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Dining In: Choosing the Right Size Dining Table for your Space

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The dining table is arguably the most important piece of furniture in a home. It’s where your family gathers for dinner, where breakfast is served. It’s where kids do homework or Mom and Dad catch up on work they didn’t finish at the office. Friends and family gather around it for Thanksgiving dinner or a party on the weekend. A lot happens on single piece of furniture.

The importance of the dining table demands a certain amount of gravitas in it’s selection. A simple mistake – too large of a table for the room, for instance – can have a rippling effect on your family’s home life.

Consider: Use

Every family is different. Some families eat every meal at the dining table. Some only only use it for more formal occasions, such as holiday dinners or extravagant parties.

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And the use should dictate the style of dining table. You want to get the most use possible out of your dining table. Pick something that meets the needs of you and your family. If you eat in often, pick a table that will sit the whole family, plus a few extra. If you rarely sit down together, get something cozier.

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Consider: Space

Of course, you can’t fit a conference-length table in a cozy, 8′ x 10′ dining space. You know that. But there are also some other hard rules when it comes to considering your table’s fit.

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When shopping, don’t just think about the footprint of the table – think about the space the dining table AND guests will take up. You need at least 3 feet of clearance between the wall and the table on all sides.

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And don’t forget chairs. They contribute to the size of the table. Your guests will more than likely sit with the seat partially, if not all the way, out from the table. That 3 feet of clearance will give you and guests plenty of room to move about the dining table. Really, the more space, the better.

If you simply can’t give up that much space to your table, a pedestal table is the way to go. A single, center base leaves lots of room under the table for everyone’s legs.

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Consider: Shape 

The two most common dining table shapes are rectangular and circular. Both shapes have their benefits, as well as drawbacks.

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Rectangular dining tables are the easiest to fit in a dining room, for one simple fact – most dining rooms are also rectangular. This also makes it easy to size the dining table. Most rectangular dining tables are between 36″ and 42″ across, which provides ample room for two place settings and a center piece. The length of the shouldn’t be more than 6 feet shorter than the length of the room.

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One major drawback of rectangular tables come with the corners. If space in the dining room is tight, it is difficult to navigate around the corners when the table is full. Also, no one wants to sit at a corner seat.

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If you’re planning on a smaller dining table, a circular or round table is preferred. It allows everyone at the table to see each other equally. There’s no yelled conversations down a long table like you see in movies.

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Of course, a round table offers less surface area for eating than a rectangular table with a similar footprint. When the table is crowded, this will limit both serving space and elbow room.

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You can find a compromise of the two shapes in the oval table. The oval table will give you a little more space to squeeze around in a rectangular dining room, since the corners are cut off. You can still get the length that you would want with a rectangular table, but without sacrificing the equanimity of the round table. 

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The Chesterfield

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Opulent. Luxurious. Plush. There are many words to describe the Chesterfield, the majestic tufted sofa that is both timeless-ly trendy and undeniably comfortable. 
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The first Chesterfield sofa was commissioned by one Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield and mid-1700s style maven; he requested a couch that looked good AND didn’t wrinkle his trouser pants. Emerging techniques in leather smithing created a soft, supple leather, that could be molded, tucked, and pinched into intricate designs. This made the fabric an obvious choice for Stanhope’s sofa. 

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Like any good design, the Chesterfield’s popularity has had its peaks and valleys – as of this moment, it’s popularity is on the rise. You have a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve!

If you’re thinking about adding one of these posh pieces to your own design, fabric and color are key. Leather is always an option, but a huge range of fabrics – linen, canvas, suede – as well as a rainbow of colors make this great design more versatile than ever. Pink velvet will take this Old World classic to a modern and fun place.

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The sofa is the most traditional offering, but it is far from the only one. Many designers today are selling Chesterfield chairs and loungers. This is a great way to incorporate the look in an existing room, without drastically changing the style. Tufted ottomans and headboards also offer a way to get the Chesterfield feel. 

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There’s a whole world of possibilities out there and nothing to hold your style back!

