johnston says. “They’re not just for the holidays any more, though the last six months of the year are just frantic for us.”

Candles have become an integral part of home decor, and fit into any decorating style, she says. And not only are people buying them, they’re burning them, she says.

“People love them because they create an intimacy in any setting – there’s something so comforting about candlelight.”

The Silent Woman store, probably has the largest stock of candles at The Citadel mall.

It carries a large selection from Beeswax Designs of California, and has placed a sizable order with LuminEssence – not just because it is local, but also because of its unique designs, says owner Mary Kuehn. The Beeswax Designs spiral-flared candles are more ruffly and the LuminEssence candles more tailored, she says. Both are made with pure beeswax.

Silent Woman also carries candles by A.I. Root – 125 years old and one of the top candle manufacturers in the nation. These candles are beeswax blended with paraffin, and come in innovative colors and styles, including Timberline, a new barklike candle designed for the rustic or Western-style decor.

Silent Woman also carries candle-related accessories – from candle-snuffers to brass “crowns” for candles.

“It’s almost like jewelery for your candles,” Kuehn says.

You don’t need a holiday or religious celebration – or even a power outage – to appreciate the glow of candlelight.

A mundane meal becomes elegant, a simple bath becomes luxurious, when accompanied by candlelight.

Small rechargeable votive candles also are extremely popular now.

Where to get a good light

Candles are available in nearly every grocery store, discount store, gift or card shop. Specialty stores are listed in the Yellow Pages.

LuminEssence candles are available at Sparrow Hawk, Egg House Artisans, The Broadmoor hotel’s Little Kitchen, and Silent Woman.

You also can go to the source.

LuminEssence sells nearly flawless “seconds” at a discount at its factory gift shop, Northern Lights, at 180 Highway 67 in Woodland Park. First-quality candles also are available there, as are candle-making kits and other candle-related gifts.

Simple, hand-dipped beeswax candles are made and sold at the Victor Trading Company, in Victor.

Owner Karen Morrison says it takes about 20 or so dips, or about half an hour, to make the average candle. Hers range from 1/2-inch mini candles to 10-inch tapers ($1-$8 a pair). They come in the natural, golden beeswax color. She also casts some in antique ice-cream molds, then hand-paints them.

Whichever candles you choose, they’re sure to add a glow to your holidays.

How to lighten dark wood cabinets

Before you can proceed with any lightening process, other than regular opaque paint applications, you will have to strip the present finish from your wood cabinets. Use a commercial paint stripper, following manufacturer’s directions carefully.

After the finish has been stripped, you may want to lighten the wood before the “pickling” treatment. You can use a commercial two-part wood bleach, available in caustic industrial-strength formulas.

When working with a commercial bleach it is important to precisely follow directions. However, it is often easier to work with regular household bleach diluted by an equal part of water.

Scrub the wood with this solution and let it work about 15 minutes. Repeat until you get the pale shade you want. Then neutralize the bleaching action with an equal mixture of vinegar and water and a final rinse of clear water. In the bleaching process be careful not to saturate the wood with too much moisture for a long period of time. Moisture will tend to raise the wood grain. Wipe dry after each wet solution treatment. When the wood has thoroughly dried, sand it lightly.

Now you are ready for the “pickling” process, which is a way of tinting open-grain wood by brushing on a solution of thinned-down white or pastel paint and then wiping off most of it. Today you can use regular paints thinned downed or purchase thinned-down, commercial versions that can be applied full strength and then wiped down to the desired tinting effect.

If you use regular paint for the “pickling” process you may need to experiment with the paint-to-solvent ratio (start with a ratio of 3 to 1.)

Use water to thin latex paints, mineral spirits for oil-base. The degree of transparency in the “pickling” finish will be determined by thinning of the paint with the solvent and how much wiping you do to remove the tint from the surface and grain of the wood.

Use a soft, dry rag to wipe most of the paint solution away. Wipe across the grain so that the residue highlights the wood’s natural texture. Open-grained wood will absorb pigment faster. Experiment with different tints and applications in an inconspicuous area to find the shade and technique that suits you.

