Living Room Furniture

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As the center meeting point of the home, the living room is often one of the first rooms to be furnished. Living room furniture encompasses a wide range of upholstered and unupholstered pieces which combine to create a unique space.

Making the Most of Living Rooms

Most living rooms or family rooms serve as the hub for various household activities. One of the main functions is entertainment or television viewing. This activity requires ample living room furniture for seating and an entertainment unit which houses the television. Living rooms also serve as the meeting place for family and friends to relax and unwind. Having comfortable conversation areas is essential in fostering familial communication. In homes with only one main living area, this room must also serve as a space for welcoming guests during special events. Having flexible, adaptable living room furniture will make entertaining less stressful. Living room layouts, such as U-shaped and L-shaped seating arrangements, will foster all of these activities. This furniture arrangement is usually oriented towards a room’s focal point or entertainment area.

Formal living rooms are seen in larger homes usually near the front entrance or foyer. These sitting rooms accommodate guests during social functions and gatherings. Formal living room furniture sets usually consist of a tailored sofa along with a pair of elegant armchairs. Symmetry is fundamental to a formal space, so matching sofas or loveseats are another popular choice for formal living room furniture. In keeping with this symmetrical balance, formal living room layouts often feature furniture pieces which are positioned directly across from each other.

Living Room Furniture Options

Used living room furniture can be found just about anywhere. If you like vintage furniture, then check out local antique shops, estate sales, and flea markets. Garage sales and thrift stores are another great place to find used living room furniture at bargain prices. Many savvy shoppers also turn to the internet for deals on used living room furniture. Online hotspots for second-hand furniture include eBay, Craigslist, and your local newspaper’s online classifieds.

Discount living room furniture is another option for the cost conscious shopper. Furniture retailers like Rooms To Go and Ashley Furniture specialize in affordable furniture for the entire home. These furnishing retailers generally offer living room furniture sets which may include a sofa, loveseat, end tables, coffee table, and lamps. Most retailers also have furniture outlets which sell their discount living room furniture at even lower prices. Mass retailers like Target and Wal-Mart are additional resources for surprisingly stylish discount living room furniture. The internet is overflowing with furniture deals direct from the manufacturers as well as from retailers like Online retailers can sell their items for less since there is no middle man and very low overhead.

Contemporary living room furniture is becoming increasingly popular with people seeking a transitional, eclectic, or modern living space. Discount living room furniture retailer Ikea offers Scandinavian-style designs which focus on function and simplicity. Pier 1 Imports is another wonderful source for contemporary living room furniture which features international styles and modern retro designs. There are endless options for contemporary living room furniture sets including sleek sofas, expansive sectionals, armless chairs, dual-use ottomans, and adjustable coffee tables. Contemporary living room layouts have a tendency to use asymmetrical balance to create interest and drama.

Dining Room Furniture

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Dining room decorating can vary greatly from home to home. Factors that establish the overall design of a dining room include the formality of the space and how many people need to be accommodated. Many homes feature a casual eating spot or breakfast nook located near the kitchen along with a more formal dining room for entertaining family and friends.

Making the Most of Dining Rooms

When considering various dining room ideas, it’s important to think about the size of the room compared to the size of the dining room furniture. Dining room tables and dining room chairs must be the right scale for the size of the floor plan, or else no one will be able to sit comfortably and enjoy a meal. The general guideline for dining room chairs is to allow about two to three feet clearance for guests to get into and occupy seats. The minimum allowance for traffic around the dining room table and chairs should be approximately two feet. This will ensure for an easy traffic flow for your guests.

In addition to the size of the space, you should also consider how many people will be using the dining room. For a family of four, their daily needs are for a minimum of four dining room chairs. If guests frequently join the family for lunch or dinner, then an expandable table along with several extra dining room chairs will be invaluable. For a home with one dining area, this adjustable dining room furniture design will be even more important as the room transforms to accommodate small or large gatherings.

