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The Best Way to Heat a Family Room

Heating a family room can be challenging depending on its location. Wherever your family room is located, it’s important to be comfortable and warm during all seasons so that your family can enjoy the space it is named for. Select the best way to heat your family room by considering the options available, determining how location effects heating choices, and calculating cost, labor and materials.
Heat this room properly


  1. Measure your family room to determine the size room you’ll need to heat. Forced air or central heating is ideal for large spaces, such as a 400 square foot family room. Radiant heating is ideal for smaller spaces, such as a 170 square foot family room, because no duct work or electrical installation is required and they are cost effective when used in moderation.
  2. Base your heating method on the room’s location. The most cost efficient way to heat a room is to keep the heat from leaving the room through windows, doors, baseboards or open areas. If your family room has a sliding glass door, lots of windows or is in a central location where the heat might disperse into other areas, you may want to consider a heating option ideal for larger spaces.
  3. Calculate cost, labor and materials. Gas or oil based heating systems are the cheapest to install and sell for $200 to $1,000 at major home improvement stores. Central systems heat specific rooms or sections of a house at a time and cost around $6,000 installed depending on your location. Space heaters, fireplaces, and propane heaters can be purchased from $20 to $80 and can be easily installed by the homeowner.
  4. Check the house blueprints to discover any features that might prevent you from installing the heating system of your choice. For example, to install a fireplace, the chute and chimney must be built into the original house plans unless you plan to install a stand-alone fireplace. Examining the blueprints will help you ensure there is room for plumbing, electrical duct work and any duct work the heating system of your choice might require.

P. Allen Smith Talks About the Garden Home Challenge

P. Allen Smith Talks About the Garden Home Challenge

From his design and garden empire just outside Little Rock, Arkansas, P. Allen Smith advises his audience on thousands of ways to improve their lives and make their homes more beautiful.

In his latest project, the Garden Home Challenge, the television host and author is hosting a web series on the eHow Home YouTube channel that documents his pledge to build a home for his brother, sister-in-law and their two children with only $150,000 for materials and labor … and in only 150 days.

And if that’s not challenging enough, Smith is also building green, to ensure that the 1,650-square-foot home saves energy and is environmentally friendly.

Where did you get the idea for the Garden Home Challenge?

P. Allen Smith: I love to build things, and I love to show people how to build and transform things. Building a house that many people could afford was very appealing to me. I was also really intrigued with the idea of a challenge. There are so many poorly designed and built houses, and I just thought: Can’t we do something that’s green, energy efficient, stylish and uncomplicated, at a price that people can afford? The national average for home prices is in the $200,000 range, and so many people have these speculative houses that just seem hollow and soul-less. I thought, “What if we came up with a plan for $150,000 that had plenty of space, a good floor plan and some real soul to it?” I wanted to use this as almost a canvas to do something very creative by using existing materials in a different kind of way that cuts costs and raises that charm factor. People think that building a home takes a long time, like a year. But it doesn’t have to take that long if you have everything organized.

Can you describe the Garden Home’s look and layout?

PAS: It’s got a “Southern Farmhouse Chic” look. It’s 1,650 square feet, and has three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. There’s a large common area for dining and gathering — a sort of living room-dining room combination. There’s a mud room for laundry, a kitchen, a home office, and the master bedroom has a bathroom and a large master closet, and each of the bedrooms has its own closet. There’s also a front and a back porch.

What were the planning process and initial phases like?

PAS: I’ve always been a doodler. I’m doodling right now, actually. For about a month off and on, I created a set of drawings for the home. First it was 2,000 square feet, and then I cut it down to 1,650 square feet. I thought about things like in the bedroom, is there enough room to get into the closet that’s right near the double bed? Some things I design as we go along. Then I sat down with my builder and asked him: Don’t you think we can get this thing done in five months? (Even though we started building in November and had no idea what the winter would be like.) Luckily, it was a mild winter so that didn’t delay the roofing. When we finally got the floor down and I saw the footprint of the house, I thought, “Wow, this will be huge,” and then the walls went up and I thought, “Oh it’s small.” So I tried to make the house feel larger, using 10-foot-tall ceilings and really light colors on the walls and dark colors for the ceilings — that’s a decorator trick to make a room feel larger. When you are building green, you often have to wait for materials because they aren’t always stocked. We tried to use as many stock materials as we could so that everyone watching could say: “I could go to my local lumber yard or home improvement sore and I could do that!” I will say that it does take a lot of personal time to shop and to save money. People need to realize that. I’ve taken weeks to find good deals on lumber and light fixtures and do craft projects. I’m not advocating putting up finished walls and floors yourselves, but a homeowner should be hands-on and engaged on a daily basis in the building, and that takes time. If you do it all yourself, make sure you allow that time.

What did you learn from others on the project?


PAS: I talked a lot to my construction crew. They’re local guys who have done a lot of building. I asked them: “You’ve been building homes your entire lives, show me where people often make mistakes and how I can save money.” They taught me that if you can get a good brick mason who can lay the foundation just right and be really precise, it will look so good you don’t have to veneer it with brick. A member of the crew suggested going to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore that sells new and reused materials. We got our kitchen cabinets there that were brand new, but the wrong size for another house, and we got them for $500. I then showed the cabinets to my carpenter who matched it to wood we found at the salvage yard, using the same trim board. We painted them both white, so it all matched.

What other ways did you use re-purposed materials?

