Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Biofuel Fireplaces are Really the Better Choice

Everyone these days is considering going green.  Nothing says environment-friendly better than a biofuel fireplace in your home.

What makes a biofuel fireplace different from your typical modern fireplace? Essentially, biofuel does.  A biofuel fireplace runs on a special type of liquid, consisting largely of bioethanol. High quality bioethanol fuels contain up to 96.6%. The liquid is a byproduct of sugar fermentation, as well as from wheat and potatoes. You can’t get any greener than oil made right out of agricultural and forestry products.
The main advantage that biofuel fireplaces have over conventional fireplaces is that it’s also a much healthier alternative to fossil fuel sources. Because of this, there is no need for a chimney to direct smoke away and out of your house. Biofuel fireplaces don’t emit as much residual carbon as a regular fireplace. While they do release a small amount of smoke, biofuel fireplaces produce smoke that is clean. . Just as with traditional fireplaces though, it’s good to have a well-ventilated room before installing one. 

One liter of biofuel typically burns for up to three hours, though this could also depend on the type of fireplace you have. Fireplaces have varying aperture sizes on the steel burner box, and the size of the opening will factor significantly into how much of the biofuel burns. Smaller bioethanol fireplaces tend to burn much longer because their burner boxes have smaller apertures. You need to make sure that there’s enough ventilation in the room to promote burning. Keep a window slightly open to allow the air to fully circulate in the room.

When setting up your biofuel fireplace, simply follow the instructions included in the packaging. This is often important, as there can be different makes and models of various fireplaces. Check that all the parts you need are in the box. If you have no prior experience to setting up a fireplace, you might want to have a friend around who has some.

Tips to using biofuel fireplaces

Place the biofuel fireplace somewhere it can benefit from good ventilation, preferably in a cool, dry spot. Remove any flammable materials like cloth or paper anywhere near the fireplace. The biofuel itself should be placed in a tightly sealed container that’s well out of the reach of children.

When you’ve set up your fireplace, don’t place bottles of bioethanol fuel or lighters or anything of the sort near the fireplace itself. Store them away in a cool and dry area where it might not inadvertently cause a fire hazard.

Biofuel burns best at room temperature. If the room is below 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees farenheit, the fuel might have trouble lighting. You’ll need to strike a balance between letting in enough air to promote ventilation, and keeping enough out to keep things from getting too cold.

While a biofuel fireplace is a good secondary source of heat, it’s not an ideal source of heat for cooking. You really wouldn’t want to do your cooking in the living room, would you?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Using Wall Mirrors to Decorate Your Home

Mirrors are ingenious accent pieces that can make or break a room. They can range from the traditional vanity mirror whose sole purpose would be to help you check your appearance, and others that exist purely for aesthetic purposes (these are more of reflective glass pieces than mirrors, really). 

Large wall mirrors can be rather imposing objects, but a bit of strategic decorating can make them into great focal pieces. In small rooms or spaces, large mirrors often serve to widen the space or cast light on dark places. In others, they can be more decorative than functional. 

Consider placing a large wall mirror in the entry hall or by the door, where you can take a quick look at your reflection before leaving the house, or just as you are about to enter. You can also place one right across a window that has a particularly nice view, so you can easily view it from any point in the room. Placing a mirror above a mantel also creates a good place to rest your eyes. 

If you prefer large wall mirrors that are primarily decorative, choose ones that fit the general form of the rest of your furniture. Are most of the chairs and shelves in your room angular or curved? Round mirrors often go best with furniture that are also rounded, and angled mirrors do well for those that are more linear. Shape can often be a unifying aspect of your furniture, and a large wall mirror placed in the right spot can further accentuate that.

If you’d rather be a bit more creative with your mirrors, you can spice up one that you already have instead of going out to buy new ones. For a more traditional (and nature-themed) feel, use two branches crossed at the bottom of a round mirror and then carefully form them around the rim. Or you can use a wreath to round off a large mirror during the holidays. There’s really no limit to your imagination in this regard.

