Choosing Fabrics For Outdoor Use

Choosing Fabrics For Outdoor Use

Summer is a great time to be entertaining outdoors and with so many people working on the preparation of their backyard spaces, it’s so important to learn a little bit more about fabrics that are appropriate for outdoor use. 

The sun is shining and you are preparing those outdoor spaces, but what you don’t realize is how much those outdoor furnishings really take a beating. The sun, heat, wear and tear, chlorine, rain, tree sap, really can shorten the lifetime of fabrics that are not specifically made for the outdoors. Those beautiful brightly colored fabric cushions might look great the first few weeks or months but their long-term use might be shortened by the choice of fabrics used.

Today there are so many types of fabrics that are specially made for outdoor use. These fabrics can be made of synthetic fibers, acrylic, or cotton blends. They are treated with a chemical during the manufacturing process that allows them to resist water which reduces rot and mildew. Sunbrella is one brand name that is popular. However, today most fabric companies do offer an all-weather outdoor fabric option that is specifically made for the outdoors. 

Gone are the days where there are only a few color selections and manufacturers of outdoor fabric. The early outdoor fabrics were stiff, uncomfortable, and hard to work with. Today’s outdoor fabric is really an outdoor/ indoor fabric. Soft to the touch, easy to work with, and the options are only limited by your imagination. The highest quality outdoor fabrics are available in almost any color or pattern imaginable.

Add rich color.

Most designers have access to superior quality outdoor fabric, as most “to the trade” fabric companies make outdoor fabric. This confuses consumers because they believe there is only one manufacturer of outdoor fabric and that if they ask for this they are seeing all the options.

Here are some facts:

  • Any fabric, cushion, or pillow that’s left in the outdoors will experience more wear and tear than a cushion that’s indoors.
  • Outdoor fabrics have built-in UV protection and water-repelling properties that make it easy to wipe off.
  • Most of the designer type fabrics that you are seeing on outdoor furniture are custom options. There are some retails that offer some custom options on outdoor pieces. You will choose from the fabrics that they offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore custom options for cushions and outdoor fabric work. The choices are endless.
  • The best way to lengthen the life of your outdoor cushions, bring them inside or cover them in rain or bad weather. I try to suggest pieces that have removable cushions. This makes it easy to bring the cushions inside. It also makes it easier to replace the cushions or re-cover the cushions when they wear out. Remember that a soaked cushion with eventually deteriorate quicker than one that only experiences a quick shower and then is dried off.

Until next time,

Gia

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Adding the Luxury Of Fresh Flowers To Your Home

Adding the Luxury of Fresh Flowers to your Home

I have always loved creating different types of flower arrangements, whether it’s for an event, one of my design projects, a project photo session, or for my own home. Most of my flower arrangements are created by foraging outdoors for flowers and greenery, or a handful of simple grocery store flowers that I’ve arranged in interesting containers. Occasionally, I might order specific blossoms from my favorite florist to weave into my arrangements.

I just love flowers, I think this runs in my family as my mother’s family ran a small flower shop in New York City. My mother followed suit with creating beautiful flower arrangements of every kind. My sister and I seemed to inherit her passion for flowers and decorating.

Now, more than ever we should enjoy the little luxury of having a few fresh flowers in our home. That doesn’t mean we need to have expensive arrangements. But now that spring is upon us we can easily find a few blossoms to create simple arrangements that we can enjoy indoors and outdoors.

Add rich color.

Even a simple arrangement of mixed greenery or branches can create an interesting arrangement.

One.

Use what you have in your own yard. If you have a backyard with some flowers that you can cut then this is perfect, use what is in bloom to start your arrangements. If you don’t have any flowers in your yard and you have some greenery, use a mix of interesting greens to create an arrangement. If you don’t have a yard, a few grocery store flowers can surely be made into a few nice arrangements.

Two.