PAS: One of the things we thought would be less expensive and more sustainable was that instead of using drywall for the walls, we would create our own using second-grade lumber. We used pine that is locally produced that wasn’t the top grade lumber, and that cut costs. Second-grade lumber is perfectly safe to build with, it has just little flaws, maybe the board is bowed or there are a lot of knots. To us, more knots mean more character. The price of using second-grade lumber and running the boards horizontally proved to be less expensive than doing drywall. We also created another form of drywall using particle board that we bought for $9 a sheet and covered in burlap for 6 cents a yard, using Elmer’s glue. We painted it over, and that was my drywall. For the ceilings in the master bedroom and kitchen, we used galvanized corrugated barn tin, which is typically used for roofing. We also used scraps to create wainscoting in the entry way and wood blocks that are cut to look like stone for the entry hall. The blocks are beveled so that they look like cut stone, and that was less expensive and stylish. I got the idea from George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon, the exterior looks like stone, but was actually wood. We spent a lot of time at salvage yards. That’s where I found some the cabinet doors that we used for wall paneling to go around the living/dining room. We used 16 doors that were $5 each.

What are the energy saving aspects of the Garden Home?

PAS: There are ways to isolate the heating and air conditioning in a room that can cut your energy use by 75 percent if you only heat or cool the rooms that you are in. The first step in saving money is to make sure that the house has no energy leaks. We used soybean foam insulation, and the house is very tight. We also used energy-efficient windows and doors that have the highest Energy Star rating. Someone from the energy office out here has come by to make sure we’re getting it right, and at the end of the project we’ll have a final test where they’ll actually put a blower in the house and build up pressure in the house to see if there are any leaks. We decided not to do solar panels in the house because it wasn’t in our budget, but I would love to put solar panels on the garage as maybe the next phase of this project.

What’s been your favorite part of the project so far?

PAS: I’m a junk hound. I loved finding things and figuring out fun ways to use them. It was fun to be constrained by the budget because we had to figure out how to do things stylishly without breaking the bank. There are a lot of flea markets and antique malls in Arkansas, and I found an antebellum plantation desk from 1830 with a mahogany exterior that was in really rough shape. I bought it for $300 and painted it a sassy blue. I also love the fact that we used wood on the walls instead of drywall, and that we built the floors with second grade pine instead of drywall floors. I loved decorating the home, some of the art that we have is coming from programs where people who have disabilities sell their paintings, and I’m glad we’re supporting causes like that.

What are some unanticipated challenges that you’ve faced building the Garden Home?

PAS: They were all little challenges. One was getting the plug sockets in the right place with the cabinet doors that we used as paneled walls. I should have done the math and told the electrician to put the plugs between the panels, so some of them had to go into the panels. Another big surprise was the cost of the interior doors. We went to a junk stores and found a recycled front door for $100 that was 100 years old. We thought, “Piece of cake! Easy to install.” But that was just the price of the door. To complete the door, it needs to be mounted in a door frame and when you added it all up, it turned out to be $450 a door. We decided on a simpler door and had the carpenter apply our own moulding to the door and give it a simple trim. So in the end, it cost us $130 a door for eight doors using our own moulding and trimmings. Rather than spend nearly $4,000, we spent $1,000 for eight doors.

The home is for your brother, Chris, and sister-in-law, Joyce, and their children. Can you talk about what he means to you and how your background has shaped your design aesthetic?

PAS: My brother and his wife manage my farm and live on the property in another house. This will be a nice new home for them. Our father died when we were very young — I was 12 and he was 8, and we’ve remained close our whole lives. I’m very much design oriented and he’s very mechanical; he’s a big equipment kind of guy. In addition to managing the farm, he works with the livestock and barn and paddocks, cutting hay and overseeing the garden. We both grew up on a farm and love rural pursuits, and we grew up with not a lot of money and always had to figure out how to do things in an affordable way. My mother was a great decorator and did everything on a budget. They say that the only thing worse than having lived through the Depression was being raised by someone who went through the Depression, and that was us. She had a great eye for shopping, and I learned a lot from her. Rather than reupholster, she slip-covered everything. I used that in the Garden Home Challenge. We slip-covered a couple of old chairs from the 1930s that we found. My mother was also notorious for painting sub-grade furniture, and we painted a lot of furniture in the Garden Home.

What are some easy ways that homeowners can create a green home? Any clever tricks?

PAS: The first thing people can do is make sure they are using fluorescent light bulbs in their homes. Also, try to plug all the energy leaks in your home. There are lots of things you can do, such as adding weather stripping.

Do you think you’ll meet your goal?

PAS: I think so. We are very nervous though. I’m chewing my nails and getting very creative on some things. I might have gotten a little carried away with the landscaping, but I think we’ll meet our goal, and they’ll be moving in by the middle to end of June 2012.

How to Decorate My New House

Decorate your new home to reflect your personal style.

After going through the trials and tribulations of purchasing a new house, the idea of decorating it may be a bit intimidating. Before diving in and decorating the entire house at once, take it one room at a time and you’ll feel less stressed. Make a plan for each room and when one room is completed, move on to the next one and before you know it, the entire house will be decorated.


