Spring Tidying from Floor to Ceiling

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We at City Tile know that spring is the time spent giving your home that fresh and clean feeling. You scrub the floors, wash the windows, and air out every room after being cooped up inside during the long, cold winter.  Out in the garden, you dig out last year’s dead plants, and replace them with new ones. When you are all done everything is blooming, and your house is as fragrant as jasmine blossoms riding the evening breeze. Yet, something isn’t quite right. Your home still feels cluttered.

Cleaning is one thing, getting your home decluttered and tidy, that is something else entirely. Perhaps you have read all the books on organizing your stuff, but this year you find you have more organized stuff bulging out of your closets than you had last year. It is time to purge. Time to get serious about getting rid of some of that old stuff.

Downsizing and Small Living

Minimalism and downsizing are on the rise. Recently the Nashville Scene had a story about high end homes being built in the area having less than 500 square feet of space. When space is at a premium, you have to decide what is really important to keep.

We found two books that we think you will find helpful as you do Spring Cleaning. Perhaps, using these books for reference, this year you will finally get rid of that stuff that has been in the back of your closet since college. The stuff you repeatedly notice and say, “oh, I forgot I had that,” promptly putting in back where you found it and forgetting it for another year.

Tidying Your Home

The first book is an international best seller and #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. It is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Declutteringand Organizing. The author, Marie Kondo, has developed a method for decluttering your home once and for all. She calls it the KonMari Method. This is not a method for the feint of heart. This is for those of you who are serious about lightening the load.

If you follow the KonMari Method implicitly, you will more than likely cut from two-thirds to three-fourths of your possessions, while creating a more relaxing and easy-care living environment. It does work. And it is life changing. Those who have applied her method of cleaning say that they have become more relaxed, more focused, and better able to cope with life’s 24-7 craziness.

According to Kondo, you have to set aside six months, and you start cleaning by category. Every day. The first category is tops belonging to the person doing the cleaning. You take EVERY blouse, t-shirt, sweater, coat and assorted shirts from all seasons out of drawers, closets, trunks, and any other storage, and throw them all on the floor in the middle of the living room. Then, one by one, touching each item, you ask yourself, “Does this give me joy?” If it doesn’t, out it goes into a garbage bag (we’ll get to what to do with the stuff in the bags in a minute).  After tops are bottoms, and it goes on from there, through the entire house.

When you are done following the KonMari Method, you will probably have 30 or more garbage bags full of stuff. One couple that were clients of hers had over 500 bags! Once you have purged, she explains how to reorganize everything for easy use, especially how to fold.  When you are done, she guarantees you will never again accumulate anything you don’t love, and you will want to keep purging, ensuring you keep only what brings you joy at all times.

How to Dispose of Your Stuff

So, what do you do with these thirty bags of stuff? You pick up the book Sell, Keep Or Toss? by Harry L. Rinker, to decide how to get rid of it. The book was written to help those having to settle an estate, but he gives lots of wonderful tips on how to decide what to sell, donate or trash. How you break down your stuff will be based on value. Value, Rinker says, is based on condition, scarcity, and desirability.

Rinker tells you how to create a disposal plan to maximize your financial return on the items of which you are divesting yourself. He talks about auction houses, second hand stores, garage sales, and selling on the Internet. He even talks about how to go through the real junk, like non-working small appliances, to see if there is a way to make some cash off of them as salvage.

We hope these books help you turn your house into a happy and healthy, clutter-free, neat and orderly home, even in the deepest closet, And maybe make some profit off the clutter you no longer want. As they say, one man’s treasure….

Keep It Clutter Free & Clean

After taking all the time and making all of the effort to clear your house of things that no longer have meaning for you, make sure to keep everything well cared for. We can help. Our cleaning products for wood , rugs and resilient flooring will make maintenance a snap.

When you are done, breathe in the fresh air. Take the time to pause and immerse yourself in the nurturing space that you have created.

