Carpet Helps Prevent Allergy Problems

Tai Ping Carpet

Outdoor allergies have been affecting a lot of people this spring, but indoor allergies can be just as bad. Shaw Floors has done a really interesting article related to allergens and carpet. Although this may seem counter-intuitive, the article reports that:

“It has been demonstrated that carpet is quite efficient at keeping allergen and other small particles such as pollen out of the air. In fact, data from a Swedish government study indicates that when use of carpet declined, the number of people reporting allergy problems increased.”

Though at first you may be worried about having allergens trapped in your carpet, it’s actually going to stop allergens from affecting you. The allergens affect you when you breathe them in—when they’re airborne, which they’re not when they’re in the carpet. You can also get these allergens out of the carpet by vacuuming and cleaning. Check out the Shaw Floors article to learn more—it’s an interesting read.

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Orange Cat Needs a Great Home

We would like to find a home for Orange Cat. He is the last of our brood of random orange alley cats.

He needs a private farm, estate-like house with a pet loving couple or person where he can have his insulated custom house and his own area away from obnoxious dogs. He’s domesticated and needs to be fed daily. Outdoor cats are not meant to be unfed–they are not lions with an abundance of gazelle running around.

He gets lots of attention–a few minutes a day in the winter, but more time in the summer when we do yard work and gardening. He loves attention and is very friendly but loves treats!

He is very social, has his claws and needs them to be an outdoor cat to protect himself.

He is HIV Cat Positive, which hasn’t really meant anything to us; he seems completely no different than our other cats except for the fact that he has gastro problems. We built this house for him because he was outside and all alone, always getting into garbage. He wasn’t healthy, so we started feeding him and taking care of him.  I think he goes to the bathroom in the two empty lots next to us…he is smart enough not to go around his house which I find amusing. Cats are smart that way–the way they bury things.

He was the major stud of the neighborhood, and a big alpha cat who likes to fight. Now he is fixed, wanders a lot less, and fights a lot less as well. Occassionally I see a scratch on his nose or ears but its usually from a female. The vet says he is in good shape and his teeth are doing well. He has his microchip, has his claws, and all his shots; they were given to him at Treehouse Foundation.

I would take him inside if I didn’t have cats already, but he is a fighter and very alpha, so that won’t work since our cats are all male.

I’d like to find the ideal situation for him, which would be a private house, fenced-in private yard where he could live, and yes, he totally lives in his house at night when it’s cold. I have straw in there and a little micro fleece bed. Straw works best because it stays dry.

He gets fed every morning around 8 or 9. He is domesticated and needs love and comfort, and we bring him inside when the weather is under… or when a blizzard is coming.

Let me know if you have any interest!

Photos: CMR Interiors

Master Bedroom: Before and After

Have you ever been faced with an empty room? For a lot of people, it can be an intimidating experience. This was a condo project at the Chandler building in Chicago.

How should you choose a color scheme? Or find the perfect furniture? Or, for that matter, know where to place said furniture once you do find it? Decisions, decisions.

One of our clients came to us with a completely clean slate—which designers love. Makes the job easier for the client and the designer because we can have one consistent statement through the house instead of it looking hodge podge.

Here’s what it looked like before:   inflated bed on the floor and that’s about it. And a view with no window treatments.

I took the colors from outside…those greens and terra cottas and brought them indoors….gorgeous green iridescent grass cloth wallpaper–which makes these shoebox like condo’s so much more warm. Worth every penny. Linen bedding, all custom casegoods except for the dresser. Drapes for blackout at night that go all the way across on a sliding track. A few textural Pillows and one print…..Here’s what it looked like after transforming it into a comfortable and beautiful after. I wish we would have had a larger budget so I could have done a better chair in the room but this client was adamant on their budget and money only goes so far in these projects…so to me the chair is okay, but it could be better. It should be taller to give height to that side of the room and be more in line with the bed.

If you have trouble envisioning the perfect after look for your space’s barren before, contact CMR Interiors. We offer interior design consultation and selection expertise in the Chicago area.

Photos: Designs by CMR Interiors

Road Trips & Wine Classes in Denver

Colorado Ranch Country

Ranch Country, Colorado above, Dad with a Cabernet in Mexico 2004

I recently drove to Denver Colorado  to take a 2 day course in Wine at The International Wine Guild over a weekend. .

So, I meet many clients who want a wine cellar or have one and so its an intelligent choice to know the basics of wine and pairing and learning the history is totally fun. The International Wine Guild is top five of wine schools according to both Food &  Wine and the New York Times, as being in the top 5 of all wine schools.  It was basic boot camp for those wanting a real world education about wine, presented without pretention.

