How To Mix Old and New

17 Mar
March 17, 2015

Modern & traditional. Vintage and contemporary. These may sound like strange bedfellows, but when it comes to mixing old and new, the only rule is there are no rules. Whether you’re moving into a historic home, bringing classic furniture into a new, modern construction, or mixing furniture styles themselves, here are a few examples of how to achieve that layered, sophisticated look of old and new…

Vintage with a Modern Twist

Combine contemporary furniture and accessories with older architectural elements. Create a seamless space within an old setting. Clean, sleek surfaces and straight lines contrast beautifully with the distressed texture of an aged brick wall and well-worn hardwood floor.

Transcend Time Periods

Avoid a style cliché with a good mix. A well-edited room looks as if its been collected over time. The Proximity collection mixes traditional style with casual yet distinctive details. Incorporating these vintage inspired pieces with bold graphics, classic textiles and covering – like leather and linen, and modern lighting and accessories creates a layered, sophisticated space that is both timely and timeless.

Start with White

Display bright colors and fresh patterns against an airy background. Seating upholstered in natural linens look casual and comfortable and combines effortlessly with traditional and modern shapes. Bring in pops of color through accent furniture, textiles and accessories.

Be Spontaneous

Make an unexpected furniture choice… Create an element of surprise that’s both practical and stylish, like the industrial inspired Bakery Rack from our Cordevalle collection. The cage-like wiring, simple lines and metal casters creates a strong focal point in this space. One would expect a more traditional sideboard or china cabinet to match the elegant curves of the dining table and chairs, or a very sleek and modern buffet to compliment the straight lines of the French doors. But this particular piece, along with a fantastic collection of dishes really stands out beautifully.

Tip the Scale

Oversized furniture can visually widen the room. Light fixtures, floor-to-ceiling drapes and large artwork or mirrors will direct the eye upward. Using both traditional and contemporary elements to enhance a space.

A great look that successfully combines old and new is always achieved over time and will evolve with you. Allow your space to be an ever-changing and inspiring environment that’s a reflection of you and your family.


The Art of Arranging Art

07 Oct
October 7, 2014


As any decorator, curator, or gallery owner can tell you, there is an “art” to hanging art well. It is an element that is often overlooked. Think of your framed photographs and collected pieces of artwork as the final layer in a beautiful room, or maybe your favorite painting is the starting point for the design of a space. This favorite piece of art could be the inspiration for color, pattern, furniture angles, upholstery texture…and mood.

Whether you’re working with a collection of pictures and prints or trying to find the perfect spot for that oversized canvas you finally found, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you start hammering nails into your walls.

When hanging art of different sizes, pictures should be lined up by their centerlines, not the top edge of the work or frame. Check it out the next time you visit a museum or art gallery, this is the way they hang art.

A single painting or the main piece of art in a grouping is generally hung at eye level for an average-height person. When in doubt, err on hanging higher rather than lower.

When arranging a group of works on a wall, placement depends on the height and width of the space, taking into consideration any furnishings—sofa, chest, tables with lamps, or railing. Measure the space available for the grouping from top to bottom and side to side.

Try arranging the pictures on the floor first as if you are putting together a giant puzzle. The largest picture generally goes in the center, then work your way out and up from there, paying close attention to balance, symmetry and order.

A series of identically framed works can be hung closer together than pieces of different sizes and shapes. A good rule of thumb is 2 to 2½ inches apart. A more varied grouping needs varying margins between pictures, but still aim for a sense of consistency. 

Family photos work well grouped together in a hallway or along a staircase. If your hallway is long, try placing artwork on only one side. It is difficult to look at both sides, and having both walls occupied closes in the space.

When hanging prints, more is better and creates a better impact! Get creative with your keepsakes, antique book covers, artist prints, travel memoires and more!

You can hang art on patterned wallpaper or fabric if the art is a different scale, has enough white space around it, or is visually stronger than its backdrop. Prints should have a mat to distinguish the image from the wall pattern.

A collection of plates looks wonderful grouped together or spaced around a room. They are also ideal for filling in a narrow space such as between or over doorways or along the side of a cabinet. Hanging toys or accessories on a wall can be a creative decoration while serving as storage!

Gather those loose photos and prints, find the perfect spot and have fun with composition!

