New Home Curb Appeal: 6 Design Elements to Consider

There’s just something about that new home smell. Unfortunately, that new home look isn’t always as pleasant. Production and custom homes alike can suffer from a lack of curb appeal thanks to bare bones landscaping and a lack of personality. Luckily, you can skip the impersonal look specifically by designing your home with curb appeal in mind. By thinking about how your new home will look from the street, you can design a few elements to make sure your place always looks warm and inviting. A few well-placed upgrades can give your home plenty of curbside character.

Statement Door

A bright door draws visitors in. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so give guests the right idea with your front door. Doors are a relatively inexpensive upgrade, so it’s a good place to spend some of your design money. If you have more money in the budget, consider upgrading to a door with a window to let light stream in. If your design budget is shrinking rapidly, simply painting your door a statement color might be all you need to differentiate your home from your neighbor’s. Choose a bright color or coordinate with your home’s trim to make a statement.

Symmetrical Features

Traditional craftsman home exterior

A symmetrical exterior gives the eye some rest. Image: romakoma/Shutterstock

The human eye craves symmetry as an aesthetically pleasing way to represent order. By designing your home with symmetry in mind, you can create a home that has more curb appeal. It doesn’t mean your home has to have the exact same number of windows on each side or that you need mirrored design elements. Rather, a symmetrical look means keeping your home design even. A design element on one side should be matched by something just as eye-catching on the other. Talk to your architect about using symmetry to give your home a timeless look.

Porch Appeal

Front porch with chairs

A welcoming porch gives visitors a place to sit. Image: Christopher Edwin Nuzzaco/Shutterstock

One of the biggest design mistakes is forgetting the appeal of a porch. In fact, some homeowners spend so much time (and money) outfitting the interior of their home that they forget the importance of the porch. Think of your porch as your outdoor living room. It’s what welcomes visitors to your home and sets the tone for the interior. A too-small porch can make a home seem cold and lacking in charm. The good news? As far as square footage goes, porch space is pretty cheap. You can easily extend a porch and add a railing to the design of your home without busting your budget – and it’ll make your home look like a million bucks.

Bricks and Stones

Exterior of traditional home

A welcoming porch gives visitors a place to sit. Image: Christopher Edwin Nuzzaco/Shutterstock

We get it: many homeowners opt for siding and stucco because they’re simply cheaper than other materials. But, if you can swing it, natural materials like brick, stone and wood make a bigger visual impact. And improved visual impact means more curb appeal. You don’t have to outfit your entire home in stone. Instead, talk to your designer about using stone or brick accents on the front of your home to make it more eye-catching. A stone foundation or brick pillars can help you give your home more character without spending too much.

Garage Camouflage

Mountain modern home with timber accents

Use good design to help the garage blend with the house. Image: breadmaker/Shutterstock

Depending on the size of your garage, it can easily dwarf the elevation (or front exterior) of your home. Some garages simply look bigger or take up more space when looking at a home head-on. It can also mean your home looks smaller than it really is in relation to your garage. You can help soften the contrast between living space and garage by making sure your garage is painted the same color (or uses the same materials) as your home. By removing the delineation between garage and living space, the size discrepancy between the two will be less noticeable.

Chic Shutters

Colonial home with shutters

Shutters give the home’s exterior more character. Image: Svineyard/Shutterstock

Finally, one of the simplest ways to create more curb appeal is by utilizing shutters as a design element. Most outdoor shutters are non-functional, so it’s unlikely you’ll have to worry about opening and shutting them. Still, ignoring window size and using shutters that are smaller than your actual windows is a rookie mistake. Small shutters can look cheap and off-balance, so make sure your shutters match your window sizes – even if you never plan on using them. You can also use shutter material or color to direct focus when looking at the home, showing off unique trim or drawing the eye upward to showcase your home’s size.

Curb appeal doesn’t always have to mean landscaping and gardening elements. In fact, some of your home’s most important appeal will start on the pages of your house plans. By talking with your architect about ways to add character and charm to the exterior of your home, you can create a warm and inviting space. Think beyond the shrub when creating curb appeal and you’ll design a home that is truly unique.

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Staircase Design: Don’t Let Your Staircase be a Wasted Space

staircase design

Stairs can be a forgotten space – or an area that wows. Here are some pointers for staircase design. Image: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

You’ve been working on your home design. Bedroom? Check. Living room? Check. Kitchen? Bathroom? Dining room? Check, check and check. Before you put away your list and consider yourself finished, think about the areas of your home that often go overlooked but can make all the difference. For example, don’t forget about your staircase design.

