How to choose an interior designer

The majority of home owners are faced with the same persistent issue: an inability to make full use of their living space. When you’re buying a home, decorating it can seem like a walk in the park – just put some furniture in there and you’re good to go.

Once you move in, however, you realize that there’s a lot more to interior decor than good intentions. If you’re finding it hard to transition your home from a place reminiscent of a warehouse to a true living space, consider working with an interior designer on as many rooms in the house as possible.

Choosing the right person for the job

Interior design is one of those things that can ostensibly be done by anyone – we did mention you probably felt there isn’t much to adding furniture inside a room, didn’t we? Unfortunately, it’s not just home owners sharing this sentiment – people can often sell their interior design services without really having any talent for the profession. The result: lackluster ‘designer’ homes that lower the overall faith in interior designers.

To avoid becoming a part of a dissatisfied statistic, your interior designer should be someone with a true sense of perception: an artistic soul looking to express his or her passion through home decor.

Checking for feedback and reviews from past customers is all good, but here, it might not do all that much – every interior designer has a distinct style that may or may not put you off. Instead, when choosing an interior designer, focus on the person’s portfolio and examine as many ‘after’ pictures as possible – the more of these you can see, the better you’ll know whether the person can design something to your liking.

Past viewing the designer’s previous work, there’s also something to be said about ‘clicking’ with the individual. Have them examine your home and then clearly state your wishes: do they seem confused or are they perfectly responsive and eager to get to work? The answer could mean the difference between a home you’re proud to show and one whose appearance you’d rather suffer on your own.

How many rooms to decorate?

A big question mark before any home decor effort is the optimal amount of rooms to decorate. The prime candidates are probably evident, but what about smaller or adjacent rooms?

No matter how honest your interior designer is, he or she will try to get you to decorate as many rooms as possible. And why wouldn’t they? If nothing, the fact that they want to work more should be a good sign.

With that in mind, you’ll need to have a good idea of how useful it is to decorate every single room in the house. You won’t be able to know straight up, either: the contrast between rooms will only become apparent after one or more of them have been decorated.

Therefore, make sure that the interior designer you’re working with is willing and able to decorate additional rooms right away should you ask them to – likewise, they ought to recognize your wishes to call it a day if you feel that other rooms are fine the way they are.

Best museums in the Palm Beach area

With how awesome Palm Beach weather is, spending too much time indoors can seem counter-productive, especially if it’s inside a museum – aren’t these things better-suited for places with bad weather?

Maybe they are, but that doesn’t mean Palm Beach lacks outstanding one-of-a-kind museums – in fact, their variety means one of them is bound to pique your attention even if you’re the most die-hard beach lover. Here’s a couple of them to consider.

South Florida Science Center & Aquarium: Who doesn’t love science? Palm Beach’s Science Center is a terrific structure regardless of whether you’re interested in biology, archeology or anything else that involves understanding more about our planet’s co-inhabitants. Despite being a biology museum, the Science Center doesn’t waste too much time focusing on a single type of exhibit – instead, you’re treated to everything from colorful (and sometimes frightening) reptiles to dinosaur skeletons and even mummies.

Historical Society Palm Beach County: If you really like Palm Beach and are curious about its past, this is a place you don’t want to miss. The museum is really an old courthouse that has kept its integrity superbly into present day – even in the absence of staff or exhibits, you’ll still feel as if you took a trip through time. When you’d like a bit of a history lesson, chat up one of the volunteers on the premises and they’ll clue you in on what Palm Beach was like back in the day.

Norton Museum of Art: Art isn’t for everyone: plenty of people would get just as much excitement from staring at a ceiling as they would from posturing over an art exhibit. If you’re part of those who can appreciate art, however, the Norton Museum will have you covered: with plenty of modern displays to marvel at and a sophisticated (not to say artsy) atmosphere to the place, you’re sure to have a good time and maybe even meet some interesting people.

Flagler Museum: This museum was originally a mansion owned by the patriarch of the Flagler family – going through one breathtaking room after another will certainly leave you wondering what living in such a nice crib must have felt like. The mansion itself isn’t particularly rich with exhibits, nor does it suffer from overbearing tour guides – while guides are available on the premises, the point of each visit is to give you an idea of what high-class living in the Palm Beach of old looked like instead of burdening you with trivia you might not be all that interested in.

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens: This museum seems to fly a bit under the radar. It could be the location, or the unusual nature of the exhibits – whichever it is, the lack of recognition is unfounded as Ann Norton could be called Palm Beach’s most exciting art museum even if you have a thing for Norton’s contemporary displays. The beautiful and at-times strange sculptures are perfectly complemented by a lush garden that will have you feeling as if you left our hectic world and went to a much calmer place.

