Monday, 25 February 2013

Ideas for Decorating a Boy's Room

Decorating a boy's room isn't always that easy as they have very definite ideas on what they want. Make it easier on both you and your little one by having a few ideas to hand that you can suggest to him.

Color & Pattern Suggestions

While the obvious color choice for a boy's nursery is blue, your little tikes might demand something different when they get older in terms of color decorating ideas. For boys rooms however, you don't have to give the room a complete makeover, making use of a plain blue painted wall, is not such a bad idea for many reasons. It can be used as a "sky" wall, as "water" for a pirate room, as a great match for Thomas the Tank Engine, a general background for paint techniques, or left plain and with pictures and posters added, to create a boy's theme.

Green works very well in a boy's room for many of the same reasons - you can use it as a "grass" background, a general background, or as a great match to boys favorites such as Ben 10.

Red is also a great color for a boy's room, as it is bright and appealing, but not too girlie - it also goes very well with blue, and green, if you want to incorporate an accent wall and use more than one color. Yellow used in blocks of color also works really well.

Colors to stay away from would be the obvious pink, and anything that is too light. If you wanted to use a more neutral color on the walls, then divide your walls into two, and use a darker color along the bottom, and a cream or white on the top half of the wall - this to prevent scuff and scratch marks from appearing so obvious.

In terms of pattern, blocks of color are ideal, as are broad stripes, or a checkerboard effect.

Theme Ideas

Theme decorating ideas for a boys room depend very much on the TV and gaming preferences of your boys, so our list will start with those, and finish with more general themes:

  • Disney cars 
  • Toy Story 
  • Ben 10 
  • Thomas the Tank Engine 
  • Space 
  • Trains 
  • Racing Cars 
  • Pirates 
  • Robots 
  • Cowboys 
  • Jungle 
  • Farm 
  • Surf Dude 

Many of these themes also work well as ideas for a kids bathroom, again using a plain blue or green background, with added wall murals, wall decals, or a painted stencil if you aren't feeling brave. The use of large pictures, groups of pictures, or posters are also great ways to incorporate the idea of a theme into a boy's room. You can then add finishing touches such as displaying relevant toys such as toy pirate ships, space rockets, or a cowboy hat and hobby horse.


Above all else, furniture in a boy's bedroom should be sturdy and hardwearing - where possible it should also perform a dual purpose. Cabin beds (or captain beds), that have built in storage underneath the bed, or even a desk, is especially good in a boys room, as are storage units that have seating on top. Large wooden furniture with a natural finish, or completed in a primary color, or one that complements the room's decor also works well. Metal furniture, such as bookshelves, adds some authenticity especially to a space themed room, but you should obviously take care of rough edges around small children.

Decorating ideas for boys rooms needn't be anything more than a block color background in striking colors, wooden furniture, and the addition of relevant toys and pictures to incorporate a theme, or you can go to town with detailed themed murals and matching bedlinen - it's all about what works for you and keeps your boys happy.

Image Credits:
Blue room -
Space room -
Bedroom furniture -

Monday, 30 July 2012

Mexican Style Decorating Ideas

Mexican style decorating works in small and huge areas too!

Color & Pattern
The use of color is one of the most important factors in decorating. Mexican style bears this out to the max. Whilst large expanses like the floor and furniture can be neutral colors, like earthy beige and brown, the walls and accents are very colorful and textured.

Almost any color works in a Mexican inspired room, if it is bright and vibrant - pastels and grey are most certainly out. Walls look great in yellow and orange - color-washed rather than flat color. Accent colors for furnishings can be anything from:
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Black & White together
  • Green
  • Red
  • Electric blue
  • Cerise

Decorating Mexican style, not only relies on color for their authenticity, the use of materials is also very important. Mexicans make use of what is around them, when decorating a room, hence the use of such natural products in the home.

Terracotta is always seen in the Mexican home, as either tiles on the floor or walls of kitchens. Pots are always terracotta, often left undecorated when used for plants, and can be used in any room of a Mexican home even the bathroom.
Silver is a popular product in Mexico, in any form.

