Last Updated on January 9, 2012

The gallery customer picked up the jewelry box, turning it in her hands.

“So, you’ll inlay any Lapis Lazuli initials in the oak?”

“Well”, I said, ”I’ll paint it in faux Lapis.”

She had bit of a distant look on her face.

“So the price is for faux Lapis?” –running her fingers over the design on the box– “How much to do it like this?”

“I’ll be doing it just like that, in any initials you choose.”

The distance turned to confusion. Fostering my own confused look, it started to dawn on me that we had a communication problem.


“But I want real Lapis, like this.”

This is the ultimate compliment for the Trompe L’Oeil (French for ‘to fool the eye’) artist. Absolute conviction that your work is “real,” not painted.

Long story short, I managed to clarify that the entire surface was faux paint: The Lapis Lazuli and the Oak.

Thankfully, I never really get used to this. It’s always a thrill.

Like the guy at the antique car show who kept finding ways to ask me how the “wood” dash board was finished.

“So…you painted the wood? Don’t you mean stained it? Did you carve it or did you have someone else do it?”

“It’s not carved? How did you shape the wood…?”

After a few minutes of this back and forth, I took a key out of my pocket and tapped it on the dash. It rang out like the early American Detroit steel that it is.

He turned a little red, grinned and yelled: “How the hell did you do that!?” He claimed to be an experienced woodworker.

48 Dodge Interior

It’s fascinating to me that people often react more strongly to convincing Trompe L’Oeil work than they do to the real thing. Like the jewelry box customer whose attitude went from a blasé “this lapis” to “Oh my God! It’s paint!”

It’s a kind of magic and (sappy or not) the power of magic is enduring because it gives people a wonderful combination of hope and surprise.

My interior projects typically go through a similar process. The customer comes home from work to freshly installed faux crown molding, flooring inlay or wood grained cabinet doors. The reactions vary, but not much.

One lady started crying. I don’t mean damp eyes; I’m saying she was sobbing. And smiling. I assured her everything would be okay and should we proceed with that fireplace mantel she’d mentioned.

But that’s only the jumping off point. The real fun begins when they get to mess with friends and family: “Well, yes Walnut is very expensive but I just had to have it for these French doors (giggle).”

Eventually they share the truth (or not) and in this way, for as long as they’re in the home, own the car…, they get to be the magician.

Thanks to advancements in painting techniques and materials, you can make amazing painted wood grain part of your interior design project and no one will be the wiser. But please, after they’re sufficiently impressed, let them in on the secret.

Does your painter know how to apply perfect wood grain? Would you like to learn breathtakingly realistic faux wood grain for your home, business and craft projects?

Either of those questions can be answered by clicking here for Perfect Wood Grain Mastery, a quick to start and easy to learn step-by-step home study course. It gives painters and crafters the skills to duplicate any wood using easy to find tools and materials.

As a decorative painting professional, Norman Petersen has been making things look like other things since 1994. Today he’s on a mission to teach wood grain super-powers to homeowners, faux finishers, craftspeople, fine artists and custom car painters. Learn more about (you guessed it!) faux wood grain at his blog,

For information on buying and selling jewelry and other valuables, check out our friends at:

+ DuMouchelle Silver & Gold Exchange

+ DuMouchelle Diamond Exchange

Last Updated on January 8, 2012

The range of modern home security systems and the diversity of their components, can sometimes seem bewildering. They are designed to combat a wide variety of potential threats with appropriate countermeasures. When thinking about your home security requirements, evaluating these potential threats and carefully considering the countermeasures available can give you the optimal mix of solutions for long-term peace of mind.

There are a number of potential threats to your property to take into account:

If your property is in a secluded location, even if it is in an urban or suburban setting, it obviously adds to its need for enhanced security measures. Remoteness is a boon if you like your privacy, but is also a boon to a potential burglar. The thing that burglars least like is the prospect of being discovered or disturbed while going about their operations. Out-of-the-way locations, or approaches to a property which aren’t overlooked by someone who could report intruders, are just what they look for.

