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How Swag Valances and Blinds Enhance the Look of Your Windows



When it comes to interior design, there’s no detail that has quite the impact that window treatments do.  Upon entering a room, window treatments immediately catch the eye, setting the tone and style of a home. Old World or Modern, Traditional or Rustic, you’ll know instantly the mood just by examining what type of window treatments have been chosen. But they serve another important purpose too: they provide privacy, control the amount of light that enters a room, play an important role in controlling room temperature and protect artwork and furniture from the sun.

Two interesting options for dressing up your windows include valances and window blinds — both of which serve slightly different functions but which can complement each other, even on the same window.

Swag Valances

Swag valances are a swath of material artfully draped over the upper side of a window. The great thing about swags is that they instantly emphasize and highlight a window, while at the same time adding elegance and class. You’ll most often see them used in traditional and formal styles of decorating, and especially in formal rooms like living and dining rooms, although you’ll often see them in bedrooms too. Swag valances come in a wide variety of colors and fabrics, ensuring that you can easily find just the right set to match furnishings and the other colors in your room.

You’ll notice that some swag valances only dress the upper half of the window, while other swags gently waft down to cover the sides of a window opening. If you’re looking beyond decorative appeal to cover a window for privacy, swags should be used in conjunction with blinds, shades or more substantial curtains. Be sure to choose a fabric that will not fade due to sun exposure, as there’s nothing that detracts from a room like sad, faded curtains!


People often confuse blinds and shades. But, in fact, they’re quite different. Blinds are amomg the most widely used window treatments for homes and offices because they are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at most big-box store. Shades, on the other hand, are sometimes custom-made and are available in a range of materials, from soft fabrics to grasses and even wood.

Blinds and shades can be installed either horizontally or vertically. Both ways offer privacy as well as the ability to filter light. What’s more, you can also install motorized shades controlled with a remote that are especially ideal for oversized windows that are difficult to reach.

As you can see, there are loads of options and tons of factors to consider before choosing a window treatment. Because so many factors come into play, it’s a good idea to speak with a design professional who can help fill you in on the advantages and disadvantages of each type of material.  If you choose the appropriate window treatment you’ll find it will add undeniable appeal and functionality to your home.


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Design Dilemma: Warm Minimalism Captures the Zeitgeist

Warm minimalism

If there’s one decor style which seems to capture the zeitgeist of our times better than any other, it’s what has become known as “warm minimalism.” In an age in which sustainability, climate change, excess consumerism, and growing inequality have become the issues of the day, there is something about a welcoming but very simple environment, boiled down to a few essentials, which seems to reflect the spirit of our times. Environments like these:

Caterpillar House

And this:

master bedroom

And this:

Caterpillar House

Why are these environments so appealing, and what do they have in common?

To answer the first question, many of us feel increasingly jaded by societies in which we are constantly expected to grasp after the next new trend. Instead, we are in search for classic environments that will endure the test of time, spaces that do not require expensive designer furniture, rooms that embrace sustainable woods, and that are not filled to the brim with “stuff.” at the same time, classic minimalism, as it is widely understood — no color, no rugs, sharp lines and empty spaces — does not provide the sense of retreat and welcome that most of us are after in our homes. In an increasingly competitive world, we want a space that gives us a kiss and a hug when we come home, not a cold shoulder.

So that answers the question of why we find spaces like those below appealing.

Albert Park House

The second question of what these environments have in common is easy to spot. Warm, minimal environments make liberal use of wood. Wood is often on the lighter side of the color palette to emphasize airyness and spaciousness. There is a distinct lack of clutter. Organic shapes, rounded corners, nubby textures, are important design elements, as is the concept of light and space itself. While it might seem easy to pull off such a space, it really isn’t. If your home doesn’t have good bones, it will be harder to let minimalism shine the way it should.

The bedroom below just wouldn’t be the same without the huge window and all the light streaming in.

Meadow House

So if your space has good bones and you think you have the restraint to pull off this decor style, here are a few tips:

1) Try Coco Chanel’s tip. Design what you think is the perfect room and then remove one object. It could be that extra lamp, object d’art, or side chair.

2) Use warm woods but don’t go crazy. Wood, used in just the right amounts, can warm up a space that might otherwise seem clinical. But if you add too much, the minimalism effect gets lost. So use wood judiciously. Below, a dining room makes use of wood and organic, live-edge table to warm things up.

Decor Aid

3) Art and touches of color make a big difference in an otherwise empty room. Below, two pieces of art and one simple yellow stool steal the show. Notice also how the lamp brings in a touch of nature, always critical in a warm space.

Beet Residence

And here, a simple white hallway is warmed up with lots of art and touches of color.

