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Use the Elements of Tuscan Design – Stone, Earth, Wood, Water, and Light

Making a statement -

Are you prepared to break away from current decorating trends that emphasize ‘global’ or ‘universal’ styles and which are intended to appeal to the broadest possible range of home buyers? If so, get ready to add character, personality, warmth and the Tuscan design feelings of security, comfort, and ‘destination sanctuary’ to your home.

The Keys for Success

- Functional furnishings with a sense of solidity; rustic finishes and textures

- Balanced use of the elements – Stone, Earth, Wood, Water & Light

- Warm, nature-inspired, color palette

- Simple, uncluttered spaces without ostentatious or pretentious décor.

Understanding the pieces of the puzzle -

Designing “simplicity” can, paradoxically, be a complex undertaking. So, before diving in, let’s review the components and principles of Tuscan design so you can create a little bit of Tuscany in your home.

All found in nature, these four keystone elements . . .STONE – EARTH – WOOD – WATER… provide a foundation for understanding how one may replicate the beauty found in the hillsides of Tuscany. They comprise a true harmonic quadrangle and are the beating heart of Tuscan design. By drawing upon this quadrangle of natural elements, you may build your own haven of comfort, warmth and style.

A fifth unexpected ‘element’ – LIGHT – is also fundamental to adding the warmth of Tuscany to your home.

Stone is the ubiquitous foundational element used for building, for decoration, and for statuary. Types of stone used in Tuscan design will generally include brick, marble, limestone, quartz and granite. The most democratic of all building materials, stone can be found in humble farm structures as well as in elaborate castles, villas, churches, and cathedrals.

Soft, warm woods balance the strength of stone, creating harmony within the Tuscan home. The predominant woods found in traditional Tuscan furnishings, from antiquity to modern times, will be those that have always been a part of the Tuscan landscape; cypress, fir, chestnut, pine, walnut and oak…

This third essential element of Tuscan design is perhaps most easily and readily incorporated through the use of clay – bricks, roof tiles, and pottery. Terracotta (literally baked earth) is seen throughout the Tuscan region of Italy, easily recognizable by its earthy, rusty red hues.

There can be no life without water. It both sustains life and threatens it; that duality making water the most intriguing of the elements. How does water fit into the scheme of Tuscan design? Subtly, discreetly, and naturally. Water may become a strong element in your design plans through the use of decorative fountains in landscaping forms, or via a large ‘villa-esque’ swimming pool. The translucent qualities and movement of water act as a balance to the stronger (stone and wood) elements of Tuscan design.

When one thinks of Tuscan design, often a golden wash of light is the first image that comes to mind. Thus, light has been added as an element, even though not traditionally thought of as part of the elements of Tuscan design.

We know, intellectually, that stone, wood, earth and water are the key elements, and yet it is that ever-present golden light that draws us into its warmth. It is the light that we desire. It is the light that will wash over our stone, wood, earth and water design elements, and provide comfort within the walls of our home.

How can one achieve the light that is so strongly associated with the Tuscan landscape, especially in northern climes and regions not in any way similar to the hills of Tuscany? Perhaps one cannot achieve the light itself, but one can recreate ambient light in a room or even an entire home through the judicious use of color and lighting fixtures (and attention to natural light).

Excerpt from Decorating in the Tuscan Style, the 162-page eBook packed with tips and techniques (and lots of photos) to help you transform your home and garden into the heart and soul of Tuscany. To learn more about Tuscan décor, visit http://www.intheTuscanstyle.com

Traditional to Trendy – Indian Home Decor

In recent years, ethnic home decor has become increasingly popular when deciding on a theme for decorating. Among the first of the choices in cultural decor, is Indian home decor.

Indian home decor has become one of the most highly sought after themes, due to the versatility of design, rich color schemes, and the broad spectrum of elements in decor. There are different styles of Indian decor branching from the different regions of India, such as, Western Indian, Eastern Indian and even British Indian decor. British Indian decor usually consists of finely carved ivory, hand-crafted wood furniture, and fine art, balanced tastefully with heavy Victorian style drapery, and Victorian furniture, for a classical, yet ethnic appearance.

Many exporters of ethnic home decor can be located online, and there are many dealers from India. They can provide custom-design wooden furniture from an exotic variety of woods, such as, Shisham, Teak, Mango, and Acacia. Choosing the wood, and design will allow you to personalize your home, as well as give that “special touch” to your Indian home decor. Some accent pieces to consider adding are hand-carved chests, nesting-tables, and folding screens. Certain regions of India carve detailed floral designs into their pieces, and other regions carve elaborate pictures of people, and landscapes, as if to tell a story. These accents will give a wonderful depth to your cultural decor.

Fabrics are a creative option to add color, and texture to your Indian home decor, to really bring your space to life. India has an endless wealth of lush materials to decide from, such as satin, cashmere, and silk. India’s silk is very unique, being of a slightly rougher texture than silks in Asia, which adds a beautiful contrast when next to a sleek satin. Many colorful wall tapestries, pillows, and table-runners can be found with this elegant combination. Sari style window-drapes, bedding, and floor-pillows are also a sheik way to add colorful accents. Due to the materials available in a multitude of hues, such as, burnt sienna, fuchsia, apricot, turquoise, and autumn reds, achieving the color schemes desired in your cultural decor is possible.