Ease of Access
Even in urban and suburban streets, some properties can help burglars by making it easy for them to approach the building unobserved. If entrances or windows aren’t visible from the street or neighbouring properties, often because they are in side alleys or are otherwise secluded, it makes a potential burglar’s task easier. If there are things such as shrubs or trees blocking a clear view of ways to access the property, or allowing a burglar cover while they attempt to force entry, it increases the vulnerability of the property.

Making it Obvious No One’s Around
If all the people in a property leave at around the same time and all lights are off and stay off, it can signal to a potential burglar that the property is empty and that breaking in is safer for them.

Potential Home Security Countermeasures

Locks on Windows and Doors
These should be premium quality and there should preferably be more than one per potential entry point. This makes it harder to force entry and also will make a burglar take longer to do so, something they don’t like. The longer it is likely to take them to gain entry, the more likely it is that they will look for easier pickings elsewhere.

External Lighting
Lights that come on when a potential intruder comes close to a property can be a great deterrent, as they draw unwanted attention to them. They can also force burglars to try their luck elsewhere.

External CCTV or Wireless Cameras
Cameras nowadays can be very small and can be located out of reach of anyone trying to disable them. They can be connected to recording devices inside the property to record attempts to break into or vandalise a property. Alternatively, they can be connected via a phone line to a specialist security company’s monitoring room, where their staff can identify a threat and alert the police to investigate potential incidents.

Intruder Alarms
These generally consist of a central control unit and various types of device to detect entry to a property. Devices can be placed on windows or doors and be of the type that detect vibrations, indicating attempts to force entry, or beams which trigger an alarm when crossed. They can also be area-detection devices, which fill a space with ultrasonic sound or infra-red beams to detect an intruder already in the property. Each of these would then be connected to the control unit, which would trigger various types of audible and inaudible alarms.

Audible alarms can be placed inside and outside a property: inside to disorient and frighten an intruder, outside to attract attention from people who can report the incident to the police. Inaudible alarms are remotely monitored by security staff, who would then alert the police. They can also be used in combination so that the inaudible alarm is activated before the audible ones to allow the police time to arrive.

Modern home security systems can comprise multiple modular components which together can provide a complete solution to your property’s security needs. They can be tailored to fit almost any circumstance and budget and they offer what most home owners want: increased peace of mind.

Last Updated on January 7, 2012

Moving into a new home can be an exciting yet intimidating undertaking. Your new home is like a blank canvas, ready for your creative juices to flow and make your new dwelling into a warm and inviting environment. The following are some helpful tips to make your home a comfortable haven you and your family will want to rush home to.

Set a Budget:
Decorating a home to look chic can be costly, so know your limit and stick within those parameters. Put together a budget for purchasing furniture, household paint, accent pieces and additional trips to the hardware store. If you don’t have enough in your decorating budget to finish the entire house, complete one room at a time instead of having several unfinished projects going at once. You can save additional costs by doing a lot of the labor yourselves. Your local home center will have lots of great ideas on how to get the job done and think of how proud you’ll be knowing that you completed the task on your own without hiring additional labor.

Select a Color Scheme:
Each room in your new home doesn’t have to be the same color however there should be a color scheme that flows throughout the house. Select a couple of colors that complement each other and paint the home with those particular choices. To bring in additional color, find accent pieces like vases, rugs, furniture, pillows and throws that blend everything together. Add a chair rail or wall paper border to incorporate an extra burst of color.

Plan Your Furniture Placement:
Deciding where all your furniture should go is an important task when first moving into a home. Not only do you want your furniture to look attractive and inviting, but it should also be functional too. If you have a large family, make sure there is suitable room for everyone to sit in the great room together. Can everyone see the television from every seat in the living room? If you have a pool table in the basement, set it up so that you have room to shoot at every angle.

Tackle One Room at a Time:
When it comes to decorating your new home, start with the one room in your house that you use the most. Begin placing the biggest pieces of furniture first and move them around until you like the flow and everything is in place. Add in accent pieces like area rugs, window treatments, throw pillows, vases and houseplants until the mood of the room is complete.

About the Author: Jon Clark is a blogger, coffee lover and home décor enthusiast. He writes for which provides apartment renting and living tips as well as reviews for apartments such as these townhomes in San Diego and Long Beach, CA apartments.

