The holiday season isn’t just a time for gifts. It’s also a time for re-decorating. In recent years, traditional holiday decor has stayed in storage and been replaced with more contemporary styles. While social media has influenced this trend, it’s not the only reason. Laurence Carr who is the CEO and Founder of Laurence Carr Design explains why. “The traditional holiday style has not kept pace with modern lives and families living far away from each other. People are looking for a feeling of comfort and warmth with personalized holiday decor, such as unique, simple touches or small takeaways like candles. They are also embracing simplicity as a way of distressing from this hectic time of the year.”
It’s time to say goodbye to green and white and consider these holiday decorating ideas instead.
A few years after a first encounter at Cafe Milano, Rebecca Grunfeld, an attorney, and Ryan Samuel, a real-estate developer, bumped into one another at a Wizards game (her dad is team general manager Ernie Grunfeld). A few weeks later, Ryan called Rebecca to ask her out for coffee, which turned into watching the US men’s soccer team in a World Cup game at Logan Tavern, followed by an early bite at Le Diplomate. On Rebecca’s grandparents’ wedding anniversary a few years later, Ryan proposed in the home he and Rebecca had bought and renovated.
They married in an intimate ceremony at Rebecca’s parents’ house, where Rebecca’s sister-in-law officiated and Ryan’s two children (Rebecca’s “bonus babies”) read a book they made for the bride entitled Ten Things We Love About Becky. In the pool, inflatable swans adorned with floral wreaths added a whimsical touch, and reception decor included embroidered napkins, Chinese statues representing good health and happiness, and Rebecca’s mother’s china. For dinner: a family recipe for Caesar salad, beef tenderloin, penne alla vodka, and mushroom risotto. Dessert included mini cupcakes, Rice Krispie treats, and brownies à la mode, plus a vanilla funfetti wedding cake with strawberry buttercream.
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Denver’s decorating scene is better than ever, especially when it comes to locally owned boutiques: There’s one for every design style, whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, midcentury-modern enthusiast, or someone whose aesthetic defies definition.
1. Bloom By Anuschka
Neighborhoods: Cherry Creek North and Union Station
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she must have felt a bit like customers do upon entering this Cherry Creek boutique for the first time: completely enchanted. “The stores are supposed to feel like a fantasy world, a curated treasure hunt,” says owner Anuschka Pashel, who opened a sister store at Union Station in 2014. A former model who began traveling the world at 18, Pashel now brings the world to her storefront: You might spot a 6-foot-tall Balinese carved-stone sculpture, paintings by European artists Sabine Maes and Matti Berglund, ceramic origami-inspired incense holders, and a Brazilian quartz-crystal cluster (a striking focal point for your foyer) that weighs more than 200 pounds. What’s New: A collection of Moroccan wool rugs, from Beni Ourains to flatweaves, picked by Pashel. 300 University Blvd. and 1701 Wynkoop St.
2. The Lark
Neighborhood: Denver Country Club
If House Beautiful magazine were a shop, it might well be the Lark, a Dutch-doored storefront that’s lured traditional types with ginger-jar lamps, fox figurines, and boxwood topiaries since it opened in Country Club in 1970. “It’s so Larky is one of my favorite sayings!” says owner Jill Livran. Locals stop in for tins of key-lime cooler cookies from Savannah, Georgia, and Simon Pearce’s glassware, hand-blown in Vermont. What’s New: Refillable, liquid paraffin oil taper and pillar candles from New York-based Lucid Candles—buy once, use forever. 1219 E. Fourth Ave.
3. Eron Johnson Antiques
Neighborhood: Athmar Park
Eron Johnson was a high schooler when he began salvaging doors, mantels, and stained glass from 19th-century Denver homes marked for demolition, an obsession that led him to found his namesake store in 1972. His new location on South Lipan Street—open by appointment—is an antiques cache worthy of however much time it takes you to explore the depth of its riches. Here, you’ll find everything from pieces of an oak-paneled room from 16th century Suffolk, England (once part of the collection of the Denver Art Museum and now yours for a cool $190,000), to an early-20th-century cast-aluminum streetlight from Chicago’s Burnham Harbor. But don’t be daunted by the grandeur: Many pieces are priced under $500. What’s New: Current inventory includes design names you know and love—architectural pieces by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, glass from Louis Comfort Tiffany, and original furniture designed by Swiss starchitect Pierre Jeanneret. 377 S. Lipan St.
