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Fall Edition 2019 page 8

How to use decorative pillows Add new colours and textures to a room for the changing seasons.

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Choosing the right sofa For limited budgets, a good sofa is a great long-term investment.

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To-do list for the fall

FREE! Courtesy of

Thirteen outdoor tasks to winterize your home & garden.







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For Some, declutter is a bad word To-do list for the fall How to use decorative pillows How to nail a gallery wall Seven fireplace safety tips Top five remodeling projects for fall Affordable kitchen facelift 15 How to choose the right sofa Rules to dress your table Optimize conditions for a better sleep

Available on-line at: pgcitizen.ca General Inquiries | 250-562-2441 Publisher | Colleen Sparrow Editor | Neil Godbout Director of Advertising | Shawn Cornell Design & Layout | Grace Flack A division of


For Some,

declutter is a bad word Books are more than objects. They are filled with ideas, stories, versions of ourselves, memories. Bookshelves are like your wardrobe: They send a message. And the message these famous book lovers shared with us is loud and clear: Books spark joy.

Jane Green I’ve run out of space. Books are starting to get stacked up on the floor, underneath tables, underneath chairs, on top of tables. They’re everywhere. With no more room on the bookshelves, I’ve been eyeing this gorgeous French armoire that takes up an entire wall. That wall is just perfect for shelves and would make the room warmer. I know, however, that my husband really likes the armoire. He sees: storage, storage, storage. I see: books, books, books. We’ll see who wins. For years, I couldn’t get rid of anything. I have had to learn to manage the flow. Paperbacks I tend not to keep unless I love them and know I’m going to reread them. Hardcovers are really hard for me to get rid of. They all signify a time in my life. They all have stories around the stories. I will sometimes just stand there and look at my books and remember. STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 4


Martellus Bennett, former NFL player, at his studio in Los Angeles.

Washington Post photo



The first place I go in someone’s house is their bookshelves. You can tell exactly who they are. I used to do something that I now realize was a bit creepy. After my first book was published and very successful, I was looking for a flat in London. Almost every flat I went into had my book on the shelf. I’d take it down and sign it! Sometimes, I even personalized it: “To Julia, with love, Jane Green.” I’ve never heard from anyone, but if they ever come across that, they’ll likely freak out. Last summer, I started a little mobile library called the Remarkable Bookcycle. For 35 years, there was a bright pink bookstore in my town called Remarkable Book Shop. We had this cargo tricycle just sitting in our garage. I paid a high school student to turn it into a mobile free library. We cycle it around the beach in summer. I lurk around the bookcycle; I love to watch what happens. What’s extraordinary is that everyone gathers around the bookcycle and has conversations. I’m now able to get rid of books much more easily knowing they’re going to a good home. I think I like to be surrounded by books when I’m writing, but the truth is I don’t. I’m easily distracted. I’ve done my best writing at my local public library in one of those little cubbies with noise-canceling headphones. If I need to do some research, I just make a note for later. If I go to a book or online, the whole day could be gone. Writing takes focus, and books pull mine in a million directions. I subscribe to Nancy Lancaster’s rule of decorating; she’s an American decorator who moved to England in the ‘20s. She brought the English country-house style into the mainstream. Her rules were that a home should always have books, candles and flowers. I walk into so many hous-


