Everyone Deserves A Little Bit Of Nordic Style By Zoe Clark

1What comes to your mind when you think of Scandinavia? Apart from polar nights, long winters, and a penchant for technology, Europe’s far north is also famous for its stylish interior design. An expression of effortless elegance and inimitable unity of function and aesthetics, Nordic décor does away with superficial ornaments and visual noise, and it is also very simple to achieve. Everyone deserves a little bit of the Scandinavian no-nonsense vibe in their living area – and here are a few ways on how to carry out a budget-friendly home update following in the Nordic footsteps.

No carpets, please!


Although winters in Northern Europe are known for biting winds and extremely low temperatures, carpets and rugs never gained widespread popularity among Scandinavian homeowners. To recreate the Nordic feel, pull back the carpeting and expose hardwood floors. Often coated by a matte varnish or painted white, bare floorboards in Scandinavian homes require less maintenance and are much easier to clean than lavish carpeting, so you will be hitting two boons with one simple décor tweak.

White and crisp as snow


The dominant colour scheme in Scandinavian homes relies heavily on neutral hues. Although one would think Northerners are sick of seeing white expanses all around them, walls and furnishings in Nordic homes are often executed in white to maximize reflection of natural light during long glum winter days. Pastel tones such as beige, grey, baby blue, and light green can be used as sparing accents to break the décor monotony, but their deployment is usually limited to bed linens, cushions, tableware, or an odd accent wall. If you are looking to add an accent or two, reworking your upholstering can be the easiest and most affordable.

One with Nature


Scandinavians are fond of nature, and they often add potted plants to their living areas as cute reminders that grim winters will eventually end, ceding the throne to verdant spring. Tiny botanical gardens in a vacant corner of the room will increase visual interest of the Nordic home, while cute cacti lined up on bookshelves or desktop, storage baskets made from natural materials, a bunch of flowers on the dining table, or a few succulents on the windowsill will help break the monochromatic look and spruce up the vibe in the room.

Clean lines and soft edges


Even tableware in Scandinavian homes is pared down and subordinated to function rather than visual extravaganza. Nordic-inspired plates, trays, and mugs embody the straightforward, simplistic attitude of Scandinavia: no needless distractions, use of natural materials, and accent on purpose and longevity supplement the classical feel in a Scandi home. Often crafted from clay, wood, or brass, kitchen utensils and containers mimic the austerity of nature in the Nordic regions while still conveying a powerful message about simplicity and everlasting minimal style.

Let there be light


Since Europe’s far north suffers from dire lack of natural light during winters, Nordic designers love to experiment with shapes and sizes in lamp designs. In this way, function marries form in often fascinating pieces of light art: contemporary and sophisticated, lighting fixtures in Scandinavian homes have aesthetic value and often add a note of playfulness and creativity without compromising the Nordic emphasis on purpose, colour balance, and plain décor.

A Scandinavian garden tale


The Nordic look can be transplanted into the backyard to a highly pleasing effect. White garden furnishings, wooden benches, simplistic yard art, minimalist statues, and tables topped by large beeswax candles will help recreate the feel of a Scandinavian fairytale al fresco. You can also adorn the garden table with weatherproof fabrics in neutral hues for a Nordic-inspired outdoor makeover, and display foliage in horn-like pots, vases, and plant hangers like a true Viking.

Charming, simple, and easy to replicate, Nordic décor revolves around practicality, unity with nature, and minimalist elegance. A return to the basics and evergreen design, Scandinavian look is true eye-candy, and if executed with care, it will make you fall in love with your space like no other décor out there.

Images via Stadshem




Greening Up A Historic Home By Zoe Clark

1Victorian homes are the most romantic and elegant properties to live in. There is so much history and enchantment hiding in their every cranny, nook and secret compartment. They are built in the distant period between the 1837 and 1901, so you see why it may be difficult for these houses to keep track of all the challenges the present day is placing in front of them. Although Victorian homes surely aren’t lacking a thing when it comes to refines of their architecture, there are some room for improvements in the area of energy-efficiency, which is something the architects didn’t have to worry about during the reign of Queen Victoria. So, if you are living in one of these old beauties, here are a few things that might help you with lowering your energy bills and reducing your carbon footprint.

Insulate the “Old Lady”


Has anyone ever told you your house is breathing? If your old home is older than a century, you can probably expect a lot of gaps between boards in walls and ceiling, as well as a few around the doors and windows. Seal them to prevent warmth from leaving your apartment (and coming in if we are talking about hot summer days). Later, you should add insulation to the attic. In most cases, you don’t even have to remove the existing layer before applying the new one. Examine the HVAC system to see if there is a need for sealing them.