Dining Room Furniture Options

Dining room ideas are really limitless since the materials available for tables and chairs can range from wood, metal, glass, plastic, stone, leather, and fabric. The basics of dining room decorating involve first selecting the right table and chairs. Dining room tables come in many shapes such as round, square, and rectangle. Round tables allow for better eye contact than oblong or rectangle versions. A round or oval table will also make it easier to add an extra chair when the need arises. Square dining room tables are becoming more popular especially in contemporary dining room design. Banquette or booth designs are ideal for breakfast nooks or casual dining spaces.

Dining room chairs are often available in a matched set with a table. However, an eclectic mixture of different chairs is well-suited to a cottage, country ranch, or contemporary dining room design. One painless way to try this idea is to buy the same style of chair in different colors or finishes if that is available; otherwise, you have them upholstered or painted in several coordinating colors.

If space allows, dining room furniture should also include pieces for use as serving areas and storage. The most commonly seen dining room furniture used to serve up food include buffets, sideboards, console tables, and harvest tables. A contemporary dining room design often features a large floating shelf as a buffet area. Dining room furniture storage options for dishware and glassware include china cabinets, breakfronts, cupboards, baker’s racks, wine racks, or open shelving.

Home Staging and Career FAQs

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Researching your options is crucial
By Angela BrooksI have seen many blogs on this topic and thought to add my experienced advice to the mix.

Before you begin your research ask yourself:

What do I need to learn from a staging program?

List your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you feel would make you more confident to go into the business world as a stager. Do you want to own your own staging company? Do you want to work for another staging company? Where do you see yourself 2 years from now. Be sure to address if any of the following are important to you.

  1. A designation – in the staging industry this is used to brand a specific organization, it says you are a committed to self education and believe in being the best you can be. Some argue this is not valuable as the staging industry is not regulated. You need to decide if this is something that is important to you. Could it be important to the clients that will hire you?Questions to ask: Do you earn a designation upon completion? Is it earned or just passed out for participation? If earned, how? Is there testing? How is the designation branded? What advertising does your organization do to make the designation recognized? What message does your designation say to the public?
  2. Who is the trainer? – What is their background? What would make them a good teacher? Have they had their own staging business? Do they have training experience? Were they trained by another home staging trainer? You can research most trainers backgrounds on the staging programs websites.Questions to ask: Can I speak directly to the trainer? What is there background prior to training your program? Have they ever owned their own staging business?
  3. General Staging Process – There are different home staging models for different training companies. If you need help in this area, be sure to add this to your list of what is important to you. Even if you think you know all about staging, or you have an existing staging background, you will be pleasantly surprised with some staging programs, how much more you will learn.Questions to ask: What we will learn in your staging curriculum? How much time is spent on the staging process? After class, if I have questions do you have a support system in place?
  4. Marketing Strategies – Are you confident in marketing yourself and your new business? If not, marketing is a necessary step to running a successful staging company. How much marketing do you need to learn from your staging training program?Questions to ask: How much time is spent on learning marketing? What is addressed in your marketing curriculum? How does your organization help their graduates with marketing after the program?
  5. Hands-on learning or online learning? – How do you learn best? From a book? From doing? From listening? This is one of the most important questions you will need to ask yourself before beginning your research. For Example: If you learn best by hands-on, do not take an online program just because it is cheaper, you will find you will not finish, or it will take you a long time to finish and the investment was more costly then you thought, as it will cost you time you could have been out staging already! Choose a staging program that teaches the way you learn best!
  6. Industry tools and resources – Do you like to create your own tools, or do you like the wheel to be invented before you get there? Some staging programs will have the tools you need already developed. You only need to customize them to your company image.Questions to ask: What industry tools do you have to provide us? What do we get Free with the training? Do you have a suggested list of industry tools we will need to get started? Are there other tools, and opportunities available to us that are exclusive to being a graduate of your program?
  7. Staging Organization Membership – Many staging programs offer a yearly membership after the initial class program. You need to decide if this is important to you. As member of an organization there are opportunities and feature benefits to being part of a larger group.Questions to ask: Do you have a membership to belong to? What do you receive as a member? What is the yearly rate?
  8. Bulk Advertising Opportunities – Is receiving discounts for advertising opportunities important to you? Stretching your marketing dollars can make the difference when first starting your business.Questions to ask: Do you have any bulk advertising opportunities?
  9. How much are you willing to invest in your education – You need to weigh what you will learn by how much you need to invest. Be careful not to sacrifice valuable learning by cheaper programs. Do they have continuing programs? Some programs allow you to revisit their program as a refresher anytime at no charge to you. . .is this something you would want?Questions to ask: How much is your program? Do you offer refresher programs as the industry changes, to keep graduates informed? Can you send me an information package?
  10. Ask Graduates of the program: Do not take it from those paid to sell the programs. Ask those who have graduated from the program. Most home staging programs have a directory of stagers online at your disposal. Call them up. Here is a tip. Call people you can tell have utilized the programs features. For example: filled out their directory pages, have photographs and before and after. They will be the most educated because they have worked the program.Questions to ask: Did the course meet your expectations? What is it you like best about the program? When did you take the program? Do they offer support after the class? Did you take any other staging programs? Do you recommend the program to someone wanting to get started in the staging industry.