es today that a conversahave been tion. I may decorated. A home needs a bit of never get They’re to meet curated clutter, and exquisite. I that person that curated clutter find them or talk has to include things beautiful: to them, two artbut I can that tell the story of fully placed still learn your life. objets, stunso much – Jane Green ning coffee from them table books. through For a mintheir books. ute, I think, “I wish my house I organize by ideas. If I’m looked like this.” But then I re- writing about dinosaurs, I’ll member I don’t feel like taking have every single book about off my shoes and curling up dinosaurs already in the same on the sofa in these homes. In section – children’s books, fact, I sit there terrified I’m go- history books, comic books. ing to spill red wine. A home For me, Alice in Wonderland needs a bit of curated clutter, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the and that curated clutter has Galaxy are together because to include things that tell the they’re both about traveling story of your life, of what you through another universe, love. For me, that’s books. finding another world. I like to have a book in my hand. It’s super motivating Martellus Bennett when you can look back and I have a couple thousand books now, so I had to take my see how much you’ve already read, how many pages are library out of the house and behind you. It’s like running: into my studio. But we still have books all over the house. If you can look back and see how far you’ve come, you’re I like to stack them on the inspired to keep on going. floor, use them as decoration, That’s why e-readers are hard. put them on a coffee table. I I tried, but I like to feel things. like them within reach. When I like to look around me and you’re surrounded by them, see all the books, all the posyou’re more inspired to pick them up. We’re in a new house sibilities. I don’t ever want to and even my wife said, “I kind be the smartest person in the room. As long as I have books of miss the books. Where are around me, I won’t be. we going to put them?” I was like, “I thought you’d never ask.” I plan on building José Andrés a library in the house so my My book collection is little daughter can be surrounded bit messy. I have books in by them. I want shelves on the bathroom, books in the the staircase, too, so you’re TV room. My wife and I both reminded to read every time have books in the bedroom, on you walk up and down. When both sides of the bed. Books you’re surrounded by books it in the main library, books in reminds you of what you don’t the dining room. And in the know. kitchen, we have whatever we Whenever I start a project, I are working with at that mostart with books. I don’t go to ment. Right now, it’s a book the Internet. On the Interfrom a chef in Spain, from the net, algorithms are the new 1890s. I have a lot of books librarian. And you can pay the everywhere. algorithm to offer up certain It gives you a feeling of procontent. That’s why everything tection. I like the smell of old starts to feel the same, because books – especially old books we’re all going to the same that have a dried flower, a source. I want to find my own piece of paper, a note on the result. I look at every book as edge. It’s fascinating. For a guy

like me who left his country young, it’s almost like my cape. I’m more powerful with them around. The Kindle works very well for new books. But when you want to have a true window into the past, if you have the original version of it, it’s very powerful. If you don’t really understand the first edition of The Joy of Cooking, then you really don’t understand The Joy of Cooking. The first Joy gives you a window into what was happening in America in the beginning of the 1900s. Sometimes we forget that more information doesn’t equal better information. I have enough books in my house for the rest of my lifetime. I have more than 30 Japanese manga books that I haven’t even opened, and at least 26 comic books from a Spanish comic. I don’t give away books to make room for more. I’m not in that moment in my life yet. I’m still a keeper. A book that I have in my bedroom is by Leopoldo Alas, a very important novelist in Spain at the end of the 19th century. His novel Adios, Cordera tells the story of two kids in a rural Spanish area that’s meeting new technology. It’s a beautiful story that I’ve read several times. I like melancholy, and this is a very melancholy book. They see their cow, Cordera, leaving on the train. And then one of the boys leaves on the same train to go to war. It’s about how modernity is great sometimes, but it can disturb the peaceful life of normal people who just want to live their lives. Every time I read this book, I find something new. The connection to Washington, for example. I had a place across the street from the Old Post Office, and there’s a plaque stating it was where the first commercial telegraph was sent. I thought that was a hint when I read it, of all things connecting: that all these stories mix together in the beautiful chaos of life. AUTUMN 2019 | NORTHERN HOME

Home & Garden

To-do list for the fall

Thirteen outdoor tasks to winterize your home

When the days start to get shorter and colder, you know it’s time to prepare your home and garden for winter. To help you out, here’s a handy list of outdoor chores to get done this fall: Plant autumn bulbs: before the first frost, plant the bulbs that you want to bloom next spring (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, etc.). 2 Protect weaker plants: cover the bases of weaker, dormant perennials with mulch (as required by your hardiness zone). Also, consider pro­tecting recently planted shrubs and the trunks of younger trees. 3 Clean up the grounds: to avoid the possibility of carpenter ant and ro­dent infestations, remove all dead leaves, branches and firewood you find near the walls and foundation of your home. In taking this step, you’ll also be removing fire hazards. 4 Relocate potted plants: if you have plants



