Of all the major home and bathroom trends of 2015, there’s one very specific feature that’s really making waves: gray shaker style bathroom vanities. These vanities are showing in bathrooms of all different sizes and styles, and many top manufacturers have included one (or several) in their new 2015 lineups. But why the sudden popularity, and will it last? We’ve got a few reasons why these very trendy vanities have become such a hit, and why they’re worth having.
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Over the past few years, neutrals have made a strong comeback in home design, from unfinished wood surfaces to natural linens. But gray has been a particular stand out because it tends to feel just a tad more refined and sophisticated than a beige, tan, or cream, while still retaining that soft, casual, natural feel. A gray vanity can make a bathroom feel subtly more traditional and elegant than the exact same vanity in white, off white, or a natural wood, which makes it a perfect color for a transitional look that’s classy without being overly ornate or old fashioned.
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Shaker style cabinets have come back in a major way over the last year or so, and for a similar reason. Shaker furniture dates back to the mid 1800s, which technically makes the style “traditional,” but the simple, straight lines and minimalist elegance of the shaker style has much more in common with a modern aesthetic than any kind of antique. That makes shaker cabinets ideal for a transitional style, too, since they have just that hint of old world style, but are simple and casual enough for a contemporary space.
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Together, these two elements hit all the important notes for the overall trend toward transitional style bathrooms. Gray, shaker style bathroom vanities are elegant without feeling stuffy, and simple and streamlined without being stark and featureless. They also hit that perfect in-between spot that means they can blend well with a lot of different styles and are very easy to dress up or dress down. For example, a gray bathroom vanity paired with white marble counters and elegant lighting fixtures is going to have a very different look from the same vanity paired with wood floors and planked walls.
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Part of this versatility comes from the fact that gray is a neutral color. But unlike more traditional neutrals that almost always have strong warm undertones, “gray” encompasses a whole range of shades, from warm and almost peachy to dark steel or slate tones with a very cool blue base. Since the vanity is such a central fixture in the bathroom, subtle differences in the tint of gray you choose can have a big impact on the overall appearance of the space. As a rule of thumb, opt for a gray with blue undertones for a crisp, cool, modern look, and a lighter gray with pink or yellow undertones for a warmer, more traditional space.
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The cabinet doors are the main distinguishing feature of shaker style bathroom vanities: they consist of a flat panel surrounded by a very simple, very square frame. But that basic design can be applied to cabinet doors of any size or shape, or even drawer fronts, which makes them vastly more versatile in terms of design and layout than any other type of traditional design. Shaker style cabinet doors hold up to even very distinctive features, like an open shelf design or an asymmetrical cabinet arrangement, and help mellow them out and give them a more neutral transitional appearance.
Ultimately a big part of the appeal of gray shaker style bathroom vanities is that they’re chameleons. This is a style that can blend equally well with a very posh traditional bathroom, a casual cottage style, or even a relaxed modern spa bath, simply because it falls right in between a lot of different stylistic elements and can adopt other ones easily. That also speaks to the longevity of this unusually specific trend: while these vanities are certainly a hot item now, since they have such a timeless appearance, they’re likely to have some staying power.
But what do you think of this trend? Do you like the look of these gray shaker style bathroom vanities? Let me know in the comments below!
Shaker style vanities are one of the hottest new trends in bathroom design this year, in no small part because they’re such a great pair for the relaxed, casual-yet-elegant look that’s become so desirable in all areas of home design. But while traditional shaker style cabinets are fairly simple and square, there are a few ways to dress up and personalize this look for a style that will really stand out.
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The most basic shaker style bathroom vanities are closer to the kinds of cabinets you’d find in the kitchen than a traditional bathroom vanity. Rather than a single cabinet door, they typically have two doors side by side, though they’ll often also have a drawer or faux drawer panel above the cabinet just beneath the counter. The most defining feature, though, is the cabinet doors, which have a smooth, flat surface and a fairly thick but very simple and straight rectangular frame – basically the simplest possible form of flat panel cabinet door. This combination of sharp, clean, simple lines has a very contemporary feel, but the presence and prominence of the frame also evokes more traditional and ornate styles, which makes shaker style cabinets feel a bit more elegant and classic than a more modern slab style door.
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One of the simplest ways to change up the look of a shaker style vanity (and one of the easiest ways to get a look that’s even trendier) is to put shaker doors on an open shelf style bathroom vanity. Open shelf vanities have become a staple of a relaxed, spa style bathroom, and adding shaker style doors gives them a cozy cottage or seaside vibe, particularly if done in a light shade of wood or a clean white finish. Shaker style vanities often have feet, but giving them a little more lift and adding a simple shelf underneath adds visually pleasing white space that can help make the bathroom feel more open and spacious.
Ditching the traditional two-door style in favor of a single cabinet door paired with a column of drawers is also a way to pretty drastically alter the look of a shaker style bathroom vanity while still getting many of the benefits of the overall aesthetic. Shifting to an asymmetrical style will give the vanity a much more modern feel and emphasize the sharp simplicity of the lines, but it will still have a softer, more relaxed feel than a more modern frameless cabinet. The added bonus for this look is that you have a little more flexibility in terms of storage.
Changing up the size, shape, and placement of the doors is another great way to give a shaker style bathroom vanity a more unique and distinctive look. The Milano vanity above is a great example, with two thin, elongated cabinet doors, two shortened cabinets, and two long, thin drawers. Though they’re all done in a very simple shaker style, the final effect feels much more nuanced and traditional feeling. As with creating a more asymmetrical shaker vanity, playing around with the number, placement, and orientation of cabinets and drawers is also a way to get a better storage layout for your bathroom.
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The stereotypical shaker style cabinet door has a simple frame and no other ornamentation, but it isn’t unheard of for them to have a little more detail, too. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of detail you’d find on other types of cabinets: there’s no wood carving, layers, beveling, or patterning. Instead, more “ornate” shaker cabinets simply add more of the same simple rectangular bars that make up the frame of the cabinet door. Adding a simple vertical bar down the middle is one of the most common options (for a “two panel” door), but horizontal bars at 2/3 or 3/4 height are also a common embellishment.
On a traditional shaker style cabinet, the frame around the cabinet panel should be almost completely seamless – the places where the top, bottom, and sides of the frame meet should only be visible on close inspection. But some shaker-inspired cabinets intentionally leave a small gap between these pieces to give the vanity a subtly different look. Showing straight horizontal lines can give the vanity a slightly more contemporary feel (though this is the more conventional way of constructing the doors), while having visible angled joints at the corners has a more old fashioned feel. Also, pay attention to the thickness of the frame; shaker style cabinets come in all shapes and sizes, but having a thick, thin, or medium width frame can have a big difference on the overall appearance of the vanity.
What do you think of these slightly unconventional shaker style cabinets? Do you like the hybrid contemporary/traditional look and feel of this trend? Let me know in the comments below!
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Creating an industrial style decor is all about embracing things that are old but not quite antique, and finding the artistic beauty in items that are generally considered to be purely functional. Like modern design, industrial spaces emphasize simplicity and minimalism, but rather than sharp, clean lines, it’s more important to show off the human touch – whether it’s a hand scraped wood floor or a reclaimed factory stool. Nowhere is this more true than with artwork, where pretty much anything but fine art will do. In fact, some of the most striking types of art you can use in an industrial decor are made of things you probably have in your house right now, or that you could easily find at your local thrift shop or flea market.
