Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spruce Up Your Deck or Patio

I almost feel guilty covering this topic now, in the midst of fall weather moving into KY. However, a little inspiration now can provide proper planning for how to make the extension of our home more enjoyable once spring rolls around again.

Outdoor kitchens are a major trend right now. Depending on your budget, you can go from simple (a brick grill surround and outdoor fireplace) all the way to elaborate (concrete countertops, stainless refrigerator, sink, all the bells & whistles). Not only are outdoor kitchens enjoyable, but they often raise the value of a home and make the property more appealing to potential buyers when selling.

If you don't want to add an additional kitchen to your backyard, let's focus on something simpler- the patio furniture. We have moved way beyond plastic stackable chairs and tables. Wrought iron and teak furniture are classic staples that can be dressed up with seat cushions and an outdoor umbrella. Another great option is an outdoor love seat or two. If you have a large space that can support two seat groupings, one area can provide a place for a meal and another area can become the outdoor family room with the love seats. There are some fabulous wicker love seats available. Who knows, maybe you'll run across an end of season sale and snag a great deal on some patio furniture.

Bringing the indoors out provides additional space to relax outside the confines of your walls. Plus, you're friends and neighbors will be jealous of your gorgeous backyard oasis. Happy Sprucing!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Re-Purpose Your Space

If you find yourself never using a space, give it a new purpose. The builder’s floorplan may name the room one thing but it’s your house, so use it the way you want!

For example, the basement often is an unused abyss of space that we don't utilize because we aren't sure what to do with it. We never go down there except to store unwanted furniture pieces or boxes of the kid's old toys and clothes. A recent trend is converting a basement (or a section of it) into a home theater or game room. This allows the family to have a gathering place and provides a way to maximize their home's square footage. This especially holds true right now with everyone watching their pennies, people are entertaining in the home more than planning nights out on the town.

Another example of unused space is the formal living. Admit it, this space has died out. Gone are the days when we sit with our company in the front room on the good sofa that we forbid the children to touch! For modern families, this room is rarely used and often houses our old furniture that we aren't sure how to use in the rest of the home. So, re-purpose the space! What do you need it to be? What are you missing in the house? Many people turn these rooms into a home office. You can even add french doors to enclose the space if privacy is necessary. The same can be true for formal dining rooms (if you have an eat-in kitchen), spare guest rooms, etc (you see where I am going with this).

My only word of caution is: be mindful of the re-sale value of your home and be sure any changes you make stay in line with the rest of your neighborhood in terms of cost. Nothing is worse than sinking money into making drastic and beautiful changes that you won't earn your money back on.

But overall remember this- transform the house to fit you, don't conform to the house.

Happy re-purposing!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Magic Carpets

Area rugs are one of my favorite components in a room! Rugs add warmth to a space and look nice layered on any flooring type, even wall to wall carpeting.

A common mistake is to "float" a rug in the room, meaning the rug doesn't touch any furniture pieces it is just placed in the middle of the floor between all the furniture- see the first photo above. This typically happens because a rug is too small for the space, and as a result is improperly placed. The goal for an area rug is to have it placed among a furniture grouping to define the seating area. This is done best when ALL the furniture legs can rest upon the rug, or at the very least, the front legs should rest on the rug- see the second picture above. This ensures a cohesive look to the space, as the rug serves to pull all the pieces together (figuratively).

Keep in mind that area rugs really are appropriate over every type of flooring, including wall to wall carpeting. Layering with a rug adds a feeling of warmth and welcome to a space. Rugs can also serve as protection for flooring (for example, I have a rug beneath my dining room table to protect my light colored carpeting from the threat of food and drink that can stain). It is often more cost effective to replace a rug than it is to replace a section of the floor! Additionally, rugs allow an extra outlet for a person to express their personality or design style.

Enjoy your magic carpet ride!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dress Your Naked Windows

Do you ever walk into a room and think there is something missing? Check out the windows. Chances are, that's where the problem lies. Too often we focus all our attention (and budget) on the furniture, which causes us to forget about the windows. This is a HUGE mistake!!There are a host of reasons why you should dress them- light control, privacy, to protect the pieces in the room from being faded by sunlight, to soften the architectural features, and to tie the windows into the decor of the rest of the space.

Blinds, roller shades, honeycomb shades, etc all provide light control, privacy and they protect your space from the harsh rays of the sun. Fabric treatments like valances, draperies and sheers serve to soften the windows harsh features and provide a way to incorporate the windows into the room's design. Some fabric treatments, such as roman shades, sheers and draperies, can do all of the functions listed previously.

So how do you know what works best for YOUR window?? It really depends on your lifestyle, design style preference, the amount of natural light you receive, as well as how much privacy you need. Window treatment styles and the fabric used to make them will dictate whether they evoke a formal feel or a more casual, relaxed environment. The photos above show different window treatments, both used in living rooms. Which appears more formal to you and which has a more relaxed look?

Your windows should be a reflection of the space, so dress them appropriately ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Extra Touches

Items such as throw pillows, vases, chargers and other accessories are an inexpensive way to buy into a current trend or design theme.

If you are trying to watch your dollars, you should purchase your major pieces of furniture in a color and fabric that will stand the test of time and coordinate well with the changing trends. Make sure the pieces are of good quality, as well, because you get what you pay for when it comes to furniture!