that need to stay warm, it’s time to bring them inside. 5 Check the foundation and exterior walls: locate and seal all cracks to prevent water from seeping in and causing damage to your home. 6 Cut the water supply: empty then store garden hoses and shut all outdoor water outlets to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting over winter. 7 Close the pool: drain the water, remove the skimmer basket, empty the filter, remove the pool ladder and set up the winter cover. 8 Prune branches that are close to your house: not only will you prevent them from damaging the exterior of your home, but you’ll also eliminate a potential bridge for heat-seeking parasites. 9 Inspect the roof: replace any dama­ged shingles (split, curled, wavy, loose, etc.). If you have a flat roof made of asphalt and gravel, make sure the crushed stone covers the whole surface. Also, remove all debris and check the flashing. For best results, call a professional roofer for a maintenance inspection. 10 Sweep the chimney: sweep your chimney — or have it swept by an expert — in order to reduce fire hazards. Moreover, check the

chimney cap or put one in place. This simple device prevents animals from being able to sneak into your home. 11 Store garden furniture: wash all outdoor furniture then store it or shelter it with protective covers. All cushions, however, should be brought indoors. Be sure to also store the barbecue (after cleaning the grill and removing the propane tank, of course). 12 Fence the vents: to keep rodents out of your home, place grills on all of your vents (i.e. extractor fan, bathroom fan, dryer, central vacuum, etc.). If you already have grills in place, inspect them to make sure they’re in good shape. Also, make certain that each valve closes properly. 13 Clean the gutters: remove leaves (wait until they all fall) and other debris from your gutters so that water can flow as it’s supposed to. If you don’t, standing water could freeze and damage the gutters. Also, take the opportunity to assess your gutters and, if necessary, strengthen them.


How to use decorative


Jura KONCIUS A benefit (and hazard) of my job as a design writer is spending chunks of time with decorating experts in beautiful homes. I always learn something from pros who have a refined eye for detail. Pillows can so easily be changed up for a new look, whether seasonally or just to add some new colors and textures to a room. Walk into any furniture store, and you’ll see aisles of pillows for about $20 that are organized by colour and size. Are some better than others? I decided to dig into this subject with a few


designers. Although they usually go with custom pillow designs for clients, they still had plenty of advice about off-the-rack pillow purveyors.

Vintage fabrics Virginia Tupker says she’s always on the lookout for vintage textiles to make into pillows to mix into the assortments she selects to add texture and pattern to a room. You can look for such fabrics on your travels or on eBay. “To cover a chair or a sofa is a big fabric commitment. But for a pillow, an antique or vintage textile can be a splash of colour, and you can change it

out for the seasons,” the Connecticut-based designer says. “It adds so much personality and feels eclectic and lived-in and everything doesn’t just feel brand new. It adds a lot of soul.” Turkish-corner pillows are a favourite shape for interior designers, she says. She says this technique tucks in the corners so they appear rounded. “It’s an Old World technique coming back,” she says. “This shape feels extremely chic and makes you think of Bunny Mellon and her home in Antigua. It’s very popular with my younger clients now.”

Consistency Designer Barry Dixon says there are a lot of reasons pillows should be made of the same fabric on both sides. “I tell clients that if a pillow has a print on one side with a plain backing, it’s like combing the front of your hair and forgetting about the back,” Dixon says. “You’re not finished.” He says you can always see the back of a pillow from a corner or looking over a sofa, and if the back of it’s just white or plain canvas, “your eye will go to it and notice.” If both sides are the same, you’ll get twice the wear out of the pillow. “One side doesn’t

have to take all the abuse,” Dixon says. “Every time I fluff a sofa, I turn over the cushions and the pillows as well – because it immediately looks plump and fresh. It’s as important as turning a mattress.”