Making Your Windows Greener

If you want to get more efficient windows in a new house, you should install double or triple glazed windows. With historic homes, the situation is a bit different. Removing the old windows and replacing them with the new ones would affect the historic appearance of the building. A neat alternative is to supplement your old windows with storm windows, so you can save energy without affecting the historic character of your property.


Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

If there is one change you can make that is affordable and doesn’t harm the historic appearance of your house in any way, that is replacing your old incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent variety (CFL).

Replace Old Appliances

Just because your house is built in 19th century doesn’t mean you have to use an icebox instead of a modern refrigerator. On the contrary, because of the growing popularity of “vintage” you will find a lot of historically-looking appliances with modern features. Still, the most important thing to look for when searching through appliance stores are the Energy Star rated devices.


Control the Heating

Old homes are designed in times when each room was heated separately using open fires, which was more efficient than heating each room separately. The transition to a modern heating system did no good to historic homes and their heating bills. Address this issue by manually controlling the valves in each room, or by getting a programmable Wi-Fi radiator or installing a smart thermostat.

Reduce Your Water Consumption

Electricity is not the only resource that is being wasted in a non-energy-efficient home. Water can also be a great chunk of the monthly bills, especially if you are dealing with problems typical for older houses, such as water-guzzling showerheads and toilets, and leaky faucets. Replace them all with low-flow models, which are energy-efficient and can save you up to 77 percent of the water usage.

So you see, old houses can learn new tricks, but only when the owners are willing to invest time, money and effort in them. Sure, Victorian houses are a habitat to wish for, but that doesn’t mean they too don’t have their flaws. Do your best to improve them, so that they are bringing you more joy while taking less money from you.

Common Problems In Victorian Homes: House Of Haute Style Or Horrors By Zoe Clark

1Ominous yet romantic, Victorian homes are a living example of timeless elegance and longevity, which is one of the main reasons why houses dating to this era are extremely popular among homeowner hopefuls. Still, every piece of property has its perks and downsides, and the same is true of Victorian homes. Underneath their beauty and complex trims, houses built in the second half of the 19th century can hide serious hardware issues, which is why home buyers need to be extra careful when inspecting their home-to-be with over 100 years under its belt. Here’s a brief list of the most common problems lurking beneath lavish Victorian frills to help you tell a money pit from the real value deal.

1. Weak-legged Victorians

Foundation issues are all too real a problem in old houses. However solid, the base of many a Victorian home can shift due to land subsidence, resulting in further structural hitches such as cracked or bulging walls, door and window defects, and even plumbing and wiring problems.

When inspecting your future love nest, look for floor and wall flaws, door and window latching problems, and foundation chipping or flaking. In case you detect signs of foundation glitches, a structural engineer may need to step in and see whether, where, and how the damage can be repaired.

2. It never rains but it pours

2Roof defects are a chronic problem of old property, and Victorian homes are not an exception. Leaks, faulty flashing, missing shingles or tiles, and poor insulation upstairs are red flags which you shouldn’t ignore when looking for a place to settle down.

During preliminary home viewing, check the walls and ceiling for signs of staining and peeling paint that may point to water intrusion. Broken or damaged roofing material can be replaced, insulation can be upgraded, and flashing flaws can be taken care of, but you’ll need to be aware of the total repair costs before you can call the property a home-sweet-home.

3. Budgeting down the drains

If the basement of your Victorian property find is smelling a bit worse for old age, it may be a good idea to check it for signs of mildew infestations. Mold and musty odor below ground level can point to plumbing faults, perimeter and underfloor drainage issues, or even foundation waterproofing hitches, which you’ll need to tend to and upgrade to contemporary standards before you move in.

In case you smell trouble in the basement, hire a professional to conduct a thorough inspection and estimate the upgrade scope and cost. This will help you get a better image of the post-move repair and upgrade expenses which play an important role in initial capital required to make the place livable.

34. Marrow-chilling prospects

Victorian doors and windows do look spectacular, but unless they’ve been updated in the past decade, you’ll probably need to have them checked, replaced, or repaired before you drop your gear on the floor.

When inspecting your future Victorian-age property, take a quick look at the frames, panes, and surrounding insulation: stains, cracks, mold, and other forms of damage can add a few figures to the post-purchase update bill. Also, be aware that certain features of an old home can’t be remedied due to their historical value – which is a real deal breaker.