Because large wall mirrors tend to be a visual focal point, you’ll need to decide on the frame finish that goes best with your home décor. Many mirrors sport traditional wood tones, though you can also go for the more fancy gold and silver finishes. Your choice should also depend on the level of formality your furniture will have. Try to create depth by playing with contrast, choosing dark frames against light walls and light walls against dark walls. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials; wall frames can be made of wood, metal, bamboo or stained glass, though the more fancy frames can also have jewel stones and colored glass embedded into the material. If you have an elaborate wall, balance it out with a simpler mirror frame, and vice versa.
Keep in mind that the shape of your mirror is also important. Large wall mirrors that are more vertical don’t need to hang above furniture, as they look better alone on a wall. For those that are more horizontal, try to keep the furniture above which it hangs slightly wider than the mirror itself.

Quality Features in Contemporary Dining Sets

It’s amazing what a couple of contemporary kitchen dining sets can do to spice up an ordinary dinner.  Aside the fact that the type of dining set you use can be reflective of you as a homeowner, it can also offer a subtle but consistent contribution to your present dining room décor.


You can find contemporary dining sets in all types of shapes and sizes, though admittedly you don’t buy your dining room furniture depending on the kind of dining sets you have in your home. It’s often a good idea to invest in dining sets that match the décor that you currently have. Contemporary dining sets are great choices for dining tables that have a modern, updated feel, but some minimally designed dining sets go well with more ornate traditional dining room decor as well.


One of the first qualities you’ll need to consider in a dining set is its size. How many chairs do you have in the dining room? More importantly, how many chairs can fit in your dining room? Is there room for your guests to sit on days when you decide to entertain? You’ll also need to think about the number of people your house can accommodate during big house parties. If you tend to throw big gatherings periodically, a big table would likely be a much better investment than a small one.


Shape is also important. Rectangular dining sets are more common in most homes, though other homeowners may also prefer round or square tables. Your decision will depend largely on the shape of your dining room and how much space you have. A large round dining set may look great, but might not be ideal for your home, especially if it impedes the dining room’s natural flow of movement. Smaller dining sets look quite homey, but cannot accommodate a lot of people, and might result in a cluttered atmosphere. These are better choices for small dining rooms.


On the other hand, square dining sets maximize available in a much more efficient manner. Square dining sets are available in a variety of sizes, so you can easily choose one that fits perfectly inside your own dining room.

How many times in your life does the average homeowner buy a dining set? Once or twice, probably. Dining sets should be built to last a lifetime, maybe even two. Dining room furniture doesn’t usually change, and the tables and chairs you choose for the dining room should have the same solid, timeless quality. Look through contemporary dining sets made of high quality wood and a good finish that protects the material from the elements.


These days, contemporary dining sets may very well go beyond the typical dining table and chairs. Many now sport extra stools or the fancier bar set. If space allows, spice up the dining room with furniture that sets your home apart from the others. Also invest in décor that matches your contemporary dining set, whether you prefer minimal décor or abstract designs.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Helpful Techniques in Designing with Contemporary Lamp Shades

Giving your home a major overhaul will definitely give it the update that it needs. However, if you are a on a low budget, you can just give your space some additions and upgrades to give it a fresh look without having to spend too much. One of these additions and upgrades is with contemporary lamp shades.
Designing with contemporary floor lamps might seem like an easy task. After all, you just have to buy them and then put them on top of tables or in the room corners. However, buying and decorating them is really an art which can sometimes be a little challenging especially if you have had little experience with it. Here are five tips to help you out with contemporary lamp shades.

  • Pick the right style. Floor lamps are not just for grandma’s house anymore. We are seeing a growing trend of these lamps in modern homes. Many in the market today come with mixed and matched styles so it might help if you look through websites and magazines to help you out.
  • Know the purpose. If you want it to accent your corner, go for something that has a colorful and ornate shade. But if you intend to use it for reading or cross-stitching, consider getting a torchiere style that comes with three light bulbs to ensure adequate lighting.
  • Consider available space. A home decorating rule says you should not bunch up your furniture. This also goes the same with lamps. Use your gut feeling on this, especially if you use many lamps. If you think that it is a little too much, you might need to move it into a different location.
  • Look for versatile pieces. Before buying a floor lamp, think of at least two places to put it in and two ways that you can use it for. This way, when you initial designing backfires, you will have some other way to use it and not have to hide it in your basement forever.
  • Shop wisely and effectively. Everyone wants a bargain so it would be impossible if you are not after one as well. Whether you shop in brick and mortar stores or online, make sure that you visit different stores. That floor lamp that you like might always be less expensive  in another store.