Plumpness Kelley Proxmire loves picking out pillow fabric. Sometimes it’s the first thing she selects for a space, and she doesn’t hesitate to use the most expensive fabric in the room on the pillows. It will help them stand out and have the most impact, she says. To make them look fuller and plumper, Proxmire says, she AUTUMN 2019 | NORTHERN HOME

stuffs a form two inches bigger than the pillow size into the cover. (She would use a 24-inch form for a 22-inch cover.) “It makes them look nice and full,” says Proxmire. She also recommends hidden zippers for a more polished look.

Pick a larger size If you have a keen eye, you can find some great-looking pillows in big-box stores but don’t buy the smallest pillow on the shelf, designer Erin Paige Pitts says. “The problem for me with many pre-made pillows is they are too small. I prefer larger pillows – 22 inches square or 24 inches square,” says Pitts. “Don’t buy 18-inch or 20-inch pillows. They look cheap.” To keep the filling full and lofty, she suggests a 90/10 or 80/20 mix of feather and down. “I still do the karate chop on my pillows,” she says. “But I don’t like them totally pointy on the ends. Shake them to loosen them up a bit so the points aren’t as sharp.”


Washington Post photoS

Left, designer Virginia Tupker suggests lining a sofa with pillows in different fabrics to reflect your own style. These include some cotton designs by Les Indiennes. Top right, to make pillows look plump and inviting, Kelly Proxmire usually stuffs hers with a form that’s two inches bigger than the pillow cover. Below, Barry Dixon advises clients to buy two-sided pillows with the same fabric on both sides.


How to nail a

gallery wall Every now and then, a design blog will declare gallery walls “over” – a fad that’s had its moment. But they’re a decorating staple, says Susan Tynan, founder and chief executive of Framebridge, an online framing company. “I get asked a lot whether I think the gallery wall trend will go away anytime soon,” Tynan says. “It’s not a trend. It’s been around for hundreds of years.” In 17th-century Paris, the paintings of recent graduates of the Royal Academy were hung floor to ceiling so as many as possible could be viewed, creating a sensation and inspiring grand salonstyle museum exhibitions that continue to this day. This arrangement style eventually became popular with collectors and art lovers.

A gallery wall by Framebridge.

There’s no end in sight. Some of the top designers showed off gallery walls in this year’s high-end Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York. And for the more timid and budget-strapped among us, an army of experts, online tools and apps have popped up to help consumers curate artwork - and get over their fear of hammering multiple holes in their walls. “Gallery walls give a visual wow factor,” says Paula Wallace, founder and president of Savannah College of Art and Design. “Lots of residences today are small. Instead of scattering postage-stamp-size works of art all over, focus attention and care on one


wall and arrange your works of art and collectibles. With a salon wall, all rules are out the window. If it pleases you, mix modern and vintage frames, traditional art with contemporary. It’s all fine.” A gallery wall (or salon wall) is loosely defined as a collection of items: framed artwork, photographs and personal treasures hung in a grouping. Search #gallerywall on Instagram, and you’ll see more than 865,000 incarnations, some hung in millennialfriendly symmetrical rows, some Bohemian assemblages in mismatched frames. “You see gallery walls all through history, whether in grand estates in Moscow,

at Monticello or in Diana Vreeland’s iconic apartment in New York,” says Michelle Adams, editor and creative adviser at Artfully Walls, an online company that sells the work of more than 450 artists reproduced in digital giclee prints and has a collection for Anthropologie. It also sells precurated gallery walls you can try on for size with an online tool that shows how they will look in your room. “We see people mixing in a lot of personal photos, and even wall-hanging plants have become part of the gallery wall today,” she says. “They’ll even mix in Samsung’s Frame TV that looks like a piece of art.” Interior designers say the

