Sofa Tip: Go Timeless, Not Trendy

Timeless, not trendy sofasOne of the easiest ways to make a period piece movie or TV show is to use a dated sofa.  And, if you think about it, it kind of makes sense.  Every decade has a sofa trend that no one is very proud of in the same way that every generation has fashion trends that everyone wants to forget (remember JNCO Jeans?).

But if you buy right, your sofa will probably last longer than a decade, so it’s important to buy something timeless, not trendy.  Leather sofas, thankfully, never go out of style.  They age gracefully and they’ve got that quiet, cool reserve that will never seem old-fashioned or outdated.

Purchasing a sofa is a commitment.  You expect your sofa to last.  Shouldn’t you make sure the style will also stand the test of time?

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker

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Living Room Feng Shui and the Sofa

Living Room Feng Shui and the SofaAccording to feng shui, the Chinese system for directing energy through a space, the sofa is the most important part of the living room.  It’s the place where people meet and gather, therefore it’s imperative to arrange the sofa in a way that complements good energy flow.

Position the sofa away from doors and windows, as these are both entrance and exit points for energy.  There is a direct energy path between the door and the window, so be sure that your sofa does not enter its path.

Try to keep your sofa near a wall, as the wall is viewed as essential for providing security and protection.  Also try to avoid having lights or exposed beams directly above a sofa.

What’s your opinion on living room feng shui?  Does it really make a difference for your interior design or can you do without it just fine?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Photo Credit: Luigi Diamanti

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Ninja Block: An Alarm For Your Couch Cushions

Ninja Block, computerized sensor-equipped box...with InternetWell here’s a fun idea.  According to Mashable, a young Internet startup called Ninja Block has developed a “little computerized, sensor-equipped box.”  These boxes “connect to the Internet to carry out a preset response to stimuli.”

The creator of the project, Mark Wotton, first used his Ninja Block concept to catch a newspaper thief.  Someone had been taking Wotton’s morning paper, so he set up a small Ninja Block equipped with a motion detector outside his door to automatically take photos of the paper thief and upload them directly to Facebook.  Boom. Ninja Blocked.

Wotton says that the blocks don’t have any specific use yet and “chances are people will have good ideas [for the devices] we’ve never thought of.”

One of our favorite ideas so far is to use the Ninja Block as a sofa alarm for sneaky pets.  Simply set up a Ninja Block in the couch cushions and whenever something moves on the couch, the Ninja Block will set off an alarm.  BoomNinja Blocked.

What would you use Ninja Block for?

For more information on Ninja Block, visit them online here.

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Stress Awareness Month: Why You Should Relax

Don't get stressed - get restApril is Stress Awareness Month.  But why dedicate an entire month to stress?  Isn’t stress a sign of productivity and work ethic?  You could look at it like that, but chronic stress is going to have some serious long-term health consequences.  If you take a little more time to relax you will:

Protect Your Heart

Stress can wreak major havoc on the human heart.  According to Kathi Heffer, PHD, assistant professor of psychiatry at University of Rochester Medical Center, “There are studies to show that stress is comparable to other risk factors that we traditionally think of as major, like hypertension, poor diet, and lack of exercise.”  Relax a bit more.  Your heart will thank you.

Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

It’s become conventional thinking to link stress and stroke and recently a large body of research has surfaced suggesting that stress could indeed be a cause of stroke.  For example, a University of Michigan study found “that men who were more physiologically reactive to stress (as measured by high blood pressure) were 72% more likely to suffer a stroke.”

Better Memory

According to the Franklin Institute, a constant release of stress hormones in the brain can negatively affect brain functions such as memory.  For example, too much cortisol (the hormone produced by the body to manage stress) can prevent the brain from creating new memories or accessing pre-existing memories.

Make Better Decisions

As we discussed last month, stress creates bad decision makers.  When under stress, a person tends to become over-confident, taking too much direction from positive feedback and very little from negative feedback, creating an unbalanced decision.

