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In the early days of American carpentry, each American colony had its own unique tradition, and you can often tell where something was made by looking at its design. The chest-on-chest style of dresser, for example, was the invention of South Carolina cabinetmaker Thomas Elfe. The piece focused on portability – smaller pieces are easier to move than one! – making it easy to rearrange a room or move to a new location. In New Hampshire, two-tone furniture was a signature style. This area wasn’t home to some of the exotic wood choices available in other colonies, so cabinetmakers crafted furniture out of two types of wood to make their pieces more interesting.
Your grandmother’s antique curio cabinet holds a special place in your heart, but will it look out of place in your modern home? Not if you choose to thoughtfully display it. Antiques make any space more interesting because they bring a sense of history and family, but combining design aesthetics from different decades can be a challenge.
It is possible, however, to combine old with new. Here are six tips for effortlessly incorporating antiques into your modern décor:
1. Go with what you love. The secret to creating a look that feels collected and curated instead of hodge-podge or flea market-y is to only use antiques you truly love. Our taste and style often have a common thread, and if you follow this rule chances are the items will live in harmony. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles. When everything is pulled together, the look will reflect your unique personality.
2. Showcase a single piece. If your room is small, allow your antique piece space to shine by using just one in your modern room. Instead of the entire dining suit, for example, combine the chairs with your glass table or warm up a contemporary setting with an antique wooden sideboard. Then add modern accents to the piece to help bridge the styles.
3. Group objects by color or material. Antiques instantly become “unified” when you group items from the same color family. A contemporary blue leather chair, for example, will look pleasing to the eye when it’s paired with a painted antique Craftsman table. Or collect items made of a similar material. Chrome objects from the ‘60s used with today’s new take on chrome will look great when used together.
4. Concentrate items. Instead of scattering antiques throughout the room, concentrate your collections in a few areas so they feel like a special focal point. This is especially helpful for antique accent items that can be grouped on a shelf, tray or tabletop.
5. Repurpose items. Antique items take on a new life when you repurpose them and give them a new function. An antique buffet, for example, can easily be converted into a media center, adding interest to your entertainment area. Or use a curio cabinet as a linen closet in an oversized bathroom. Use your imagination and think outside the room!
6. Antique rugs are always in style. A contemporary room will feel grounded when you incorporate an heirloom rug. Stick with a similar palette or infuse a splash of color by using a contrasting shade. Whatever design you choose, an antique rug will warm up a modern room.
Early American history is filled with gorgeous furniture, and carpenters took their time designing and crafting each piece with care. We discovered some fun facts about furniture history. Did you know doors on American cabinetry were often fashioned with 13 individual panes of glass? The reason is not unlucky: these carpenters were celebrating the country’s newfound independence by honoring the 13 original states. The elegant cabinets were intended to make a statement about liberty and honor!
There’s nothing more American than throwing a Fourth of July backyard barbecue. A summer afternoon gathering with friends and family is a great way to celebrate our country’s independence and the freedom we hold dear. It’s a day to have fun – not stress over details!
Enjoy your Fourth of July party by keeping it simple. Here are eight tips for making the most of this patriotic day.
1. Focus on fun not fuss. Choose foods that are easy to prepare, cook and serve. Traditional barbecue fare such as burgers (psst … get the premade patties) and hot dogs seem almost effortless when prepared on the grill. Or prepare foods like ribs or chicken the day before and finish them on the grill. Add simple side dishes like pasta or potato salad, fruit and veggie trays, chips, cookies and brownies, and you’re ready for a crowd.
2. Or make it simpler. While you can provide all of the food, consider throwing a potluck and asking guests to bring a dish to pass. You’ll spread the responsibility and cost, and guests can show off their favorite dishes. Or call the caterer or grab your favorite takeout, like fried chicken or subs. While food is an important part of the day, the emphasis should be on fun.
3. Don’t forget drinks. Provide coolers with a variety of beverages so guests can help themselves. Set out pitcher of lemonade, water, and have plenty of cups. Have Sharpie markers on hand so your friends can write their names on their glasses; this will keep everyone’s drinks straight and eliminate unnecessary waste. Another option is to ask guests to BYOB!
4. Get plenty of seating. Encourage your guests to linger outside by putting out plenty of chairs. Stackable chairs are a great option for events like this. Or ask guests to bring their own. You can also set out blankets and tablecloths that will invite people to sit on the lawn.