Last Updated on January 6, 2012

Preparing your home for winter can mean the difference between staying warm and being cold. Some weatherization procedures can also help you save money on heating bills or prevent damage to your home.

Ideally, you should start winterizing your home in the fall, but procrastinators can also utilize some of the following tips even after the snow starts to fly.

1. Check and Service Your Heating Source

Whether you heat with fossil fuels or wood, servicing your heating source before using it each year is imperative. Unserviced furnaces, boilers, and wood stoves may not just be inefficient, but they can also be dangerous. If you have a furnace or boiler, call a heating and air conditioning expert to look at it. Clean out your wood stove or fireplace, as well as all chimneys, to help prevent fires and carbon monoxide leaks.

2. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each level of your home, as well as near every bedroom. Once they are installed, they should also be checked every month to ensure that they are working properly.

3. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats can help you shave a decent chunk of money off of your heating bill each winter. These types of thermostats can be programmed to automatically lower the temperature in your home while you are away and turn it up again right before you come home.

4. Reverse Ceiling Fans

During the winter months, you should flip the switch on your ceiling fan to reverse the direction of the fan blades. When the blades spin clockwise, the warm air that has risen to the ceiling is pushed downward. Since the room will feel warmer, you won’t need to turn up your thermostat.

5. Winterize Windows and Doors

Most chilly drafts will enter your home through cracks and spaces around your windows and doors. Replace any cracked windows, and apply weather stripping and caulk around all of your doors and windows. You might also want to put plastic over your windows for added protection from cold winter air.

6. Move Furniture

Rearranging your furniture can help maximize your heating system’s efficiency. If your furniture is positioned in front of baseboard heaters or over floor vents, try to arrange it so that it’s not blocking the heat. If you use a wood stove or fireplace for heat, arrange the furniture in front of it for a warm and cozy winter seating area.

7. Insulate the Attic

Since heat rises, much of the warm air in your home could be escaping out of your home through your attic, especially if it isn’t insulated well. Laying down bats of insulation between the rafters in your attic can help keep your home warmer, lower your heating bills, and prevent dangerous sheets of ice from building up on your roof.

8. Protect Pipes

At the very least, frozen water in your pipes can result in no running water for your household. Most likely, though, since water expands when it freezes, it will cause your pipes to burst, which can be costly and damaging. Pipe insulation tubes or pipe insulation tape can be placed around your pipes to prevent this.

9. Clean the Gutters

Dirt and leaves that clog your gutters and downspouts will typically cause water to collect in them and freeze. Frozen water in your gutters can cause them to crack or break away from the house and fall. Be sure to remove gutter debris, and flush your gutters and downspouts with a garden hose before winter hits.

10. Prune and Trim

Gardening experts recommend pruning and trimming your shrubs and trees while they are dormant, or not actively growing. Most plants usually enter their dormant phase during the late fall or winter. Pruning your trees away from your house also lessens the chance that animals like squirrels and chipmunks will enter your home looking for shelter from the harsh winter weather.

11. Get Snow Removal Tools Ready

Keep snow shovels close at hand, and place a bag of rock salt next to your front door. Service any motorized snow removal equipment, like snow blowers, four-wheelers, and plows.

12. Prepare For Emergencies

Stock up on emergency supplies – just in case. Some things that you should include in your emergency supply kit include gallons of water, non-perishable food, candles, lanterns, and extra blankets.

Marina writes for 1001Shops, a retail group that offers specialty products like Contemporary Wall Clock, artificial silk flowers, tiffany lamps, decorative mirror and lot more.

Last Updated on January 5, 2012

If you recently moved into a new studio apartment and now seek ways to spruce the interior without the need for a complete overhaul or time consuming design, we present a few inexpensive ideas to get you going.

Each one of our tips below is easy, fun and not too hard on the wallet. Let us know what you think and if you decide to give our tips a try, do come back here to the blog and leave a comment. We look forward to your inspired creations.

1. Mirrors

Mirrors are a great way to add size and personality to any room big or small, but small spaces in particular are great for the use of mirrors as they add depth to a room. Put them on a wall, ceiling or door and see the room magically expand. This is a trick often used by home decorators to make a room instantly appear larger. Try it today on your small space and see the difference.

