Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend Getaways

A week of chasing deadlines, documents whirring around you, numerous cups of coffee and the replaying of the words “Time and tide wait for no man” takes its toll on you. We hit the epitome of resilience and patience with our weekday endeavors. We have all become so immersed in our need to be the best, we hardly ever think about relaxing; let alone actually doing it!
According to me- the eternal juggler, nothing can rejuvenate those hinges of a saturated mind like a weekend getaway.
Its short, it’s pleasant and very effective!
So, you’re a businessman - You’re pressed for time. You haven’t been able to spend that essential quality time that the entire family must have at least once in two months. What do you do?
You hire people to plan it for you! Yes, there actually are companies out there that plan an entire weekend getaway for you. May it be a break from college, work or even one of those stints where you just take off to “find yourself”.

From a romantic aspect:

It helps you re-discover the other person. It probably will bring back a lot of memories considering the amount of time you two have been presented with- in comparison to your hectic schedules clashing together like cymbals in a deaf band.
It beats out the “lather, rinse repeat” routine that you very monotonously follow therefore turning you into a robot.
Every couple needs those few weekends of re-kindling their relationship. It breaks that cycle of an automated mind and lets you THINK! You would realize that a lot of the problems and questions that you just can’t find a solution to, will simply solve itself. The effect of a well rested mind.

From a family aspect:

A weekend with the family should involve a lot of activities which lets everyone bond with one another. While the camping out and roasting marshmallows over a bonfire concept is a huge hit, an unforgettable weekend should be what your family deserves! So switching off those cell-phones would be step one. Engaging them in physical activities like hiking would help you encourage one another to overcome obstacles both literally and metaphorically. It can be a competition. The winner reaches the end of the hike without stopping! Delight and educate your kids on different kinds of plants and birds! Nature will be a great way to beat out stress. Renting bicycles too, would be a great idea

Time, to restore one’s brain cells before immersing one’s self into the livelihood grime, is important. So, go ahead! Entice your mind and tickle your senses! Go and have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lofty Ideas

Lofts are used for multiple purposes. It can either be located in the basement or attic of a building. Lofts can be utilized for commercial or residential use.
Lofts aren’t very popular in India as they are abroad. They are basically spaces that used be utilized for industrial purposes and are later either transformed into an office or an apartment.
If designed and decorated well, a loft can provide a very cozy living arrangement.

Commercial Lofts
Commercial lofts are mostly used for storage and for office spaces. They usually have high ceilings and tall windows. Commercial lofts must have an excellent location for a better sale. It should be centrally located and easy accessible. An inconspicuous loft would leave the seekers wasting a lot of their time searching it. The parking must be convenient considering it being located centrally, thus being in the midst of a lot of traffic.

Live in Lofts
Live in lofts are very popular among those that look to cut costs on transportation and area. Live in lofts have been a major re-designing strategy for downtown areas. The advantages that a live loft possesses are that one can remodel the wide spaces according to one’s preferences. It can either be used for work space or for defining one’s furniture.

Lofts can be converted and their space alignments can be altered.

Dormer lofts
This does not provide the luxury of converting the area, but it does leave enough space for the basics. A bathroom and a bedroom etc. A perfect match for a student living alone.

Roof Light
A roof light is one of those “just right” spaces. It lets one carry out conversions, however, does not leave you with much imagination. A small bedroom/office/storage room is all you are left with.

Converting a loft requires some experience. Therefore, getting a conversion specialist would be a good idea. But, if you have confidence in your “lofty” skills, you would end up saving a lot of money as a bad conversion specialist, might just end up messing up the entire space. Getting advice from your realtor would be the best move.

A detailed report on the reasons for loft conversion and the layout has to be given to the concerned authorities in order to get legal permission.

Even though this endeavor can make your pockets lose its jingle, a great loft conversion will elevate the value of your space and make a downtown loft look a little more upscale in its appearance.

Decorating Ideas

If one has a teenager in the house that is teeming over that new border of a rebellious young adult and wants to express their opinions and ideologies through their personal space, respecting it, is the only option dear parents.
Teenagers will always want to outdo their friends with their sense of style and attitude. Therefore, taking into consideration these few tips will help it be a win-win situation. (The whining for black paint and ugly couches will be a little, if not completely, subdued.)
There are different phases in their lives that parents have no choice but to deal with. The happy-go-lucky phase, the emo phase and of course, the spending hours in front of the mirror phase.
Let your child have a say in what they want and show them support (of course, within reason).
Kids at this age are very brand conscious and make their choices at the product’s face value. So, if the décor they want to opt for is both financially logical and fairly high-end in its looks, go for it.
The paint should be your first compromise. The right shade makes a huge difference to the look. Fresh and bright colours like deep purple, mauve, lime green and burgundy is something that I’m sure the two of you could live with. Two hues that contrast with each other would look great.
The ornaments that they choose should also be one that would stick around for some time. Thus, not something that would be driven from one of the phases above. They will soon get bored with it. Let them be dramatic, but not over the top.
If your teen is an athletic, creating that sportsman atmosphere in his/her bedroom will make them feel like they are constantly in their element. Thus, having a mini basketball court while they can practice their shooting skills will make them much more confident before a match. Designing the cabinets in a compact way ensures more space around. A cozy bed and an abstract shelf above it add the basic necessities with a contemporary twist. All this, very cleverly avoids clutter.