Industry Ed with Richard: Pre-Finished Cabinets

Prefinished cabinets used in a recent job. See more pictures here
After the flood two years ago, prefinished cabinets were almost a necessity in the Baton Rouge area. Many people simply did not have the time to wait for custom cabinets to be created for their homes. The disaster gave locals a new respect for prefinished cabinets. 

Prefinished cabinets used in a recent job. See more pictures here
For a long time, pre-finished cabinets have had a bad rap. “Particle board” construction has long scared away homeowners – as a material, it can be difficult to work with, and it does not always age well.  But today’s prefinished cabinets are far more sophisticated, both in material and construction. New construction techniques mean they can be customized to a greater degree than ever before. These cabinets can be a welcome addition to your next project, if you know how to work with them.  

If you’re planning on using them in a job, there are a few things you should consider. 

Prefinished cabinets used in recent mid-century modern remodel. See more pictures here

For Builders and Contractors

  • Come to jobsite finished; some brands have automotive-quality finishes 
  • Can be installed at any point in the job, which makes them less likely to get beaten up or scratched during the rest of the job
  • Interiors come finished as well   
  • Don’t have to worry about overspray on your hardware        
  • Once installed, they are completely done 

Prefinished cabinets used to remodel a bathroom. See more pictures here

For Homeowners

  • Nearly unlimited options for colors and finishes
  • Come with a high quality finish
  • Easy to match colors or hardware when something needs to be replaced
  • Endless options for customization (add wine racks, slide out drawers, under cabinet lighting, etc.) 
  • Reflect popular and modern styles, including slab doors and frameless styles 
    Prefinished cabinets used to top off a bathroom remodel. See more pictures here
    If you’re planning on incorporating prefinished cabinets into your next project, be sure to work with a reputable dealer. This will help you avoid getting products that are made from low-grade particle board or that have variances in hardware. Look for the The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, or KCMA, certification to ensure that your cabinet manufacturer is using high-quality materials.

    Pull-out drawers like these are just one of the many customizations that can be added to prefinished cabinets. See more pictures here.
      Some things, like inferior materials or hardware, can be avoided by working with the right company. 

      At Ourso Designs, we are a dealer for Wood-Mode, a high-end prefinished cabinet brand. These cabinets aren’t made from poor particle board; the materials Wood-Mode uses are great, and their range of customizable features means that you can find something to suit any homeowner’s needs. Wood-Mode is one of the founders of the KCMA. I highly recommend working with them for your next project.

      This is not to say that we don’t use custom cabinets in our projects. We have a longstanding relationship with the team at Baton Rouge Custom Cabinets; I cannot recommend those guys enough. They do a great job, from choosing quality materials and hardware to installing at the jobsite. Custom cabinets can be the right choice for the job. 
      Baton Rouge Custom Cabinets made these cabinets for a local kitchen we worked on. See more pictures here

      It’s always a good idea to know your options, so that you and your client can make an informed decision for your project.   

      Divide and Conquer: Partition Walls

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      Partition walls and small spaces suit each other well. Often, when we think of partition walls, we think of small spaces as going hand-in-hand. Partition walls are a great way to divide a space without closing it in. They are also a great way to separate a large space. 
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      It has become quintessential to have an open floor plan… so when every room is opened up to another, how do we separate one area from the other? Of course this can be done in a number of ways, like with a detailed ceiling plan or changes in floor material, but another good way to do this is with partition walls. The foyer seen above is a great example that incorporates all of 3 these ways.
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      This is another great example of a successful partition wall. It allows this house to be more open to the dining room, without having to completely tear out valuable walls for cabinet space.
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      This partition wall opens up the center stair well. It opens up the stair well, so the user does not feel closed in, as well as, provides a fantastic feature for the room.

