Category Archives: How-To

Bring the Indoors Out! 5 Tips for Designing Your Outdoor Living Space

Decorating, How-To | | | 4 Replies

When the weather turns warm and we start to expand our living spaces outdoors again, it’s time to tie both indoors and out together. This spring and summer, we want to help you bring the indoors out! Embracing your outdoor spaces with the same mentality as your indoor decor will help you create a comfortable and cozy outdoor living space that you and your family won’t want to leave.

Take a look at our five top tips for putting together the perfect outdoor space this season.

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1. Layout.  Take the same amount of consideration when laying out your outdoor spaces as you did with your indoors. Don’t just schlep your new outdoor sofa into a corner of the patio — think about traffic patterns, view, conversation and symmetry.

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2. Color. When the weather’s warm, traffic tends to flow in and out of the house with ease. Shouldn’t your color palette do the same? Tie your outdoor decor to your indoor with pillows, textiles and your furniture material palette for a seamless design.

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3. Accessories. Today, outdoor accessories aren’t limited to beach balls and pool noodles. Outdoor lanterns, dishes, vases and side tables are built to withstand a summer outside. Look for accents in the same style and palette as your home’s interior to create a cohesive look.

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4. Textiles. We’re not just talking about pillows! Use your outdoor cushions, rugs, towels, umbrellas and poufs to blend your indoor decor with your outdoor decor.

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5. Ambiance. Above all else, a successful outdoor space is all about the ambiance. Your home has a unique feel — bring that same feel to your outdoor space, too. Do you love a little romance? Hang string lights on your covered porch. Do you appreciate comfort above all else? Fill your outdoor space with comfy pillows and plush cushions.

You might also like: The Glow of Summer: How to Decorate with Lanterns

Sofa Shopping Guide Part 3: 5 Things to Think About Before Choosing a Sofa Fabric

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Fabric is often the last thing we think about when choosing a sofa, but it’s one of the most vital parts of this important piece of furniture. Choosing the right fabric for you, your home, your family and your lifestyle will impact your sofa’s visual appeal and longevity.

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We spoke with our upholstery expert, Eric, the General Manager of our exclusive Sutter Street furniture workshop in North Carolina, to get his professional tips on choosing a sofa fabric. Take a look at his top tips, below!

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What will you use this sofa for? Think about where you plan on putting your new sofa before choosing its fabric. Is it going in your bedroom? Pick something plush and luxurious, since you’ll really be the only one using it. Is it going in a living room for a family of six? You might want to choose something sturdy that cleans easily, like one of our Performance Fabrics.

Think about your home’s palette. Color is just as important as the type of fabric you choose. Are you in your “forever” home? Think carefully about what will go with your home’s current, and potential future color palettes. 

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Consider neutrals for longevity.  “In my opinion, I think you get more longevity out of a sofa if you’re picking a good neutral fabric,” Eric says. “A sofa is really like a canvas for a room. You can put a throw on it, you can put decorative pillows on it — you can go a hundred different directions stylistically if you want.”

Be honest about your lifestyle. “Where are you in your lifestyle?” Eric asks. “If you’re young, with small kids, or if you’re going to have children soon, that might change what you want to put on your sofa.”

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Understand fabric maintenance. “Fine things require maintenance,” Eric says.  “You have to maintain the furniture if you want to get the proper longevity out of it. You’ll need to fluff it, flip the cushions and vacuum down in those crevices and creases.”

Read more about our Performance Fabric Collection here to find out which Pottery Barn fabric is right for you.

You might also like:
Sofa Shopping Guide Part 1: Know What You Want
Sofa Shopping Guide Part 2: Measure Your Space

The Glow of Summer: How to Decorate with Lanterns

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

It’s no secret that we love lanterns in the summer. Our latest collection speaks for itself! Glowing lanterns create the perfect ambiance indoors and outdoors, adding summer’s warmth to each room in the home.

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Take a look at some of our favorite ways to use lanterns both indoors and out to see how you can add a dose of summer style to your house.

