{ask Hirshfield’s a question}

If you have a decorating question, we’d love to hear from you.

Questions about what’s the best finish to use on your painting project; what steps need to be take to properly prepare a surface; should you prime or should you dare to cut corners; do window treatments offer energy-saving insulation; can I retrofit old blinds in my kid’s room; which store has the best wallpaper library; refinishing woodwork; staining the deck; et al.

Use the LEAVE A COMMENT link below. We’ll put a Hirshfield’s expert on your case (but give us at least 24 hours to post a reply).

If you desire anonymity, you may write us at this address.  You can also visit our Facebook Fan Page.

Thank you.

{what every self-respecting kitchen deserves}

Looking at the stats for Hirshfield’s Color Club blog, we notice a fair amount of people coming to this site have used “kitchen” as part of their search terms. The list includes: Kitchen island, kitchen cabinets painted white, counter top for white kitchens, white cupboards, and so on.

Just as every kitchen needs a sharp paring knife, every respectable kitchen deserves beautiful and easily maintained walls (think wallpaper or paint), cabinets, woodwork and ceiling. Hirshfield’s can help you with that. But, if your search brought you here looking for something else kitchen-related, read on for exciting news. . .

To all interested “kitchen” parties, our friends at Warner’s Stellian opened a Miele gallery just last week in their Edina location. This is the only Miele gallery in the United States, mind you!

Miele is a German company with clean lines and a contemporary design. Come to think of it, so is our company.

Miele kitchen

Miele kitchen

{remodel your bathroom in three easy steps}

I’ve moved many times – in fact, in 17 years of marriage I have had 2 apartments and 5 homes.  One of my favorite things about my newest home is that I finally have a huge tub in my master bath; I can officially get my whole self under water all at one time!  This was a major selling point for me in choosing this house, but the rest of the bathroom was not exactly what I was hoping for…

So in order to make my bathroom a place I can truly enjoy while I soak, I found ways to take the focus off the parts of the room I didn’t like and turn the attention somewhere else.  There are three areas that you can look at in order to improve your bathroom, without necessarily doing a major remodel.

Your bathroom can be more than just a room of necessity; it can be an oasis.

Your bathroom can be more than just a room of necessity; it can be an oasis.

Read the rest of this entry »

{there is more than bland behind beige}

Beige, beige, and more beige

Beige, beige, and more beige

Beige is a best selling color, and to stretch its reach even farther you can include off white as a pale version of beige. Not only is it a best seller in interior colors but also in exterior colors. Its scope extends from the rich tones of tan to the grayed nuances of taupe. Beige is not a color family, only a tone in the family of Orange. Its big brother Brown is the darkest value of that tone and it is also a winner in the marketplace, enjoying a revival as of late. So what is the mysterious allure of beige? Why does it play such a key role in decorating today?

Not so bland beiges

Not so bland beiges

There are a number of reasons why we are inundated with beige. First of all it is a neutral, a color that plays well with others and is a great companion. In the scheme of things it is in the correct hemisphere, the warm side of the color world. Warm colors outsell cool colors by quite a large margin. They are comforting and offer refuge from an over colorful world. Color love comes from a memory of things that are pleasant, familiar and predictable. Our minds make connections with colors we see around us every day, such as our natural surroundings and objects we love and cherish. We see these warm tone colors in the trees around us, the earth beneath our feet and in the wildlife we cherish. So as humans we have a strong connection to this color family and it translates into big sales in a broad range of products from carpet to siding and from low end to high end. It looks good on flat surfaces such as walls and on textured surfaces like carpet. It is rich as a best selling metallic or pearl of automobile finishes and even on plastic wastebaskets. How can they possibly make it look fashionable and new?

Tone on tone neutrals can suggest a rich, luxurious look. High end fabrics made of silk, wool and cashmere can add ambiance to a humble color like beige. Pair that with our memories of the familiar and it doubles its power. In today’s economy beige is a proven winner as it can live a long time in a home environment. It is easy to punch it up with a broad range of accents, both warm and cool, giving it an even longer life.

I used to call beige a chicken color, not the color of a chicken but a color for people who were too chicken to pick a more colorful hue. I take my words back, easy or not, beige is where its at!

Our thanks to Pat Verlodt, CMG, Color Guild spokesperson, and author of this post.

Used with permission of The Color Guild.