2. Plants

Besides the nutrient quality of adding much needed air into a room, plants also appease a room by adding warmth and tranquility to the space. For good indoor air, try an English Ivy or Peace Lily and for a sexy makeover to any corner pick a plant that is large and charge. Ikea has a fantastic selection of indoor plants from desktop to floor size and in a variety of price points. Try a plant today in your small indoor space to both spruce and spice it up.

plant in corner floor
plant in corner floor

3. Bookshelves

Another popular secret employed by home decorators and interior designers is the strategic placement of bookshelves in smaller apartments and or rooms. If you’re short on space, try two long but thin bookshelves on either end of say, you’re TV console or living room table – which should center your room and give it much needed anchor. That’s a buzzword often used in interior design, that or I’ve been watching too many episodes of Nate Berkus.

two bookshelves in room
two bookshelves in room

4. Picture Frames

One inexpensive and fun way to really add color and personality to any studio apartment (no matter how drab) is via a series of different sized picture frames. Pick a wall (one that is preferably bare) and envision how you want to place each frame, the key here is to pick the same color but different sized picture frames. You can pick a theme, such as family photos only, photos from a special trip or a wall of friends. Have fun here and really adorn the wall with a series of awesome pictures and groovy accompanying frames.

picture frames on wall
picture frames on wall

As you can see there are a number of cool ways to spruce up your small studio apartment without resorting to lengthy renovations and or construction. A simple mirror here, a lovely plant there and or a mind blowing wall of picture frames – and you’re one step closer to home decor nirvana.

This guest article comes courtesy of Missy Diaz who writes for an high speed internet broadband provider. She recently moved into a small studio apartment where she writes on behalf of several clients and needs to spruce up her new place with the tips above.

Last Updated on January 5, 2012

French country, tribal, Caribbean…these all bring to mind a very distinct aesthetic. Design is influenced by all corners of the world, and the rich cultures of these influencers are apparent. Going all in and incorporating these styles into your own home can quickly look costume-y, especially if you are trying to mix different cultural designs throughout your house.

However, you can still chicly incorporate these beautiful, global-inspired designs into your home. The key is to think modern, not traditional. Whether you add a few modern accessories or completely transform your space to give homage to another part of the world, here are some modern interpretations of culturally-influenced design.


French Country can all-to-easily turn into a tribute to Little House on the Prairie. However, an all-white canvas and sleek lines makes it fresh. Plus, subway tile back splash is classic and can be incorporated into a lot of different styles.

French Ornate

modern French interior design

Fancy a more ornate, traditional French style but afraid of it becoming too over the top? The key is using fresh, modern colors and subdued details. Once you start mixing dark colors and lavish, conflicting patterns it can become extravagant and gaudy.

African Tribal

modern African interior design

Tribally-influenced design is all about bold patterns and colors. Give it a modern twist by tempering the color palette, opting for cool tones. In addition, playing up the graphic appeal of the tribal design can bring age-old traditions to present day.

Modern Moroccan

modern Moroccan interior design

Moroccan design is epitomes with deep, bold colors and lavish, ornate detail work. You can add it to your home without going over the top by adding Moroccan flare as a punch of color to a neutral space. Also, picking a brighter hue of Moroccan jewel tones will add a modern, yet whimsical twist.

German Modern

modern German interior design

Germanic design is known for its modern, architectural lines. However, it can easily look cold and dated, as if it was from the mod era. Warmth is in, so give German design a modern twist by creating a warm inviting space. How do you do this? Use warm, light wood tones and play with textures to add a cozy depth.

Adria Saracino is a freelancer, blogger, and home décor enthusiast. She writes for Pimsleur Approach, which sells language learning software—everything from pimsleur French to pimsleur German.

Photo Credits: Décor Pad, House Beautiful, Plan Home Design, Contemporist, A Designer Spot

Last Updated on January 4, 2012

Winter is well and truly here and what we all want most is a lovely warm home where we can be protected from the elements. In fact, a cold and draughty home just makes winter seem even harder. However there are lots of ways that you can keep your home warmer in winter using insulating techniques. Here are the top five home insulation techniques:


Did you know that the average home can lose more than twenty percent of its heat through badly insulated windows? That’s why double or even triple glazing is so important in terms of keeping your home warm. Although it can be costly, when you consider all the money you will be saving in terms of fuel bills it does seem worthwhile. Not to mention the fact that your home will be much more pleasant to live in. Check out this post from Apartment Therapy for window insulation tips.