Sure, the stairwell is a small area. The square footage available to integrate certain design elements is limited. But it’s also the bridge between the floors of your home and, as such, the bridge that can connect your separate room designs and create one cohesive feel throughout your home. Don’t miss this design opportunity! Here are five things you can add to take your staircase design to the next level.

staircase design - art

Art is the obvious choice to amp up a staircase – and for good reason. Image: Camilo Morales/Getty Images


Yes, art is the most obvious thing we can add to our staircases to give them a sense of design. It also happens to be the obvious choice for a reason. Adding art to your stairwell is an instant way to beautify the space and add visual interest that doesn’t take up any square footage. A single, large piece can establish the space, but the staircase is also an ideal place for a gallery wall. Try creating an art-based staircase design that flows with the stairs, as showcased in the photo above.

staircase design - railing

While replacing your railing might require a little elbow grease, it’s a high-impact way to revitalize this space. Image: Rade Kovac/Shutterstock


Creating an architecturally-interesting staircase is a great way to ensure the space can hold its own. It can also require a fairly major renovation. Fortunately, you can give your stairway architectural presence without temporarily knocking out your access to the second floor. All you have to do is rethink your railing.

Your railing is the perfect opportunity to transform the feel of any room that looks onto your stairs. An extended wood railing, like the one in the photo above, adds warmth and natural texture to the room. Free-hanging glass, on the other hand, can create a minimalist, sleek feel. A cable railing lends an air of industrialism. Whatever tone you want for your home, your railing can help you nail it.

staircase design - furniture

When you have the space to add furniture near your stairs, it can wow. Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images


Not every staircase has a landing large enough to accommodate furniture. But think creatively about the space around the top and base of your stairs, too. Adding a piece of statement furniture can instantly transform the area from mundane to monumental.

The trick with choosing the right piece of furniture is matching the visual weight of the piece to the corresponding stairway. A solid, structural staircase, like the one pictured above, is helped by a low-profile, visually heavy piece of furniture. A narrower, simpler staircase would be better served by something more lightweight. If you’re not sure what will work, try moving pieces you already own into the area until you find the right profile for the space.

staircase design - lighting

There’s no better place to take risks with lighting than in your staircase design. Image:


Thinking about an unusual pendant light but not sure where it would work? Have you wanted to play with light sources set in the walls or floor? This is the place to do it. Your staircase is a confined design opportunity. Its relatively small footprint makes it an ideal place to take some big risks. And because of the inherently sculptural nature of stairs, bold design choices can be especially fun and interesting.

staircase design - millwork

Add interest without overwhelming the space by playing with woodwork. Image: Marko Poplasen/Shutterstock

Molding & millwork

If you like a clean aesthetic in your home, you might not want to make a small space like a stairway look busy with art or runners. That doesn’t mean you have to leave it plain, though. This is a perfect location to integrate molding or other millwork into your home. If you’re of the Joanna Gaines school of design and have been bitten by the shiplap bug, your stairway can be the starter course that begins its introduction into your home. And because this is a relatively small area, adding wood-based elements – which are pretty pricey in large-scale rooms – is significantly easier on your budget.

Have you put some thought into your stairway design? Or is this a forgotten area of your home? Have you ever been truly wowed by a staircase? Let us know in the comments!

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Sunken Rooms: Design Challenge or Buried Treasure?

Sunken rooms – where a living space is a few steps below the rest of the home – can be traced back to the 1920s. Still, the style didn’t really hit the mainstream until the swinging ‘60s. It was then that sunken rooms, or “conversation pits,” were the envy of everyone on the block. Created as a way to introduce a feeling of intimacy to homes, these sunken living areas pushed families and guests into one small and cozy space.

While sunken rooms aren’t as popular today, there has been a resurgence of the style. You might have inherited a sunken room when you purchased your home. Or you’re looking for a unique design feature in your new place. Either way, it might be time to start thinking of sunken rooms differently. With the right design and decor, your sunken room might just become your favorite spot in your home.

Sunken room pros

Living room with conversation pit

Sunken rooms can create conversation. Image: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

There’s a reason sunken living rooms were so wildly popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In an era where social events took place in the home, sunken rooms were the perfect way to make a home feel more intimate. Even if you’re not planning on throwing a party at your place, sunken spaces definitely have their advantages.

  • They define the space. Sunken spaces are great for large, open concept homes. When walls are few, having rooms on a lower level clearly delineates the space without destroying any sight lines. The feeling of openness is preserved without losing any definition between, say, the living room and the kitchen.
  • They create intimacy. Cozy sunken rooms that are outfitted with comfortable seating and pillows are a great way to introduce a more intimate space in your home. Whether you use it for conversation or board games, it pushes the members of your family into a smaller space for a cozier vibe.
  • They introduce character. Sunken spaces give homes more character when compared to a flat, box-like floorplan. Some homes even feature circular sunken spaces and interesting woodwork to call attention to the detail.
  • They can make a room feel more spacious. Sunken rooms increase the distance between the floor and ceiling, which can make the space feel incredibly open. The added space between floor and ceiling makes a room look bigger. Installing a skylight or interesting lighting fixture above the sunken room can also draw the eye up.

Sunken room cons

Sunken room living room

Sunken rooms can create conversation. Image: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock

Okay, so it’s not all peace, love and sunken spaces. There are a few drawbacks to take into consideration, especially if you’re thinking about designing a sunken room in your own home.

