Category Archives: Uncategorized

We May Have Found the Perfect Floor

The Perfect Floor

Earlier this year we decided to add a new and very interesting floor to our product mix. When we first saw COREtec Plus our first impression was “WOW, what a beautiful floor!,” and then we learned about COREtec Plus’s incredible benefits. Now having sold many COREtec Plus floors to our customers since then and listening to their enthusiastic praises, we are thinking that indeed we just may have found the perfect floor.

COREtec Plus is an engineered Luxury VInyl Plank & Tile made in the U.S. This floor truly represents the next revolution in luxury vinyl flooring. This entirely new category of vinyl is a great alternative to glue down LVT, locking LVT or laminate flooring. COREtec Plus has the look for any style and unmatched performance for any room in your home. Here a just some of the benefits.

100% Waterproof – COREtec Plus floors can be installed in wet areas and will never swell when exposed to water and are backed by a lifetime waterproof warranty.

Innovative – CORETEC Plus’s construction is extremely stable and will not expand or contract.

Durable – COREtec Plus features a 20mil commercial rated wear layer for maximum durability. Two coats of UV acrylic finish provides superior stain resistance and cleanability.

Comfortable – You can enjoy the look of wood or stone with the comfort of cork. COREtec Plus is a much quieter and warmer floor than ordinary floors and requires no additional underlayment.

Cork Backing – This is the real “genius” innovation of this floor. The addition of cork backing provides added sound insulation, naturally resists mold & mildew, absorbs subfloor imperfections and means there is no need for separate underlayment.

No written word can hope to describe the visual beauty of this floor. COREtec Plus really needs to be seen to be appreciated. When you combine the list of benefits with the tremendous visual appeal you will readily see how this floor has become a staff favorite.

How to Host the Perfect Dinner Party

bigstock-Decorated-Christmas-Dinner-Tab-48434702-nov292013With the holiday season right around the corner, dinner parties are all the rage. Throwing dinner parties may seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning and a little luck, you can pull off the perfect dinner party like the pros. Here are a few tips on how to host the perfect dinner party:

Invitations

No dinner party is complete without invitations. Having formal invitations not only serves as beautiful way to make your guests feel special, it also serves as a reminder to them as well as communicating the theme and tone for your event. It’s not necessary to send paper invitations anymore, however. You can send beautifully custom designed invitations via email through many different sites on the Internet. Not only is this the easiest and least expensive way of sending invitations, it’s also eco-friendly and they allow your guests to RSVP without ever picking up the phone. Send out your invitations between two and three weeks in advance. This allows your guests plenty of time to RSVP while giving you ample time to plan and prep for the party. And while there is never a limit to the number of people you invite to your soiree, keeping the guest list to between 8-10 people gives you a more intimate setting that really lets people connect and keeps your budget under control.

Table Setting

One of the first considerations you need to think about for your dinner party is your theme and table setting. Floral centerpieces work with a number of themes and are an inexpensive way to create a beautiful table. The rule of thumb for floral centerpieces is to use flowers that are in season and keep them low enough so that your guests can talk to each other without straining to see over them. Floral centerpieces can be accented by candles, but if you choose to go this route, make sure that you use unscented candles. This way the scents of your candles won’t compete with the smells of your food. Other accents include using matching dinnerware that incorporates your theme including appropriately patterned cocktail napkins, table linens and rings and other small details. Keep in mind the number of people you are inviting and the size of your table. You don’t want to crowd your guests’ dining experience with a lot of extraneous decoration.

Seating

When it comes to how to host the perfect dinner party, assigned seating isn’t a requirement, but if you know that there are certain members of your party that aren’t exactly on the best of terms, you can add place cards to your seating in order to ensure minimal interaction between these parties. Of course, you can also use assigned seating as a way to introduce certain people if you are looking to play matchmaker or want to foster new friendships.  And, of course, adding place cards to your table is yet another way to add a splash of color and elegance to your table. You can use a software program to create them or letter them yourself.

Music

No dinner party is complete without music. Music should be used to create ambiance. It should be soft enough that your guests can speak to each other without competing with it, but noticeable in the background. Having music playing in the background prevents awkward silences at the table while your guests are eating and during natural lulls in conversation. Streaming music sources are great for this type of accompaniment and a station should be built that will accentuate your theme but not offend anyone.

