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Origins of Toile

An Oberkamp Toile

Toile designs, more than any other fabric designs, connote luxury, opulence, and aesthetic sophistication.  The scenes depicted on toile fabrics are always pastoral and ancient, often European and always pleasant—they generally present idealized visions of common life.  In these visions, peasants dance to flute music and carry baskets over-laden with produce.  Farmers rest by brooks, and children frolic with farm animals, while in the background flowering vines wrap around the columns of crumbling temples.

The visions depicted on toile fabrics are distinctively rural, but they are intended for urban applications—for the salon, not the stable.  Toile designs are most commonly printed on fabrics, and these fabrics are used to construct comforters, pillows and drapes.  However, toile designs are often found on wallpaper, as well, and on plates and upholstered chairs and couches.  Recently, designers have used toile designs to decorate lampshades, dresses, handbags—and even boots.

In medieval France, the word “toile” was used to describe “a canvas” or “linen cloth”—fabric one might paint upon.  In the 1770’s a Bavarian block printer named Oberkamp, who had moved to a small village near Paris called Jouy-en-Josas, produced his first toile prints.  His prints soon became very popular, and they were called “Toile de Jouy” prints, after the town in which Oberkamp settled.  These detailed wood blocks presented agricultural and hunting scenes, Oriental and Persian themes, and Classical scenes—Roman and Greek myths and historical events.

Overall, Oberkamp’s toiles reflected the style favored by King Louis XVI (1774-1792)—his court, after all, was in Versailles, very near Jouy-en-Josas.  Louis XVI, reacting against the excesses and even bizarre fancies of his predecessor, Louis XV, preferred classical themes and ideals.  One can easily see the classical aesthetic in Oberkamp’s toiles.  His characters and scenes resemble the pastorals represented on Greek Urns.  The toiles show a longing for days-gone-by and celebrate the divine simplicities of manual labor and earned leisure.  They also eternalize a moment—a summer day or harvest day—an immortalization of physical vitality that is almost bitter-sweet in that it represents an unobtainable perfection.  Keats sums up this longing, in his poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave  

Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;

She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,

For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 

Joyce Post, founder of Post-Impressions and one of the leading fashion bedding designers, developed the popular Bouvier ensemble for Thomasville Home FashionsBouvier’s main print features a toile design depicting beautifully-rendered cameos of Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century rural French life.  Post explains how she came up with the design that has proven so successful: “I visited a studio that sells artwork and documents from France and selected a couple that I found interesting. I then extracted the best images and combined them into the pattern.”  Post explained that, although the Toile de Jouy prints are ancient, they are still highly-sought after even today: “toiles are a classic and never go out of style.”  In fact, she says, toiles “can definitely be contemporary or transitional.”  It is the beauty of the artwork that keeps toiles relevant today, says Post, and that fact that the pastoral toile scenes create a narrative for the viewer: “they tell a story.”  Post continues to work with toiles, and has plans to launch more toile ensembles in the near future: “I am currently working on one in conjunction with Historic Charleston [http://www.ajmoss.com/historic-charlestown-collection.php] that I hope to have ready by March.”  Eventually, however, it is neither the origins of the designs, or their relevance today, or even their narrative appeal that makes toiles engaging—it is simply their beauty—“I have always loved these patterns!” Post  says.

aj MOSS offers a wide a wide variety of toile bedding ensembles—all of which are manufactured in the U.S.A.  Bouvier, the ensemble designed by Joyce Post, is manufactured by Thomasville Home Fashions, which operates in Thomasville, Georgia.  The toile design for this pattern is in Black, and is printed on an ivory cotton duck background. The coordinating bed skirt is a mélange of delicate leaves scattered on a textured ground. The pattern repeats as a Euro sham and also as a tasseled decorative pillow.   Decorative pillows, in a mixture of antique red damask and a black cotton duck, add the special finishing touches to this elegant ensemble.  As with most patterns we offer, free swatches of the Bouvier fabrics are available upon request.

Victorian Toile – Green, an aj MOSS exclusive, is a traditional French country toile pattern in a warm, earthy moss green. This ensemble comes in several different variations, so you can tailor it to suit your own taste. The regular comforter set pairs a moss and ivory toile comforter and shams with a coordinating gingham bed ruffle. The same comforter and shams can also be paired with a solid malachite tailored box pleat bed skirt. This ensemble is a perfect addition to a room with natural-stained wood furniture and decorative accents in earth tones and natural fibers.

Victorian Toile – Blue, another aj MOSS exclusive, is an elegant wedgewood and ivory toile print in the traditional French country style. The intricate scenes of the toile print sprawl across the comforter, shams and reversible throw pillows, which reverse to a wedgewood and ivory gingham. The gingham print also appears on the bed ruffle and European shams. This ensemble has become a customer favorite for both master and guest bedrooms. To create a cozy vintage retreat, combine this bedding set with buttercream walls and a few red accents such as a cashmere throw, beaded curtain tie backs, a velvet chair or ottoman, or lampshades for your bedside table lamps.