Stockholm, Sweden

4) Steal a page out of the Scandinavian playbook, and paint a simple room all white, then fill your walls with artwork and touches of primary color. You can see that aesthetic at work in the hallway above.

5) Make editing a regular part of your life.  The hardest part of having a warm minimal space is keeping it minimal. In order to do so, you’ve got to purge regularly, giving away things — extra clothes, books, art objects, that seem to find their way into your home. If you don’t love it, let it go!

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Design Trend: Miami Takes Residential Architecture to a New Level

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Brooklyn is home to the brownstone and San Francisco the “Painted Lady.” Boston is admired for red brick townhouses and Los Angeles for the Spanish-stucco villa. But where do you go for cutting-edge, futuristic architecture that we normally associate with cities like Dubai and Tokyo?  The answer is Miami. There are some seriously interesting residential projects in the works, each more daring than the last. Here are five of them:

one thousand museum mia 1024x640 architecture

Designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, One Thousand Museum is Hadid’s first residential skyscraper in the western hemisphere.  Internationally renowned for her designs incorporating the organic in a sensuous and usually soaring way, the new residence elegantly blurs the line between art and architecture. Take a look at the magnificent swimming pool below:

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And here is a rendering of the building from outside, where balcony openings are reminiscent of Antoni Gaudi’s organic, almost animalistic forms and shapes:

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One Thousand Museum will include duplex townhomes, half-floor residences, full-floor penthouses, and a single duplex penthouse. Interiors are being designed by an elite team of designers, including lighting artists and residential technology specialists. Every residence will offer multiple oversized terraces that form part of the tower’s sensual, sculptural exoskeleton.

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Gran Paraiso Residences

These residences are located in the Paraiso master planned community developed by Jorge M. Pérez of The Related Group,  the nation’s leading developer of multifamily residences and one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States. Located in the Miami district of Edgewater, Gran Paraiso overlooks Biscayne Bay, with Miami Beach just over the horizon. Like One Thousand Museum, Gran Paraiso also has some important names in architecture attached, including architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia of the Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica and Italian designer Piero Lissoni, internationally renowned for the design of hotels, residential complexes, corporate headquarters, yachts, and lifestyle products.

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As you can see from the above picture, the design is more linear and less organic than Hadid’s, but nevertheless striking. Here’s a different view:

gran paraiso condos 1024x640 architecture

And an interior shot:

gran paraiso condo 1024x640 architecture

Based on what we can see, the Gran Paraiso looks to be one of the preeminent places to live and play in Miami.

Hyde Beach House Hollywood

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Yet another high-profile name is attached to another development at water’s edge. Brazilian architect Debora Aguiar focused on sensual sophistication throughout the Hollywood Beach development called the Hyde Resort & Residences, which features dramatic indoor and outdoor spaces. Like Hadid, Aguiar was also inspired by the organic, this time in the form of, natural wood and stone. You get the idea in the picture above, in which textured stone and tile take center stage. Here is a shot of the outdoor pool space:

hyde beach house condos 1024x512 architecture

And below, the poolside bar, featuring an organic, live edge bar top counter.

hyde beach house condo 1024x512 architecture

Hyde Resort & Residences features two- and three-bedroom homes with glass rails, wraparound terraces and sliding glass doors that make the indoors feel like the outdoors, and vice-versa.  All residences include gourmet kitchens, elegantly appointed bathrooms, spacious closets and tech-savvy features include fiber-optic wiring, WIFI, and electronic door locks.


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Marina Palms

Located in North Miami, Marina Palms Yacht Club & Residences (pictured above) is two, 24-story towers with 468 residences that overlook Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This is the place to be if you love boating or water sports. The development includes a 112-slip private marina that can accommodate yachts up to 90 feet long.  There’s open ocean access for boaters via Haulover Inlet, just 20 minutes away, plus plenty of aquatic activities: jet skis, kayaks, water skiing, windsurfing and snorkeling. Inside, you quickly understand that living here is not just about the boat:

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The condos are either two or three bedrooms and range in size from 1,821 to 2,500 square feet.

Aria on the Bay

Meanwhile, Aria on the Bay is a whole different concept. Overlooking Biscayne Bay, the building will feature panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows offering endless bay and city views, spacious floor plans and easy flow between rooms.

Here is a view of a bathroom that feels almost like it’s outside:

aria on the bay miami building 1024x640 architecture


Below, the lobby manages to feel both “glam” and organic at the same time:

aria on the bay condominium 1024x640 architecture

The Aria features oversized balconies, a pet friendly green park, tennis, volleyball and baseball, areas as well as a children’s playground.

We say kudos to South Florida, for moving the country a few steps ahead when it comes to residential design!