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Add light to your living room. Replace a couple of your table lamps with large, metal lanterns filled with flameless candles. They’ll add the same ambient light to your living room with an entirely different look.

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Style your bedroom. We love how these two ceramic lanterns add color and warmth to a bedroom dresser vignette. The tray of coral completes the scene perfectly!

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Accent the outdoors. Lanterns are great outdoor accents. Use flameless candles to add light to your patio or pathway on warm summer nights.

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Hang them from the rafters. Try something traditional and hang lanterns from rope or ribbon. Hanging them at alternating heights will create a slightly more modern touch.

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Dress up a coffee table. A simple coffee table vignette with a lantern or two is all you need in an outdoor living room.

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Light up at dinnertime. Small, candlelit lanterns on tabletops make indoor or outdoor dining look romantic and feel special.

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… Or don’t light them at all! We love filling lanterns with favorite decorative objects. Use shells and coral in the summer, and ornaments and faux snow in the winter!

Tell us: How do you like to use lanterns in your home?

You might also like: The Power of the Perfect Accessory

Sofa Shopping Guide Part 2: Measure Your Space

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

It’s finally happening — your dream sofa has arrived at your home. It’s gorgeous! Now, it’s time to get it off the truck and into your living room. But, as anyone who has moved larger furniture knows, this is easier said than done. There’s so much that can go wrong — a misstep on the stairwell, a too-small front door or a mis-measured room can all have disastrous results.

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We spoke with Eric, the General Manager of our exclusive furniture workshop in North Carolina, Sutter Street, to get the scoop on how to make sure you find a sofa that fits your home’s size (and style).

Make a template. Instead of just guessing where your sofa will go and hoping it’ll fit, measure and make a template to get an accurate idea of how your sofa will fit in your home. “I’ll make a template out of butcher paper and lay it out where I want the sofa to be,” says Eric. “I just did this for an outdoor area where I want furniture to go. It helps to make sure it fits, that there’s room to get around it and that it doesn’t swallow the space.”

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Measure your doorway. There’s no worse feeling than having your dream sofa arrive and realize that it can’t (and won’t) fit through your living room door. Measure your doorway width and compare it to the sofa width.

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Give yourself some wiggle room.  If your doorway and your sofa are exactly the same width, you might not want to chance it. Struggling, pushing and shoving your sofa into your living room could cause some damage to the upholstery.

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Measure your home. “Walk the path that the sofa will have to take to get into your house,” says Eric. “Understand that path, and think about how the sofa will have to get into your room.”

You might also like: Sofa Shopping Guide Part 1: Know What You Want

Stay tuned for part 3 of our sofa shopping series next week! 

Sofa Shopping Guide Part 1: Know What You Want

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

No matter what your budget, buying a sofa is a big investment of time and money. Getting a new sofa is a big deal, and the process can be stressful and time consuming. There are so many things to think about! We want to help make sofa shopping a little easier and more enjoyable for you, so we chatted with Eric, the General Manager of our exclusive North Carolina Furniture Workshop, Sutter Street, to get his professional expertise on what it takes to find the perfect sofa.

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First on the to-do list? Know what you want. Take a look at Eric’s tips below!

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1. Know what you’re buying. Understand the quality, ask questions.  More than anything, you need to feel the furniture with your own hands. “There’s so much you can find out by just putting your hands on a piece of upholstered furniture. Put your hands on top of the arm, the back and feel what’s there,” says Eric. “You shouldn’t be able to feel the wood. You’ll feel firmness, but you shouldn’t be able to feel staples or nails or wood through the fabric.”

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2.  Decide where you’ll use your sofa before you start looking. “Where you use a sofa is going to determine what kind of furniture you should purchase. For example, in a den, you might want a piece of big, chunky furniture like Pearce, that can stand the test of time,” says Eric. “It’ll also determine what kind of fabric you select. You might not want something that’ll wrinkle. Everyday Suede will stay looking smooth and soft.”

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3. Make sure it fits you. “If you’re the type of person who’s really particular that everything is crisp and clean and lines up, then a slipcovered sofa is just not for you,” says Eric. “It’s going to look lived in. Make sure the styling of your sofa and its maintenance fits you.”