Victorian Toile – Black  is a traditional French Country Toile in black and cream. This aj MOSS exclusive offers several different comforter set options, allowing you to customize a look that suits your taste. The standard comforter set includes the toile comforter and shams paired with a black and cream gingham bed ruffle. There is also a comforter set with linen coordinates which pairs the toile comforter with a tailored box pleat bed skirt and shams in linen with a black grosgrain ribbon trim. You can choose European shams in either toile or linen to customize your look even further.

Waverly’s Country Life Black Toile  is the main print for this, one of our most popular bedding ensemble. The black and off-white pattern, an elegant 18th Century Toile-de-Jouy motif, is complemented by a classic country check.  This bedding ensemble features three Waverly fabrics: Country Life Black, Classic Ticking Black, and Cheerful Check Black. The Comforter is cream backed and self-corded.

Victorian Toile – Red, yet another pattern exclusive to aj MOSS, is a vivacious version of a classic French country toile. In a vivid palette of cranberry and cream, this stylish ensemble will brighten up your bedroom. The intricately detailed toile comforter is paired with a coordinating cranberry and cream gingham bed ruffle. This collection offers a variety of European shams and throw pillows in cranberry toile, solid cardinal, or a contrasting black toile which you can mix and match to create your own custom ensemble. This is the perfect pattern to brighten up a room with dark stained furniture or neutral colored walls.

For over two hundred years, people have enjoyed toile fabric designs, both for their narrative evocations of pastoral scenes, and for their aesthetic beauty.  If you are interested in bringing a striking toile design into your bedroom, you might consider one of our toile bedding ensembles or window treatments.  Most of our toile designs are aj MOSS exclusives, and most are made in the U.S.A.  We offer free swatches of all our toile patterns.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions, toll-free at 877-863-1270, or by email at contact@ajmoss.com.

Posted in Bedding Styles, Bedding Terminology | 1 Comment

Allergies–boo!

Hello out there in Bedding Land! It’s your intrepid guide to the bedding world, Stephanie. Here in customer service we get all sorts of questions from the practical, What’s in a comforter set?, to the sublime ,I have gray carpets, scarlet walls, and a pink bed. What do you think will look good in my room? Not kidding. Lately, there has been an upswing on questions regarding allergy-free bedding.

There are a few ways to deal with getting you a better night sleep. If you don’t want to replace the bedding pillows, mattress box-spring, and comforter insert, you can choose to simply cover them. These are simply just fitted covers which zip over the items you want to protect (or be protected from). The covers are sold in many different styles and can be specialized for your particular allergies. This will not only help make you more comfortable, it can also help extend the life of your bedding. My friend Stevie, who I tease is almost allergic to herself, chooses this route.

One of the biggest questions we have is customers who have down allergies. This comes into play with comforter inserts and pillows. There are a few options here. The standby answer would be a synthetic down alternative. They try to mimic the feel and style of its down counterpart. The only difference I can see is the synthetic doesn’t quite have the fluffy and squishy feel of down, (I know, very scientific).

Watch out synthetic, there’s a new kid on the block! Bedding made of silk. Seems swanky, huh? However, there are huge health and practical benefits to silk. Silk is dust-mite free as silk naturally repels insects. Silk breaths better than down, wicking moisture away from your body, helping to regulate your body temperature through out the night. Also—there is none of the bunching or shifting that can happen with regular fills.

Let’s face it. Allergies suck. But with some careful choices, bedding doesn’t have to.

Happy Sleeping!

Posted in Bedding Styles, Bedding Terminology, Seasonal Concepts, Sleep and Health | 2 Comments

What a Sham!

Before I became a Mosster, I was in no way a bedding aficionado. In all honesty, I might have still been sleeping with bedding I’d had since I was a teenager — and just to clarify, I am not a man. After several years here, I love bedding. Comforters, quilts, window treatments: you name it, I own it. My favorite? Euro shams. I love Euro Shams. Euro shams are not only predominantly featured in my bedroom but also my living room, even the porch. Whenever I come home with a new one, my roommate can barely contain her groan.

Just for clarification, Euro Shams are what are generally pictured at the back of bedding photos, the big square pillows right in front of the head board. They are offered with almost every single bedding pattern. Usually, the shams measure 26×26 and come unstuffed. Many times I have a customer ask me what Euro Shams are for and why, if my set comes with standard (rectangular) shams, do I need to buy these pillows?

Euro Shams are more than just pillows you have to take off the bed before you go to sleep. If you are looking to make your bed a showpiece, Euro Shams should be your first stop. By sitting flat against the headboard, all of your other accessories have a good foundation. The rectangular shams and toss pillows stack almost upright. Without the Euro Shams? Everything kind of slopes backwards, so no matter how tidily you make your bed, it just doesn’t look put together.

Side benefits of Euro Shams?
As a bedtime reader — or let’s be even more honest — a bedtime TV watcher, Euro shams are great at propping up my back, supporting me while I laugh at the Late, Late Show. In my guestroom/office, I turned the twin bed into a day bed by using three of the Euro Shams against the wall. In my living room lives a very plain beige couch which I dress up just by rotating a few Euro Shams.

