Browsing Category

Design Trends

Hygge Tips for a Happy Home (II)

Have you tried our five first hygge tips for a happy home? Here you have five more keys:

  1. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. The hygge culture is about creating an environment that make us happy at home. And one way to do it is to surround yourself with things that remind you of good times. It can be a photo gallery of your trips. Or maybe an inherited closet with wood smell that carries you to your grandmother’s house every time you open it.
  2. Don´t spend money without thinking. The Danes aren´t wasteful. They usually save to buy good furniture or design pieces, rather than buying something that does not really fascinate them just because it is cheap or has a discount.
  3. House in order. An organized house not only improves the physical space, it also improves our inner space, our mind. How are you going to be happy if you lose 10 minutes each morning looking for the keys before you leave? The first step to achieving a tidy and happy home is to “edit” our belongings. Only objects that make us happy or are useful should be left. The second step is to invest in good storage solutions. So you can have everything organized and get a quiet space by removing from sight those things that create visual mess.

A large shelf helps keep everything in order, a key to hygge. Via: The Style Files

  1. Create at least one hyggekrog (a special corner where you feel happy) in your home. For some people it will be a comfortable armchair next to the fireplace where to read quietly. But for other people, the hyggekrog will be a walk-in closet where organize clothes and accessories, a wall with family photos or a perfectly organized desk to work from home in front of a window.
  2. Find time for your tribe… Good company is the essence of hygge and a happy home. Leave the cell phone aside and turn off the TV, to enjoy a nice evening with popcorn and movie with your children. Or gather your friends to share a delicious dinner and a good chat.

 A happy home is shared with good friends. Via: The Jungalow

Is hygge the reason why the Danes are the happiest in the world? Surely they are surprised when they see that many foreigners try to copy their houses with candles, wool plaids and Nordic-style decorations, without understanding that hygge is much more. It´s a (good) lifestyle, a way to create a happy home and share it with others.

If you liked this post, surely you are interested in Decalogue of Wabi Sabi Decoration

Hygge Tips for a Happy Home (I)

“Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life”, said Benjamin Franklin. So it is likely that happiness will find us at home, if we do our part to have a happy home …

The Danes use a word, “hygge”, difficult to translate, which means something like “happy people in a cozy home”. Hygge does not refer to a particular style of decoration, but to an attitude in and towards our house. To understand it, think of this: in the catalogs of the Swedish decoration giant, what exactly do you like: the furniture or the cozy staging, where we always see people enjoying their home?

Every happy home has a ‘hyggekrog’, a cozy area like this, with two Hilton armchairs. Via: El Mueble

Here are the hygge keys for a happy home:

  1. Make decoration important to you and your family. It is no coincidence that the Danes have exported to the world their style of decoration and their concept “hygge”. Although not all scandinavian homes are like those we see in magazines or catalogs, most families put a lot of interest in interior design and feel proud of their houses.
  1. Teach children to respect the home. We can not prevent children from being children and having toys, stories and a lot of things not always ordered. No problem while all that mess is left in their space and they do not conquer the whole house. A Swedish friend told me that she does not understand why many people fill the entire living room with toys. And she told me that she is even more surprised when this people say “This is a Nordic habit” … “In Sweden we try to teach our children that they should respect the home and the spaces of adults.”

Maximize natural light. Via: ELLE Decor.

  1. Maximize daylight. A bright house lift our mood. However, the Danes only have four sunshine hours per day during the winter. The trick? Maximize natural light as much as possible. The Scandinavian interior design, always luminous, rests on colors such as off-white or sand, that are warm whites, not too cold or gray. You can also use strategically placed mirrors, to maximize the views of a window or to put light into a dark corner.
  1. Pamper the little details. Since it’s the little details that make us happy, a happy home does not need to be a mansion. On the contrary, too much luxury does not help to “hygge”. Make the most of your house and take care of the details. If you don´t have a fireplace, use candles, a classic of the Scandinavian decor, because they fill the house with magic. Good music, warm light, fragrances for the home… Pamper your home and your home will pamper you.
  1. Make it green. Those with a green thumb surely have a lot of plants at home. If you do not have a green thumb, do not give up: try succulents or plants like ficus. And if your hand is black instead of green… fresh flowers are your thing. In any case, a little greenery makes a happy home and lift your mood.

Plants and flowers lift the mood. Chairs and footrests are by Blasco & Blasco. Via: Nuevo Estilo

Next week we´ll continue with more keys for a happy home.