How to select an area rug for your home

Wall-to-wall rugs can seem pretty scary: more than just being a major addition to your home, they can also present a good deal of cleaning difficulties. Fortunately, a great alternative presents itself in the form of area rugs: available in any size and shape, area rugs can brighten up everyone’s home as soon as they are placed on the floor.

Choosing the right one, however, is a proper exercise in perception. With countless area rugs available, picking one that complements your room perfectly without even getting to ‘try it out’ is tough – here are some tips to help you with your choice.

The general aspects of an area rug

The best way to narrow your search is to figure out how much you can spend. Area rugs can cost anywhere from $20 to thousands of dollars – while some might feel that high-end rugs are overpriced, others consider them to be worth every penny.

No matter where you stand on the matter, be prepared to spend a bit more to get a good carpet on your floor. How much your area rug costs will depend on its age, manufacturing technique and the materials used to make it. This is another way of narrowing your search: is it important to you that the rug is handmade? Hand-woven rugs generally hold up better and feature designs of a far greater intricacy, but they’re also a lot more expensive than factory-made versions. And what about the age: do you insist on something centuries-old? If so, get ready to empty your pockets.

Specific things to look for

In general, any rug that has ‘antique’, ‘Oriental’ or ‘Persian’ in its name gets swept up pretty quick. However, there can be a world of difference between two Persian rugs – so much so that they could hardly be considered to fit inside the same category.

Age is a big factor when considering a pricier area rug. Most home owners want an older rug as they feel it adds more prestige to the home – true as this may be, older antique rugs are far more susceptible to damage and discoloration than newer handcrafted pieces. Properly storing a centuries-old rug or even one that was made a millennia ago isn’t easy and likely deviates from your intended use for the rug: if you’re looking for some utility, consider an Oriental or Persian rug that was made no earlier than the 20th century.

Another important distinction to make when buying these rugs: tribes and villages or towns and cities? It’s not just about when the rug was made – the part of the country it was made in is also of great importance. Rugs from Persian cities will tend to feature greater finesse and craftsmanship due to tailoring advancements. and they’re also known for having better choices of materials. On the other hand, tribal antiques and Orientals – as well as many that come from larger villages – are known for their unique livid patterns that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. If refinement is your thing, go for an antique or Persian carpet made inside a city: if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind design that seems to have its own personality, you can’t go wrong with a tribal masterpiece.

What is the best wood to use for home cabinets?

Have you visited every furniture shop in your area and still can’t seem to find the perfect cabinet for your home? Perhaps you should consider making your own, then.

Making simple furniture such as cabinets is surprisingly easy – a couple of tools, a good schematic (on paper or in your head) and a lot of patience, and you’re set. Of course, let’s not forget the actual material you’ll use for the cabinet – wood is by far the simplest and most durable choice from all the materials you could use, but it pays to know the different types and how they stack up against one another.

The most important distinction to make is probably between soft and hard wood, a.k.a. softwood and hardwood. Much could be said about both, but for these purposes, let’s just say that the former is cheaper and easier to work with while the latter is more expensive and harder to alter but also produces better-quality furniture.

Here’s an overview of some good choices of specific types of wood for home cabinets.

  • Pine: Plenty of journeyman woodworkers swear by pine and stick to it no matter the type of project they’re working on. While this can be limiting, it still shows how versatile and ubiquitous pine is – if you’re making a plain old cabinet that won’t see a lot of punishment, pine is definitely a worthy consideration to make. Sadly, since pine is softwood (and not a very expensive one at that), it’s quite prone to damage in the form of dents, scratches and similar issues, so be mindful of the location for your pine cabinet.
  • Cedar: Even softer than pine, cedar is another favorite of low-cost woodworkers not wanting to put too much effort into the creation of formidable furniture. For its part, cedar is a decent alternative to pine: it’s widely available, not very expensive and very forgiving when pitted against moisture. Another reason why people get cedar furniture indoors is the smell of the wood: if your furniture-making process lets cedar retain some of its pleasant aroma, the cabinet will not only look good but also sport a fresh scent.
  • Ash: If you’re not afraid of working with hardwood, ash is as good of a choice as any – it comes in various patterns and colors and features great durability against dents as well as stains. It’s a good bit more expensive than the softwood varieties mentioned above, although your pockets might not take a big hit if you’re making a single cabinet. Also, ash isn’t always readily available – if you can’t get the lumber locally, you might have to settle down for another hardwood variety.
  • Oak: In a sense, oak is like the hardwood version of pine: widespread, affordable and a favorite choice of many. Oak wood comes in white and red editions – while each of them can sport a variety of nice patterns, white oak is generally thought to be more attractive and is also cherished for its durability against moisture. Keep in mind, though, that oak is significantly harder to work with than softer wood and is therefore best left to the experienced DIY woodworker.