Hors D’oeuvres

By placing hors d’oeuvres out in an easy to access place, you give your guests something to munch on while you finish up preparing the meal. It is also a great opportunity for your guests to gather around and mingle before sitting down to eat. Finger foods are great because they are easy to make and don’t require a lot of effort to eat. This allows your guests to wander about the room and mingle. Cheese and crackers or vegetables, sweets, and other easy to prepare fare all work well. If the gathering is more formal, you might look to offer something a bit more upscale, but sticking with finger foods and one bite offerings will suffice.

Dinner

Before deciding on your menu, make sure that you have accounted for your guests’ food sensitivities and likes/dislikes. You can address this during the invitation process or call each one individually after the RSVP to ensure that you don’t offer foods that make people uncomfortable. The last thing you want is for your guests to go hungry or go on a hunger strike to protest your meal. Also, stick with foods that you’ve had the chance to prepare before. This allows you a greater chance of ensuring that your guests will have edible food the day of your event rather than excuses and takeout fare. Your guests will enjoy a simple homemade meal over an elaborate gourmet meal any day of the week. Your event is more about the camaraderie of good friends rather than about the skill level of your cooking.

Drinks

When it comes to offering drinks, keep it simple. Unless you have a hired bartender for the affair, the last thing you want to do is to get stuck in the kitchen making elaborate frozen drinks. Stick with a favorite bottle of wine and maybe one signature mixed drink that doesn’t require a lot of effort. This keeps everyone visiting rather than waiting on drinks.

Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. If the hostess is tense, the entire party will be tense and unsuccessful. Prepare for the night and then relax and enjoy the fruits of your efforts as well as your guests.

Pucher’s Decorating Center wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

Decorating Your Home for the Holidays

bigstock-Details-for-aThanksgiving-tabl-14088911-frinov12013Decorating for the holidays can be a very stressful time. There are so many fine details involved in creating the perfect atmosphere for the home. Plus, decorating trends change from year to year, so it is important to keep up with current fashions, even if you are going for that traditional holiday appeal. With these simple steps for decorating, anyone can create perfection in their Berea home and have a warm, inviting area to greet guests.

Appeal to All 5 Senses

When creating any environment it is important to appeal to every sense. This helps guests feel completely emerged in the room and creates a professional look when complete. While this may sound like a difficult chore, it is actually very simple to find items that appeal to sight, touch, sound, taste, and smell. Decorating homes with items that appeal to each of these senses will help you to establish the holiday mood.

Sight is the biggest one, but sticking with one theme will help you appeal to this sense easily. Touch is one that mostly refers to using comforting furniture or a warm fireplace to make people feel relaxed. For scent, place scented candles or potpourri in the room. Play soft music in the background that compliments your theme. Lastly, have something that appeals to taste in the room, whether it be a bowl of sweets or a decorative ornament, this will help people get in the holiday spirit.

Choose a Different Theme for the Season

Decorating your home for the holidays is more than working with what you have. While it is impractical to change out furniture when seasons change, working with the colors of the room to achieve a completely different look is. Choose two to three colors, incorporating your normal colors as one of them. Avoid distracting colors like pinks and purples. Instead include blues, reds, whites, golds, or browns in your holiday décor. Then, rearrange your furniture so that it faces a different point in the room, such as the fireplace, to give the room a completely different feel.

Invest in a collection of décor that can grow with you as the years go by. Vintage decorations are always eye-catching and can easily become heirlooms. Find one collection that really appeals to you and then personalize it with lighting and seasonal knickknacks. Part of the holiday spirit is abundance, so really focus on the details of your collection and theme to create a very big impression on your guests.

Light Up the Home for the Holidays

Another important aspect regardless of the décor is the lighting. During the holiday season, there are so many different choices that can change the entire look of the room. Since it is important to stick with a two or three color pallet when designing the room, you will need to find sources of light that can go with any look and remain neutral while providing a warm, inviting glow.

Candles are an excellent source of lighting that can help create a relaxing holiday space. Because the glow from each candle can be very dim, you may want to consider an abundance of candles hidden among the décor. Thick, bold candles can be a focal point in any table centerpiece or be placed above the mantle. With plenty of candles in the room, one can easily avoid any electric lighting if they so choose.

