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How to Open the Back of Your Home to the Yard

By Kate Burt, Houzz

A bank of sliding or folding glass doors is a lovely way to open up the back of your house to the garden, but there are reasons for choosing an alternative approach. Try the following ideas if, for example, you want to retain wall space, build in a window seat or keep some period character.

Paul Archer Design, original photo on Houzz

Supersize the windows. Maximizing light is often a big factor in the decision to open up the back of the house with wall-to-wall doors. But this cleverly designed living-dining space is wonderfully airy and bright, even with its traditional size and style of doors to the garden.

To the right, the addition, originally part of the side yard, was glassed in vertically and horizontally, flooding the dining area with light and creating a cozy window seat.

It’s important to talk to your designer about the orientation of your addition toward the sun if you’re considering this much glass. He or she can suggest provisions to ensure that you don’t create a greenhouse-like space.

Brian O’Tuama Architects, original photo on Houzz

Go deep. Rather than extending the glass doors across the entire back wall of this contemporary addition, the designer stopped short, using just three panels. The rest of the wall features a large window with a deep sill for a pleasant perch (especially for the resident feline).

Sonnemann Toon Architects, original photo on Houzz

Be repetitive. With all three sets of these pretty double doors open, you’d definitely be letting the outdoors in. This addition also features a skylight running left to right across the back of the room, bringing even more light into the space.

Although these are modern-style doors, the horizontal beading between the panes gives them a decidedly traditional look. This is a subtle way to highlight your home’s vintage or to draw attention to antique pieces.

Employ paint. One decorative benefit of choosing a more traditional exit into your garden is that wood will be an option —meaning you can paint it!

For a coherent exterior, consider painting your window frames to match your garden doors (or your doors to match your windows if you’re not ready for major redecoration).

Boscolo Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Focus on the view. Who says thin-framed bifolds are the only way to highlight the view of your garden from indoors? This long, slim and contemporary kitchen has a sleek, monochrome color scheme. Choosing white for walls and doors makes them almost disappear — but not quite, which also adds character to the space.

Where light is limited, opting for reflective surfaces helps boost what you have by bouncing it around the room.

Consider metal frames. For a hit of character, think about steel door and window frames.

These windows, popular in the 1920s and 1930s, are a great choice for a house built between the wars. But don’t let yourself feel restricted by the idea of period authenticity — Crittall steel windows were invented in the late 19th century and are enjoying a revival of popularity across a raft of architectural styles.

Free up wall space. Restricting floor-to-ceiling doors to just one section of the back of your home also offers another opportunity: to use part of the wall for cabinetry. If you enjoy washing the dishes while gazing out the window, the benefits of this layout are obvious. It’s also a valuable consideration if you’re short on space — a whole wall of potential kitchen, for most of us, is a lot to give up.

If you prefer your frames to melt away visually, which can help expand a small or busy space, you might opt for having them made or painted in the same color as your walls.

Siobhan Loates Design Ltd, original photo on Houzz

Build in a dining nook. This split-level back room is a good-looking example of how traditional-style doors to your outdoor space can help you build a feature. The width is perfect for this circular dining table, and the view down on the garden below makes it a lovely spot for breakfast or lunch especially.

If your kitchen-dining room is raised and you have a balcony, consider installing a glass balustrade to ensure an uninterrupted view, as these homeowners have done.

Chris Snook, original photo on Houzz

Streamline your separation. The French doors in this double living room have a partner pair of doors to their right, in the kitchen-dining room.

Painting the bifold doors and the woodwork the same gray connects the elements of this room.

Maintaining two separate routes into and views across the garden gives your living space the opportunity to be a peaceful haven, with the kitchen-dining room a standalone household hub. To ensure that you retain two (or, as here, three) distinct lounging zones, be inspired by the way this homeowner made her dining area as comfy and cozy as possible, encouraging household members to linger for a while.

Choosing not to go totally open-plan is also a nice way to celebrate a house with pretty period features.