As many of you know, I am the director of Marketing and National Accounts for Certified Staging Professionals. So please, take the above advice and begin your research at

Home Staging Training:

Certified Staging Professionals offers a variety of staging courses geared to the level of the professional looking to earn their designation in this field. CSP offers opportunities for decorators, designers, real estate professionals, professional organizers or anyone with a creative flare looking to turn their passion into a profitable venture. The CSPTM programs are jam packed with practical ideas and sound business practices honed by years of working in the field and wide geographic experience.

Courses Include:

  • Start a Home Staging Business
  • Begin a Career in Home Staging
  • Advanced Staging Course (existing staging business 2+ years)
  • Staging Training for Real Estate Professionals
  • CSPTM Continuing Education Programs – Vacant Staging Specialist; Senior Movement Specialist; Staging for Living and more. . .

Room Dividers

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Decorating with Room Dividers

Folding room dividers are an affordable, quick solution for making the most of interior spaces. Divider room screens can turn one large room into two or help provide privacy when decorating a loft. These attractive dividers will add dimension and texture to your living space while also increasing the room’s functional features.

Types of Room Dividers

When looking for folding room dividers, you can choose from an extensive selection of materials which will complement almost any design style including wood, fabric, glass, metal, leather, plastic, and bamboo.

Wooden folding room dividers can be made of solid carved panels or consist of a wood frame with fabric or glass inserts. This look fits well with a traditional style, and the rich color of the wood will warm up the room’s d├ęcor. Photo room divider and screen models are often made of a wooden frame with glass inserts serving as built-in picture frames. A casual, homey atmosphere can be instantly created with a fun photo room divider and screen. Wooden divider room screens can also take the form of a book case divider which provides space for storage and accessories. These practical room dividers are sometimes open on both sides for an airy feel.

Fabric-paneled room screens will add softness to a space and help with the overall acoustics. Their light-weight design creates a portable divider that is also safe for children’s rooms. Many fabric dividers also feature storage pockets for increased practicality. Frame choices for fabric room screens include wood, metal, and bamboo. Select a semi-sheer fabric and allow light to filter in from a nearby window or room.

A decorative curtain room divider is usually attached to the ceiling with cubical or curtain track for easy operation. These dramatic hanging dividers are made of pleated or flat panels made from fabrics such as velvet, sheers, canvas, or denim. Decorative curtain room dividers are also found in natural materials like bamboo matchstick and woven grasses.

Folding room dividers made with glass or acrylic panels will also provide privacy while maintaining maximum light flow in a space. These wooden or metal framed screens work nicely in contemporary spaces because of their clean, simple designs. Their shiny panels will add a sleek, polished texture which will enliven a transitional or modern room.

A twist on this look is the Japanese style shoji screen which usually has a bamboo or rattan frame with frosted glass or decorative paper panels.