Traditional Mexican woven baskets are made from palm leaves, and are a useful addition to any room, being used for tissue boxes, magazine racks, even waste bins.

The traditional Mexican Serapes blankets are colorful, striped designs, each one unique and individually woven from cotton. Useful for a throw on the bed or couch, as a floor covering, or as a wall-hanging - not to mention as a snuggly blanket.

Mexican homes often feature exposed brick in certain sections or rooms, especially the kitchen. Use a sponge to create a faux brick wall to make this work in your home.

Mexican inspired rooms embrace the use of natural materials, especially when it comes to furniture. Pieces are wooden and often stained dark. 

Mexican decor embraces the use of large furniture, which makes it an ideal option for a modern home. 

Materials for upholstery should be leather, suede, wicker, or left plain with the use of traditional Mexican blankets.

You can dress up Mexican style furniture and add color, with bright cushions and placemats etc.

Details - Finishing Touches 
Now we've taken care of the big stuff, but the details and finishing touches are just as important in creating an authentic look room when decorating. Mexican style has many different options to add these finishing touches to your home:
  • Sombreros on the wall - as big and as colorful as you dare.
  • Ponchos and traditional woven cotton Serapes Mexican blankets can be used as a feature on a wall, or for a multitude of soft furnishings.
  • Silver ornaments
  • Pottery - always terracotta, but often decorated in bright colors and themes that epitomize Mexican life, like chilies.
  • Bowl of limes - a perfect finishing touch to any Mexican dining room.
  • Chilies - used as patterns on pots or fabrics, or the real thing dried and hung in strings on the wall.
  • Lanterns - add authentic mood lighting.
  • Cacti - no Mexican themed room would be complete without the use of a low maintenance cactus plant.
  • Mirrors with detailed and colorful frames, work well adding color and a sense of space to a hallway, or any small sized room. 

Decorating Mexican style, can take a lot of courage, the use of such bright hues being difficult to use and get used to at first. But be brave, if you think the color is too bright on the walls, then paint over it, or sponge over it to bring the color down a notch as well as adding texture. Using the finishing touches can also be used to create the Mexican look, done in your own unique way.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Ideas for a Country Kitchen Color Scheme

Which Country Style is for You?

The use of an authentic country kitchen color scheme is the first step in knowing how to decorate in the country kitchen style. Although the style is quite specific, there are also French country style colors to draw upon, or you could combine the two looks together, for a kitchen that has your unique style stamp on it.

Both country kitchen looks are very casual, but also everything has a place - it is ordered clutter at it's finest.

French country kitchens lean towards darker wood, and lots of copper pans, the colored elements usually coming from crock pots, bowls, and displayed crockery, rather than any table cloths or soft furnishings.

An American or English country kitchen embraces the use of color more fully with pictures on the wall, and gingham tablecloths. There is also the tendency for American country kitchens to have a more light and airy feel to them, rather than the grandiose dark wood of the French style.

Authentic Country Kitchen Colors

Country kitchens don't have to look old fashioned

Using a country style color scheme in the home is actually very versatile. The majority of larger items in the kitchen, such as the table or island, and kitchen cabinets, would consist of an unpainted wood, therefore the color elements in the room are very easy to change to give the room a whole new look, very quickly and easily.

The most popular kitchen colors, to lend a country feel are:
  • Cream
  • White
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green
  • The use of yellow and orange are also included, but usually more in the way of accent items like pots, or flowers.
Nothing in the way of use of color is subtle in a country style kitchen. Although color can be used in smaller ways, the use of pastels is not encouraged.

French Country Kitchen Style

Use rustic wood textures with a splash
of color to lift the scheme
As traditional colors in a French country kitchen are awash with dark, and often unfinished wood tones, the use of color and pattern to lighten the room, and lend the air of coziness, and a communal place to meet, is very important.

Even the more modern country kitchens in France that use neutral cream units, are still peppered with darker colors, such as dark wood counter tops to lend a balance to the room.

