More and more families are turning away from formal dining and are looking into more casual, eat-in kitchen designs instead. Unfortunately, not everyone has the space to include a standalone table ringed with chairs, or an island in the center of the room with a breakfast bar. In some of these kitchens, this space problem can be solved with the use of a banquette. Because banquettes are built into the corner of the room, they take up less floor space than a freestanding table plus they offer additional storage – a big plus in small kitchens.
What Is a Banquette?
A banquette is a set of built in benches that line the corner of the kitchen. These often conceal storage underneath, with a cushion on top for comfort. The table may or may not also be built in, and there may or may not be additional seating on the other side. Because you cannot walk around the banquette, you can use less floor space, while still providing the seating you need.
Ways to Design a Banquette
There are countless ways you can design a kitchen banquette, from having a couch put into your kitchen to building custom benches. One of the most popular and inexpensive methods of designing, however, uses kitchen cabinets as the bench.
Short upper cabinets can be easily bolted right to the floor and the wall behind them. Because each door swings open, you can use the cabinets to store a variety of things from pots and pans to seasonal items. To create the tops of the bench, just have a piece of birch plywood cut to fit and screw it down on the tops of the cabinets. Now all you need is a cushion bench top to make the banquette comfortable.
Another method involves using trunks or boxes that have flat lift tops. The only trouble with this method is that to access what’s inside, you need to remove the seating cushions, but this method can create a plainer, more contemporary looking banquette than cabinets.
However you decide to build your banquette, be sure to have it line a corner to maximize the amount of seating. You can also have it put partially into the room to wrap around the short end of a table on two sides. Banquettes can be a great addition to small spaces; consider building one in your home.
Creating a livable room that can work for both children and adults takes some clever thinking. Sometimes you think it is easier to safety proof the child than it is the living room. If helmets, bubble wrap and packing peanuts are not your idea of a happy child or a happy room, there are other solutions to make your living room or family room child safe.
If you have both a living room and a family room, you might want to follow the age old tradition of making the living room off limits for little family members. The formal living room is beginning to disappear from new construction where we are seeing more open living and large family rooms. Combining living rooms and family rooms into one space means you’ll need to figure out a way to coexist in the space with the kids. Find furniture that is durable for the kids yet stylish enough for adults.
Coexisting in a family room with kids doesn’t mean that you abdicate all design to be for the kids. This is your room and your home too. Look for stylish and durable materials for upholstery and floor that are kid friendly. Washable slipcovers are a mother’s best friend when it comes to decorating a room used by children. Carpet squares that can be individually swapped out are another great product in kid zones. Spills and spots can be treated instantly and easily on materials and carpets that are stain resistant. Make sure your upholstery and carpet choices have stain resistant labeling.
Living in Florida is great because outdoor living is a year round option for most of us. Whether you have a porch, patio, or deck, a key element of outdoor living year round is an outdoor fire feature. This fire feature can be a fireplace or a fire pit. Fire pits have become extremely popular over the last few years. While built-in outdoor fireplaces and fire pits become an architectural feature, portable fire pits can be easily moved around.
Outdoor fireplaces can be placed at the end of an open porch to create a wall. Stone or brick are the most common materials used for outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. The stone wall and fireplace can turn an open porch into an outdoor room. With the addition of furniture and indoor/outdoor area rugs, these outdoor rooms can be as stylish and comfortable as any other room. Outdoor fabric has come a long way in the recent past and can now be found in many patterns and colorways to suit many styles.
With the addition of an outdoor fire pit or fireplace, you can use your outdoor living space year round. Don’t forget the cozy throws and s’mores supplies for your outdoor fireplace.
What is Caribbean heart pine, and why is it so popular?
The heart is the center of the pine tree, where the wood is harder and more durable, and usually a deeper color. The softer exterior wood, surrounding the heart is known as sapwood. In the United States, heart pine is only available as reclaimed lumber, since there is a small portion of living longleaf pine forest remaining. True Caribbean heart pine (botanical name Pinus Caribaea) is native to Central America and Cuba where there is still a substantial living pine forest.
The beauty and luster of Caribbean heart pine makes it a popular choice for hardwood flooring. It’s available in many different colors, grades and finishes. Natural heart pine has a tendency to become richer and darker with age, and can feature yellow, red or copper tones. The “knotted” look of heart pine is also part of its appeal, lending a more natural look to any space. Heart pine floors will generally show less uniformity of color, especially in a larger space, than other hardwoods, which also promotes a more natural look and feel.
Of course, heart pine can also be used for ceiling beams and wall paneling. When selecting heart pine flooring, consider the percentage of heartwood vs. sapwood as well as the amount of variegation, including knots and resin streaks, to fit your budget as well as your desired look. Since heart pine is harder than sapwood, it is more resistant to dents and scratches.