Things to keep in mind while you’re shopping.
Most bedding pictures are taken using a full sized bed. For the best fit we recommend one Euro Sham for Twins; Fulls and Queens need two; and King and Cal Kings use three. This is why the Euro Shams are sold individually.

One of our most frequently asked questions is, “Do you sell the actual pillows?” As much as we hate sending you somewhere else to complete your purchase, we currently do not, although we hope to rectify that in the very near future. Right now we have to say that you can pick up the pillows for the Euro Shams (cleverly named “Euro Stuffers”) any place you purchase the regular pillows you sleep on.

Do you have a little known use for Euro Shams? Or do you just have a Euro Sham addiction you need to share? Let me know!

Thanks for your time and Happy Shopping!

Posted in Bedding Terminology, Decorating Tips | 7 Comments

Quilts: The Final Frontier

Let’s be honest. For us here in the bedding world– comforters are the thing. Every manufacturer makes them, most shoppers are looking for them, and as we are located in the usually very cold mountains of New Hampshire, comforters are very warm on a winter’s night. We’re leery when someone tries to push something else on us (no offense, duvets).

Here at ajMOSS, we have a very persistent sales rep, let’s call him Phil. Whenever Phil comes to visit, he says to us, “Hey Mossters,” (we call ourselves Mossters) “Quilts are coming back. Quilts are going to be big this season.” Since he’s been saying this ever since I’ve been working here (four years next month), we felt pretty comfortable scoffing at him.

Quilts? Really? Whenever I thought of quilts, it brought to mind old fashioned, overly styled pieces, that belonged in my grandmother’s house. Now, as a woman of, well let’s just say a certain age, I don’t know about you guys, but I want my bedroom to be hip and stylish. I want someone to look at my room and say, she’s got style. And I’m pretty sure I’m not going to do that with something that belonged on the prairie.

Then you know what happened? It only took four years, but Phil got it right. Quilts became more popular. Finally, I got off my comforter covered horse and seriously looked at a quilt companies products. You know what? I was wrong. We were wrong. I don’t know when it happened but quilts got stylish. Who knew? (Shut up, Phil)

Yes, many still have a very classic, I think the PC word is “primitive,” look to them. A sense of early Americana. But this doesn’t make them stuffy. Bright colors, bold patchwork, cute coordinates, and versatility–quilts are poised to give comforters a run for their money.

The quilts now offered in the ajMOSS line have some very important features: They’re machine washable. Who has the time or money to take things to the dry cleaners? With a cat who likes to sleep at the end of my bed, if I don’t clean my bedding frequently, it looks like I have very hair feet. Not an attractive look. Versatility. Where comforters are usually backed by a plain sheet material, these quilts are backed with a coordinating print. Tired of one look? Flip the quilt over and you have a completely different one to work with. Structure. The thin layer of batting is completely stitched down in the quilted pattern. There is no way that stuff is shifting anywhere. In the warm months of summer, the quilt is all you need. In the cold New Hampshire winters? Layer the quilt with a down comforter.

Yep, I’m officially a quilt convert. I’ve had my quilt for a couple of months now. It got me through the long winter in warmth and style. I’d like to say this will make me be open to more ideas, but who am I kidding? As a woman of a certain age, I’m pretty set in my ways. The best we can hope for is that next time, it will only take 2 years to convince me.

Thanks for your time and Happy Shopping!

Posted in Bedding Styles | 3 Comments

The Man Room

The typical man will find himself alone half a dozen times in his life: when he leaves home, when he is released from college or prison, when his girlfriends and wives expel him, and when he is coffined.

In each instance, he will likely confront a small bedroom, devoid of furnishings. He will also — except for the deceased man — confront the realization that not one of the six billion people alive wishes to share his bed.

I have no consolation for the lonely man (liquor will be his counselor), nor for the deceased man (the worm will give him succor), but for the young man, the bachelor, seeking to turn his blank bedroom into a proper Man Room: for him I have instruction.

1) Get a Bed

Bachelors often fail to realize they need a bed for their bedroom. My buddy Ryan once moved from his girlfriend’s house into an empty apartment and found himself bed-less. Before he was able to acquire a bed, he spent two nights sleeping on a plush chair (see section #7) and one on an overturned bicycle.

My brother-in-law Al, on the other hand, a man accustomed to sudden singleness, knows to take his mattress with him when he moves. He ties it atop his Buick by zig-zagging twine though the car windows and about the mattress. He also knows that he needs bedding to cover his mattress. Sheets and blankets are fussy, he believes, and only dandies require box springs and bedskirts: he sleeps in a camouflage sleeping bag and uses a sweatshirt (see section #6) for a pillow.

2) The Closet

Most Man Rooms contain a small closet with a pull cord light. The pull cord is always broken, so only a few streaks of light seep through the slats and into the closet. The closet remains dark and mysterious, like our ancestral caves.