For those who choose an all-electric holiday, make sure the bulbs you choose are in neutral colors. White bulbs are the easiest to replace and will compliment any décor. When lighting a tree, use the bulbs sparingly to create a warm glow, rather than a bright light. The tree is naturally a focal point, but making the lighting a bit dimmer helps it fade gracefully into the background. The décor in the room becomes a very welcoming space, rather than a tourist attraction.

Don’t Forget the Trees

One of the first places to start decorating is the tree. Although the tree should ideally match the feel of the room, many people choose to model their décor after the tree. The tree is naturally a focal point in any holiday room, and while the design can be as busy as one likes, it can be undecorated and still get attention. If you haven’t picked out a holiday collection yet, try browsing ornaments first and find a couple sets that you like.

For some, sticking with one theme is difficult. People send and receive ornaments as gifts or acquire them through events. Perhaps there is a family heirloom that doesn’t quite match that you’d like to use. One way to get around this is to have small trees in multiple rooms, along with your big tree. The smaller trees can have their own themes. Not only does this help to keep crowds scattered in large parties, it allows you to have multiple tree themes that can incorporate different ornaments. For example, if you don’t want that green ‘Best Mom Ever’ ornament on the large red and white tree, you could make a green ornament tree and place it in a small side room. This gives you more flexibility in the decorating choices you make.

Pucher’s Decorating Centers in Berea, North Royalton and Westlake would love to assist you in decorating your home for the holidays. Stop by our showroom or call to schedule a free consultation.

A Very Healthy Hand Cleaner

paintingMany times when you are painting, no matter how hard you try, that paint you are using winds up on your hands, forearms and many other places on your body as well. And that leaves the question “How do I get this stuff off of me?”

If you are using an oil based paint or varnish, many people will make the huge mistake of removing the paint with paint thinner, gasoline or worse. This is a very bad idea. But wait, there is a great solution.

What about if you are using a water base paint and the paint dries on your skin. How do you remove this newly acquired “second skin?”

What about cleaning your bicycle chain and now you have old, greasy chain lube on your hands? How do you get this grease off of your hands?

Try this secret – Coconut Oil!! Coconut oil will almost magically remove oil paint, grease and oily substances from your hands quickly and easily. You will be pleasantly surprised as to how well this works. After removing the oil, paint, or grease from your hands, simply wash off the remaining coconut oil with hand soap. And here is the really great news – coconut oil is great for your skin as well.

Here is another tip. BEFORE painting with an oil or latex paint or doing any grimy household chores, apply a light coating of coconut oil on your hands and forearms (or any other body parts). This will help prevent the products you are using from penetrating your skin and makes cleanup a snap.

You can find coconut oil at any health food store, most grocery stores and at all Trader Joes.

So there you have it – a healthy hand cleaner with a great benefit – the smell will take you away to that tropical beach you (and as I am told, my wife,) would rather be on!

The Ease of Working With a Decorator

working with a decoratorYou have saved up for years and finally have your dream home built to your specifications so that you and your family can live happily for years to come. The next step is the interior decoration, like choosing walls, floors and window treatments, paint colors for the exterior and the interior and other such difficult decisions. Your home should be a relaxing place, a sanctuary. Your home should be a reflection of you. The modern version of “show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are,” is “show me your home and I will tell you who you are.”

However, your family members will also want their needs and personalities to be reflected in their rooms and private areas. If you feel it is a daunting task, it is better to engage a professional interior designer or decorator. The former gets involved with the architect and advises on the placement of rooms and planned activities for different spaces, based on the available light and other factors. The latter is typically engaged after the house is built to advise on floors, wall colors, draperies and other furniture and fittings to provide harmony and aesthetic appeal.

Engage with a Decorator

You don’t have to worry about any aspect of your interiors when you engage an interior decorator to do your home; you just have to state your preferences and have a beautiful home you can proudly show off. You can be assured of getting your home outfitted with the best possible floors, draperies, rugs, etc. as your decorator will be on top of the latest trends and innovations. You can save yourself both time and stress when you engage a decorator to help with your home décor, not to mention opting for something unsuitable and then having to get it fixed. Such costly do-overs can be avoided when you hire an interior decorator to help in fixing up your home.