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Modernize Your Old House With an Open-Plan Addition

It’s no secret that many of the original homes we see in older, established areas simply don’t cut it when it comes to meeting our 21st-century lifestyles. Many of these homes feature individual, boxed-in rooms instead of the open-plan layouts that support our contemporary life. Small, badly positioned windows are also common in these older homes, which means they don’t make the most of views, outdoor living connections or passive-solar design principles.

The good news is there’s often no need to knock down an older house and start again. An open-plan addition and a rethinking of how the original home’s rooms can be used can change everything.

Dalecki Design, original photo on Houzz

Dalecki Design, original photo on Houzz

Living in the now. Although we often love the character that comes with older homes, most of them don’t work well with our modern way of life. The typical new-house design has evolved over time to embrace a casual, open-plan layout befitting our relaxed lifestyles. There’s often a focus on free-flowing connections to outdoor spaces.

We also are seeing a move to smarter designs focused on minimizing our impact on the environment, while harnessing the natural elements and resources through passive solar design.

Dalecki Design, original photo on Houzz

Dalecki Design, original photo on Houzz

No need for knockdown. If you own, or are looking to purchase, one of these older-style homes, you may think that knocking down the house and starting from scratch is the best option. But an older home can be turned into a functional modern home. Using the existing home as your base, and building a new structure to complement it, will quite often leave you with a far superior design than starting all over again.

Michelle Walker architects, original photo on Houzz

Michelle Walker architects, original photo on Houzz

Improve what you have and add on. Each project is individual, so there is no blanket set of rules to apply to all homes, but there is a clear direction to follow. Working with the existing structure as much as possible is crucial when it comes to these projects. By making the most of what already sits on the site, you can use the renovations and additions to eliminate any flaws in the existing house.

While reworking the existing layout entirely by removing all the interior walls to create a more functional layout might seem like the best idea, taking this route can be costly and wasteful, and defeat the purpose of utilizing the bones of a beautiful piece of architecture.

Quite often the project calls for not only a more functional space, but also more space in general. Leaving what is already there and working an addition around this is the most practical solution. For example, the boxed-in individual rooms of the existing house, which likely have smaller, poorly solar-positioned windows, could function better as bedrooms, closed-off private rooms or — with some internal refit modifications — an additional bathroom.

Leaving the existing house to serve as private zones allows you to use the new addition as the living area of the house. These living spaces, where most of the occupants’ time is spent, can then be designed around both the existing house and the individual site, providing a seamless connection to outdoor living spaces and making the most of the space and any surrounding views.

The freedom of design in the addition also means you can position the space and its openings to embrace passive-solar design principles, allowing you to capture the cooling summer breezes and the winter sun.

Chan Architecture Pty Ltd, original photo on Houzz

Chan Architecture Pty Ltd, original photo on Houzz

Eco-friendly and economical. The added benefit of the new addition containing the living zones is that it can be built using improved construction materials. This means that walls, floors and ceilings with far greater thermal insulation properties can be used, as well as windows with superior glazing, so you can create a space that not only prevents excess heat gain, but also prevents winter heat loss.

House to Home Finishes P/L, original photo on Houzz

House to Home Finishes P/L, original photo on Houzz

With correct design and zoning, these spaces can be created as a separate zone to operate independently of the existing house. Again, this is where positioning rooms such as utility and sleeping spaces, where heating and cooling is of less importance, within the existing house is of benefit.

The freedom to fully customize the design in the addition to the home, while leaving the existing structure in place, means that you can achieve a more cost-effective, less wasteful result, using the existing house to its full potential.

Tell us: Have you added on to an older home? Share your design and building experience — and how you like living there now — in the Comments.

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Sensible Style for Your Holiday Foyer

By: 

Your entry foyer is your home’s welcome hug to guests. These sensible style suggestions are intended to help you make this important space warm, friendly, low-maintenance and accessible during this busy entertaining season.

Doorknobs are such a common element in our lives that we seldom think much about them. Yet, they create one of your home’s first impressions — and can be a barrier to entry for some. A traditional round doorknob is hard for someone with arthritis or Parkinson’s to operate. It’s also harder for someone with an armful of holiday gifts to operate. A lever-style door handle — both at your entry and from a powder room off that entry — will treat your holiday guests much more kindly.

