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Simple, natural elegance: the current trend in home decor aesthetics

Hello again, my dear ones,

 

In today’s blog post, I want to keep you up to date on all the latest looks in design this year. Of course, there are simply all sorts of tastes and trends out there, but this year has been overwhelmingly influenced by what I’m calling simple, natural elegance. It’s a minimal look that emphasizes structural materials like beams, boards, stone and slate. It emphasizes natural warmth over the created coziness of traditional clutter.

I want to share with you some of the key elements you can draw on to create a little simple, natural elegance in your home or in a specific room.

 

-wood textures are the first place to start. We’re often told to polish and finish our wood grains to perfect smoothness. You’ll still want to carefully select grains and finishes, but this new trend encourages us to go for a simple beeswax finish over shellac, or leave a few rough edges. When you’re deciding which surfaces to sand perfectly and which to leave a bit more textured, think about cleaning. I like to leave beams rougher, while a coffee table which will be used frequently should probably be smooth enough to prevent splinters.

 

-wrought metalwork is also all the range this year, from the hinges on an antique chest to a rough-hewn coat hook. I like to add metal touches to joints around my home–bolts in beams are also all the rage this year as well, and I’ve come to really enjoy them.

 

The key with your metalwork is to keep things looking burnished, weathered, and beaten. Shiny metals radiate modernity, whereas you want to create a lived-in and from-the-earth sensibility. I suggest wrought iron over stainless, copper instead of shiny brass, and nickel over silver. It’s all a matter of making things blend more easily with earth tones.

 

-natural objects are also a great way to emphasize your natural building materials. So, bringing pine cones, pressed leaves, and a few well-chosen stones can bring your room into focus even more clearly.

 

-rougher textiles help, too. Add some linens instead of silks, and a rougher, salvage rug at your kitchen sink instead of something more more refined.

-artisan objects are huge right now, in interior design and nearly every other area of style, from handbags to goat cheeses. I’ve been acquiring handmade objects to add around the house, especially woven baskets and artisan sculpture pieces. I’ve also acquired some fabulous beaten-metal jewelry to add to my collection.
-found objects are my final suggestion to you this year. You can add things like an old road sign, antlers, or vintage bottles to add to your slightly retro look, although it’s important to make sure that you’re using walls, nooks, and crannies rather than creating clutter, which can seem a bit too manufactured.

Dealing with cats in your nice home using the best vacuum for pet hair and smart interior tricks

Hello, darlings,

 

Today on the blog: how I’ve kept cats in my house for years without having to go without nice furnishings.

 

If you’ve ever owned cats or had friends who have feline companions, you’re sure to have heard nightmares about the devastation they can wreak on your nice woodwork, fabric pieces, and decorative items.

When I first decided to welcome cats into my home, I admit I was worried. And, in the process of learning, I lost a few treasured items, and uttered some foul curses to my furry little friends. Over the years, though, I’ve learned how to balance pet ownership with interior design ambition.

 

The biggest single thing you can do to help your cats coexist with your decor is to have them declawed. I know that’s controversial, but it can be done safely and comfortably. It’s the approach I’ve taken with my kitties, and I think they’ve forgiven me entirely. If you’re not comfortable going down that route, you will need to be very vigilant about trimming their claws to keep them in control. Long, sharpened claws are a nightmare for your curtains, rugs, and woodwork. Do what you can to rein them in!

 

When it comes to protecting your woodwork, the key is to give your kitties other surfaces to destroy, so they’re not so interested in the nice bannisters you’ve selected for your stairways. Cardboard furniture is the easiest thing, and you can use catnip essential oils to make it even more enticing! The opposite is true as well: cats don’t like citrus, so placing some essential oils is a great way to make your nice hardwoods less appealing. Give them plenty of scratching spots so that your furniture isn’t the ideal place to get out their angsty scratching

 

The other key thing you can do is to use thick lacquer on furnishings, making them harder to scratch. The thicker your varnish, the more protection you’re going to give your wood. Think of it as an attractive buffer between expensive hardwoods and your cat’s claws.

 

I also like to use lots of citrusy scents on my nice fabric furnishings like curtains, rugs, and drapery to protect them from destructive paws! This also works on plants, and I’ve found it saves my succulents from naughty nibblers!