A draughty door is not only incredibly irritating, it’s also a sure fire way to lose tons of heat from your home. Although it’s easy to see gaps between doors and door frames, if there are no gaps then it can be difficult to determine if there is a draught. One way to check is to hold some light material like a feather or piece of toilet roll up to the seams in your door. If there is a draught you will see the feather or loo roll moving.

Gaps at the bottom of doors can be remedied with a draught excluder whilst gaps between the door frame and wall can be filled in with caulk. Your front door needs to be very well insulated to protect your home from the elements and uPVC doors are incredibly effective in terms of insulation.


Loft lagging has been used as a form of insulation in homes for many years, but older homes may not have sufficient lagging as in the past less insulation was used than would be used in a modern build. Loft insulation should be at least six inches thick so if yours is less than this then it will need to be replaced.

Water Tank

An uninsulated water tank can cost you a lot of money because it will take more energy to heat your water and to keep it hot. You can buy specially designed jackets that can be placed over water tanks to help keep the water hot. In general hot water pipes don’t need insulating unless they run outside or run along a cold outside wall. However, if your water travels a long way between your tank and bathroom or kitchen then it can be worthwhile to insulate your pipes too.

Wall Cavities

Most homes are built with wall cavities that are filled with insulation during the building process. However, older homes may not have sufficient insulation or the insulation that was there may have deteriorated. It is possible to improve wall cavity insulation by drilling holes in the walls and filling them by blowing in materials like beads, plastic foam or mineral wool. However, this can be an expensive and laborious task so a cheaper alternative is to cover walls with cork or vinyl. Alternatively you can cover your walls in a thin layer of polystyrene before you decorate.

Good insulation will make your fuel bills cheaper and make your home warmer, so follow these simple tips to make sure that your home is warmer this winter.

Last Updated on January 3, 2012

Under cabinet lighting not only provides additional light for your counter workspace, it also creates a warm ambiance for the kitchen. Here’s how to install lights under kitchen cabinets.

There are a few options when it comes to installing under cabinet lighting. One of the simplest of the options is to install low voltage lights using a puck light kit. The kit includes small circular light discs you can install underneath cabinets. The power supply plugs into the wall so the installation doesn’t require any hardwiring or electrical work.

Purchase the under cabinet lighting kit with the level of voltage that works best for your kitchen. Tools you’ll need for the installation include Phillips and standard screw drivers, a hammer, pencil, ladder, tape measure and a drill.

Clear your workspace and remove everything from your countertops and the first shelf of your cabinets. This way you won’t have to be concerned about knocking things over or removing items are you work.

Plan and mark with a pencil where you’ll place the lights under the cabinets. Place the lights at least 12 inches apart for safety reasons. Put the lights close to the front of the cabinets so that you get the best lighting coverage for the countertop.

Plan where you’ll route your wires for the lighting. Choose a route where you can best conceal the wires and the power supply. Routing the wire behind the cabinets is an option if there’s space. If not you will need to drill holes and run the wires through the cabinets. You will ultimately route the wires to lead to the outlet behind your refrigerator. Don’t hide the wires behind the wall, otherwise you should opt for a hardwire installation instead.

Mount your lights into position under the cabinet using your drill. The wire on each light should face the back of the cabinet for routing. If the light has a lens cover remove it before you drill the light to the cabinet. You can snap the cover back on afterwards.

Put the power supply behind the refrigerator so that it’s concealed. This is where you’ll route your wires. Mount the wires along the route to the power supply. Use clips to hold the wires in place. Hide any extra wiring in the cabinet or in spaces in between. Connect all of your wires via wire plugs. Mount the switch or dimmer in a convenient location and connect it to the power supply so you can check out your work.

Do you want to get more information on the author? Karen Carlat is a contributor for cushy where you can get some interesting resources when it comes to furniture.