{minneapolis’ monet}

Loring Praking Ramp

Loring Ramp

Sun setting on the Loring Ramp

Setting sun on the Loring Ramp

Props to City Council Member Lisa Goodman for her inspiration to have Loring Ramp owner, Alatus LLC, team up with Forecast Public Art, St. Paul artist Joshua Sarantitis’ interpretation of Monet’s water lilies, and our friends over at Sunrise Painting & Wallcovering, for a great looking paint job.

Read more in Amanda Kushner’s downtownjournal story.

{fine finish envy}

I’ve never been a fan of rag rolling — even in it’s heyday when it was first introduced. So when my neighbor invited me in to show off her new faux walls in her family room, I prepared a few niceties in my head to match her enthusiasm. To my big surprise, I loved what I saw. The walls were painted a rich reddish brown; it looked like they had been covered in textured leather (seriously, I touched it expecting a polished feel), and it gave the room a warm, cozy and inviting look. I instantly saw why my neighbor was so euphoric. “I feel like I just updated the entire room,” she cooed, and I had to agree.

Of course, it didn’t take much time for me to hop on Hirshfield’s website to learn that the rag rolling of the late ’80s that I remembered has been replaced with updated techniques, colors and textures for seriously beautiful results.

I’ve got to go; I’m on my way to remind my neighbor that to copy someone is the highest form of flattery!

A beautiful faux finish can really transform a room.

A beautiful faux finish can really transform a room.

Read the rest of this entry »

{green paint – it’s not just a color anymore}

The sense of smell has an amazing power when connected with the memory!  For me memories flood when I smell ginger cookies, green bottle polo cologne and new baby. They all hold the memories of firsts: my first day of school, my first kiss and my first child.  I love firsts.  One of my favorite first memories is our first home.  My husband and I flipped three homes in 7 years, often picking the diamonds in the rough that just needed some lipstick and rouge to shine.  That always meant a LOT of painting!

I was 8 months pregnant when we were “still” painting our first home, working hard to move in before the baby came.  Using latex paint, which I was told was safer than oil based, we brushed every square foot of the home.  At the same time, the kitchen was getting finishing touches, including a new gas stove.  Excited to see the stove finally working I turned on all the burners.  In moments a smell started to fill the air – the mixture of natural gas and latex paint fumes.  That curious smell filled the house as we quickly opened the windows, turned off the stove and aired the place out.  That smell will always remind me of our first home (and a few painting jobs that followed!).  However I am not too sure I will smell this memory much in the future.

Recently I used one of the new green seal certified, low VOC paints on the market and was surprised at the almost odor-free experience.  I have always been a pretty loyal paint brand customer and after so many painting jobs I have learned a trick or two.  Trick Number One: Use good paint if you want good results.  So I was hesitant to try “green” paint.  But looking at the benefits from low odor to more importantly low toxins, I couldn’t resist giving it a try.  Much to my relief, it yielded great results for coverage and color quality on top of contributing to a healthier home environment.  My thanks to “green” paint for a new no-smell memory of a great first experience!

{green your home for the holidays}

Hunter Douglas and Hirshfield’s can help with the season of giving promotion offering generous rebates on a selection of stylish, green-conscious window fashions

Creating a home with a festive and inviting ambience without breaking the bank  is on every savvy homeowner’s agenda this season.  Hunter Douglas and Hirshfield’s are offering The Season of Giving Promotion from September 25 to December 15, 2009, allowing you to save big on select window fashions that not only enhance your décor, but also help conserve energy to create a more inviting and comfortable   setting for entertaining family and friends. Rebates range from $25 to $600 per window on a wide variety of the most popular Hunter Douglas window fashions.

Hirshfield’s and Hunter Douglas offer the following tips for creating an environmentally friendly and welcoming holiday setting this season:

•    While wrapping presents to go under the tree, save extra ribbon and use it to “gift wrap” throw pillows like packages to give your sofa a festive feel.

•    Use recyclable, colorful paper when wrapping presents to create an inviting atmosphere with a rich color palette for your living room.  After the presents are opened, either save the paper and ribbon to re-use next year or take all used paper to your local recycling center.

•    To keep warm air in and cold air out and your energy bills in check, consider replacing your current window treatments with Duette® Architella® honeycomb shades. With their highly energy-efficient honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb design, they can reduce heat loss at the window by up to 50 percent. They also keep cool air in during summer months, making this a one-time investment in your home that delivers savings all year-round. Save $25 per shade during this promotion.