5. Decorate! Fourth of July parties have a super easy theme: anything red, white and blue or stars and stripes will turn your back yard from a nature retreat into a patriotic hot spot. Use colorful tablecloths. Hang a flag or swag from the deck. Or string red, white and blue lights from the trees.
6. Plan activities. While gathering with friends is fun, think ahead and plan activities and games to keep kids and adults busy. Play American history trivia or charades. Put out bottles of bubbles or get a beanbag toss game. Set up croquet, or rent a karaoke machine.
7. Think about the weather. July is hot, so you’ll want to provide shade or other ways for guests to cool off. Use a big umbrella over dining tables. Plan your event around the best time of day for your yard and the sun. Or include wet ways for your friends to chill, such as sprinklers, squirt guns or misters. When the sun goes down, it can get chilly. If your party is at night, consider getting a firepit that will take the crisp out of the night, or set out blankets and sweaters.
8. Fireworks! The Fourth of July is time to celebrate America with fanfare, and that means fireworks. If it’s legal in your area, consider purchasing small fireworks to shoot off at dusk. This is an adults-only activity, and you’ll want to follow directions as well as your city ordinance. Or visit a nearby park for your city’s professional display. Here’s a website where you can search for fireworks displays in Michigan.
Outdoor entertaining has become quite sophisticated in recent years. While a blanket and picnic basket will always be en vogue, today’s deep cushioned chairs, oversized tables and cozy sectionals look so much like their inside counterparts, you’ll entertain in style with all of the comforts of indoors.
Here are a few things to consider if you want to create an extra special soiree:
1. Plan the space for your party. Are you hosting an evening gathering that will include dinner and drinks? An afternoon barbecue with a rousing game of badminton? Or a family brunch to celebrate a special event? Knowing how many people will be seated at tables and how many will be enjoying activities will help you set up your furniture to accommodate everyone. Stackable chairs are always a big help when you have an occasional crowd; they’re easily stowed when not in use.
2. Assemble an outdoor kitchen. From appetizers to dessert, prepare and present the entire meal under the sun or stars. Oversized grills with side-burners allow you the space you need to prep and cook a wonderful dinner. Create an outdoor refrigerator by using two or more coolers – one to keep food ready and one to hold drinks. And don’t forget a place for trash.
3. Dress the tables. Just like you would set a dining room table for dinner, give some thought to your outdoor eating area. Paper napkins are convenient, but colorful dishtowels that double as a napkin are practical, too. Arrange silverware in terra cotta pots. Use your most colorful plates. And choose a simple centerpiece, such as mason jars filled with flowers you cut that morning from your garden.
4. Use your favorite accent items. Just like you would decorate an indoor room, add items such as framed photos, books and candles to the cocktail tables in sitting areas to mimic your interior style and décor. These items will add personality to your outdoor space and create a sense of intimacy.
5. Think about the light. If your event is during the afternoon, make sure there are shady areas where guests can escape the sun. An oversized umbrella will do the trick, or add seating to the lawn under a tree. If your event is at night, light up the area with strands of clear lights, hung in trees. Paper lanterns are another great way to add light and ambiance. Scatter hurricane lamps and tea lights around the tables to create a mood. Or choose oil-filled tiki torches that provide personality and light up walkways.
6. Think about the kids. If children will be in attendance, give some thought to games and activities to keep them entertained. Bottles of bubbles are always fun. Games like ring toss and croquet are timeless classics. Or cover a table with butcher paper and set out crayons for budding artists.
Looking for a unique dessert for your summer barbecue? We love Banana Splits on a Stick! Quick and simple to make, they’ll be the hit of your backyard bash. Here’s the recipe from Frugal Coupon Living:
Banana Split Sticks
- 3 Bananas
- 1/4 lb Cored Pineapple
- 6 Strawberries
- 1 cup Dipping Chocolate
- 1/4 cup Chopped Peanuts
- 12 Popsicle Sticks (or skewers)
Cut strawberries in half. For each strawberry half, cut an equal size piece of banana and pineapple. Using Popsicle sticks, place pineapple on first, then banana and finaly strawberry. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Line a tray with wax paper or parchment paper. Put chopped nuts in small plate to use for dipping. Melt chocolate by heating in microwave for 30 seconds, stirring and repeating until melted and smooth. Dip cold fruit in chocolate, then into nuts, then place on prepared tray. Once the chocolate hardens, they’re ready to serve!
Gas grills are one of the best parts of summer. They’re quick to light, convenient to use, and they serve up a tasty burger, chicken breast or steak on a Saturday evening. A flip of the igniter and you’re cooking (with gas!)