Square, Round or Rectangular – How to Choose the Correct Dining Table Shape

09 Jul
July 9, 2014

When deciding on furnishing your home, one of the important choices that need to be made is the shape of the dining room table.  The table is an important part of the dining room – it is the heart of the space, setting the tone for social gatherings and family meals. Whether square, round or rectangular, we can help you decide which option fits best.

Choosing a dining room table largely depends on the size and shape of the room it will inhabit. For a small space, a round or narrow rectangular table is best due to its small footprint within the room. If the room you are furnishing is square, choose a square or round table. Similarly, if the room you are furnishing is rectangular, choose a table that has a rectangular shape. Square tables don’t work well in rectangular rooms because seating on two sides of the table will be closer to the walls, crowding your guests.

Another consideration is the number of people that will dine at the table regularly. If a family of four typically dines at the table, square tables are best. For families with small children or less than four people, give round tables a try. If more than four people will be dining at the table regularly, rectangle-shaped tables are recommended. Table space can be supplemented with the addition of table leaves – perfect for converting the family dining table to accommodate guests.

When it comes to spacing, keep in mind the 24-24-48 rule. Allow a minimum of 24” of space between the table and wall for effortless moving about the room. Space chairs 24” apart from each other so your diners don’t knock elbows while eating. Ensure the table is no wider than 48”, so passing food is within reach.

Choosing a dining room table doesn’t have to be difficult! Whatever shape, size or style you choose, the table will become the centerpiece of the room, shaping family and guest meals for years to come.

Living in Color – Easy as 1, 2, 3

27 May
May 27, 2014

When it comes to home furnishing trends, nothing is hotter than color.  From painted wood finishes to fabric selections for sofas, color plays a huge role in setting the tone.  Whether you’re looking to infuse new life into a neutral space or you’re ready to make a bold statement and embrace color in a big way, here are a few tips you can use to decorate like a pro.

1.  Choose a color scheme.  Deciding on the right color scheme for a room, much less an entire home can be difficult. Simplify the process by using a color wheel and narrowing down your choices to two color schemes. Try one of these.

Complementary Color Scheme Complementary colors are across from each other on the color wheel, such as red and green, blue and yellow, or purple and orange. Rooms decorated with a complementary color scheme tend to provide a clear separation of colors and are often more formal and visually challenging.

Analogous Color Scheme Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel such as blue and violet, yellow and green, or red and orange. Rooms using an analogous color scheme typically are more causal, restful and muted in terms of coloration. This color scheme is best used in the more informal areas of the home, such as family rooms, dens and bedrooms — places where you’re searching for rest and recovery from the day.

Monochromatic Color Scheme The monochromatic color scheme uses variations in lightness and saturation of a single color. This scheme looks clean and elegant. Monochromatic colors go well together, producing a soothing effect. The primary color can be integrated with neutral colors such as black, white, or gray.  This color scheme, much like your little black dress, easily transitions from classic casual to glamorous.

2.  Set the Mood.  What mood do you want to create?   We all have emotional responses to color.   Colors that are less saturated and relatively bright, such as sage green, are relaxing to look at.  Meanwhile, colors that are saturated and not very bright, like a rich sapphire blue, are energizing.  Use these emotional associations to their greatest effect in a space by deciding on what impact you want the room to have. Would you like to create a lively, energetic space to entertain family and friends? Choose reds and yellows.  If you’re trying to create a calm, tranquil space, select blues, greens and browns.   Purple and lavender hues, like Radiant Orchid (Pantone 18-2334), Pantone’s color of the year for 2014, inspire creativity while bringing the same restful quality to rooms as blue.

3.  Follow the 60-30-10 rule.  What does 60-30-10 mean, exactly? It’s a tried-and-true formula from interior design experts: 60 percent of the room should be a dominant color, 30 percent of the room should be a secondary color and 10 percent should be the accent color! This formula works because it creates a sense of balance and allows the eye to move comfortably from one focal point to the next. The easiest way to follow this rule is to focus the 60 percent portion on your wall color, 30 percent for your furniture or upholstery, and the 10 percent for accents like throw pillows, floral arrangements and art. There it is, easy as 1, 2, 3.  Grab your paint brush and live in color!

Happy May Day!

01 May
May 1, 2014

With origins from thousands of years ago, May Day has often been thought to signify the blossoming of spring. Here at Universal, we love all that spring has to offer – blooming dogwoods and warmer weather.