Coat hooks are always helpful, but they become foyer MVPs when you lack a coat closet or need overflow space for a large crowd.

If your foyer doesn’t have a mirror, holiday time is an ideal time to add one. It will reflect your holiday décor and add light to the space. It will also give your guests a discreet opportunity to touch up their hair or makeup while you’re hanging up their coats.

A bench for removing and storing shoes during the soggy, busy holiday season will make your entry foyer better organized and protect your floors against the elements.

A foyer table is always helpful, but it’s especially welcoming to holiday guests juggling gifts, food carriers, wine bottles and flowers. Your well-coordinated table adds style to your entry and convenience for your company.

Art work sets the tone for your foyer. While it may only be seen in passing most of the year as you rush through your home, it’s likelier to be lingered over more as hellos and goodbyes are exchanged. You might consider rotating pieces in and out of your foyer — even collecting holiday-themed art work — for a cheerful gallery experience at home.

Let your foyer reflect the holiday season, too. Fragrant decorations in keeping with your home’s style will warmly welcome your guests. Be sure, though, that there’s still space on the table for them to set down bags while removing their coats or putting them back on.

Related links:

5 Front Doors That Are Dashing in Christmas Red

By: Jennifer Ott, San Francisco-based interior designer 

A recent informal poll of Houzz readers found red to be the most common color for front doors. As an attention-grabbing hue, it’s a great choice to clearly mark the entrance to your home. It can also provide the perfect little splash of color on an otherwise neutral facade. We rounded up some examples of doors beautifully done up in a saturated holly berry red, perfect for this time of year.

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Now you’re probably not going to want to paint your house to reflect each passing season, but if your front door happens to be red, you can take advantage of coordinating your holiday decorations with it. Here it’s the perfect backdrop to the fun and colorful Christmas decorations on display.

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A red door is an easy way to jazz up an otherwise light and neutral home. But you may want to give some consideration as to how it ties into your landscaping.

In the above example, the red door is echoed in the colorful flowers at the front of the property.

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The pleasing palette above has a fantastic crispness to it, due to the high contrast between the dark siding color and abundant white trim. The festive front door adds the right dash of bold color to the mix.

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Think about playing with sheen in addition to color on your front door. You’ll want to avoid a matte paint finish, because it won’t be as durable or easy to clean as a glossier finish. If you go with a super high-gloss sheen, such as shown above, make sure your door is in good condition, because the shiny finish will reveal any and all lumps and bumps.

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You don’t have to carry the red color to the interior side of your front door, but if you do, make sure it coordinates with the entry area of your home. This neutral-hued entryway supports the cranberry-colored front door nicely.

Your turn: Show us your red front door. Post a photo in the Comments section below, and share the paint color if you happen know it.

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5 Mailbox Ideas to Try Before Holiday Cards Arrive

By: Brenna Malmberg, Houzz Editorial Staff

Communications come in many forms, such as text and email, but physical mail still has its place, and so does your mailbox. Here are 5 ways to update this “in-box” before holiday cards — and guests — arrive this year.

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1. Liven up the entry. A lime mailbox paired with a colorful doormat brightens up this entry, but a mailbox could be done in any color of the rainbow.

“Pick a color that you love!” says Ami McKay, the owner of and lead designer at Pure Design. “We always ask our clients what colors they are most drawn to and find creative ways to implement them into the design.”

This client fearlessly loved color, so McKay saw this as an opportunity to add bold hues to the dark and neutral exterior, and have fun with outdoor accessories.

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2. Coordinate with the front door. A mailbox that matches the front door can lead guests from the curb right up to the house.

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3. Match the hardware. The similar materials used for the mailbox, doorbell and front door hardware keep the small details of this entry consistent, creating a unified design that lets guests focus on the bright yellow door.

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4. Let letters fall into the house. A slim mail slot allows the mail to fall right inside the front door. Large packages go in the lockbox to the right of the door.