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Maybe one of the most extreme examples of regular items being used as art in an industrial style decor is the sheer prevalence of framed papers. These run the gamut from hand written letters to sheet music to poems or even manuscript book pages, and can be written in English or otherwise. Often, it’s less about what the paper says (e.g. the contents of a letter) and more about its appearance. Little details like worn creases, coffee stains, or notes in the margins give the papers a unique, tactile quality that allows them to serve as something like time capsules, capturing a moment and putting it on display. That’s exactly what an industrial style decor is about: not about idealizing the past, but about digging in and enjoying the (flawed) reality of it.
Postcards are another common item that can be repurposed as art in an industrial style decor, and for similar reasons. Postcards capture a single moment in time even more explicitly than letters do, not only for the pictures and places depicted on the front side, but for the stamps and postmarks on the back. Like passport stamps stereotypically portrayed on old fashioned luggage, postage stamps mark when and where the card came from, while the simple small notes conjure up an untold story. Postcards can easily be displayed either faced forward or in reverse, and are small enough that they work equally well shown off individually or in a collage. Post cards are an especially good choice if you want to add a slightly foreign or exotic touch to your industrial decor.
If you’re really having trouble letting go of the idea of art needing to be fine art, consider a sort of middle-ground option: instead of a finished painting, seek out pencil or charcoal sketches. These can be anything from very simple line drawings to more complex pieces (if you’re feeling especially fancy, you could even seek out sketches from renowned artists). These combine the authority of Being Art with the slightly grungier quality that you want for an industrial decor – aged paper, smudged graphite, and soft, sketchy lines rather than hard shapes. I particularly like the elegance of simple figure drawings, but landscapes or more detailed architectural sketches work well, too.
The industrial revolution marked a huge advancement not only in technology but also in science. So while many of the trappings of a contemporary industrial decor have to do with the former (from reclaimed factory lights to repurposed machine parts), when it comes to smaller decor items, it can be fun to play up the latter. Simple scientific drawings of plants or animals are perfect for this. This type of precise, detailed art is often paired with hand written notations that give them a one-of-a-kind appearance, and because drawings like this aren’t really done anymore, they inherently carry that little sense of history with them that’s perfect for adding a touch of sophistication to an industrial style decor. Old encyclopedia pages with detailed etchings work well for this, too, especially if you deliberately choose which pages to put on display.
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On the more mechanical side of things are technical drawings – anything from machine schematics to old fashioned models of the solar system. Like scientific nature sketches, these are detailed, precise drawings that should have a slightly dated quality to them and maybe a little visible age or wear and tear. But while sketches of leaves, flowers, or birds bring a touch of nature into an industrial style decor, drawings of man-made parts will emphasize the grittier factory and mechanical aspect of the style. Often, these types of drawings will also have a more abstract, geometric quality which gives them a slightly more modern look and feel if you want a style that’s a little more daring.
What do you think of using found objects as art? Do you like this slightly grittier, grungier look? Let me know in the comments below!
Buying a new sofa is a major investment, and I don’t just mean financially. The sofa is the centerpiece of your living room, and one of the most important pieces for defining the style of the space. And since many people keep their sofas for many years (or even decades!), the one you choose now might very well be with you for quite a long time. So while price and comfort should be major considerations, it’s worth taking some time to think about your sense of style, too, and what you want your living room to look like in the coming years.
Traditional sofas are probably the first thing that come to mind when you think “sofa” – they’ve got thick cushiony seats and backs, padded arms, and generally sit pretty low to or even flat on the ground. The most common ones are pretty simple in design and are made more for comfort than for looks, but others sport a more classic style, with features like button tufting, shaped arms or backs, or tooled wood legs or feet. Traditional sofas also tend to be the heftiest, with a strong rectangular shape, which makes them great for a large living room. Simpler sofas have a more casual feel, but the more detail you add, the more formal and finished they’ll make your living room look.
The dressiest traditional sofas are heavily influenced by antique designs, but they don’t necessarily have to be reserved for strongly period-inspired spaces. In fact, antique designs made with simple, neutral-colored fabrics and natural or weathered wood accents have a gorgeous, homey quality that’s become particularly popular in recent years. The antique-inspired features make these sofas feel elegant and sophisticated, but using humble materials makes them feel more like hand-me-down family heirlooms than museum quality pieces. This hybrid traditional style is great for dressing up a simple farmhouse or cottage style living room, while sofas with more French-inspired details (particularly Louis XIV style legs) are great for creating a picture-perfect French country cottage look.
Where traditional sofas are all plush surfaces and soft curves, contemporary sofas are sleek, minimalist, and generally pretty square, with simple lines and few embellishments. They also tend to be quite a bit leaner than more traditional designs. Where traditional sofas sit very close to the floor, contemporary designs are much more likely to be raised up on simple metal legs. This slimmer profile makes them ideal for smaller spaces, since they don’t feel quite so big or heavy. Traditional sofas tend to stick pretty closely to a basic sofa or sectional shape, but contemporary sofas have a little more freedom to get creative with their layout, and often incorporate chaises, adjustable parts or arms, or even fully convertible designs that make them more functional in small homes.
“Retro” sofas are almost always based on mid-century designs, a style that boomed from 1933-1965 and that has had a huge influence on architecture and furniture designs ever since. Now, mid-century modern sofas have a look that’s somewhere between vintage and futuristic; as with contemporary sofas, they feature a lot of simple lines, but instead of sticking with basic squares, mid-century furniture incorporates lots of unique and unusual geometric shapes. These sofas usually have tapered wood legs set at an angle, and don’t shy away from including curvy shapes or asymmetry for style, so they have a bit more flair than contemporary sofas, which can feel a bit boxy. For a more retro feel, look for upholstery in a distinctive color like rust red, chartreuse, pea green, or orange; for a more modern feel, try something a little brighter, like true red, teal, yellow, or lime green.
Statement sofas can fall into any of these categories, but are bigger, bolder, and more distinct. They’re meant to really catch the eye and be a vivid part of the decor. For a traditional or French Country sofa, that might mean a distinctive shape (like a fainting sofa), a really bold, colorful, antique-inspired fabric, or lots of highly detailed woodwork. For a retro or contemporary sofa, it might mean funky, unusual shapes and bright, colorful upholstery. You can even mix and match materials and styles to create something even more eye-catching. These bold sofas work especially well with an eclectic design, because they stand out rather than blending in. The biggest drawback is that the coolest looking sofas tend to be the least comfortable to actually sit on, and are often on the smaller side, so they’re really more for looks, and not so much for kicking back and watching a movie.
Regardless of your style, it’s important to consider how you’ll be using the sofa, and whether it will be mostly for show or mostly for comfort. In any of these styles, it’s entirely possible to find a sofa that’s comfortable enough for everyday use, but keep in mind that comfort almost always comes at the cost of showiness. You can get a similar farmhouse/French country feel with an overstuffed sofa with a fitted white slipcover or with a delicate Louis XIV reproduction, but one will definitely be more comfortable to sit on, and the other will definitely be more stylish.