 

Aside from destruction, the other big challenge faced by trendy pet owners is the mess your furry friends can create. My herd produces about a bale of fur per day at minimum, and I often feel swept off my feet trying to keep up. For years, I made do with a tiny stick vacuum, because like any good design nerd, I’m always obsessed with sleek spiffy engineering. The problem soon became apparent: with a tiny compartment to work with, I was emptying the vacuum at least once a day. Ugh.

 

At long last, I ended up searching the web for something a little better-equipped to handle masses of pet hair. Again, I’m a total design snob, and as with so many appliances, there’s nothing quite like German engineering for vacuums. I ended up going with  a Miele canister vacuum, after searching for the best vacuum for pet hair online.

They have nice natural bristles, not like the cheap nylon brushes that have ruined so many of my varnishes over the years before I learned to take more care . They’re also compact, which is super important for me. As you’ll read on the review site, I think it’s of the utmost importance to find a vacuum that cleans your valuable decor touches without damaging any of them.

 

You’ll need to vacuum regularly, and make sure you pay special attention to your fabrics. Nothing drags your interior down like musty dusty drapes! Be sure to make smart use of your upholstery tool. One reason my Miele is so great is that it has adjustable suction levels, so you can treat your fabrics with care. That was one of the main reasons it was recommended on besthardwoodvacuum.com.

 

My other favorite feature on my little Miele is its dusting brush, so often a disappointment with American brands. This thing is absolutely fabulous, with probably 2 inches of thick, soft bristles. I feel totally comfortable using it on my sculpture pieces, figurines, and molding, where in the past I would have resigned myself to a miserable afternoon with the feather duster.

Let’s review: the easy steps for keeping pets in trendy homes are to

 

-address the danger of claws

-make your furnishings less appealing

-provide lots of alternative scratching grounds

-get a great vacuum for pet hair that can clean your furnishings without compromising them

 

Hope this helps,

 

xoxo

Liberia

My Furry Friends

Lovelies! I hope you’re well.

On the blog today: the story of how I came to create my family of furry friends!

I adopted my first kitty the year I bought my main apartment in Harlem. Sylvie came to me from a shelter in the Bronx, who had advertised at one rug merchant I frequently visited at the time, and still love today. As soon as I saw her on their poster, I knew it was meant to be.

 

She’s since passed away, much to my sadness, but the flock has grown over the years, with its current roster of 3 darling little ones, Rupert, Twilla, and Edgar.

Edgar and Twilla were my first adoptees after Sylvie, and the three of them lived together for several years before Sylvie finally became a bit too rickety to be comfortable. These two are twins, and they’re just absolutely hilarious to watch running around causing mischief. I found them in Harlem, at a shelter I’ve since discovered through the adoption mailings I receive.

I have all I can do to not adopt dozens of the adorable little creatures in there, but the pesky little twins won be over from the first glimpse. Rupert was my way of introducing a bit more mellow energy to the household. He’s a total lazybones, which tends to happen with neutered male cats. He’s my reading buddy and an excellent companion for quiet nights in when I need to unwind from whatever project is currently in my head.

In the years since I’ve started the herd, I’ve come to believe quite passionately in adoption. I have never been a card-carrying member of PETA or any such organization, but I’ve always believed in helping out however you can. It’s why I use recycled and repurposed materials instead of buying lots of new pieces for every project. Adopting pets only seems like the right thing to do.

Here’s why I have fallen in love with adoption, and why I encourage all of you to consider doing the same next time you’re thinking about welcoming a pet into your home.

When you adopt, as any shelter will tell you, you’re choosing to avoid the cycle of breeding and selling that leads to so many animal abuses and abandoned creatures in the world. You save someone who needs rescuing, which is much less selfish than deciding you need a completely new creature in the world. It’s plainly and simply the right thing to do.

The absolute best part of adoption isn’t the charitable aspect, though. It’s the fact that you’re not starting with a blank slate, or a guaranteed lovey. It’s all a matter of meeting someone you fall in love with, and you get to know them just like a person. A rescue animal already has a personality, and mannerisms. Adoption is a process of getting familiar with a fully-fledged person in animal form, with their own memories, experiences, and thoughts. It’s so much more fun, honestly.

If you don’t already have pets, and are hesitant to have any because of your nice interior furnishings, never fear! Read more about dealing with a cat as a fine decorator, and how you can have the best of both worlds by relying on a good pet hair vacuum and  being smart about your delicate furnishings.
So, wherever you live, consider visiting and supporting your local shelter!