Other Room Divider Tips

When shopping for divider room screens, be sure to note the measurements of your room to ensure a proper fit. Some screens are bigger than they look in the store or in a catalog picture of room dividers. If you need the ease of a portable divider, look for a model with casters or wheels. This is especially important if the room screen will be used in a children’s bedroom or playroom. There are also divider room screens made with kids in mind featuring chalkboards, art easels, and bookshelves.

Besides creating privacy and adding coziness to large spaces, folding room dividers can also be used to conceal exercise equipment or hide a home office area. Another savvy idea for divider room screens is to use them as a backdrop or wall in a foyer or entry area. This is helpful in an open concept loft or apartment where there is currently no definition or privacy at the entry door.

For a masculine touch, look for divider room screens featuring leather panels. These sumptuous screens can take on a traditional vibe with tufted panels or a more modern feel with leather wrapped squares. Rustic folding room dividers often incorporate animal hides stretched across rough-hewn branch frames and secured with leather lacing.

Keep your budget in check with these hardware store ideas for cheap room dividers. Consider attaching two or more hollow core doors together with piano hinges and then finishing them with paint, stain, paper, or fabric. Pre-made window shutters in long lengths can also be assembled with hinges for a traditional or nautical look. Cheap room dividers can also be made with outdoor lattice panels by building frames and latching them together for an open, semi-private design.

Interior Designers vs. Decorators

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Interior Design Job Descriptions

With the growing interest in professions that enhance interior spaces, it can be a challenge to sort out all the job titles. For example, what’s makes an interior designer different from an interior decorator? Understanding what each occupation has to offer will make things clearer when hiring an interior professional or when studying to be one.

Interior Designers

The top of the food chain for interior specialties is the interior designer. This is because there are specific regulations for those who use this term to describe their profession. Although it varies from state to state, most interior designers must be licensed and must have completed college coursework in their area of expertise. The main reason for this is that interior designers are often involved with architectural or furniture design which requires knowledge of safety codes and structural integrity. The American Society of Interior Designers is the top industry association of interior design professionals.

Interior designers also specify materials for flooring, wall finishes, window treatments, upholstery, and accessories. There are many emerging areas within this field, but generally interior designers work in either residential or commercial environments with some specializing in:

* Kitchen and bath design
* Health care facilities
* Green design
* Institutional design (schools and churches)
* Accessible design
* Hospitality (hotels, casinos, resorts, and restaurants)

Interior Decorators

The titles of interior designer and interior decorator are often thought of as one in the same. However, an interior decorator is usually limited to surface changes that enhance the visual appeal and comfort of a space. There are typically no requirements for licensing or education involved, so interior decorators tend to be more accessible and affordable for the average homeowner.

Interior decorators perform their magic for both residential and commercial clients while sometimes focusing on elements like color, fabrics, feng shui, or window treatments. There are various associations and programs which offer recognition of interior decorators such as Certified Interior Decorators International. Upon finishing the CID program, graduates can use the trademarked title “Certified Interior Decorator”.

Home Redesigners

A new branch of interior decorating is the art of home redesign. This novel field uses a client’s readily available furniture and accessories to redesign the space. Before placing the furnishings in their new spots, home redesigners take into account each room’s focal point, functionality, and comfort. It usually takes less than one day for a home redesigner to complete their speedy makeovers. While there are no official regulations for home redesigners, there are many independent training programs available which offer their own certifications.

Home Staging

Another emerging branch of interior decorating is home staging. Closely tied to the real estate industry, home staging involves prepping houses for mass appeal and faster, higher sales. Home stagers start by clearing clutter from the property and making recommendations for minor repairs. Then, the home stager strategically places the furniture and accessories to show off the highlights of a room while downplaying any flaws.