What would you say is your sofa style? Is there a particular look that appeals to you? Let me know in the comments below!
Futons get a bit of a bad rap; since they’re sort of the go-to for college kids and first-time apartment dwellers, a lot of people don’t really think of futons as “real” furniture, and will make the switch to a conventional sofa as soon as they can afford one. But not all sleeper sofas are like that ugly, metal-framed thing you had in your dorm room. In fact, many contemporary futons are indistinguishable from “real” sofas in terms of appearance and comfort, but have the added benefit of being able to turn into a bed.
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When you hear the word “futon” you probably think of a cheap metal or wood frame with a floppy, lumpy mattress arranged on top of it. But more often these days the futon functionality is built into the body of the sofa itself, so the back and arms of the sofa can be adjusted or laid flat to turn the sofa into a sleeping surface. What that means is that newer futons look a whole lot more like an “adult” sofa, without the visibly cheap parts or obvious dual functionality. Until you need to bring out the bed, these sleeper sofas just look like sofas.
Modern sleeper sofas also do away with the fold-out mattress. While sofas that have a folded up mattress hidden under the cushions tend to look more sofa-like than conventional futons, those mattresses are very heavy and difficult to move, and are almost never comfortable, with uneven wear from where they’re folded and little support or padding. If more contemporary designs have fold-out components, they’re usually in a single piece, as with the fold-out footrest/extension on the Roxboro sofa above. This keeps the “mattress” from wearing unevenly, and leaves a little wiggle room for creating a comfy lounge rather than a strict sofa/bed either/or.
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Early forays into this alternative type of futon produced sofas that were still pretty obviously futons, if not in the same way as wood or metal framed ones. With simple backs that unhinged to lay flat, these sofas offered a pretty good approximation of a full sized mattress. But they often looked boxy and frequently lacked arms or any real kind of definition, which presented exactly the same problem as the classic futon: they just didn’t look like sofas. But the “camouflage” has gotten a whole lot better, and the dual functionality a lot harder to spot. This Bizard sleeper looks every inch like a standard contemporary sofa, with a lean, geometric design, but each of the three back cushions folds back independently, for a surprisingly customizable sleeper.
Hiding the dual functionality of sleeper sofas and futons has also led to some pretty cool modern designs. Especially on sleeper sofas or convertible chairs, arms that are designed to flatten out can add a distinctive modern flair and bold, geometric feel to what would otherwise be fairly simple designs. This Tranquility sleeper is basically just a basic twin sized cot when flattened out, but folded all or part of the way, they give this simple settee a unique and eye-catching shape that makes it perfect as an accent chair.
On the flip side, some minimalist modern futons really embrace their multiple functions, making the dual-purpose of the furniture a feature of the aesthetic rather than trying to hide it away. These, too, are unlike conventional futons because the form is as important as the function. This Conic sleeper, for example, puts the folds of the large, single-piece cushion on display, allowing the futon-ness to show through in the curvy exposed lines on either side. Unlike many older futons, this feels like an intentional design choice rather than a constraint or limitation, and can add a nice funky touch to a room.
Even if you do want a futon purely for functionality, it can be worth looking for something beyond a basic frame and mattress. This Felicity sleeper isn’t anything wildly special to look at, but it has a simple design that extends easily, and more importantly, it expands into a surface that’s just barely shy of a queen sized mattress and comes with a built in headboard and no uncomfortable side rails. All you have to do is pull forward the wheel-mounted base and flip forward the mattress for a surprisingly roomy bed that you can easily tuck away when you don’t need it.
But what do you think of these contemporary styled futons and sleeper sofas? Do you like the unique modern designs, or do you prefer the good ol’ college-style futon mattress and frame? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Choosing the perfect vanity for a master bathroom is a bit of a balancing act. Of course you want the vanity to look good, but even more important is finding one that works well. After all, having two sinks and plenty of storage is a must for keeping the peace in many relationships, and unfortunately many vanities that focus solely on style do so at the expense of functionality. The new Madison collection from James Martin Furniture strikes a perfect balance between form and function, with a design that’s ideally suited for a master bathroom.
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First and foremost, the Madison collection is transitional in style, combining the simple, clean lines of a contemporary design with just enough embellishments to give the vanities a classic look and feel. Shaker style cabinets are particularly trendy right now, and these Madison vanities use an exaggerated version of this traditional cabinet door style, drawing attention to the angled joinings at the four corners of the cabinet doors. This gives the cabinet a slightly more decorative look and feel while keeping all the lines clean and simple.
This middle-of-the-line approach makes it possible to get a bathroom vanity that feels simple and casual enough for everyday use, but that has just enough elegance and refinement that it still feels sophisticated and can stand as the centerpiece of a master bathroom. Transitional vanities like those from the Madison collection simply feel more inviting: subtle details (like the beveled edges on the square door and drawer pulls that mimic the detailing on the cabinet doors) keep the vanity from looking too stark or plain, but do so without making it seem overly embellished.
Open shelf bathroom vanities have become popular lately for pretty much this exact same reason. Adding a little white space and lift to the vanity, even if the legs and feet are very simple, helps break up the boxy feel that many modern bathroom vanities can have. An open shelf design is often used in spa-style spaces to keep toiletries more visible and accessible, so this style is also great for evoking that really relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. The Madison vanities are also available in some of the most popular finishes for this style, including a soft dove gray that toes the line between casual and sophisticated.
Of course, while having a lot of open space and lazily-filled storage baskets sounds great in theory, in practice this type of arrangement can end up looking and feeling more than a little messy. James Martin’s Madison collection takes a unique approach to solving this problem by keeping the open shelf, but filling it completely with a fitted basket. The result is a look that’s very similar to that casual “I just tossed it in a basket” style, but functionally works more like a drawer, keeping items fully hidden and tucked away.
In addition to the shelf-turned-drawers at the bottom of the vanity, the Madison double vanities also have two very large drawers in the center of the vanity for added storage. They’re wider and deeper than normal drawers, which makes them ideal for keeping oft-used items organized and easily accessible. While normal sized drawers can only accommodate small items, these larger drawers are ideal for bigger toiletries, like hairspray or a hair drier. Because they’re mounted on full extension drawer slides, you never have to worry about items getting lost in the back of the drawer: you can see everything inside all at once.
Having larger, wider drawers means having slightly smaller cabinets, but the Madison collection addresses this in a unique way, too. Instead of having the two sinks centered over the two cabinets, they’re slightly offset so the plumbing doesn’t take up the entire center of the cabinet. This helps maximize the amount of available storage space, so even though the cabinets are a bit narrower, they actually have more usable room on the inside. There’s also a narrow shelf installed at the front of the cabinet that’s perfect for storing small items that you want to access frequently, but that you don’t want to leave out on your counter top, like toothpaste tubes or contact lens holders.
The Madison collection from James Martin Furniture offers not only a very trendy style, but also a variety of unique solutions to problems that commonly plague high end master bathroom vanities. Though the difference is visually subtle, it can make a big difference in the day to day usability of the vanity. But what do you think of this collection? Let me know in the comments below!