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4. Understand the difference between a floor model and a new sofa. Seeing a sofa in person is important, but it’s also important to understand that a sofa in a store won’t be exactly the same as the one you purchase.  “Your sofa will adjust to you,” says Eric. “Any sofa in a store has been sat on and bounced around on numerous times. Yours will sit like that eventually, but not at first.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of our sofa shopping series next week! 

10 Expert Spring Cleaning Tips from a Pottery Barn Designer

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

There’s something about the weather turning warm that makes us want to throw open all the windows, scrub the floors and give our home a fresh start. Spring cleaning is an instinct for many of us — but where to begin? We had a great Facebook Chat with our organization expert, Angela, to help us get a jump start on spring cleaning this year.

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1. Functional can be comfortable and beautiful. “Our Samantha Entryway Bench in Black is great because it has cubbies for our baskets which help with extra organizing. We love how the black bench contrasts with the white of our Gabrielle System and makes your room feel more homey.”

2. Donate it! “Spring is a time to refresh, renew and revive. It’s a new start! With all new starts, it’s important to get rid of the old. If you haven’t needed it or used it in a year — donate it. Getting rid of the clutter will help you see the beautiful things you already have in your life.”

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3. Set aside a spot for your pets. “We love having pets in the kitchen because they’re a part of the family. Fortunately we have pet food and treat canisters that match our Cambria Dinnerware, so your pet’s dishes can match the family’s! 

For your pup’s toys and leashes, use our bone-shaped Doggie Toy Basket right next to his dishes.”

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4. Stop the paper flow at the front door. “All you need is a beautiful basket on your countertop or entry table — that’s what I do. Our large Daytrip Lidded Basket is big enough to hold magazines, and the lid keeps everything hidden and out of sight.”

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5. Organize your kitchen according to workflow. “Keep things that you’ll actually cook with close to you. Our beautiful Spice Jars, Cask Crocks and Copper Canisters are great for keeping cooking tools and other essentials that you use often right at hand. To keep things from appearing cluttered, use multiples of the same organizational item.”

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6. Clear your countertops. “Save your valuable tabletop and counter space for entertaining and dinner. Our Daily System is a great way to get papers up off horizontal surfaces and up on the wall. It’s an instant visual reminder! Each family member can have their own file bin or pin board — plus, it comes with a stand for phones and iPads!”

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7. Take small appliances out of storage. “Get them out of the cabinets! Having appliances on hand reminds you of what you have. When things are out of sight they’re out of mind. Get the most out of your appliances by putting them out on display with our Gabrielle Organization System.

8. Declutter and organize your outdoor spaces, too. “The Torrey All Weather Wicker Cube and Hampstead Teak Storage Trunk can keep all of our big outdoor items on your porch or patio safe from weather damage. I’d put smaller items in one of our Galvanized Metal Bins, they’re perfect for candles and other accessories.”

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9. Whatever it is you have out on your counter, make it beautiful. “You can take your treasured kitchen items that are beautiful objects and put them out onto the counter. Keep everything else that’s less attractive in your cabinets. Our Pantry Plate Storage Baskets can help you keep your every day dishes dishwasher-accessible.”

10. Have fun with organization! “What’s for dinner? What are we eating? Do you hear those questions a lot? Our Cafe Chalkboard is the perfect way to let your family know what’s for dinner.”

 

Kitchen Layout: How to Set Up a Work Triangle

Decorating, How-To | | | Leave a comment

Have you heard of the kitchen work triangle? If you’re planning to do any work on your kitchen in the near future, knowing the basics of this ergonomic rule is a must. We’ll walk you through the concept and its pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for your new kitchen’s design.

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What is a kitchen work triangle?

The kitchen work triangle was developed sometime during the 1940s, and has determined the layout of most kitchens built since then. This concept connects the three work areas in the kitchen: The sink, the range and the refrigerator.