Whether you are building, remodeling or redecorating your home, this time can very stressful to you. Oftentimes you will not know where to even begin. An interior decorator will relieve the stress and take the burden off of you. They will assist in space planning and décor by suggesting patterns, paints, flooring, and window treatments just to name a few. A decorator provides comfort and the security of knowing the services will be performed and completed without troubling you. This frees up your time and saves you money and frustration.

At Pucher’s we are fully aware of the importance of having your home look beautiful and appealing. You need to have a home that is welcoming, relaxing and soothing. Pucher’s, founded by Carl Pucher in Cleveland in 1928, has been serving the residents of Cleveland for three generations. We offer our customers professional advice and help you get your home décor the talking point among your family and friends. We offer home decorating services in Cleveland. We specialize in all household items and designer brands. Our staff members are well-trained and can help you with your fittings if required. Our in-house design team can handle any challenging project. Step in or call us today for a visit and a free quote!

Pucher’s – Three Great Locations in Ohio

Pucher's BereaPucher’s is one of the premier interior design and decorating companies in the state of Ohio. This company has developed an incredible reputation for helping consumers and homeowners dramatically improve the appearance of their homes. It doesn’t matter what your personal style is, there is something at Pucher’s for everyone. You don’t have to be a design expert to benefit from the products and services available at Pucher’s. In fact, this company was specifically created to offer assistance to homeowners who have no design experience or interior decorating knowledge whatsoever. Many homeowners have a vision for their home’s interior, but they simply don’t know where to go or what to do to transform that vision into a reality. That’s where the professional design specialists at Pucher’s can be invaluable. With three convenient locations in Ohio, high quality design is within your reach.

Our Three Great Locations Are Here to Serve

In order to better serve homeowners in the state of Ohio, Pucher’s owns and operates three distinct locations. Each location is filled with high quality products, tools, accessories, and design ideas that can help you plan your home’s décor from the ground up. There’s no need to hop around from store to store just to find the decorating products and inspiration you need to get started. A professional home designer can discuss your current home decorative theme and your vision for adding updates to your home. Pucher’s has home decorating center locations in Berea, North Royalton, and Westlake, Ohio, and you can find Pucher’s contact information at the easy-to-use Pucher’s website.

Choose From Incredible Flooring Products

One of the simplest ways to transform your home’s interior is through the addition of new flooring. Changing outdated tile or laminate flooring to beautiful hardwood, luxurious carpet, or gorgeous ceramic tile is a great way to make big changes in your home. If you don’t have the budget for high quality hardwood, you can take advantage of incredible new laminate and vinyl flooring products that closely resemble more expensive materials.

Window Treatments, Fabric, and Drapery

Often, all that is needed to dress up a space and make it uniquely yours is a few high quality window treatments. Instead of using low quality venetian blinds and drab window coverings, you can invest in stunning drapes, fabric, and other window treatments that will enhance your home’s preexisting décor. Window treatments don’t have to mask your windows and darken a space. You can visit Pucher’s three locations to discover how window treatments can actually emphasize the windows and natural light in your home.

Paint and Wallpaper

Never underestimate the power of the walls in your home. Walls can be so much more than a boring, plain support system for your house. Walls that are splashed with rich colors or papered with unique patterns and textures can actually turn into the focal point of your entire space. With so many paint and wallpapering options to choose from, Pucher’s locations in Berea, Westlake, and North Royalton are great sources for high quality products.

Convenient Locations in Ohio

With three different locations to choose from in Berea, North Royalton, and Westlake, you always have handy access to a company that can turn your outdated or old-fashioned home into a gorgeous canvas for beautiful in-home design. Changing the look of your home can be an overwhelming process when you don’t have the experience and expertise of a professional design consultant. If you are hoping to make dramatic changes to your home’s interior, be sure and stop by one of Pucher’s great locations. Team members are standing by to evaluate your current décor and discuss options that can completely transform the look and feel of your home.

Fun Crafts for the Winter

C--Documents and Settings-pos.WESTLAKE-My Documents-LAURA-WEB-BABYPAINTING-resized-600When it is cold outside and you are stuck inside your house, it is always good to have something to keep your hands busy and your mind occupied. What better way to stay busy than by working on some arts and crafts that you can use to make the interior or exterior of your home a little more beautiful.  With a little creativity, there are lots of simple and attractive crafts you can make with just the materials you have lying around your home. Keep reading for some examples that will hopefully give you inspiration and spark your inner artist.