  1. Write down a plan for each room. Decide what look you want to create for each room and write down the elements that you think you’ll need to create each look. If necessary, consult home design books and magazines. Think about color palettes, fabrics, furnishings and accessories.
  2. Assign a rank of importance to each room. There are likely some rooms in your home that you likely want to have decorated as soon as you move in and others that can wait a while. For instance, the kitchen and living room may be of utmost importance to you, or the bathrooms and bedrooms. Tackling the rooms that are most important to you first will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your new home.
  3. Determine the necessities. If you’re moving from one home to another, you will likely be able to use several of the items from your old home in your new home. Go through what you already own and decide what you can use. If this is your first home, you will probably need to go shopping for the materials. Even if it isn’t your first home, you may want to add a few new touches to the home. Come up with a specific, or at least a vague list of things you need to serve as a reference point while you shop.


  1. Jump into decorating after you’ve sorted through and collected all of your goods. Start by painting or wallpapering the walls.
  2. Arrange the furnishings. Start with the largest pieces–a bed and dressers, for example–as they will become the focal pieces of the rooms they are in. Once you’ve established where you want to position the bigger pieces, bringing in the smaller items, such as chairs, bedside tables and bookshelves.
  3. Tie the look of the room together with accessories. Hang the curtains, display pictures, stack books, set out vases and any other accessory that you think will complete the room. Even if you don’t get every accessory that you want in the room, the major decorating will be complete; adding accents and personal touches down the road is easy to do.

How to Spray Fruit Trees in the Home Garden

There are many pests and diseases that can make fruit inedible, so spraying fruit trees is a necessity if you want healthy trees and fruit in most parts of the country, unless you are in a particularly favorable area. Both organic and chemical sprays are available.
Protect your fruit trees from pests and diseases.


  1. Choose one of the many products on the market for fruit tree spraying. Many of the most commonly used ingredients are also organic and include mineral oil — which is usually used to suffocate insect pests — and copper and sulfur — which work well against fungus. No sulfur products should be used on apricot trees. You should also wait for 30 days before using sulfur after any oil spray treatments. Kaolin clay — a white powder usually used as a paper whitener — can also be sprayed to repel many pests.
  2. Choose a calm day to spray. Thoroughly cover the tree from branch tips to the base of the trunk. You can also spray under the tree and around the roots. Most sprays are toxic to fish, so make sure there will be no drifting of chemicals near a pond. When using any spray, even an organic one, it is always wise to wear gloves and glasses.
  3. Schedule fruit tree spraying in accordance with your local climate, pests, and type of tree. In general, you will want to do at least one dormant oil spray in the winter when the trees are leafless, a fungicide spray before the flower buds open, and at least one spray after all the flower petals have dropped. Never spray when any flowering is taking place since you do not want to harm the bees.

How to Decorate Waterfront Homes

You more than likely enjoy the beach and water if you live in a waterfront home. Decorate your waterfront home with relaxing, peaceful decor that incorporates the outdoor elements you enjoy most. Keep your decor light and airy so your home feels like an extension of nature. Use the view and immediate surroundings as inspiration, whether you opt for a formal or casual style.


  1. Decide on your color schemes, decorating style and whether each room will have its own color scheme or if you’ll weave the same colors throughout the entire house. Decorate one room at a time to achieve the best results, as you’ll be focused rather than overwhelmed with an entire house to decorate.
  2. Paint the room with a neutral or soft color that flows with the scenic nature seen from the window. Cream, tan or beige walls mirror the sandy beach, while light blue echoes the sky. Sea foam green, coral or other coastal colors are also appropriate. Avoid stark white unless you want a contemporary style that contrasts with the outdoors. Or combine a stark white with a darker blue for a lighthouse or nautical look.
  3. Place throw rugs on wood or tile floors for comfort. Go with a bamboo rug if you want a tropical or natural feel or a thick, plush rug for a luxurious feel. Throw rugs are easier to clean than wall-to-wall carpet when you come in from the water.
  4. Furnish the room with comfortable seating areas and practical furniture in cream, beige, turquoise or light blue to complement a natural look. Light or white-washed wood complements a casual or beach-style room. White, red, dark blue or chocolate brown wood furniture can add to a nautical or formal look. Use just a hint of the darker colors as they’ll contrast with the lighter colors and scenic views from the windows. Wicker furniture goes with a casual beach cottage style.
  5. Hang artwork or pictures on the walls that complement the decor. Ocean, lake or beach scenes are fitting, as are black-and-white matted photos that you’ve taken yourself. Hang candle sconces or leave the walls alone if the room has large picture windows with a perfect view of the water. Shadowboxes full of seashells or other items you’ve collected from your yard can add texture and color to your walls without taking away from the view.
  6. Add linens, such as duvets for the bedroom or throws for the family room, that are soft to your touch. Neutral colors will fade into the room without distracting from the views, while simple patterns, such as stripes or seashells, can add visual interest.
  7. Install simple window treatments that don’t distract from your view. Sheer curtains will work in casual or formal rooms without blocking the view. Simple roman shades or roll-up shades will serve as privacy and light control options without getting in the way of the scenery.
  8. Accessorize the room with specific colors, shapes and textures to pull your color scheme or theme together. For example, lamps with blue and green sea glass embellishments would complement a living room or bedroom with that color scheme. Add throw pillows, candles, seashell arrangements, model ships or items with motifs, such as palm trees, lighthouses or anchors.

Where Wallpaper and Furniture Meet

If you are like many of us, after that last day spent with a steamer and scraper, you said, “never again.” But wallpaper is back in big way and the trend shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Whether you want to make a bold statement with large patterns and rich colors or introduce subtle sophistication with tone-on-tone patterns, there are more options available than ever.