Within the closet the man keeps his suits and ties, his sneakers and nunchucks. He also keeps therein his decorative sword, pornography, swimming ribbons, bong and love letters. An almost supernatural smell of damp sock emanates from the closet. The closet is where the man keeps his most prized possessions, as well as the possessions he hopes most to conceal.

3) The Bottle Collection

The Man Room will have a beer bottle collection, and the nature of the collection will reveal the nature of the man.

Some men will diligently acquire and painstakingly curate a collection of bottles. Their bottles (and oftentimes cans) will be unopened, international, and rare. They might have a Zoetzuur, which they purchased at great expense on Ebay, and a Malheur, which they smuggled back from a European excursion. Some might house within their collection commemorative bottles: a Denver “Buckin” Broncos beer bottle from Super Bowl XXXII, perhaps, or a sentimental bottle: a bottle of beer their grandfather brewed. These bottles and cans will be shelved in a safe location—perhaps above the window or on a high shelf.

A surprisingly high number of men collect Corona bottles and fill them with colored sand. The sand will be purchased from a surf shop or collected from various beaches the man has visited. These men often are open-minded about social issues, behave licentiously, and have a propensity for socializing shirtless or with several shirt buttons undone.

Some men maintain a more casual collection of bottles and cans. They will have on their window sill four or five empty Miller High Life bottles, and a Bud can 1/4 full of chew spit on the milk crate ( see section #8 ) beside their bed.

4) On Wall Art

The Man Room will have two kinds of wall art: sports figures and swimsuit models. These fecund maidens and virile youths are Aphrodites and Apollos, beautiful and eternal. Younger men will hang a poster on their ceiling as well. Occasionally, a man will have a band poster (Metallica) or rock concert poster (New Orleans Jazz Fest) on his wall. No satisfactory explanation for this behavior has so far been put forth.

5) The Computer

In the Man Room there will be a high quality computer. The man will use the computer to surf the web for music and porn, email friends, play video games and watch porn. The computer will be the man’s most expensive possession. He might boast that his Star Wars trading card collection is worth several thousand dollars, but it is not.

6) The New Sweatshirt

From time to time the man will purchase a new sweatshirt and wear it everyday. When not in use, the sweatshirt will be draped across the top of the plush chair (see section #7).

7) The Plush Chair

The large, plush chair in the Man Room will be used primarily for draping semi-dirty clothes. Semi-dirty clothes are those garments which have been worn, and ought to be laundered, but could be worn again, and likely will be.

The plush chair will be stained and torn: significant stains and tears might be concealed beneath a beach towel. The plush chair will serve as a bed for drunken men or for men who do not yet possess a mattress (see section #1).

8 ) Milk Crates

In 10th grade Scott Brindamore told me it was illegal to possess milk crates, and that those caught with milk crates would be fined $200 per milk crate (in 1985 dollars) and incarcerated for up to five years. I doubt he was right, and it’s likely I’m not remembering the story correctly; nevertheless, possessing milk crates is possibly illegal, and therefore impressive.

The man’s stereo, socks, underwear, t-shirts, books, non-pornographic magazines and Ramen Noodles will be stored in a three-by-three grid of milk crates. An additional milk crate will be placed beside the man’s bed and bear his alarm clock, lamp and chew cup (see section #3).

9) Window Treatments

After about two weeks of living in his Man Room, the man will acquire window treatments. Beach towels, blankets and newspaper are popular choices. For hardware, the man will use thumbtacks and duct tape.

10) Dishes & Utensils

Kentucky Fried Chicken gives away sporks, which are ideal utensils for the Man Room. Sporks are useful as forks or spoons, obviously, but they also make passable knives when snapped in half. In addition to a cache of sporks, the man will keep a coffee can full of pilfered salt, pepper, sugar, mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and relish packets. He will use the globe from his overhead light as a serving bowl for macaroni and cheese, chili, beef stew and chowder.

11) Cooking

There will be a microwave oven and a hot plate in the Man Room. The hot plate will be used for boiling Ramen Noodles and crisping Pop-Tarts, and the microwave oven will be used for cooking popcorn and heating leftovers. To make a quick pizza, the man will dip slices of bread into a jar of microwaved spaghetti sauce.

Conclusion

Aesthetes will likely consider the Man Room I have described to be vapid and even wretched. They would each propose their own Man Room, and each description would differ in all ways except this: that it would not resemble What Is, but rather what they think Ought To Be. They would doubtless envision a Man Room adorned with marble columns and silken drapes, paneled libraries and ensconced antiquities. But we should not allow our search for the truth to be guided by desire, but rather by honesty. We should strive to know the truth, even if it is unpleasant, for, as the scientist and philosopher knows, the study of Is is more revelatory than is the study of Ought.

