Redecorating My Living Room

Living-RoomI love decorating my home.  Interior design has always been a passion of mine, and I love taking every opportunity I can to be creative with my home.  As much as I love it though, I’ve been lazy and haven’t actively done anything different with my house – that is, up until last week.

Last Friday, I was sitting in my living room, thinking how bland everything seemed and how dissatisfied I was.  So I made it my goal for the weekend to do something about it.  I got the creative juices flowing and started mapping out on the back of an old brochure everything I wanted to do.  I was starting to get really excited!

There were so many things I wanted to do!  First, I decided the walls needed a new color.  Before, they were an eggshell color, which is nice, but also boring.  I decided to mix it up a bit and go dark.  First, I took everything off the walls, cleared space and called over a few friends to help out.  We made a trip to our local paint supply store and picked up dark, charcoal colored paint.  Luckily, we’re all experienced painters and knew we could get the job finished in a jiffy so that I could get on to the rest of my decorating.  I love the way the paint turned out!  The dark color actually makes the room feel larger.

Saturday morning, after the paint had fully dried, I decided to keep going with my decorating project.  I needed to do something about my window decorations.  They were boring old blinds.  I wanted more exciting windows – so I made a trip to Mann Kidwell to pick out new, fresh plantation shutters for my windows.  The shutters add a unique element to the room that I really enjoy.

The next thing I did was accent the top of my entertainment stand with some patterned wallpaper.  By doing this, I was able to add a unique touch to a typically unnoticed item.  To keep with the theme of touching up old furniture, I have an antique side table that has been looking rugged lately.  Rather than replacing the item, I decided I’d paint it a unique color.  Since I still had some leftover pain from the walls, I decided to use what was left on the table.  It looks fantastic!

I’m so glad I made it my mission to redo my living room.  Everything looks terrific and I feel like I’m in a new home altogether.

How to be an art collector

ashleycurry-art-collectorAs an art collector, there are many different kinds of things you need in order to support your hobby.

Other than your basic research and appraising skills and just general taste, you need to find pieces that go well together. Many people tend to know how to buy work on a piece-by-piece basis, but starting a collection is a whole different story. In a lot of ways, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that is what makes the craft special.

Formulating a plan to building the collection is a completely different animal than just buying what you think looks pretty. How do you relate one purchase to the next? What takes priority? How do you organize the group together? And most importantly, how do you do all these things well?

It’s tough. And when it comes to displaying your art, even the pieces in your own home, no price is too high to have your collection be displayed for as long as possible and stay as healthy as possible.

You want to be an informed and prepared buyer. Your home or storage facility must be ready for your new piece, and you need to know the right way to display the piece.

If you want to be an art collector, learn as much as you can about how to preserve your investments. I live in eastern Virginia, so when I find a room suitable for a new art piece, I get Solar Film window tinting to control the fading of the artwork, even if I am only using it as temporary storage. The film will ensure that the sun’s rays will be suitable for display in a room with windows.

You want to be able to show your work off in any setting, whether public or personal. Your work can take a tour even if it’s full of pieces from garage sales and secondhand stores if it’s put together and displayed effectively.

This is also not something you want to rush. Just because you see a good deal doesn’t mean it’s time to make the buy. Make sure you research and effectively price out your piece if it’s not in your collection goals.

When building your collection, it’s also important to actually be happy with the pieces you choose. Buy what’s comfortable for you, not what is trending. Those are for people who have already built satisfying collections. You will have your own time in the sun.