  • They can cause accidents. If you asked most people what they disliked about their sunken rooms, chances are that the biggest complaint would simply be that they’re cumbersome. If you’re not expecting a couple of stairs leading into a room, there’s a risk of tripping and falling. It might seem like no big deal, but if you’re living with someone who has accessibility issues, sunken rooms could be dangerous.
  • They don’t offer much flexibility. Let’s face it: if you have a sunken room, there’s not a lot you can do with it. Sure, you can repurpose a room for lounging or swap it out for a playroom, but you’re limited to working with a sometimes odd space for layouts. Even if you get creative with how you use the space, it always remains in the same place and you’re always limited by the size and shape.
  • They aren’t open concept. If you’re craving an open concept home, sunken rooms can disrupt those dreams. Because they define spaces so decisively, sunken rooms aren’t really considered elements in an open concept design.

Working with sunken rooms

Split level living room

Use color to denote indoor stairs. Image: pics721/Shutterstock

Already have a home that features a sunken room? There are definitely ways to make it flow with the rest of your layout. Try these tips to make sure your sunken room is as safe as it is stylish.

  • Take precautions. Remember that visitors won’t be as used to the sunken space as someone who lives in your home. Install handrails or use materials to make sure the steps are clearly marked. You can use different flooring for the stairs, for instance. Or you can paint the stairs so they’re easy to see and don’t blend in with the rest of the floor.
  • Use the right furniture. Make sunken spaces look more purposeful and less awkward by filling them with furniture. Using the right scale for couches, tables and pillows gives the sunken space a clear purpose: lounging. Filling it with toy storage and activity centers makes it clear that it’s meant for kids. No matter how you use your sunken space, filling it with pieces gets rid of awkward angles.
  • Use color and light. Sunken rooms – especially those in older homes – can sometimes seem dark and unwelcoming. Utilize light and color to make the space more inviting. Incorporate the same colors in the sunken room as you do in the rest of your home. Match upholstery and furniture so the room is a cohesive part of your home design. And don’t forget plenty of light: an interesting overhead fixture and plenty of accent lighting ensure your sunken room doesn’t feel dark and dank.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, sunken rooms will likely always be a part of American architecture and home design. Whether your home came with a sunken room or you’re planning one as part of a new home, they can definitely be interesting and chic design features. With the right eye and a little love, a sunken room can truly become your very own buried treasure.

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Using Faux Sheepskin and Cowhide Rugs in your Home

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Faux sheepskin and cowhide rugs add warmth (literally and design-wise) to any room. Millions of animals are killed each year to produce skin for various products, and for homeowners who don’t want to purchase real animal skins, faux sheepskins and cowhides are a guilt-free and affordable way to enjoy these soft and plush rugs.

Fake cowhide can be used anywhere

Fake cowhide and sheepskin rugs can be used almost anywhere. Image: GlowImages/Getty Images

“It’s amazing how adding a hide rug to a room can be an instant game changer,” says Lori Wiles of Lori Wiles Design in Cedar Rapids, IA. “A boldly patterned cowhide is an unexpected (slightly renegade) element and makes a traditional space feel less stuffy and static.” They’re also a good option for renters.  Design and decorating options for renters may be limited, but these rugs are one way to transform a space without violating your rental agreement.

Cowhide rugs are easy to swap out

These rugs are easy to swap out. Image: createrio/Shutterstock

Wiles explains that the shape of hide or the fluffy texture of sheepskin can soften a modern space. “Since hides are typically smaller than a seating area, I like to place them on top of other rugs with contrasting textures like sisal, jute, or cork,” Wiles says. “This lets the hide rug be a great accessory in the room, rather than the major element and is easy to switch out when you want to change the look of the room.”

Facts to consider about faux rugs

Faux rugs not as durable

Faux rugs are not as durable. Image: Soloviova Luidmyla/Shutterstock

However, be advised that there is a difference between faux and real versions. “Faux sheepskin or faux cow hide rugs are not as durable as natural hides so they are best used in low traffic areas, like the home office or bedroom,” according to Blanchette Nelson, principal design consultant at B R Nelson Designs, in New York.

Coordinate pillows

You can also coordinate your pillows to match. Image: Alexandru Chiriac/Shutterstock

“Rugs should be proportionately sized for the room and furniture it is anchoring,” says Nelson. “Whether fabricated (or natural), the irregular, free flow form of sheepskin or cowhide allows you to add interest to your floor where a rug could be either too small or big for a space.”

Real sheepskin and cowhide rugs

Add texture and interest

You can add texture and interest with these rugs. Image: Tom Merton/Getty Images

However, Karen Otto at Home Star Staging in Dallas, TX, does not use faux sheepskin and cowhide rugs. “Skins and hides are a beautiful, natural by-product of the animals that much of our food, clothing and accessories come from,” she explains. “So, when people get offended by the use of a skin, I will ask if they are using leather of any kind; belts, purses, shoes – or if they eat meat.’

Add texture and interest

This rug accents the dramatic design. Image: Matthew Wakem/Getty Images

Ottos says the majority of people — even some vegetarians — have leather products.  “Why feel differently about the use of a skin or hide? It’s really no different than any of the other animal by-products most of us consume or use and why let something so beautiful and useful go to waste?” The photo above demonstrates how to use the most stylish color of every year.