Photos: Japanese Garden: Lee Rennick, Tidying: Amazon.com, Sell: Barnes & Noble.com, Closet of Baskets: MorgueFiles (jzlomek)

Much Ado About Flooring Trends

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bonjour my Divalings! It’s that time of year. Time to hit the books and explore the story of flooring fashions for Fall 2015.  While your kids are at school learning about reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, it’s time for you to explore the story of fall fashion and become interior design literate. Here’s your decor primer.

As personal growth guru Vikas Malkani says, “You are the author of your own life-story.” That’s true of your home, too. Your home is a reflection of you. And as a fellow fashion diva, I know you want to add a few new touches to your home to stay hip, whether you are a hipster or not. (I fear not, if my skinny jeans and scarves don’t make me a member of the hipster club, I still have my country club membership!)

The tale of fall home style is about a wonderland where astonishing splashes of color have arrived from the East, the dark elegance of the Victorian era is taking possession, trash and clash are the newest ender’s game, and tidying creates practical magic as we purge our overabundance of clutter to find balance. So much diversity in one little season of design gives flight to the imagination.

While many spring trends are still hot, hot, hot -- subway tiles, the color grey, and large format tiles – there are some new ideas to be found. In the interior design world, according to everything from Pinterest to the latest dwell magazine, there are four new style groupings on the rise, which are hitting the runways of New York and Milan in women’s fashion as well.  Here is my take on the newest edition of the book on home style.

A Passage to India

This is pure 1970’s BoHo with a modern update. It is all about exotic woods and colorful bold prints. If you’re going to go for a full Eat, Pray, Love world traveler adventure in your home design, then you can’t dip a toe into the waters. You must jump in with both feet and explore the colors of the spice markets of Marrakesh, the teal waters of the Mediterranean, and the rich red of the desert rose. But this is no electric kool aid acid test, with love bead curtains and the scent of patchouli wafting in the air. Today’s bohemian style is elegant, tempered with the lines of lovingly restored and hand painted antique furniture. It is Indian Kantha throws and sheepskin accent pillows. It is tailored modern with a ghost of the old Haight-Ashbury handmade, fresh from today’s maker movement, It is smooth natural stone and wood surfaces paired with  “animal” textures like fur and suede. It is a fine balance of East and West.

Dark Places and Sharp Objects

I could call this gothic chic, with a soupcon of Steampunk, or Industrial meets French Country. What the trend is all about is going back to the Victorian era for inspiration and blending it with a dash of industrial and Paris Flea Market. It steals from the Stevie Nicks line “Give to me your leather, take from me my lace.” It is a style with the softness of the tufted settee in the boudoir of Dicken’s Mrs. Haversham, but with a splash of Infernal Devices. Dark blue, black, metallic trims, deep purples, and dark reds mixed with pink slipper-satin pillows and lace details. Many new bathroom and kitchen re-dos are receiving a touch of this style when using the very popular black and white hexagon tiles. They were first employed in bathrooms and the subways of New York at the turn of the last century.  All things 100 years old are new again.

I, Geek

Big Bang Theory fashions are hitting the streets, and not just on the brainiac set. Get ready to mix those plaids and foulard prints in an array of retro cool colors like pumpkin, pistachio and citron. This grand design concept gathers together ideas from a brief history of time called mid-century modern. It’s all about nubby textures and sleek wood furniture of Danish Modern descent. And  don’t  forget the wood, wood, wood floors and ceilings. It is like taking a time machine back to the age of Mad Men and The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original version, not the one with Keanu Reeves). But Klaatu, in your spaceship remodeling, don’t forget your Iron Man movie poster and precious Lord of the Rings signed prints from the artists at Com Con.

The Way of Zen

This minimalistic esthetic means cutting back to the very essence of a room. When I looked up minimalism, one article said a true minimalist only owns 100 things. Guess you can count me out. I have a hundred pairs of shoes!  But I love the look. And it is catching on. The book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is on top of the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists. It is about purging the glut of stuff we own and simplifying. The look can mean indulging in the tiny home movement, or paring down each room to it’s most basic elements. At City Tile, we are seeing this trend in the choosing of solid colored rugs of the most basic earth tones, stone-look tiles, and wood floors (be they real wood, wood laminate, wood-look vinyl or wood-look tile). Beige, grey, and pale green, yellow and blues are the key colors. It is like bringing a meditation garden into the home.