The traditional rule states that the three “legs” of the triangle should add up to between 12 and 26 feet. Ideally, no traffic paths from other parts of the house pass through any party of the work triangle to keep the cooking area clean and clear.

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Why does it work?

The kitchen work triangle helps to ensure that everything is a comfortable distance from each other to improve efficiency. When the points of a kitchen work triangle are too far from each other, you’ll end up running around the kitchen trying to cook your dinner. When the points are too close, you and your kitchen will feel cramped.

Tip: Since you want your kitchen work triangle to be clear of traffic from other parts of the house, it’s often best to keep items like the sink and refrigerator (which are used by everyone in the house) on the outer points of the kitchen work triangle.

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Do I have to follow this rule?

The short answer is, no, you don’t always have to incorporate the kitchen work triangle into a kitchen’s design. Today, we use the kitchen much differently than the brains behind the kitchen work triangle did in the 1940s.

While it’s certainly worth it to keep the concept of the kitchen work triangle in mind, you may have to make adjustments and design decisions based on what you’re working with. If you have a single wall in a small apartment, for example, the kitchen work triangle just isn’t going to happen.

You might also like: Guest Post: Kitchen Update Tips for Any Budget

10 Decorating Tips from Interior Designer Nicole Gibbons

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

Whether you live in a massive mansion or a tiny urban apartment, decorating your home usually isn’t as easy as it looks. Everything from choosing pillows to painting walls requires attention to detail and a lot of work — it’s not for the faint of heart!

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Photo courtesy of Nicole Gibbons

But interior designer Nicole Gibbons has mastered these challenges with excellent taste and a flair for the unexpected. That’s why we chose her for our In the Spotlight designer for February. This week, Gibbons did a Facebook chat with our fans to help them out with their design dilemmas and share some of her top decorating tips. We’ve compiled some of our favorite tidbits below — take a look and get inspired for your own home!

1. Don’t be afraid to mix materials in your kitchen. “Just make sure you contrast colors. For example, you could use a dark black granite on your counters and a white quartz on the island. If you’re going to use two different materials, use the same color on your cabinetry.”

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2. Design your wall display to suit your style. “You can take different approaches when hanging a gallery wall. One is to hang your photos so that they’re all aligned in a symmetrical fashion. I like a more eclectic approach so I left a 3-inch width between each photo on at least one side in my living room.”

Tip: “I like to leave at least 10 to 12 inches of space from the top of the sofa to the bottom of the frames.”

3. Get creative when decorating a rented home. “I love stenciling walls in rental homes and apartments particularly because it’s super easy to do and paint over later, unlike wallpaper.”

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4. Don’t toss an old chair — reupholster it! “When choosing your fabric, don’t be afraid to do something a little out of the box! Look at the color palette of your room and try and pull out one or two colors that work with your space. Or do a solid, fun, punchy color that’s a nice contrast to the rest of your decor.  If you’re afraid of color, you can never go wrong with a neutral. Try adding fun details like nailheads!”

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5. Even if you love white, embrace a little color. “If you love all-white, choose white bedding that has an embroidered detail on it in a bright color. I love crisp, monogrammed white bedding with colorful embroidery. The Grand Embroidered Collection from Pottery Barn is great — I actually have it in Porcelain Blue, which is really soft but adds a subtle hint of color. It can really liven up a space. “

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6. Think outside of the box for wall art. “If you’re not into traditional artwork like paintings or photography, try framing a textile. That can be really interesting. It can be a piece from your travels or just something you love. Or you can use a sculptural art piece or a large mirror. Mirrors are great for brightening up a room because they reflect light and make a space look larger. “

7. Mix and match your furniture styles. “I like to balance traditional pieces with more modern elements. So when you’re decorating around your mother’s sofa, try incorporating pieces that offer a nice contrast in style with cleaner lines that help create balance to the more ornate details of the sofa. “

8. Switch it up! I love changing things around. I think it’s really fun to change things around pretty frequently. Even if you don’t change your entire arrangement, maybe you swap out chairs. Take chairs from your dining room and switch them with chairs in your living room. Or restyle your table top. I change my coffee table styling almost every week, with different books, flowers and trays.