These rugs are great for layering

Sheepskin draped over chairs

Faux sheepskin and cowhide rugs can also be draped over chairs. Image/Jodie Johnson/Shutterstock

“With sheepskins, which are usually smaller than cowhides, I use them to layer on ottomans, chairs, fireplace hearths and even at the foot of the bed,” Otto says. She also uses them on the floor near the side of the bed. “They can make a warm, comforting winter look that carries into other months, making the look luxurious, glam and even a bit eclectic,” Otto says.

Cowhide avoids bulky rugs

By using cowhide, you can avoid bulky rugs. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

“Sheepskin and cowhide rugs transcend all décor styles and help blend styles seamlessly with neutral, natural texture and color,” Otto says. “Cowhides are great for layering under cocktail tables, desks and even over other rugs and carpeting,”

The cowhide rug provides visual interest

The cowhide rug provides visual interest. Image. Astronaut Images/Getty Images

“Hides are also great to use when you may have an awkward space,” Otto says. “They can help transition the flow in an organic fashion, helping create better visual flow in a room.” In fact, Otto says she likes to use them to ground seating arrangements and desks when creating the perfect home office.

This plush rug is warm and inviting.

This plush rug is warm and inviting. Image:Enzi Ha/Shutterstock

Fake sheepskin is available in almost every color under the sun, including beige, black, white, pink, gray, teal, navy and purple. Some of the most popular cowhide colors are black and white – or brown and white – calfskin and zebra.   They’re also available in other styles, such as cheetah.

Cowhide blend in

Cowhide rugs can blend in or provide contrast. Image: Fancy/Veer/Corbis/Getty Images

What do you think of faux sheepskin and cowhide rugs? Let us know in the comments!

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Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite: Separating Fact from Fiction

Orkin recently released its list of the cities with the most bed bugs. (The list is based on the cities in which the company performed the most residential and commercial bed bug treatments.) The top 10 cities, in order, are Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Columbus OH, Cincinnati, Detroit, New York, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose and Dallas/Fort Worth.

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding these bugs. Whether you live in one of these cities or not, here’s what you need to know to keep these pests out of your bed.

Myth #1: Bed bugs can fly

Bed bugs anywhere

Bed bugs can be anywhere, but can’t fly. Image: Astronaut Image/Getty Images

Fortunately, they cannot fly. “Bed bugs cannot fly because they do not have wings,” according to Sydney Crawley, Ph.D. public health entomologist at  Scotts Miracle-Gro. “Instead, they crawl, traveling one meter per minute on average,” Crawley tells Freshome, adding that they also cannot jump.

Myth #2: They only bite at night

Bed bugs adjust

Bed bugs will adjust to your schedule. Image: LEK_3DPHOTO/Getty Images

Bed bug activity tends to peak at night, but Crawley says they can bite at any time during the day. “This is especially true if the primary host is active during the night and sessile during the day.” In fact, Crawley says these bugs will adapt to the habits of the host. “Motivation to take a blood meal may drive them to bite at any time.”

Myth #3: They are too small to see

Bed bugs are tiny

Bed bugs are tiny, but not invisible. Image: Anna Cor/Zumbansen/EyeEm/Getty Images

Bed bugs are indeed visible. “Although bed bug eggs and first instars (newly hatched bed bugs) are very small, they are still large enough to see with the naked eye,” Crawley says. “After the first instar, juvenile bed bugs will molt 4 more times before reaching the adult life stage. First to fifth instars range anywhere from 1.3 mm to 4-5 mm and adults range from approximately 4-7 mm in size.”

Myth #4: They prefer unsanitary conditions

Bed bugs clean tidy

These pests don’t care if you’re clean and tidy. Image: Gabriela Tulian/Getty Images

It’s possible to have bed bugs even if your home is spotless because these insects don’t discriminate, according to Crawley. “Bed bugs prefer small cracks and crevices which are found in every home,” Crawley says. “Populations of bed bugs will continue to grow in homes where proper elimination strategies are not performed, regardless of the level of cleanliness.” Granted, you still need to clean your house, especially the nine nastiest areas of the home.

 Myth #5: They only inhabit beds frames and couches

Bed bugs suitcase

These little bugs also like the inside of your suitcase. Image: LOOK Photography/Getty Images

While they like bed frames and couches, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), bed bugs can be found in stuffed animals, suitcases, wheelchairs, purses and on the inside of bedside lamps.

Myth #6: They are usually found in hotels and apartments

Bed bugs hospital

Hospitals are sanitary, but not immune to bed bugs. Image: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

These may be the two places that get the most media coverage, but they’re not the only place you’ll find these pests. According to the NPMA, the 3 most common places where they are found include single-family homes (91%), apartments/condominiums (89%), and hotels/motels (68%).

But guess where else they show up? Nursing homes (59%), schools and daycare centers (47%), offices (46%), college dorms (45%), hospitals (36%) and public transportation (19 %).

Myth #7: If you don’t see them, you must not have them

Bed bugs mark

They can leave their mark – sometimes on you. Image: Vlajs/Getty Images

You may not always see the bugs themselves, but you can see what they leave behind, and you can also feel them. For example, they tend to leave fecal spots on your mattress, walls, and upholstery (ranging in color from red to reddish brown).  You may also see empty eggshells. Another sign is the presence of bite marks on your arms, legs and other parts of your body. In addition, if there are a lot of bugs, you may start to detect a sweet smell.

