Thursday, September 25, 2014

Create a Zen Bedroom

"Bedroom Curtains" by Emily May is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Your bedroom should be a place where you feel relaxed and ready to rest, and your decor will influence your pre-bedtime mindset. Remember as a kid when your mom told you not to study in bed? That was because you would either fall asleep, or not be able to sleep other nights when you didn’t have to study. The same goes for adulthood--your bedroom should be a work-free zone! Here are some other tips from Apartment Therapy on bringing calm to your bedroom.

1. Be natural. Check the tags on your sheets, blankets, pillow covers. Are they of natural fibers? If not, seek out some good, basic sets of natural fiber bedding. Take it a step further with the mattress and your pillows, though this can get pricey. Also consider the materials of your furnishings and rugs. Are there a lot of synthetics like plastic and polystyrene furnishing your bedroom or natural materials like wood and wool?

2. Unplug. Banish electronics from the bedroom. Seriously. That means phones, computers, television. Nothing sucks the lovely out of a bedroom faster than electronic devices. If it plugs in, take it out (except the reading lamps, of course). You'll get better sleep and your room will be a calm respite from digital life.

3. Keep it clean… Furnish and decorate sparely. And clean often. If things are kept simple as far as furnishings and decor, it should be a rather quick job to clean the bedroom. Wash linens at least once weekly and be sure to dust between the head of the bed and the wall.

4. …and serene. Are natural woods and cool colors relaxing to you? Then use them in the decor of your bedroom. Prefer deep, dark black or brown? Incorporate that. Whatever puts you at ease, use it in the decor of your bedroom.

5. Get personal. This is the room for displaying cherished personal possessions. Have an heirloom wedding pic of your ancestors? That could also be well-suited here. If you have personal items you've collected but don't feel comfortable displaying front and center in the living room, make your bedroom the place for these things. The bedroom's a private area of the home and it will make you happy to see things in it that are meaningful to you but perhaps not to everyone.

What do you use to create your bedroom zen? Share your tips with us!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 Facts About Renters Insurance

"Student Rental Apartment" by State Farm is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Whether you’re moving into an apartment for the first time or have lived in one for years, is renters insurance something you are considering? It may be lower on your list after car or life insurance, but coverage for renters is something that relatively inexpensive that could pay off big time. Here are some things to consider about renters insurance, courtesy of Apartment Guide.

1. Your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover your personal property. Often, renters assume that their property’s insurance policy covers them in the event of trouble, such as a fire, flood, power outage that damages personal property, or burglary. Only when the worst happens do they discover that the landlord’s policy only covers the building, not the tenant’s personal property. Renters insurance protects you against financial loss, providing money you can use to replace or repair your personal belongings. Typically, a landlord will only reimburse a tenant for personal property if the damage or loss resulted from the landlord’s negligence. Check your lease for a clause that discusses insurance for renters, as many landlords include this as part of the standard apartment lease contract.
2. You need liability protection. Accidents happen, and even as a tenant, you may be liable for personal injuries affecting your guests or neighbors. For example, if a guest slips and falls in your apartment they may seek injury compensation from you. Likewise, if your pet bites a neighbor or the mailman, you could face a liability lawsuit. The same applies to common household mishaps, such as overflowing tubs that send water gushing down over a neighbor’s personal belongings. Renters insurance provides financial protection for such situations.
3. Replacement costs can be high. Maybe you don’t have many valuable possessions. Perhaps your television is an older model and you purchased your couch second-hand. Even in such cases, replacement costs can be high, and renters insurance provides a way for you to replace your possessions without undue stress or financial hardship. While replacing one or two items might not break the bank, consider the cost of replacing all or most of your belongings after a fire or flood. According to, the cost to replace the personal property in a one-bedroom apartment with a single occupant would easily exceed $13,000.
4. Renters insurance can be inexpensive. While renters insurance premiums do vary, policies are generally priced to minimize their cost and fit tight budgets. In fact, many policies cost less than $1 per day. If that’s not enough encouragement for you, consider that policies are usually dependent on the estimated value of your household possessions and the typical risks you face. For example, if you don’t need flood insurance, your premiums may be less than those paid by renters in flood zones. Additionally, if money is tight, some people opt for higher deductibles, which typically result in lower premiums. While this strategy can lower premiums, keep in mind that you have to pay the deductible in the event of a claim. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and experience $5,000 in losses, you will have to pay that $500 out of pocket. Opting for a higher premium instead may be a better option if coming up with a lump sum of cash will be difficult when you’re filing a claim.
5. Replacement cost policies give more bang for your buck. Some renters insurance policies provide actual cash value in the event of a claim. This means that the insurance company will pay what your property was worth at the time of the theft, damage, or loss. Since personal property depreciates, this could leave you very low on funds for replacing your property with brand new purchases. In contrast, replacement cost or replacement value policies pay the amount it will cost to replace the lost or damaged item at current prices.
Apartment Guide has you covered for everything from finding the apartment of your dreams to making the right financial moves with renters insurance. Buying renters insurance is a smart option for every apartment dweller, so start shopping by searching for renters insurance reviews online or by speaking with a reputable insurance agent.
Have you ever experienced something as a renter where you wished you had renters insurance? Share your story in the comments.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Decorating Myths Debunked

We’ve all heard the famous “no white pants after Labor Day,” but there are plenty of myths floating around about home decor, too. Ultimately, your decor is your choice and should be a reflection of you and what makes you happy. However, if you’re curious about some common interior design fact and fiction, Elle Decor (courtesy of House Beautiful) will give you the truth.

