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Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Enter Our Sweepstakes for Moen’s Weymouth Collection

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Win a Moen Sweepstakes | HomePortfolio.com

Gearing up for a bathroom redo? Enter to win luxurious fixtures from Moen’s “Weymouth” collection–worth $1,000–on HomePortfolio.

Moen’s products live up to their memorable slogan, “Buy it for looks. Buy it for life.” They are equally attractive and hardworking. This distinctive line features sophisticated decorative touches like porcelain inlays and also meet with WaterSense criteria to conserve water without sacrificing performance. Some lucky winner is going to have a stunning bathroom. (Hope it’s you!)

Enter by October 14th, 2012.

Click here to view contest rules.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Real Fire vs. Gas & Electric Options

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The fireplace and the technology behind it have come a long way. Today’s consumers can choose clean-burning and money-saving options in gas and electric or purchase high-efficiency inserts to use within their own traditional fireplaces. With so many options, one ought to consider whether the benefits of a wood-burning fireplace outweigh the convenience and efficiency of electric and gas.

A real fire is a mesmerizing experience. As sophisticated as newer gas and electric products are, you can’t fully replicate nature—yet if you can forgo the crackle and aromatic odor, there are attractive alternatives in gas and electric that turn on with a flip of a switch or a remote control kept next to your bed.

Perhaps the best solution is both. Today you can buy clean-burning logs and upgrade your wood fireplace to be more efficient. Then, consider adding gas or electric to other areas of your home. Just imagine how relaxing your bath would be with any kind of fireplace.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Interior Design, Art & the Internet

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It seems it’s an obsession with me: real estate, design, art, and the Internet. After spending many years in the fine art business, I took a detour in 1996 to found BabyZone.com under the direction and support of my husband, an online veteran. Together we spent 10 years building it into a rich community and valuable destination for new and expectant parents.

In 2006 we were very fortunate to sell the company, and while I was figuring out my place in the world without BabyZone, serendipity seemed to strike. The founder of HomePortfolio, and a neighbor in our office space, asked us to get involved with his 12-year-old company. Given my background and personal interest in renovating our own home, I was instantly hooked.

Actually, I had always been a fan of HomePortfolio.com. It was founded in 1995—more than a decade before the design industry even realized it needed to be online. Additionally, homeportfolio.com was the first (Bostonians love to be the first!) to understand the importance of a robust product database in the interior design space—and by a long shot. The company has such a legacy there’s a book in print about it. What I didn’t know at the time was that the company was losing money and hadn’t updated its technology over the years.

But we thrive on challenge, so in October 2008, my business partner/husband and I brought in a new management team and new investors to revive Homeportfolio, just as the economy was crumbling around us. Over the last year, I have observed the industry from both a publishing/editorial perspective as well as a consumer in the space. Initially, I was discouraged that the interior design world has not advanced with current technologies. In my mind, educating consumers is the key to sales and success. Fortunately, it is catching up. Designers, manufacturers, and the people who drive this industry are realizing that the Internet is a great tool to communicate effectively and efficiently with clients. While the economic crisis has slowed the company’s growth, it has also been the impetus of positive change.

Consumer buying and spending habits have also changed. While our audience will always invest in quality products and services in their homes, their decisions will be more practical. The longevity, quality, and investment value of purchases will be taken into consideration. Excess spending is out of style and—similar to the mentality after the Great Depression—a memory of difficult times will result in a generation of fiscal awareness.

On a personal note, our home renovation project, which started with “just the kitchen,” has turned into a major renovation as we decided to paint the pad green and lower our carbon imprint.

I look forward to sharing industry observations and speculations from our perspective and I hope to include many anecdotal “learning moments” and future design finds as I move into the final stages of decorating our home.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Color Trends for Fall/Winter 2009

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What colors will be in store next fall? According to the Color Marketing Group (CMG), the leading international association of color design professionals, today’s hottest color trends are most influenced by two major issues: the economy and concern for the environment.

“Economic extremes lead to color extremes, too,” said Jaime Stephens, executive director of CMG, which has predicted color trends with remarkable accuracy for more than 45 years. “So we see many opposites. For instance, ecological concerns mean fabrics are being made with less dye, giving them an almost vintage look. So vintage colors look very right. On the other hand, exuberant economies in countries like China and India draw us to ethnic brights – sunny yellows, true turquoises, warm oranges. Both look very cutting edge.”

“Members tell us our dual instincts apply as well to technology,” she said. “We want to sit under a tree and read a book – with our BlackBerry nearby. We are drawn to old-culture décor – a Tuscan farmhouse kitchen – but we want state-of-the-art appliances in that kitchen. So we are drawn to both vintage hues and new bright colors.”

What‘s coming this fall?
According to the Color Marketing Group:

Both Extreme Matte and Very Shiny Gloss finishes – Look for lots of new special effects, patterns and textures, including black-on-black beading, stitching or embossing; bright metallics with a matte graphic overlay; stamped and foiled metallics and layering of similar colors.

The Return of Purple – Purple has moved from a blue-based lavender to a red-based purple verging on raspberry. The newest version is a true convergence of red and purple – a high-energy almost fuchsia-like color.

Super Reds and Oranges – A blue-based red in a sophisticated, complex shade that is really a fresher, lighter burgundy looks very right now. So does a passionate orange-y red that brings to mind the Summer Olympics in Beijing. And an intense, lipstick berry red (kissed by a touch of orange) makes a great accent color. Also, look for a soft new coral that is warm and pinked. It works well with neutral, brown and green shades.