My Outdoor BBQ Hot Spot

Everything I do, I do big. I like the finer things in life and I’ll pay whatever it takes to get it. The recent improvement I’ve done to my Northern VA home is a great example of a crowd pleaser. Spring was in full bloom and summer was quickly approaching so I decided to design a spot near the pool where my friends and I could hang out and make really good eats. I’m a big fan of BBQ so I ordered a top of the line smoker and state of the art gas grill that could handle pounds upon pounds of fresh meat. There was also a small fileting station where I could prep my freBBQ yumsh proteins. A large sitting are around the outdoor kitchen was also a must so my friends and I can drink great wine, beer and spirts as we BBQ. I decided the lounging area should have granite countertops so I began to look around for the finest granite slabs in NOVA. I decided to also build a huge bar behind the lounge are so it looks like I was going to need a lot of stone.  I must have looked through a thousand different selections but I decided on two different stones that would distinguish the bar from the lounge countertops. I also had another one picked out which was designated for the foot rests under the bar seating. I used a Juparana Crema Bordeaux for the foot rests, a Caeserstone Concetto Albero for the lounge area, and a Fossil Black stone for the bar. These granite selections really look great together. As the finished stone started coming in, we would start installing. These granite countertops were the best idea I’ve had in a while.

With those counter tops out of the way we were able to install a large canopy terrace that could open up to let the sun in with just a click of the button. I also installed a convenient line of appliances like a handy wine chiller, a kegerator, a frozen margarita machine, a rotisserie extension for the smoker, a small gas fire pit with glass beads in it, the finest audio sound system, and a gigantic flat screen TV that was waterproof and could fold back into a compartment when not being used. I was set to enjoy and couldn’t be any happier with the final product. Since the completion, I have hosted many fun and unforgettable parties. Now the only problem I have is getting people to go.

Remodeling, Wine, and Relaxation

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been working on a pretty big project to remodel my home’s kitchen.  Boy, has it been a stressful time; picking out wall color, new counter tops, and searching for appliances to match it all!  It’s been a heck of mess trying to organize and pick out contractors as well.  At least I’ll have my new kitchen here just in time for summer!

Luckily now, there’s a lull in the work that I personally need to do.  So last week, the contractors were at the house with my husband and they were going to spend the day putting in our new cabinets.  There was no need for me, so I decided that I was going to take a break from all the stress and treat myself to a mini vacation – a day of relaxation.

So to begin my day, I went ahead and scheduled a massage at my favorite spot – Massage Envy.  They’ve always treated me well and I make them my massage choice time and time again.  I signed up for a 2 hour deep tissue and it was terrific!     All the stress built up for months was able to finally be released.  I finally felt like all was well with the world.

After my massage, I decided to take a little walk around the mall that’s right near the massage parlor.  I treated myself to some new spring clothes.  What a great day!

Next I wanted to make a little trip to one of my favorite establishments here in Richmond, James River Cellars Winery.  They make a delicious rosé that I love to treat myself to whenever I get the chance.  Aside from the delicious wine, they also have a wonderful view that I can just watch for hours.  I brought along a book I’ve been dying to read and spent a few hours just enjoying the scenery and wine.

By days end I felt completely rejuvenated and relaxed.  By the time I got home, our new cabinets were successfully installed and looked great!  Such a wonderful day thanks to some hardworking men, a massage, and some wine.  Maybe I should schedule more house projects just so I can relive a day like this!

Home Decorating on a Vineyard

Whether you have a vineyard home or live near a vineyard, there are always going to be people who would like to stay over. Below is a brief account from Elizabeth, who explains how she decorated her home to accommodate guests.


I live in Northern Virginia close to a vineyard, and I have people coming to my house constantly to visit. The beautiful views and nearby activities makes Chantilly a place where family and friends love to spend time. But having a home where you constantly have guests can put a lot of pressure on someone, and I definitely felt the need to make my house a place where people would be comfortable. I also decided to make some upgrades so it was a prettier, more peaceful place for everyone.

Adding a fountain in the entryway was my first decision. I chose a small, flowerpot style fountain, mainly for the calming sound effect. I also filled the fountain with stones. I then turned my attention to installing and adding some new lighting in my house. This is easier said than done, and I would caution anyone from jumping into layered lighting without talking to an interior designer or electrician first. Adding extra lights in dimmer areas of your house can help enhance certain architectural features. It’s hard to picture how this will come out without some help, and I eventually had a designer come in for a consultation and show me the ropes.