Find an interesting container. This could be a glass vase, ice bucket, canister, teacups, or a few mugs. You could use a galvanized bucket as an outdoor flower pot, a wine glass, or just about anything can be used to display flowers. As long as it holds water and the proportion is right for the flowers that you have.

Three.

Small arrangements are easier to place in your home. Maybe instead of creating one large arrangement, find a few small containers and create several small arrangements. These can definitely be mixed into your decor easier than a large arrangement. A small vase next to your sink in the kitchen or bathroom, a small arrangement on your desk, or a few small arrangements on the dining table still allow for other items to be on the surface. Smaller Arrangements on the dining table also allow for easier conversation during dinner then a tall arrangement.

Four.

Place arrangements where you can enjoy them. I do love creating one large arrangement for my entry table. I’m counting the minutes until my lilacs bloom in my yard so I can collect hand fulls of beautiful fragrant blossoms to display in my entry. I change out this display depending on the season and what is blooming at the time. This area works great in my home since I can enjoy it whenever I pass through this central location. The fragrance greets me in the morning on the way down the stairs. Think about where you might enjoy fresh flowers in your home.

Five.

Use color. Add a burst of color to any room with fresh flowers. If you have flowers that compliment your decor, then great. But don’t be afraid to add fresh flowers of any color to your decor that splash of color will add interest and give your home the look of a finished designed space.

Until next time,

Gia

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How To Choose A Christmas Tree

How To Choose A Christmas Tree

Choosing your Christmas tree is perhaps the most important Christmas decorating task of the season. If you decide to use a live tree this year, it is important to do a little preparation before you head out to search for the perfect tree.

How To Choose A Christmas Tree

Prepare.

  • First, measure your ceiling height, take measurements to be sure you know how tall of a tree you will need.
  • Leave room for tree toppers and for tilting the tree to an upright position when installing, also allow for your tree stand and tree trunk.
  • Even the most beautifully shaped tree could look like a mess after having to cut half of the tree branches off to stand it in place.
  • Check your measurements!
  • Check your doorways, hallways, and stairways, be sure you have a clear path to your final destination.
  • Be sure the length of your tree will make all the turns that it needs to make to enter your room.
  • Of course, you also want to be sure you have a vehicle that can transport your tree back to your home, with plenty of cords or rope for securing your tree to your car.
  • Always aim the bottom of the tree toward the front of the car so the wind doesn’t break and branches during transport.
How To Choose A Christmas Tree

From My Experience.

I purchase my tree from a local tree farm here in Massachusetts, where choosing the perfect tree involves a long hike, down a path, into the woods, through the snow, down past a stream, and up a hill in the cold. Once you reach the peak of this hill, you can see a valley of beautifully tended live trees, all sparkling in the sunshine, and all hoping to be chosen as my Christmas tree. This makes the journey worthwhile.

Once you are deep in the woods, it can become very hard to judge the height of these beautiful trees, luckily my favorite tree farmer comes equipped with a tree measuring stick, a saw, and a pick-up truck to haul my perfect tree back to civilization. If you are fortunate enough to visit a tree farm, ask your tree farmer about the different variety of trees and about what to expect regarding longevity, fragrance, and durability of the needles and branches as this varies with each variety of tree.

Your local Christmas tree lot can also be a great place to purchase a live tree, this involves less hiking, less time, and you could also be helping to support a local cause with your purchase. Even the smallest live tree will look spectacular in Christmas lights! Once you get your Christmas tree back to your home, be sure that your tree trunk has a fresh cut before installing. A fresh cut allows the tree to continue absorbing water, after installing, fill your tree stand with water immediately, and continue daily watering.

As much as I love the fragrance and the all-day pilgrimage of finding and installing a live tree, artificial trees offer plenty of benefits. No constant dropping of needles, no daily watering, and much sturdier branches that can hold up decorations that most live trees cannot support. For someone who puts up their decorations early, an artificial tree allows much more longevity. You can also find artificial trees in every shape and size, and variety that you could get in a live tree. A quality artificial tree will look very authentic and will last many years if properly stored.

