Style. Color. Fabric. Fashion. At Art Van, We've Got The Look! Our team of fashion and furniture 'Insiders' take you behind the scenes for the greatest trends, décor and design tips. Looking for what's new and what's next? It's here!

Whether you’re upgrading your furnishings from mom and dad’s hand-me-downs, moving into your first apartment, or decorating a new home, buying your first sofa is a purchase you’ll always remember. The largest item in the room, a sofa commands attention. It’s also the piece that will serve as a landing spot for you and your family. Sofas are important and you’ll want to take the time to choose yours wisely.


We’ve Got the Look sat down with Art Van Furniture Upholstery Buyer Sharon Gjertsen to get her advice on purchasing your first sofa:


1. What is the first step you should take when purchasing your first sofa?

Sharon: I’ll tell you what I tell my friends and family: the first thing to do is to sit down and think about what you want to get out of it. Sometimes people don’t want to invest a lot of money, and buying a sofa that will suit your needs for a couple of years is fine. Others want to start with something good and make an investment that will last. While everybody has a budget, it’s important to start out by getting the most for your money.


Broadway Sofa
2. What are other things to consider when you’re in the showroom?

Sharon: What kind of use it will get. Will your sofa be in a family room with children, dogs and cats? Are you a single person and your sofa is a design statement? How the sofa will be used will dictate your best material choices.


3. Speaking of materials, what are the options?

Sharon: Today we have several options, including fabric or leather. Leather is very durable, but not everyone wants that look and feel. Microfiber, also called microsuede, has a little bit of a nap and is very durable. In fact, any kind of a man-made blend, such as olefin and nylon, will hold up very well. For someone who is interested in prints, cotton takes dyes very well and the prints are very crisp, but cotton isn’t as durable a material and wouldn’t be the best choice for a busy family. If you choose cotton, then you’re going for a look; understand that you’ll sacrifice durability for the visual presence.


Heidi Sofa
4. How important is design?

Sharon: I suggest that people buy a sofa in a more neutral fabric and create contrast and interest with throw pillows. You should think about tomorrow, and not just today’s design trends. Right now, the big push is color, but we think colors should be the jewelry of a room, such as pillows, rugs and lamps. If you fall in love with a bright yellow or lime green sofa, understand that you’ll have to work around that color for whatever time frame you hope to keep it. Changing out pillows, however, will be a fraction of the price of replacing the entire sofa.


Dario II Sofa
5. What about comfort?

Sharon: Most people purchase a sofa due to eye appeal. If they like the way it looks, they’ll sit down on it to judge its comfort. Then they’ll check to see if they can afford it. Ironically, few people test a sofa in the way it will be used at home. I encourage people to take off their shoes and curl up on it. It’s rare that you sit at home with both feet on the ground. Test it in the way you’ll use it at home to see if it feels right. And make sure the size is right. In our big showroom, nothing looks as big as it really is. Think about where you’ll place the sofa and you’ll have a better chance at making the right decision the first time.


If you’re doing back-to-school shopping, taking a daytrip or headed to the park, snacking on the run can be tough. Vending machine and food court choices aren’t always healthy. Avoid the bad stuff by packing some nutrient-rich, heart-healthy snacks. Here’s a dozen items that are good to go:


Looking for something crunchy? Try:

  • Apple slices
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Radishes
  • Unsalted rice cakes


Crave something sweet? Grab:

  • Raisins
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Low-fat or fat-free unsweetened fruit yogurt


Want something munchy? Pack:

  • Unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Whole-grain bread or toast
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Unsalted almonds, walnuts and other nuts


When you make healthy food choices, you fuel up for success.

Going back to school for your child means going back to the morning rush, going back to homework, and going back to bedtime routines. All of these activities will be headquartered inside your child’s room – does he or she need a school-year room makeover?


When you create an organized bedroom, you help your child do his or her best. Here are three things you need to consider before the school bell rings and studies begin:


computer desk
1. Your child needs a desk. Studying, homework and projects are best completed at a desk. When you put a desk in your child’s bedroom, you provide a quiet work environment away from the hustle and bustle of the household in which your child can get things done.