4. Lulu’s Furniture & Décor
For proof that change is good, look to mother/daughter duo Christy Brant and Caitlin Marsh, who moved their beloved Lulu’s from LoHi to Englewood in April. Now, floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light to illuminate their hand-picked wares, including copper windows salvaged from New York City’s Hotel McAlpin and a modular sectional from Robin Bruce that transforms into multiple configurations. “We strongly believe that good design should be functional and doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive,” Brant says. Further evidence that the boutique is relatable, not stuffy: the shop dog, Whistlepig. What’s New: Canadian furniture line Sunpan—a fount of clean-lined pieces—and Zents, a Colorado-based toiletries collection with scents like fig and water. 3475 S. University Blvd., Englewood
Neighborhood: Cherry Creek North
The ironic thing about a store called Homebody—which debuted in October 2017—is that it’s a favorite among the most well-traveled design connoisseurs. Owner Dory Pratt scours the continents for design finds, from a 1970 abstract painting unearthed at a Paris flea market to an $8 set of mother-of-pearl-and-wood caviar spoons. “Opening Homebody allowed me to do two of my favorite things for a living: travel and shop,” Pratt says. She’s also the consummate hostess: The shop has a complimentary coffee bar and wraps gifts—gratis—in their signature botanical-print paper. What’s New: Homebody is now selling Swedish Byredo fragrances and Astier de Villatte ceramics made from black clay and finished with a snow-white glaze—both excellent gifts for design-lovers this season.
Creating a connected home doesn’t have to mean expensive 4K security cameras and elaborate alarm systems. I’ve long argued that smart lighting is the easiest, most accessible way to tech out your house, and LIFX’s bulbs, which I’ve been using for years, are seeing some pretty great discounts for Black Friday.
They might sound superfluous at first, and smart bulbs are energy-efficient and let you cycle through different colors and brightness levels throughout the day. Maybe you want your lights to come on automatically in the mornings, set to a dimmed level, and go off at a certain time every night. Maybe you’re just bored of regular white or yellow lighting and want to make the house look purple or green.
You can control your smart bulbs through the LIFX app or with your voice assistant on either your phone or a smart speaker, and LIFX integrates with services like IFTTT to create automated actions — I have the kitchen lights set to turn on automatically if I come home after 8 PM, but there are all sorts of cause-and-effect recipes you can create depending on what other connected devices you have sitting around.
Smart bulbs are a great gateway into building out a smarter, more convenient home.
LIFX offers its smart bulbs in different sizes and made for different mounts to accommodate as many people as possible, but most buyers will do best with the A19 multi-color bulb. It’s discounted from $60 to $40 for Black Friday, and while that sounds pricey for a light bulb, it’s rated to last for up to a whopping 22.8 years — half of the bulbs in my house are LIFX A19s, and none of them have shown any signs of aging or degrading. If you prefer the BR30 shape, you can grab that for the same discounted price.
I also have a few LIFX Minis for the kitchen and bathroom, where I don’t necessarily need the full 1100 lumens of the A19. They work in exactly the same ways, but come in a smaller, slightly dimmer (800 lumens) bulb that works well for small lighting fixtures like desk lamps. While they’re usually $45, you can pick them up right now for $30.
I love LIFX, but a lot of my friends and colleagues are equally happy with Philips Hue’s smart bulbs, and as luck would have it, their selection is pretty heavily discounted for Black Friday, too. Whichever bulbs you get, smart lights are fun, convenient, and more practical than you might think. This is as good a time as ever to buy a bulb or two — or to refit your entire house, your choice.
DUBAI – A team from Virginia Tech is currently in Dubai, building a home for the future in an international competition, and they need your help to win.
The group of Hokies is the only American team, and is building and designing a futuristic smart home — FutureHAUS Dubai — in the Solar Decathlon Middle East competition. The project will allow for a home building process so efficient it can be built in a single day.
The past two decades of America’s war on terror have taken a high toll on those who served in those conflicts. While medical technology has gotten better over time, the number of service members who are coming back with post-traumatic stress injuries and missing limbs has climbed higher over time. But one charitable organization is taking a futuristic approach to veterans’ post-modern challenges by designing smart homes for them that are designed to empower them with real independence.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, based in Staten Island, New York, is working with general contractors and architects to design and build smart homes that are specifically designed to meet the needs of disabled veterans. Thus far, the foundation has spent over $60 million on more than 75 smart homes toward a goal of building 200 smart homes for wounded and injured service members. It’s similar to what award-winning actor Gary Sinise is doing with his own foundation to help veterans.