The ‘Wow Effect’ in decoration

The “Wow Factor” applies to many areas, and is especially interesting in interior design. This happens when you go into a house, hotel or any room and exclaim “Wow!”… But defining the concept remains difficult. The wow effect has nothing to do with glitter, ostentation or splurge. It’s more about surprise, feelings or personality. It is not related to money or how wonderful the house is. The proof: Have you ever been in a house with amazing architecture or wonderful views, decorated in such a way that destroys the wow effect?

Huge lamps multiplies the wow effect in this dining room. Via: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Without personality there is no wow effect. Houses decorated without personality are those that resemble each other or those that are only functional. And your house will be predictable and monotonous if it is “furnished” from any one single store, be that IKEA or an expensive brand. The good news is that personality is not about money, so it never appears on a budget.

Here are five real ways to get the wow effect in a room:

Artwork. Turning a piece of artwork into the center of attention is an infallible way to achieve the wow effect. Display it without having to compete with the color of walls, furniture or decorative objects. Your piece of artwork will attract all eyes on an all-white wall.

The oil painting is from Kiran Dufault, a friend of the house owner. It stands out on the white wal. The two simple Ikea lockers are also white. Via: New York Times

Wallpaper. Wallpaper wastes personality. We don´t mean the patterns of little flowers or polka dots popular in grandmothers’ houses, but those of bigger designs, textured and with decorative force. With them, the wow effect is guaranteed.

  The wallpaper by NLXL makes us feel like we’re in a greenhouse. It´s distributed in Spain by Blasco & Blasco.

 Exceptional objects. Items created in series do not contribute much to the wow effect. Decoration gains interest with exotic finds brought from travels (souvenirs are not worth), street markets finds, family inheritances… With unconventional things that tell a story.

Here you will not find a single conventional object… Via: Pinterest

 Painting. This is a good way to achieve the wow effect and a refreshing solution for walls and furniture. It’s like magic at an affordable price. However, finding the right color requires effort, documentation and perhaps proffesional advice. Pinterest can help you select the color and give you an idea of ​​the final result.

The green wall makes more interesting this living room. A courageous and wise decision by Ann Lowengart

Plants and flowers. The goal is to bring nature inside. Flowers and plants have enormous decorative appeal and improve our mood, so always achieve the wow effect. Play with scale, the current trend requires large indoor plants, even trees, such as Fiddle-leaf fig.

A big Fiddle-leaf fig gets a huge wow effect. Via: Apartament Therapy

 Of course, these views have the wow effect, but decoration can do it in any room in your home. A good example is this children’s room below. Some shelves that cover the entire wall showing colorful children’s books and achieve a “Wow”.

Chaise longue’s styles

The chaise longue made its way from French bedrooms to our living rooms, and today it has even reached the entrances of our houses. It has never abandoned their decadent air, but it has modified its design.

Its main advantage lies in its versatility. A chaise longue can accommodate two people sitting in small space, depending on the design, so it´s a great alternative to benches. And placed in a wasted corner or at the hall, next to a side table, it creates a functional space that can be enjoyed a lot.

The best allies of a chaise longue are a cushion, like this one made of ikat, and a blanket, like this one with fabric by Serendipity Fabrics. Via: Nuevo Estilo

Wherever you put it, a chaise longue will always give a glamorous touch to the decoration. To choose it well you must consider two things: its style and the design options.

Chaise longue’s styles

Antique chaise longue or classic designs. True antiques or replicas based on old designs, they are sumptuous pieces with carved legs, rounded lines, gold finishes, velvet or silk tapestries, super-muted cushions and often quilted upholstery. Good pieces have an air between decadent and luxurious…

An antique chaise longue in a contemporary decor. Photo by William Waldron

Modern chaise longues. Strictly speaking, modern designs are typical of the 20th century (until 1970). The designers of the modern movement created some iconic designs of chaise longue, which continue in production until today. The key to this style is the elimination of superfluous items, such as ornaments, with the aim of optimizing form and function. Good examples are the famous Chaise Longue from Le Corbusier (Switzerland, 1887-1965); The Chaise, from the Eames, presented in 1948; Or the divan Barcelona, ​​designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930, as an evolution of his mythical Barcelona chair. The original designs are today a luxury and a good investment. Copies are many…

Divan Barcelona ​​from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Via: My Domaine

Contemporary chaise longue. Be careful not to confuse “modern” and “contemporary” style. The latter covers the designs from 1970 to the present day. Contemporary style is essentially eclectic, inspired by both the avant-garde and the classic style. A contemporary chaise longue takes elements of different styles and epochs. They are traditional cut pieces, but with simple and robust lines. They share with the modern designs their lack of ornamentation. The priority is comfort and functionality, and often are covered with slip covers.

