A bedroom retreat for all seasons

Beautify and refresh your bedroom, any time of year

Many a travel-weary soul has exclaimed, “There’s nothing like being home in your own bed.” Your bedroom is your private sanctuary, so make it an inviting place where you can rest, sleep and feel restored, surrounded by pure comfort and beauty.

Blooming bed

Bring a lasting bouquet beauty of seasonal blooms into your bedroom with Ted Baker London floral bedding.  The designer known for its rich, vibrant hues and elaborate prints is launching a new line of luxury linens for spring, including the Blue Beauty collection, inspired by souvenir photographs taken by the designer on a bicycle ride around Holland’s tulip fields. The tonal blues create a striking statement against a pristine white backdrop.

The soft 100-perfect cotton comforter sets, coverlets, and decorative pillows are available at Nordstrom.com, priced between $65 to $285.

Counting sleep

Sleeping in total comfort not just a dream. PONS bedding has made it their mission to create the ultimate environment for perfect sleep. The PONS mattress (starting at $599) will help you rest well not just because of its gel infusion for cooler sleep, its breathable knit cover for airflow and its body-conforming foam with three levels of pressure point relief for restful shuteye, but you will sleep well knowing the materials under you are 100-percent eco-friendly and CertiPUR-US certified from head to toe.

The mattress contains no ozone depleters, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals, or formaldehyde or phthalates, and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million). PONS made the perfect match to its mattress in a bedframe ($1,199) equipped with USB ports for recharging while you sleep. Soon PONS promised to offer cooling and ultra-dry sheets, comforters and pillows.

Airbn-be-better

Nature’s bounty of trees, plants and flowers, as well as our beloved animals, bring us beauty and joy that make our house a home, inside and out; but they also bring into the home pollen, dander and other indoor pollutants that can be harmful to our health and comfort. Blueair Classic 405 ($599) air purifier filters out the polluting particles to clean unhealthy air in your home environment. It operates quietly, and its modern design discreetly blends in with home décor. Integrated smart technology allows it to be operated remotely with a smartphone.

The clean-air companion to the Blueair air purifier is Blueair Aware ($199), a sleek, small air monitor that continuously measures indoor air quality and quickly detects airborne pollutants, including ultrafine particulate matter (PM2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde and benzene and carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2). You don’t need to know what any of these chemicals and contaminants are – just that when the Blueair Aware indicator shines blue, the air you breathe is A-OK. If the indicator light turns orange, it’s time to shut the windows or eliminate other sources of air contaminants.

Clean case

Feeling good under the covers begins with a fresh, clean bed and pillows. Cover your mattress and pillows with an allergen-barrier to keep down dust mites, pollen, pet dander and other household allergens. AllerEase Ultimate zippered mattress protector ($55.99) and pillow protectors ($9.99) fully encase mattresses and pillows in antimicrobial, hypoallergenic fabric to reduce exposure to irritants; and because the top fabric is soft and pliable, the covers do not alter the feel or breathability of your sleep surface. As an added benefit, the waterproof coverings offer protection from spills, and they can be machine washed and dried for easy care.

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A dated living room gets a hi-tech makeover

1111_s_Crescent_Heights_blvd_LA_90035The Brown family was immersed in technology in their daily lives at work and school, but at home, their living room was still in the dark ages. Here is how Los Angeles interior designer Andee Ferrer took on the task of transforming the “great room” of their 1930s Spanish-style duplex into a contemporary, smart and connected hi-tech haven.

Out with the old

As a designer of the digital age, Ferrer didn’t need to leave her laptop to reset this room with all the latest devices, décor and computer comforts of modern life. First thing Ferrer did was send the Colonial-style entertainment center off to the woodpile, via TruckBuddy. Next the sagging drab olive sofa and loveseat, bulky coffee table, 26” TV, DVD player, stereo receiver, five-CD changer, external speakers and other vintage electronics and furnishings, found new homes via craigslist. Then, it was time to refresh the scene.

Technology and function

While a TV is the centerpiece of a traditional family room, Ferrer eschewed the eyesore of a wall-mounted TV and tucked it away in a custom-built Cabinet Tronix television cabinet.  With a touch of a button, the TV emerges, neatly and discretely, connected to half a dozen media peripherals, including a Blu-Ray player and X-Box, which are also hidden away, enclosed in a compartment at the bottom of the unit.

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Inside the cabinet, the family’s former tiny TV was upsized and upgraded with a 43″ TCL Roku TV.  Since streaming is the new cable, the family cut the cord, and cost, and now uses a TERK Trinity Indoor Amplified HDTV antenna to get basic channels sans subscription.

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Atop the cabinet, a stylish Sonos Playbar connects to the TV via optical cable and lends rich AV sound. The app-controlled system connects with other Sonos speakers in the house to stream free and paid playlists from sites like Pandora, Amazon Music, and Spotify. To amplify Wi-Fi throughout the house, a TP-Link VR900 modem/router is paired with the eero extender system to boost bufferless audio and video streaming.