Bead Icicles

Want to replicate the beauty of hanging icicles with some materials that will never melt away?  Then make yourself some bead icicles.  Bead icicles are easy to make and can be created by artists of all ages and ability levels.  To make your bead icicles, get a roll of fishing line and a selection of clear glass beads.  For best results, use glass beads of varying shapes and sizes.  Start by tying the line around a smaller bead that will serve as the bottom of your icicle.  Then add other glass beads above that one.  The more beads you add, the longer your glass icicle will grow.

Paper Snowflakes

Paper snowflakes are a classic winter craft that people have been making for generations.  Not only are they easy to make, but also with a little practice, you can make paper snowflakes that will be a beautiful addition to your home’s décor.  To make paper snowflakes, get a white piece of paper and cut it into a square or circle.  Then, fold the paper in halves or into corners.  Cut squares, triangles, circles, and other designs along the edges of the paper.  Once you are finished cutting, unfold the paper and admire your snowflake.

White Rock Snowmen

White rock snowmen are an easy craft that you can place inside or outside once they are finished.  To make them, gather some flat, white rocks and find a few small, back beans.  Stack three of the white rocks on top of each other, with the largest one on the bottom and the smallest on top.  Then, glue the beans onto the top rock.  The result will look like a tiny snowman with two pieces of coal for his eyes.

Tips to Keeping a Warmer Home

silquartette_easyrise_livingroom_5-resized-600With temperatures low and energy prices at an all-time high, this winter it is more important than ever to be clever and frugal about how you keep your home warm.  Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways that you can make your home more resistant to the cold.  Here are several useful tips on how you can keep your home’s heat in, and the winter cold out.

Check Your Windows

When the weather starts to get cold, you should take a quick walk around your house to make sure that all of your windows are in good condition.  Many homeowners make the mistake of not completely closing their windows after the summer heat departs.  Even if your windows are open just a crack, a lot of heat can be escaping from your home.  One easy way to check if your windows are air-tight is to burn a stick of incense inside your home.  After the stick is burnt, walk around your house and see if you can smell the aroma.  If any of your windows are leaking air, the smell will be especially concentrated near them.  You can fix leaks with clear, plastic coverings purchased from your local home improvement store.

Add Window Treatments

Many window treatments can add significantly to the R-value of your windows. In fact, installing cellular shades is much less expensive and is sometimes more energy efficient than replacement windows!  Consider adding blinds, shades or fabric treatments to your windows to keep the cold out in the winter. The staff at Pucher’s Decorating can help guide you through the many choices in style, color and energy efficiency.

Shut Off Unused Rooms

You may have rooms in your house that you rarely ever use.  If so, it does not make sense to pay for the energy needed to heat those rooms.  Instead, close all heating vents that are in those rooms, and then shut the doors that lead to them.  This way, your unused rooms won’t be heated and your total energy bill will be that much lower.  One other advantage is that when you are trying to heat up your house, you will notice the rooms you do use getting warmer, faster.

Cook More

The more you cook, the warmer at your house will be.  A normal stove gives off a lot of heat, and this heat can serve the double purpose of not only preparing your dinner, but also keeping your kitchen and adjacent rooms warm.  If you cook frequently during the winter, you will notice that your home stays warmer without you needing to set your thermostat so high.  Another useful tip is to burn candles around your house.  Though they only have small flames, candles give off a surprising amount of heat.  Just be careful that you don’t leave burning candles unattended.

Selecting the Perfect Area Rug for Your Room

At Pucher’s we love helping our clients pick out area rugs!  They come in so many gorgeous colors, textures & designs and they are a great source of color and design ideas for your rooms!  But once you select your design, you need to think about the size, shape and furniture .  Here are a few ideas to help simplify the process and bring out the beauty in any space.

First, know your room’s dimensions.  Use a measuring tape and size it out. To get a feel for how the rug will lay out, try this designer trick.  Using masking tape, outline the desired rug dimensions on the floor.  Then arrange furniture over the outline and visualize.  Here are some layouts for you to consider.

living-room-1-resized-600Living Room #1

Start with a room-sized rug where the furniture floats center.  We recommend a rug that is 8′ x 11′ or larger.  The rule of thumb is to leave 12″ to 18″ of exposed floor to create a border around the rug – equal on all four sides if possible.