Furthermore, the design of the Man Room has proven quite effective: its inhabitants continue to attract and acquire female mates, and so our species continues to enjoy remarkable procreative success. Why does the Man Room work? Fisk has suggested that the monkish-simplicity of the Man Room creates a cloistered environment conducive to introspection. From this cocoon, he argues, the man emerges a butterfly, transformed into a desirable or at least adequate mate. Another possibility, held by some of Fisk’s critics (including, notably, Darnaby and Von Steiner) is that the desolation of the Man Room triggers an ancient “pity mechanism” in any woman who visits it. Once struck, proponents of this theory claim, the hapless woman is driven by irrepressible maternal instincts to aid the Man Room inhabitant, whereby she is ensnared, as if in a spider’s web.

Posted in Decorating Tips | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Top Ten Blunders in Bedroom Design

1. Matching Mayhem

While we all want a space that looks effortlessly coordinated, putting too many things in a room that match exactly can actually detract from the overall continuity. That floral comforter may be beautiful, but adding a dust ruffle, pillows, drapes and a wallpaper border in the same print can be overwhelming. A better option might be to look for coordinating prints and solids in the same color palette that will complement the comforter without matching exactly. For example, you might pair a striped bed skirt with your floral comforter or use solid colored drapes and throw pillows in varying textures. Instead of a wallpaper border, you might try choosing a paint color that pulls out one of the less dominant colors in the comforter.

2. Paint with no Pizazz

Choosing paint colors for the bedroom can be tricky which often causes people to shy away from making a choice altogether. However, those stark white walls are not doing your room any favors. The key to color in the bedroom is to choose colors that make you feel relaxed. This is, after all, the room where to go to unwind and drift off into a peaceful sleep. For most people, a bare white wall does not inspire feelings of tranquility. Some good options are warm neutrals, sage green, or a soothing blue. Any color can work really, but a toned down version of your favorite shade will probably feel more serene. If you love violet, go with a soft lavendar or choose buttercream instead of dandelion yellow. Some color will enhance the room greatly, but a shade that’s too bright will keep your mind active and make relaxation and sleep more difficult.

3. Lackluster Lighting

Lighting is an extremely important element in the bedroom and is also one that often gets overlooked. Ideally, you should have three types of lighting. General lighting, such as a standard overhead light is a necessity for times when you need full light in the bedroom, such as when you’re getting dressed in the morning or when you’re putting away your laundry. You’ll also want to have task lighting. In the bedroom, this usually means a pair of reading lamps. However, if you have a sitting area in your bedroom, you’ll also want floor or table lamps to adequately light that area. Finally, accent lighting adds the final touch. In a smaller room, this could simply mean putting your overhead light on a dimmer switch. If you have a large room with a fireplace, you might want some track lighting or inset spot lights to highlight this area. A few well-placed hanging paper lanterns can also make effective and inexpensive accent lighting. The key to lighting is giving yourself options so that you can get the most enjoyment out of your room.

4. Decorating in a Day

When it comes to projects, many of us have an internal desire to get the project done quickly so that we can move on to the next thing. However, when this mindset is applied to decorating, we often end up with less than satisfying results. Decorating is a process, and the finished result should reflect who you are. Accumulating pieces over time from different places you’ve visited will give your home much more character than going out and purchasing everything all in one day. Trying to buy for an entire room in a short period of time can lead to snap decisions and, ultimately, a bedroom that looks more like a furniture showroom than the cozy retreat you were hoping for. Whether you’re working with a decorator or flying solo, remember to take your time and consider your choices and purchases carefully. Decorating a room can be an expensive proposition and once you’ve committed to something, you may not be able to afford to change your mind.

5. Naked Windows

When you think about decorating a bedroom, windows are probably not the first thing to come to mind. However, window treatments can have a great deal of impact on the room while also providing privacy and blocking out early morning light on a Sunday morning so you can catch up on some z’s. While sheer drapes may look pretty, they are probably not the best choice for the bedroom unless they are paired with a substantial lined drape as well. A sheer drape will not really offer anything in the way of privacy or light blocking. However, pairing a solid drape with sheer allows you to pull back the drape on top to reveal the sheer underneath during times when privacy is not an issue. This can be a very beautiful and dramatic look. Another great option for the bedroom is the use of blinds. Roman shades with a blackout lining or wooden slat blinds are both elegant ways to dress your bedroom windows.

6. Knick-Knack Overload

While there is nothing wrong with having a collection, the bedroom is generally not the best place to attempt to display your precious collectibles. Dresser tops that are covered with knick-knacks just look cluttered. Many of us tend to keep things in the bedroom that have sentimental value and before we know it every available surface is covered. Not only does the clutter make the room look less appealing, but a chaotic environment can lead to a chaotic mind as well. A few well-placed pieces will look much better and create a more relaxing environment.

7. Pillow Pile-up

A few throw pillows on the bed can be a stylish accent, but there comes a point at which it’s just too many pillows. If you’re covering at least half of your bed by the time you put all the pillows on, not only have the pillows ceased to be a pleasing accent, but you’re probably taking valuable time out of your day arranging all your pillows which could be spent doing something else. In all seriousness though, less is more. A few pillows will have a more positive impact than a whole bed full.