Take for example, the photos above (these happen to be extreme examples of what I am talking about but they do a good job of illustrating the concept). Each room begins with soft, linen colored furniture (this color is not a fad). From there, boldly colored accessories are brought in- everything from throw blankets to pillows and glassware. If the homeowner ever tires of these bold colors, they can simply remove them and bring in new items in another color scheme.

Since most of us don't have an endless budget, these tips help create a space that you won't have to re-do every 3 years. If you decide to get design help with a space, make sure the overall design suits YOU, your personal taste and lifestyle. You don't have to overindulge in a design trend, you can sprinkle it in and enjoy it just the same! Remember classic design can hold up through time and won't make you look back and ask "what was I thinking?".

Happy Accessorizing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Splash Of Color

It is amazing what a little paint can do for a space! Last week, I completed a faux finish that completely transformed the room (of course, I forgot to take pics). The room was a soft off-white when I first met the client, but he wanted an old world look that involved warmth and varying shades to create an uneven look on the walls. The space is large, so we used Sherwin Williams Compatible Cream for the base coat and for the glaze we were able to go a little darker with Sherwin Williams Golden Fleece. Now when you look into the hallway, which still has the off-white color on its walls, you realize what a cool (in temperature) shade that was. It didn't help evoke the old world feel that the client wanted.

My point is that paint is the simplest and least expensive way to dramatically change the overall appearance of a space. Look at the photos above, the change of color in each space completely transforms the feel you get about the room. Typically when I see a white wall I think about rental spaces- unwelcoming, cold and sterile. Greens and blues, by definition are good colors to use in bathrooms to produce a spa-like feel. But remember, color means something different to everyone. There are the cliche meanings for every color, but it doesn't always mean that is how YOU will feel about it. Keep that in mind when selecting a color- it needs to suit you, your space and your lighting (if you don't get a lot of natural light, be careful not to go too dark).

If you don't feel comfortable selecting the color yourself, get some professional advice. I have a great paint deck that I work with on EVERY color consult I do. I have it broken down according to the color wheel and can easily coordinate a paint color with other items in a client's space. (Notice I said coordinate, not MATCH. Everything in the room does not have to match exactly).

I could go on for days about this one, but I won't. Happy Painting!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tips for Decorating: How to Transform Your Space

I feel like I have slacked on the semi-weekly blog posts. So, I am double timing it today :) Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some basic tips you can apply to your own space to give it the look you want. I already addressed Framed Beauty today, so we will move down the list from there.

• Framed Beauty- A great single piece or collection of art can transform the feel of a room instantly.

• Splash of Color- The simplest way to freshen a room is to coat the walls with a great color. If you are afraid of color, try an accent wall to punch things up.

• Extra Touches- Throw pillows, vases, chargers, etc are a less expensive way to buy into a current trend.

• Dress your naked windows- Layering a light-controlling treatment (like blinds) with a decorative fabric treatment (like draperies) gives the windows a finished look that ties into the room’s decor.

• Magic Carpets- Place an area rug among a furniture grouping to define the seating area. Rugs add warmth to a space and look nice layered on any flooring type, even wall to wall carpeting.

• Re-purpose the space- If you find yourself never using a space, give it a new purpose. The builder’s floorplan may name the room one thing but it’s your house, so use it the way you want! Home theaters and game rooms are gaining in popularity.

• Spruce up your deck or patio- These days we spend as much time entertaining outside as we do inside. Outdoor kitchens are becoming an extension of our homes.

• Indulge- Your master suite is your personal haven, so treat it that way. Splurge on beautiful tiles, massaging showerheads and luxurious linens.


During my time in a waiting room yesterday, I peered around the room noticing the soothing paint color, the beautiful seat fabrics and the thoughtful children's play area in the corner. But amid all that beauty was a glaring flaw- the art was a hodge-podge of prints and their scale (overall size) didn't work in the room. This mistake gave me the desire to share with you some helpful hints on art selection and placement. We all have a variety of prints (mostly horse themed, specifically Keeneland if you live in KY), family photos and even some paintings. But how do we find the right balance when using them in our space?

When trying to fill wall space in one particular room always keep in mind:

1.Every wall doesn't require something hanging on it.

2.Don't use the same type of art on EVERY wall. Use a mix of mirrors, prints, photos and decorative metal art. (for example- On one wall, you may hang a beautiful print above the mantle, on another wall- a mirror above the sofa and a grouping of family photos above the side chairs and table on yet a different wall.)

3.When hanging a grouping of photos, prints, or anything be sure there is a commonality between each piece. This ensures that they look like they are supposed to hang together. (for example- they all have the same color frames)

4. Make sure the art fits the style of the room.

5. Mat to the picture, frame to the room. The mat serves as a way to highlight the print/picture/etc. The frame should tie that print/picture/etc into the style of the room where it will be placed. But also know that, not every piece requires a mat.

6. Remember to accessorize around the piece. I am not talking about placing sconces on either side like your grandmother did. I am talking about placing a table below the art and adding a lamp or some greenery, etc to make what you've hung on the wall belong to the rest of the room.

The pictures I have included showcase some good examples of the things I mentioned. Happy framing!