Brightly colored pieces like these McCartney chairs in
Elmo Soft Strawberry Fields can provide color cues for wallpaper.

Your American Leather furniture can inspire your wallpaper selection. A brightly hued upholstered or leather piece can provide a color cue for your wall-covering; simply choose a pattern that incorporates the color somewhere in the design or let your furniture take center stage with a solid or slightly textured wallpaper as a backdrop. Neutral leather or fabric can be paired with almost any wallpaper motif and can be accessorized with pillows that pick up color, pattern, or themes of your wallpaper. If your sofa or chair has a bold pattern, that doesn’t mean your wallpaper can’t have a design as well just make sure the patterns ‘play well’ together so they don’t create visual noise in your space.

For those who prefer matching wallpaper exactly to upholstery—another trend making a comeback—American Leather can help you accomplish that unified look in which furniture seemingly becomes part of the background rather than standing out. If your wallpaper has a matching fabric available, we can cover your American Leather chairs or sofa in the material you provide. Simply ask your retailer about the Customer Owned Material (or COM) option.

Putting the “New” in Neutrals

The American Leather Inspiration Sectional shown
with a table from the Phillips Collection and Creative Accents rug

Nothing is more soothing than a neutral color palette, especially in today’s technologically-driven world where the senses are continually overloaded with images and information. Make your home a relaxing haven by introducing a calming design scheme centered on furniture and accent pieces in neutral tones.

Neutrals go beyond beige, and with the right accents are anything but boring. Neutrals never go out of fashion and are essentially timeless, but there are several ways you can keep your neutrals on-trend while maintaining the classic calm they impart.

For the most up-to-date neutral décor, think neutral AND natural. Introduce accent items made from or inspired by things found in nature. The Phillips Collection, for example, offers a variety of tables and accent pieces created from petrified wood and other materials. Branches, stones, and dried flowers also make excellent touches. Rugs are another great way to add visual interest and an organic feel, even while maintaining the same tones found in your furniture pieces. Creative Accents offers custom-made rugs with designs that call to mind the ripples found on a beach at low tide or the moon reflecting on still water, among other nature-themed motifs.

The American Leather Nash paired with a Creative Accents rug.

Mixing different textures in the same color is another way to create visual depth in a neutral palette. Adding accents, like pillows, in darker and lighter shades of the same hue also add dimension and help your avoid a rigidly monotone or overly stark look. You can also combine complementary neutral shades like brown and beige for a warm look or gray and white for a cooler effect.


Not only can you relax in your neutral environment, you can relax about it as well. The best thing about decorating with neutrals? It’s nearly impossible to go wrong.

Leather Furniture Care: The Whole Truth (and Nothing But)

If you’re like most consumers, when it comes to shopping for new home furnishings, there may be some lingering doubts about what furniture is best for you and your home. And if you are like many furniture buyers, you may be unsure if leather furniture is right for your home, or even how to find the leather that best fits your décor and lifestyle.To help consumers in this buying process, American Leather, a leading Dallas-based manufacturer of premium leather and upholstered furniture, has addressed the most common myths and misperceptions about leather furniture – and the real truths that will have consumers making their next purchase in complete confidence:

Myth: Leather furniture just doesn’t last.

Fact: The truth is, leather furniture is something you buy for a lifetime. Since leather is a natural product, aging brings out its natural patina making it even more beautiful over time. And since leather furniture is something you can enjoy for years to come, this is a purchase that makes a sound investment –– and one that gives you excellent returns, time and time again.

Myth: Leather furniture is too expensive.

Fact: You don’t have to be rich to enjoy leather furniture – just smart. Since leather is a product that lasts four times longer than fabric, leather furniture is a great investment for your home that you can enjoy for many years to come. After all, don’t you deserve beautiful comfort that lasts?

Myth: Leather furniture is too hard to care for.

Fact: This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Just use a conditioner every 6-12 months and wipe up spills as they occur with a clean cloth. You should actually avoid using your normal cleaning supplies—like soaps, detergents, solvents, etc. Can it get any easier than that?

Myth: Leather furniture is easily damaged by kids and animals.

Fact: Unless your dog thinks your new leather couch is a chew toy or your cat thinks it’s a scratching post, your leather furniture is as safe as any other furniture in the house. For more peace of mind, buy furniture with a pigmented finish coat. It helps protect the leather so you can let your pets and your kids sit on the couch with no more than the usual worries.

Myth: Leather furniture is limited in where it can go in the house.

Fact: Even though leather furniture is traditionally seen in living rooms, dens and family rooms, don’t let that hold you back. Surprise your friends with the versatility of leather furniture. Use it in unexpected places like your kitchen or bedroom for a look that is super stylish and trendsetting as well.

Myth: Leather furniture is either too cold in winter and/or too hot in summer.

Fact: You must be thinking about those leather seats in your car. Of course they get hot in summer and cold in winter, especially if you park outside. But if you keep your leather furniture indoors like most folks (trendsetters beware!), you’ll find that in the winter, it warms to your body heat, and in the summer since it’s natural and can breathe, it stays pleasantly cool, and even adapts to the temperature set in your home. Just keep it out of the direct sunlight.

For more information on leather furniture and leather furniture care and cleaning tips, visit American Leather’s web site at

Distressing New Leather Furniture {DIY}

There’s nothing like a distressed, old, leather, vintage club chair to add warmth and character to a room. No?

