Trend Alert: Smart Sleep

If you’re having problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning, this article is for you. 

Two months ago we talked about “Smart Lights,” an easy way to “smarten” up your home without taking any drastic steps. One improvement we mentioned but didn’t go into detail on was a light that replicates the natural progression of the sun, allowing for more comfort and better sleep.

Following up on that, we have this month’s topic: “Smart Sleep,” or ways you can use technology to improve your sleep quality. Installing smart lights in your bedroom is one way to achieve this.

Our bodies operate on a circadian rhythm, meaning pretty much everything we do is according to the sun (or light that our bodies think is sunlight). Every single one of us will sleep, eat, work, and sleep again depending on the time of day. Poor sleep leads to poor feelings the next day, then to health issues if the problem continues. If you’re having problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning, this article is for you.

Everyone sleeps and wakes according to different factors. Some might prefer silence, some might prefer noise, some complete darkness, some light. That being said, sleep solutions have to be adjustable in order to work. Pretty much every sleep-related product we’ve seen recently can be adjusted.

Take blackout shades, for example. Traditional blackout curtains were “one-size-fits-all,” bulky and unattractive. Modern ones can be thin, lightweight and nearly unnoticable, able to be used in combination with any style of curtain or shade you choose. This gives you complete control of your look and lighting simultaneously.

Next is noise. Most people can achieve sleep despite natural, chaotic sound, but a large percentage of people need some sort of white noise or noise-cancelling effect in order to sleep restfully. Thankfully modern technology has brought us noise-cancelling headphones and white noise generators. You can find efficient white noise generators online or purchase a standalone device to keep near your bedside. Most higher-end wireless headphones are now also outfitted with a noise-cancelling feature, meaning you can have quiet wherever and whenever you need.

It may not seem like it but aroma plays a huge part in our mood and physiology. Certain aromas can induce feelings of relaxation or stress. Lavender, vanilla, valerian, and jasmine have all proven to be effective in helping people sleep. An aroma diffuser is an easy and affordable way to maintain this control.

Finally we have the covers. Your choice in sheets and blankets will directly impact your bedtime comfort. Breathable, high-thread-count sheets are a must for those who possess a tendency to overheat in their sleep, while weighted blankets can influence your nervous system into a more relaxed and restful state.

All-in-all there are many factors that affect our sleep. Finding your personal preference is a process that can take a very long time, but restful is sleep is absolutely worth it. Not everyone needs blackout curtains and fancy noise machines to sleep well, but most everyone could use a higher quality of sleep. For more tips on healthy living, check out this blog post, the first in a series by our founder and principal designer, Richard L. Ourso, CKD, CAPS.

Healthy Living Series: Hydration

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a breakfast event “Self-Defense & Healthy Eating 101,” in the hopes that we could educate community members about two vital components of a healthy lifestyle. I spoke briefly about some basic techniques that might help in volatile situations, and Roy Domangue of Wooden Creations, Inc. was kind enough to share his story.

Roy is battling cancer and is focused on maintaining a healthy diet. The top priority of that diet is proper hydration and maintaining a balanced pH level in the body.

We learn from an early age that our bodies comprise mostly of water.

Staying hydrated should be a priority for everyone. A common question is, “How much water should I drink per day?”. The amount of water in ounces is equal to your weight in pounds divided by two.

Be careful not to exceed 100 ounces unless under intense heat. It’s also important to remember when consuming caffeinated beverages, you should drink more water to help neutralize the acidic effects.

In terms of digestion, try not to drink anything in the minutes leading up to and after a meal. During a meal, drink only four ounces of water. Chew in small bites. To further aid in digestion and hydration, eat unprocessed goods with high water content.

Different food and drink also affect the pH level in your body. Maintaining a balanced pH is vital for your immune and digestive systems to function properly. The next blog post in this series will focus on how healthy eating can help you keep a balanced pH.

This post is the first in the “Healthy Living Series”. Special thanks to Roy Domangue for sharing his story and the information shown here.

Tis the Season: For Outdoor Sittin’


With this weather, it’s hard to stay indoors. It is essential for our physical and mental well being that we stay connected with the outdoors. And these days, the outdoor living space is becoming just as essential as the indoor living space. An out door living space may be limited to just include a comfortable spot in the back yard with a place to sit and possibly an overhang for cover, but it can also be as inclusive as a full kitchen and living space. There are some things to keep in mind when designing an outdoor space.

Ourso Designs

The first thing is to consider where the sun rises and sets, more importantly where the sun sets, because we tend to spend more time in our outdoor spaces in the evening. Is your overhang low enough to protect from direct sun? Or do you have the proper shading partitions in place?

Another consideration is the direction of wind and blowing rains. Like, shading from the sun, you must also consider buffering from wind and rain. Closing in one side of your space or the use of shudders can help.


Materials used in the space are important too. They must be able to hold up to the elements. Some manufactured stones (quartz) will fade in the sun.

Ourso Designs

There are 3 key areas to an inclusive outdoor living space. The cooking area, the dining area, and the seating area. There are many different types of cooking to incorporate into your kitchen; a charcoal grill, a gas grill, an egg, etc. You will also want to incorporate a sink and a fridge.


There are a few different options for cabinet/storage material. Masonry, stucco, wood, or manufactured cabinet made from a weatherproof resin. With masonry and stucco you can incorporate stainless steel inserts. This is one of your more durable options, but not the most efficient. Wood cabinets are the most efficient, but are not as weather resistant. The resin cabinets, are efficient and durable, but may not have the “natural” look and feel you are looking for.


Depending on your roof type, you have to consider air circulation. Is the hot air able to escape? Ceiling fans can help. Also a pergola is good way to release trapped hot air as it rises.


Typically your outdoor space will include a fireplace or some type of fire pit for warmth in the colder months.


The details are important to make your space the most comfortable and enjoyable it can be!


Trend Alert: Going Global

Color, decoration, and functionality are all essential aspects of good home design. However lighting might be the most important factor when it comes to home interiors. Lighting can powerfully and immediately impact the way we perceive a space. It can draw attention toward one spot and away from another. It can go from dazzling to dark at the simple flick of a switch. Your lighting fixtures, therefore, are just as important as the light itself.

Lighting fixtures vary depending on their intended purpose. Pendant lights for bars and island tables. Vanity lights for bathrooms, closets and dressing rooms. Under-cabinet lights for kitchen counters and bedside lamps for, well, bedtime. One would expect that the design of these fixtures would vary according to their functions, and in most cases that’s true. However one design that we keep seeing used everywhere is the globe light.

(from one of our recent kitchen remodels)
It’s not hard to see why people love this design. It’s minimalist, somehow modern and retro at the same time. It’s familiar because we see this shape every day in the sun, moon and stars. Our number one favorite thing about this design? It’s versatile. 
Placed alone, the globe light acts as a statement. A single lightbulb. A timeless symbol for inspiration. In pairs and rows, they invoke feelings of harmony and order. In clusters, they resemble atoms or galaxies: chaotic, natural, and full of potential. 
Of course the classic glass orbs can get old, even after you start combining them in new and creative ways. If you want to add a little variety into the mix, add some color. Tinting the glass or bulb unlocks the potential to alter the ambiance or simply add a bit of diversity. 
Beyond that of course, people are always finding new ways to alter and enhance this classic design. Whether by using different materials, patterns or placements, designers are still finding ways to wow us. For that reason, we can expect to see these around for decades to come.