Student desks are appropriately sized for children and will be a more comfortable furnishing for your elementary and middle-school child to use. Whether your style is casual, traditional or contemporary, Art Van Furniture has designs that will look at home, and many kids’ desks have an optional hutch that adds storage.


bunkbed with desk
If space is limited, consider a bunk bed with an attached desk. Lofted beds are a great choice for the teen who craves extra space for a computer and books.


child dresser
2. Your child needs adequate storage. Getting ready in the morning will be a breeze when clothing options are readily accessible. A dresser will provide ample drawer space for storing socks, shirts and everything else. Also, consider closet organizers that allow you to hang items at your child’s height.


child chest
Set aside bookcases, baskets and benches for storing additional items that are kept in your child’s room, such as art supplies and toys. An organized room is easier to keep clean because there’s a place for everything. And a tidy room won’t distract your child while he or she is studying.


child bed
3. Your child needs a comfortable bed. A good night’s sleep is the foundation for a good school year and a new mattress could be your most important back-to-school purchase. The right mattress will give kids have a more fitful and productive sleep. Sleep helps us all retain what we learn during the day. At night, we go through different stages of sleep where our minds are working, filing and organizing all of the information we collect during the day. If the mattress doesn’t support your child properly, he or she will toss and turn and that can lead to fragmented memory.


At Art Van PureSleep, we can find the perfect fit for your child. Just as with an adult, the right mattress will provide two things: proper support and proper pressure relief. Our PureSleep diagnostic machine will find a mattress that fits your child – one that can grow with him or her.

Along with folders, pencils and a healthy lunch, your child might be bringing a case of nerves to the first day of classes. Here are five ways to help your child transition into a successful school year:


1. Sleep routines. Prepare for an earlier rising time by adjusting your bedtime and wakeup time two to three weeks in advance. Go to bed and get up 15 minutes earlier for a week, and keep adjusting the time until your child gets used to the new routine.


2. Homework. Create a plan, identifying specific homework and study times. Also, help your child organize his or her schoolwork by getting the right tools.


3. Activities. Assess the amount of time your child participates extra-curriculars, and be realistic about what they can and cannot handle. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to something that will bring stress home.


4. Chores. Consider if your child will have time to complete chores during school, and adjust their responsibilities at home as needed.


5. Calendar. Finally, document all of the decisions you make in a family command center, where schedules and routines are posted for everyone to see on a big calendar or bulletin board.

Kids are going back to school in less than three weeks. Create a bucket list for summer by planning five fun things to do before the buses hit the road. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Take in an outdoor movie. Head to the Ford Drive In in Dearborn. Or check out this list of cities that host outdoor movies for free.

2. Enjoy a just-picked watermelon. August is prime time for a juicy watermelon. Here’s a list of local farmer’s markets where you’ll find the freshest harvest. Seed spitting contest is optional.

3. Run through the sprinkler. Or head to one of our area’s fountains where cooling off in the water is encouraged. Admission to the fountains at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, City Park in Warren, and Partridge Creek in Clinton Township is free. Here’s a list of more locations.

4. Visit the Detroit Zoo. While it’s open year-round, a summertime trip to the zoo can be more fun because the animals are often active. If it’s hot, cool off inside the Penguinarium.

5. Take in a Tiger’s Game. Summer and baseball go hand in hand, and Comerica Park is a family-friendly location with a lot of events planned to please. Friday and Saturday night games are often followed by fireworks, and kids 14 and under can run the bases after the game is over on Sundays. See a list of the latest promotions by clicking this link.

Dorm rooms can be like déjà vu; step inside one and it feels like you’ve been there before. Standard-issue furnishings and cinder-block walls won’t inspire your creativity; instead, stand out by transforming your dorm room into a cool retreat. Here are ten ideas to get you started:


1. Temporary wall coverings. Consider temporary wallpaper that will transform your walls from drab to fab, then peel away at the end of the school year. Or check out wall decals that offer the same temporary design. Styles are available in geometric patterns, words, flowers or characters.

dorm upholstered headboard


2. A headboard. Dorm beds are all the same, but you can bring your own upholstered headboard and give your room a more comfortable feel.


lucia end table dorm
3. Small furniture. Bring in items that will give the room the feeling of an urban loft. For example, a pair of Lucia End Tables can be put together to create a coffee table that can easily be moved when you need more room. And they’re from the Art Van Clearance Center, so they’re super affordable!