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      This partition wall separates a back entry from a living space, and like the kitchen example above, it uses a half wall to for a bench and storage space.
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      On to the bathroom. It is very common to use a partition wall to separate the shower space from the rest of the bathroom. We love how this one allows you to walk completely around it, and doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling. It adds a lot of good dimension to the space.
      There are so many useful places for a partition wall and so many ways they can look. Here are few more great examples.
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      La Boheme

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      Amidst the energetic patterns and bright colors of the modern bohemian aesthetic, there is an order. Perhaps the inherent balance – the ying of untamed energy and the yang of symmetry – is what makes this style so popular.

      It could also be the cool rugs.

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      If you love the serenity and naturalness of the mid-century modern look, but you want to mess up its hair, the modern bohemian look might be the way to go. In these pictures, you’ll recognize a couple of mid-century hallmarks: pin leg furniture, neutral walls, and lots of wood. But you’ll also see some unexpected patterns, shapes, textures, and bursts of colors. 

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       The finished space is always fun, yet cool.

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      If you want to replicate this style, be sure to incorporate these key elements:

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      Wood 

      Like mid-century modern style, modern bohemian has lots of wood. If you have existing wood beams or rafters, put those on display. Wooden tables, either in the kitchen or the living room, add natural warmth.

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       Neutral background palette 

      Neutral colors provide a great backdrop for the mix of colors and patterns in the rest of the room.

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      Texture 

      This can be added with patterned throw pillows, different weaves in fabrics, even baskets.

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      A Good Rug 

      The star of any good bohemian space is the rug. As the star, it need to do a lot of talking. Pick a piece that has bold geometric shapes or lots of texture made by an open-weave and natural fabric choices. 

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      Industry Ed with Richard: Incorporating Wood Beams in Design

      Wood beams are very popular at the moment. HGTV shows have boosted the popularity of the “rustic farmhouse” look, and wood beams are necessary to achieve that look. I’ve had a lot of experience in designing with beams – I’ve been a woodworker for thirty years myself, and I own a mill. I know personally how difficult they can be to install. Still, clients love them, and the effect they can have on a design, and the finished space, is great. These are a couple of things to keep in mind, should your client ask for wood beams.

      Structure

      Any wood beams that you add to a design should appear to be structural. Not only is this in keeping with the rustic look, it’s also a more aesthetically pleasing look.

      The beams need to be spaced about 4 – 6 feet apart, in order to reproduce the structural look. 

      I don’t like beams along the wall; I think the look is inauthentic. However, half beams can be made to look like they’re sitting on the wall and extending over the post. If a client insists on flanking beams, I would steer them towards that option.

      Ceiling height

      You want to ensure that the beams are proportional to the space. As a general rule-of-thumb, you want them to be taller than they are wide. However, if the space has a low ceiling, or if there simply isn’t room for the beam system your client wants, there is a compromise.

      • ·         8′ ceilings – 6” wide x 4” tall  
      • ·         9′ ceilings – 6” wide x 8” tall  
      • ·         10′ ceilings – 8” wide x 10” tall
      • ·         11-12′ ceilings – 10” wide x 12” tall

      If the house has a Cathedral peak, I would personally go with a 10” wide by 14” tall beam. Be careful not to overwhelm the space with too large of a beam. 

      Materials

      Adding beams, either during the build or after it is finished, makes this style more accessible.
      You have two options when it comes to wood beams – solid or engineered.

      Of the two options, solid beams require the most work. They need to be worked into the design from the beginning of the build, and there isn’t much opportunity to change the design once the framing has commenced. Special equipment – lifts, braces, etc. – is needed to install them.

      It’s difficult to get a permit for reclaimed wood beams in a structure. Most solid beams added today are cut from new wood, which is prone to warping and settling. It is also difficult to match solid beams. Years of aging cause changes in color and warping. However the authentic patina, as well as the unique history behind each beam, makes solid beams unique.

      The other option- engineered beams- is much less of a headache. Engineered beams are lighter and easier to install. 

      Process

      Another consideration with designing wood beams is when in the process the beams will be added. Structural beam and post systems will need to be installed by the framing carpenter at the same time as framing materials.

      The benefit of engineered beams, like the ones we make at The Olde Mill, is that they can be added later, either after the home is built or at any stage in the renovation process. This gives you flexibility when it comes to planning your job’s timeline.  