Authentic colors found in a French country kitchen are:
  • Cream
  • White
  • Peach
  • Black
  • Green
  • Red
Again, orange and yellow can play a small colorful role in the form of accent items, such as a pottery cockerel, but would not be used in any great expanse of space.

How to Incorporate Color

Besides the obvious choices of painting the walls in the authentic country color scheme, there are many more ways of incorporating a taste of color into your kitchen's decor.

  • Soft furnishings such as blinds, seat cushions, and tablecloths can add an instant splash of color and can be either plain, gingham check, or a country scene pattern.
  • Crock pots, serving bowls and vases are also a useful way to use color.
  • Flowers and windowsill plants are a way of naturally changing your room's color.
  • Don't overlook the small things like cabinet door handles, candles, and salt and pepper pots.
  • Display crockery that matches the color scheme of your country kitchen.
  • Color can also be added with lampshades, and wall art.
Whatever style or country kitchen color scheme suits you, above all make sure the overriding feel as visitors enter your kitchen is warm and welcoming, no matter what's cooking.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How to Paint and Decorate Striped Bathroom Walls

Summer is a great time to revamp your bathroom into a relaxing haven; perfect for chilling in after a hot day. One of the latest trends in interior design is to use stripes, which works well in any sized bathroom so it's a look that works for everyone.

Horizontal or Vertical Stripes?

Whilst vertical stripes have been a common feature in living rooms, hallways, and kitchens for years, the use of striped bathroom walls has not been popular in bathrooms.

Bathrooms are not friendly to wallpaper, because of the humidity and moisture levels, which is why we tend to prefer tiles and paint to decorate our bathrooms - this is almost certainly why stripes have rarely made it into this room.

The use of stripes in a bathroom should not be overlooked however, as they not only provide added pattern and interest to the walls (without being too fussy), they can also create visual illusions.

Vertical stripes are ideal if you want to create the illusion of a taller, more grand looking bathroom. Ideally you would only use this on one wall, or one section of wall in the bathroom - a bathroom should be a restful haven, not somewhere to inflict headaches with the overuse of stripes on every wall.

Horizontal stripes are one of the hottest current trends for decorating, and are ideally suited to small or narrow bathrooms, that you want to make feel wider and more spacious. Again, using it on one, or maybe two walls in the bathroom would be sufficient, and to maintain a more modern, restful feel should be wide stripes, or of varying widths, rather than narrow, or candy stripes.

How to Paint Stripes

Striped painted bathroom walls are the easiest way to get the look of stripes in the smallest room of the house, you just need:

  • Tape Measure
  • Spirit Level (preferably large with indicated measurements like a ruler)
  • Masking Tape
  • Plumb line (for vertical stripes)
  • Bathroom paint (regular emulsion paint cannot withstand moisture in a bathroom and will peel off the walls)
For painting vertical stripes
  1. Mark with a pencil around the top of the wall, where you want your stripes to go.
  2. Hang a plumb line from your first mark and "ping the string" of the plumb line to leave a perfect vertical line - no spirit level needed.
  3. Continue around the room.

For painting horizontal stripes
  1. Armed with a large spirit level make your first pencil mark, ensuring that it is straight by focusing on the bubble in the spirit level.
  2. Draw lightly across the spirit level. Move your spirit level across the wall, making sure you have a good overlap with your pencil mark, and make another mark in line with this one.
  3. You could also try measuring your points from either the floor up, or the ceiling down, and then joining these marks up using the spirit level.

For vertical or horizontal striped painted walls, the next step is the same.

Mask off each area with masking tape, and paint your stripes. Remove the masking tape whilst the paint is tacky - not when it's wet as the color can bleed, and not when it's dry as your paint is likely to flake off.