Fresh New Grays – Gray has moved from metallics to fabrics to paint to home products. We’ve gone from granite, marble and stainless steel kitchens to gray on the walls, gray on upholstery. There are some wonderful new pale, lilac-y grays. And this fall, look especially for (1) a truly classic gray with undertones of no other color; (2) a silver with blue undertones, and (3) a very sophisticated green-cast smoky black.

Gray/Blue Greens – Green has been the most-used color over the last few years, as environmentalism went mainstream. Now, however, the newest greens are moving toward shades that are grayer and bluer. Green is trending away from yellow-based shades and moving toward blue-based shades. This fall, cool blue-greens will be everywhere. Some of the newest are so blue they almost read turquoise.

New Blues – Robin’s egg blues, so prevalent over the last couple of years, are fading out now. Softer blues are heading home. Look for pale, spa-influenced blues; spirited blues that are vibrant without being aggressive, and inky navy blues as an alternative to black. Finally, there is a bold new European-influenced blue that is showing up in laundry rooms and kitchen appliances.

Reprinted with permission from the Color Marketing Group

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Guide to Selecting and Purchasing Area Rugs

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We like to think of area rugs this way – they are the only flooring product that you can install, then pick up and move anytime you like; which makes them one of the most flexible design elements in a home. There are many things to consider before purchasing a rug for your home; some related to design and style, some to price and investment over time, and some to integrity.In fact, in doing research for this piece, one thing that kept coming up was trust.One of the most important steps in buying a good rug is finding a rug dealer you can trust.Understanding the fundamentals of the processes involved in rug making and the reasoning behind the intricate pricing structure will enable you, as a more educated consumer, to find a dealer you can work with comfortably.

Hand-made or machine-made

Hand-made (or hand-knotted) and hand-tufted are actually two different processes. Most hand-made rugs are woven by tying knots on the strands. A hand-tufted rug is created without tying knots into the foundation, but rather by pushing the wool through a primary backing, creating a ‘tuft’. This is a less time-consuming process, so it should be less expensive than hand-knotted.That being said – we’ve seen tufted rugs that have an extremely high level of artistry.

The vibrant colors in handmade rugs are most often created using natural dyes (sometimes called vegetable dyes) that provide longevity to the colors.For example, to achieve the color yellow, saffron, safflower, and turmeric might be used.Red can be achieved using pomegranate peel; henna is used for orange, etc.These dyes are not only natural, but also sustainable and non-allergenic for most people.Natural dyes can add about 30% to the cost of a rug, but they also add to its value. There is much discussion about the longevity of the colors in rugs made using natural dyes.Antique rugs (an antique rug is defined as a rug 50 yrs and older), will likely have been made using natural dyes, since synthetic dyes were not readily available until the 1920’s.All rugs will fade a bit over time, and if you are looking at antique rugs, you’ve probably already noticed what ‘aged’ colors look like.Vegetable-dyed rugs tend to become ‘warmer’ looking as they age, which many people consider an integral part of their charm As far as longevity; all high quality hand-made rugs should literally last for generations.

Machine-made rugs, as the term implies, are mass-produced and while they can be made with natural fibers such as wool or cotton, they rarely achieve heirloom status. Machine-made rugs are often made with glue and synthetic materials; which over time can harden and may cause the rug to curl up around the edges.While they can be quite beautiful, machine-made rugs do not increase in value and should not be bought for investment purposes. Along with their somewhat lower cost, machine-made rugs can be a good choice for high-traffic areas in your home where there might be food and dirt issues.

Important note about Child Labor and rugs:Nearly 300,000 children are exploited in the carpet industry in South Asia to weave carpets for American homes. There is only one way to ensure that any rug you purchase was NOT made using child labor…ask to see the Rugmark label.Rugmark is a non-profit organization working to end Child Labor in the rug industry.Any reputable rug dealer should be happy to give you more information; not only about Rugmark, but how and where their rugs are made.


Quality, newhand-made rugs can range in cost from $50/sq ft to $200/sq ft, depending on the materials (wool, silk, cotton), the construction method or weave, and the country of origin.Machine made rugs are less expensive, but it’s hard to beat the quality of a hand-made rug – they can literally last many lifetimes and in many families become heirlooms that are passed down from generation to generation.


The most common sizes are 2’x3’, 4’x6’, 5’x8’, 6’x9’, 8’x10’, and 9’ x 12’. Most shapes are rectangle, round, square, oval, octagon and runners (which are narrow and long). Another benefit of hand-made rugs is that due to their custom nature, they can be woven in almost any size. Here are some general guidelines you can follow to determine the size of the rug you’ll need.

Measure the size of your room. (Measure twice to be sure.)

Measure the space you want covered.

Now place a piece of paper where each of the corners will fall; adjust the “corners” as needed to make the space larger or smaller and then re-measure the area.As a general rule, if you are trying to cover the majority of the room, be sure to leave a 12”-15” border of flooring exposed to set off your area rug.

If you are placing an area rug under your dining room table, select a rug that is large enough so when seated at the table the back legs of the chairs are on the rug with enough space to push back and get up from the table. Your guests will appreciate that.


Almost too numerous to mention – rug styles run the gamut from the intricate designs in Oriental rugs, to the literal designs of Chinese rugs; from the vivid colors of Tibetans to geometric or color-blocked contemporary rugs.The choice of course is yours.You shouldn’t feel as though you are bound to a certain style of rug because your furnishings are of a particular style – these days it’s more about the colors and the feeling that you are trying to bring in to the room than any one particular style.

See hundreds more rugs on our site www.homeportfolio.com