8. Stingy Storage

Storage is not a word that pops right up when discussing decorating, but in can be a huge help when it comes to reducing clutter. If you want to keep a neat bedroom, you need places for everything to go. Even if you don’t have a gigantic walk-in closet, you can utilize the closet space you have more wisely. Adding additional shelving or a shoe rack may make it possible to store more things while still keeping the space organized. Another way you can add storage space to your bedroom is by choosing furniture pieces with built-in storage. For example, choose nightstands that have drawers or doors where you can stash reading material or the remote control. A trunk or storage bench at the foot of the bed is a great place to store extra blankets. If you use a dust ruffle, you can also utilize the space under your bed by packing infrequently used items into flat storage boxes.

9. Sabotaging your Sanctuary

One way that we defeat our own goals of having a relaxing sanctuary is by inviting things into the bedroom that can make us feel less relaxed. For instance, most of us do not find looking at our treadmills or computers to be particularly soothing, yet these items often wind up in the bedroom. Whether this happens due to lack of space in other rooms of the house or because we want to keep these unsightly items out of the spaces where we entertain, they do detract from the ambiance of the bedroom and should be removed if at all possible. While there is not much you can do with an item like a treadmill, a computer or TV can be hidden inside an entertainment armoire or cabinet to keep it out of sight when not in use.

10. Choosing Fashion over Function

While style is a key element of any decorating project, it’s important to also keep function in mind when choosing materials and decorative pieces. If you have a dog or young children in the house, you should probably shy away from that gorgeous cream colored carpet. It may look beautiful when you’re matching up swatches, but it simply doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Your bedroom should be a haven of comfort, so keep that in mind when choosing your bedding. A heavy brocade may look stunning, but it may not be very comfortable when it comes time to actually sleep in that lovely bed. In general, natural fibers will feel more sumptuous than synthetics. Think down, silk, and cotton. You can certainly have a stylish room that is still appropriate for your lifestyle, so make sure to consider whether an item is practical or just pretty before you purchase it.

Posted in Decorating Tips | 16 Comments

10 Interesting Facts about Sleeping

1. Why do our bodies twitch before we fall asleep?

According to failedsuccess.com, nearly 70% of people have a “hypnagogic myoclonic twitch” as they fall asleep. This “hypnic jerk” is most likely the result of your brain misinterpreting the relaxation of your muscles as they prepare for sleep. Your brain, thinking your body is falling down, instructs your muscles to jerk yourself up.

2. If you can’t sleep, what’s better: counting sheep or getting out of bed and being productive?

Both SelfhelpMagazine and apollolight.com recommend getting out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you stay in bed and do non-sleeping activities (e.g. watch TV, read a book), you can subconsciously train yourself to not be able to sleep in your bedroom. SelfhelpMagazine even advises not to count sheep, as counting stimulates your brain.

3. Why do we yawn?

There is no definitive explanation for why we yawn. The closest we can get to an answer is what med students are taught, which is that we yawn due to low levels of oxygen in our lungs. When the air sacs in our lungs don’t get fresh air, they stiffen the lungs by collapsing a bit, which signals the brain to instruct the body to sigh or yawn in order to receive more air in the lungs. (source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3076713/)

4. Why do animals walk in a circle before they lie down?

Certain animals (dogs, for example) walk in circles (or create “dog crop circles,” as coined by the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) before lying down because this behavior was hard-wired into them. It’s a natural behavior their ancestors did in order to flatten down grass to make for a comfy bed.

5. Is there any effect of eating before you go to bed?

MSN Health studied what happens if you eat right before bedtime. The couple who ate a few hours before they went to bed slept fine, whereas the couple who ate before they went to sleep reported “tossing and turning all night.” The poor sleep was attributed to your body digesting food when it should be winding down in preparation for sleeping, which results in reflux. Conversely, going to bed on an empty stomach will also result in disruptive sleep (specifically, missing the “deep sleep” stage that allows your body to rest and repair). The best thing to do is to have a light snack before going to bed, which will provide fuel for your body as it rests for the night.

6. How many dust mites are there in beds? Are they harmful?

Environment, Health, and Safety Online has the inside scoop about dust mites. 100,000 to upwards of 10 million mites can live in your mattress. They sustain off dead skin cells, making beds a veritable smorgasbord for these microscopic critters. Some people are allergic to a protein found in dust mites’ droppings (meaning they get itchy eyes, their asthma flares up, etc), but otherwise dust mites pose no harm or health risk.

7. Why do we have dreams about falling?

According to dreamdoctor.com, falling dreams are typically the result of our sense of balance shifting from lying down in the real world to being mobile in our dreams. Falling dreams can be especially common when you’re drifting off to sleep, since at this time your body is adjusting to the new sense of balance.

8. Can blind people see in their dreams?

Both ScienceIQ.com and About.com agree that the simple answer is no. If you weren’t born blind, then you can have visual dreams, as these images can derive from memory; however, people who are born blind will have auditory dreams that are coupled with the feeling of emotion and movement, whereas people who are legally blind will be able to see whatever they can distinguish when they’re awake.