Reduce Your Risk of Rapid Weight Gain

Some effects that stress has on weight gain, such as cravings for fatty, salty or sugary foods, have yet to be proven, though there is some strong evidence in their favor.  However, cortisol can slow down your metabolism, causing rapid weight gain even if a person does not alter their diet.  Likewise, stress can alter blood sugar levels and even affect your body’s fat storage mechanism.

It’s important to understand and fully realize the harsh toll that stress can take on a human body.  Manage your stress (in a HEALTHY WAY).  It could mean the difference between life and death.

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici

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Where Royalty Sits: The Throne

King Edward’s Chair

King Edward's Chair: the Throne of EnglandCommissioned in 1296 by King Edward I, the King Edward’s Chair, also known as the coronation chair, has been the royal chair of England for over 700 years.  Every British Monarch with the exception of Queen Mary I and Queen Mary II were crowned on the King Edward’s Chair.  It currently sits in Westminster Abbey.

Dragon Throne

The Dragon Throne of Imperial ChinaThe Dragon Throne is the seat of the historical Emperor of China.  The throne was erected at the center of the Forbidden City, which at the time was thought to be the center of the world.  The throne is protected by a series of gates and passages, intended to inspire and awe visitors and guests of the Emperor.

Chrysanthemum Throne

Chrysanthemum Throne of JapanThe Chrysanthemum Throne is the imperial throne of Japan.  Specifically, the term refers to the takamikura throne in the Shishin-den at Kyoto Imperial Palace.  The throne is primarily used for the enthronement ceremony.

The Ivory Throne of Ivan the Terrible

The Ivory Throne of Ivan the TerribleThe Ivory Throne of Ivan IV currently sits in Moscow’s Kremlin museum.  Little is known of the throne’s origins.

Photo Credit: Stan Shebs

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Easy Ways to Lift A Sofa

President Obama demonstrates how to move a couchI’m sure we’ve all seen the old comedy stereotype of a guy throwing out his back trying to lift a sofa.  Heck, maybe you have thrown your back out lifting a sofa.  Regardless, you can avoid that with some great new tools designed to make the sofa moving process a little less painful.

Moving Dollies

Available at almost any home convenience store, a moving dolly is by far the easiest way to move a couch (this is assuming of course that you’ve got the room).  To use a moving dolly, have one person lift the end of a couch, while someone else slides the dolly underneath the couch’s center.  Let it down slowly and roll away.

The Moving Dolly will not be useful if you have to maneuver through lots of twists and turns, tight spaces, or stairs, so keep some other options in mind.

Forearm Forklift

Forearm forklifts are adjustable straps that attach to your forearm to help balance and move items that might weigh up to 500 pounds.

Check out this video to get an idea of how these work:

Lifting Straps

Most other lifting straps are quite similar in nature to the forearm forklift, except they connect to your shoulder and back areas.  They’re helpful for navigating through tight spots and also decrease the potential for injury or damage to your walls and floors by offering extra control.

Do you have any special method for lifting couches that we haven’t mentioned here?  If so, leave us a comment and let us know.

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Room with a View: Keep Your Seating Near a Window This Spring

Put the sofa near a window Considering how lovely the weather’s been, you’re probably starting to wonder how you can better organize your home to welcome spring.  While changing the colors and cleaning the windows are two great places to start, what are you going to do about your seating arrangement?  Will you just leave it as is or move around to get a little more in tune with the season.

An easy way to help your interior get into the spirit of the spring season is to move your seating close to the windows or at least in the stream of direct sunlight.  Although spots near the window can be cold and drafty in the winter, springtime windows have no such deficiency.  The warm sunlight will give the space a cozy charm and engage more active conversation.  On the flip side, if you’re by yourself, an afternoon nap in the sun is a great way to relax and kill a few hours.

And if your window has a particularly gorgeous view, there’s really no reason to keep the seating away from it.

What are your thoughts about seating in the sunlight?  Do you enjoy it or do you have another location you prefer to sit in the spring?