In the first part of the class, you learn all about chemistry, different grapes, serving temperature, fermentation, US wine labeling vs European labeling,  basic wine making for whites and reds. Along the way you learn so much about wine making and its fascinating history which dates back all the way back to 5B.C. The second day, which was fun,  is all about tasting wines with foods…throughout the entire Level One Certification weekend you taste about 43 top wines. You try so much that it does become a bit of a blur.

Even though you take tiny sips…you are taking a tiny sip about 100x before finishing your food pairings. So make sure you don’t drive home from the second day of class .

Here are good points to remember from Level One Certification:

  • To Wine Experts, wine is considered a sauce, to be paired always with food and to complement, not to overpower the food.  Or have the food over power the wine.
  • The Grandfather of the California wine industry is Robert Mondavi, who started his winery in Napa in the 60’s. He fell in love with the European wine culture while serving as a  2nd lieutenant in WW2 -what a patriot- and wanted to bring that wine culture back to the United States
  • Wine is paired to food, not food to wine
  • You must have a broad understanding of wine to be able to pair wine to food
  • You must have an equally broad understanding of food, its sauces, cooking techniques to choose the right wine
  • Wine is an in-mouth experience. Neither the color or smell of the wine or food are critical for pairing
  • The major part of the dish establishes the pairing
  • The texture of the food has to match the body of the wine
  • The flavor intensity has to match the intensity of the wine: example, if you are having a sweet dessert, you will need a sweeter wine or for contrast, which many like, you can have coffee. for something like pecan pie, you cant get a wine sweet enough. That is why coffee is so popular with desserts….many people like the taste of contrast
  • Only drink a smokey wine with smoked meats
  • Light foods, light wine
  • Heavy foods, heavier wine
  • Sushi is high acidity as all fish are, so have a light bodied wine which tend to be more acidic
  • Muscadet is a great wine with seafood
  • When eating meats that tend to dry out, (thanksgiving turkey) serve a wine, that will make you salivate rather than something tannic which makes your tongue feel  a little sand paperish. This way it will compliment the turkey and makes it seem more moist-even when its not.
  • If having to wait at the bar before being seated for dinner have the bartender serve you a light acidic wine that will keep your palette neutral….not something heavily tannic like a merlot or a cab which can ruin your meal
  • Also hard liquor is said to kill your palette for wine before a meal for about 45 minutes… I’m undecided on this opinion….I’m going to have to test it out next time I’m dining out

I highly recommend to all of those wanting a genuine excellent education on wine.

The Wonderful World of Home Automation

The popularity of home automation has been spreading lately, as technology is becoming streamlined and more user-friendly. People are turning to technology for control over their home’s lighting, audio/video, home theaters, security and even energy management—and often, whole-home control systems that encompass all of these things.

Touchpanels are the part of a home automation solution that allows people to access their control systems; essentially, touchpanels are very similar to remotes. And now there are apps for your iPhone and iPad that let you use these devices as remotes as well. How cool is that?! With “snazzy controls” being named a top home automation trend, installers can import the graphics on a touchpanel into an interface on an iPad, according to Electronic House.

What do you think of the advancement of technology in the home? Do you have an automation system, or are you planning on installing one? Let us know!

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Make a Record of Your Home’s Assets

Martha Stewart documents her antiques in an organized binder.

Given all the weather-related disasters that have occurred recently, we’re being constantly reminded that unexpected things can happen at any time, and we need to be prepared. Whether there’s a fire or theft—or simply for peace of mind—having a record of your home’s assets is a good idea, especially for insurance purposes.

Your house itself is considered a personal asset, and keeping track of the valuable items inside, including artwork, furniture and antiques, will help prepare you for an unexpected, unfortunate turn of events. On your list of assets, write down the items, detailed descriptions of them, their values and any ID numbers; you may also want to take pictures.

Store this record of your home’s assets somewhere safe; some suggest a firebox or a safety deposit box at the bank. If the list is a digital file, be sure to back it up. You never know when you’ll need it, but if you do, having this record will be a huge relief. And don’t keep the digital file at home. Also put in a safety deposit box.

For clients who are DIY with Mac who have numbers program on their mac, there is a preexisting template program for recording your goods. It’s certainly a tedious task but worth it !

Alternatively for the higher end clients there is a company called Asset Archives that will come in and do all the work for you. They are extremely professional and take record of everything there for the clients insurance purposes. Well worth it if you have over a million dollar home, and valuable artwork, furnishings, jewelry as well:

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Gorgeous Sisal Area Rugs

In addition to its new website, Merida Meridian has some great new lines of sisal rugs. Merida’s sisal rugs have been showing up time and again in national shelter magazines, including Luxe, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Vernada, Coastal Living—the list goes on.