I’ve always wanted one, of course, my pockets aren’t deep enough to afford a real vintage leather club chair. Instead, I bought this leather chair and ottoman (below), and it’s great, in a nice, shiny, brand spankin’ new kind of way. It’s actually several years old, but it looks as new as the day I bought it. My hopes for this chair and ottoman were that they would wear and look distressed over time. This wasn’t happening fast enough, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and speed the aging process.

I found this leather club chair at Overstock. It is a little more affordable (but currently out of stock) and I really didn’t want to have to buy a new chair anyway. It did serve as my inspiration for this project though.

I used a combination of these two tutorials on e-how, found here and here, to take my just-off-the-factory-floor-looking leather chair and ottoman from shiny and new to vintage and distressed.

Here’s how I did it.


rubbing alcohol
spray bottle
220 grit fine sandpaper
blow dryer
old rags
I decided to take advantage of our hot desert sun and moved the chair and ottoman onto the back patio.
I sprayed them down with rubbing alcohol that I had put into a spray bottle. (And if you follow my blog and read this post, then you know that I have a ton of rubbing alcohol. I have absolutely no idea why? Aspirations of becoming a school nurse one day?) Sorry, tangents.  I sprayed them about three times, letting them dry completely before spraying it again.

Next, I sanded them down all over with the 220 grit sandpaper. I used the same principles of distressing as I would use when distressing a piece of wood furniture. I sanded more on areas that get worn naturally over time, like the edges of the frame, on the tops of the arms, the top of the seat and on the back of the chair where someone’s head would rub. I did try using a medium grit sandpaper, but it made the leather feel too rough. So, I stuck with the 220 grit and just sanded more in the areas where I wanted more distressing and wear.

I could see a difference pretty quickly and liked how things were going.

After some sanding, I wiped them down with a wet rag to get the grit off so I could see where I needed to sand more.

I brought the chair and ottoman inside, but they weren’t looking as distressed as I wanted them to.

I sprayed them with more of the alcohol.

Then, because I’m impatient, I blow dried them. This lightened up the leather and gave it a more mottled appearance like my inspiration chair.

After more spraying with the alcohol and blow drying, I was finally happy with the outcome.

Now, they look much more interesting to me. They look warm and inviting, like they’ve been around for decades and have stories to tell.

I’m in love with my new old chair.
Here’s what I’ve done in the living room so far:
1.  Added bookcases.
2.  Gave our coffee table a makeover.
3.  Painted the back of the bookcases black and finally accessorized them!
4.  Got a beautiful new new rug.
5. Gave a side table a makeover.
I’m working on a mini-makeover of this little club chair area and I can’t wait to show you the killer floor lamp I scored at Goodwill!
Thanks for stopping by today and taking the time to read my blog.

Leather Couch

Reader Lynda Schnute writes from Richmond, VA: “We purchased a leather couch, loveseat, and two ottomans and paid quite a bit. Within a couple of months, the backs and sides and under the arms became sticky to the touch. You could literally stick to it! We battled with the store for six months before they replaced the pieces. Now, another five months has passed and the replacement pieces are getting sticky — especially on the backs and under the arms. They said it was top quality leather and it is from a good store. We do have a fireplace, but Inever heard that you couldn’t have leather in a room with a fireplace. What do we do?” The Bargain Shopper answers: Tanning processes vary from tradition to tradition, and it truly sounds like the leather used to make your furniture may not have been tanned properly.

Meanwhile — especially if you have the furniture in a room that is heated by a fireplace — I may have some solutions to help alleviate the problem to some degree. But that will also depend on where you live and the availability of “remedies.”First of all, you should go over all sticky areas lightly with a soft cloth that is only DAMPENED with clean, lukewarm water (wring it out well). Wipe the sticky surfaces smoothly and fan-dry, if possible (an electric hair-dryer will work). You may have to do this several times, to remove any sticky residue.

The process involved with tanning leather removes salts from the hide, and adds certain chemicals. The natural pores of the leather may be clogged — or, the may be a waxy residue left over from improper finishing.

Either way, the steps you must take are to (a) clean the surface, to “unclog” the pores, and (b) to treat the surface so it remains supple, yet will not “attract” elements from the air and dust in the room that will contribute to it becoming sticky again. Basically, the fireplace is probably causing some tanning elements to “weep” out of the leather itself, so — although you cannot avoid stickiness in the future — you can certainly prevent it advancing to problem proportions again, but regular “maintenance” of the leather surfaces,.

Once you have sponged it off thoroughly (and I can’t emphasize enough NOT to use an overly wet cloth!), and dried it, you may notice that the surface is not as glossy as it once was. This is good. It shows that you have followed step one correctly. You should also notice that the surface is either not sticky, or far LESS sticky than before.

Next, you will want to clean the surface, to remove any residue of tanning chemicals that may have been drawn out of the leather by heat in the room. Believe it or not, Murphy’s Oil Soap — which depending where you live, you should be able to buy in a hardware store or supermarket (I have found the spray-bottle version at Target), is a very good product for cleaning sticky leather. (Be sure to lightly sponge it off first — don’t skip this step!)

Apply the Murphy’s oil again very lightly, and wipe completely dry. You might even be able to “polish” the leather surface a little as you do this, depending on how tautly the leather is drawn over the furniture.

If you cannot find Murphy’s Oil, a good brand of saddle soap will work well, b ut you have to use it more “wet,” so it does take longer to dry completely.