If your teen wants a pink razz coloured room, the brightness can be toned down by adding white in certain areas. This way, it retains its liveliness and does not make one feel like they are trapped in a bubble gum. Pasting or painting floral designs on the areas that is white is also very chic and subtle so it makes the room more visually airy.
Some teens just like to keep it simple and classic. They prefer a sleek look. In this case, light greens and blues will be a hit. Keeping the furniture within the theme is also important. Quality plays a huge role in such a room. High end chrome coloured chairs with a tinge of orange and turquoise blue adds some spice. A humble bookshelf too, projects your child’s love for intellect. Keep it basic. Keep it blue.

We relate a teenage girl with pink. This one is for those that want to go in the other direction and prefer shades of blue. Blue is incorporated into a bedroom to create that soothing effect. It will calm her nerves while prepping for a big test. Using blue is fun as almost everything matches with it. Contrasting tones, and the same hues! You can also play around with fuchsia and darker shades of pink. Cream coloured cabinets, bed stands and a wardrobe will warm it up.

For one that is the total outdoorsy kind, rustic elements will make them feel at camp!
Furniture made from oak or pine will create that effect. Country patterns and lumberjack plaids will emphasize it too. Red lacquered window panes too, contrast with the rustic wood.

Pastel colours too, bring out the freshness in a room. These colour schemes strive in making the room frolic. Butterfly bed spreads and curtains keep it simple but project the symbol of freedom and independence.

If your teen’s room is comparatively smaller in space, it can be made visually spacious by adding white and blue as a colour scheme. Periwinkle blue will make it look both classy and contemporary. Other shades like indigo and teal too, can be used to enhance the look and bring out the upscale feel to the fore.
Keeping the room clean and simple in a small space can be a challenge. But using the right colours and furniture that is spaced out at the right angles, can help you overcome the issue of space.
Your teen’s room should be that safe place they love to retire to after a bad day at school. They should find solace in the fact that they will cheer up once they return home.

Staging Ideas

Staging your home in different ways does a lot for the way your home appears. Colour coordinating your furniture with the walls, is just a mere step into the cornucopia of ideas that can be put into staging your home in a better way.

I swear by a quote very wisely said by my favourite designer Coco Chanel-“Less is more.”
Having two tones of blue on a teal sofa reveals a very confused sense of taste. Coupling it with another centerpiece that is also blue, overwhelms the entire look. A coffee table with magazines and random objects that probably have no business being there makes the area to appear to be cluttered.
A painting above too has the same tones of sea green and blue making the entire room look like it’s belched a whole lot of blue.
Eliminating those books; replacing the centerpiece with a vibrant red or orange; having a coffee table with an amber coloured finish and changing the painting to that which tones down the look and exudes warmth gives you a living room you’d love to hang around in and conquers the clutter.

The first picture shows us the basic necessities. A bed and a dressing table. Keeping it JUST at that, would turn a basic bedroom into a very drab and dull place.
Wooden flooring never fails at delivering a home-y feel to any room. The reflection of the light coming in through the window glows up the entire room. Potted plants are great space fillers. Re-placing the popcorn ceiling also did a LOT for the room. Also, a much more cozy bed makes this room to die for!
This is an example of how changing the colour palette of a room can do so much!

These two pictures both send out two completely different style statements. The first one, with the tea coloured cabinets and matching window panes, suggests a much more earthy, simple and modest kitchen. It looks one right out of the 1950s.

The second picture, however, is much more contemporary in its colours and décor. The counter has been replaced with granite. It isn’t as simple as the previous picture. The flooring too has been replaced with mahogany wood as opposed to the simple tiles in the first picture.
The same space and the same layout can be interchanged by just a few techniques like changing the flooring, lighting and tiles.

If you don’t think you can afford a professional to stage your house, don’t fret.Try these simple ideas out, and voilà! - You’ll see that the desire to change the way your home looks has been fulfilled.

Second Homes

A second home could be defined as a space where one can demonstrate the craziness that they could not have incorporated in their first home (due to difference in opinion that probably could have led to trouble in marital paradise).
So, the second home could be the compromise.
A young architect that is brimming with new abstract ideas would be a great way to go.

Very minimalistic attributes is what this house is composed of. It resonates that rustic and simple feel while being contemporary at the same time.

The use of space is simply brilliant here! Very cozy and private. Thus, fulfilling the need to gaze at the sky through the window while lying down.

A kitchen, that performs as a balcony as well. Bare necessities hang atop the kitchen counter.