Other Ways of Using Stripes in the Bathroom

Of course striped bathroom walls don't have to be just horizontal or vertical. You could also try painting:

  • Diagonals into the corner of the room.
  • Mask off squares or circles and paint stripes within them.
  • Use one small section as a focal point - maybe off to the side of center.
  • Freehand and irregular stripes for a more relaxed feel.
If you don't want to use paint, to create striped walls in the bathroom, you could also:
  • Use tiles to create the lines, if you don't have a steady hand. Either as a few strips, or just as a splash back.
  • Add small mirrors, or mirrored tiles to create stripes and the feeling of space - metallics are also a hot decorating trend, so you are incorporating two trends into one.
Whichever way you choose to create striped bathroom walls, just remember to use it in one area, or space the stripes out - you want to create the feeling of a modern sanctuary, not migraine central!
Image Credits:
Black & silver stripes -

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Want an Easy Project? DIY Bench Cushions Instructions

It seems summer might just be on its way, and as you never know how long it's going to last it pays to make the most of this lovely weather as soon as it appears. The instructions here are suitable for bench cushions that you will use outside as well as inside, with special considerations that you might need to make for each.

Relaxing on a bench seat by a window, or soaking up the rays in the garden - you have the power to style!

Choose the Right Materials

Whether your focus is on how to make bench cushions for outdoor use, or indoor use, the basic principles for making them both are the same. The only extra consideration that you need to make for outdoor bench cushions, should focus on what kind of fabric you are using, as your cushions will be exposed to Mother Nature.

The two main things to consider within this are:
  • Is the fabric you have chosen fade-resistant - especially important if you have picked a dark color.
  • How likely are your cushions to be left out in the rain - in which case some waterproofing medium might be needed.
Other materials required are:
  • Tape measure
  • Upholstery fabric, or thick fabric that will stand up to wear
  • Piping cord (optional)
  • Foam padding - try using some environmentally friendly foam cushions
  • Sewing machine (although it will take longer to do so, sewing bench cushions by hand is perfectly do-able)
  • Waterproof silicon spray (optional - for outdoor bench cushions)

Measuring & Cutting Out

Just as in any other aspect of home decorating, preparation is the key, and with making bench cushions, measuring is the preparation. This is very important to get right, to not only make certain of a good fit, but to ensure no fabric is wasted - or even worse you don't buy enough fabric, meaning another trip to the store and added expense.

  • Measure the length and width of your bench seat, and order, or cut to size, a piece of foam. If you require a deeper cushion then you can place two pieces on top of one another.
  • Measure the depth of the foam. 
  • Add together the length and width measurements and multiply this by 2, then add 1 inch. We will call this (A).
  • Now cut out a strip of fabric to the length (A), by the depth measurement plus 1 inch. This will create the seat surround. If you are using cord piping then cut another strip to this same length but only 1 inch wide. 
  • Cut out two pieces of fabric to your length and width measurements, adding 1 inch to each. This will create the bench cushion, top and bottom.

Making the Cushions
Now the maths is over, it's time to get on with the actual making. If you aren't using piping cord then start at bulletpoint 2:

  1. If you are using piping cord in making your bench cushions, then use the strip of fabric you cut before and place the cord down the center. Fold one side over to the other, and stitch down it, enclosing the piping cord inside. Pin this around the edge of the top cushion fabric allowing for a 1/2 inch seam.
  2. Pin the seat surround, around the edge of the top cushion piece of fabric, allowing for a 1/2 inch seam (if you are using piping cord this should now be sandwiched between the top cushion section and the seat surround. Make sure that the right sides of fabric are facing each other before sewing into place.
  3. Pin the bottom cushion section to the bottom edge of the seat surround, again allowing for a 1/2 inch seam.
  4. Sew around 3 edges - the 2 longest edges, and 1 of the shortest.
  5. Turn the cover the right way around. Press out the seams, before pushing the foam inside the cover, from the shorter end you didn't sew.
  6. Fold in 1/2 inch fabric from this open end at the seat surround and at the seat bottom - make sure they are in line with the other seams so no raw edges can be seen. Neatly sew this section, joining these remaining items together.
Voila! Job done.