Living Room #2

This rug is tucked under the front legs of the sofa with the back legs on or off depending on personal preference.  We recommend a rug that is 5′ x 8′ or larger.  Again, leave 12″ – 18″ between the wall and the rug, creating a border of exposed floor that frames the arrangement – equal on all four sides if possible.

living-room-2-resized-600

living-room-3-resized-600Living Room #3

This rug is placed in front of the sofa.  We recommend a rug that is 3′ x 5′ to 6′ x 9′ or approximately the length of the sofa.  Leaving a sliver of exposed floor between the rug and sofa will accent the furniture.  When the rug is under the coffee table, make sure it is large enough to accommodate all four legs.

 

diningDining Room

Begin with a room-sized rug where there is enough room for all chair legs to stay on the rug when comfortably pulled away from the table.  We recommend a rug that is 8′ x 10′ or larger.

Bedroom #1

Layer runners in the same pattern, or the same color family, on 2 or 3 sides around a bed frame.

bedroom-layout-1-resized-600

bedroom-layout-2-resized-600Bedroom #2

Begin with a large rug under two legs, but allow wood floor to show all around the bed.  Rug should extend approximately 24″ or more from the sides of the bed.

Key Takeaway:  Pucher’s design team shares tips for selecting the perfect area rug for your space.

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2011

Pucher’s Decorating Centers Earn Coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects businesses’ consistently high level of customer service

Pucher’s has been awarded the prestigious 2011 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the businesses rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service and health providers.

“My grandfather started this business in 1928 and he always taught me that providing people with quality products and great service is the most important thing in business.  The amazing staff at our three stores -BereaN. Royalton & Westlake – live this philosophy every day and it shows in the way we treat our customers from the moment they walk in the door,” said owner Randy Pucher.  (To see what our customers are saying about Pucher’s, see our Customer Reviews.)

“Only a fraction of the businesses rated on Angie’s List can claim the sterling service record of being a Super Service Award winner because we set a high bar,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “The fact that Pucher’s can claim Super Service Award status speaks volumes about its dedication to consumers.

Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their clients and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2011 Super Service Award logo next to business names in search results on AngiesList.com.

 Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 2 million consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.

Reasons to Buy Local

cleveland-resized-600Dear Readers,

Permit us this digression from our usual postings.  We loved this article published by Mitch Allen, President of Mimi Vanderhaven, a Northeast Ohio publication dedicated to supporting local businesses (Mimi Vanderhaven) and we wanted to share it.

If you, like me, are tired of:

  • buying products that never live up to your expectations and break or wear out before they’re even paid for
  • paying for meals at chain restaurants that offer little to no nutrition
  • settling for poor (or nonexistent) customer service from passionless employees
  • the pathetic return on our tax dollars (whoa – now there’s a whole other blog article!)

If, like me, you are more concerned about the value you’re getting for your money, believe in “quality over quantity” and like to deal with service-driven companies who are passionate about what they do, then read on and enjoy!

ASKING FOR MORE

“We get what we ask for in life, and most of us ask for too little.”

by Mitch Allen

Since my brother’s death last year, plus the long, cold Northeast Ohio winter and my own bout with a lingering flu this spring, I have fundamentally changed how I approach the world. If I wake up in the morning, I find myself feeling grateful. If I wake up in the morning and I feel good, I’m downright giddy.

In the poem “Joy” by George Bilgere, he describes getting over the flu this way:

The baker has come back to his store
and everything smells like warm baguettes.
The children are playing in the schoolyard,
the piano bars along the river
have thrown open their doors.

As a result of my new appreciation for life and health, I’m eating a lot more ice cream. Several times each week you’ll find me at Strickland’s, Country Maid, or East Coast Frozen Custard hurriedly licking the bottom edge of a chocolate ice cream cone trying to stay one step ahead of the melting. I justify the indulgence by telling myself that every day is a blessing and you don’t know how many more ice cream cones you’re going to get. It’s unlikely anyone on their death bed ever said, “I wish I would have eaten fewer ice cream cones.”

