Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture - Part 3

Home Design Find


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Design Dilemma: Shopping for a Home for Entertaining

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With the holiday season upon us, many of us may be bemoaning our lot — the lack of a coat closet or the absence of a dining room. Perhaps it’s the fact that our home has no “flow.” If you love to entertain but you’re feeling a bit restricted by your present space, here are a few things to look for next time you’re in the market for a home.

1) A real entry hall or foyer.

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Many of us overlook the entry way when shopping for a home, but once you move in, you’ll notice it’s absence if you don’t have one. A good entry way is spacious enough to allow a space for guests to enter and remove their coats and/or shoes. It should have good lighting for guests searching for keys. Outside the entry door, there should be a covering that protects visitors from the rain. Don’t forget a rug to protect floors from wet shoes and provide a soft pad if you ask guests to remove shoes. An umbrella stand is a welcome touch.

2) A decent-sized coat closet, preferably in the entryway.

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When you’re having a party, one of the big dilemmas always seems to be where to store the coats. If you’re unlucky, you only have the bed as an option. If you’re lucky enough to have a decent-sized coat closet, preferably located right in the entry, you can stow away guests’ coats and sweaters out of sight right there. When it’s time to leave, guests can easily find their coats without having to tramp through your bedroom.

3) An open concept floor plan.

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While some are not fans of open concept, nothing makes for throwing a better party. Guests can mix and mingle and open concept plans are flexible enough to allow for a variety of seating arrangements, whether you’re hosting your book club or hosting poker night. Many open concept plans feature an island between the kitchen and dining room with counter seating. This is another boon to entertainers who can use the island for extra seating, or as a buffet where guests can serve themselves. Another plus: the cook doesn’t have to be isolated in a closed-off kitchen.
4) If you don’t like open concept, a good-sized formal dining room.

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Nothing can beat the coziness of a formal dining room for a sit-down dinner. Look for a dining room with maybe a built-in china cabinet and fireplace.

5) A walk-in pantry.

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This one may be less obvious to many of us, since it is a bit of a rarity in homes nowadays, but having a walk-in pantry is a boon for those who love to entertain. There’s always a space to store extra ingredients and platters. Make sure your pantry has deep-shelving and good light.

6) A powder room on the first floor.

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Inevitably, guests will need to use the bathroom. Make things easy for them by looking for a layout where the bathroom is located on the first floor, preferably near the entry. Having a guest bathroom also makes your life simpler, since you won’t have to clean up your private bathroom every time you have guests over.

7) A patio or deck.

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This is especially useful if you live in a warm weather climate where you’ll want to host barbecues and cookouts.

8) If you have kids, a basement recreational room.

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This may not be necessary for smaller families or those without kids, but larger families often make use of a separate entertaining space where the kids can go play or where dad and his buddies can watch the big game in peace.

9) Indoor-outdoor flow.

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Indoor-outdoor flow is great for large parties and for summer gatherings. A sliding glass door that gives you direct access to a patio or garden is a great feature to have and enjoy when you entertain.

If you are able to find a home with most of these features, we guarantee that you’ll be able to throw fun, stress-free parties. So don’t forget to take our checklist along, next time you go house-hunting!

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Winter Home Prep

By: Sarah Callahan, Blogger

Winter in South Dakota is no joke! Since I moved to South Dakota over 5 years ago I have had some pretty crazy winter weather. I grew up in Indiana and we had some was rough winters, but the dramatic difference between here and there is the wind factor. There is running meme on FaceBook about why do we live where being outside hurts my face. Every place has its more difficult weather patterns and South Dakota’s just happens to be winter! Being prepared is the best thing you can do when it comes to the impending doom of winter.

The best time to prepare for winter is before it hits! Usually when the temps really start to drop during the night, it is time to start your winter prep on your home.

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Dodging the Draft

Weather striping around the windows of your home is the main way wind doesn’t constantly come into your home. If this striping is old or cracked you may need to replace it. Depending on how the striping is done you may need to remove all of it and put all new stripping down. Check the weather stripping on your windows, doors and your garage door as well. According to PopularMechanics.com drafts can waste 5 to 30 percent of a home’s energy.

You can do a couple things even if you are a renter versus a homeowner to help prepare for the winter’s cold. You can get plastic to put over your windows to help with any draft that may be coming in from them. I live in an older home and odd enough the windows that have been replaced in our home are the drafty ones! The old windows that are original with the home are much less drafty, maybe because they have storm windows that are in place. We only put plastic up over the windows that are the newer ones in our home. This is in our main living area.  You can get a window insulation kit at your local hardware store or Wal-Mart. You can also hang heavy material curtains over your windows or patio doors, this will also help keep down any drafts. During the winter you can actually see the plastic over our windows blowing in and out from the drafts, so this is an important one for us in our older home!

For any exterior door you can buy or make a draft snake that slides underneath of your door. It provides a barrier for the underside of the door for any wind that may try to get in. In one apartment I had in Indiana the draft under the front exterior door was so bad snow was blowing into the apartment. One simple fix was to roll up a towel and place it at the bottom of the door. This sadly did not stop the snow completely. The towel needed to be replaced frequently because it was soaked from snow coming in and then melting. You can use a towel or get an inexpensive draft snake at your local hardware store or Wal-Mart.

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Maintaining Your Maintenance Plan

Be sure to keep up on your regular maintenance for your furnace. You should have it checked before the harsh weather comes because once it hits everyone is going to be calling them. If you have it tested before hand you can be sure your home will stay warm and you won’t be caught in the cold waiting on them to come fix your unit. Service your AC after the summer months to ensure that it will be ready to go next spring.