I hope you enjoy choosing your Christmas Tree!

Until next time,
Gia

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How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

The holidays are here, which means it’s time to entertain family and friends.

Maybe you are opening your home up to numerous party guests, or just a few family members, it’s nice to make everything in your home feel a little more festive.

How To Prepare Your Home For Holiday Entertaining Even When Your Space Isn’t Ideal

It’s not always easy.

Just remember your home doesn’t have to be perfect to start, some well placed holiday decor can still create a beautiful environment for entertaining. I remember one Christmas many years ago, my own home was in the middle of a massive kitchen renovation during the holiday season. I was still determined to have my holiday party, even though my rough demolished horsehair plastered walls and exposed lathe in my circa 1700’s home were the only things in my kitchen space. I busied myself behind the scenes in an adjacent room, creating a series of decorated trees mounted on wheels like a stage set. When construction ended on Friday afternoon, I draped the entire space with white fabric and white lights, from the ceiling I hung a multitude of icicles, then I wheeled in a parade of Christmas trees to camouflage the room. When the sun set that evening, the glistening of white lights turned on and candlelight illuminated through the entire space.
My tented icy wonderland room was beautiful and somehow the rough textured walls only enhanced the look. Guests loved the look and had no idea that just hours before the party, trees were being rolled around the house.

Illuminate the entire space.
Focus your efforts on your table setting.

The passion.

Yes, I am a professional designer who has an extreme passion for Holiday decor and a drive for entertaining. But with a few simple steps, any space can be ready for holiday entertaining.

1. Use what you have.

Use your holiday decor to distract from the least appealing features in your home and highlight the best features of your home. If you have a beautiful fireplace, great!  If it’s not so great, use draped garlands and decor to have it complement the holiday space.

2. Illuminate the entire space.

White lights have a way of making everything look magical and pulled together. Stick with little white lights if you are trying to make a space look cohesive and pulled together. Even with minimal ornaments, white lights look great for your holiday decor.

3. Set up a buffet table.

Especially if your kitchen space is not ideal, lead your guests to another area where a buffet table can be set up. If you don’t have the perfect furniture piece for this use a folding table or even a plywood table. Once covered with tablecloths and decor this option will work great for a serving buffet.

4. Appeal to all the senses.

Your guests will always feel welcomed when they walk into a space filled with holiday music and the scents of pine or cinnamon.

5. Focus your efforts on your table setting.

Whether I am designing holiday decor for a small space or a full-scaled holiday show house or house tour, the table is always a focal point. I focus a lot of time and planning on the holiday table.

Think about what you are doing with your table setting early on in the planning process so that you can have the items that you are using cleaned, prepared and ready to go.

I have created a special holiday table setting guide for you that will help you create your own unique holiday table. Be sure to download it below.

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a Festive Holiday Season!

Until Next Time,
Gia

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Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

As we see the last colorful leaves of fall hit the ground and the temperatures dropping along with them, we know that the holiday baking will soon begin. Whether or not you have recently renovated your kitchen or you have not quite gotten around to committing to a newly designed and renovated kitchen, holiday baking and cooking will be a lot easier with a well-organized kitchen space. Here are a few tips for preparing your current kitchen for the holiday baking season:
Preparing Your Kitchen For Holiday Baking

Start your holiday off right, aware and organized.

Deep clean your kitchen
Your kitchen will soon be covered with flour and filled with the scents that come along with holiday baking. However, if you give your kitchen a thorough deep cleaning before the holiday baking marathon begins, this will make for a quicker cleaning up after baking or cooking and will certainly make entertaining prep time a little shorter.

Make your holiday baking list
Make a list of all of the recipes and goodies that you will be baking. Compile a list of now perishable ingredients list and stock the kitchen now to avoid all those last-minute dashed to the grocery store. This is also a great time to organize your holiday recipes, over the last few years I have been photographing my old recipe cards and organizing them in digital folders for easy access. I use Evernote, but you could also use other cloud storage so you can retrieve them from any device and share them with family members easily.