Engineered laminate designed to simulate heart pine is another great option for a lower budget.
Heart pine floors are very versatile, and can be used in either contemporary or antique design spaces.
Here are some examples of heart pine floors in a contemporary setting:
Terrazzo is one of the most elegant and versatile surfaces in the world. If you’ve ever been to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, you’ve already walked on terrazzo floors. Terrazzo floors at the Hoover Dam include inlays that are a tribute to Native Americans. Many high-end custom homes in Florida, especially those built in the 1950s and 60s, also feature terrazzo floors.
There are two kinds of terrazzo floors, concrete and epoxy-based. Authentic, Old World style terrazzo consists of chips of marble or glass embedded in concrete and then polished to a high sheen, and can be used in either interior or exterior surfaces. Because it uses recycled stone and marble materials, concrete terrazzo is environmentally friendly. Contemporary terrazzo is epoxy based, and while less expensive, can only be used in interior surfaces. Another option is rustic terrazzo, which has a rough and textured appearance so that it can be used in exterior spaces. In addition to floors, terrazzo surfaces can also be used for kitchen and bath countertops, as well as shower walls.
Terrazzo will give your home the look and feel of a palace, or a mansion from another time. It’s not for the faint of heart; installing it is a complex process, but the results are worth it! If you are looking for surfaces that are among the most glamorous and unique in the world, consider terrazzo.
Advantages of Terrazzo:
- Shine: You can literally see yourself in terrazzo floors, they are so clear.
- Virtually maintenance-free if used in the proper environment
- Unique, individual, one of a kind surface that truly makes your home a palace.
- Terrazzo makes your countertops and floors a true work of art…impossible to duplicate.
Hardwood flooring has been trending in home design for the last few years and can even add value to your home. We have decided to put together some information and a few tips we think you should know about the different styles and if hardwood is a material that fits your lifestyle.
- The Location: Consider where the hardwood is going to be installed inside your home. The location may change the grade or type of wood you choose.
- Species: Common wood species are red oak, white, oak, maple, cherry, white ask, hickory, or pecan. Each wood species has a specific grain and texture to it.
- Color: Each species will have several colors and finish choices for you to decide on. We suggest picking a color of wood that best fits your lifestyle and coordinates well with furniture pieces you already have. Darker wood is more formal compared to lighter wood.
- Finishes: There are many different finishes you can have on your floors. Lower gloss levels are better suited for more active areas because dirt and scratches are harder to see versus higher gloss finishes.
- Width Terms: “Strips” are narrower board widths and work well in smaller areas to help make a room look larger. “Planks” are wider board widths that work well in a larger space.
- Hardness Wood Rating: Wood is rated based on the Janka Hardness Test. Basically, the higher the rating, the harder the wood is.
These items are a quick overview of some of the terms or questions you might have when it comes to purchasing your hardwood. We hope these tips and information helps you in your decision-making. For more information on hardwood, please visit our website. If you would like to learn more about specific hardwood flooring topics, leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to address them in a future post.
Here are few, simple ways you can incorporate it into your holiday celebrations:
- If you add the flavoring to your drinks or desserts, they’ll be sure to be a winter holiday classic.
- Use syrup flavor to infuse in your holiday cookies.
- Try to crush up peppermint candy canes and add them in cookies, brownies, or cakes.
- Sprinkling crushed up peppermint will help dress up your special treat.
- Add peppermint flavoring in your morning coffee or a cup of hot chocolate. Putting a candy cane can be a great source for stirring and drink decoration, too.
- Create a candy cane wreath
Can you think of creative ways to use peppermint this year? Feel free to comment and share with us!
Decorating a nursery or toddler’s room is more about the parents than it is the baby. Once kids get older and form their own style and opinions, decorating their spaces can be more of a collaboration between you and them. Today, we’ll talk about decorating a teen boy’s room.
The bedroom pictured here is a nice example of classic style for a boy’s bedroom. This is a room that can work for many years because it focuses on classic decorating rather than the current trend or fad. Navy blue color creates a dramatic wall that is offset by the crisp white ceiling. Oak wood floors are durable and another timeless design element.
Stripes on the bedding in red and blue add some pattern to the space. The red contrasts nicely with the blue walls, adding some dynamic energy to the space. Stripes could also be carried up onto the windows with shades to add privacy. Even a white roll down shade would work on the windows to block light in the morning and provide privacy at night.
Furniture is also classic in form. A full or queen size bed is big enough to accommodate a growing boy who might even be taller than mom. An armoire can be used as additional storage, to hold a television or as a desk for homework. Storage with doors is important to control clutter that is typical in a teenager’s bedroom. Accessories that are academic, sport or outdoor themed are also good choices for a classic teenage boy’s room. These are just some basic tips to keep in mind while you and your teen are updating their room. Add in personal detail to make the room fit his interests!