•    Use fewer lights when decorating the tree and instead work with brightly colored, reflective ornaments to light up the room.  Plug in tree lights and nearby TVs, VCRs and appliances to a power strip that turns them all off with one easy click, therefore reducing energy costs for unused electronics.

•    Although it might sound surprising, turn your heat down and your ceiling fan on.  Lowering your thermostat by just one degree can reduce costs by about four percent,  while a ceiling fan helps distribute the warm air across the room. Hang mistletoe from the ceiling fan (not to the blades) to add a romantic and cheerful holiday touch to the room.

•    Consider Silhouette® window shadings featuring soft fabric vanes suspended between two sheer facings that gently diffuse incoming light to cast a warm glow across the room.  They can even block up to 88 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays with the vanes open while still letting in light and maintaining a beautiful, soft-focus view of the outside. Save $75 per shade during this promotion.

With these easy tips, homeowners can create more stylish and comfortable surroundings for holiday entertaining while saving on energy costs and doing their part to protect the environment at the same time.

Hunter Douglas and Hirshfield’s are also offering free upgrades to the LiteRise® cordless lifting system, which eliminates operating cords and helps make homes safer for children and pets, on every purchase of Vignette® Tiered™ Modern Roman Shades and Duette® honeycomb shades between September 25 and November 16, 2009.

With hundreds of years combined experience, the salespeople at Hirshfield’s stores and SHOP AT HOME are  experts in the field of custom window fashions and making your home that much more special during  the holiday season.

{loft living tips}

Decorating your loft or condo can be very different than decorating a larger house — you have to be sure to make the most out of the space you have.  Here are some of my top tips for styling your loft or condo:

  • Make the most of your focal points: Highlight unique spots in your home, such as walls with a fireplace or windows with a great view.  For example, if you’re going to splurge on silk panels for a window, make sure to put them on the best window in the space.
  • Be creative with storage: In most lofts, storage space is at a premium, so you must make the most of any space available.  You may have great vertical options, and you can even turn the storage space into a decor piece in a room, such as using shelves with baskets that look great and also hide your clutter.
Employ creative storage options, like this coffee table that doubles as a bookshelf and the leaning bookshelves that are great for storage and look neat too.

Employ creative storage options, like this coffee table that doubles as a bookshelf and the leaning bookshelves that are great for storage and look neat too.

Read the rest of this entry »

{how much scraping and sanding is really necessary?}

As a morning runner I spend a lot of time looking at houses and exterior paint and there is a home on my route that has had ladders outside for the last year. The owner is an acquaintance whom I know through my kids’ sports. When he began the project a year ago he had mentioned in passing that he was painting the exterior. Well, it appears that he has been scraping paint for 6 of the last 12 months. It doesn’t look like the house has any rotted wood that needs to be replaced or any structural issues, but it makes me wonder – how much paint is he going to scrape? How much paint do you need to scrape before you can begin priming and painting?

I took the question to my local Hirshfield’s manager, Grant Richards, and he gave me the following guidelines for prepping (and scraping!) exteriors:

  • How much scraping is enough? As a standard rule of thumb, when there isn’t any more flaking you’re in good shape. Remember, your paint is going to bond to the surface and if that surface is loose and flaky, then the new paint has nothing to cling to. Be sure that the surface is clear of loose paint chips and debris to get the best adhesion.
  • Do I need to sand after scraping? If you’ve done a good job of scraping away loose chips, most people will not be able to detect the edges of pre-existing paint on the surfaces. Certainly, various wood has unique qualities, but overall, you should not need to sand your exterior prior to painting. Another alternative to endless scraping is a product Grant recommends called “Peel Bond” by XIM. It’s an adhesive that goes on clear and bridges over the edges and essentially glues down the edge of pre-existing paint.
  • Do I have to apply a primer? If so, what kind? In the old days, this was a given. However, there are a number of new paints out there that are actually self-priming. Try products like Hirshfield’s Platinum exterior or Benjamin Moore’s Aura exterior. Both are self-priming and with a couple of coats you’ll be in good shape.
  • How late in the year can I paint my exterior? Grant tells me painters work on exteriors into early November. That said, we’re talking about weather in the upper Midwest, so you need to consider two things: Temperature and dew point. If temperatures are in the upper 30’s or 40 degree range it’s possible to paint exteriors, but to be safe, check with local painting professionals for their advice.


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