You can use the same process to finish an unfinished or stripped and sanded wood floor. For protection, apply a polyurethane varnish to both the cabinets and the floor. You may even want to reconsider wood flooring in the kitchen area. Although polyurethane varnish will protect the finish from water spotting and grease spots, it may tend to scratch and you will have to renew the polyurethane coating periodically.

Be wary of commercially prepared wood flooring products that claim durability in the kitchen. Most tend to water spot and become permanently stained when installed in a kitchen environment.

Building Design and Construction of the Citadel

Like other portions of the Citadel in L.A., the outlet center evolved from “endless redesigns”. Stripped to its bare bones, the center consists of three simple wood-framed buildings sheathed in stucco. Within, many of the tenant spaces are partially unfinished, allowing mechanical and structural elements to provide visual interest. Outside, exterior wall planes are skewed to distort and create different perspectives. Flat, stucco colonnades add another layer of incident to the space, while bright colors, fountains and landscaping create a festive air.

Although the center’s design schematics were prepared by Sussman/Prejza, Nadel executed its production drawings, making the architect an arbitrator between design architect and contractor. “HCB would tell Nadel that we couldn’t afford this or that and we’d be asked to make changes,” Vazquez said. “For instance, the shops’ exteriors were to have originally featured flat stucco. But we went with a rougher finish because it was less expensive.”

For its part, Trammell Crow knew that the 50-shop outlet center – where manufacturers sell directly to consumers at reduced prices – was close to a sure bet. Having seen the concept flourish on the East Coast, the developer hired a consultant to assess its potential at the Citadel. The results concluded that the Citadel’s site, located between Orange County tourist attractions to the south Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm) and Hollywood/Beverly Hills attractions to the north, offered one of the best locations in the nation.

Besides tourists, the developer could expect to attract local, upscale consumers within a 35-mile radius. These attributes, along with the project’s close proximity to Interstate 5, drew an enthusiastic response from prospective tenants, according to Crow’s Eaves. The present tenant mix, which emphasizes soft goods, is aimed primarily at women.

To mitigate the forbidding nature of the Assyrian wall, Trammell Crow commissioned Sussman/Prejza to create dynamic signage for the center – hence, the overhead sign warning motorists about falling prices. Elsewhere, the top of the derrick features a large billboard heralding the outlet collection.

Viewed from the expressway, the juxtaposition of the wall and the Oil Derrick jars the senses. But behind the wall, the tidy, triangular shopping center plays it a tad safer.

Beautiful and Functional: today’s kitchen has to look good and work well

New kitchen designs are not only functional but beautiful, incorporating traditional details with modern convenience features.

Builders sometimes exclude formal dining rooms and allocate more space to incorporate a larger, eat-in kitchen. Often the kitchen opens into the family room in many new home designs.

Kitchen expansions are an increasingly popular renovation.

Space planning

An average kitchen renovation will cost $10,000 to $20,000, so put some thought into planning it well so you’ll enjoy it for a long time.

You should start out by giving your designer the layout of the existing kitchen. The designer should accurately convey to you what your new kitchen will look like before the work is done.

Here are some things to consider when deciding how you want to re-design your kitchen layout.

The appliances in your work triangle – the sink, stove and refrigerator – should be in close proximity to each other and away from heavy traffic areas. Traffic flow is important to consider, as well as work stations.

Consider where the doorways are and if they lead from heavy traffic areas. Plan where you would like to perform various tasks and incorporate lighting accordingly.

A double access kitchen concept is designed with separate work stations – both equipped with sinks – so two people can work in the kitchen at the same time.

Cabinetry

Maple is the number 1 choice in cabinet doors, because of its smooth tone and closed grain so moisture doesn’t get in easily.

There is a wide range of colors available in maple. Natural cherry is also a popular choice in wood because it adds warmth.

Colors are more broadly accepted, although they have to be subtle and classic-looking, adding that classic white will always be popular.

Antique glaze is popular and gives the look of stain or paint having been stripped away.

Speckling is a technique meant to create imperfect finish.