Big, luxurious, walk-in showers have become one of the most desirable features in bathroom design. They’re convenient enough to use even if you have a busy schedule and scale remarkably well to the size of your bathroom and your budget. While the ideal you’ll see on TV and in design magazines is a shower built to fit about five people, you can get the same steamy, decadent indulgence even in a small bathroom. Unfortunately, true custom showers involve ripping out your whole shower, rerouting plumbing, and even upgrading your water heater – none of which are very budget friendly. For a middle ground, look for one of these five types of high end, luxurious shower heads. They can all be replaced with about 15 minutes of work, no other upgrades, demolition, or skilled labor needed.
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For anyone that balks at the prospect of a huge, invasive shower expansion project, my favorite recommendation is the shower panel. These are a simple and elegant solution, offering the multiple shower heads and body sprayers iconic of a custom spa shower, but all contained within a single metal or plastic unit. Traditional custom showers require pipes to be run through the walls to shower heads and body sprayers, each of which pumps out a full load of water, rapidly draining the water heater and requiring bigger pipes to move water in and out. Shower panels divide the water that would normally feed a single shower head between multiple heads, using various techniques to increase the water pressure so you get that all-over body spray without actually powering through five or ten times as much water. The best part? They attach to your existing plumbing, no modifications needed.
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The term “shower system” can be used to mean a few different things, but in this case I’m referring specifically to high-end units that couple an over-head rainfall shower head with a hand shower. These are sometimes paired with tub fillers, and are usually designed with an adjustable bar that allows the hand shower to be raised or lowered so it can be used either as a standard shower head or as a body spray. These are similar to shower panels in that they install directly onto your existing shower arm and don’t require you to alter the plumbing, but may require a slightly more complicated installation, if the grab bar needs to be mounted to the wall. That said, these tend to have a more polished, finished look than shower panels, and are made entirely of metal, without any plastic parts.
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Rainfall shower heads are a common component of big, custom designed spa showers. These are bigger in diameter than your average shower head, and are mounted higher than average – sometimes even on the ceiling. The broad, flat face, wide nozzles, and positioning combine to allow water to fall rather than flow out of the shower head, dripping in large, fat droplets that feel like rain. Shower panels and shower systems typically come with rainfall shower heads built in, but you can also install them individually. To get the full effect, you’ll need to replace your existing shower arm with one that curves upwards to raise the height of the shower head. Rainfall showers provide a fantastically refreshing experience, but be aware that they don’t provide the same high pressure as standard heads, which can be a problem when trying to wash long hair. Also, expect to pay a little more for these, as they’re bigger and more sophisticated in design than conventional shower heads.
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For a really simple, effective, no-gimmicks way to get a more luxurious bathing experience without tearing out your shower, you really can’t beat upgrading to a hand held shower. For those of you who have never seen one, these are basically shower heads affixed to a long, flexible hose, which allows you to move the shower head and direct the flow of water wherever you want it. This is great not only for hydrotherapy purposes (and washing that really long hair), but also makes it easier to clean your shower or anything in your shower, like a family pet. The best part is, these install just as easily as a shower head: you simply unscrew the old shower head, remove the old shower arm, screw one end of the hose directly into the pipe coming out of the wall, and the hand shower to the other. Most models come with a plate that butts up against the wall and and acts as a hook to hold the shower head in place at a standard height, but with some models you’ll need to install a bracket or slide bar directly into your tile.
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Okay, so it might not be the same thing as having ten shower heads spraying on you at once in a shower you big enough to drive your car through, but you might be surprised how much difference a new shower head can make. Cheap, junky shower heads have few nozzles and fewer settings, and often either lack water pressure or shoot you with pins and needles. If you live in an area with hard water, chances are good that at least a few of the nozzles are clogged, which can put a damper on the experience. Upgrading from an inexpensive, single-function shower head to one with dozens of nozzles and five or more functions is a huge transformation, with better water pressure, more customizable settings, and a better over-all sensation, often while using less water. Look to spend between $100-200 on a good, well made multi-function model to get the most out of your investment, then just remove your old shower head, screw on the new one, and voila – the most budget friendly spa shower out there.
So even if you don’t have a huge budget to spend, a luxurious, decadent shower experience isn’t necessarily out of your reach – you just have to buy smart, and avoid the pitfalls of the most expensive custom shower features.
No matter how big or small your bathroom, adding a storage cabinet is one of the simplest and most straightforward ways to get more usable storage space. Add-on cabinets come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations, so it’s easy to find one that will meet your needs, regardless of what they happen to be. That said, it’s important to take time to figure out exactly what you want and need out of a bathroom cabinet, and how much space you really have to dedicate to one.
The most common types of bathroom storage cabinets are sort of like a smaller version of a standard vanity: they’re about the same height, but narrower and sit closer to the wall, and they usually have shelves or drawers for more organized storage. These types of cabinets are pretty much a straight supplement to your bathroom vanity, and can be purchased individually in a wide variety of colors and styles, or as part of a larger bathroom vanity collection. The biggest advantages of a half-height cabinets are that they also add usable counter space, which most cabinets don’t, and they don’t take up space on your upper walls, so they can be used for other forms of storage. Unfortunately, you’ll need to bend down to access most items stored inside these cabinets.
Full height cabinets are basically two half height cabinets stacked one on top of the other (sometimes literally), and are usually between five and six feet tall. The obvious advantage here is that you get twice as much storage space in exactly the same amount of floor space. These storage cabinets typically offer a greater variety of types of storage, too. While half height cabinets are usually either cabinets or drawers, full height cabinets can (and do) have both. Ones sold in two pieces can sometimes be mixed and matched, too, so you can have almost any combination of drawers, shelves, cabinets, open shelves, and glass-walled cabinets to suit the needs of your space. Higher shelves can be more accessible than low-lying cabinets, but these storage towers don’t add counter space, and they can feel a bit looming in smaller bathrooms.
You can also find tall bathroom storage cabinets that are more like wardrobes or linen cabinets. Instead of having a top and bottom half, these usually have one or two tall doors that open on a closet-like space filled with shelves. These are usually about as wide as other full-height storage cabinets, but they can also be quite a bit wider. If you have a large bathroom but no dedicated linen closet, this can be a great option; they have lots of storage space that’s ideally suited for large-scale items, like towels, toilet paper, or cleaning products. That said, they aren’t great for smaller spaces, and generally aren’t the best for storing smaller items, as you have to open the entire cabinet to get at anything inside.
Some modern designers, like the Wyndham Collection, have come up with even more innovative cabinets that are specifically designed to do more while taking up less space. This Claire cabinet does triple duty, combining shelf storage, compact towel bars, and a full length mirror. Fixed on a pivoting axle, this cabinet can be spun around, making it possible to access different types of storage on multiple sides of the cabinet. This unique design makes it possible to cram much more functionality into the same amount of space, and it looks good doing it, too. Fully mounted, the cabinet only sticks out a little more than foot into the bathroom and has no doors or drawers to take up more space, which makes this a surprisingly viable option for a smaller bathroom.