One upgrade that really gave my interiors some extra edge was installing granite countertops. This, however, was also the biggest investment (both time and money). I spent months picking out the style that I wanted and another week deciding which of these styles would fit into my budget. What’s helpful is finding a nearby granite store to help you. By visiting a granite showroom near Chantilly VA, I was able to set up an appointment and have a specialist walk me through the wide selection. From there, I did more online research to make my final decision.

We also recommend making your windows a focal point to show off your beautiful views. Looking for some less expensive home improvement methods? Click here for some additional help.

A Vineyard Day Trip

Living in the Alameda area of California, you are practically surrounded by beautiful vineyards. In fact, this is the perfect place to organize a day of vineyard hopping or reserve the area of a vineyard for a day. In this account, Lucy tells us about celebrating her grandmother’s birthday at a vineyard.

“I am lucky enough to have my great grandmother live to the age of 90. I think part of what has kept her healthy so long is receiving elder care in Alameda, CA while living in the comfort of her own home. When she reached this particular birthday, my family wanted to have a big celebration. Living in California, I thought it would be a great idea for us to all meet at my house and take a bus up to a vineyard in Northern CA for the day. Having so many brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, and aunts, we were able to all chip in for a great celebration.

The best part about having a vineyard day for my grandmother’s birthday party was that it was calm and peaceful. We were able to sit outside and enjoy spending some family time around beautiful views of the valley. It was also great because she has an early bedtime. This was better than doing a family dinner because it was during the day time, and we were able to get her back home in the evening. The kids were able to play outside while the adults sat back and enjoyed some wine.

Going to a vineyard for a family day was the perfect activity that we could all enjoy. Look at the places closest to you to see their reservation rates and deals.”

Vineyards are great places for family get-togethers, celebrations, dates, and even weddings. They are also great places to spend a day off of work or go on a weekend trip. You don’t need an excuse to spend some time outside with wine, food, and friends. Click here to find more information on vineyards near you.

Why Buy Replacement Windows To Save On Heating Costs

In the coldest months of the year, your heating bill can rise to astronomical heights. You need to save money where you can so that your furnace doesn’t drain your budget. Leaky windows can lose large amounts of heat in the winter and this can translate to hundreds of dollars in energy costs. Don’t let your money fall through the cracks! Look at fiberglass replacement windows like those you can see at to save on heating costs. The warmer and more insulated your house is, the happier you’ll be when you have a comfortable home free of drafts. If you need more incentive, here are a few reasons why you should upgrade your windows.

  • You can take advantage of free energy from the sun. Passive solar energy is a big component in the building of new, energy efficient homes. Windows are designed to capture sunlight and heat during the day, and at night, they hold the heat in. Taking advantage of this resource is completely free and will save you hundreds of dollars on your heating bill during the winter. That’s money that you can spend on something else you need.
  • They will pay for themselves over time. Energy efficient windows are more expensive but you should try buying the most efficient windows you can afford. You’ll save money in the long run on energy bills. Plus, you’ll add value to your home and it’ll be more attractive to a potential homebuyer. Not many people are going to buy a house that loses large amounts of heat during the winter. If you’re looking for a good investment, this is one you should make.

fiberglass windowsWith the money you can save on heating costs, you can improve your home even more. Or you can take that vacation you’ve always wanted. Either way, you should get replacement windows to save on heating costs. You’ll stay warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer. Stop throwing your hard earned money out the window! Invest in your energy savings today.

Landscaping Ideas With Stone Pavers

A Great Way to Add Style to Your Landscaping

Pavers are a very versatile landscaping tool which can be used for a variety of projects in the backyard. Typically pavers are made from manufactured stone or concrete like the pavers here sold by Pete Rose Landscape supply. This type of product has become much more popular recently and with how great they will look in your yard it’s no mystery as to why.

If your front or backyard is not taking advantage of this great landscaping product, hopefully this article will soon change your mind and give you a few different ideas on the best ways to use them on your property. Another reason why homeowners are utilizing pavers more is because they are low cost and yet durable. So what sorts of projects are they being used for?

walkway paversWalkways – Stone pavers are perfect for a walkway out to your garden, garage, or to the front of your home. You can either create a stepping stone like pattern or a solid

pool paversAround a pool – Pavers can also be a great to put around a pool in your backyard. They provide a great patio like area where you can lay out or have a nice clean surface to talk around.