The finishes give you a timeless look.

Get two to three estimates before choosing your cabinets. Check for quality. Look very closely at the inside and outside. Check for cracks and unevenness.

Countertops

Countertops range in price and quality, from granite – which has a natural beauty – to state-of-the-art solid surfaces, and the more common laminate materials.

There’s nothing as beautiful as natural granite of one of the more costly countertop materials.

Granite costs between $150 and $200 per linear foot. The advantage to spending more on granite is the beauty and uniqueness of the natural material. But unlike the man-made materials, granite has pores which make it a little more difficult to clean.

Often countertops and sinks are made from solid surface materials such as corian, an acrylic-based material. Solid surfaces are popular for their seamless look and easy care. They come in a wide range of colors and can have a smooth, modern look or a speckled, granite appearance. These surfaces cost between $95 and $115 per running foot.

Laminate is what most builders use. It is a lower-cost alternative to the other materials. Post-form laminate has a rounded front edge and costs between $60 and $70 per running foot. You can add a richer look to a laminate countertop with a contrasting edge made of a solid surface material, such as copper or wood.

Storage and drawers

Although many builders make drawer systems of particle board covered with melamine or thermofoil, sophisticated new drawer systems are made of steel or aluminum. These metal drawers are self-closing and very strong.

Many drawers also feature innovative and space-saving devices, such as knife blocks built into drawers, molded drawer inserts in a variety of shapes, pull-out towel racks, tilt-out soap trays, and the list goes on.

Details

Details are a big issue in current guidecraft kitchen designs.

He suggests details to add some interest to your kitchen decor. Split spindles applied to the corners of an island can add an ornate, traditional look. Applied moldings on cabinetry, adds depth.

Crown molds or beaded molds are much more predominant and more sophisticated than they were three or four years ago.

Ceramic tiles are used often and are an interesting way to add a personalized touch to a countertop or backsplash.

Open shelves, plate racks and glass cabinet doors don’t serve a practical purpose, but add an attractive touch. Built-in wine racks are also a popular feature in recent designs.

Appliances

Appliances more flush with the cabinets create an integrated look. Appliances either blend with the cabinetry or stand out completely from the rest of the decor, as with stainless steel.

Built in cooktops and wall ovens are popular, but a little more expensive than single units. There are drop-in stoves that create a similar effect by having the countertop cut out around the stove.

Everyone wants a built-in look, but they don’t want to buy built-in appliances.

Ceran cooktops – made of ceramic glass – are the latest in stoves. These are scratch-resistant and easy to clean. Gas cook tops are also increasingly popular.

Curtains make soft statement in hard world

Beaded curtains, in years gone by a feature of almost every home, are making a colorful comeback.

With the attractive effect they give as they move in the breeze and the many different color variations and combinations now available, they add an interesting and decorative touch to all styles of home.

The first creative choice is to decide what visual impact or atmosphere you are trying to achieve in a particular room: 1. peaceful simplicity; 2. comfortable abundance; 3. discreet subtlety; 4. immense luxury; 5. bold drama.

If curtains are not going to be floor-length, they should be below the sill. Anything less looks as if you’ve run out of fabric.

The current fashion for brilliant blue combined with vivid yellow was perfect for bathroom decor.

Sheers, scrims, draperies, panels and other lush fabrics passing themselves off as curtains, are leaping beyond the windows and shower stalls to produce a woven surround. Cotton, velvet, silk and linen swaths are now room dividers, alcove walls, romantic retreats, outdoor nooks and floating doorways.

Decorating with curtains adds drama, conjures settings and provides stimulus to the imagination. They can also muffle unpleasant sounds, add rhythm and movement to space, produce texture and dimension, and skillfully transmute the harshest light. Curtains are soft sculpture playing at being solid architecture.

Rich and opulent, simple and starched — curtains speak volumes, and with so many wonderful fabrics and materials available today, trend-setters are finding all sorts of ways to charm with curtains.

Please visit Zappobz.com – the largest manufacturer and supplier of Beaded Décor and LED curtains.