If you have a really small bathroom, though, a traditional floor-mounted storage cabinet is probably too large, no matter how well designed it happens to be. If you don’t have much (or any) floor space to spare, you’re going to want to look into wall mounted storage cabinets instead. Like medicine cabinets, wall mounted storage cabinets are hung on or recessed into the wall, and contain several small, narrow shelves that are ideal for storing small items like toiletries. But while medicine cabinets come in more or less one standard size and virtually always mount either directly above or adjacent to the vanity, wall mounted cabinets can be hung anywhere you have the wall space. These petite cabinets come in the widest range of sizes and shapes, from very small cubes to near full-sized cabinets. Larger models can attach to the side of a wall mounted vanity for added counter space, but the vast majority offer straight cabinet-style storage.
Overjohn storage cabinets are a subset of wall mounted storage cabinets that are specifically designed to be mounted above the toilet. Usually consisting of a cabinet, a single open shelf, and sometimes an integrated towel bar, these are a nice option if you have a big mirror and not a lot of free wall space around it. Since many overjohn cabinets have built in towel bars, they’re a smart and straightforward replacement for plain-jane towel bars hung above the toilet, as they offer a lot more storage without sacrificing functionality. That said, these are usually taller and wider than most wall mounted cabinets, so they’re a lot less flexible in terms of where they can be installed.
What kind of storage do you need for your bathroom? Are you looking for a large cabinet to store linens, or something small and accessible for day-to-day items and toiletries? Let me know in the comments below!
To me, there’s nothing that signals the beginning of the holiday season quite like the first time my family lights a fire in the fireplace. But these days, all grown up and in an apartment far away from that childhood hearth, the beginning of fall seemed a little extra chilly – in more ways than one. I know a lot of you probably feel the same. If you live in a house without a chimney or a an apartment or condo, gathering around a live flame is basically out of the question, short of starting a bonfire in your living room, right? I thought so, too, until I heard about ventless fireplaces. A little more modern than your gramma’s fireplace, these self-contained personal fireplaces don’t need chimneys and are safe to install in even the smallest apartments, which might make them my new favorite holiday decoration.
Ventless fireplace are, more or less, what they sound like – fireplaces that don’t need a chimney or flue to vent smoke and ash the way a traditional fireplace does. This is possible because ventless fireplaces don’t use gas or firewood for fuel. Instead, they use a clean-burning liquid bio-ethanol. This is a grain-based type of alcohol that’s purified and clarified so that, when burned, it produces only water vapor and a small amount of carbon dioxide, keeping the air in your home totally breathable without any ventilation.
To be clear, ventless fireplaces aren’t the same thing as electric fireplaces or electric space heaters. While there are some pretty decent, fireplace-esque space heaters out there (and a whole lot more really terrible ones), ventless fireplaces offer you more than just the opportunity to watch the Yule log on your iPad. Ventless fireplaces are real fireplaces that have a real, live flame. Each one comes with a small canister or trough that you fill with the liquid fuel, then ignite with a long match or wand-style lighter to get a strong, yellow-orange flame that will last for several hours. Like a traditional fireplace, ventless fireplaces are capable of heating a 375 square foot room. So while the fireplace itself might look more like a TV than a brick-and-mortar hearth, it’s capable of producing the same flame.
If you’re like me, and the notion of lighting a fire in the fireplace is one that’s linked to the holiday season, it makes sense to include a small ventless fireplace as part of your holiday decor. Many ventless fireplaces are large – roughly the size of a small flatscreen TV – or are meant to sit in the center of your room like a coffee table. But you can find table-top versions as well that are small and light enough that they’re easy to move in the off season. Surrounded by some holiday greenery or a few well-placed gourds, the living flame makes a beautiful, eye-catching centerpiece that can add a little warmth (literally and figuratively) to your room. And because the fuel is all natural, one of these small ventless fireplaces is actually safer for roasting marshmallows than the chemical logs often used in full sized fireplaces.
Anyone who lives in a place where leaves change color or winter lasts for more than four months should probably skip reading this next bit. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Now, the rest of you. Having an indoor fireplace of any kind might seem unnecessary when your temperature rarely drops below 50 or 60. But ventless fireplaces are great for people who live in warmer climates, too, and not just the ones that think 50 degrees is the temperature water freezes at. A large, outdoor ventless fireplace can significantly extend the “outdoor” season, allowing you to continue entertaining into the holidays not only by producing light (and a beautiful centerpiece) but primarily because of the heat. The real beauty of a fireplace, as us frozen-north dwellers know, is getting warmed up, and even if you have to go outside to find some cold, it’s a great way to foster a warm, cozy, homey, holiday feeling among your guests.
It’s okay, cold weather people, you can come back now. Now, I know these ventless fireplaces don’t exactly look like the kind of fireplace you think of when you think about the holidays. There’s nothing rustic or homey about them, no logs to poke, and not even a place to pretend Santa can fit through. But as many of us strike out on our own, often into more modern homes, there isn’t always room (literally or aesthetically) for a traditional stone hearth. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the beauty and warmth of a good old fashioned holiday fire, with the family gathered around and a nice cup of cocoa. Even a small flame reminds me just a little of fireside chats and the warmth of home and holiday.
Which is why ventless fireplaces beat out fall leaves and Christmas greens as my personal favorite holiday decoration. After all, what’s the point in having stockings if you don’t have anywhere to hang them?
Lighting is rarely a top priority when designing a home office. After all, there’s a long list of expenses and considerations that have to come first, from furniture to electronics to simple connectivity. But good lighting is one of the few ways that you can make a home office feel more like home than the office. Instead of flat, generic overhead lights (like recessed lighting or, worse, the fluorescent tubes typically found in office buildings), consider a fixture with a little personality. A chandelier – whether traditional or modern – can add a polished, elegant look and feel to a home office, and can really help you feel at home while you’re working.
Chandeliers are typically associated with a very traditional style, so it’s no surprise that classic chandeliers show up most often in home offices with very traditional features: a big, dark-stained wood desk, wood paneled walls, button-tufted leather chairs, oriental rugs, and old-world style library walls. An ornate antique chandelier is the perfect finishing touch for this sort of Victorian-inspired home office. To match the masculine feel of the space, skip on crystal chandeliers in favor of ones with a simple metal construction; it will stand up better to all that dark wood and lush fabric.
Of course, a chandelier can be a good choice even if your home office isn’t a picture-perfect Victorian parlor. A petite crystal chandelier can be great for adding a sophisticated touch to a more casual space. The office above has a clean, farmhouse style look, with white paneled cabinetry and lots of medium-toned wood surfaces. But the little chandelette (complete with a little crown-molded recession) elevates the style of the room from simple to elegant, and highlights the matching hardware on the cabinet doors and drawers. Where solid cast brass or wrought iron chandeliers are hefty and masculine, a small crystal chandelier in a light color feels very delicate and dainty, and can add a nice soft, feminine touch to your space.
It’s also worth noting that chandeliers don’t necessarily have to be traditional in design. The gyroscopic chandelier in the home office above is about as far away from a classic design as you can get, but it serves the space beautifully, updating some of the more traditional elements by proximity and giving the whole office a slightly more contemporary feel. Unlike more traditional chandeliers, this one is made with a brushed steel finish that makes it feel bright and clean, and relies on simple lines to create a dramatic visual effect.