This large contemporary style chaise longue also serves as a sofa without interrupting the views. Via: dlrhein.com

Design

There are some variables when choosing a chaise longue, especially concerning the arms and backrest.

With or without arms. Traditionally, a chaise longue has one arm on one side. But there are also chaise longues with two arms, high or low, or without arms. Versions without arms are very elegant, have less visual weight and can be placed in any orientation.

A simple version without arms with an attractive upholstery. Photo Anders Schønnemann. Via: House & Garden

Armrest to the right or the left. You must take it into account depending on the configuration of your furniture (and maybe also if you are right-handed or left-handed)… Chaise longues with a single arm can limit you if you want to arrange them in other direction. The manufacturers usually give the two options when ordering the chaise longue.

With back and one arm to the left. Model Colette from Blasco & Blasco.

Backrest: Usually a chaise longue has one back, straight or inclined. There are also models with two backrests, which can be very useful when they also serve as a seat for two people.

Chaise longue without arms and two backrests. Would you use it for two? Via: House Beautiful

 About the word “chaise longue”

“Chaise longue” means “long chair” in French. Maybe that’s why we associated it with this country, but it really was born in Ancient Egypt. Halfway between bed and armchair, it was popularized in France in the eighteenth century, reigning Louis XIV, as a piece intended for the bedrooms, the perfect seat to rest without actually lying down. And from there it spread throughout Europe.

Liberty chaise longue from Blasco & Blasco. It creates a reading corner in this bedroom. Via: Nuevo Estilo

Guide to decorate with cushions

Decorate with cushions gives life to a room and allows us to revamp it without making big investments. That is true. But easy? If you can find in shops more than 1,000 different models, how can you choose those four or five that will look great on your sofa or bed?

There are no magic formulas. Unfortunately, the style can not be explained. But in this post we want to give you a basic guide to decorate with cushions and some easy stylist tricks. Then, you can mix and match colors, sizes and prints according to your taste and the style of your house. It is certainly the funniest part and also the most complicated. Mix and try until you find the winning combo. In our blog we also have lots of photos as inspiration to help you.

decorate with cushions Serendipity FabricsCushions with Blasco & Blasco fabrics.

Size. In decoration, size always matters. In the case of cushions, their size is conditioned by the sofa size. A conventional sofa works with standard cushions, which are usually 40 x 40 or 45 x 45 cm.

Balance. The biggest cushions, more than 60 cm, are comfortable, inviting and trendy, but should be reserved for large sofas. Low-back or small size sofas fit with small cushions.

Ambiance by Villiams Sonoma

Shapes. There are 4 basic shapes of cushions: square, rectangular, round and bolsters. Apart from its appearance, the shape also fulfills a function. Squares are perfect to support the entire back. Rectangulars support the lower back or neck. Bolsters do not slide and can do better their function in a leather sofa pec6edn.

Combinations. When decorating with cushions many people choose different colors even different patterns, but choose all them in the standard size (40cm) and square. Doing that, we miss a lot of the fun. Success also involves combining sizes and shapes, because this adds depth and makes all works better.

The size matters… Via: Style me pretty

Various sizes. Visually it works better if the larger cushions are at the ends and the smaller cushions at the center. And it’s also more practical because you will not have to remove the big ones every time you sit down.

Matching cushions. Sometimes the sofa is sold with some cushions in the same fabric of the upholstery. It never works because the cushions are camouflaged on the sofa and do not contribute anything. Change them for others that add color or texture.

Via: Melián Randolph Studio

Inserts. Beauty is inside? Yes. Even the best cushion will not look nice if is amorphous and flattened. Thinking about cushion inserts does not seem exciting, but choosing them well is a part of the success. There are feather fillings and synthetic fibers.

Feathers and down. Feathers and goose down are the most expensive option, but it is well worth investing money if the cushions are going to be used and will not be merely decorative objects. You will be grateful when you want to take a nap on the sofa. In the long term, inserts with feathers, down or mix of both will come out profitable, since they are more durable than synthetic fibers, don´t lose their shape and can be reused for years just changing the covers.

decorate with cushions. Serendipity FabricsLinen cushions by Serendipity Fabrics

Fibers. If you do not want to invest much and the cushions are merely decorative, or they are of very little use, you can choose fibers inserts. For outdoor cushions, you must always use fiber inserts, because feather inserts are not recommended.

Give them shape. If you like very compact cushions, use an insert a little larger than the cushion cover. And be sure to put the insert well, without leaving empty corners.

Living room by Kirsten Marie Interiors

Number. There are many theories about whether even or odd numbers work best, but the main rule is that if you have to move cushions to sit comfortably on the sofa, it’s because you have too many.

Groups of sofas and armchairs. If you want to decorate with cushions a sofa (or two) and some chairs, you have to consider all them as a group. It doesn´t mean you have to repeat cushions or coordinate prints, but everything should work as a harmonious set, taking into account the color palette of the room, the fabrics used and the general style.

A project by Isabel López Quesada

Decoration style. When decorating with cushions you have to respect the style of the room. This influences the choice of fabrics, colors, textures and placement of the cushions.

Classic style. In these ambiences work well velvet, silk or linen, and trimmings. This style accepts combinations of colors, patterns and textures, with cushions usually grouped symmetrically.

Blasco & Blasco linen sofa with classic cushions. Via: Nuevo Estilo

 Contemporary design. This style is associated with fewer colors and few prints, or none, and better geometric. Decorate with cushions in lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen, in large sizes, and not grouped.

Eclectic style. The most difficult option but also the ones that will give you the greatest satisfaction. Try complicated combinations of prints and fabric. To avoid the chaos, give it coherence unifying with color.

Summer and winter. Decorate with cushions allow to change between seasons. It is a small luxury to have velvet cushions in winter and fresh linen cushions in summer, just changing the covers.

Perfect cushions for summer in this Blasco & Blasco sofa. Via: Nuevo Estilo

Looking for more inspiration? Check this posts: How to style a white sofa and Tips to combine cushions.

Decorating a dining room with different chairs and tables

Decorating a dining room without falling into the boredom of matching dining tables and chairs, but without failing with mismatched combinations is a big challenge. It is clear that the dining furniture sets are more than outdated. It was very easy for our mothers or grandmothers: they went to a store and they chose a table with matching chairs. Their only challenge was the budget.

Mix and match dining table and chairs adds decorative interest, even a touch of surprise, but doing it right requires an extra effort and inspiration. Not everything works. So before purchasing new dining chairs or table, be sure of your decision.

Eero Saarinen oval Tulip table with Executive chairs. Predictable? Via: House Beautiful

In addition to achieving a good aesthetic result, you must also consider other factors when thinking in decorating a dining room, for example, the space available, the number of people who use it, their age (especially with children!),  even their size (not all people are equal …). And of course, the comfort and quality of the furniture you buy.

There really are endless options, more or less unexpected, but there are five tips that will help you when decorating a dining room mixing and matching tables and chairs:

  1. Look for a common design element. If you combine a design table with classic chairs you can get a shocking result. The tip is to put together pieces that share something. Look for chairs with legs or straight back for a table with very straight lines. And combine a round table with sinuous chairs, as in this dining room of Andina and Tapia.

decorating a dining roomAndina & Tapia mix here a contemporary dining table in steel and lacquered glass with classic Lord dining chairs, from Blasco & Blasco. Via: Nuevo Estilo

  1. When size matters… There must be proportion between table and chairs. About 55cm is the usual width for a chair. When the table is very large or the dining room is huge, dining chairs should be wider than usual or models with arms. If the dining table is small, you have to choose proportionated dining chairs, considering that the minimum width for a dining chair is 40 cm, below this, not even your size-36-friend can sit down comfortably. Still on the theme of the measurements, the height of the seat is usually between 45 and 48 cm, while the height of the table is about 75 cm. Although chairs and tables generally have standard heights and there are usually no problems, you should check that chairs do not stand too high or too low, and that they can approach the table without colliding, for example, their arms.

Estudio Melián Randolph dominates the rules of decorating a dining room, with a magic eye for mix and match. This light table is paired with light dining chairs. In addition, dining table and chairs combine straight lines with sinuous details.

  1. Create a random but uniform look. Chairs do not have to be all the same, but they have to harmonize. For example, a group of different styles old chairs will work together if all of them have the same worn wood. Or random chairs will fit together if are painted in the same colour or upholstered with the same fabric. Try it for a bohemian or vintage look.

Suzani fabric unifies different chairs and a pair of accent chairs on the ends in this dining room. Table from Restoration Hardware. Via: Country Living

  1. Table first. Why? Because the first step in decorating a dining room is to consider the available space and how many people will use it. This depends more on the table than the chairs. Then you can play with dining chairs, combining several styles if you need more, adding accent chairs on the ends or relocating a couple of them in another room if left over.

Available room defines the table size. Choosing this first will make the task easier. Via: Veneer Design

  1. Mix and match without fear. Because if you don´t take risks and you just choose dining chairs that don´t fit with the table but are not too different, the look will not only result drippy but it will seem a mistake! When decorating a dining room there must always be some “unresolved visual tension” between the dining table and chairs.

White lacquered table with bamboo chairs. A blend of styles, materials and colors. The key? The curves. Via: Studio McGee

If you liked this post on decorating a dining room with different chairs and tables, you may want to read about how to arrange a living room in 10 steps.

 

How to decorate the bathroom

Decorate the bathroom as if it were a “living room”, might seem extravagant but it provides extra comfort and its effect is always “wow”…

The bookcase under the bathtub, the carpet and the Blasco & Blasco armchair achieve that effect “living room” in this bathroom decorated by Leticia Martín. Via: El Mueble.

Bathrooms are often small and receive very little decorative attention. However, this is changing because bathrooms are gaining in importance. If the desire of many people is to have a spa bathroom, which is certainly something great, we want to go one step further and look at a trend that seems to be recurring more and more: decorate the bathroom as if it were a living room.

The idea is to turn our bathroom into a small sanctuary. An “exclusive and personal” space where, in addition to cleanse us, we can dress comfortably, enjoy a home-manicure or relax while filling the bath.

A vintage leather armchair enhances the “living room” effect in this bathroom. Via: Elle Decor

Of course, it is a luxury to have such a large bathroom as we see in some photos. But even if you do not have lots of room, you can put in an occasional chair or a small bench. This way you will increase many points the “sanctuary” level of your bathroom.

Without being too large, this rustic style bathroom is decorated like a real “living room”, with rugs, art, curtains and a vintage armchair. Via: Higgings Architect

From a decorative point of view,, the idea of ​​decontextualizing the upholstered furniture works very well placing it in a bathroom. A chair, armchair or chaise longue (even a sofa if there is enough room) will immediately increase the decorative “temperature” of the bathroom, which is usually a cold room full of tiles, marble, steel and mirrors.

Decontextualize a piece of furniture creates a great effect: Here, a bergère chair adds interest to this bathroom. Also makes its function of leaving clothes or towels. Thanks to the garden stool it has a support surface. Via: One Kings Lane

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you want to decorate the bathroom placing upholstered furniture in it:

– For upholstered pieces you can choose “outdoor” fabrics, which resist moisture without problems. Recently the options of this type of fabric have multiplied, so you can find exterior fabrics with designs as beautiful as fabics used for interior decorating and very similar textures.

 This bathroom is decorated with furniture you wouldn´t relate to this space: an oriental cabinet, a chandelier and a small chaise longue with quilted upholstery. Via: House Beautiful

 – Another good option is linen fabric. It accepts moisture very well and has antibacterial properties, making it ideal for bathrooms.

– The covers are an excellent option, as they can be washed and dried well when needed.

– Bathrooms are generally not large, so be sure to measure the space and any piece that you are going to buy.

– If you have room but not much, look for straight pieces without or with narrow arms.

A chair with cover serves as seating in this dressing area and because of its size fits under. Via: Houzz

A small bench, like this one from Blasco & Blasco, is enough to elevate the design scheme of this bathroom. Via: Nuevo Estilo

This bathroom is decorated with a velvet armchair with footrest, carpets, art and ceiling lamps. Via: Elle Decor

Esparto Carpets: Ecological, Artisan and Trendy

Just as the humble espadrilles arrived at the haute couture catwalks thanks to Yves Saint Laurent, the fine esparto carpets have made their place in the High Décor thanks to a few great Spanish decorators. Of course, also thanks to the commitment of a few artisans who have kept alive the esparto tradition, which goes back to prehistory.

espartocarpets1Large esparto carpet in natural color in this contemporary living room. Esparto is a versatile, ecological, durable and handmade fibre.

What is esparto?

Popularly, two species have been called “esparto”: the esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima), also known as “atocha”, and the esparto of Aragon or “albardín” (Lygeum spartum). The term also denotes the fibre obtained from the hard leaves of those grasses.

Esparto grass has never been cultivated, the plant spontaneously grows in “espartales” (or “atochares”) in the southeast of Spain and areas of North Africa. Peasants have always harvested their leaves, limiting their care to remove damaged leaves and old plants, and keep the “espartales” free of other scrub that may have invaded them.

espartocarpets2Esparto is a 100% Spanish product. Great decorators recovered this craft when it was nearly to disappear. Living room decorated by Isabel López Quesada.