If the spirit of May Day has you feeling like your space is looking a little too ‘winter,’ now is the perfect time to liven up your space without breaking the bank. By simply adding subtle pops of color to your room, your space can be transformed from drab to fab in no time and at little cost!

Don’t want to make a drastic alteration that might be too punchy once fall rolls around again? Easy – try placing a few brightly-colored throw pillows on your sofa or bed and watch your room come alive. To develop your new color story, add other splashes of the same hue with picture frames or decorative pieces, like vases or baubles.147272396 If you are feeling a little adventurous, take the jump into a new wall color. The top design paint colors for 2014, according to Sherwin Williams, range from serene Earl Grey to vibrant Raucous Orange. Whether you choose to paint an accent wall or take the plunge into a new room color, be sure to accessorize the rest of the room with complementary colors or different shades of the same tone.


Small changes can really add up when moving to invigorate your space. With these tips, your new room will rouse the May Day spirit within you for a while to come!

Good, Affordable, Smart Design – It’s What Defines Us

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

A couple of years ago, we put a lot of thought into determining the direction our company should take. Our process considered a number of factors, such as the changing consumer landscape brought about by the Boomers’ moving out of their peak purchasing years and the arrival of Generations X and Y; new opportunities emerging from the global economy; recent economic upheavals; and consumer technologies that have accelerated the pace of change, sharpened the trend curve and revolutionized not only the ways we spend our time, but also how we use our living spaces.
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Smart Curves

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

Confession: My dining room is small.

My dining room is small and my rectangular dining room table makes it feel even smaller. Lovely as it is, my table takes up most of the room—a room really better suited for a round table. But I didn’t choose a round one because I was looking for expandability. I need to accommodate added guests during the holidays, so I add a table leaf or two. Now if there was a round table that could expand like that…
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Goodnight Moon

06 Mar
March 6, 2014
I’m a firm believer in the power of a good night’s sleep. And while a quality mattress is crucial, nothing puts the mind at ease and the day to rest better than a beautiful bedroom.

Why Distressed Is Good

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

There are only a few ways being “distressed” can be good, and furniture is one of them. I love the look of distressed furniture because it already looks lived in. I like furniture that’s livable. That’s just what works for my family. Anything too shiny, formal or delicate doesn’t fit us—and doesn’t stay looking that way for long. So our best furniture choices are ones already slightly distressed—since everything ends up looking distressed here eventually anyway. At least this way we’re a little stylish.

One of my favorite pieces this spring is the Garden Dining Table from the Great Rooms collection. It’s just my style. Or the style I want anyway. It’s solid and classic, yet comfortable and relaxed. I love the finish (Terrace Gray) and the way it looks with the creamy side chairs in Washed Linen.

I can just picture this table with a big family meal set out under 100-year old oak trees, with mismatched chairs and wildflowers in mason jars…Ok, I’m letting my imagination run wild. Realistically, it wouldn’t be outside, it would be in my (desperately-in-need-of-a-makeover) dining room. And when it’s not being used, it will hold homework, craft projects and papers to be filed. But I think I’ll add the fresh flowers in mason jars to keep the dream alive.

Some women look at clothing catalogs and get excited, I feel that way about furniture and decorating. When I see something I like, I want it. And I really like “The Entertainer” from the Great Rooms collection.

This is such a stylish way to display a TV. Now that flatscreens are the norm, housing TVs has become a design challenge. Old armoires and over-sized entertainment units don’t seem to fit the new technology and yet most people don’t want the cost or hassle of a wall mount (assuming you even like this look—which I don’t).

The Entertainer is fun and functional. It’s open and has lots of room for displaying things, plus it has two drop-down drawers that are perfect for electronic components. A hidden power outlet and adjustable shelves make it practical as well. And with my favorite Terrace Gray finish, it’s already “pre-distressed” for my family, so fingerprints and dings from passing dump trucks and fire engines won’t be as noticeable.

Come Home to Comfort

06 Mar
March 6, 2014

When it comes to comfort, it’s all about what makes you feel good. Everyone has their favorite comfort foods. Ours are homemade macaroni and cheese, buttery biscuits, and of course—chocolate cake. Then there are creature comforts: well-worn PJs, a snuggly throw, a favorite pillow…things that make you feel ‘at-home’ no matter where you are. So, shouldn’t furniture be the same way…comfortable, inviting and welcoming? Paula Deen thinks so!

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