Washington Post photo

gallery wall is frequently on clients’ wish lists. “When I start working with someone, I ask them to send me photos of rooms that inspire them,” says designer Miles Redd of the New York firm Redd Kaihoi. “Invariably they show me that one wall of eclectic art that everybody loves and wants to have.” Designer Sheila Bridges filled an entire wall with art in her tiny 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House room. Her theme in her “Le Salon Des Chiens” was the “many-faceted relationships between humans and canines.” The gallery mixes portraiture, needlepoint and evocative photos from the civil rights movement. “I usually AUTUMN 2019 | NORTHERN HOME

start with the important work in the middle, sometimes a mirror,” Bridges says. “But for my show house room I chose a photo of Martin Luther King. I like to combine different frames and textures, and both horizontal and vertical.” There’s no one way to organize a wall. Some gallery walls have the same style frames or all the same color frames; some have artworks that share a theme, such as travel, or a certain shade of chartreuse. Some just reflect the whim of the collector. “It’s a collage you are making, and it’s all about relationships,” Redd says. “You hold things up, and if it feels good you keep going.” The grid styles that are popular right now, Framebridge creative director Tessa Wolf says, can give your place a clean look while still portraying your personal style. “A lot of overthinking goes into choosing art and making a gallery wall, but it should be


fun choosing things that you like to look at every day,” Adams says. “It should show what your interests are to people when they walk into a room.” Not sure what is really you? Help is everywhere. West Elm’s Design Crew offers free in-home consultations on how to arrange your wall. Then to install, the store charges $129 for hanging up to 10 pieces of art. Framebridge started selling framing online in 2014 and started a gallery wall consultation service a year later. This year, it opened its first two brick-and-mortar stores, in Washington and suburban Bethesda, Md. “It sounds like it should be so easy, but people just struggled so much,” Wolf says. For $199, an online Framebridge consultant will help you organize your artwork into a gallery wall and provide one custom layout mock-up and $39 toward your framing order. Last year, the company

launched a pre-designed gallery wall collection that includes three to 12 framed photos made from digital pictures customers upload. “We heard from people that they wanted a very specific look that they’d seen on Instagram and Pinterest,” Wolf says. Each predesigned gallery wall comes with a life-size template to tape on your wall so you’ll know exactly where to hammer. Framebridge customized a hallway gallery wall of 14 framed photos for Alexandra Sullivan’s Winchester, Mass., home using mostly pictures stored in her iPhone. They printed them, framed them and gave her a layout. “This hallway is in view from our back stairs, kitchen and front door, so it’s a high-traffic area,” Sullivan says. “It was a great spot to showcase the images that make me happiest - photos of our babies, wedding, honeymoon and dog.” As for installation, David Kassel, who owns ILevel art

placement and installation company in New York, recommends enlisting a second pair of hands to hold things up before you hammer, mix up sizes and use picture hooks, as plain nails often aren’t strong enough in the wall by themselves. He’s not a fan of adhesive hooks, either, which he says can’t hold the weight of most framed artworks and can discolor walls. “Fret not” is his mantra: You’re not causing any structural damage if you hang something and later want to move it. If you still can’t bring yourself to put nails all over your perfectly painted walls, and you’re not exactly sure of placement, there are always photo ledges. “As someone who lives in a perpetual state of redecoration, I love the flexibility ledges offer,” Wolf says. “Be sure you get the proportions of the pieces right; frames on a ledge need to be different enough in height so that they stand out when layered.”


Seven fireplace safety tips

for a cozy holiday season

There’s nothing more comforting when the weather is frightful than dancing flames, jumping sparks and crackling logs. That being said, did you know that chimney fi­res are one of the main causes of winter house fires? Brush up on your fireplace safety smarts before the cold sets in with these simple tips. 1. At least once per year, ideally in the fall, have your wood-burning system inspec­ ted by a professional. He or she will make sure that every aspect of your fireplace and chimney is in good condition and perform any necessary repairs. 2. Minimize smoke and other toxic emissions by burning hardwood that has been dry for at least five months. Are the ends of your logs cracked? That’s a good sign that the wood is no longer damp. Maple, beech and oak woods are well suited for indoor fires. For best results, use small logs and don’t overload the fireplace. 3. Move flammable objects (like newspapers, throws,