Chandeliers are also great for making a more modern home office space feel a bit less sterile. Simple lines and cool, neutral colors make for a very clean, spare working environment, but without any other homey touches, this look can feel a bit cubicle-like. A statement chandelier will give the space that little extra something it needs to keep it from feeling too cold. Modern chandeliers are the obvious choice, but ones that riff on traditional designs – either simplified chandeliers in a more modern material, or ones that mimic elements of a classic design, like crystals – can really give the space a more chic, sophisticated edge.
If your home office is a rather eclectic space – somewhere where you gather trinkets from your work, personal mementos, or even an assortment of mixed-and-matched furnishings and decor items – a chandelier can help make the space feel more cohesive and intentional. The more disparate elements you have, the harder they are to unify, but choosing one big, distinctive, and unconventional lighting fixture can set the tone for the room and give all those oddball elements a sense of purpose. Repeating elements helps (like the repeated use of slightly tarnished brass in the room above), but simply having a bold statement light can help designate the room as eclectic rather than merely disorganized.
If your home office is actually only a small part of a larger room, a chandelier is a great way to anchor the space. The office setup above is actually in one corner of a large greatroom, and is only bounded by the two walls in the corner. Hanging this lovely crystal chandelier over the desk gives the space more purpose and helps distinguish it from the surrounding room. Though the office isn’t separate, having its own permanent lighting fixture marks the space as one that belongs there, rather than just some furniture pushed into a corner.
Chandeliers certainly aren’t the most common option for a home office, but they’re one that’s well worth considering. What do you think of these unique home office designs? Let me know in the comments below!
European homes are much smaller than your average American one – their cities are, typically, more densely populated, with compact buildings and not a whole lot of sprawl. And that’s made European designers very, very good at making the most of small spaces. So if you happen to have an uncomfortably small bathroom and aren’t quite sure how to bring it up to snuff, the best advice I can give you is: look to the other side of the pond. They’ve had a whole lot more practice designing for tight spaces, and have come up with some pretty innovative (and aesthetically pleasing) solutions. I’m personally fond of Italian designer Iotti for their extremely small footprint bathroom vanities, which have smart storage and a whole lot of modern style.
One of the smartest things about compact European bathroom vanities is that they aren’t just narrow, they’re also shallow, with a depth somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 inches to a foot, rather than the standard, which is double that or more. That means you’ll have a lot more room to move around in the bathroom, not to mention a space that looks and feels a lot more open. This small, simple change can even open up a few more options for how you’re going to configure your bathroom furniture. While this type of low profile design might not leave you with a whole lot of counter space, the slim, trim, minimal depth means you’ll have a vanity that’s hardly there – nothing to bump into, and nothing to visually crowd your space.
I truly believe that having less space breeds innovation, especially when it comes to trying to stow your stuff. While your typical American small bathroom vanity has one cavernously large, totally unorganizable cabinet, European bathroom vanities, including those from Iotti, tend to use even less space more judiciously. Take this Linear Vanity for example. Where your typical bathroom vanity would have had a single cabinet, this one has a smaller, two-door cabinet and two easily accessible drawers, all of which are raised to waist level so you never have to bend down to get what you’re looking for. That makes it easier to keep all of your stuff organized – and makes it easier to get to all the little stuff that you use every day but might not want to leave on the counter. Plus, because the vanity is so shallow, it’s almost impossible to misplace your items in the back of your cabinet.
Because European style bathroom vanities are so compact, some of them can even be used for multiple purposes. Take this Fly Vanity for example – it’s little more than a shelf with a sink and a drawer, but it can be installed high enough off the ground to use comfortably either while standing or while sitting in front of it, which means it can easily be used as a dressing table. This style is nice if you want to have a lot of makeup or hair care products readily available, as the wide drawer is ideal for keeping small items spread out and easy to find, especially if you’re sitting right in front of it. And, heck, if you use a stool instead of a chair, you can store the stool completely underneath the vanity wen you aren’t using it, so it won’t take up any extra space.
It’s not just European style bathroom vanities that are well designed. Many of Iotti’s offerings are part of larger sets, often including multiple types of storage cabinets and medicine cabinets as well as sinks, faucets, and mirrors. All of these add-ons do one thing incredibly well: they make use of horizontal space. Like the vanities they’re paired with, most of Iotti’s storage cabinets are slim in profile, and usually have a wall mounted installation. They offer freestanding cabinets, too, but wall mounted ones make it possible to get a lot more storage space without having to sacrifice any floor space at all – simply stick the cabinet on the unused wall space surrounding the vanity. Even the largest cabinets are relatively small and packed full of storage, but the smallest ones are only about seven inches deep, so they can be hung almost anywhere without getting in the way.
Wall mounted storage cabinets are also typically small enough that you can easily hang more than one to get exactly the amount of storage you need. Of course, more than two is probably overkill for most, but however many you need, these slim profile cabinets offer a simpler, sleeker way to get the storage you need that most American designs simply don’t offer. The Simple vanity set above has a lovely sense of symmetry with one cabinet mounted on either side, and both cabinets are totally out of the way, in a space that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been used. Heck, the vanity even has its own built in towel rack, so you won’t have to waste wall space putting one in. Because the cabinets are so shallow, they’ll keep your storage neat, organized, and easy to access.
Like I said, the Europeans have had a little practice with this! So if you have a truly small bathroom and are at your wits’ end trying to figure out what to do with it… try thinking European! What do you think of these petite, European style bathroom vanities? Let me know in the comments below!
Adding bar style seating to a kitchen island is a great way to create a relaxed, casual gathering space. While traditional dining rooms keep guests out of the kitchen and away from the food prep, a kitchen island bar is great for getting everyone involved and making sure you don’t exclude your cook from the fun. Hanging restaurant style lights above your kitchen island can go a long way towards enhancing this intimate, restaurant/bar like atmosphere, both by improving the mood lighting and by enhancing the ambiance of the space itself.
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Restaurant style pendant lights are generally pretty simple in design, with basic, colored glass shades and a wire, cord, or rigid metal post that connects them to the ceiling. But this design is also incredibly iconic – they’re the same kinds of lights you’ll find hanging over almost any booth or bar stool in any restaurant or bar you walk into. Mimicking that style is a great way to make your kitchen island feel like a fun, casual spot for socialization. Red is probably the most common color, but restaurant style lights can come in basically any color or combination of colors, as well as a wide range of finishes, so it’s easy to find pendants that are in this basic style, but with a look that will match your kitchen.
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While most pendant lights you’d find in an actual restaurant stick with a simple glass shade, when decorating a kitchen island you have a bit more room to get creative in terms of the size and shape of your light. While the vast majority stick with a very conventional design, many other lights are widened or elongated, tapered or rounded out, or even flared or squished. Shapes range from fat round globes to long, lean cylinders and everything in between. Obviously, some of these designs are less conventional, but hanging a row of matching pendant lights with colored glass shades (regardless of the shape) will still give you that restaurant-like look and feel.
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The actual light produced by restaurant style lights is just as important as the appearance of the fixture itself. The kinds of large, open kitchens where you’re likely to find an island large enough to sit at are also the kinds of kitchens that really need a lot of well-chosen lighting fixtures to work well. All that open space can easily feel amorphous, and defining individual areas with lights is a good way to add visual cues and boundaries to a space that isn’t walled in. A few pendants that cast pools of warm, dim lighting can give a bar-like ambiance to your kitchen island, both drawing attention to the space and giving visual cues to its function.