Home Staging vs. Decorating

Staging is Not Decorating. Here are some differences:

* Decorating is a luxury
* Staging is a necessity

* Decorating is for the homeowners enjoyment
* Staging is for the future buyer

* Decorating is personal style
* Staging is universal style – profile that is coming through the house, any recommendations are to secure an offer

* Decorating involves (generally) larger budget
* Staging is always about budget and is time sensitive

* Decorating means you have a longer time line
* Staging you work with a tighter deadline

* Decorating is optional
* Staging is Mandatory

Why Hire A Professional

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Reasons to Hire a Professional Designer

Do you need to hire a designer for your project?
That depends… on you , on your available free time, patience, creativity or lack thereof, list of resources, interest, and much more.
Here are some guidelines to help you decide if you should hire a professional.

You might want to hire a professional designer if…

  • You have little or no free time to coordinate and shop for home decor items.
  • You feel completely overwhelmed by the number of choices available.
  • You need help with space planning, lighting design, kitchen layouts, or bathroom renovations.
  • You want someone else to deal with the hassles of ordering, shipping, coordinating, and installing.
  • You want to have quality work done but don’t have your own list of reliable workmen, installers, and resources.
  • You’ve tried to decorate your home and have purchased a few nice items, but really need help pulling it all together.
  • You want a cohesive color scheme and design that can be carried throughout your home.
  • You think you have pretty good taste, but would like to move up a few notches in style.
  • You’ve torn out photos of rooms you like, but are unsure of how to coordinate some of the elements.
  • You and your partner can’t seem to agree on anything for your home.
  • You’ve found a gorgeous sofa in a decorating magazine, but it’s available “to the trade” only.
  • You want some custom designed furniture, cabinetry, fireplaces, built-ins, murals, faux finishes, etc.
  • You don’t know what new products, fabrics, or appliances are available that might be used for your project.
  • Your bonus finally came through and you want something new, something different, something fabulous.
  • You have a new job and now need to upgrade your home for corporate entertaining.
  • Your home is from a particular period, has a specific style, or has an unusual design and you need assistance in selecting appropriate furnishings.
  • You’re tired of buying things here and there without an overall plan.
  • You’re very creative but don’t know where to start with your current decorating project.
  • You’d like more choices in fabrics, flooring, and furniture than are available in local stores.
  • You’ve never seen a source for the look you really want for your home.
  • You’re planning to build a new home and are wondering if any interior specifications should be changed before work begins.
  • You’ve seen the “perfect” room in a decorator show house and would like to hire that designer to help you.

Interior Design Tools and Software

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Online Interior Design Tools and Software:

* E-Z Decorator
Bring your designs to life in minutes. With E-Z Decorator tools, you can create interior design illustrations, furniture layouts and floorplans instantly.

* DesignWorkshop Lite
Free 3-D software that allows users to build 3-D models for home, spatial, and landscape design.

* Fast Plans 11
Free software download that allows users to draw architectural floor plans and layouts. This design CAD software does the drawing and the math, allowing the user to concentrate on design.

* Bob Villa Design Tools
Find 3-D design tools to help visualize your dream – including Home Renovator, Deck Designer, Paint Designer, Kitchen Designer and more.

* Icovia Space Planner
Design one room or an entire house in minutes. Icovia Space Planner makes it easy for anyone to brainstorm, share ideas and create professional quality floor plans

* See My Design
Explore your creative side with this free, interactive online program. See My Design includes paint, flooring, lighting and layout features.

* Better Homes and Gardens – Arrange-a-Room
With this interactive online tool, you can rearrange any room in your home.

* Design Ware MyHouse Home Design Software
MyHouse software makes designing or renovating your home easier. See the results of your creativity in full color 3-D.

* Punch! Super Home Suite
Bring your design concepts to life with seven powerful interior and exterior home design software programs integrated together.

* DreamDraper Software
Create realistic renderings of window treatment designs that are drawn to scale and filled with fabric samples, using photos of any room. Also make space planning easy with elevation drawings and floor plans.

* Tectonic Studio
Searchable resource library containing over 100,000 commercial interior finishes. Tectonic software allows you to save samples and specifications by project as well as create design boards by dragging samples to a digital canvas. With one click, you can order samples from multiple suppliers.