Photo courtesy William Waldron
MYTH: Throw pillows must appear in odd numbers only

REALITY: It's more about what you feel works in the room. Here, in a Long Island home, designer Robert Stilin alternates two pairs of pillows in a similar color scheme for a look that's perfectly serene and symmetrical.

Photo courtesy Simon Upton

MYTH: Trends should be incorporated only in the form of small, replaceable accessories

REALITY: If a trend—say, metallics—speaks to you, you should feel full license to use it with abandon. Here, Jean-Louis Deniot's hammered silver kitchen cabinets show that going big on a trend you love can end up being the most show-stopping part of a home.

Photo courtesy William Abranowicz

MYTH: Collections are only meant to be decorative

REALITY: A collection can be something as simple, beloved, and downright useful as a stack of magazines, as seen here in Eric Hughes and Nathan Turner's Malibu apartment.

Photo courtesy William Waldron

MYTH: Choose one pattern to be the star of the room

REALITY: Through artful pairing you can feature two, three—even five!—fabulous patterns as long as you keep the color scheme similar, and get creative with scale.

Photo courtesy William Waldron

MYTH: Your ceilings must be white

REALITY: A dramatic color can actually draw the eye upward, plus it gives you an extra surface to make a major impression, as Richard Mishaan illustrates in a Westchester home.

Photo courtesy Eric Piasecki
MYTH: All 4 chair legs must be on (or off) the rug

REALITY: It's more important that the space can morph and adapt to however guests configure themselves. In Michael Leva's Manhattan apartment, a flexible seating arrangement is constantly in flux to make room for everything from cocktail to dance parties.

Photo courtesy William Waldron

MYTH: All "ugly" architecture must be hidden

REALITY: Even something like exposed ductwork, as seen here in a D.C. apartment decorated by Nestor Santa Cruz, can be embraced for what it is. "It gives a rhythm and movement that flows through the rooms," says Santa Cruz. Something to consider before taking on a massive cover-up process.

Photo courtesy Richard Powers

MYTH: All artwork must be at eye level

REALITY: Art can live wherever it feels at home—to your eye, at least. In Susan Hable Smith's Georgia home, a piece tucked up at the top corner of the room offers a moment of surprise beauty, while silk screens and drawings add pizzazz even from the floor.

Photo courtesy Richard Powers
MYTH: Once is enough, when it comes to a busy pattern

REALITY: If you truly love a pattern, why limit it to only one surface? In Alex Papachristidis's Manhattan apartment, the same cotton fabric covers the walls, sofa, canopy, and curtains...and still looks fresh and modern thanks to the artfully-chosen prints that balance the entire room.

Photo courtesy William Abranowicz

MYTH: The most expensive piece in a room should get pride of place

REALITY: It's the piece with the most character, not highest price tag, that deserves the spotlight. For example, this chair, in William Abranowicz's entry hall, was found in the dumpster!

What other myths have you heard? Do you believe them to be true?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Make a Bold Decor Move

Photo courtesy Wicker Paradise
We have all seen something on Pinterest that we thought would look so cool, but then said, “I could never do that.” Yes, you can! Aside from things that you may have to ask your landlord for permission for, there are still many things you can do to take risks as you decorate--from furniture, to rugs, to accessories. So here’s that motivation you need to actually put those Pinterest boards to use, courtesy of Apartment Therapy.

1. Decide to do it — This is both the easiest and hardest part. You've thought it through, debated endlessly and now it's time for a simple yes or no. It's liberating! No more, "Gee, I'd really like to have..." or "Someday I'll try a..." That day is today! Don't dawdle, say yes and don't look back.

2. Get inspired — Time for the eye candy. You have a general plan, sure, but browsing some great inspirational images will help you really nail down what you love and what turns your stomach (and with risky decisions, it's usually one or the other). This is also when you'll start to get really excited about your project, which will further cement your decision to do it. Remember: this is fun!

3. Tell everyone — Now that you've made your decision, it's time to share. Telling everyone your plan is an insurance policy that you'll actually follow through. You're accountable, see? Sure, people will have their own opinions (and may decide to share them, unsolicited) but that won't bother you because you're solid in your knowledge that you've made the right decision for you.

4. Baby steps — Don't get overwhelmed and derail your decision. No matter how big or small, breaking down your project into baby steps will help you see a clear, do-able path to the finish line. It may be scary to paint a wall pink, but it's not scary to drive to the paint store — you can do that. It's not scary to grab some paint samples, piece of cake! Now, wash your wall, no problem. Baby steps are everything.

5. Repeat after me: nothing is permanent — There's nothing you can do to your home that you can't undo; it's as simple as that. Don't overthink this. If you don't like it, you'll try something else. Yep, you've spent some time and money to learn what you don't like (a very valuable lesson by the way) and next time you'll do better. The journey to your perfect home is never-ending and that is part of the fun, so don't be afraid to make a mistake once in a while.
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More