Tips for avoiding bed bugs

Bed bugs vigilant

Be vigilant again bed bugs. Image: ben-bryant

“At home, inspect furniture, especially mattresses, box springs and bed frames,” Crawley says. She warns people to be very careful when purchasing secondhand furniture. “Before bringing any used furniture into your home, inspect it thoroughly to ensure that no bed bugs are present.”

When you’re traveling, be advised that these pesky bugs like to travel for free – in your suitcase. Search your hotel room carefully, inspecting the mattress seams, sofas, chairs, and behind the headboard. If you find bed bugs, the NPMA recommends changing rooms to another area since rooms next to, above or below might also be infected.

Bed bugs dont bring home

Don’t bring them home with you. Image: Nikada/Getty Images

“Search all bags, luggage and clothing thoroughly before you return, and take special care to inspect the seams, as they are a common hiding place for bed bugs,” Crawley says. “When you return home, put clothing and bags in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of two full cycles on high heat to ensure that all potential bed bugs and eggs have been killed.”

Whether you’re at home or traveling, she also recommends a product like the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap. “These detectors can determine whether there are bed bugs present – within an hour.”

Do you have any additional tips for preventing these bugs from getting into your bed? Let us know in the comments.

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Mountain Modern Architecture: 7 Ways to Define the Trend

Once upon a time, building a home in the mountains meant something along the lines of bear rugs and deer heads. Sure, it was fine for a weekend getaway, but rustic homes didn’t always feel livable. The knickknacks and kitschy design can easily turn a mountain home into a caricature of itself. What seems like a fun space for a weekend can feel too heavy and cluttered for real-life living.

That’s why the mountain modern trend is so appealing. Architecture that pays homage to mountain life without the heavy hand makes these homes more livable. Without the clutter and kitsch, mountain living becomes a lot more comfortable. What’s more, this design style respects the land and makes your dreams of mountain life even more attainable. Check out some of the most common aspects of mountain modern design and decide if it’s right for you.

1. Unique Exterior

Modern home in the snow

Unique shapes make for better views. Image: korisbo/Shutterstock

Most mountain-style homes have familiar shapes, especially if they’re made out of materials such as logs or timber. From the classic A-frame to simple rectangles, mountain homes haven’t exactly come a long way over the last 100 years or so. Mountain modern is so exciting because it offers a fresh take on the classic rustic home. Look for sharp, modern edges and homes that take the landscape into consideration. Adopting the energy efficiency of more modern spaces, architects can create homes that are still rustic, but much more efficient.

2. Uncluttered Layout

Modern gray bathroom

An uncluttered layout keeps a zen mood. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

Gone are the days when a mountain home meant a wall of hunting trophies. In fact, mountain modern style is all about clean lines and an uncluttered interior. With open layouts and tall ceilings, the style is about sweeping views and a totally relaxing vibe. While traditional cabins may have been made up of many smaller rooms, modern rustic homes subscribe to a bigger, brighter and more open aesthetic. Skipping the smaller decor items, these homes rely more on large, impactful pieces to make a statement while cutting down on clutter.

3. Windows and Light

Modern kitchen with picture window

Huge windows showcase the landscape. Image: alexandre zveiger/Shutterstock

One of the most important features of a mountain modern home is light. It’s not uncommon to see floor-to-ceiling windows that frame nature as the home’s most important feature. And why not? If you’re building a mountain home, chances are you want to see as much of the landscape as possible. A talented architect will take the sun into consideration when situating the home, making sure to take advantage of all the natural light possible.

4. Texture Over Color

Modern wooden accent kitchen

Natural textures bring the beauty of outside in. Image: Federico Rostagno/Shutterstock

If you love neutral colors, you’ll love mountain modern homes. They’re a departure from the bold and dark colors typical in rustic homes. Instead, the design emphasis is placed on the building materials. From smooth glass to rough stone, chunky woodwork and textured concrete, the building materials become part of the decor. Rather than covering up the details of the home, neutral colors allow the textures of all the materials to shine.

5. Local Sourcing

Modern master bathroom

Many mountain homes utilize local materials. Image: KUPRYNENKO ANDRII/Shutterstock

Mountain modern homes can look deceptively simple. With their clean lines and open spaces, it’s easy to look past the engineering and design required to successfully pull off the look. What might seem like a simple build is often carefully planned to include local sourcing and reclaimed materials. It’s not just for aesthetics; local sourcing pays respect to the land and helps the home blend better with its natural surroundings. Don’t be surprised to see modern homes made up of local wood, steel and stone.

6. Indoor/Outdoor Living

Mountain modern home with landscaping

Indoor/outdoor living offers more space. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

What’s the point of having a mountain home if you totally ignore your outdoor space? Modern homes think of outdoor land as part of the total living space, which means walls of retractable windows, huge decks and ski-in, ski-out basements. Mountain modern homes are all about making the most of the land, which can also mean thinking less traditionally about our outdoor space. From built-in hot tubs to native landscaping, it’s all about reaping the benefits of a mountain escape.