Last Updated on January 3, 2012

1. Purchase A Premier Lot On The Side Of A Well Known Mountain.

The location of your new modern home is just as important as the house itself and in many ways will affect its over design.

The following home is built on the western side of Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, AZ. The mountain is a well known and easily identifiable mountain in the valley.

Building a house on the side of a mountain has its advantages. First, it makes a statement to the neighborhood. It’s almost assumed the higher your house sits, the more prestige is associated with that house. Second, the views are unparalleled. Great views and context should always compliment a modern designed home. Of course, this will all usually come with a high price tag.

2. Excavate Immediately, Figure Out Where To Put The Debris Later.

If the land doesn’t have a home on it, it will have to be excavated and prepared for one.

Excavation for this home was started and completed in early 2000. However, this wasn’t your typical excavation. Excavation for a three story home built into the side of a mountain requires lots of machinery and manpower. The highest cliff faces reaches nearly 60 ft (roughly the size of the home once completed). Excavating all of this earth poses an obvious, but often under estimated problem; where do you put all this dirt?


The owner quickly realized the magnitude of the problem and luckily knew important people in the city. During the time of excavation, Phoenix began expanding its freeway system and he was able to use the excavated earth for some of the freeway’s onramps.

3. Hire An Architect To Design Without A Budget

Hiring an architect with knowledge and expertise to design a modern home is a great way to build a unique work of art. If you give the architect true artistic expression and a huge budget, the possibilities become endless.


Now that the site was prepared, it was time to design the actual home. Since the homeowner is involved in steel construction, he’s very familiar with the characteristics of steel. Using steel gives an architect an almost infinite amount of possibilities.

One of the most noticeable design features is the steel’s ability to interact directly with the mountain. This allows the rock face to be incorporated into the house. There are several places where this is noticeable. The most noticeable feature can be seen in the cave-like garage which is almost entirely enclosed by rock face. The ceiling height is a generous 20ft.

To further separate this house from the mainstream and make a modern stance, the entrance to the home is accessed by either elevator, or a stair case that just as sculptural as it is functional. Once you’ve transcended from the cavernous garage, you are greeted by a contemporary great room accented by generous windows with views of the city.
4. Wait 9 Years

Want to build anticipation around your new modern home? Try and wait 9 years  before you actually begin construction. Projects on this scale require a lot of time and planning, and during the early 2000’s, construction was booming. This forced the homeowner to push off construction on his home and focus on his growing steel company.

Waiting doesn’t automatically equal bad. Of course the longer you wait, the more expensive it becomes to build the home due to inflation. However there have been a lot of technological advances that may have made the wait worth it including: – automatically controlled sliding screens, a modern fireplace with a sliding panel for a flat screen TV, and a universal control linked to his smart phone that has the capabilities to control the home’s lights, TVs and sound.

5. Build Frame Out Of Steel


Steel is an extremely durable metal and can be used to create buildings and spans that seem to defy gravity. Without steel, this home would

not be able to rise to a height of 60 ft, or include enormous spans of frame-less glass. The importance of steel element in the home’s design and can be seen in several exposed beams around the house. Although you can achieve a modern and clean look without steel, it’s very difficult and expensive to include large openings without its use.


6. Hire Designers To Build A Functional Kitchen And Living Room

If you want to build a modern home, it’s all in the details. Finishes are crucial to making a statement. At this point, the homeowner was second guessing the layout of the kitchen and hired Phoenix Kitchen Remodeling Comapny, Pankow Construction to design a modern kitchen. The kitchen was designed using 3D software and renders were presented to the homeowner to make final decisions on appliances, cabinet selection, and layout. Further analyzing the kitchen in 3D, the decision to remove a wall separating the living and kitchen was an easy one. The open floor plan is an essential design element for modern living.



7. Build An Expensive Infinity Edge Pool

If you really want to add icing to the cake, an infinity edge pool is the best way to achieve this. What makes this pool unique is its integration into the rock face. Another unique and untraditional quality is the placement of the pool itself. It’s accessed by the second floor and looks down on the most the house.


You don’t have to take 10 years to build a modern masterpiece, but this house is an extreme case of taking your time to get it done right.

Article written by Phoenix Home Remodeling Contractor – Rob Pankow