      And He said Let there be SkyLight

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      Skylights are an effective way to bring natural light into a space in a interesting way. As well, they can make a big difference in making the space feel more open. The sky is endless, and including skylights makes your ceiling endless too.
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      Skylights got a bad reputation in the 70s & 80s because of all the potential problems they had: leaking, sweating, rotting, cracking (just to name a few). But from the ashes we rise… a lot has been learned and skylights today are made better than ever. Many companies today are selling reputable and quality skylights. These skylights also come with a lot of technology we didn’t see in the 70s and 80s, like shading systems, rain censors, and venting units. 
      Visually, you will find they are becoming very clean-lined and seamless. In general, there has been a movement (away from the 70s & 80s) to obscure the (literal) wall between the interior and exterior. More and more, we are bringing nature into the home, with plants, windows, and SKYLIGHTS. The more seam-less the skylight, the more obscure the exterior is from the interior!
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      Good places to incorporate skylights:
      • interior rooms – rooms that do not have access to exterior walls for windows, like foyers, stairwells and hallways
      • additions – often times, with an addition you will be extending that roof line out (and down) which can diminish the amount of light available to the space, a skylight can really keep that space open
      • kitchens – this can really open up your kitchen to nature, as well has create good focal areas for parts of the room (over the island/dining area)
      • bathrooms – bathrooms are often smaller rooms in the house, incorporating skylights can really open these small spaces up – a great place to incorporate them is over an otherwise dark shower
      • upstairs bedrooms – some times these rooms have strong pitched ceilings – once again, this is a great way to open up a small or cramped space

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      Some things to consider when choosing/installing your skylight:
      • get it from a good source
      • consider how you plan to clean it as well as shade it
      • consider your coordinates and the direction the sun will shine throughout the day
      • have an experienced professional install it
      • most skylights are meant to be installed on sloped roofs of at least 15 degrees
      • incorporate the proper flashing neccessary
      With all that in mind, here are a few skylights you won’t be able to live without. And then He said let there be SKY-light!
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      Trend Alert: Neon Lights

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      If you had asked us a year ago what would be the biggest decorating trends of 2018, neon lights would have been pretty far down the list. In fact, it wouldn’t have been on the list at all. The fixtures had been decreasing in popularity over the past decade, with more inexpensive LED lights replacing them above restaurants, bars, and businesses.

      But neon lights are having a big moment. After an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians showed the huge neon sculpture above Kourtney Kardashian’s bed, the lights’ popularity has exploded.

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      It’s easy to see the appeal of neon lights. They’re vibrant colors and whimsical nature make them a great addition to any room. With the number of businesses producing these little lights rising every day, you’re sure to find a neon light that fits your budget and your style.

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      If you’re thinking about incorporating this trend in your own home, here’s a couple of rules to keep in mind:

      Let the lights be the focus

      Neons are always going to draw the eye. Their bright colors and whimsical configuration mean that other accessories or decorations in the room will play second fiddle. To keep your space harmonious, don’t put neons too close to anything with a busy print or pattern. Solid colors and natural materials are the best choices when it comes to displaying your fixture.

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      Make it personal 

      It is inevitable that guests will ask about your new neon sign. The vibrancy of the pieces make them great conversation starters. You need to be prepared to explain your choice, whether it be a phrase or an icon.

      Choose something that has a great story. Do you really like Walt Whitman quotes? Have you always wanted to open a cabana bar? Be prepared to explain your choices each and every time you have friends or family over.

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      Experiment with color 

      In the past 100 years, the only real advance in neon sign technology is the widening of the fixtures’ color palette. The original neon signs were only available in reddish orange (the color neon produces), but, now, there is a whole rainbow of colors at your disposal. White neon lights are popular, but you can also do yellow, magenta, chartreuse, and any colors in between.

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      Industry Ed with Richard: Shower Design Trends, Part 2

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      This is the second post in my two-part Shower Design Trends series. In this post, I’m going to talk about the current trends in hardware and accessories for showers. Read my first post for my opinion on what is big in overall shower design.

      A shower designed for a farmhouse bathroom update. See more pictures on our Houzz page. 



      Showers are more popular than ever. Bathtubs are still a fixture in many bathrooms, but the new homes I see being built simply don’t not have a shower. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the latest trends I have seen in shower accessories and hardware. Knowing more about these products can help you and your client come to the best decision about bathroom renovations and builds. 

      Rain Shower Heads


      Unlike most modern shower heads, which spray a stream of water in one direction, these shower heads use multiple valves to create a rain-like stream.

      • mounted on a 90 degree angle from the shower wall or drop out of the ceiling 
      • wider water coverage than other styles
      • provides a natural showering experience 

      Rain shower heads need a bit more room than other shower heads. Be sure to account for both vertical height in the shower and horizontal coverage on the floor. 

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      A rain shower head from a local bathroom renovation. See more pictures on our Houzz page. 

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      Body Spray Shower


      This style was really fashionable five years ago but seems to be tapering off in popularity. I’ve heard many clients want to move away from it because its simply not an eco-friendly design. Remember that each head in a shower uses 2.2 gallons of water per minute; body spray showers, with their multiple heads, use up a lot of water quickly.


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      Handheld Shower Heads 


      Most of my clients like the added ease of having a handheld shower head. These shower heads making cleaning and shaving convenient. Many people opt for a combination system, with both a mounted shower head and a handheld one.

      A handheld shower head that was part of a recent remodel. See more pictures of this project on our Houzz page. 

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      Thermostatic Control Valves


      Thermostatic control valves are a great safety addition to any shower. Rather than reading the water pressure outlet in order to control the water’s temperature, these valves ensure a continuous mix of water temperatures to prevent excessively high temperatures.

      • blends hot and cold water before spraying into the shower
      • turns shower off when cold water isn’t available 
      • automatically prevents scalding
      • some have further temperature control

      Shower Seat


      There are natural wood or plastic shower seats available, but, by far, the most popular styles as of the moment are stone.

      • chair height of around 18 in
      • depth of between 14 and 18 in
      • usually made from a suspended piece of stone
      • can also be made boxed in with stone, stone on top, and tile on the front


      Like many other accessories on this list, the shower seat’s current popularity has to do with practicality. Having a seat inside the shower makes cleaning and shaving easier. It is also great for people who are concerned with aging-in-place, since they allow people who are unable to stand for long periods of time a place to sit. 

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      History Lesson: The Sling Sofa

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      Few designers have had more of an impact on America’s taste in modern furniture design than George Nelson. The leading American modernist designer spearheaded George Nelson Associates, Inc., a studio that created hundreds of designs for furniture giant Herman Miller. 
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      Works created under Nelson’s stewardship, such as the “Coconut” Chair, the “Ball” Wall Clock, the “Bubble” Sofa, and the “Action Office II” (better known today as the office cubicle), went on to win his firm numerous accolades. Some designs are still manufactured and produced by Herman Miller today, more than 30 years after Nelson’s death.

      Though Action Office II was the most profitable of Nelson’s designs, the Sling Sofa is considered most indicative of his design style. The late designer was a consummate industrialist, pushed to create works that were strong, cheap to produce, and comfortable.

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      The Sling Sofa, with its chrome-plated tubular steel frame, thick black leather, and plush seating supported by rubber “slings” across the back, was meant to be beautiful, durable, and, of course, comfortable. It was first released in 1963 by Herman Miller as “Sofa, Model 6832;” the original design stayed in production until 2000.

      “You don’t think your way to creative work. You work your way to creative thinking.” – George Nelson

      This work might seem quieter than, say, the Bubble Sofa, but it is important nonetheless. The exposed structural elements of the sofa are a hallmark of industrial design. By pairing it with premium leather and a sleek profile, Nelson made what had been considered poor and drab something quite luxurious. The continuing popularity of the design among designers, collectors, and copycats, speaks volumes about Nelson’s eye for design.

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