Lastly — but only when you are certain your furniture is COMPLETE DRY (maybe even let it “rest” overnight), spray all exposed sections of the leather surface with a good quality leather protection spray, such as you would use to waterproof a leather jacket or boots for outdoor wear. A good version is made by Kiwi. All the effective ones contain silicone.

Again, let your furniture dry thoroughly before you sit on it (overnight, at least), and be sure there is adequate ventilation before you spray, as well.

Periodically, you will have to redo this entire three-step treatment to maintain your furniture in non-sticky good health (and beauty).

It doesn’t sound like you will get any joy out of going back to the original store, despite the fact that you paid top dollar and are convinced of the high quality of your furniture, so I would just let it go. Meanwhile, you will probably find that with this regimen of maintenance, your furniture will give you no further problems, and will reward you with many years of happy — non-sticky — service.

~Debating Leather Furniture?~

I have a friend who is debating selling her furniture and going with brown leather.
So, this post is for her……..
A few inspiration pics of leather furniture to help you take the leap~if you want too!
I love this first photo.
 I think it’s because the majority of the room is white, the leather really stands out.
And I know this post is not about light fixtures, but WOW! 
 The combination of dark paint here and the leather makes this room very masculine, even though there is a very feminine chandelier in the room.
 I love this room!
Love the chesterfield sofa and I love the choice of pillows used on it.
I also love it when leather is paired with rustic wood like in this coffee table.
{see the first photo for another example of this}
 This room below from the Painted Hive is one of my all time favorites!
The light walls keep it fresh looking and still very cottagey. 
{is cottagey a word?}
 Again, loving the dark sofa with the light walls……..
 The map on the wall along with the trunk make this space more masculine.
 Very dark, yet super cozy.
 You know I love zebra, so I had to add this picture.
I love everything about this look.
 Add light bright pillows to keep the look from becoming too stuffy.
Again, the walls here are a light color~notice a trend?
 Darker walls and plaid make this space more masculine.
 My all time favorite couch is the chesterfield.
All that tufting is fabulous.
I think with kids though I’d worry about crumbs finding their way in.
 If you are not ready to take the plunge and do ALL leather furniture, you can add just one accent piece like I did. We have a slip covered beige sectional, but I still love the look of leather.
So I added this club chair I bought off of Craigslist for a steal.
You can see the full post of our living room makeover here.
 A few more examples of chairs only…..
 Craigslist is a great place to find leather furniture.
In my opinion, the more worn the better!
 Have you visited Copy Cat Chic?
{it’s on my sidebar}
I love this blog.
She shows you expensive furniture, accessories, etc. and then shows you where you can find it cheaper.
Take this Restoration Hardware sofa for example.
It retails for $3,995.00
 And this one, almost exactly the same for only $799!
 Again, this Restoration Hardware chair retails for $2,745.00
 This one, just $319.00!
I hope this helps Kelly!
All photos not credited I found on Pinterest.
Have a great Saturday!

How to Dye a Leather Sofa or Chair

For the past couple of weeks, I have been researching methods for dyeing leather furniture. My husband wants a recliner. {Cue record scratching sound effects.} The thing about recliners is that they are fantastically amazing to sit and recline in — which is why they are so popular. (This post is participating in Blogging a to Z. D is for Dye!)

The other thing about recliners? Most of them are, well, ugly. Annnnnnnd they are often so over-scaled they take up the entire room.
This is a typical recliner — gigantic and  man-cavish:

Furniture Outlet World

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a recliner like that one — they are, after all fantastically comfy, but everyone’s taste and space requirements are different, and what works for one person might not work for another. I would probably LOVE a hot pink Natuzzi recliner, but my husband would hate it (and I think it’s too big for the space — darn)!

Our living room is very small, so we can’t get something super over-stuffed and over-scaled, and our architecture is pretty traditional, so that dictates what will work in our space.

We’ve been everywhere looking at recliners — he hit La-Z-Boy and Recliner World on his own, then I dragged him around to some higher end stores. He sat, I measured, he reclined, I studied specs, he commented, I took notes. It went on and on. He wants comfort. I want that for him, but our city apartment is small, so scale is important — so is quality, and so is appearance.  We finally found this leather recliner from Ethan Allen, that has all the qualities we were looking for. This was the only recliner in their whole store that had a high enough back to support the head of an average height man when reclined.  The scale is actually pretty compact, which is good for urban living, but the chair is expensive, starting around $2000.  {Cue record scratching sound effects again!}

Ethan Allen

We started searching on Craigslist for a more affordable option, and found this beauty. She’s vintage Ethan Allen, blue, worn, and the mechanism is loose.  For thirty bucks, we decided to take a chance and buy it. Of course, the color is wrong. It’s a great color, but it just doesn’t work with our existing finishes and textiles.

I know we can tighten up the mechanism, but am not sure if we can successfully re-dye the chair a different color.  I once stripped a pair of little pink cowgirl boots, and re-dyed them to little brown cowboy boots, so I’m hopeful.

The local leather restoring company says they may be able to do it — for $800.  Ummmmm, no, I am not spending $800 to dye a $30 chair. Now, I am scouring the blogosphere and the YouTube world looking for inspiration (and tutorials).

Here are some bloggers who have successfully dyed their furniture:

This sofa, from The Crandall Family blog, was FREE, and the transformation is jaw dropping! Check out her tutorial here.

Erin, who blogs at Decorallure, ended up with this result, after applying some TLC to a free leather chair.