dorm speakers

4. Speakers. Get ready for the weekend by jamming out the tunes. Fun speakers will make the party even better. Check out our Cube Speakers, available in black or white.


orange rug dorm
5. A floor covering. Bring a fun rug. Tile floors are cold. Cover them with a rug and it will be easier to get out of bed for morning classes.


cool dorm floor lamp
6. Lighting. Add a groovy floor lamp. A dorm room will look like a swank retreat with an arched floor lamp. Not only will it add lighting to the room, but it will create a cozy reading spot for studying.


dorm futon set
7. Comfortable seating. Hanging out in your room will be more fun when you can lounge on living room-like seating. Futons give an opportunity to invite friends to crash overnight.


8. A message center. Communicate with your roommate and keep track of school projects with a message center. Consider getting a dry erase calendar or chalkboard where you can post notes and reminders.
9. A new mattress or mattress protector. A cool room is one where you can have peace of mind. Instead of using the mattress the school provides, have Art Van Furniture deliver a Twin XL to your dorm on the day you move in. And invest in a good mattress protector that will wick away moisture and safeguard against spills, stains, dust mites, germs and allergens.


dorm screen
10. A screen. Get some privacy by using a screen. Roommates can get the feeling of separate bedrooms and a screen can be placed near the closet for a changing space.



Want to add square footage to your home without obtaining a building permit? You’ll feel like you’ve created an addition when you design a comfortable outdoor living space on your deck, patio or porch. New materials – such as woven wicker and cast aluminum – have lead to pieces that mimic your indoor style with the added benefit of allowing you to enjoy the nature just outside your door.


From sofas to sectionals, chaise lounges and cocktail tables, it’s easy to create an outside area that feels like a natural extension of your home – perfect for entertaining or just relaxing after a long day. Take a look at what we recommend:


cushion outdoor seating
1. Go for the cushions. Furnishing with cushions is the foundation of building a room that feels like an indoor space. From chairs to sofas and sectionals, cushioned furniture is designed to be fade-, stain- and mildew-resistant, and you can leave these pieces outside. Group seating pieces together just like you would in your indoor living space.


colorful lake loveseat
2. Play with the color palette. Use the tones you have inside to create a natural flow onto your deck or patio. Or go for a bold color that gives the feel of a tropical oasis. Keep in mind that earth tones might blend in a little too well with the outdoors, shrinking the look of your furnishings, and dark colors will hold the heat of the sunlight. Consider using bold, brightly colored accessories for a feeling of fun and whimsy.


seating collection with rug
3. Think about the “floor.” Consider using an outdoor rug. Made from a polypropylene material, it is made to stand up to the elements. And just like a rug serves in your indoor rooms, it will give the area a pulled-together feel.


seating group with plants
4. Take advantage of greenery. Bring your landscaping onto your patio or deck by using hanging baskets, pots and planters. Choose flowers and plants that mimic those in your lawn; the cohesive materials will make your yard feel like an extension of the space.


veranda umbrella
5. Give the illusion of walls. Create the feeling of a room by installing a pergola, lattice wall or awning. In addition to providing shade and privacy, you can use it to support climbing vines. An umbrella over a dining set will also give the feeling of enclosure.


outdoor torch
6. Consider the lighting. Strings of white or colored lights aren’t just for the holidays; they can create a starry effect when used outdoors during a summer night. Also consider landscape and deck lighting or torches that will softly light up the area and enhance the atmosphere. Lighting that points upward accents the architecture of the structure, while a light pointed downward creates a cozy glow.


comfortable seating firepit
7. Include the ambiance of a fire. Consider using a firepit. A popular outdoor accessory, you can find freestanding firepits or firepits that are incorporated in table groupings. An evening fire will instantly transform the space into an inviting gathering area as well as warm up the cool nights of Michigan summer.


outdoor accessorize
8. Accessorize. Decorative items bring an indoor room to life and the serve the same purpose outside, as well. Play with decorative throw pillows, bowls and candles.


white cube speaker dorm
9. Crank up the music. Outdoor speakers bring the party outside. Relax in style with your favorite tunes. You can install outdoor speakers or use a portable speakers like our fun Cube Speakers.