Have fun, my diva-darlings, with these fall trends. Adding a touch of dork-divine to a library, bringing a bit of exotic BoHo into the bedroom, or purging a living room to minimalistic perfection need not be an odyssey into the deathly hallows. Open the book of Fall 2015 interior design and create your own household tales.

Photos: MorgueFiles (Jacky), digsdigs.com, decaholic.org, anthenna.com, and ovahomedesign.net

Design Diva's Thoughts on American Style

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hello Diva Darlings! Well summer is definitely here, as the heat index is over 100 degrees I am melting in my Michel Kors lace-up platforms, but dang I look good in them lounging about in my new outdoor patio room made from all of the lovely tile from City Tile in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Looking at my cute little American designed outfit and my American made tile, I started to think about what is American home style. There are four styles that I think of as pure USA.

Beach Breeze

At this time of year my first thought is the beach. Lots of weathered and bleached woods, shells, rope and all things nautical. And of course the colors of choice are good old red, white and shades of blue. Even in my own personal summerhouse on the lake, I have all things beach. My favorite items have to be a clear cylinder vase that I filled with worn beach glass in faded blues, greens and white, sitting next to another, smaller glass vase filled with sea shells brought to me from Florida by a friend, and that sits next to a similar vase filled with sand from Hawaii. The furniture is a mixture of family antiques and rustic yard sale finds.  The house still has its original worn and stained wood floors that give it character, but the old linoleum in kitchen and bath have been replaced by some lovely stone-look tiles. If I could only chose two words to describe the laid back look, I’d choose rustic minimalism. 

Southwestern Sizzle

I have always admired Southwestern design, the hacienda and pueblo architecture blended with Navajo, Hopi and maybe even a little Aztec. Created from a true melting pot of influences, this is what makes this style pure Americana.  It is neither Mexican nor Native American, but a blend mixed with a touch of outlaw creativity. Homes are full of creams and whites, bright primary colors, semi-precious stone colors like turquois, and native prints paired with furniture that is often made of weathered wood with sculptural embellishments.  I think of cowhide chairs, rusted metals and the use of organic natural elements. Southwestern style blends with the wild and untamed landscape from which it comes, filled with painted deserts and tumbleweeds. The Sundance Catalogue has been defining this style for years and Dot& Bo carries dream catchers to grace whitewashed walls and baskets to sit on floors of warm brick-colored tiles.  It’s a touch of tribal chanting around the campfire and the log cabin filled with the Country music of Uncle Dave. This wild and free style can be described as artistic naturalism.

NYC Loft Chic

A little bit industrial and a little bit brazen artist panache, this style emerged from the SoHo lofts of  “poor starving artists” and it has grown into a look all its own. It is defined by minimal and creative arrangements of tech designs and trash bin finds in rooms with brick walls, exposed beams and floor to ceiling windows.  There are open floor plans with lots of wood, steel, bright colors and trendy art. Here is where the newest ideas in design begin. Here traditional room arrangements are often thrown out the window, form may supplant function.  A high-concept soaking tub may be found next to a platform bed covered with a used painting tarp, or a garden might be found in the middle of the living room. Here a traditional Duncan-Phyfe side table may be blended with a custom modular couch that you’d swear came from the starship Enterprise. Plastic and cement furniture might be side by side with a dresser from Restoration Hardware. It takes a special eye to blend the seemingly disjointed into a cohesive room design. This is not for the conservative; it is daring, totally modern, and constantly changing. Two words: brazenly new.