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As with the lights in actual restaurants, you don’t want these pendant lights to be too bright. The lighting above a kitchen island seating area isn’t the same kind of lighting you need in a prep space. You probably aren’t going to accidentally chop off a finger if you can’t see clearly, and lower lights can make food look more appetizing, so you don’t need to turn on the high beams. Restaurant style lighting is very much about mood lighting rather than task lighting, so choose your bulbs accordingly. The only exception to this rule is when prep work is also done on the kitchen island – say, if you have a built in sink, a butcher block, or even a range top. If that’s the case, you either want to double up on your lighting (with brighter lights over the prep space and dimmer ones over the seating), or simply stick with a brighter light for safety.
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How many pendant lights you’ll need for your kitchen island depends both on the size of the island and the size of the fixtures themselves. The wider your island, the more lights you’ll need, and the bigger the lights, the fewer you’ll need. Since both of these factors can vary pretty widely, there’s really no hard-and-fast rule for exactly how many lights to use. That said, this is a good place to apply the rule of threes; having exactly three pendant lights feels both intentional and elegantly symmetrical, and will pretty much always be visually pleasing. More or less can work, but three is generally considered to be ideal. For a very large island, aim for an odd number of lights for a similar effect, but first and foremost make sure not to crowd your pendants or space them out so much that you don’t have adequate lighting.
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Restaurant style lights tend to be hung a little lower than your average lighting fixtures, but in a kitchen island application you want to be careful not to hang the lights too low. No one that sits at your counter should be in danger of hitting their head, and you definitely don’t want anyone to be staring directly into a light bulb. As a rule of thumb, pendants should hang anywhere from 60″ 72″ above the floor, or between 28″ and 34″ above the surface of the counter, but these are measurements you definitely want to test against the heights of your family members (and your island, stools, and counter!) before you commit to a final installation. Restaurant style lights are meant to add ambiance, not an irritating distraction!
What do you think of these restaurant style lights? Do you like the low-light, intimate look and feel of a bar-inspired lighting? Let me know in the comments below!
Weathered, reclaimed, and restored furniture and furnishings have seen a huge boom in popularity in the last year, especially anything involving rugged, upcycled wood surfaces. From reclaimed factory furniture for an industrial style to a more eclectic, cottage-like flea market chic, practical antiques and innovative restorations have become must-have decor items. But you don’t have to be a swap-meet maven to get this look in your own home. Many manufacturers and designers, like Nuevo, have started offering high-end lines that feature reclaimed wood elements, making it possible to get a restoration style without having to do any of the legwork yourself.
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While the table top is obviously the star of a reclaimed wood dining table, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the legs. In fact, choosing different types of legs can have a huge impact on the overall appearance of the table and the look and feel of the space. The machine shop, A-leg style metal legs on the table above give it a very distinctive, industrial look and feel. Basic wood legs in the same material as the table top will create a more rustic, hand-hewn look that’s good for a cottage or farmhouse style. And more modern legs – either stainless steel, chrome, or even just something with a simple, distinctive geometric shape, like those on this Kava table – can make even a very rough table top feel like a natural addition to a contemporary space.
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Factory chairs are a natural pair for more industrial style reclaimed wood tables, not only to match the turn of the century warehouse look, but also because these chairs often incorporate similar elements on a smaller scale. Reclaimed wood seats and chair backs have the same practical feel and pleasantly tactile quality as a reclaimed wood tabletop, while the functional metal elements help echo that machine-shop look and feel.
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For a more rustic style, consider pairing a reclaimed wood dining table with a matching wood bench on one side. Bench style seating has become a popular option for more casual dining room setups, as the seating is both more relaxed and more flexible. Having a bench on one side and chairs on the other creates a pleasantly asymmetrical look that lends to a table’s laid back feel, and with a very rustic tabletop and bench, this can even evoke the ultra-casual feel of a picnic table, which is a great way to add a more natural element to your space.
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Of course, reclaimed wood surfaces can come in all shapes and sizes, which means you can get much more than just a dining set in this style. Reclaimed wood accent tables range all the way from generous card tables down to the smallest side tables, with every shape and size in between. Nuevo offers an impressive variety of styles, from something like the fairly basic square table above to nightstands, bar tables, and even drafting tables and desks.
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Reclaimed wood coffee tables are also a popular choice, specifically ones made to look like factory carts. Designed to mimic dollies used to move large, heavy objects in warehouses, these tables have simple, low-lying tabletops mounted on several large metal wheels that are designed to turn and pivot easily. Ones designed for use specifically as coffee tables usually have wheels that lock, so you won’t have to worry about them moving out of place, but even so they have a really lovely, almost whimsical industrial look that makes them a gorgeous centerpiece for a living room.
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Reclaimed wood has also found its way into bedroom design, primarily in the form of large, decorative headboards or even full bed frames. Unlike some reclaimed wood surfaces, these tend to be very smooth and well sanded to prevent snags and splinters, and instead use the natural variation in the wood – both in terms of color and grain – to lend a very basic design a more elegant air. Simple stacked planks have a more rustic feel, while boards arranged in a pattern look more classic, but both offer an incredibly simple, effective way to add a reclaimed wood accent to your bedroom.
What do you think of this reclaimed wood furniture? Do you like the look? Let me know in the comments below!
My one and only bathroom is small enough that, anywhere but an apartment, it would barely qualify as a guest bathroom. There’s just enough room for a vanity, a toilet, a small shower/tub combo, and, with a little finesse, a tiny trashcan. My bathroom vanity is 24″, which is the smallest standard size, but still big enough that it takes up most of my tiny bathroom. And because it’s a full cabinet without any drawers or shelves, well, let me tell you, it definitely isn’t the best option out there. So lately I’ve been looking for bathroom vanities that do more with less space, so I can make a little more wiggle room in my very small bathroom, and maybe be able to find my hair spray when I need it.
The vast majority of bathroom vanities are designed to have a width that’s some multiple of six or twelve inches. There are reasons for this, not the least that it makes the math easier in the design phase. But if you have a truly small bathroom, it’s worth ditching the cookie cutter and putting out the extra effort to get a smaller vanity. Not only will it make your bathroom look and feel bigger, it’ll also give you greater control over supplementary storage, which is crucial in a small bathroom. And while it might not seem like a big jump from 24″ to 20″ (or from 20″ to 18″ or smaller), vanities in this extra small range are often much more intelligently designed. One of the most common layouts you’ll see is reminiscent of a style popular with much larger vanities: the open shelf. That is, instead of one large cabinet, you have a small cabinet under the sink, and an open shelf beneath that. This design works whether your vanity is 20″ or 12″, effectively giving you a little closed storage at waist height for personal items and an open space at the bottom for general bathroom items, like TP and spare towels.