At the minimum, I’d suggest doing something at least every couple years to liven up your space. Get new curtains or a couple new throw pillows to switch up your look.

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Photo courtesy of Nicole Gibbons

9. Mix silhouettes. “So if you have a more angular sofa, try to use chairs with a more rounded silhouette or vice versa. And vice versa. If you have an old roll arm sofa, try to choose chairs that are more angular. The contrast is much more interesting.”

10. Edit, edit, edit. “A little editing can never hurt! The less is more approach can often be more impactful. But, if all else fails, hire a decorator!”

Read more about Nicole Gibbons at Pottery Barn. Plus, check out her blog for even more great design tips.

The Power of the Perfect Accessory

Decorating, How-To | | | Leave a comment

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While the perfect piece of furniture can certainly make a space shine, often it’s the right accessory that can make or break a room’s ambiance. The perfect accessory is powerful — it speaks volumes about the room, and the person who chose it. We spoke to interior designer Suzanne Tucker to learn the ins and outs of accessorizing properly.

Take a look at her 5 top tips for accessorizing, below.

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Include accessories that engage the senses. “We should all live in spaces that entice and delight our senses,” says Tucker. “Every room in the house can incorporate seductive elements that not only please the eye, but also the touch, the nose and the ear: a soft cashmere throw, a beautifully embroidered pillow, a fragrant candle or bouquet of flowers.”

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Function doesn’t always have to come into play. Sometimes the best accessories don’t make a lot of sense. That dog sculpture doesn’t have to serve a purpose — you just have to love it.

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However, function is key for decorative lighting. “When choosing lighting, the accessory and functionality are inextricably linked,” says Tucker. “Lighting greatly affects mood, so it should be flattering as well as functional.” Mix and match lighting — don’t be afraid to play with style! But most importantly, make sure each piece works and serves its purpose.

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Avoid matchy-matchy accessories. It’s always great when things coordinate, but you don’t have to match everything perfectly in each and every room of your house. “An accessory should tie into a room’s overall mood and feel, but decorating isn’t a game of matching every color perfectly,” says Tucker. “Often times a bold or playful contrast … is just what brings out the personality and interest in a room.”

Old is new again. “I always encourage my clients to have at least one piece of age in a room,” says Tucker. “The patina and imperfections of such items speak to me of character and life lived, they bring soul to a room.”

You might also like: Guest Post: How to Style Your Sofa

6 Ways to Set Up a Gallery Wall

Decorating, How-To | | | 7 Replies

For many of us, the road to a complete gallery wall is a long and tricky one. It often starts with a blank wall and comes to an abrupt stop with a pile of frameless art and photography.

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Finding the perfect frame is often the point where many of us give up on designing a gallery wall.  Our recommendation? Stick to something simple (like our Wood Gallery Frames) and let your art shine.

Once you’ve (finally) framed your art, it’s time to move on to the hard part: hanging it.  I know, it sounds easy — just hammer a nail into the wall, right? — but prep and planning is key to a successful gallery wall. Once you start hammering away, there’s no turning back.

We’ve pulled together six of our favorite styles to setting up a gallery wall — from the simple grid to the step-by-step staircase style. Take a look at our detailed diagrams of each style, below, along with our favorite Pottery Barn examples.

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Spiral: Start with a center frame, and spiral out the rest of your frames from there.

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Don’t forget to maintain an even amount of space between each frame for consistency.

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Centered: This simple layout requires minimal effort. Just choose one or two frames to center and align the left and right sides with one another.

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We think this works particularly well if you’re trying to highlight particular pieces of art.

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Outer Align: You’ll want to make sure all of the outer frames are aligned for this layout.

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Note that the center frames will meet slightly closer together at the right and left sides.

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Reflection: Create order out of chaos with this arrangement!

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Don’t worry about arranging by size — when everything’s matched up and aligned at the center, the display makes perfect sense.

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Staircase: Staircase gallery walls require a slightly different approach.