cushions or decorations) far away from your fireplace, and always use a fireplace screen to avoid damage from embers. 4. Dispose of ash safely by putting it in a raised metallic container and bringing it outside, far from your home and anything that might catch fire. The reason why you should be so careful is that ashes can stay hot for up to three days. 5. Never burn painted, varnished or stained wood. Plastic is also a big no-no. Si­milarly, remember that it’s dangerous — and highly polluting — to try to accele­rate combustion by squirting gasoline or kerosene on your logs. 6. Have your chimney cleaned by an expert each spring. This operation will get rid of as much creosote, a highly flammable by-product of wood combustion, as possible. Place smoke detectors in strategic locations throughout your home, namely in hallways and close to any bedrooms. Test them regularly and change their batteries every six months.

A versatile substance

Wood ash contains mine­rals that make it useful for many household tasks. Use it in homemade dish soap, window cleaner, slug re­pellent or, if you’re feeling adventurous, whitening toothpaste! AUTUMN 2019 | NORTHERN HOME

Top five

remodelling projects for fall

1. Install a new heating system 2. Give your bathroom a makeover 3. Redo your roof 4. Transform your kitchen 5. Replace your doors and windows

Want to improve the appearance and value of your home before winter sets in? Get inspired with these five home improvement pro­jects that experts say are perfect for fall.

A word of advice: for results that live up to your expectations, trust the know-how of a local renovation specialist.

Refashion your cabinets for an affordable kitchen facelift Dreaming of new kitchen cabinets but don’t have the necessary funds? No worries! Reface your existing cabinets for a budget-friendly style upgrade. The idea is simple: modify the doors and other surface fea-

tures of your current cabinets. Add some crown moulding, replace handles and knobs and switch up the lighting to complete the transformation. Your visitors — or potential buyers — will be delighted!

Thanks to refacing, you can easily create the illusion of brand-new cabinets. NORTHERN HOME | AUTUMN 2019


How to choose the right sofa

for your home Michele Lerner

New renters and new homeowners are often on a tight budget, and yet they want to outfit their home with furniture that works for their surroundings. If you have limited dollars to spend, interior designers recommend focusing on a big-ticket item, such as investing in a good sofa that will last for the long-term. We asked Cheryl Eisen, founder and president of Interior Marketing Group in New York City, to share her advice about which factors are important when choosing a sofa to fit any budget. Here are her recommendations: Shape: Modular sofas, because they work in so many different layouts. They allow you to swap pieces and adjust the shape if you move to a new home or get tired of it. If you’re going to invest in a piece, you want something that is adaptable for different spaces and uses. Size: The size should be consistent with the size and layout of your space. That’s another reason modular pieces are a great investment, because the size and configuration can be easily tailored to suit your space. Design/Construction: Other important considerations in-


clude construction and design. You want to choose a piece that’s timeless. This means clean lines, neutral colors, high quality and durable construction. Choose a piece that is simple yet classic, nothing too trendy or bold. Over time, you may outgrow anything too taste-specific. Quality: Durability is essential, as well. A high-quality piece will stand the test of time and offer the comfort that will make it a worthy investment. Don’t compromise quality for a piece that looks great but is of poor quality. Where to shop: Don’t purchase a sofa online unless you are able to view it in a showroom prior to purchasing it. You want to be able to test the look and feel to ensure you’re getting the quality you’re looking for. The only way to know how comfortable a sofa will be is to test it out for yourself! Custom design: Custom design is necessary only if you have a very specific style in mind or an unusual room layout that doesn’t allow for a typical shape or size of most sofas. Making a good investment: Make sure you consider factors such as moving plans in the next few years and what the space and size of your new space might be.


