Blog Archive for July, 2015

Can modern style and vintage décor co-exist?

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 23, 2015


Who doesn’t have old pieces of furniture or interior accents that have a sentimental attachment? Have you wondered if you can mix the old with the new? Can modern style and vintage décor co-exist aesthetically?

Well, if you’re of the matchy-matchy mindset, then you’ll have difficulty blending these distinctive styles. However, interior decorating experts agree that good design is about balance. And the vibrant colors and clean lines associated with modern style provide just the right balance for the warm colors and ornate antique décor of vintage furnishings.

For example, a contemporary dining set is nicely accented with the details of a vintage chandelier. Pair a traditional sofa with the graphic appeal of new pillows.

The key to blending modern style and vintage décor is to stand back and look for balance, rather than randomly combine pieces from different eras. Look for contrast in style and materials—like the carved curves of vintage wood furnishings with glass or lacquer accent pieces. Set contemporary glassware and photo frames on your grandmother’s cherished buffet. Place a wing chair against a vibrantly colored wall—or reupholster the chair in a modern fabric. Hang an ornate mirror over a modern console table. Mount your flat screen television over an antique dresser.

Just as a stark white or black frame allows the color of a piece of artwork to stand out, the contrast in modern and vintage interior decorating styles complement one another.

Vintage has become so chic that it can easily be integrated into almost any décor. From antique stores and estate sales to flea markets and thrift shops, you can uncover aged treasures that will lend character to your space. Allow those pieces to stand out by balancing them with the distinctively different color and lines of your modern décor.

With differences, you will find balance and harmony in your home.

Demand Report: Millennials prefer single-family homes

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 20, 2015

Millennials prefer single-family homes

While Baby Boomers showed a preference in their early years for apartment living, their grown children are leaning toward the single-family home as their housing preference—whether renting or owning. A Fannie Mae report released July 1, 2015 showed that a rising number of people between the ages of 25 and 34 are occupying single-family homes.

In 2000, 50.9 percent of renters and 84.5 percent of homeowners in this age group lived in a single-family home. In 2013, those numbers increased to 52.4 and 88.9 percent, respectively. Not a huge leap, but the trend continues, according to the report, “Rent or Own, Young Adults Still Prefer Single-Family Homes”.

Patrick Simmons, director of strategic planning for Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Group, said the upward climb is important for builders and developers. “Given the massive size of the Millennial generation, this life-cycle progression should support continued recovery in housing construction, and bodes well for a stronger rebound in the single-family sector in the second half of the decade.”

Previously, Millennials had posted smaller homeownership numbers than their preceding generations, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation (Traditionalists). But the shift toward the desire for living in a single-family home—as opposed to apartment, condominium, townhome, or multi-family residence—is expected to grow as the Millennials reach their 30s, “prime years for first-time homeownership”, according to Simmons. The improved job market, low interest rates on mortgages, and lower down payment requirements are providing significant incentives to convert Millennials into homeowners.

A National Association of Homebuilders survey of the 25- to 35-year-olds showed that 75 percent want a single-family home, and almost 25 percent are looking to live in a rural area, away from the city. They also like their extras, and are willing to pay for options, like energy-efficiency, larger garages, pantries, linen closets, and walk-out basements. They’ll also find the money in their budget to pay for granite or quartz countertops and premium light fixtures.

Millennials are poised to make a major impact on the housing market in the not too distant future.

Outdoor lighting and safety ideas

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 9, 2015


If you think that exterior lighting is just something you do for the winter holidays, you’re missing a great opportunity to brighten your outdoor living space year ‘round. Creative use of lights can brighten up dark spaces, add soft accents, and spruce up your curb appeal—but you also need to understand that outdoor lighting and safety must be installed together!

Your choices for exterior lighting give you a full range of options. From strings of lights and battery-powered candles to solar-powered stakes, motion sensors, and electrical fixtures, you can shed light wherever you want.