Patios – Speaking of patios, you can create a great patio space with just pavers. If you don’t have a usable deck, this is probably the best way to make space outside for sitting around, grilling and enjoying time with friends.

firepit made from stone paversFire Pit –Did you know you can also construct a fire pit from certain types of pavers? A fire pit is a great addition to any outdoor space when used responsibly, especially in the cooler months of the year.

For a relatively inexpensive way to improve the look and usable space on your property, it’s hard to bat landscaping stone pavers. Whether you want a simple walkway to add a little functionality or style to your yard, want to create a patio or fire pit, this is an upgrade you need to look into as a homeowner.

The Reasons Why Andersen Windows Last

Chic, High Performance Windows You Will Love

When you install new windows on your house, you want them to last for quite some time. It can become expensive very quickly if you have to replace windows frequently. You’re better off going with a brand that has a proven record of outlasting the competition. Andersen Windows are built for the long haul. I recently had the opportunity to stay with a friend in Philadelphia who just got new Renewal by Andersen windows. You can find their local website here if you are also in Pennsylvania.

I was struck by how beautiful and high quality they were. The room I stayed in had 3 windows and while it was cold out, it stayed very cozy inside. I talked to my friend a big about them and she explained to me some of their benefits including why Andersen Windows last.

  • They are made from the highest quality materials. When you take the best ingredients and mix them together, you know you’re going to get an exceptional product. Andersen Windows are made with the best glass and plastic, ensuring that they last for many years to come. Competitors use cheaper materials that lower the price of their products. Don’t fall victim to the discount! Pay for quality that you can count on.
  • They are built to last. Some companies earn their profits by making a cheap product that is made to break. Since their product doesn’t last very long, the consumer is forced to buy the product more frequently. After a while, the less expensive product doesn’t seem like a great deal anymore. Luckily for the consumer, that is not the case with Andersen Windows. They know that customers keep the business alive. That’s why they earn customer satisfaction with a quality product that lasts years longer than the competition. Customers get tired of buying the same product again and again. Andersen Windows earns customer respect one great window at a time.

The answer is simple. Andersen Windows are just better than the rest. Other window manufacturers cut corners so that they can grow their profit margins. This strategy is bad for the customer because they get a low quality product. Customers are looking for a product they can trust and rely on for the long run. That’s why Andersen Windows last; because the customers believe they have a great product.

See Clearly With A San Francisco Window Replacement Company

It’s frustrating when you open your blinds to look out at the world in the morning and all you see is dirty, foggy windows. If that’s what you see when you look outside, you may be due for some new windows. Fortunately for you, the right window replacement company near San Francisco is out there waiting for your business. Windows come in all shapes and sizes and they’re even energy efficient. Your local replacement window installers in the San Francisco Bay area has all your window needs covered.

A Replacement Windows that Works in Any Climate

san francisco bay picture replacement windowLiving in California, you know that the weather can get warm. But there are also still seasons and varying weather at times. During those rainy days, you’d like to look out at the world through the comfort of your home. If your windows are out-of-date and are in need of replacing, look to your window replacement specialist for help. They’ll know exactly what you need once you tell them the budget you have in mind.

With San Francisco’s warm climate, you may not realize that you can save money on your energy bill with energy efficient windows. When you have the energy efficient windows, they act as a barrier that keeps the air temperature indoors constant. So when you have your air conditioning on, you lose less cold air to the hot air outside. Over the lifetime of your windows, you’ll save so much on your energy bill that the windows will pay for themselves in energy savings. If you plan on being in your house for a while, this might be something you want to look into. Energy efficient windows are also a smart investment if you plan on selling your house, too. With so many people conscious of their carbon footprint, an energy efficient home will be very attractive to potential buyers.

Talk to your local window specialist today to find out if your home is ready for some new windows. They’ll be more than happy to help you out.