After completing these steps in how to make bench cushions, you may want to weatherproof your cushions for outdoor use. Simply spray with a waterproof silicon spray once the item is finished, and leave for a few hours for the substance to completely dry, and penetrate the fabric. Now the process is complete - bench cushions made the easy way!

Monday, 30 April 2012

How to Make a Personalized Garden Sign

Making a sign for your garden is a really neat way to make a unique statement in your garden -- even if you aren't any good at gardening. I've shared loads of ideas here to get your juices flowing, and some of them are even suitable for the kids so it keeps them busy too!

Why Not Carve Your Own Sign?
One method of making your own garden sign is to carve one from stone or wood.

For a beginner the best material to use for a wood sign would be oak, and for a stone sign, stick to inexpensive alabaster or soapstone. The method of carving needn't be as complicated as you think, if you follow a few simple steps:
  • Whether you want to carve into wood or stone you need to make sure it won't move as you are working, so clamp it securely.
  • Borrow, hire, or purchase second hand, rudimentary carving tools - a small size chisel, gouges, a mallet and large V tool.
  • Sketch out your design in pencil, using letter stencils if you wish.
  • Use the V tool to roughly take out as much of the marked out area as you can, starting from the centre and working outwards, staying within the outline.
  • Work vertically along the bottom of each letter using a chisel for the straight parts, and gouges for the curved sections.
  • Perfect the edges of the letters by cutting them with a sliding motion.
  • Smooth any rough edges with sandpaper.

Shaped Signs From Tin Cans

Make your own statement by creating a garden sign that truly integrates into the garden.

One way to do this is by creating a flower shaped sign from old tin cans to mingle with the real flowers in your garden. This is a great way to repurpose junk into garden art, not just a garden sign.

  • Wash out lots of drink cans, cut off the tops and bottoms, and make a cut down the side. Flatten out into a metal sheet.
  • Make a paper template of your chosen shape.
  • Lay the template onto the metal sheet and cut around it. Use more than one sheet, if you need to, by gluing several pieces together with a glue gun.
  • Paint with an enamel paint, leave the metal bare, or use the other side with the drinks logo on.
  • Paint on your sign's message.
  • Mount onto a wooden stake or metal rod, using wire and a glue gun.
  • Plant in amongst your plants, or into a plant pot of its own to make a real stand-out focal point.

Get the Kids Involved

Make a truly unique garden sign by getting the kids involved in its creation:
  • Reuse slate tiles as garden signs and let the children go crazy with chalk, changing it according to their mood.
  • Go the Fawlty Towers route, and create a sign with move-able letters. Magnetic letters can be purchased from toy stores, and a shaped piece of magnetic metal can be used as the base - not all metals are magnetic (aluminum, brass and copper won't work). Or buy the base from a toy store too - often the opposite side of a child's blackboard will be magnetic.
  • Raid your craft stash and make a unique sign using polymer clay. Letters and shapes can be cut out using cookie cutters, or get the kids to mould some flowers or animal shapes. Also try making letters from a "snake" of polymer clay. Adhere to a piece of wood, or fix onto the bottom of decking or raised plant beds.

Further Ideas
Find an alternative purpose for items, such as:
  • A large glass vase can be made into a garden sign easily, using glass paints to decorate and write on the message. Weigh it down with large pebbles placed inside and around the base. You could incorporate candles inside to make an illuminated sign for a magical nighttime glow.
  • Make a garden sign your very own, by using ready made wooden letters, bought from a craft store. Paint and customize them as you wish - add metal buttons or craft gems, or stick on cut out nature-shapes such as ladybirds. Stick into the ground mounted on stakes, fix to a fence or garden wall, or hang off trees and shrubs by wire or string.
The most important thing when making your own garden sign is that it fits in with the feel of the garden, and that it reflects the personality of the people that spend the most time there - enjoy creating!

Image credits:
headline image -
Stone sign -
Kids sign -

Friday, 20 April 2012

Six Ideas for Disguising Unattractive Fences

One of the most annoying things I find about gardening is that it can look shabby in no time at all. Take a look at some of these ideas for disguising fences in your garden and you'll improve your garden really simply -- especially great for those of us who like things in the garden to look pretty but lack much gardening know-how.