10. Add water. Complement the design and feel of your outdoor space with the calming trickle of a fountain. Its sound is soothing and will add another sense to your outdoor space. You could also choose a birdbath that will attract feathered friends.

Cooking during the summer often means tossing something on the grill. Keep the flames burning hot and even by performing annual maintenance. Here’s a checklist complements of Broil King.

  • Remove burner and inspect for cracks and deterioration. Clean venturi tubes using a pipe cleaner or venturi brush to eliminate any blockages caused by spiders or insects.
  • Using a stainless steel brush scrape off any residue that has accumulated on the grilling surface.
  • With the burners and grilling surface removed, scrape the inside of the oven using a sturdy bristle brush and then use an industrial vacuum cleaner to remove any ash and debris. Then, using a barbecue cleaner scrub the inside and outside of the oven and then rinse with water. Never use oven cleaner on your barbecue, it is corrosive and can damage the other components.
  • Check and clean the grease tray regularly to prevent grease from overflowing onto your patio.
  • Wash the outside of the housing with a mild soap and water solution. Rinse the surfaces thoroughly, and then wipe them with a cloth dipped in cooking oil to restore the luster.

Sometimes it can be fun to get benched, especially when you’re resting on a gorgeous piece of furniture that’s as versatile as it is useful. Typically made of wood, benches can also be upholstered for ultimate comfort. Made for sharing, benches provide a place to rest for a moment, set something down or maximize seating in a room.


If you haven’t been benched, we think it’s time. Take a look at these five ways to use a bench:


kitchen bench

Large families can always squeeze in one more when they replace a few chairs with a bench. Use one or two with a rectangular or oval table to create a casual and functional dining area. We love the Peasant Bench with its rustic style and eco-friendly construction of reclaimed hardwoods, giving each its own unique properties and characteristics.


family room bench
Family Room

In the family room a bench can serve as a coffee table during the day, then be utilized as extra seating during parties and large gatherings. The Rustic Traditions Bench would serve both purposes with style. With an ivory cushioned top and rich cherry finish base, it lifts to provide storage for small items, such as your growing collection of remotes or those magazines you’ve been meaning to read.


bedroom bench

The foot of your bed is another great place to utilize a bench. Providing a place to sit while getting dressed, it can also hold extra linens and blankets during the summer. This gorgeous Empire II Bench has a thick upholstered top in crisp white with two drawers for storage. Its parchment finish is a great addition to traditional or casual décor; it’s also available in cherry.


mudroom bench

Whether you’re leaving for work or school or getting home after a long day, a bench in your mudroom will meet you in style. Use it to lace up your shoes, set down your groceries or hold the things you don’t want to forget to take with you. The Chelsea Storage Bench, in a midnight oak finish, is a great piece for a mudroom. Its upholstered seat provides a comfortable place to sit and the top lifts to reveal plenty of storage for boots, sports gear or even laundry supplies.


foyer bench

Finally, a bench in the foyer creates a welcoming space to greet friends and family who drop by for a visit. It’s also a great place to rest coats and gloves or to set gifts as you invite people in. A bench in the foyer is also a good place for your daughter’s date to wait while she changes her outfit … again. With its clean lines and ample storage, our Mission Style Bench is a beautiful addition to any type décor – from rustic to contemporary. In an updated espresso finish, it’s a handsome mix of style and function.

Before you know it, the school bus will be at the corner and parent/teacher conferences will be scheduled. Are you ready for school? Save money this year with these three tips:


1. Pay attention to the weather and not the store windows. It’s tempting to stock up on the cute sweaters and corduroy pants that are in stores today, but look at the temperature not the displays. The weather in September is appropriate for short sleeves, so hit the sale racks and grab some deals on things like polo shirts and shorts. Wait to buy warmer items when they go on sale in October and November.


2. Watch the circulars. Office supply and grocery store often feature deep discounts on school supplies. You’ll find great deals on loose-leaf paper, folders and pens if you watch your newspaper. Stock up when these items go on sale and you won’t have to replenish midway through the semester.


3. Make do with what you have. Chances are you have a desk drawer filled with pens from the businesses you frequent and a closet stocked with home office supplies. Instead of buying all new for school, take a look at what you have. Then leave the cute polka dot binder at the store, and decorate the inexpensive white one you already own with stickers or markers.