Sort through your pantry or cabinets
Remove everything and wipe out the pantry, then sort and re-stock everything. Discard any expired items and make a list of any items needed. Those opened boxes of baking soda and baking powder should be replaced before you start baking. Be sure your sugar, flour and brown sugar are fresh by restocking these items if needed.

Dive in.

Organize your bakeware
While you are cleaning things out, organize all your bakeware. Figure out what pieces you will be using and be sure they are easily accessible. You might want to update your cookie sheets or add a few more to your collection to speed up the baking process. Find that special tart pan now before you are in a hurry to start baking.

Organize and refresh your spices
Whether your spices are stored in a cabinet, pantry, or drawer, it’s likely this area needs some attention. Discard any spices that are not fresh and update with what is needed for the season. You don’t want to run short on ginger while baking those gingerbread cookies.

Clean off your kitchen countertops
This is a great time to clean off those kitchen countertops eliminating any unnecessary items (holiday decor is considered a necessary item) and give yourself some space for baking. If you keep your mixer stored, this might be a great time to keep it out on the countertops where it might be getting a lot of use.

Clean out your refrigerator
Give yourself the added storage space that you might need for your holiday baking supplies and for extra food storage, give your refrigerator a quick cleanout. This is also a great time to stock up on food storage containers for those baked goods and any holiday leftovers.

Check your appliances
Be sure that all of your appliances are in working order, arrange for any necessary repairs. Don’t wait until for the last minute to call for appliance service, this is a busy time of year for servicing.

As you are going through the holiday baking season, make some notes of how you can set things up differently making things easier for next year. Knowing the limitations of your current kitchen can be helpful when preparing for next year or for when you decide to redesign and renovate your kitchen space.

Happy Baking!

​Until Next Time,

Gia

From The Blog

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10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

The days are getting shorter, the kids have gone back to school, and there is a slight chill in the evening air. All signs of early Fall. Soon the landscape will be painted with broad strokes of Autumn color and before you know it we will start spending more time indoors as fall ushers in the cooler winter air.

This is a great time to start to cozy up your home. Here are a few tips to make your home a little more warm and welcoming:

10 Ways To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

Add a mix of textures.

Change out the throw pillows by adding tactile soft textured pillows to your sofa or bed.

 

Change out the throw pillows by adding tactile soft textured pillows to your sofa or bed.

Change out or layer area rugs. By adding area rugs you are able to soften up the look of your rooms. This also provides an additional layer of warmth on those cold evenings. Choose textured rich colored rugs to define and warm up the space.

Change out your bedding. Add flannel or fleece sheets for extra warmth. Add a big fluffy down (or down alternative) comforter. This is a great time to upgrade or replace your bed pillows.

Add a few cozy throw blankets to the living room or any area in your home where you might use them.

Re-arrange the furniture or plan to makeover the living room with a new design. This is a great time to makeover the living space. The winter will bring holiday entertaining and you will most likely be spending more time indoors, so you will be sure to enjoy your new space.

Add rich color.

It’s all about color.

Add rich color. Rich vibrant color can surely warm up your home for the fall and winter season. A punch of color in fabric or accessories can add a cozy warm feel to your space and can help you transition your decor come holiday decorating time.

Change out accessories. Move your existing home accessories around to freshen up your space. Add a few accesses that tie in any added color that you bring in with fabrics and area rugs.

Switch out your window treatments. Transition into the cooler weather with heavier window treatments.

Add scented candles for a little added ambiance.

Start thinking about your holiday decor (I have certainly started planning my own holiday decor as well as the holiday decor of some of my clients). The holidays will be here before you know it. Start thinking about your holiday decor now so you can have an idea of what you would like to do when the time arrives.

Until Next Time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

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I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

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