And just this week my daughter’s father-in-law, Realtor John Lasher, shared this quote with me: “We get what we ask for in life, and most of us ask for too little.”

I like that quote a lot. And at the risk of making too quick a transition, I think many national chains become popular because we all ask for too little.

We accept poor-quality, disposable goods because we like the low price.

We accept the fact that our new DVD player will break before the end of the year because it only cost $29.95.

We accept the bland sauces offered by most chain restaurants because we have come to expect lots of added sugar and salt to dazzle our taste buds without relying on the genuine flavors of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices.

We accept invitations from all kinds of companies to deduct $20 from our checking accounts each month even though we did not use their services.

In general, we accept too many people in line and too few stars in the sky.

At the end of the day, we like what’s familiar more than we like what’s best. What’s familiar makes us feel safe. I once said to a college professor, “I know what I like.” The professor replied, “No. You like what you know.”

For eight years now, we at Mimi Vanderhaven have been encouraging our readers to explore the unknown, to try local businesses with unfamiliar names. Often you write us thank you notes expressing your appreciation for introducing you to a new favorite business. Occasionally you write us far less flattering letters, questioning why we wrote about that place.

Either way, we like to think we’re doing our job.

If every day is a blessing, why do we dine and shop at the same places over and over again? If we only have number of ice cream cones left to enjoy, why would we buy one so regularly from Dairy Queen instead of branching out to some of Northeast Ohio’s many local ice cream shops and creameries?

For me, life is no longer about comfortably enjoying the same things. Inherent in that is the danger that I am asking for too little. Instead, I’m now going to ask for more—and occasionally be disappointed in what I get. But that’s okay.

The phrase, “Honey, let’s go out to eat” is not simply an invitation to secure convenient nutrition. It also represents the opening line of a grand adventure.

I thank my brother for teaching me that.

Hardwood Flooring Adds Character to Any Room

hardwood_area_rugsIn a recent gathering of designers from California companies Peninsula Floors, Inc., and JPS Surface Solutions, flooring was discussed in general, and hardwood’s praises were sung in particular.

“I have hardwood throughout my whole house,” said Dana Johnson, who’s the Design Center Sales Manager with Peninsula Floors in San Jose. “We’re using wood more in areas of the home where you haven’t previously seen it, like bedrooms and hallways.”

Johnson added that hardwood has been seen in America’s kitchens for several years. When it’s carefully chosen and well sealed, hardwood flooring is a fine choice for this most active area of the home.

Johnson’s colleague, Gaylene Higgins, is another designer partial to hardwood. Working from JPS Surface Solutions’ Corona, CA, office, Higgins is fond of adding extra impact in her interiors through layering and mixing — specifically hardwood and area rugs.

“I do a lot of hard surface in family rooms and use rugs for warmth and a cozy feeling,” she said. “You can roll up the area rug when the kids have a party, and when you get tired of that rug, you can get another one. It’s easy to replace them.”

She pointed out that when hardwood and area rugs are used together, redecorating can be as simple as replacing or switching a rug with something in a different color or pattern. So hardwood makes a wonderful, versatile base for a number of fashionable looks.

In terms of interior design trends, Dana Johnson has noted some obvious directions. “Hardwood is going more toward distressed planks, planks in wider widths, and exotic woods. It’s no longer just plain maple or oak. We’re seeing more mahogany, cherry, teak, walnut. Also, mixing woods is done a lot now.”

With hardwood being used all over the house, durable finishes and solid warranties are more crucial than ever before. Manufacturers like Shaw have stepped up to the plate, developing outstanding finishes that provide long-term abrasive wear resistance and stain and spill protection.

Of course, to some, a scratch here or there is nothing to get concerned about. Robin Phelps, Design Center Operations Manager with Peninsula Floors in San Jose, noted that with all the distressed and hand-planed looks on the market, little dents, dings, and scratches are scarcely noticeable. And even when they are, she doesn’t mind. “When we scratch or dent our hard wood, it adds character,” she said.

Character does seem to be a hallmark of hardwood. This flooring material imparts a sense of longevity, permanence, and lasting appeal. Hardwood simply never goes out of style.

In addition, as if to score one last point for what he seems to consider a nearly perfect flooring material, Dana Johnson said, “And I like the way it sounds when you walk on it!”