Esparto grass is a plant of great ecological interest, as it reduces soil erosion and resists drought without problems, even in the full sun. Esparto grass reduces the evaporation of water thanks to its wide top, while its dead leaves act as a sponge, favoring the passage of rainwater to the ground.

Esparto mats and carpets today

When the craft of the “Espartero” was close to become extinct a few decades ago, a handful of artisans recovered this ancient Spanish tradition.

espartocarpets3Esparto carpets, like this one by Blasco & Blasco, have reached the most contemporary environments updated with new colors and large formats, without losing their natural qualities. Living room decorated by Belén Domecq for Casa Decor 2016.

Today the esparto carpets are objects of desire, present in beautiful, as we see in all these photos. They have the appeal of handmade things, following traditional techniques. But they have been updated and adapted to the decoration trends: they can be produced in vibrant colours, varying their format and size according to the needs of the space. That’s why every esparto carpet is unique.

All of this without losing the qualities of the esparto fibre: a natural product, 100% ecological, biodegradable and hypoallergenic.

espartocarpets4An esparto carpet fits in all styles. This one, by Antonia Molina, in a cherry-colored tone, frames an eclectic dining room decorated by Melián Randolph.

Esparto carpets are easy to clean, and because of their structure, dust always falls under the carpet. Just lift it and sweep it under. They can also be placed outside, always on porches or covered terraces.

Plus: Esparto carpets smells of nature and sea, and leads us to imagine ourselves in the Mediterranean, even in the middle of the city ….

espartocarpets5A style dining room totally opposite to the previous one: this one is traditional and Andalucía inspired. A carpet superimposed gives the modern twist. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

What Archeology and History tell us

From the prehistory, uninterruptedly, the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula have used the esparto fibre to elaborate objects that almost have not changed with the time. This is demonstrated by the baskets, ropes and esparto sandals found in the Murciélados Cave of Albuñol (Granada) and dating back to the Neolithic era.

From Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans we have documents that prove the use and exportation of esparto from the Iberian Peninsula, especially to elaborate cordage for the ships.

And the Arabs, who also used objects made of esparto, immediately appreciated their beauty, so they began to use it to decorate their houses and palaces.

espartocarpets6From the Neolithic to the present, the esparto has not stopped being used in the Iberian Peninsula. In this room decorated by Luisa Olazábal, an esparto carpet frames the entire living area. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

And to end this historic overview, we go to the Royal Ordinances of the Royal Site of Aranjuez enacted in 1788 by King Charles IV, in which we see the punishment for cutting esparto grass in King lands without permission: 100 public floggings or, if the offender is a nobleman, “four years of exile.”

espartocarpets7The most rustic look is given by circular mats, which are made by sewing “pleitas” (esparto strips). Photo: El Mueble

 This ordinance reflects the importance that esparto grass had for the Crown. It was also a setback to many humble, landless families who were supported by the collection, manufacture and trade of esparto, as well as for the elderly, poor widows, blind and people with physical problems who could not do other jobs. It was easy to find all them at the doors of their houses, with esparto in their mouths making pleitas (strips of esparto braided in several branches, which sewn with others serve to make different tools, like mats).

espartocarpets8Sophisticated contrast of styles in this hall decorated by M&F Deco. The gray esparto highlights the superimposed zebra skin.

How people worked with esparto

As the raw material of the esparto industry has always grown wild and only required few inexpensive tools, it was a home-based, low-cost and low-profit task, an outlet for humble families or unemployed day labourers.

Each family member has their function (as other stories of ethnic fabrics, such as bogolan, which we have on this blog): the man collected esparto, prepared it, sewed and sold the products; the wife weaved the “pleita”, braided the thread to sew, cleaned, packed and stored; children helped to braid and prepare the esparto. Of course, grandparents also contributed according to their possibilities. This work was done in the street, in small groups that created many lifelong friendships and marriages.

espartocarpets9A few artisans continue working esparto with traditional techniques, incorporating new colors, as we see in this sample from Blasco & Blasco. These carpets are made to measure in square, rectangular or round shape.

“Esterero”: the specialist in “esteras”

The “estereros” were specialists not only in making “esteras” or esparto carpets, but also in installing them in the houses, as insulation of the cold floor. With a mule loaded with rolls of “esteras”, they went out looking for clients in September and October, hawking the kindness of their products. Each roll was about 80 cm wide and 40 meters long, made of 10 “pleitas” sewn in parallel.

