Thursday, July 24, 2014

Proper Place Settings

Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen, because this is some good knowledge to store away! Whether you're hosting a dinner party or are simply setting the table for dinner, it makes a good impression to set a proper table. After all, nobody will notice if you order take-out food to pass off as your own cooking, as long as you put it on the good dinnerware! Here's the breakdown, according to Apartment Therapy:

A Casual Setting
This is the everyday table setting and follows just a few rules that are built on for the fancier settings:

Photo courtesy Maxwell Ryan.
Plate - Right in the middle :)

Fork - To the left at 9:00

Knife & Spoon - To the right at 3:00 with the knife on the inside facing in (so the blade is safely towards the plate)

Glass - On the upper right at 1:00

Napkin - Underneath your forks, though you can technically play with your napkin and place it on plate or outside forks.

A Fancy Setting
Built off of the above, this roadmap allows for all the other utensils needed at a fancy meal and follows the guide that you start on the outside and move inwards towards the plate during the course of the meal.

Photo courtesy Maxwell Ryan.
Plates - In the middle with the smallest stacked on top, so that you have Charger under Entree Plate under Appetizer Plate. In this fashion each plate can be cleared and leave you with a new, clean one below. Bread plate goes to the top left at 10:00 with knife fork ON it.

Flatware - Forks go on the left at 9:00 with the smallest on the outside (dinner, salad and then fish fork). Knife goes on the right with spoons at 3:00 with the smallest spoons on the outside (soup and then fruit spoon)

Any flatware used for dessert goes at the top at 12:00 (dessert spoon and fork)

Glasses - Red or wine (or both) glasses are placed at the upper right at 1:00 with water and/or champagne above that to the left. I typically have only a water and wine glass, but you can provide lots of options here for your guests if you wish and then remove what they don't use.

Napkin - I always like to have the napkin under the forks to the left, but it is proper to have the napkin actually on the dinner plate. Either way, just don't stuff the napkin in the wine glass and try to make it look like a swan.

Thursday, July 17, 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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Must-Have Pooch Possessions

Photos (L-R) courtesy Michael Coghlan and Janet Farthing
Dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend” for plenty of good reasons: they’re adorable, they’re always there when we need them and they’re good snugglers. They’re a part of the family and, as such, they deserve their own special spaces and things in your home. House Beautiful breaks down some of the must-have pooch paraphernalia.

Colleen Safford of Walk & Train is responsible for the good behavior of the dogs residing in many of New York's best-appointed homes, from ELLE DECOR's own Karen Elizabeth Marx (and pup Willie Nelson) to designer Kelly Behun (and her Kimchi.) Here, her essential elements for creating a home that's as dog-friendly as it is stylish.

1. Something more fun to chew than the sofa. Great-looking dog toys don't just mean a happy pup; they mean a (relatively) untouched sofa and rug.

2. Dog Art. Chances are you already have a great portrait of your beloved pet—why not give it pride of place on the mantle or as part of your gallery wall?

3. Dog-proof trash in every room. Try one with butterfly doors and spare yourself the horror of coming home to trash everywhere.

4. Pet-friendly upholstery. You might think white is the craziest choice you could make, but durable white slipcovers are easy to wash and can hold up well through multiple washes (and there will be multiple washes.)

5. A "messy dog" station. It should be well-stocked and well-placed—a wash basin with a basket filled with super absorbent towels, wipes, clean-up bags, dry shampoo, and anything else you need to keep you pup looking his best.

6. A faux fur throw. It has design cred, protects your furniture, and makes for a perfect place for your pup to drift off to sleep. Bonus: Dog hair will blend in so no need to be militant about washing.

7. An accessory that lets guests know dog lovers live here...even at times when the dog's in the other room.

8. The perfect spot for the dog bowl. Safford is seeing some of her clients build custom bowl-holders into the kitchen island—no matter what, it's important that the water bowl is in an area where it will not be kicked over.  

9. A prime napping spot...preferably in the sunniest place in the room. If dogs could talk yours would say "Thank you I love you!!"

10. A scented candle you love. Because no matter how much you love your dog, chances are this will smell better.

What are your prized pooch-related possessions? Share them with us, along with pictures of your dog!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

8 Items That Need to Be Replaced

Photos (top L, clockwise) courtesy of Anderson Mancini, Maria Morri,
Steven Depolo, Nicolas Roosen, John Keane, THOR, Horia Varlan, Charli Lopez
You probably use these items on a daily basis, yet hardly ever think to replace them. Many of these items can collect germs  and some lose their strength over time. Now that the larger task of spring cleaning is (hopefully) over, it’s the time to do some summer replacing! Here are some common items that need to be replaced, courtesy of Apartment Therapy:

1. Sponge — The thing you're using to clean needs to be clean! You can make it last as long as possible by washing after every use and allowing it to dry completely, but don't hesitate to replace it often (as in twice a month) or immediately if it develops any sort of smell.

2. Spices — Dig out all those dusty jars in your cupboard. If they smell bland then they'll taste bland and it's time to toss 'em.

3. Makeup — Yep, it's a bummer when it's time to ditch your expensive cosmetics before you've used them all up, but the last thing you want is to spread bacteria-laden lotions on your gorgeous face! Rule of thumb here: replace mascara after three months, foundation (and other liquids) at one year and powders after 2 years.

4. Sports Shoes — This is tricky because even if shoes look pristine on the outside (thanks to indoor gyms), the support they provide on the inside may have deteriorated without you realizing it. If your shoes don't feel as supportive as they used to (or you've put over 500 miles on them) then it's probably time to spring for a new pair. Remember, you're working out in order to make your body healthier, and well-functioning equipment is essential to keep you in top shape.

5. Toothbrush — Even through you use it everyday, it's easy to forget to replace your toothbrush (chances are you're using it when you're groggy in the morning or sleepy at night). Since you're wide awake right now, take this as a sign to pick a new one up on your way home tonight.

6. Water Filter — Water tasting a little tinny? Filters often degrade so gradually that we just don't notice. So do a careful taste-test of your water right now or simply switch out the filter and make the commitment to keep track of the time-to-change dates from now on.

7.Vitamins/Painkillers — If, like me, you're somewhat gun-shy when it comes to pill-popping, then that nearly full bottle of Advil may be long past its prime. Or perhaps, you're lax when it comes to your vitamin regime? All pills have an expiration date and, once passed, won't perform properly (and could very well be dangerous) so check your labels before you pop.

8. Fire Extinguisher — Even if you've never used it, over time a fire extinguisher can become de-pressurized, leaving it useless. The last thing you want is to discover that your extinguisher's a dud when you actually need it, so replace or have it serviced every five to ten years.

We're feeling better (and more prepared) already.

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