Alex, at Laughs Ideas Inspiration dyed an entire set of leather furniture. It was white when it started out, and had been scribbled on with markers! You really need to see this transformation to believe it!

At Weeds, The Flower Pot Blog, they give detailed instructions on how they redyed this sofa.

This armchair makeover from Lindsay and Drew is beautiful!

Kaysi, from Keeping it Simple made over this chair!

This Eames style chair was dyed over at Bungalow Ranch.

The next question is what color to try to dye our “new” recliner. The leather dyeing professional suggested that not all colors can successfully by used, as the old blue color can never be fully stripped away.  I suppose I can order some sample dyes and experiment under the cushion…. One concern was that it may be difficult to get a good brown over a dark blue, but maybe this pretty green would work?  Not sure my husband would like it, but I would LOVE it!

There are lots of YouTube videos and tutorials showing how to use specific (usually expensive products), and showing the process professional restorers use.  I don’t have a special paint gun, so I really need a product I can apply with an old sock.

I think if I keep things in the blue color spectrum, I will be successful — maybe a pretty teal?

How to Take Care Of Your Leather Sofa?

Once you have decided on the type of leather sofa for your home, you may feel the task is over. That’s not true; the grandeur of your living room totally relies upon the maintenance of the furnishing that occupies it. Leather sofas are an essential element of any living room. Hence, proper care is crucial to retain the charm and decorum of your drawing area.With the right maintenance, owners will find that their couch looks finer and better each year. Leather sofas are known for their durability, but it should still be handled with a lot of care. Wrinkles can cast a unique look on the furniture, but huge scrape or tatter can look ugly. When maintained rightly, leather sofas will age with elegance. Following some simple steps can help you keep up the rich and supple look of your leather sofa.1. It is very important to take proper care of your leather couch, so always follow the instruction pamphlet provided by the manufacturer.

2. Swab it down: After a few weeks of purchasing the sofa, you may see the dust gathering over the sofa, and it might look like an old set of furniture. To give a fresh look to the couch, gently clean it down with a dry cloth. This will remove all the dust gathered and gives a shining look.

3. Refrain from Using Severe Cleaning Solution: You should always refrain from using harsh chemicals to clean leather sofas as they may ruin the surface of the leather greatly.

4. Safeguard Your Sofa from Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight and too much heat can harm leather and in turn produce cracks on the surface. Thus, make sure that your leather sofa/furniture is miles away from direct sunlight or protect it with curtains.

5. Wipe out Spills Immediately: It is necessary to clean up spills instantly. Leather is highly penetrable in nature and if you don’t wipe out spills quickly, the fluid will pervade leading to ceaseless stains on your leather couch.

6. Different Treatment for Distinctive Stains: There are different methods to get rid of distinct stains. For example, if you want to remove an ink spot, a cotton swab can be useful. Just dip the swab in Isopropyl alcohol and then softly smear the cotton swab on the ink spot. Now, parch the area with the help of a hair dryer, push the button on the lowest heat setting. To eliminate grease stains, refrain using hot water and rather use a dry fabric.

You should take care of your leather sofa properly, and these tricks will help you maintain and elevate the lastingness of your leather sofa.Sofa Bargains aims at giving you the best deal on sofas and furniture at the best prices without compromising on quality along with various tips on buying different sofas.

When to buy Leather Furniture

One of the best things to come out of the brown trend is that the average consumer (especially men) have switched from buying black leather furniture to brown.I have seen so much leather in my consultations I have come to the conclusion that the reason why most people buy leather sofas is because there are only about 5 colour choices (okay, there are a million colours in leather as well but most people don’t order custom leather furniture-they buy it off the floor). With fabric, the colour choices are, of course endless and then you have to decide if it’s going to be a solid or a pattern? Smooth or textured? Flat or shiny?


Most people feel it’s less of a commitment to just buy a leather sofa and be done with the shopping already! And I have to confess, in the early 90’s when I was married, before my designer days, my husband and I bought a forest green leather sofa and loveseat. It’s funny, we didn’t even consider a fabric covered sofa, and looking back, I’m sure it was for the exact reason I’ve just mentioned.

Other than the practical reasons to have a leather sofa (if you have kids and pets) I would keep them in the family room, media room or in a library/den.
In the last year I have helped two bachelors decorate their place and both already had existing brown leather furniture:



This client was on a tight budget so we took one day, ‘shopped the city’ and came home with an SUV full of stuff. The only thing in this room in the morning was the sofa. The art above the sofa we found from a consignment store for $75, the area rug from Homesense for $200 as well as the chest of drawers $300.





Love this ‘Creating Abundance’ piece from Pier 1
This was a Yaletown condo that I decorated with a custom leather sofa. If you’re going to buy leather, I think it should be tufted in some way, it has a more luxurious, expensive (because it is!) feel to it:


Maria Killam Colour & Design


This classic, tufted, chesterfield sofa from Williams Sonoma Home is my all time favourite. I would have this in a cozy library in this exact colour. It’s totally timeless!



If you’re still in love with espresso brown, you can have this one from Restoration Hardware;



If you want a hit of drama and colour, this red one from Neiman Marcus is really fun!