When the “esterero” found a client, he cut the mats needed for each room, sew them, and nail them to the floor with tacks (like a carpet layer). Underneath was placed straw to increase the insulation, often mixed with lavender or thyme as a natural air freshener. Richer customers instead of straw used newspaper. The warehouses were also carpeted to protect the grain from moisture.

espartocarpets10This esparto carpet has been made with the most traditional technique, sewing rolls of pleitas each other. Photo: El Mueble

The mats were placed in all types of houses, from the most humble to the manor houses, even in the Royal Palace. Eealthy people asked for the services of the most expert and refined “estereros”, capable of carpet the soils with diverse drawings reaching a high level of sophistication.

In the spring, the esparto carpets were removed, shaken and stored until the winter. A custom that remained in Spain until the mid-twentieth century, when this craft began its decline.

Fortunately, the return to the natural, artisan and ecological products in the last years revitalized the esparto carpets.

espartocarpets11Esparto carpets are very easy to clean, and can be placed even in the kitchen. Photo: El Mueble

 

How to Add Colour in Interior Design

A fashion stylist once told me that if I don’t know what to wear for an evening event, the best option is to dress in black and use a lot of make-up… The opposite is the case in decoration: when anybody does not know how to “dress” the house , usually they opt only by neutral tones. Thus, many color lovers are trapped in a white, beige and gray world…

In this post we tell you the basic rule to add colour in interior design that practically all decorators follow when they begin to plan a project.

decorarcolores1This room is a neutral box where color has been added with art works and fabrics. Light green sofa is by Blasco & Blasco. Green and yellow armchairs are designed by interior designer Beatriz Silveira. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

 The rule of 60-30-10

Surely you have ever heard of this rule, one of the most important in interior design. This formula to add colour in interior design works because it conveys harmony and balance. It is also believed that our brain tends to look for and recognize an overall theme (60%), a part with special interest (30%) and a little surprise (10%).

The percentages apply as follows: 60% for the dominant color + 30% for a secondary color + 10% for an accent color.

Translated to an outfit, it means: dress (60%) + stockings and shoes (30%) + collar (10%). Although the possibilities are endless in decoration, it works like this:

60%: walls

30%: fabrics and furniture

10%: accent pieces

decorarcolores2In this living room decorated by Living Pink, the walls, floors, ceiling, carpet and the main furniture (as the sofa from Blasco & Blasco, the sideboard and the coffee tables) are white. It´s the dominant color. Pink in the art work (by José María Yturralde) and the circular sofa is the secondary color. Yellow is the third color and we see it on stools (Anmoder), armchairs (Tesla) and golden elements. Small touches of black enhance the whole set. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

How to Apply the 60-30-10 Rule

To add colour in interior design remember that neutral tones are usually chosen as dominant colours, because they transmit serenity to the room, are easy to combine and do not tire us over time.

The walls represent the largest surface of the room and therefore 60% of the color of the room is usually there. That is why walls are usually painted with a neutral or light tones. As we always say, there are no fixed rules in decoration, only formulas that guide us. If the walls do not cover this 60% (for example, because we have a large shelf full of books that occupy a whole wall), we can complete it with the floor or curtains.

Painting the celling in white is like a mantra in interior design, as it will bring luminosity, amplitude and avoid that the spaces are very recharged.

decorarcolores3White walls and ceiling provide the dominant color, as does the large sofa (model Cliché by Blasco & Blasco). Textiles are often reserved for secondary color, such as these blue velvet curtains. Photo: Casa Decor

 The secondary colour represents 30% of the room and is mainly on the fabrics and / or furniture. This is where we can introduce a more vivid color without fear of being wrong.

The remaining 10% is the accent colour that give us the accessories, paintings, lamps, cushions… These elements are easier to change, so with them we can follow the latest trends and risk more.

decorarcolores4The complements bring color in this environment dominated by the white on the table, floor and furniture. Armchairs Nadia by Blasco & Blasco.

Extra Bonus: The Black! In interior design one tip that always works is to add some element of this colour to define, highlight and improve the other colors of the room. Try it with small accessories: a box, some picture frames… It works!

Nature can also inspire you

Mother Nature is the great master mixing colours and humans try to imitate her to add colour in interior design. Notice that the darker colours are normally used below (ground), the middle colors are mid-height (trees, mountains) and lighter tones are on the cellings (sky, clouds). Keep in mind this vertical scheme when decorating your house.

add colour in interior designDecoration imitates nature. Lounge chair by La Europea. Console by Anmoder. Striped blanket by Blasco & Blasco. Project by Andina & Tapia. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

The light in the room also counts

Dark colors will look even darker in rooms facing the north. And the opposite is true for rooms facing the south, where the colours will appear lighter.