9. Do deaf people hear in their dreams?

Discovery Online posts that deaf people can establish an auditory inner voice because of the brain’s ability to develop phonological representations, though these “sounds” may be different than what noises actually sound like. When asked about their dreams, deaf undergrad students at Gallaudet University responded that sometimes they sign and sometimes they speak, although their speech seems to be transmitted mentally rather than through actual speech.

10. Why do kids wet the bed?

Children wet the bed not because of emotional problems or faulty kidneys, but simply because their bladders are still too small to hold the amount of urine their bodies make overnight. Furthermore, the U of M Health System adds that a lot of children are heavy sleepers, so they may not yet be able to wake up when it’s time to go to the bathroom.

Posted in Sleep and Health | 31 Comments

Measuring for Window Treatments

Click on the video below to watch a four minute tutorial on measuring for window treatments. A typed transcript is provided below. The video is fairly large and will be best enjoyed over a high speed Internet connection. Please let us know if the information was helpful by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.


Elizabeth Osborne
[ beth 00:01 ]
tools
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sketch
[ sketch 00:22 ]sketch
[ width 00:56 ]3 widths
[ 3 widths 01:05 ] height
[ height 01:12 ] 3 heights
[ 3 heights 01:20 ]

width
[ width 01:42 ]

3 widths
[ width 01:55 ]

height
[ height 01:58 ]

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[ brackets 02:09 ]

Hi, I’m Beth from aj MOSS and I’m here today to show you how to measure your windows for window treatments. [beth 00:01]

First you’ll need a measuring tape, a notebook, and a pen. [tools 00:09]

You should measure each window you wish to dress. Don’t assume that your windows are all the same size, even if they appear to be identical.

It’s a good idea to make a sketch of the windows you plan to measure. This will help you to keep track of different sized windows and help reduce confusion. [sketch 00:22]

First you must decide whether you want your window treatments to hang on the inside of the window frame or the outside of the window frame. Inside mounting is a good idea if you have attractive molding around your window. Outside mounting is a good idea if your windows are not square or if you have molding around your window that is not particularly attractive. An outside mount can also help a small window to appear larger and it also offers superior privacy, blackout, and insulation properties.If you are measuring for an inside mount, first measure the width of the window.[width 00:56]

Measure horizontally from the inside edge of one side of the window to the other side. Measure in three places and use the narrowest width.[3 widths 1:05] Try to be as exact as possible, rounding to the nearest 1/8″.

Now measure the height of the window.[height 1:12] Measure vertically from the inside edge of the top of the window to the inside edge of the bottom of the window. Measure in three places, and use the longest length.[3 heights 1:20] Again, be as exact as possible, rounding to the nearest 1/8″.

Write down the exact window opening size. Most manufacturers will automatically deduct approximately 3/8″ to 1/2″ on inside mounts so your products will operate properly and not rub against your window frame.

If you are measuring for an outside mount, first measure the width of the window.[width 1:42]

Measure the horizontal difference between the outside edges of the window molding. Measure in three places, and use the widest width.[3 widths 1:55]

If you want an unobstructed view when the curtains are open, add 8″ to your measurement. Now measure the height of the window.[height 1:58]

Outside mounts hang above the window opening, either on the wood frame or above the wood frame. Leave room for the mounting brackets which can be 1″ to 3″ tall.[mounting brackets 2:09]

For outside mounts, specify the exact width and exact height you want the treatment to be. Manufacturers will make your product the exact size you specify and will not take any deductions.

I’d like to close by making a few comments about some specific types of window treatments. In general, roman shades and blinds should be measured just as I’ve instructed whether they are to be mounted on the inside or outside of the window. However, you should call the manufacturer after you’ve made your preliminary measurements and before you place your order because roman shades and blinds often require measurements adjustments which differ from design to design.

Valances should be one and a half to three times the measure width to allow for fullness. Ready made valances are typically between 12 to 22 inches tall and usually cover the top 25% of a window.

Tiers, also referred to as cafes, generally cover the bottom half of the window and rest on the sill. Like valances, tiers should be one and a half to three times the measured width to allow for fullness.

Drapes and sheers should also be one and a half to three times the measured width to provide for fullness.

For a layered look, use an inside mount for your sheers, and an outside mount for your drapes. Drapes come in standard lengths of 63″, 84″, and 95″. 63″ drapes typically fall just below the bottom of the window frame. 84″ drapes typically fall just above or just at the floor. This type of drape is the most commonly used. 95″ drapes often fall on the floor so that the drapes “pool” for a luxurious look.

Now you know how to measure your windows for window treatments. Thank you, good-bye, and good luck!

Posted in Decorating Tips | 4 Comments

Baby Its Cold Outside! Patterns for the Winter Season

Not only does the onset of winter bring cold temperatures but it also blows us new patterns from our favorite companies. Here is an introduction to some of the patterns we are most excited about:

Bouvier

Bouvier is Thomasville’s take of the classic French toile. Bouvier features a large detailed print, creamy ivory background, and a sharp black edging. Instead of the standard check bedskirt Bouvier has a unique white leaf print that is repeated in several of the accessories. What really sets this set apart I think, are the bold accessories. The red woven and black fabric pillows and euro shams gives a sharp twist to this classic pattern.