There are, however, certain blunders people make while buying second homes. You don’t end up visiting the place as much due to being tied down with work, thus the usage of the place goes down. More cost goes into maintaining it even while you aren’t living there.
Most of all, when you go see the area, it isn’t as close to what you had imagined.

Figure out the location.
If you’re the type that loves to explore different places and experience the culture, then purchasing a house in a place that is fairly far from home and differs in your everyday experiences, would be the place for you. However, if you’re the type that still likes a bit of home while being away on holiday, a place perhaps somewhere on the suburbs of your town would not make you miss home much.

Cater to every family member’s need.
A second home is not always flexible. Therefore, you can’t possibly own it for as long as the current house you’re living in.
A house in the alpine heights, surrounded by fresh air, pine trees and clear water could be a great romantic escapade for a couple that doesn’t have children. Such serenity would not be an ideal vacation for a teenager or a child. They’d end up feeling stifled and cooped up. A shack big enough for a family located on a beach front would be an ideal buy for those with kids.

Triumph of emotion over logic
This is something that almost all of us face at some point of time or another. Knowing how much one can afford is obviously the most important factor in any purchase. Considering a lot of additional costs is what you should be doing. Upkeep of private roads, mortgages, taxes being levied, and storage facilities (in the case of living in a lake house) are all examples of the additional costs that you will bear.
Therefore, never let your desire for the beautiful house at its face value; take over the logical decisions that need to be made. Overloading the credit card before all the loans are paid, and not keeping in mind the possible fund that has to be established for your child’s future plans would be foolish. Buying a piece of property way in advance at a lower price would also cause great regret later on as the area might change with time and you might end up disliking the neighbourhood and space that evolved after a long period.

Renting out the second home.
Renting out your vacation home is a great idea which not only guarantees the upkeep of the place but is also steady money. However, in order to attract potential tenants, the amenities must be top-notch and largely targeted at the concept of a “vacation home”.

Splitting the property.
Due to exuberant prices of that “simply delightful” lake house, people end up sharing the cost with a relative or close friend. This is by far, one of the worst choices one can make as scheduling visits in the future will be very annoying and compromises on décor and furniture AND the patio will not suffice. You will eventually be at constant loggerheads over the most menial things.

Make sure your escape is not an investment that you will regret 5 years down the line. Let it be something that even your grandchildren can enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gardening and Landscaping

A well kept garden and front yard says a lot about a person. Gardening has been a constant favourite to pass one’s time. People usually associate gardening either with their grandparents, or a very prim home maker who likes to keep her lawns immaculate and hedges, manicured. That notion, however, has been proved otherwise in recent times. Gardening is something that almost everybody indulges their selves in. People have these jest filled competitions in their neighbourhood as having a beautiful garden ends up being more of a social prestige rather than personal pleasure.

A garden does not comprise of beautiful flowers and vegetables. How one landscapes it, the ornaments that are used, the use of the space all come into the mix.
There come certain handy tools that function much more than their original use.
The Rake
It not only helps cleaning the mess that the leaves created this fall but also helps to spread the seeds and it defragments clumps in the ground.

The Shovel
A quality shovel helps one get the right depth for planting trees and bushes as shallow holes do not ensure the right growth.

The Garden Hoe
The hoe is your best friend if you want those weeds to be removed completely.

The Watering Can
This piece of equipment is most definitely under-rated. The water hose has become the most common method of watering the plants. However, the watering can does not overload the plants with more than they require. It controls the water pressure and gives the plants just how much it needs.

This is mostly used for decorative purposes but also helps retention of water in the soil. This helps the plant in all kinds of climates.

Moving on to landscaping, everything being in unison is the key ingredient to a visually attractive garden. Keeping everything in sync and theme with one another helps to derive the symmetry.
Having the similar kinds of plants help one achieve this. Arranging them alternately in height is also a good idea. Flowers too, give an exotic and pretty touch to a garden but at the same time, growing flowers with various climatic requirements are not simple. Certain flowers bloom only in certain seasons and thus, replacing them with other garden elements is necessary. Stones and rocks are eternal favourites. Stones of different shapes, colours and sizes can be placed. Stepping stones- if one decides to place a pond in the garden is a wonderful idea! Statues made out of granite or marble next to a bench, also add a classy touch.

Luring beautiful butterflies and humming birds to your garden would require one to make your garden a nectar paradise by planting the flowers that attract them.
A hammock tied between two trees, is something I have always wanted to have. It turns your garden into a delightful place to just kickback with a book and a lemonade transforming your hectic lifestyle into a Zen’s meditation retreat.

A little lit up pathway beneath a trellis arch leading to the garden during the evening will be fantastic! So, your private escape from the hustle bustle by day could turn into a twinkling, starry (maybe romantic) escape at night.

Creating your own Eden isn’t a Herculean task. The basic elements distributed and placed wisely can go a long way. But, certain aspects of the landscaping and decoration may require certain supplies.
Happy Gardening!