A good tip is to try before you buy. Get samples of fabrics, carpets or wood finishes and leave them in the room for a couple of days to see how their colour looks with different kinds of lighting. Note how the samples look when the room will be used more. If you are in the living room especially at night, with artificial light, take a look at the colour in the late afternoon and evening hours. If the room is used by day and has lots of natural light, check out during those hours with more sun.

10 Brilliant White Sofa Ideas

A white sofa is a safe bet. But the difference between safe and bland can be very fine. Give life to the sofa with the right environment and fantastic pillow combinations. To inspire you, we found 10 great examples to dress up a white sofá.

whitesofa1Multicolor and ethnic This straightforward white sofa has received an injection of personality. The recipe for success is the sum of different ethnic fabrics. The cushions have been made with Afghan kilim, injiri (Indian cotton fabric) and Thai batik. This is a Veneer Designs project in California with a stunning style: an organic review of the style of the fifties. Photo: Veneer Designs

whitesofa2Contrast: black + orange This living room of a beach house in Cádiz has a natural and relaxed decoration, based on the neutral tones tinted with black and oranges touches. The summary of this style can be seen on the white sofa (Louvre by Blasco & Blasco in Country fabric). Interior designer Bárbara Maldonado dress it up with a symmetrical combination of pillows playing with colors of the room. The armchairs (Blasco & Blasco) are upholstered with a black and white Nobilis fabric. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

whitesofa3Fresh: blue + green “Modern-vintage with a twist”: this is how Deborah Rhein, the decorator of this living room, defines her style. Cushions on the white sofa have been made with Turkish silk ikats and African vintage fabrics, which achieve a luxurious and casual effect at the same time, adding interest to the room with their prints. Photo: D.L. Rhein

whitesofa4Elegant and sober: taupe tones Luisa Olazábal created this relaxed and natural living room where dominate the wood in the showcase, the natural fibers and the linen. She chose a white sofa model Odeón by Blasco & Blasco with linen cover. In line with the aesthetics of the living room, Olazábal dressed it with white and taupe cushions, mixing plain and patterned. The red console brings the right touch of surprise. Photo: Luisa Olazábal

whitesofa5Brilliant: purple and blue The white linen sofa is a good counterweight to all the brilliant finishes in this living room designed by Jenn Feldman Designs. It makes a perfect pair with the silk and velvet cushions, plain and printed, with colors ranging from mauve to purple to blue. Photo: Jenn Feldman

whitesofa6Classic: black and white Interior designer María Ruiz Mateos chose a white sofa with linen cover model Odeón by Blasco & Blasco, for this living room in a house in Madrid. White dominates the space, with touches of black or dark gray, as in the bookcase. A simple plaid and a cushion on the sofa repeat this bicolor scheme. Less is more… Photo: Nuevo Estilo

whitesofa7Serene blue Brooke Giannetti gave this magnificent house a clear Belgian style combining European antiques with industrial touches. In this living room much of the furniture comes from her own signature, Giannetti Home, such as the white sofa, the ottoman and the blue armchair in linen. This blue is repeated in the ethnic inspired cushions on the sofa. Photo: Giannetti Home

whitesofa8Three-coloured combination: blue + pink + mustard When the white colour predominates (on walls, curtains, carpet and upholstery) cushions can give the touch of necessary color. This was done by the Interior designer Beatriz Silveira, who animated this large white sofa with linen cover by Blasco & Blasco combining cushions of various colors with others with a discrete print. Photo: Casa Decor

whitesofa9Natural: Earth tones The off-white sofa with cushions made of old kilims attracts attention in this neutral background living room which is a cocktail of bohemian, rustic and modern elements. This family home, a typical Spanish-style villa in Hollywood, was decorated by Interior designer Katie Hodges. Photo: Katie Hodges

white sofaColorful: roses + blue The antiquarian Anouk de Gruyter has dressed this white sofa with linen cover, model Brigitte by Blasco & Blasco in 3 metres wide. She has chosen a stunning combination of indigo and pink cushions, in different sizes, all of them made of batik fabric, typical from Thailand and Vietnam. Photo: Anouk de Gruyter

If you did like this post, also take a look at Tips to Combine Cushions with Style and, if you choose a white sofa, you will also be interested in Sofa Covers: 5 Things to Keep in Mind