If you’re looking to save floor space by hook or by crook, but you aren’t willing or able to add additional storage outside your vanity, your best option is a pillar style vanity. These are straight, narrow rectangular cabinets, sometimes as small as a foot wide. They typically have one long door that opens up on a cabinet divided by a shelf in the middle. More often than not, these have vessel sinks simply because there isn’t room to put a sink in the counter, so you have to stick it on the counter. That said, these are actually pretty nice, all things considered – the shelf in the middle helps keep the cabinet organized, and the fact that the sink is mounted on top means there’s actually more space inside the cabinet, too. Of any type of vanity in the under 24″ range, these probably offer the greatest quantity of private storage.
How small you can go with your bathroom vanity is going to depend a lot on your daily routine. If you’re someone who spends hours in front of the mirror every day and has an arsenal of beauty products, you can probably skip over this option. But if you’re more of a minimalist groomer, an efficiency style bathroom vanity is a great way to save a lot of space. Modeled after the kind of vanities you’d find on a small boat or RV, these have a very small, narrow rectangular sink, a one-handle faucet offset to one side, and a micro sized cabinet that’s just big enough for the most basic toiletries. Similar to the grey water taps being built into high efficiency water saving toilets, these are really only good for washing your hands and face and brushing your teeth and maybe a morning shave, but will leave a small bathroom feeling impressively large and open.
Drawers in any form are great if you can get them, but even in 24″ vanities, let alone ones that are smaller, drawers aren’t always easy to come by. The reason is simple: with a vanity that narrow, the underside of the sink and the plumbing are occupying primo real estate, meaning nine times out of ten, it’s a cabinet or bust. This Bella wall mounted vanity from RonBow is one of those rare and delightful exceptions. It has a deceptive two door cabinet on the front, but instead of opening up on a single empty space, it has a simple shelf and, beneath it, a full extension drawer. The “full extension” part makes it even better, because it means you can pull the drawer ALL the way out without worrying about it falling out, making it easy to access items you’ve stuffed way in the back of the drawer.
The biggest drawback to opting for one of these teeny tiny bathroom vanities is that you wind up with pretty much zero counter space – you might have room for a toothbrush holder and maybe a bar of soap, but anything else? Forget it. If you already have a 24″ vanity, you probably already know the feeling, but every inch you lose matters. So if you’re scaling back to a smaller vanity, make sure to choose one that has really good storage options, and I don’t just mean in the vanity itself. This Simple vanity from Iotti is already a good choice, with a petite two door cabinet and drawer around the bottom edge, but it’s the towel bar on the side and matching wall mounted storage cabinets that really take it to the next level. Wall mounted cabinets that have a slim profile (or, better yet, recess into your walls) offer accessible storage in a space that’s often overlooked. Combined with a medicine cabinet or other storage mirror, you’ll probably end up with more (and certainly better) storage than you would have in a full 24″ vanity.
But what do you think? Is gaining a little extra floor space worth having to get a little creative with your storage? Let me know in the comments below!
In a large kitchen, it’s important to have multiple sources of light, not just to ensure that the whole kitchen is illuminated, but also to help define different areas of the kitchen. A wide open space can feel very welcoming, but if you aren’t careful, it can also feel oversized or even overwhelming. Choosing the right lighting fixture for different parts of the room – particularly the island, the stove, and the dining table or kitchen table – can help ensure that each area feels distinct and defined, without it needing to be physically separated from the rest of the room.
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Kitchen islands can serve a variety of different functions in the kitchen, and the design of the island and how you use it should determine the type of lighting fixture or fixtures you hang above it. If you primarily use your island for preparation, for example, you want a light that’s bright enough to fully and adequately illuminate your workspace. Multiple even-spaced pendant lights are a simple and flexible option, because they make it easy to match the light to the dimensions of the island. That said, a more traditional three-bulb island light can work if it’s bright enough and sized properly for the length of the island. Either way, the lights should be mounted high enough that you aren’t in danger of bumping your head on them while you’re working.
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If your island has a built in bar that’s frequently used to seat guests or eat meals, restaurant-style pendant lights can add a really lovely, intimate ambiance to the space. The lights should be hung evenly spaced along the island, and though the distance between them and number of lights really depends on how much light you want, you should make sure to position them so they don’t shine directly down on your bar stools. Usually, you want either one more light or one fewer light than you have seats so you can properly offset them and keep your guests from feeling like they’re about to be interrogated. Since these lights are more for ambiance than functionality, don’t be afraid to use slightly dimmer bulbs to create that intimate, restaurant-like feel.
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If your island is more of an occasionally-used surface than a primary eating or preparation space, you should use more decorative lights to draw attention to the island as a focal point. An island is often a large part of your kitchen, and even if you aren’t defining the space for a particular function, you want to make sure it’s well lit because it’s really the most visible feature. Decorative lighting fixtures, like small chandeliers or larger pendants, can lend an island a sense of elegance and sophistication, while the light they produce will contribute to the over-all lighting of the kitchen. A light like this probably isn’t the only one you want to have in your kitchen, but it can make the area feel brighter and more inviting – just make sure you include more layers of task lighting elsewhere.
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Of course, the island isn’t the only part of your kitchen that lighting can improve. A small, family-style kitchen table can easily get lost or feel adrift in a very large kitchen, but a simple lighting fixture can help anchor it and give it a sense of purpose. The right light will not only illuminate the tabletop, but also visibly define the area by casting a circle of light a little bit wider than the dining set beneath it. Lighting fixtures mounted above a small table should hang very low – low enough that you’d walk face first into them if the table weren’t there, and just above eye level for anyone sitting around the table. In a literal sense, this gives the table a dedicated place: once the light is in place, you’d have to go out of your way to reposition it, and by extension, the table. Bonus points if the shape of the light mimics the shape of the table, which can help add further definition and shape to the space.
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Larger dining tables can get a bit lost in a big kitchen, too, particularly if the kitchen is part of a greatroom, which leaves the dining area floating in between the kitchen and living areas. As with a kitchen table, you want a light or lights that hang low over the table and fully illuminate it and the immediately surrounding area, giving physical and visual cues to carve a very basic “dining room” out of a large, poorly defined space. In a formal dining room, a single large lighting fixture like a chandelier is used to mark the center of the room and the center of the table, but in an open space, you want the light to more closely match the shape of your table. A rectangular lighting fixture that’s about 2/3 the length of the table helps visually define the space through repetition: the shape of the table, the shape of the lighting fixture, and the “shape” of the light itself all help indicate a distinct dining area that feels cohesive and intentional, despite the openness of the space.
Shop Elk Lighting Chandeliers:
Perhaps the most unloved and underutilized light in any kitchen isn’t really a light at all. Range hoods are a necessary component of pretty much every kitchen, and most of them have built in lights – lights that are perfect for highlighting that gorgeous statement backsplash mural and your beautiful new gas range top. Some range hoods can be more decorative than others (some island-mount versions are even designed to look like modern chandeliers!), but even if you’re stuck with a big, boxy metal contraption, be sure to remember that it has a light switch on it. The bulbs are just bright enough to illuminate your stove top area, banishing any shadows, and add a warm, inviting light that helps draw attention to and define this important focal point of your kitchen.
A well-chosen lighting fixture can do so much more than merely provide light. It can draw attention to important features in your kitchen, and even help add definition to a large, open space. Added together, multiple layers of lighting can give a kitchen warmth and personality. What do you think of these lighting fixtures? Let me know in the comments below!