Decorating with contemporary lamp shades should be something that you enjoy doing. If you do this right, you will also definitely enjoy the fruits of your time and effort (not to mention money). Enjoy!

Timeless yet Up to Date Modern Coffee Tables

One of the biggest demands of my clients when it comes to modern coffee tables is that they want it to look up to date but also timeless. This was the exact request of a client of mine when she asked for my help to find her the perfect coffee table for her home. She said she really liked woods because they gave off a classic look, but she didn’t just want a regular wood table. After looking through a few, I found these choices that match just that description.

Low Profile Rectangle Cocktail Table with Contoured Legs by Diamond Sofa

This coffee table by Diamond Sofa is a very unique find. It can be thought of as one of the less conventional of the modern coffee tables to choose from, but its out of the box design adds to its charm. The design also gives it a timeless feel, and because of its steel reinforced base, it is most likely to last for quite a while. It is constructed from red oakwood veneers and hardwood with a dark walnut finish. If you’re looking for a low key minimalist coffee table, look no further with this piece.

Modern Craftsman Coffee Table Oak Finish by Home Styles

This coffee table has a great old meets new feel. Great craftsmanship never goes out of style and this piece is very reminiscent of the great American Craftsman era. The brown metal accents, however, give it its modern feel. It has great functionality with two drawers and an open shelf underneath. The body is constructed from poplar solids and oak veneers, giving the whole thing a nice finish. A well-crafted piece is definitely timeless, and you’re sure to find delight in a great functional coffee table like this.

Modern Crafstman Coffee Table Oak Finish by Home Styles

A perfect combination of functionality of timeless style, this coffee table by Home Styles could put other modern coffee tables to shame. With a two level shelf and a large open compartment, anything else you would like to this table would easily add to the whole design. This great solid rectangular piece is made from sturdy quality mahogany, ensuring sturdiness. Its white finish would add brightness to any living room, while giving it a classy yet modern tone.

Glass Based Modern End Tables for Any Hotel or Living Space

A hotel that was opening in a few weeks asked for my advice if I knew any great glass modern end tables. They were planning put a few throughout the hotel in the lobbies or other public places and they wanted them specifically in glass, to add to the theme that they had in the hotel. They mentioned they had wide windows to let in natural light, and they felt glass end tables would complement this design. After searching a while, I was delighted to find great pieces that are not only good for hotels but even for any modern home.
Enna End Table in Stainless by Nuevo Living

Nuevo Living has a great line of modern end tables and this Enna End Table is no exception. Made from stainless steel, I really love the unique design that the brand always loves to experiment with. It’s simple but it makes a sort of statement. The design would likely appeal to young professionals and modernists as well. All in all, the design is actually quite sturdy, great for putting any decorations to add pizzazz to a somewhat understated end table.

24 Inch Round Glass Top End Table with Arctic Pedestal Base - Gloss White by Diamond Sofa

This end table by Diamond Sofa is quite an eye catcher. Its interesting sculpted conical base makes this piece a great investment that adds style to any room. To add to the classiness of the whole piece, this end table has a white lacquer finish with subtle stainless steel accents. The glass on top is tinted gray, and together with the base, makes the whole thing give off an aerodynamic feel. The sturdiness and uniqueness of this piece definitely encourages you to have this in any space, especially for homes that adhere to more contemporary styles.

Black Poly & Glass Round Chairside Table with Brushed Chrome by Powell

One of the most impressive of the modern end tables that I’ve seen, this piece by Powell really ups the level of class in any room. The sleek design is finished by “brushed chrome,” forming a sort of fish shape which I think is a very nice touch to how attractive this whole end table is. It has a black poly base, but what I think is the best feature in this piece is the tempered glass top; it makes the whole thing unique and intriguing. The whole piece even has a foreign flavor to it, but is guaranteed to blend in with any sort of décor, being so versatile.