Expert in linens offers rules to

dress your table Jura Koncius

Jane Scott Hodges knows something about table linens. The founder of the luxury company Leontine Linens works directly with interior designers and also is the author of “Linens: For Every Room and Occasion,” which shows many of the tables and beds she has designed and has lots of useful information on the care of sheets, towels and tablecloths. I asked her to join a recent live Q&A to share her expertise with readers. Here’s her best advice on entertaining - beautifully and practically with linens. Use place mats for seated dinners, tablecloths for buffets and never both. “For place mats, I love a 15-by-15-inch square mat. Square place mats are such a wonderful piece for any table setting. They frame round plates beautifully and allow


Linens expert Jane Scott Hodges prefers place mats for a seated dinner and a tablecloth for a buffet.

you to fit more friends and family around your table. “ No “lapkins,” please. “I mostly use 22-by-22-inch napkins - no matter the event or time of day. For a while those oversized ‘lapkins’ were all the rage, but they can make place settings too crowded. It’s easier to work with a traditional size.” Mix high and low. Hodges like to pair elegant monogrammed napkins with less formal printed tableclothes. “I love to use handblock-printed tablecloths, which I pick up on my travels William-Wayne in New York or Simrane in Paris has them.” Go classic for a look that works in all seasons. “An ivory hemstitched napkin with gold monogram is the little black dress of tabletop. It gives warmth to the table and is not as stark as white on white.”

Don’t forget napkin rings. “They are like jewelry for the table!” Protect your table. “I always recommend a felt liner for both table runners and place mats. A felt liner protects the table.” Don’t panic over spills. Linen has been around forever, Hodges says, so “try not to panic when you see your guest

Washington Post photo By Joseph Ray Au

spill red wine on your napkin, or wipe off lamb au jus across their chin.” She says it is best washed in cold and gently, adding that she likes gentle laundry detergent or any simple and unscented products. “After guests have gone, rinse it through and maybe add salt to the wash cycle. Please, no bleach.” Above all: “Please don’t stress, and enjoy your guests.”


Washington Post photos

Can’t sleep?

A sleep-friendly bedroom, left, is like a “good snuggle,” one that makes you “feel embraced and safe,” furniture designer and decorator Alex White says. Light floors, above, or a thick rug, lend themselves to a more serene sleeping environment.

Here’s some cheap – and not so cheap – changes that might help Eustacia HUEN Brain research has shown how relevant sleep is to health, so it’s more important than ever to get a good night’s sleep. In the bedroom, that means not just decorating in calming colours but also minimizing stressors and optimizing conditions for a restful night. We asked some experts for advice and products to achieve that.

Minimize noise A key obstacle to uninterrupted sleep is noise. To reduce it, Brooklyn-based architect and designer Adam Meshberg, founder of Meshberg Group, recommends soundproofing the walls – building an additional thin wall in front of the original, adding a layer of QuietRock sheetrock, or sealing any cracks or gaps within the walls. To a lesser extent, wallcoverings can also absorb sound, he says, though a padded wallcovering will do more than a simple wallpaper. Cracks and gaps are also a 18

problem when it comes to windows. Restoring or replacing drafty windows won’t just improve your heating and cooling bills; doing so can make a huge difference in the amount of noise seeping in. If renovation isn’t an option, some companies will install a thin window behind your existing window for extra soundproofing. CitiQuiet in New York says it can eliminate 95 per cent of street noise. For a simpler fix, getting an upholstered headboard (or a bed that comes with one) helps with acoustics, says Florida-based designer Adriana Hoyos. Go for fabrics at least one millimeter thick; suede, velvet, leather and leatherette are stylish options for absorbing excess noise. Andrew Bowen, director of staging at ASH NYC, suggests a combination of loose items – a large area rug (he likes the Rug Company’s Deep Pile Merino Natural Rug, $137 (all prices US) per square foot), floor-to-ceiling window drapery and a fully upholstered

bed (he recommends Cisco Brothers’ April Modern Classic White Linen Slipcovered Bed, $2,375-$3,000 at Kathy Kuo Home) – for a quiet, relaxing environment. Alternatively, try white noise. A fan might do the trick, but Julien Baeza, assistant project manager at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles, suggests Spotify and soundscape machines.