Start by looking for those focal points you want to highlight. Maybe it’s your patio, entryway, a walkway, or an area of your garden—or all of the above. Possibly you have a water feature that could use a little artificial moonlight. Walk around your yard at dusk and decide what and where you want to place outdoor lighting.

Then decide how much light you need for those spaces. Do you want small accents here and there? If so, solar lights might be the simplest way to achieve your desired luminescence. They’re inexpensive and available in a diverse array of styles, so you can certainly find solar lights to complement your outdoor décor.

String lights add sparkle and can be wrapped around trees and posts, along walls and pergolas, and in gardens. You can add color with paper lantern-style lighting, or use more decorative strings of lights. Convert an old chandelier for outdoor use by removing the electrical wiring and replacing it with remote-controlled, battery-operated candles. Hang solar lights from shepherd’s hooks to light the way along a path.

You can light your outdoor spaces from above or down below. Your nightscape can lean toward romantic starlight or urban modern. Choose warm or cool lights, subtle or bold. Blend different types of lights. But no matter what you pick, make sure you think about these outdoor lighting safety tips.

  • If you’re going to install the exterior lighting yourself, be sure you use equipment, wires, cords, and bulbs that are rated for outdoor use. Low-voltage lighting systems, like 12-volt LED lights, provide sufficient illumination without the risks associated with 120-volt, indoor electrical fixtures and wiring. LED lights cost a little more than incandescent bulbs, but use far less electricity and last much longer.
  • Connect the cables to an outdoor transformer that is mounted near a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. Hide the cables under soil or mulch, where they will not be walked on or mowed over.
  • When hanging light strings, avoid any tree branches that might touch power lines. Use insulated holders, not nails or staples.
  • Install light bulbs that are labeled waterproof or water-resistant.
  • If you’re using candles outdoors, keep them at least five feet away from any flammable materials, like tree branches and furniture.

When in doubt, consult an electrician.

Extend the daytime enjoyment of your outdoor living space into the nighttime. Using exterior lighting creatively and safely is always a bright idea!

Unique container garden ideas

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 2, 2015


A container garden provides a wonderful way to add color and plants in any space, no matter how small. You can use planters, of course, but if you’re a gardener who likes to think outside the flower box, here are some unique container garden ideas.

Cut a hole in the seat an old chair (wood or metal), or remove it all together. Insert a pot that fits tightly in that space or staple chicken wire to the opening to provide drainage. Make sure you shape the chicken wire to form a bowl under the seat, rather than straight across. Paint the chair in colors that accent the plants in this container garden, add a hook for a watering can, and use the back of the chair to drape your vines.

Other pieces of furniture, like a dresser or just the drawers can be upcycled into a stunning container garden. Refinish the exterior, punch holes in the drawers, and line them with plastic trash bags before adding soil and plants.

Search flea markets and yard sales to find reusable and vintage pieces that spark your creativity, like metal baskets, bath tubs, sinks, and washtubs. Kitchen items like teapots, colanders, soup tureens, and stock pots can be repurposed into planters for container gardens. Succulents (e.g., cacti) do well in shallow containers, so look for pretty serving bowls and birdbaths.

An old bicycle can get more mileage with a makeover. Paint the bike (including the tires), attach baskets to the handlebars and saddle (or wherever you please). While we’re talking wheels here, think about upcycling an old wheelbarrow or a child’s wagon. Car tires also make great container garden planters. Paint them in vibrant colors and stack them for an eye-catching container garden.

The key to finding unique container garden ideas is keeping your mind and eyes open to anything that could hold soil and provide drainage. It could be plastic, wood, metal, ceramic, stone, or any combination of these materials. A plastic mop bucket, wicker laundry basket, or a wooden toy chest can do the trick. Check your basement, attic, garage, and yard. Visit flea markets and garage sales. Browse the clearance areas of department stores. Most importantly – have fun with it!

ask martha

Ask Martha!

email phone chat