7. Low Maintenance Design

Simple design weathers the weather. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Mountain modern homes are anything but fussy. Expect to see simple design that takes the weather, precipitation and even wildlife into consideration. Utilizing local stone and native plants means you can spend less time maintaining your home and more time enjoying it. Think about it: the fewer nooks and crannies your home has, the easier it is to maintain. By taking inspiration from the landscape, smooth, thoughtful exteriors contrast beautifully with the wild surroundings.

Mountain modern might be one of the newest trends in architecture, but it also might be one of the most sustainable. Whether planning a mountain retreat or simply looking for a charming design for city life, mountain modern homes bring the best of both worlds. By respecting nature and keeping a laid-back attitude toward design, it’s an architectural style that makes any home feel like a relaxing retreat.

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These Are The 4 Color Rules That Every Interior Design Fan Needs To Know

Color is often the most difficult part of a room for interior design fans to get right. That’s because colors are fickle. There are so many shades to choose from and they need to be put together in the right proportions. Otherwise, they won’t work together in harmony. Luckily, there are a few color rules that you can use to make sure your colors look balanced every time. We’ve listed them below. Read them over to master color in interior design once and for all.

color rules

The 60-30-10 rule helps rooms feel balanced and visually interesting. Image:

The 60-30-10 rule

The 60-30-10 rule is any interior design fan’s best friend. No matter what your personal aesthetic may be or what you want your room to look like, you can use this rule to help make sure that your color palette stays balanced. In this setup, you’ll use three colors. 60, 30 and 10 refer to the percentages of your design that each will make up.

Here’s how it works: first, you’ll choose one shade to be your dominant shade and take up approximately 60 percent of the room. Usually, this will be a neutral or some type of subdued hue that can take up a lot of space without feeling overwhelming. Next will be your secondary color, which is typically a bit bolder and takes up about 30 percent of the space. Finally, your accent color is your boldest shade and should make up the remaining 10 percent.

Take the photo above, for example. In this case, greige is the dominant color. You can see it on the walls and the sofa. Then, black is the secondary color. It’s on the bookshelf, side table, pillows and dining chair and in the rug. Finally, coral is the accent shade. That can be seen in the throw pillows and potted plants.

warm color rule

Using warm or cool colors will set the tone for your space. Image: Marina_D/Shutterstock

Warm vs. cool colors

The phrase “warm vs. cool colors” refers to where specific shades fall on the color wheel. Traditionally, shades like red, orange and yellow are thought of as warm colors because they are more vibrant. However, neutrals like brown and tan are also included in the mix. On the other side of the spectrum are the cool colors, or blue, green and purple, as well as gray.

The choice of warm or cool colors will affect the energy of the space. Since warm colors tend to bring an upbeat and welcoming feel to a room, they’re best in entertaining spaces. Think about using these shades in your dining room or kitchen. Cool colors, on the other hand, are more subdued. They work best in bedrooms and office spaces, where a calming energy is appreciated.

complementary color rule

Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel. Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

The complementary color scheme

Of all the color rules that interior designers use, the complementary color scheme is often thought of as the simplest. That’s because this color scheme only involves two shades. In particular, it uses two shades that are sitting directly opposite each other on the color wheel, meaning you get combinations like blue and orange, yellow and purple or red and green.

As you can see from the photo above, these color pairings are extremely high contrast, which means that — while they undoubtedly bring a strong energy into the space — they’re ultimately best used in small doses. You should think of them as your accent colors and use plenty of neutrals to balance them out and provide a place for the eye to rest.

analogous color rule

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. Image:

The analogous color scheme

If you have trouble navigating the color wheel, an analogous color scheme might be for you. For this one, all you have to do is pick a central color, then also use the colors on either side of it. Here, two colors will be primary colors and the third will be a mix of the two. For example, red, orange and yellow or red, purple and blue.

Since you’re using three colors in this one, proportion will come in handy to make sure the space feels balanced. You may want to incorporate the 60-30-10 rule again to keep your proportions in check. And remember, you can always use different shades of the same color as another way to create visual variety.

Interestingly, if you’re not a big fan of vibrant hues, you can also do an analogous color scheme using neutrals. Typically, this is referred to as a monochromatic color scheme. Here, all you need to do is mix black, white and gray together to create a sleek, modern look.

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No Fireplace? No Problem. 10 Ways to Create a Focal Point

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The American ideal of the cozy living room with a roaring fireplace is often easier said than done. Less traditional spaces, climate and home size might sway you away from planning your space around a large fireplace. Still, even if you don’t miss a fireplace for warmth, it does make design a no-brainer. Fireplaces almost always become the focal point of a room, making it easier to anchor the rest of the room’s decor. If you’re fireplace-free, how do you make a room stand out?

There are plenty of ways to anchor rooms without the upfront expense and ongoing cost of a fireplace. Whether you’re just renting or you’re opting out of a traditional space, check out some of these focal points to draw the eye and simplify the rest of your interior design.