Above the lift cabinet, Ferrer used the wall space as a projection screen for a  ZTE Spro2 projector. The palm-sized tablet-like projector transforms the living room into a cinema, streaming directly from the device or connecting to other devices via USB or HDMI cable.

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After some research, Ferrer learned that the best color wall for projection was not white, as one might expect, but grey.  She chose Sherwin-Williams Passive Gray to make the colors pop and show vividly on the wall.

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Get smart

To outsmart kids prone to leaving lights on, the Lutron Maestro motion sensor automatically turns lights on and off, and to set the mood lighting, the handy Lutron Caseta Wireless controller dims lights and raises and lowers blinds while iDevices switches wirelessly control the Robert Abbey Delta Emerald Glazed Table Lamp and floor fan, while the heat and AC are controlled by a Honeywell Lyric thermostat.  Both wireless controllers and the thermostat respond to app or voice commands by Amazon Echo, which can also play music, update a Google calendar, report the news, and even read the kids a story. The family can play it safe anywhere in the home with Samsung smartthings hub home monitoring kit which sends alerts via app if anyone passes a sensor or opens or closes a connected door or window.

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Creature Comforts

A couch is fundamental in a family room, so Ferrer started by replacing the old sofa and loveseat with a bright, comfortable contemporary sectional with a lounger sidecar from Article.  Ferrer also found beautifully floral-patterned side chairs and marble top sofa tables by La-Z-y Boy, gray lacquered BluDot Strut Square coffee table, a ghost chair from InStyleModern,  two Safavieh benches from Wayfair for extra seating, a gold geometric gardening stool by IMAX to serve as an end table, and a modern IKEA large-shade floor lamp.  Other textile pieces included Sanela room darkening draperies in light turquoise and faux skin rugs for the stools from IKEA, a Safavieh Hand Woven Natural Kilim Ivory Wool Rug and comfort padding from Overstock, Roman Shades by Pottery Barn, and fabric panels for the Cabinet Tronix lift cabinet, featuring Robert Allen fabric in Tiny Pebbles Parchment design.

To help brighten the room when it was not in use for projection viewing, Ferrer mounted two bright satin brass Robert Sonneman Palo Wall Sconces, which freed up space where floor lamps once stood.

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To help brighten the room when it was not in use for projection viewing, Ferrer mounted two bright satin brass Robert Sonneman Palo Wall Sconces, which freed up space where floor lamps once stood.

It’s all about the vase

No makeover is complete without the accessories. In keeping with an underlying gold and silver theme, Ferrer found an elegant silver bowl with bronze beading from Beatriz Ball collection, which complemented other metallic décor in the room including gold-accented vases and geometric shapes from Gold Leaf Design Group and unique Wall Play wire designs she used to sculpt and frame the projection “screen” to create anticipation on the wall.  Adorning another wall were two bird prints by Wooden Pencil Company, featuring a California quail and Virginia red cardinal, representing family member’s two home states. Across one wall Ferrer displayed a collection of black and white family photos created on aluminum by WhiteWall, a German company specializing in gallery-quality prints.

Centered above the sofa hung a Nurai Mora 2015 Artist Event Print from IKEA, which carried through the geometric design theme from the wire sculpture, the table sculpture and the leaded glass windows.

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Ferrer softened the room with geometric-patterned pillows from Fab and luxurious linen and wool throw blankets from COAST New Zealand.  She picked up all the remaining tchotchkes she needed, including silk flower arrangements, at HomeGoods.

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Good study

Because the room served as a home office for parents and a study room for kids, Ferrer placed a Liberty Furniture Brookview Writer’s Desk in one corner, which held the sleek workhorse Intel-powered HP Envy 34” Curved All-in-One PC, loaded with Windows 10 and featuring a Bang & Olufsen audio system, which serves as both entertainment center and homework base.  Homework or play can become a family affair by using the Nyrius Aries Pro wireless HDMI transmitter to stream content from the desktop to the TV or projector or other HD device.

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Good clean fun

Just as the Tronix cabinet was a sophisticated hideaway solution for the TV, Ferrer wanted to make the room multifunctional as a family play space and a place where adults could entertain, without being surrounded by kids’ playthings.  Three Casement black sideboards from Crate & Barrel, with the glass covered with frosted glass film, served to neatly and discreetly store all of the family’s board games, toys, and electronic peripherals.

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IT room

In case you worry that you have to be an IT genius to set up and enjoy this room, fret not.  Even if you have trouble programming your universal remote, anyone can be king of their smart domain with the help of HelloTech, the “Uber of tech.” All in all, it took one of their hero tech a few hours to unbox and get all of the electronics in the room and throughout the house up and working together.

(Photography by Katya Grozovskaya)

Editor’s note:  Companies featured in this article provided sample products for reviews, but all opinions belong to the author.