Photo Credit: Michelle Meiklejohn

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The Living Room Seating Layout For Dummies

Great seating layouts are easy!Interior Design may not be everyone’s domain, but setting up a living room seating layout is easy as A-B-C.  Check out some of these tips below to help ensure that even if your living room doesn’t sparkle and shine, it can at least have a well-placed seating layout.

First, here are a couple quick tips regarding what not to do:

  1. Do not block any entrances/exits, doors, closets, TV’s, drawers, etc.
  2. Do not place furniture in a way that blocks access to other furniture

Now, if you’re not doing any of that, the next part should be a cinch:

- Find a focal point in the room, or the room’s center of attention.  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s big enough to be the room’s center of attention (e.g. TV, art, window).

- Keep conversation in mind – focus the seating layout in a manner that would invite interaction.  Make sure it’s easy for people to relax and speak with one another casually.

- Once you’ve got the seating arrangement right, start placing helpful features around the seats, such as tables and ottomans.  You’ll need a place to put your feet up and set down your drink.

Does that all make sense?  Creating a great living room arrangement isn’t difficult.  On the contrary, it’s actually quite simple as long as you keep our simple rules in mind.  So what are you waiting for?  Start arranging!

Photo Credit: Amy Lau

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Stop Your Cat From Hurting Your Upholstery

cats love scratching and they're particularly fond of scratching upholsteryWe love our feline friends (check out my favorite Tumblr blog, Furrocious Forms) but they really know how to wreak havoc on our upholstery with their incessant scratching.  While it is annoying, there is unfortunately no way to actually make a cat stop scratching – it’s an instinctive behavior that they do to “shed the outer layer of their claws, to mark their scent, to get attention and to stretch and condition the muscles in their paws” say Doctors Foster and Smith.

If you love your kitty, but want to keep your furniture in tip-top shape, you’ll have to learn to work around their scratching habits.

The most effective way to keep your cat from scratching furniture is to use either an herbal spray deterrent or double-sided tape.  The spray deterrent will produce an unpleasant odor (unpleasant to cats, not you) while double-sided tape will annoy them so much they can’t stand the thought of even approaching your furniture.  It won’t hurt them, but the tape will irritate your cat enough that it will have to find another scratching spot.

Speaking of which, scratching is an instinctive habit.  We mentioned that, right?  So if you stop your cat from scratching in one place, it’s probably just going to pick a new scratching spot, which might be even worse than your upholstery (think wooden chairs or furniture with fine finishes).  Get your cat a scratching post of his own and he won’t feel so inclined to mess with your toys.

If you just can’t get your cat to stop scratching, you can at least lessen the damage by trimming and dulling your cat’s claws.  The behavior won’t subside, but the damage will.

Do you have any special tips for keeping cats from scratching your upholstery?  Leave a comment and let us know!

Photo Credit: Hisashi

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Buy a Kid-Proof Sofa…Trust Us, Just Buy One

Buy a kid-proof sofa.  Seriously, just do it.Buy a kid-proof sofa.  Just do it.  If you’ve got children or even if you don’t have children but your in-laws like to bring your nieces and nephews over every now and then, just do yourself a favor and buy a sofa that can stand up to the rigors a child might wage against it (e.g. rough-housing, messiness, etc.)

Here’s what you should look for in a kid proof sofa:


If you can’t find something with stain guard treatment, at the very least go with a dark color that won’t stain too easily.  If you absolutely have to go with white, try an offshoot like beige or crème, which won’t be as susceptible to stains.


You know what kids love to do?  Jump.  What do they love to jump on?  Couches.  Make sure the couch you buy will be able to stand up to the amateur onslaught.  Get a sofa with a hardwood frame and removable cushions for easy cleaning.


Your best bet to avoid the mess is keep your sofa covered whenever the kids are around.  Blankets, sheets, and slip covers are all available options.  Just make sure that whatever you use is machine washable/inexpensive.

Do you have any other ideas to help keep a sofa kid-proof?

Photo Credit: Ambro

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