Easy to operate, they’re also low maintenance. Our friends at Broil King have shared this simple five-step plan to keep your grill burning hot all summer:
Step 1: Remove the cooking grids, grates and burners and use a sturdy bristle brush to remove the build-up of grease on the inside of the oven. You can use a cleaner made for the barbecue to scrub the inside and outside of the oven. Then rinse with water. Never use oven cleaner on your barbecue; it’s corrosive and can damage the other components.
Step 2: Inspect the burners making sure there are no holes rusted through any of the components. If there are, it’s time for a replacement. Clean out any clogged ports using a toothpick, being careful not to damage the ports. Check all igniter contacts to ensure they are not corroded or loose and remove any debris from the electrode. Next, clean out the venturi tubes using a venturi brush.
Step 3: Examine the heat medium, if you have a heat plate remove any grease build-up and make sure there are no holes rusted through. If you have briquettes make sure they aren’t crumbling and the pores aren’t clogged with grease.
Step 4: Check the cooking grids and make sure no welds are broken and brush off any stuck on residue. If you have cast iron cooking grids, season them with oil to help keep food from sticking and help prevent rust.
Step 5: Finally, inspect the gas hose to make sure there aren’t any cracks or leaks. This can easily be done by preparing a soapy solution and applying it to the connections at the tank and valve. Turn the tank on slowly and watch for bubbles to form, which indicates that there is a leak.
There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot day than an ice cold drink. Why not put some fun in a glass this summer? We found two great ideas that you can use for your next summer party.
This cute drink couldn’t be easier. Mix 7Up with blue food coloring in a mason jar and add a Swedish fish. Ta da! The kids will love it. For an adult version, make a Blue Hawaiian by filling a hurricane glass with one ounce of light rum, one ounce of coconut rum and ½ ounce of blue curacao. Add ice and pineapple juice.
Sun Fruit Tea
Skip the carbonated canned beverages and fill a cooler with healthier refreshments by making individual sun ice tea in mason jars. Simply add water, a tea bag and the sliced fruit of your choice. Let steep in the sun, and chill on ice.
When you take a fabulous vacation, you don’t want the experience to end. That’s why it’s fun to bring home a souvenir to remember your visit. Luckily, you don’t have to stop at the tourist gift shop to find something wonderful. From art for the walls to a cleverly curated collection of something that sparks joy, you’ll effortlessly revisit fond memories by keeping treasures close.
Here are five ideas for showcasing your trip and paying homage to your travels through your home décor:
1. Map it. Old maps of cities like London, Paris and New York are popular right now, and you can easily find one from the place you visit that’s perfect for framing. Another hot trend is artwork that graphically lists city names. Just looking at one of these works of art will inspire a trip down memory lane and keep you connected to your visit.
2. Send postcards to yourself. Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive; you’ll often find postcards with gorgeous photos, striking graphics and even delightfully bad designs that are suitable for framing. Create a collection from one city, or document your travels by using one from each location you visit. Place inside a simple black frame with an oversized mat and you have a gallery worthy display.
3. Bring luggage or trunks out of the closet. Invest in vintage travel pieces, such as leather suitcases and travel trunks, and you won’t have to store them away when you get back from your trip. Stack a few to create an end table, or use one as a cocktail table. A small attaché can be placed on a shelf as an accent piece. In addition to being beautiful, these pieces will serve as hidden storage.
4. Curate a collection. Like paperweights? Snow globes? Shot glasses? These tourist-y trinkets might seem a bit tacky, but when they’re displayed together with thought, they become little art collections. Find something you love, and then pick one up each time you visit a new location.
5. Think outside the gift shop. Souvenirs don’t have to have a city name stamped on them to have meaning. Shop the local stores and galleries and find something that suits your style. A light fixture, piece of glassware, clock or gorgeous textile will quickly trigger thoughts about your trip that only you will understand. Having fond memories – isn’t that the best part of coming home?
No one wants to pay more than they have to, and you can save money on your vacation hotel this year by doing some homework before you book. Here are three tips for spending less:
1. Call the hotel directly, and not the chain’s 800 number. Sometimes they can offer special discounts or extra services such as free Wi-Fi or breakfast.
2. Stay off major search sites. Instead consider hotels that don’t pay to appear on these lists. Visit TripAdvisor, which will identify smaller hotels.
3. Consider renting apartment or house. Look at FlipKey and VRBO for alternative lodging. Since these accommodations are homes, you’ll get access to a kitchen and you can save money on meals.