The smart home technology that the foundation employs in these smart homes for veterans is not only, well, smart but also clever and purposeful. Among a variety of smart features, the homes employ a multi-zone audio system for the treatment of post-traumatic stress injury, motorized entry and exit doors, and a centralized phone system with room-to-room intercom and front door communications.
To make veterans feel secure, the smart homes come with a day and night surveillance system that covers the entire outside perimeter while all doors and windows are wired into a fully monitored security system. Modern touches like intelligent thermostats, automatic door locks, and automatic toilet bowls add another layer of comfort while the entire house can be controlled via smartphone, iPad or voice. The joint even has a backup generator in case the power goes out.
“Our mission is to show our gratitude for the sacrifices and service of the U.S. Armed Services returning from war who have been catastrophically injured by building smart technology homes so they can regain their independence,” the foundation says of its purposeful endeavors. “Smart homes technology has a myriad of features designed to accommodate wheelchairs and give our catastrophically injured service members independence and safety at home.”
The program is restricted to members of the U.S. Armed Forces whose combat experience or training for deployment have resulted in serious injuries including paraplegia, quadriplegia, and multiple amputations. However, the Smart Home Program is only one part of a multi-pronged approach to supporting veterans that includes paying off mortgages for service members and first responders who have been injured or killed, supporting Gold Star families, and educating citizens via a traveling exhibit about 9/11 as well as a National Run, Walk and Climb series of public events. The foundation was formed to honor firefighter Stephen Siller of Brooklyn’s Squad 1, who lost his life responding to the events of 9/11.
The dining room of the home is many times the last-in-line to be decorated and styled. Many think as soon as you select a table and chairs the project is complete, but actually, that is not true. The dining room is the gathering place for family meals and memories and should not be an afterthought or the dumping ground for bills and paperwork. Some homes are designed with a more casual eat-in kitchen dining table and no dining room. For the purpose of this article, we are discussing homes that have a dedicated dining room although some of these rules can also apply to the eat-in kitchen.
Choosing a table and chairs: The first decision is the table and chairs. Selecting a style that flows with the rest of your home is as important as the dining room is usually open to the other public areas of the home. In deciding on the table and chairs, consideration should be given to the size of the room. Guests should be able to freely move around the table when other guests are seated especially when the table isn’t expanded. Many tables have leaves for added length and some are self-storing leaves. Most dining rooms cannot accommodate a fully expanded table for everyday use; plus, you may only expand your table two to three times each year, so most of the “rules” are for the everyday size of the dining table. Just keep in mind the furniture needs to be in proportion to the size of the room.
Storage needs: Next question is do you plan on having storage pieces like a sideboard, buffet or hutch? It is very nice to have storage for silverware, serving pieces, linens, china, etc. I have often seen homeowners struggle with the furniture placement of these types of pieces in the dining room especially if the chandelier was hung in the center of the room. That is because when a hutch or buffet is added, it can shift the center of the dining table to one side making the chandelier off center from the table.
Lighting: Speaking of lighting, most dining rooms will have a chandelier over the table or sometimes two. The lighting of a dining room should be dimmable so to keep ambiance as warm and inviting. The traditional height of a chandelier is 30 inches above the table for an 8-foot ceiling height to the bottom of the fixture, but as with all rules, exceptions can apply. Typically, you would add 3 inches for each additional foot of height. The size of a chandelier should be 12 inches less than the table width for a rule of thumb.
Area rugs: Your choice of an area rug also has an important role. Color, texture, and style will definitely influence the style and design of the room. If the rugs from the living room, entry, or other adjacent areas are visible, the rugs by no means need to match. They just need to coordinate and flow with each other. The dining room rug needs to be two feet wider than the table on each side, or in other words, four feet longer than the length and four feet wider than the width. This allows dining guests’ chairs to remain on the rug without the back legs falling off the edge of the rug.
Walls and windows: Wallpaper is reemerging as a strong accent and the dining room is the perfect room of your home to show off a wow factor. Paired with wainscoting, wallpaper can be the star even in a neutral color palette. Another wow factor to consider in the dining room is custom window treatments. The style of your home will dictate whether luxurious floor-length drapery or a simpler top treatment is in order, but the perfect finishing touch in the dining room is definitely a beautifully crafted window treatment.
So as we enter the holiday season, take a critical look at your dining room to see if it is living up to its potential. Enjoy entertaining by having your dining room attractive and well-designed.