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5. Put it on the fence. You can save the mail carrier a trip to the front door and make getting the mail a bit of exercise for yourself by adding your mailbox to a fence. It’s also a great way to maintain privacy and security up near the house.

Your turn: What does your mailbox look like? Tell us about it and post a photo in the comments!

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Make a Sophisticated Natural Wreath for Fall and Winter

By: Annie Thornton, Houzz Editorial Staff

Each of us decorates differently around the holidays, but a homemade wreath hung on the front door is a welcoming vision to all in fall and winter. Rhiannon Smith from San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers shows us how to make a holiday wreath using year-round favorites such as rosemary and olive foliage, along with the seasonal flourish of bittersweet berries.

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Follow her instructions to create the wreath pictured here, or choose foliage cuttings from a local florist or your own backyard for a completely custom look.

Plant Materials

Foliage sprigs cut 4 to 5 inches long, such as (from left):

  • Seeded eucalyptus
  • Olive
  • Rosemary
  • Silver bell eucalyptus
  • Bittersweet, or other winter berries

You can use many kinds of foliage for your wreath, or keep it simple with just a few. The wreath Smith demonstrates here is made from olive, rosemary and Oriental bittersweet. (In areas where the Oriental variety is invasive, American bittersweet is a good substitute. Both species are toxic.)

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-24-35-pm

Other Materials and Tools

  • Pruning shears
  • Floral stem wire cut 4 to 5 inches long
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire wreath frame (8-inch frame shown here)
  • 22-gauge paddle wire

1. Cluster together five or six sprigs. Try to keep them somewhat uniform and their cut edges aligned. ​Smith puts olive and rosemary at the back, and a couple of bittersweet pieces toward the front for visibility in the wreath.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-28-10-pm

2. Wrap a piece of floral stem wire a little more than halfway down the sprigs to form a bundle. Wrap as tightly as possible and secure the wire end.

3. Make 10 to 20 bundles, depending on the wreath’s size. Use the same foliage combination for each, or vary the the materials. Here, the bittersweet is in only half the bundles. Smith suggests assembling all the bundles before you start wiring them to the frame. This will help you achieve a more uniform look.

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4. Place the first bundle on the frame and wrap the paddle wire three times around the bottom of the bundle and the wreath frame as tightly as you can to keep it in place. Do not cut the wire.

5. Put the second bundle on top of the first so that its loose leaves conceal the paddle wire and wreath frame beneath. Wrap the wire around the bundle and frame three times. Continue adding bundles (and leaving the paddle wire uncut), varying them if you made different kinds. As you work your way around the circle, make sure none of the paddle wire or frame is visible.

6. Tuck the ends of the last bundle under the loose leaves of the first.

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7. Wrap the paddle wire around the foliage and frame a few extra times, then cut it with a wire cutter. Tuck the loose end into the greens to hide it.

Add a bow or ribbon, or just hang the wreath from the wire frame.

Your wreath will stay fresh for about a week, but it will slowly dry and last one to two months or more as a dried decoration.

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Experiment with different foliage combinations. Here, Smith used olive and silver bell eucalyptus. Try other foliage types that may be more available where you live, including bay, pine or oak.

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Low-Boo Halloween Decor for the Little Ones

By: Mary Jo Bowling, Houzz Contributor 

Interior designer Kristi Will spends most of her time creating high-end, luxury interiors. But for clients with small children, she turns her mind from custom furniture to decorating pumpkins at Halloween time. “It started last year,” she says. “Because the kids are young, the family wanted me to help them find something that was Halloween but wasn’t superscary.” That first year she decked the halls with what she calls “happy monsters.”

This year while visiting the family, Will noted the youngest child’s affinity for Sesame Street’s Elmo and, with that in mind, designed a new Halloween look that thrills more than it chills.

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The large picture windows on her clients’ home make the perfect frame for spooky decor, and last year Will dressed them with friendly monster silhouettes she designed and cut from foam core.

But after spending hours holding an X-Acto knife, Will decided to take an easier Halloween route this year. She created a friendly ghost, a gentle “boo” and a nonthreatening, lantern-bearing witch silhouette, then sent them to Dezign With a Z, a company that makes vinyl wall and window decals. The window decor was installed in an afternoon.