Be sure to continue to replace air filter since you will be inside a lot more. If you have trouble remembering to replace your furnace filter you can sign up for FilterEasy.com and they will ship a new filter to your home every three months. This is handy when you live where the outside hurts your face. You don’t want to leave your home for any reason, especially just to get a furnace filter! You may want to consider having someone clear our your air vents before you are constantly inside all winter. Clearing out the dust!

Making sure your furnace is ready to go is important. If your home has a fireplace it is also very important to make sure you have plenty of firewood kept in a dry place. We keep our firewood outside of our home on a rack, so the wood is off of the ground. We also have a weather cover over it to help keep it dry. We keep it away from the home incase termites were to get into the wood, they wouldn’t quickly get in our home as well. We also have a couple of starter logs in our hall closet to help get a fire going.

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Roof Caved In

Not something most people have to think about, but you don’t want your roof to cave in from the weight of too much ice and snow. So before the winter hits you want to make sure all the fallen leaves are cleared from your gutters. This will help ensure that any ice or snow when it has a chance to melt can properly drain off of your roof. If there is no drainage pathway the ice and snow can pile up more than normal. If the snow and ice pile up too much the weight could cave in on your roof. It could also slide off the house hitting your car or worse a person in your yard.

Other Odds and Ends

We do a few other things to prepare for the winter like oiling up the keyhole on our front door. It can get stuck during the cold making it difficult to get into our home. Make sure you have salt / sand handy to put on ice to help avoid slipping on your steps or walkway. You can also add insulation in your attic to help the home retain its heat. Try starting your snow blower to make sure it is ready for use. You do not want to find out it won’t start after a foot of snow has hit your driveway!

You should also always have an emergency kit incase of power outage. Our emergency kit includes things like batteries, flashlight, candles, matches, bottled water, and some granola bars. We also put a backpack of these things in each of our cars, but we also include blankets.

We want to make sure all of our home systems and appliances are all running smoothly as well. Especially during a South Dakota winter, NO ONE wants to go buy a new dishwasher in the middle of a winter here! Maintaining our home’s appliances is key.

We have a home warranty that helps us out if something does go wrong with one of our appliances or our furnace. However if we weren’t already properly maintaining them, the warranty could not cover something due to neglect. We believe paying for a service to cover all of these things is key to keeping our home in working order. If you don’t already have a home warranty, check out cheap home warranty plans your area. It could be your savings grace this winter!

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Design Dilemma: How to do “Hygge” this Winter

shabby chic style hall how to tips advice

If you’ve ever visited Scandinavia, you will know that the Scandinavians really know how to do winter! Yes, it may be cold and dark outside, but inside, things are warm, cozy and cheerful. In other words, to use a Danish term, they are “hygge,” a word that describes comfort, conviviality and contentment. Everyone’s been talking about hygge recently, since several books have been published examining the concept. So what’s hygge? It’s getting together with friends in front of a fireplace, surrounded by candles and soft lights. Everyone’s wearing thick wool socks and soft sweaters, and together, you and your friends enjoy life’s simple pleasures, such as conversation and board games and maybe a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. More than anything else, hygge connotes a slowness, a sense of intimacy, a state of mind that is celebrates security, familiarity, reassurance, kinship, and simplicity. Sounds pretty nice, right? That’s how the Danes get through the winter, and there’s certainly something we can learn from this as well!

So how can you make your own home hygge this winter? We’ve got a few suggestions that are simple, easy and will transform your home into a little cozy nest in no time at all.

Make liberal use of candles.

No one ingredient is as important to hygge as candles. They are used at the table, around the room, and even as a stand-in for a fire, if you have a decorative fireplace and not a working one. Scented candles are great for use on gray days and are always welcoming when used in the bathroom.

Below, candles are used in a fireplace to provide a green alternative to burning logs.

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Below, candles in the bathroom warm up the atmosphere and provide a pleasant scent. They are especially useful when guests come to visit, as they can provide a soft light in the bathroom when the lights are switched off and guests need to find the light switch.

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Candles while dining are imperative. But they don’t always have to be directly on the table itself. In the dining room below, an installation of candles warms things up, without taking up valuable table space. And in the second picture, candles arranged on the wall provide a warm softness that also frees up table space.

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Candles can also be used to provide a warm glow outside. Even a patio can feel cozy with candles and a few pillows.

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Lanterns are also a nice way to use candles.

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Build a fire.

Second on the list of hygge is building a fire. Nothing is cozier than snuggling up to the hearth on gray days and dark winter nights.

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Invite friends over for tea, dinner or a board game.

This is one of the central aspects of hygge. Although you can be warm and cozy and content by yourself at home, there is something special about welcoming others to share your warm and cozy space. So try to entertain regularly, but don’t make a big fuss. Keep things simple. You need do nothing more than fire up the tea kettle.

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Bring out the blankets and throws.
This is another important element of a cozy home. Plenty of blankets and throws need to be within reach for particularly chilly days when it’s time to snuggle up on the couch with a book and a cup of hot chocolate.

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Enjoy string lights indoors.

They have the same brightening effect of candles and can be used in just about any room and situation.

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What else helps to make a home “hygge?”

  • Soft, indirect lighting from several sources. Avoid overhead lights.
  • Liberal use of pillows and cushions.
  • Plants and artwork.
  • Thick piled rugs to keep the feet warm.
  • Small gathering spaces, nooks and crannies.  It’s hard to make a large space feel cozy.
  • Keeping things simple. No need to get out of your sweats for hygge. And your friends can stop by as they are too!
  • Turning off the television and computer. Hygge is about taking things slow and relaxing with others, not listening to a blaring TV.
  • Making a pot of soup or a stew. A large one-pot meal can be available anytime anyone gets hungry.

Are you ready to get your hygge on this winter?