Accent wallpaper

Living room with accent wallpaper

Accent wallpaper gives a room more interest. Image:

It’s true: fireplaces are a handy spot to break up large expanses of boring walls. But you can pull the same look off with textured or patterned wallpaper. Choose the wall with the most visual impact as you walk into the room. Then, use a bold, graphic paper to draw the eye and anchor other elements like furniture, lighting and artwork. This is especially useful if you’re a renter since today’s wallpapers are easy to install and remove.

Framing windows

Living room with large windows

Center a room around large picture windows. Image: PlusONE/Shutterstock

Stop thinking of windows as room accents and, instead, think of them as room features. Cool casings and gorgeous grids look great on display, so try grouping your furniture around a couple of windows. You’ll create a cozy nook with the best view in the house.

Gallery walls

Modern living room with gallery wall

Hang art as your home’s focal point. Image:

Fireplaces are a natural place to hang art or prop up your favorite mementos, but you don’t need a mantel to show off your stuff. Create a gallery wall using similar size parameters as a fireplace. Mix up the mediums by hanging art, things you’ve picked up on vacation, wood signs and even framed tickets or maps. Grouped together, your stuff makes a bigger visual impact and can act as an anchor point for your furniture.

Going graphic

Colorful living room with large art

A graphic painting anchors the room. Image:

More of a minimalist? One large, impactful piece of artwork can give you all the character you need in a fireplace-free home. Look for oversized works that pull in colors from the rest of your place. Use art as a tie-in to other rooms and decor in your home. Or, mix it up by playing with opposites. Try a large, graphic print in a home with bohemian flair or a colorful, delicate piece in an otherwise neutral palette.

Dramatic lighting

Modern living room with accent lighting

Interesting lighting draws the eye up. Image: Marko Poplasen/Shutterstock

If you’re on a tight budget, you might be left scratching your head. But lighting is often overlooked as a main focal point, simply because most people think of lighting as an accent only. Lighting can be an inexpensive way to direct focus in a room. Choosing a large, overhanging lamp can center a room, while an antique lamp on a table creates a cozy focal spot. For under $100, your room can take on an entirely new look based on where you direct the light.

Built-ins and storage

Living room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves

Bookshelves mimic the shape and size of a fireplace. Image: alexandre zveiger/Shutterstock

If you’re lucky enough to have a wall of built-ins, you can use that as a stand-in for a large fireplace. Books and wood offer a great alternative to the warmth and texture of a fireplace. Still, even if you’re working with a bare wall, you can mimic the look of built-in shelving using storage units of the same color. Configure taller units at the end and a low, long unit in between to fill the space and give it a custom look.

Mirror, mirror

Living room with large mirror

Use an oversized mirror to expand the space and create a focal point. Image: Basileus/Shutterstock

Mirrors are a simple way to draw focus and make a room look much bigger than it is. The trick to choosing a mirror for your focal point is to be intentional. Instead of a builder grade mirror from the hardware store, look for mirrors with interesting frames from estate sales and antique stores. And remember that mirrors always look smaller when you put them in a space, so go larger than you think you need.

Urban jungle

Living room with houseplants

Bring plants in for a pop of color. Image:

If you love an organic look, use plants as your room’s main focal feature. It’s a great way to pull in color and texture without permanence. Try pulling focus by grouping plants of different heights together. Use pots and pedestals to change up the heights until you get it just right and can ensure each plant gets the sun it prefers.

Ceiling treatments

Minimalist living room

A cool ceiling treatment gives the eye somewhere to look. Image: solepsizm/Shutterstock

Not sure where to create a focal point? Look up! Your ceiling can become the main focus of your room with a cool ceiling treatment. Simply painting the ceiling an unexpected color like navy blue pulls the eye like a magnet. This is especially helpful if the room is otherwise kind of architecturally awkward. You could also install paneling or slide in some faux beams to recenter the room and give it more interest.

Go faux

Faux fireplace filled with candles

Fill in a non-functional fireplace. Image:

If you really miss the idea of a fireplace but can’t have one for whatever reason, try going for a faux fireplace. You can check thrift stores for mantels and surrounds that simply prop up against bare walls. Then, stack the interior of the “fireplace” with pillar candles, driftwood or even firewood remnants. You won’t get the crackle of a traditional fireplace, but you’ll still get every bit of the warmth.

There are plenty of reasons a homeowner might opt out of a traditional fireplace setup. There’s something to be said, however, for creating a cozy focal point in the main room of your home. Think beyond the traditional layout and you’ll be able to draw guests in without lighting a fire.

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You’re Going to Love Joanna Gaines’s New Bedding Line for Target

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Chip and Joanna Gaines are at it again. Even though Fixer Upper is no longer on the air, the couple continues to add even more pieces to their already-substantial Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia line for Target. What’s even more exciting is, this time, they have something new up their sleeves, something that we haven’t seen from them before. This time, Chip and Jo have given us their take on bedding.

A new farmhouse-chic bedding line


Image: Target

For the first time ever, we’re getting to see what Joanna’s farmhouse-chic style looks like for the bedroom. This expansion of their line includes a variety of quilt and sham sets, sheets, throw blankets and pillows.Though each piece is different from the other, they fit right in with the understated sophistication that we’ve come to associate with the Gaines. Jo opened up about her inspiration behind the collection in a press release.