She used the same technique for the not-so-warm welcome on the front steps, although the sweet dog at the top of the stairs seems poised to wag his tail rather than bare his teeth.

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But once the young residents get closer to the entry, something more treat than trick awaits them. “The children love Sesame Street, and when I was visiting them, they were playing an Elmo song featuring Colbie Caillat called “Belly Breathe.” It’s about having a monster inside that is calmed with deep breaths.”

The idea stuck in Will’s head and, tapping into the skills she had honed while volunteering as an art teacher in her own kids’ school, she created pumpkins in the likenesses of the residents of one of America’s most puppet-populated neighborhoods.

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On the step are some of the best-known characters: Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Count von Count and Oscar. Flying above the Count are numbered bat silhouettes. “The kids are just learning to count, so we thought it would be fun,” says Will. She used a Cricut, an electronic craft cutter, to make the bats and the numbers. “They are wonderful machines,” Will says. “They are a great tool for parents.” Also key to the installation is Uhu putty. “It keeps the bats on the stucco, but it doesn’t damage the house when it comes off,” says Will.

For the pumpkins she used the novel technique of shaping the features from Crayola’s Model Magic, a clay that hardens when exposed to air. She shaped the features, let them dry, painted them with acrylic paint and attached them to the pumpkins with a hot-glue gun.

“Making the eyes, noses and mouths with the clay gives them an extra dimension they wouldn’t have if they were just painted on,” she says. “This way they look more like actual Muppets — who, of course, also have their features glued on.”

For Oscar, Will glazed the pumpkin with a light green glaze and shredded some fabric samples she had in the studio for his hair and eyebrows. (Bert and Ernie have manes crafted from a costume wig.)

Of course, Oscar is at home in a garbage can. “Elevating the pumpkins is key to the look,” she says. “We also purchased dark gray crates of various sizes and used them as pedestals. We draped a black tablecloth from Target around them to finish it off.”

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In addition to ease of installation, the decals are great because they can be enjoyed from the street and inside the playroom.

“The business of interior design can be 90 percent paperwork and 10 percent creative work,” says Will. “This small project was the opposite: 90 percent of the job was creativity. It wasn’t in any way typical for me, but it was fun.”

The bonus was witnessing the youngest members of the family see the finished project for the first time. According to Will, their faces lit up like jack-o’-lanterns.

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Give Your Porch Some Rustic Fall Style

By: Corynne Pless, Houzz Contributor

Fall is here, and with it a new season of activity as a prelude to the holidays. If you can find a free afternoon, spend just a few hours sprucing up your porch or patio with seasonal spirit before your trick-or-treaters arrive.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-2-42-36-pmGeneral Fall Porch Style

Natural textures layered next to found items can create a cozy outdoor seat for watching the leaves change. Using a hay bale as a temporary coffee table is an inexpensive and functional way to cozy up your outdoor space. Try using a small tray or basket as a sturdy, flat surface to hold a beverage or book.

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Here, a rustic chair doubles as a side table for a vintage cola crate holding pink mums.

Make over tin cans with paint and fill them with your favorite seasonal flowers. A generous neighbor let me pick these from her garden. Use your arrangement to freshen up any space, from an entry to a tabletop.

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A wood crate provides extra display space and storage. A stack of old paperbacks bolsters some mini pumpkins. Lavender sprigs in a vintage milk jug add both a pleasant aroma and height to a wooden-crate-turned-side-table.

Simple Burlap Pillow Cover

Burlap or linen sacks make for an easy pillow cover during the holidays. This small burlap sack was one of those “I’ll find something to with this one day” items that found a new (and temporary) purpose as our porch swing cushion. If you don’t have one, you can just cut some burlap to length and sew one up.

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Stuff your pillow into the sack and tuck leftover fabric into the open end, hiding the pillow inside. Wrap a ribbon around the sack and tie it. Of course, if you are using an indoor pillow as the filler, bring your pillow inside if the weather gets too damp.