Keep the lights out Lights out is essential to bedtime. In particular, avoid exposure to the blue light from LED bulbs and electronic devices, says Pablo Castillo, sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic. “The body reacts to this artificial light as if it (were) still daytime,” he said in an email, “and the pineal gland will stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin, resulting in poor sleep quality.” That’s why you should stay away from bright light for at least three hours before bedtime, reduce screen time, and set devices on night mode

an hour or two before bed, plus use blue-light-blocking coating on screens or glasses if you “use computers and digital devices heavily,” Castillo wrote. To lightproof the bedroom, “blackout window treatments are a must,” said Greg Roth, a designer at Home Front Build in Los Angeles, by email. “Installing a cornice box at the ceiling level can help prevent light from escaping upward from the windows and reflecting off the ceiling.” Meshberg recommends the Shade Store and Somfy for motorized shades.

Go soft and simple Simplify your space for sleeping only. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a mansion or a studio, you can declutter for a calming effect, according to Meridith Baer, founder of staging company Meridith Baer Home. A sleep-friendly bedroom is like a “good snuggle” – one that makes you “feel embraced and safe,” like a cocoon, Alex P. White, a AUTUMN 2019 | NORTHERN HOME

furniture designer and decorator based in New York and Los Angeles, said in an email. So keep things “tonal and tactile with as many luxurious materials as your budget allows.” As for decor, keep things light and uncomplicated, says New York designer Ryan Korban. He recommends using lightcolored paints that are warm and not stark (he likes Lily White from Benjamin Moore) and light-wood floors. For the most soothing tone, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, recommends sky blue, writing in an email that it’s a “positive color” with a sense of “dependability” that can help you fall asleep. You can create a “blue sky” by painting the ceiling, Eiseman suggests. Make it highgloss for more definition.

Follow a schedule Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep, but to “avoid


chaos in your circadian rhythms, it is suggested that you maintain the same schedule every day,” says Rachel Salas, sleep specialist and associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Lights in the bedroom should be dimmable or have the ability to adjust to a low setting,” Meshberg says. They can help your brain transition to slumber mode. Go for bedside sconces or lamps (he likes the Pennant Wall Lamp by Andrew Neyer, $200-$300 at Y Lighting, and the Convessi Sconce, $495 at Restoration Hardware). For frequent travellers and those working night shifts, a circadian lighting system, which adjusts from a warm color spectrum to a cooler spectrum and back to mimic natural light cycles, can be especially useful. Such systems can “artificially create an ambiance that minimizes jet lag and allows for deep sleep,” Baeza wrote

in an email. “Some sophisticated LED systems allow for automatic dimming and color changes over time.” The brand Ketra sells lighting fixtures, bulbs and controls that can create such natural lighting and integrate with home automation systems.

Focus on the bed No doubt, the most important component is the bed. That’s why selecting the right mattress, sheets and pillows can help you get a good slumber. Meshberg recommends 200to 300-thread-count organic cotton sheets such as the Classic Starter Sheet Set (starting at $93, Brooklinen) and the Italian Vintage-Washed 464 Percale Sheet Set ($369-$429, Restoration Hardware). They “breathe well” and don’t get “too satiny and shiny” like sheets with higher thread counts. Also, “the quality and proper weight of your duvet and down comforter are essential

in regulating your temperature,” Meshberg wrote. Generally, 700-fill comforters are best for winter and 600-fill works well during summer. (Fill refers to down; synthetics might be labeled as heavyweight or lightweight.) He recommends the down comforters from Brooklinen ($199-$299) and the Organic Italian Vintage-Washed 464 Percale Duvet ($389-$449) from Restoration Hardware. For a mattress, he suggests Casper’s Original ($595$1,195) or Wave ($1,345$2,495) for those who prefer more support. The Beautyrest Recharge Dawson 121/2-inch hybrid firm mattress ($1,299-$1,999, mattressfirm.com) works well for those sharing beds with restless sleepers because the memory foam won’t move around as much, Meshberg says. As for pillows, “synthetic is the best” because you can wash it, he says.


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