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Hang your frames following the same upward angle of the staircase.

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Nine Square: Don’t dismiss the simple grid.

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It’s a basic arrangement, but it makes a big impact.

Read more about how to set up your gallery wall in our digital guide.

Bring Spring Into Your Home with These Flower Arranging Tips

Decorating, Entertaining, How-To | | | 2 Replies

When everything starts to bloom and blossom outside, it only makes sense that we want to bring the same cheer into our homes. Spring is the perfect time to start experimenting with floral displays. Don’t worry — if your flower arranging experience is limited to grocery store bouquets, we’re here to help. Karen Chang Burling, owner of Northern California-based Huckleberry Karen Designs, shared some of her expert tips to help get you started.

Photography: This Love of Yours Photography

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Beginners should stick to one type of flower. Sometimes simple works best! You don’t need to have every flower at the market to make a beautiful display. “Hydrangeas, peonies and ranunculus are fairly easy to work with,” says Chang-Burling. “I would also recommend that beginners start with bud vases (like these), which don’t require a lot of flowers to make a big impact.”

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Take care of your flowers! Without proper care, your flowers will wilt or die quickly, throwing all of your money and time down the drain. “Once you remove flowers from their water source, always re-cut the stems when placing them back into the water, and let the flowers drink some water for a couple hours before arranging them,” says Chang-Burling. “Remove all the leaves that would be touching the water in the vase, and give your flowers fresh water daily.”

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Don’t let hay fever stop you. “If you are allergic to flowers, look around for some spring time foliage. A cluster of dusty miller foliage makes quite the statement along with a bouquet of geranium leaves.”

Match your flowers to your container. The bigger the container, the bigger your flowers should be. “Choose your vase first, then decide what type and size of flowers would look best in it,” says Chang-Burling.

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Get creative with your vessels. “I use wine glasses, chalices, mugs and tumblers all the time as vases,” says Chang-Burling. “I believe that anything that can hold water can also hold flowers. I have a set of these glasses at home, and they definitely hold flowers more than a glass of orange juice.”

Have fun! “There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to flower arranging so go with your instinct and enjoy yourself,” says Chang-Burling.

You might also like: Fresh Winter Flowers for Everyday Entertaining

Set Your Table for Spring: Tips from Camille Styles

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

We know — it still looks like winter outside. Will Spring ever get here? While we’re waiting for the sunshine to come back, we’ve started planning for Spring party season.

We talked to styling and entertaining expert Camille Styles to get the scoop on how to get our tabletops ready for Spring. Read on to get her top tips!

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Keep it simple. “Sometimes simple is best. Set the table with a few pretty items, but don’t clutter it up with an abundance of candles or tchotchkes. A little restraint feels fresh and modern.”

Choose a menu that shows off nature’s beauty. “Spring menus are all about letting bright produce be the star of the show. I throw peas, asparagus and artichoke hearts into spring pasta dishes and frittatas, serve shortcakes piled high with sweetened berries and garnish cocktails with the fresh mint that’s starting to go wild in my herb garden.”

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Take advantage of seasonal florals. “I love using a huge bunch of cherry blossom branches, grouped into an oversized glass jug to place on the center of my dining table. It’s the most dramatic centerpiece I have on my table all year and it’s also the simplest to arrange.”

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Use natural materials. “Lightweight linen runners add a touch of polish, but still let the beautiful edges of a wood table show.”

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Don’t let your fine china go to waste. “Don’t wait for a “special occasion” to break out your best things! I use linen napkins on the table almost every night, even if it’s just my husband and me, and it makes every night feel special. Life’s too short not to enjoy your favorite things on a daily basis!”

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Make everything pretty — even the water! “For a dinner party, I infuse water with herbs and citrus slices— it looks beautiful on the table and tastes so refreshing.”

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Use one unexpected element. “I love to bring a touch of the outdoors in by adorning each place setting with one surprising natural element like an herb sprig, seed pods or even an edible like a fresh radish or baby artichoke. Just place on top of each napkin and tuck the place card underneath for a gorgeous presentation.”