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Design Recipes for a Fun and Functional Entry

By: Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor

A well-designed entry helps propel you out the door in the morning, keeps you organized and gives visitors a hint at your personal sense of style. It’s a lot to ask from what’s often the smallest room in the house! Let these five examples of stylish and feature-packed entryways inspire you. Plus, get how-to tips to help achieve these looks at home and ideas for keeping this hardworking space tidy.

Playful Modern1. Playful modern. Set a lighthearted tone at the front door with a bold splash of citrusy colors, from lemon and lime to tangerine. The round mirror is a welcome touch, while a trio of woven pendants makes the most of a double-height ceiling.

Tidy tip: A half-console table is a smart space saver. Tuck one into even the narrowest of entry halls, and gain a spot to set your keys, mail and more.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: lemon yellow, lime green, tangerine
  • Bright and bold front door
  • Painted console table
  • Woven pendant lights
  • Flat-weave dhurrie rugBotanical Charm

2. Botanical charm. With its botanical wallpaper and simple furnishings, this entry radiates nature-inspired calm. And don’t think of a look like this only in the country — why not infuse your city apartment with relaxing rural pleasures?

Tidy tip: Hidden storage inside the bench seat and a row of pegs provide ample space to stash your belongings.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: mossy green, white, natural woods
  • Botanical wallpaper or art
  • Vase of cut ferns or a potted plant
  • Shaker-style peg rail
  • Natural-fiber rug
  • Ladder-back chair

Farmhouse Eclectic3. Farmhouse eclectic. With barn-style sliding doors made from reclaimed wood, a kilim rug underfoot and a modern George Nelson pendant light overhead, this entry covers a lot of ground designwise while managing to look utterly simple and comfy. The secret? It’s the power of three: The light is the most modern element, the barn door the most rustic, and the warm rug ties it all together.

Tidy tip: A closet for coats plus a credenza tucked in a nook make for ample storage in this entryway (luckies!), but if your entry lacks a closet, you can make a rustic-industrial coat rack with pipe fittings mounted on the wall.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: cream, white, spice red, natural wood
  • Reclaimed wood barn doors
  • Modern Bubble light
  • Kilim rug
  • White credenza
  • Handmade pottery

Midcentury Pop

4. Midcentury pop. A cherry-red door, pottery horse and oversize midcentury pool photo by Slim Aarons set a playful, party-ready tone in this entry.

Tidy tip: A low credenza is a great piece for the entryway since it offers ample hidden storage for quickly stashing items (the dog’s leash, paperwork), as well as a surface for holding keys and a bag (or a drinks tray at a party).

Get the look: 

  • Colors: cherry red, black, white, a dash of yellow
  • High-gloss front door
  • Oversize pool or beach photography
  • Midcentury-style credenza
  • Shiny chrome light fixture
  • Lacquer accessories in bright hues
  • Handmade pottery or sculpture

Art Gallery Chic5. Art gallery chic. Create a minimal oasis with smooth floors, putty-colored walls and a sleek bench — it’s all the better to draw eyes toward a special piece of art on the wall.

Tidy tip: If you love this look but need more storage, swap out the bench for a version with hidden storage inside or a low credenza.

Get the look: 

  • Colors: espresso, putty, gray
  • Bare floors
  • Sleek bench
  • Sculptural stool or side table
  • Potted succulent
  • Original painting

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Feng Shui Basics for a Happy Home

By: Gabrielle Di Stefano, Houzz Contributor

Our homes are our havens, and with a little thought and effort they can help us keep a clear mind and a calm outlook. Apply a few of these simple feng shui principles to your home — good chi (energy) may very well flow.

Feng shui, literally translated as “wind and water,” is a 5,000-year-old Chinese system and theory based on a set of universal principles and laws of nature, applied to our living environment. These principles are believed by many to help us attain happiness, health, prosperity and freedom. While feng shui has no detailed scientifically proven studies to back up its principles, hundreds of feng shui masters stand by their results.

In feng shui speak, your front door is called the “mouth of chi.” Help bring good energy into your home by keeping it clean and well lit. Remove all clutter from inside your front door so you don’t block that good energy.