Adding subtle additions, such as small bronze sculptures, vases, and wood-carved mirror frames will generate a warm, contemporary environment. Paintings can be imported from India, from locations like Patachitra, and Warli. The high quality silk paintings from these regions of India, are unique masterpieces, which would be a wonderful conversation piece.

Once you have seen many of the beautiful pieces to decorate your space with, you will realize how diverse your options are in obtaining Indian home decor.

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is a rising trend for most home owners wanting to illuminate their homes at night time. Landscape lighting is better described as painting with light and is about beautifying all that is natural or man made in a landscaped setting around the home. It is no longer a luxury item for the average to up market neighborhood. Landscape lighting is most effective when used in limited, subtle ways. If designed correctly it can be an extension of your home decor and can extend the use of outdoor spaces to the home while providing safety, atmosphere and space definition. It can also be most effective is hiding unwanted features such as trash cans or compost bins. Lighting is used to bring trees and scrubs to life at night and extenuate features around your home that are not visible or obvious during the day time. If used correctly low level lighting can be used to illuminate pathways and stairs for safety and security. Lighting allows you to enjoy your garden and exterior amenities of your home even after the sun has set.

Security

Landscape lighting is one of the best security systems you can install. Lighting can be used as a deterrent to residential crime. Correct proportions of landscape lighting surrounding your home, has been shown to minimize crimes by as much as fifty percent. Lighting has two great uses to aid in the security of your home. The lighting can intimidate possible intruders to avoid trespassing on to your property. Should this fail, the illuminated areas will also make it possible for you or your neighbor’s to see any intruders as they trespass.

Safety

Typically low voltage lighting systems are used for landscape lighting around the home. The preferred light fittings used to create most lighting designs, are low voltage, weather resistant fixtures. The low voltage used reduces the risk of electrocution if live wiring or terminals are touched. Also if power supply transformers are used to reduce the voltage, then they also isolate the low voltage system from the mains voltage which increases safety.

Not just the Garden

Although lighting brings your garden and exterior amenities to life at night time, facade or feature lighting to the exterior of your home should also be considered. If the landscaping has been done correctly it should compliment the house properly during the day. Why not extend the landscape lighting to the exterior surfaces of the home as well.

Narrow beamed lighting that highlights sharp features and wide angled flood lighting to pick up flat surfaces are preferred. These two simple methods create pools of light and shadows that will transform a house that may be uninteresting during the day, and make it come to life at night.

Installation

Low voltage landscape lighting is easy to install even if you’ve never done any electrical installations before. The easiest are prewired lighting systems. These are low voltage light fittings that come completely prewired and ready to install, with weather proof transformers, sealed connectors and pre-installed lamps. All you need to do is place each light fitting that is connected to a string of wire, where you want it, connect the transformer to the mains voltage and turn it on. It’s that simple. Separately wired low voltage light fittings and transformers should only be installed by persons that have the experience to do so. It is recommended that these installations should be carried out by a qualified electrician. Remember that during the installation it is desirable to include a timer or a daylight sensor so that the lighting is automatically switched off during daylight hours. Normally landscape lighting is added after the landscaping has been completed. With this in mind it would be a good idea to lay conduits or ducts into your garden. This would minimize any trench digging when it came time to run your low voltage wiring. Map out where you think you will want your light fittings and lay conduits or ducts to suit.

Design

Once the layout of the landscape has been established, it is very important to plan the placement of your light fittings. Lighting can focus on aspects in your landscape which are special to you, such as garden art, a water feature, or an unusual planting. Create a point of interest by highlighting a particular tree, shrub, or architectural aspect of you landscape with a flood light placed at ground level and focused upward. Combinations of light and shadow can create dramatic effects in complete contrast to the daylight scene. Lighting around pools can create a nice mirroring effect off the water or create a tropical feel. Lighting can hide obvious landscape problems while accentuating positive features. Landscape lighting design is very similar to the design of the landscape itself. Most landscape architects will include a lighting scheme with their design.

Budget

Low voltage lighting is often a do-it-yourself project and there are many options to suit your budget. Landscape lighting is also more affordable than ever coming in dozens of styles at a wide range of prices. Although it is tempting to purchase the cheaper incandescent lighting systems, in the long run the compact fluorescent options are better. Incandescent lamps will last for between 750 to 1000 hours. Halogens will last for 3500 to 5000 hours. But fluorescent lamps will last for as much as 10,000 hours. Because low voltage fluorescent light fittings have a lower power consumption than incandescent or halogens this makes them more desirable. Fluorescent light fittings also last longer than any other light fitting because they do not get as hot.

Solar Lighting

An alternative to low voltage lighting are solar lights. Solar landscape lighting stores energy captured during the day and then when it becomes dark enough, the outside lighting switches on automatically and stay on all night until they run out of battery power. A very good point is that solar lighting dose not use any wiring or external power source Unfortunately the disadvantages of solar lighting is that they give out very low levels of lighting and this gets dimmer as the night goes on.