Freesia from Thomasville brings along with it warm thoughts of spring. The light buttercream color is accented by soft colors in garden green, carnation, and cloudy blue. The striking green floral found in the bedskirt and euro shams provides a nice contrast to the comforter print. This will certainly brighten up those long dark days of winter.

For a really unique look check out Lara and its sister pattern Laval from Thomasville. While similar in pattern, the use of bold color creates two completely different looks. With colors of raspberry, maize, pear, and pumpkin swirling on a black background Lara evokes a new art deco look. On the other hand with a bright geranium background and mixes of pear, maize, and blue, Laval has taste hippy chic style. Both patterns include bedskirts made of bold stripes and accessories made of touchable silk, quilting, and puckered dots.

Nightengale presented by Croscill. In muted golds, ivory, delicately layered florals, and silk ruching on several of the accessories, this pattern will add a touch of glamor to any room.

These are just a few of the many new patterns to the ajMOSS website, to check out all the new patterns, visit out the Thomasville, Croscill, and ajMOSS exclusive pages on our website.

And Remember:Its during these long winter months, when we find ourselves huddled beneath our layers, that we really start looking at our inner surrounding. Just because it is cold outside doesn’t mean it has to be inside. The use of soft textures and bright colors can do a lot to warm up a room and send our thoughts toward spring.

Posted in Bedding Styles, Seasonal Concepts | 2 Comments

Creating a Welcoming Guest Room

Even for those of us who love to entertain, the guest room can be an easy target for unwanted clutter, especially when we go for a long period of time without having guests. However, the guest room can be a warm and welcoming retreat for friends and family by taking a few simple and inexpensive steps to create a cozy environment that your guests will be excited to stay in. First of all, you have to start treating your guest room as what it is – a room for your guests, not a room for your guests and your treadmill and a few boxes that never got unpacked during that last move. By removing your clutter from the room you are making a space which functions solely as a bedroom, and that is the first and most crucial step toward making the room feel inviting.

Another key factor in creating a warm and welcoming environment is wall color. Guest rooms can often be overlooked when repainting the interior of a home, but interestingly enough, the color of your guest room can be a huge factor in the comfort level of your guests. By choosing colors that are soft and warm, you can create a room that feels inviting and makes it easy to relax. Try shades of buttercream, apricot, or a light toasty brown. Notice how the wallcolor in the photo below gives the room a feeling of warmth.

Notice how the tan wall in this room adds warmth.

The best way to get a handle on creating the ultimate guest room is to make a list of some things that are factors for you when you stay in another person’s home, and try to have all of the essentials that your guests might need readily available so that they don’t have to ask. For instance, dressing your guest bed in layers makes it easy for your guests to regulate their own sleeping experience. Some people get cold easily and like a lot of blankets, but others prefer a lighter covering. For that reason, I like to have a combination of blankets available so that guests can use what works for them. I usually make the bed with a sheet set, a lightweight blanket, and a synthetic down comforter (in case of allergies!). Then, I keep an extra blanket folded at the bottom of the bed for those who need a little extra warmth. A trunk or bench at the foot of the bed that holds extra blankets would also be a nice touch. For pillows, try to stay with something hypoallergenic if you frequently have guests with allergies and stick with a medium firmness.

Another factor to consider is privacy. Depending on what a person is used to, their privacy requirements may be different than your own. It is always a good idea to have blinds or heavy drapes on the windows, even if you live in the middle of nowhere. Also, the ability to lock the bedroom and bathroom door will make some people much more comfortable.

Once you have all of the necessities covered, it is time to consider the room’s decor. Since a variety of people will be staying in this room, it is usually a good idea to keep the decor fairly neutral. I like to use bedding in solids or simple patterns that will contribute to the calming atmosphere.

Sandalwood

A few framed art prints will make the room feel much more put together. Georgia O’Keefe prints are my favorite because they seem to have a universal appeal, but any subdued art print will work beautifully. A pair of nightstands with lamps and a clock are also a good idea. If you are used to having a clock on your bedside table at home, it can be very disorienting to wake up and have no idea what time it is. A really personal touch would be to lay out magazines on the nightstand that suit your guests interests. If your father in law is visiting and likes golf, a copy of the latest Golf Digest on the nightstand will be a very touching accent.

Guest rooms can often feel stale and stuffy because they are not in use all the time. A good way to combat this is to open up the windows the day before your guests will arrive to let in some fresh air. If it is too cold outside to allow for that, light a scented candle in the room. Stay away from scents that are too heavy which might be offensive and look for a light natural scent like vanilla or lavendar. Another nice touch to freshen up the room would be a vase of cut flowers or a potted plant. A few elements that bring life into the room will make it feel even more welcoming.

Posted in Decorating Tips | 8 Comments