Where to Start?

Reed screening is a quick and effective option
The best landscaping methods for disguising fences largely depends on what kind of fence you are trying to disguise. Some ideas you might want to use, include:

  • Climbing plants
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Trellis
  • Reed screening
  • Painting a mural
  • Turn the area into a feeding area for wildlife - bird feeding station etc.
Obviously if you have a wire mesh fence that needs disguising, an open option like a trellis isn't going to help hugely, and painting a mural certainly wouldn't be viable.

If you are looking at disguising a wooden fence or cement block then most options are open to you, but extra consideration would need to be given to the type of plants you use, as they will have some of their sunlight blocked.

Clematis is a quick grower
Use Planting - The Best Climbing Plants & Ornamental Grasses

When disguising a fence, one of the easiest landscaping ideas to use, is using climbing plants. There are so many different kinds available, that you should be able to find a suitable option that is in keeping with the rest of your garden.

If you have a solid fence you will need to construct some kind of feature for them to climb on, such as trellis, a decorative obelisk, or just some bamboo canes. The disadvantage to this option is that you will need to wait for the plants to grow, before they totally disguise that unsightly fence. Some of the best climbing plants to use are:
  • Wisteria
  • Hydrangea
  • Clematis - a popular flowering vine plant.
  • Climbing rose
  • Jasmine
  • Ivy
  • Chilean Glory Flower Eccremocarpos scaber
  • Vines - Virginia Creeper, Boston Ivy
There are also shrubs you can use, that although aren't strictly climbing plants, can be trained to grow as such - Pyracantha varieties such as Firethorn are a good option to use.
There are also many ornamental grasses that you might want to consider, as these are extremely low maintenance, don't need any additional support, and survive year round.
  • Feather reedgrass - grows up to 6 feet, and grows in partial shade. A popular perennial grass.
  • Fountain grass - grows up to 5 feet and grows into a soft shape, offsetting the harsh fence behind.
  • Switchgrass - grows to 5 feet can handle shade, and is a happy home to wildlife.
  • Hardy Pampas grass - grows up to 12 feet tall - large white flumed flowers provide a good screen.

Trellis is easy to install and can
be used in a practical way too
Use Hardcore Elements - Screening & Trellis
It's surprising what a difference some trellis or reed screening can make to a garden. Not only is it a great idea for disguising a fence, it also adds texture and more visual appeal to your garden. In addition to this, the use of an item like a trellis also offers the option of using it for climbing plants, or hanging bird feeders from too.

The biggest advantage of this option is that the results are instant, and need not be complicated. For a trellis or screen with a difference, you could paint it in a suitable exterior paint, paint a mural onto it, or make your own garden sign, using the trellis to hang it from. The effects even when you keep the natural finish are still appealing, and in the case of using a reed screen, the color will alter with age, making it look more a part of your garden.

Murals are easier than you think
and are a low cost option
Alternative Ideas
If none of the more conventional landscaping ideas above, appeals to you for disguising an unsightly fence, then you may want to consider some alternative options.
  • Creating an outside mural on a fence isn't as difficult as you may think, though is strictly the domain of wood fences and cement blocks. Sketch out a natural picture of trees and birds, or something else in keeping with your surroundings, and paint with suitable exterior paints. For a more detailed guide, and some pictorial inspiration, see our article on garage door murals.
  • You could take advantage of the situation and create a wildlife environment, or bird garden in your backyard. You don't have to do anything fancy, even hanging halved coconuts, bird feeders and nesting boxes, and bunches of berries from a wire fence will transform it instantly. You can paint the nesting boxes, make an insect hotel, or even some small shelves for birds to rest and feed on, would make a difference.
Taking into account the fence type, and your environment, will mean that using one of our landscape ideas for disguising fence problems — like unsightly or unattractive fences — should be an easy operation.

Headline Image Credit -
Climbing clematis -
Trellis -