You can always just go really high end and buy one from Ralph Lauren Home;


How to Convert a Garage Into a Family Room

If your house or apartment doesn’t have a good place for your family to gather, consider converting your garage. Depending on the state of your garage, the project could take only as a few days and relatively few materials. You can even enlist the help of family members to make it a fun bonding activity. Give everyone a separate job to speed through the project, or work together to paint the walls, carpet the floors and add interesting accents to liven up you

Convert a Garage Into a Family Room


  1. Clear out the garage. This is the first, and most difficult, step. You’ll need a different storage area to stow everything temporarily. Consider renting a storage unit or putting things into your attic. Donate or sell anything that you no longer need.
  2. If your garage doesn’t have enough electrical outlets, you’ll need to rewire the garage. It is highly recommend that you hire someone to do this as opposed to doing this yourself, as it can be dangerous.
  3. If you live in a cold area, you will need to insulate your walls. The interior-most wall usually gets heat from the house, but the two walls that are exposed to the elements need to be insulated. This will require framing the walls, which involves affixing wood posts to the walls so that insulation can be stuck in between the posts.
  4. If insulation was applied, cut some drywall and apply it to the framing in order to hide the insulation. Cover the gaps in between drywall pieces with drywall tape, then cover the drywall tape with sheet rock compound. Sand it smooth.
  5. Brighten the walls and ceiling with a few fresh coats of paint. Use a bright color to make the enclosed space seem larger.
  6. Measure floors and buy carpet for the space, or buy a large rug. If you want carpet, have it installed professionally as it is a difficult and tedious job that requires expensive machinery.
  7. Furnish the room with a sofa, television, electric fireplace and bookcases as desired.
  8. Set up space heaters and fans to control temperatures throughout the seasons.

How to Arrange a Family Room With a Sectional Sofa

Your family room is a place where your family should be able to comfortably play, entertain, talk, and gather. If you have a large family but limited space, a sectional sofa may be the best choice for seating. By using a sectional sofa, you can set up the family room so that all the seats are in one area, then arrange your other pieces of furniture around that central element.


  1. Choose the type of sectional that you want for your family room. Some sectionals contain two couches that sit at a perpendicular angle up against each other, while others have one long sofa with a chaise on one end. The chaise is similar to a bed where you can lay down, or sit with your feet up. Sectionals come in different styles, such as with a curved or straight back. Let’s assume you choose a standard sectional that has a long couch and a chaise. It sits in an “L” shape.
  2. Position the sectional sofa along the wall that is opposite or adjacent to a window in the room. Leave about a foot of space between the wall and the back of the couch.
  3. Purchase a coffee table that is shaped like an “L,” just like your sectional and place it in front of your sofa.
  4. Set a table next to the side of the couch where the chaise sits. Place decorative items such as a vase or framed pictures on this table, or just a lamp and phone. The person relaxing in the chaise can reach over to this table to retrieve a drink instead of from the coffee table. Place a plant on the other side of the sectional (the standard sofa side) if you’d like.
  5. Place the entertainment center up against the wall that is adjacent to the window, preferably parallel with the long sofa part of the sectional.
  6. Set another small table next to the entertainment center to hold more decorative items or pictures in frames.

How to Start Your Own Gardening Business

Turn the ability to grow a beautiful garden into a very marketable trade. Many homeowners are willing to pay a lot of money to a gardening service or landscaping business capable of transforming their home’s lawn into a lush, verdant expanse. Small scale gardening businesses, such as homegrown herbs and spices for sale, can also provide some extra spending cash. Develop a business idea that can work locally to build your gardening business.

Successful gardeners have an intimate knolwedge of what can grow where.


  1. Develop your business model by researching what local opportunities exist for gardening businesses. Educate yourself on local gardening conditions, including climate, weather, soil conditions and average rainfall to understand what kind of plants can be grown in your area. Talk to local homeowners and businesses to see what needs exist for gardening supplies or landscaping services in your town.
  2. Analyze your market competition that exists in your local market for the style of business chosen. If you plan on growing plants and flowers for retail sale, you may want to check out the offerings of local greenhouses. Consider any possible options you can offer that aren’t available at these greenhouses or gardening stores, including gardening equipment. Keep in mind all prices and display designs that competitors use that you might be able to utilize or improve upon.
  3. Apply for all proper business licenses and permits required to operate your business legally within your state of residence. Contact your state and local government offices and speak to a representative. Tell the representative about the nature of your business and ask about any necessary business licenses or permits to run your business. Retail businesses will need a seller’s permit and retail license; landscaping businesses will need to apply for contractor business licenses.
  4. Purchase the materials and retail space that you will need in order to operate your gardening business. Lease or purchase a storefront if you need space to display your available retail products, or rent out an office space if you need an office outside of the home to run a landscaping business. Retail stores need to purchase seeds and equipment from bulk wholesalers for individual sale. Gardening and landscaping businesses will need multiple hand tools, such as rakes, lawnmowers or brooms, and a truck or large van for transporting plants and equipment. Interior landscaping is cheapest to fund among gardening services, but it becomes more difficult to maintain plants stay indoors.
  5. Contact a local nursery, and set up a contract to purchase plants that your gardening business will sell and plant. You may need to contact many nurseries if local ones have too many clients. Ask a store representative about any minimum purchase requirements or advanced notice needed to process larger orders.
  6. Find ways to increase your gardening business’ profile in your local community. Hold workshops on gardening techniques with which you have experience or start up a kiosk at a local co-op or farmers market. Contact your local chamber of commerce to find out about any local business events or home and garden shows. You might also design and print a brochure to distribute to customers at your store or other local businesses.