Mid-Century Modern

Mad Men. That is all I really need to say. Teak, soft rounded lines, sleek and sophisticated shapes, earthy colors, lush carpets and lots of natural fabrics. No wonder the furniture is so hot right now; the style has an organic feel that speaks to those interested in the maker movement. It was originally a response to the traditionalism of the post war years. It spoke of a new age, a time of change. We are now in a time of great change, so it feels “right.” There is a something very Andy Griffith and Leave it to Beaver about the style, which gives a sense of home and grounding, too. Much needed when nothing remains the same for very long these days. At the same time, it is very now. While the furniture design is derivative of Danish Modern, it is not quite the same as its Danish cousin. It has a bit of the in your face attitude of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and I. M Pei. It is a blend of old and new. A reworking of the past, which is what todays design is all about. It is sophisticatedly grounding.

These are my design notes on American Style. What are yours?

Photograph: Lee Rennick

Interior Design Trends and Home Resale Value

Whether you are an empty nester downsizing to a smaller home, or a growing family selling their starter home and moving into a larger space, there are a few things you can do to increase the value of the sale of your home. In the past buyers have seen homes as pallets upon which to paint their own picture, but more and more of today’s buyers want a home that is walk-in ready.

According to Doug Young, owner of City Tile, a new floor or backsplash can mean the difference between selling your home for $300,000 or $$335,000. Kitchens and baths sell homes, as do hardwood floors that are easy care. As a matter of fact, in this go-go world of ours, buyers want homes simple to maintain while being warm and inviting.

Bathrooms Are Big. For the last several years the top item for a bathroom remodel was a large walk-in shower with luxury mosaic design. While there is still interest in large showers, the trend is changing according to Angie’s list. Freestanding soaker tubs are taking the place of large glass door showers. Beige stone-look tiles are being replaced by shades of gray and black. The look and feel of early 20th century bathrooms with small black and white hexagonal tiles with oversized art-piece tubs is a rising trend in remodeled period homes and some new construction.

Kitchens Shine. According to Angie’s list, the rumors of stainless steel appliances being passé are vastly over stated. New stainless appliances paired with a large farm sink will get your kitchen noticed. While some of these sinks are porcelain, many are stainless, stone or copper. Add a small grey glass subway tile back splash, and a granite countertop to give your home the most up to date styling. City Tile has a vast supply of kitchen flooring to add polish to any kitchen update.

Ecologically Sound.  Today’s discerning buyer wants a home that has been updated with earth-friendly materials, like Mannington’s LEED certified laminate flooring.  Sustainable materials can also be found in other products like carpeting and tile. There are low VOC versions of tile adhesive, grout and grout sealer. But of course the ultimate in sustainability is reusing what is old and giving it a new life. Textured accent walls are all the rage, the most trendy being a repurposed barn wood wall.
Lighten the Load. Especially in small homes, an open floor plan can make a house look larger. If you don’t have the desire to knock down a wall to sell your home, there are ways to make a small home (or any home) look larger. Remodelista recently shared a few designer tips. First, they suggest you “scale it down.” Make sure furnishings don’t overwhelm the space. Keep them small and simple. Second, they say to keep things low on the walls. This will make the rooms feel taller.  Third, get rid of drapes and rugs. These add weight. If you want window coverings, keep them light and airy. Fourth, paint the interior of the house white. It blurs space and moves the eye from room to room seamlessly. Lastly, leave open space. Create a visual emphasis, an obvious path through the room, a vertical focus or a horizontal focus. But, whatever you do, keep it simple.

Make It Tidy. If you have some lead-time before you sell, do tidying and purging before you move into your new home. As you are packing up boxes of your possessions, purge those times that do not bring you and your family joy. This is the time to decide what to keep, sell, donate or discard. If those boxes in the attic have never been opened in the years you have lived in your current home, get rid of them now.  This will help you get rid of clutter before showing your home, which is another way to make your home look larger and more inviting.

Whether you invest some money into remodeling a kitchen or bath to increase the sale price of your home, or simply give it an updated and airy feel, the key is to give it a feel of new life. Make sure your home is well maintained, clean and clutter free. Fill it with only those items that bring you joy, and that joy will be felt by potential buyers. They will want to make your old home their new home.

photo: MorgueFiles (Regnald Reid)