5. Looming layout layovers

4Victorian homes usually have narrow hallways, tiny kitchens, tight and steep staircases, and modestly sized bedrooms, which can be problematic if you’re set on buying property for house flipping projects that promise a big bang for your buck. Modernizing a true-blue Victorian home will probably require extensive layout redrawing, and such endeavors are by far the costliest update in the fix-ad-flip lot.

For this reason, be very careful when selecting old houses to flip: Victorian charm is an asset only if the renovation doesn’t involve comprehensive floor plan changes and wall relocations.

Modern Victorian style is in – but the fact that antique houses are currently in high demand on the real estate market doesn’t mean that just about every old place is worth your cash. Double-check the critical property points before you sign the contract: a little extra care and inspection can save you thousands in the post-purchase update process. Good luck!

Author bio:

Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces.



How To Create Modern Victorian Interiors by Zoe Clark

1A symbol of timeless elegance, Victorian décor is slowly sneaking back to interior design waters nowadays, albeit in a slightly revamped guise. An ingenious reinterpretation of the awe-inspiring 19th-century style, the modern Victorian home look is characterized by superior craftsmanship, textural balance, abundance of vintage details, and less dramatic color palette compared to the original look. Intrigued? Here, pick up a few simple tips on how to usher in a touch of the time-honored Victorian charisma in your contemporary living area.

  1. As opulent as Victorian textures can be

2Contrasting textures occupy an important place in the traditional Victorian home. In the modern equivalent of the 19th-century decor, however, textural opulence is replaced by a fine balance of natural elements such as wood and stone and furnishings made from contemporary materials such as synthetic fiber and brushed metal. Although true-blue Victorian homes featured heavy drapes in place of shutters and shades, chic white, brown, or black blinds purchased online are not uncommon in contemporary Victorian bedrooms. Similarly, upholstery in modern Victorian homes verges on the pastel rather than dramatically dark tones, and metallic accents are often mixed with wooden furnishings varnished to a high shine to avoid excess textural contrast.

  1. Dramatic hue contrasts dialed down

3Another feature typical of Victorian and Gothic style, drastic tones are today replaced by slightly dampened hues to produce a lavish debonair look while not overwhelming the rest of the décor. Deep, sinister tones such as black, dark brown, navy blue, and crimson have ceded the throne to their paler counterparts, and the overall color scheme of a modern Victorian home is somewhat lighter than it normally was in the original 19th-century style. Neutrals such as cream, grey, and beige are often employed today, whereas solid tones are used sparingly, to set the overall mood to grounded rather than replicate the breath-taking grandeur typical of classic Victorian homes.

  1. A refined modern Victorian wallscape

4In a conventional Victorian home, walls were outfitted with heavy wallpapers in bold shades and elaborate prints, but in a modern Victorian home, walls feature less dramatic patterns. Tone-on-tone prints in beige, cream, grey, and soft metallic work well in the modern Victorian home, and the antique flair is achieved through tasteful employment of masterfully executed architectural elements such as crown molding, wall trims, chair rails, and millwork with the recognizable 19th- century embellishments. A chic Victorian wallscape is often centered on grey, ivory, and similar neutral shades, whereas the use of bold pops common in the original Victorian look is nowadays limited to accent walls and statement furnishings.

  1. Vintage with an artistic modern twist

5Imposing furnishings that occupied the central place in a 19th-century room are still at home in a modern Victorian living area. Antique armoires, lavish armchairs, and heavy tables add a dose of opulence to the contemporary reinterpretation of the Victorian décor, and vintage touches are modernized through creative material mixes such as mahogany and leather, teak and velvet, or redwood and damask. Nightstands with brass feet, retro chaises with modern upholstery, and exotic storage chests exude an aura of luxury and old-school nostalgia, but the tonal palette of furnishings in a modern Victorian-inspired home is less intense compared to the 19th-century style.

Modern Victorian homes are an embodiment of retro charm, balance, and sophistication, which makes this style perfect for homeowners looking to redo their property following in vintage footsteps. Visual unity of antique elements and modern colors and materials, sumptuous trims and toned-down contrasts, and focus on stability over extravaganza are the biggest assets of contemporary Victorian design. An evergreen source of inspiration for romantics, Victorian style is not a thing of the past: with just a few minor tweaks and updates, the olden home look has returned to claim its rightful place on the 21st-century interior design bandwagon.

Author bio:

Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces.