January 2013

One of the best things about this time of year is all the spring catalogs that start to arrive in the mailbox, and inevitably the doses of color being featured inside the pages include something in the alluring shade of aqua blue.  Color trends come and go but one hue that continues to be popular year after year is aquamarine or “aqua” as we’ve shortened it to over the years.

Aqua is a watery shade of blue, not as vivid as it’s popular sister turquoise – and perhaps a bit more calming and refreshing.  It’s guaranteed to bring cheerful color to any space and a perfect color choice for bathrooms, bedrooms, offices and kitchens.  


aqua kitchen cabinets bhg


As an accent, aqua pairs perfectly with so many bright colors, yellow, bright pink, lime green are all easy partners. 

aqua with yellow bhg


With its cool tones, decorating with aqua blue also brings a welcome contrast to spaces filled with warmer colors and wood trim or accents. 

wood and aqua bedroom bhg


A shapely piece of aqua pottery is a perfect vessel for brightening any tabletop with seasonal fresh flowers.

aqua vases in dining room bhg


Here’s a roundup of a few of my favorite decorative accents in this alluring shade:

 aqua accents for the home

Thibaut Marathon Wallpaper, available through dealers; Jamaican Aqua paint, Benjamin Moore;  Aqua Glass Pendant, Shades of Light, $159; Rest Giclee, Ballard Designs, $179; Sunburst Clock, Target, $30;  Kitchen Aid Mixer in Aqua Sky, Chef’s Catalog, $349;  Stripe fabric, Spoonflower, $18/yard; Trina Turk Sunburst Pillow, Amazon, $102;  Aqua Leaves Pillow, Overstock, $75; Feather Dinnerware, Macys, $40; Cambria Platter, Pottery Barn, $32; Balloon Jug, Viva Terra, $79; Geo Blanket, Zinc Door, $150; Aqua End Chair, Wisteria, $389; Stray Dog Accent Stool, Belle & June, $425; Table Lamp, Lamps Plus, $253; Jaspar Rug, Crate + Barrel, price varies.

Don’t forget to check out BH&G Shop for even more aqua accents for the home! 



I’ve lived with slipcovered furniture for years, I find as long as the slipcovers are tailored, the look isn’t sloppy at all, but rather casual, cozy, and chic.  I have slipcovered sofas in my family room and slipcovered dining chairs too, and with young children living in our home, they are a very practical choice.

If you prefer light and bright spaces, slipcovers allow you to decorate with paler fabrics since by nature they can be removed and washed.  Slipcovers take the worry out of living with light fabrics since any small stain or smudge can be removed with a wash when life happens. 

white slipcovered sofas bhg


Many people gasp at the idea of a white sofa or dining chairs, but if you’ve chosen a slipcovered option, keeping them clean is as simple as a cycle through the laundry and a bit of bleach if necessary. 


white slipcovered dining chairs bhg

white slipcovered sofa bhg


Choosing slipcovers for your home lends a cottage or coastal feel to your spaces, and creates an inviting place to kick off your shoes and curl up with a great book, your tablet, or your laptop. 


white slipcovered chairs bhg


Slipcovered fabrics are only as convenient as they are washable, and often the linen versions are dry clean only, but the benefit is they can still be removed and treated if spills occur, which is far more challenging with upholstered furniture.


slipcovered dining chairs bhg


Two slipcovered pieces I personally endorse are the Pottery Barn Basic sofas, which we have in our family room and the Ballard Designs Couture Chairs and Slipcovers, which we have in our dining room.  We’ve lived with both for years, and find them stylish, comfortable, and easy to wash. 

Do you live with slipcovered furniture in your home?  If so, what are your favorite pieces, and can you share any maintenance tips?



I love to read up on what’s happening in remodeling, and while trends come and go, one choice that is consistent among homeowners over the years is the use of wood as a countertop in kitchens.  I’ve always loved the look myself and we opted for a wood kitchen island countertop years ago. 

Hard woods of all kinds can be used in a kitchen – walnut, cherry, and alder among others, and chefs love a giant slab of butcher block for its convenience in food prep.

kitchen countertops in wood bhg


Choosing wood as a countertop brings warmth to a kitchen space in contrast with the common cooler materials used in kitchens such as glass tile, ceramic sinks, or stainless steel appliances.

dark wood kitchen countertops bhg


Wood countertops are also an affordable option in comparison with pricier solid surface choices, and retailers like IKEA sell slabs of butcher block that can be stained darker or even routed with an ogee edge. 

wood kitchen countertops bhg


Wood countertops have a reputation for being a higher maintenance surface than granite or marble, but if sealed properly they’re virtually waterproof.  The one thing homeowners must avoid is the placement of anything too hot on the wood, but trivets and pot pads within arms reach will prevent any accidental burns.


The use of wood in any space brings character to your home and when cared for properly, wood countertops will remain useful and beautiful for years.

wood kitchen countertops around sink


Other helpful articles from the archives:

Wood Countertop Guide

Wood Basics for Kitchens & Baths

Wood Countertop Ideas


Have you installed wood countertops in your kitchen?  Share your thoughts and maintenance tips!



I adore fresh patterns in bright and bold colors and layering them together brings personality to your spaces at home.  If you’re in doubt as to how to successfully mix multiple textiles in your home, here are a few simple tricks to use so that the patterns you love all work in harmony!  

Area rugs ground a space or sitting area and can be used to set the color palette so they are one decorative element should be considered first, not last, when deciding on pattern.  This striped rug  is a jumping off point for this breakfast nook and by pulling colors from the palette established by the stripes, you are free to mix in simple florals and geometric patterns from the same color family.   


striped rug geometric fabric bhg


If you’re more comfortable using neutral tones in your spaces, then layering patterns is one way to keep it interesting.  Mix a large scale graphic pattern (as seen in the rug) with a floral in a slightly smaller scale (notice the sofa), and layer one additional geometric print (the upholstered chairs) for a pulled together look.

mixing patterns florals and geometrics bhg


Sticking to one color gives you permission to mix just about any style of fabrics, like this classic damask mixed with a blue and white buffalo check.  Modern floral pillows on the chair freshen the space when more traditional patterns hang from the windows and are on display inside the hutch.

mixed traditional patterns bhg


Instead of blue, this bedroom is layered in shades of coral but the same principle of monochromatic color applies.  Note how the smaller scale print in the window panels is a pleasant juxtaposition next to the large scale medallion motif on the duvet and shams. 

layered patterns in bedroom bhg


Five different fabrics in the shade of green are layered in this open concept living room connected to the kitchen proving the point that the simplest way to mix and mingle your geometrics, stripes, prints, or floral patterns is to keep them in the same color palette.  The vibrant textile pillow in the center incorporates the citrus shades from other room accents to create a cohesive space. 

mixing patterns bhg


Analagous colors are hues adjacent on the color wheel and since they’re neighbors, they blend together well.  Vibrant pinks and oranges make good mates just like cooler toned greens and blues.

mixed patterns in bedroom bhg


Finally, neutral walls and furnishings always allow for more eclectic mixing of colorful textiles.

 eclectic mix of patterns bhg

To learn more about pairing patterns and colors in complementary or tertiary combinations, be sure to grab Better Homes & Gardens’ Confidence With COLOR – it’s a complete guide for anyone seeking to mix color and pattern throughout the home and one of my go to resources for pulling together prints to create a cohesive space!



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