A well-thought-out bedroom begins with a bed that looks and feels comfortable. My new bedding collection is all about layering soft linens and textiles like patterned pillows. I like to start with soft cotton sheets and then add in a bit of texture like the raw edge and simple stitch design of these pillows…Then as a finishing detail, I’ll place a throw at the end of the bed.”

This collection has a lot to offer

Image: Target

In total, the couple added 300 new pieces to their Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia line. While their take on bedding is definitely the main focus of this release, the additions touch upon many different aspects of home decor, including faux greenery, dishware, office supplies and even gift giving.

Check out Joanna’s new bedding collection

Like what you see? Scroll down to get a look at seven of our favorite pieces from the collection.

Comforter Set Embroidered – Railroad Gray/Sour Cream $109.99

If this set isn’t a take on modern sophistication, we don’t know what is. We love that – like the rest of the bedding in this collection – it comes in those soft gray tones that have become so synonymous with on-trend design. The embroidery is what really sets this piece apart. The striping is certainly eye-catching, yet it manages not to be too loud.

Duvet Cover Set Linen Blend Yarn Dye Stripe – Sour Cream $59.99

If the above comforter is too much for your tastes, we suggest going with this quilt and sham set in a sour cream hue. The off-white color will go with just about any design and this striping takes a much more subdued approach. It’s almost like a background note that’s simply there to keep the design visually interesting.

Chunky Woven Throw Blanket – Sour Cream $39.99

It’s our firm belief that everyone needs a throw blanket to keep them cozy in the winter months. This classic woven option looks like it’s more than up for the job. However, beyond that, it’s neutral enough that you’ll want to leave it out all-year-round.

Faux Eucalyptus in Terracotta Pot $24.99

The new collection includes more than just bedding. For this one, we’ll take advice from Joanna, herself:

“Greenery is such an effortless way to invite spring into your home,” she told Target. “Start by bringing some life into your entryway—your home’s first impression. Then brighten up your kitchen with a stem or two that you love. You can also use stems for a simple centerpiece.”

Lidded Jar Container Candle 8oz – Bergamot $12.99

Not all design additions need to be huge purchases. Sometimes, just adding something as simple as a new candle to a room can really freshen up your perspective. This lidded jar candle definitely brings in the rustic notes that we’re used to seeing from the Gaines – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

2019 Desk Calendar Wooden $9.99

This wooden desk calendar is sleek in all the right ways. It will undoubtedly help you feel like you’re ready to get down to some serious business.

Dessert Bowl Stoneware – Set of 4 – Black / White $15.99

In fairness, this dessert bowl is only one segment of one of the two dishware patterns that Joanna added to her collection this time around. We chose to highlight the embossed black and white pattern because we love the simple etching detail. However, if that’s not your style, you can opt for the engraved floral pattern instead.

Check out the full bedding collection here. Let us know which pieces are your favorite in the comments!

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Were the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2020 Accidentally Announced?

Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute, just let us in on a little secret well in advance of Pantone’s official annual announcement. A Footwear News article reveals she spoke to an audience at the fashion trade show Sourcing at Magic in Las Vegas, and said that the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2020 are inspired by the sea.

Blue will take center stage, while “Browns are important across the gamut and are inspired by dried seaweed and driftwood,” she said in the seminar. Besides the coastal-inspired colors mentioned, she expects sand-like whites and cool green hues to play an important role.

pantone colors of the year 2020

Look for ocean-inspired colors like blues, cool greens, sand-inspired neutrals and browns in 2020. Image: ExperienceInteriors/Getty Images

Due to such a diversity of colors in the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2020, mixing and matching will be key. She suggests that layering ocean-inspired colors will create texture and interest. In her words, “It’s anything but flat.”

Look for blues and greens

We also looked at Pantone’s NY Fashion Week color forecasts for Spring/Summer 2019 to see if blues and greens similar to the announcement are on-trend this year and next. The Pantone Fashion Week forecasts tend to work ahead of the other color trends out there. And sure enough, it looks like the corals and pinks that have been big in the last year are definitely transitioning into sea-inspired blues and cool greens.

Pantone Color Trends For 2020

Pantone’s NYC Fashion Week mood board for Spring/Summer 2019. Image: Pantone

So now we know it’s highly likely that coastal-inspired colors will be hot for the next few years. Get in on the trend ahead of the curve and add some sea-spiration to your space.

You can introduce these soothing yet vibrant Pantone Colors of the Year for 2020 in your home. Here are some interiors to inspire you.

Coastal-inspired colors

pantone colors of the year 2020

A vibrant kitchen island adds life and personality to a contemporary white kitchen. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

Layers of blues and greens add an oceanic vibe to this modern living space. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

Sea-inspired green-blues create a relaxing, zen effect in any space. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

For a fun and casual beach-house look, mix and match chairs or barstools in coastal colors. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

A beachy-zen bedroom layered in shades of indigo and pale blue. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

Small touches of blue or green are all you need to update a room with the latest color trends. Image: 

pantone colors of the year 2020

Cool sage mixed with blue-greens like seafoam are a great complement to a neutral room. Images: 

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