Creating a habitable and cozy basement living space

Most basements are underutilized real estate, often used for storage, home gyms or kids’ recreation rooms. By warming up these subterranean spaces with a few creature comforts, you can create an inviting apartment, perfect for grown children living at home, house guests or home-sharing.

Bedding buy

Let the sunshine in your basement boudoir with blooming florals from bluebellgray, the flirty and fashionable bedding that Lena Dunham slept pretty on in HBO’s Girls. Add uptown style to your downstairs space with the collection’s assortment of bold and bright or subtle and elegant patterns of duvet covers ($270, with closeout styles priced as low as $37), sheet sets ($75-$165) and decorative pillows ($85-$100) to create the look and mood you want. Available at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.

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Get FLOR’d

Polished concrete floors of unfinished basements is a vogue look, but it can be cold and hard on feet. Warm up the space and add a splash of style with FLOR carpet tiles. The brands innovated design concept allows you to mix and match tiles to create a unique look, and the tiles are easily replaceable and washable. The materials are also low VOCs, so there are no toxic fumes as with many other carpeting textiles. The floor DIY tiles are designed to hug the floor, and they come with adhesive dots that hold the tiles together, so there is no need for nails, tax or glue, or even additional padding.

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Warm and fuzzy

Stay cozy in your basement space with plenty of warm blankets, like the snuggly Heat Holders Thermal Oversized Throw/Blanket ($29.99), available in seven fashion colors to fit in with your decor.  The super soft fur fleece, called HeatWeaver, was developed to be efficient at retaining heat, which is why it has an official TOG rating of 1.4, making the material measurably warmer to the touch.

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Dry time

Basements don’t have to be damp.  Invest in a good dehumidifier. This will not only make the environment more comfortable to live in, less humid in the summer and less cold in the winter. It will help eliminate that musty smell of furniture, clothes and other items stored in the basement. The Frigidaire FFAD5033R1 Energy Star 50-pint unit ($279, Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot) will effectively dry up a large basement, and it has a stylish design so that it won’t be an eyesore in the room. This type of unit has an option to drain into a tank, which has an alarm and it automatically shuts off if the bucket gets too full; or you can use a hose and it can automatically flow into a drain. With an effective dehumidifier, odors from mold and mildew caused by excess moisture can be eliminated, along with airborne bacteria that can make breathing difficult and irritate allergies.

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The smart basement

Keep your basement space and entire home comfortable year-round with a thermostat that you can regulate from anywhere – at home or outside the home.  Cool off or warm up the basement before you get home with the programmable  Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat ($199, Home Depot)  This Wi-Fi thermostat is Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo compatible, so you can control your HVAC system with Siri or Alexa voice commands and through your smartphone.

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Never worry again if you leave on the heat or AC after you have left the house, and with Lyric WiFi Water Leak and Freeze Detector ($79.99, Home Depot) you can track for mold, water damage and pipe leaks from your phone, for added peace of mind when you are away from home. Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=yKKrFaJbRy8

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Heat it up

It is a fact of thermodynamics that hot air rises, cold air sinks, so it’s not surprising the basement is often the chilliest place in the house. In order for basement dwellers to keep warm, often the furnace has to be turned up so high that the upstairs occupants are boiling hot. Avoid this upstairs downstairs feud with a cost efficient space heater. Honeywell, one of the most trusted names and heating and air conditioning, makes a number of reliable and safe room heaters. Their latest digital 360 surround heater ($39.99), one of their bestsellers, delivers 25% warmer heat output and 20% faster room heat up compared to prior models.

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It also features an automatic shut off if it is tipped over and an automatic shut off if the unit gets too hot. Also has a four-hour programmable thermostat and timer and a handy remote control you can place on a bed stand, so you don’t have to get up to adjust it during the night. The Honeywell Digital display ceramic tower heater ($39.99-$69.99) with a remote control is a tall stylish design that oscillates to give you full room heat. This style is perfect for rooms where floor space is at a premium, and it features tip over and over heat protection or piece of mine, and it’s great if you have small children or pets, because it features a safeguard motion sensor that shuts off of any object gets too close.  Available at www.honeywellpluggedin.com, Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon.

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Be alarmed

It’s an unpleasant thing to think about, but carbon monoxide leaks from furnaces can kill, and most furnaces are located in basements. Make sure you safeguard yourself with a CO alarm. Kidde makes some of the best-rated CO alarms in the industry, including their single screw easy install combination smoke and CO alarm ($53) that is always on and features a sealed lithium battery that lasts for 10 years and has a hush button too quickly silence false alerts. It also has a voice alarm that states “Fire!” and an 85 decibel alarm if carbon monoxide or smoke is detected. Kidde also makes a plug-in CO detector ($67) unit perfect for hallways that doubles as a night light that even works when the power goes out.

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Note:  The companies featured in this article provided sample products for review, but the opinions stated belong to the author.