RW Anderson Homes
Painting your front door green is said to bring growth; red can bring wealth; blue, relaxation; and brown, stability. And as even those who don’t practice feng shui know, the relatively simple project of painting your front door a new color can change your mood.

Clutter is the archnemesis of feng shui. Air and energy should always be moving, and clutter is like a stop sign to energy, trapping it and keeping you stuck in the past.

My Houzz: Contemporary Country Style in the Netherlands
In some Asian cultures, spring cleaning is done three days before the Asian New Year’s Day, symbolizing the sweeping out of any misfortune or traces of bad luck. People in the cultures don’t sweep again until after the new year, so they can collect the good-luck dust into a corner of their home.

Throw out any broken objects, replace blown lightbulbs and be ruthless with items that you haven’t used or worn in the last 12 months. When you have finished cleaning, wash your hands under running water for at least three minutes. This washes away all the bad energy that got on your hands in the process.

Paperweights are not just beautiful decorations; they can also help promote growth and strength in feng shui. Circular paperweights conjure the stability of earth.

Put one in your study or office and help increase your creativity and encourage new ideas. Try sitting a crystal paperweight on any invoices you are owed to increase prosperity. Don’t put a paperweight on any bills you have yet to pay, as it may increase your expenditure.

Collect your favorite paperweights and display them together for added luck.

Turn of the Century Modern

Plants bring vibrant chi into a home or working environment. Home offices require as much good energy as you can muster, so why not get it from vibrant and vigorous plants? Large plants like lily, bamboo and jade varieties are top on the list for good energy.

If you are short on space, one small house plant is better than none at all. Keep your plants healthy and well fed and they will reply in kind.

This soothing, minimalist study space shows us how happy indoor plants can make us if they are looked after, and these plants look happy in return. Maybe it’s because they get to enjoy an occasional jam session.

Mops and brooms are used to remove clutter and dirt from the house. Feng shui believes they carry part of the negative energy that comes into the home. Keeping them outside would be ideal but is not necessarily practical. Keep them in a cupboard in an upside-down position to help to block the negative energy.

Birmingham mud/laundry room, MI
Try to make sure that the cupboard you store a mop and broom in is not in the room you eat in, as the dining room represents food and prosperity, and you don’t want that swept away. Also, a broom or mop should not live in the front room of your home, as you don’t want the positive energy that arrives to be swept away.

A well-organized laundry or mudroom like this one will help keep your mind full of positive energy.

Screens are extremely popular with the Chinese, as they are a practical and beautiful way to block energy that is moving too fast. Ideally, energy should curve and flow gently throughout your home.

If your front door faces your back door, the energy will race from one through to the other and won’t benefit you at all. Try placing a small screen somewhere in between to redirect the energy.

If you don’t have a dedicated room for your home office or study, use a screen to divide it from the rest of the space. This will contain the work energy as much as possible.

A busy workspace could happily exist behind this modern fretwork screen.

2011 Dream Home Bedroom at Merchandise Mart

Music is a positive and soothing element in feng shui. If your home is too quiet, you may have an abundance of yin, or passive energy — which could affect your whole family, even making you unwell.

A perfect opportunity to get the yang, or good energy, flowing is when you are cleaning or decluttering your home. So open all your windows, turn up the music and get moving. And as a regular resolution, play gentle music for 10 minutes once a week for a few months, and you should see a permanent improvement in your energy levels.

Keep all your equipment behind closed doors, as with this stunning custom-made television and stereo cabinet, to avoid negative energy.

Electronic devices are said to produce negative energy via electromagnetic fields. Ideally, you should minimize your exposure to the myriad devices our homes now seem to have.

The bedroom is a haven for rest, and uninterrupted sleep is paramount to achieving a successful and productive life. Try a couple of easy ideas to help reduce the flow of negative energy. Keep your alarm clock at least 3 feet away from your bed. If you are not going to banish your television from your bedroom, enclose it inside a cabinet and shut the doors when you are sleeping.

The blue-gray used with abundance in this luxurious bedroom strongly encourages relaxation.

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