To give you a little history, Merida was actually the first company in the U.S. to produce sisal area rugs. Not too long ago, the flooring company also produced a line of rugs for National Geographic, speaking to Merida’s commitment to sustainability. Here are a few beautiful sisal options to choose from:

The Barclay Butera Ashton Stripe, which is handwoven in Brazil. Striped rugs are huge in interior design these days.

The Barcly Butera Abaca, handwoven in the Philippines.

The Tonga – Deep Sea rug, woven in Belgium.

Merida’s custom sisal rugs really show off the fibers’ natural beauty, and offer “sustainability with style,” according to its website. At CMR Interiors, we’re loving these sisal options. What do you think?

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Pet-Friendly Fabrics

Believe it or not, you don’t have to compromise beautiful interior design to have a pet at home. ShelterPop did an expert Q&A with Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams about pet-friendly fabrics, and they had some great suggestions. After advising training your dog and keeping its paws clean, they went over a few different types of textiles great for pet owners’ interior design.

Firstly, synthetic microfibers like faux suede are especially durable and let you easily wipe up spills. If you’re searching for furniture fabric, a washable slipcover is one smart way to go. And distressed leather is another pet-friendly fabric since it already has a distressed look; plus, it can be cleaned with a damp cloth or by dusting.

Do you have a cat or dog and love great interior design? What kinds of fabrics do you use? If you want pet-friendly interior design for your Chicago-area home, contact CMR Interiors.

Photo: Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams via ShelterPop

Time to Rethink Your Outdoor Lighting?

May is National Home Remodeling month!  If you’ve been thinking of dusting off an old project or taking up a new one, then this is just the excuse you’ve been looking for.  Consider undertaking an outdoor project, like freshening up the outside of you home or back deck area with some gorgeous lighting.  After all, outdoor lighting has many benefits, with safety and security being at the forefront.

Part of the San Gabriel Collection by ELK Lighting

Part of the Bennington Collection by Troy Lighting

Per safety, consider how a well lit outdoor area boasts few shadows on its steps, paths, or anything that people might trip over.  Your guests won’t want to navigate through an obstacle course every time they come over.

Large Outdoor Pendant Light by Craftmade Light & Sound

Outdoor lighting has come a long way and there are so many more choices than there was just a year ago!

Part of the The Chaumont Collection by ELK Lighting

Part of the Le Havre Collection by Framburg

Look into remote activation and control features for an outdoor lighting system.  This would allow you to turn on your outdoor lighting from anywhere in your home.

Part of the Maidstone Collection by Troy Lighting

The benefits of a steel framed house

According to, steel framed homes are far superior to wooden framed homes, and it’s not difficult to see why.  Simply start by looking at the material properties.  Steel: tough, lightweight, flexible, resistant to the elements and insects.  Wood: stiff, heavy, vulnerable to the elements and to termites.

When was the last time you saw an aluminum frame catch fire?  Better still, one eaten by termites?  If you’ve got a wooden framed home and you’re not worried about termites, you probably should be.  In 1998, Hawaii rotated out wooden framed homes in favor of steel in an effort to lower the number of homes throughout the state that are destroyed every year by the local termites. Many buyers buy homes only later to find the structure has been compromised by termites and termites are extremely costly to treat. Many times the previous owner wasn’t even aware of the termites, especially if they had regularly painted their home and covered up the evidence frequently by painting and filling walls and trim.

Also, steel framing’s “tough but flexible” traits help keep homes upright when things like hurricanes or earthquakes storm or shake-down and across an area.

Steel is also cost efficient.  Obviously by having a home that is less likely to be consumed by parasites or collapse from the weather or natural disasters will save you money.  But little things like how steel frames walls, squared cornered and straight, ultimately rule out any nail pops in the drywall of a home, which can also save you from having to hire someone to aid in home adjustments.

And while the cost of wood keeps escalating, the cost of steel fails to increase as the price per board feet inflates.

But there are also more benefits for both builders and customers considering steel framed homes as opposed to wood framed homes.  Steel framed homes are faultlessly constructed, boasting endearing engineered components.  When compared to wooden framed homes, steel framed homes posses an infinitely greater strength to weight percentage, a sturdier, lighter frame that won’t rot, shrink, or warp, and are capable of withstanding hurricane winds and seismic quakes covering a large area, while allowing for more room to live, work, and play within a home.

Steel framed homes don’t contain anything toxic, and lack any allergens.  They are easy to recyclable and reuse, are durable and highly unlikely to incur door  or window jamming, and cost effective – possibly lowing insurance premiums due to their elemental resistance to fire, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

If you’re having a home built, make the right choice and choose a steel framed home!

Photo courtesy of clarita.