Friday, July 30, 2010

Campus Housing needs to Feel Like a Home, Too

I guess it's all the back-to-school ads I've been inundated with, but I am dying to decorate a college dorm room. There are so many cute options out there to make the space fun and attractive, as well cool ways to add more storage (Lord knows you never have enough!). I remember having so much fun picking out the bright colors, fun fabrics and organizational supplies for my dorm- yes, my organizational nerdiness has deep roots! I even knew a girl whose family brought in carpeting and laid it like a rug over top of the existing carpet to make her dorm more welcoming and less whose-foot-fungus-might-I-get.

I spent a lot of time on the University of Kentucky's campus this summer while I worked on a fraternity house update. Collegiate housing takes a beating and gets worn & dated pretty quickly but it's nothing PD&R can't handle! Take a gander at what I mean:

Dark Paneling, furniture and fabrics made the space feel outdated.

Lighter, but durable and stain resistant fabrics on the furniture and windows allowed the light to be reflected, not absorbed.  Even with the paneling still up, the space became much more inviting.  Plus, we moved the sectional to the prime spot for UK games to be watched on that nice flat screen!

The sectional used to be what greeted you when you walked into the house which caused the room to be chopped up.

Since we moved the sectional to face the TV, a couple of sofas and a pair of chairs were used to make a welcoming seating area that wasn't as overpowering as the former large piece.  Notice how the room is so much more appealing by using fabrics in colors that provide a little bit of contrast.  Look at the windows- we threw out the old metal blinds and brought in new roller shades that you  see in a lot of Starbucks and Wendy's (think no dusting!!).

The last area in this living room was fireplace.  It had great potential but was covered with a lot of knick- knacks and blocked by furniture.

Moving out some of the unnecessary furniture and clearing away some of the clutter allowed the beautiful stone wall to be seen.  The back corner proved to be an ideal place for a study table, too.

This panoramic shot shows you how we broke the room up into 3 areas- study, conversation and TV:

Here's a shot of the foyer area before the project began. 

A game room/lounge area seemed to be the best use for this space, so we replaced the wallpaper, flooring & broken vertical blinds and brought in some swanky chairs and their Foosball table.  Now the guys have more than enough space to spread out between the 2 rooms.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Get the Look for Less

I am often asked how to re-create stellar looks seen in magazines without spending major cash, so I hope you enjoy me sharing this “get the look for less” piece with you.    
The Setting:
I participate in a fundraiser event called Freedom Fest for the Woodford County Humane Society.  For this event decorators transform horse stalls (on a fabulous Versailles farm) into dining rooms as well as decorate tables under the main party tent where the guests can dine.  This year, I took on a table instead of an entire stall and here is how it all came together…

The Inspiration:

I was really taken in by this photo (House Beautiful).  I am a texture person, so this tabletop decor resonated with me.   I love to mix unexpected textures together or to have a simple color palette made more interesting by the textures of the pieces I use in a space.

The Real World:
I instantly knew the tree (pictured above) was not for me, but beyond that I felt that everything was easily reproduced and I focused on the centerpiece as a starting point.  During my one and only trip to IKEA, I emerged victorious with these 5 white vases in varying heights (IKEA Salong $7.99 and $4.99).  Having varying heights of vases is interesting but it lacked the punch I wanted, so I pulled out my old Napa Valley CD crates and turned upside down to create another level for the table.  The crates also introduced the wood element to the tabletop.  I wanted to incorporate moss to layer another nice texture and to provide some color to an otherwise demure centerpiece.   Beyond that, the goal was to keep the flora for the vases simple, much as Donna Karan did in my inspiration photo, so I simply relied on my local florist (Mellow Ellis, owner of the Cutting Garden) to work her magic and provide beautiful white flowers and simple greenery (flowers vary in cost based on the type you select).  Toss in a few twig balls (Pier 1 Imports $1.99 each) for a nice contrast to the vases and BAM! we have a snazzy little centerpiece.  

The next piece to my puzzle was each place setting.  The white ceramic plates I used were easily secured, compliments of my kitchen cabinets.  Now if you aren’t the proud owner of basic white dishes, you can find sets at your local Target, Meijer, Pottery Barn, etc ranging in price $25 and above.  For my tablecloth, I chose to introduce a new textile and texture- crinkled silk- in an off white shade (rented from a local linen company for $15.00).  The idea of having the stark white plates and off-white cloth sit directly against each other made me shudder, so I slipped in basketweave bleached burlap placemats to separate the two (Katie Brown collection at Meijer, $3.99 each).  A trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond produced basic cotton napkins in a camel color (Bed Bath & Beyond $1.99 each) that I haphazardly pulled through ceramic napkin rings (Home Goods $6.99 per set of 4) to top off the plates.  As a hostess I always like to provide a gift and in this instance I hand-painted dog and cat caricatures in silhouette form on a wine glass for each guest.  The simplicity of the silhouette complimented the rest of the table and the animal theme reminded the guests why they are attending the fundraiser- to raise $$$$ for the Woodford County Humane Society.  

I am a frugal-ista at heart so I cannot contain my excitement when I find a good deal.  And man, did I get a great deal on everything here!!!!   I challenge you to pull out that magazine photo you love and re-create it, too.   
Happy tablescaping*!
*I am known to make up words, but this is a real word. It actually refers to the decoration of a table.*

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tips on How to Make a Small Space Look Larger

Here are some more useful nuggets of decorating advice from our fabulous Lucy:

There is no need to fret when faced with the struggle of decorating a small room. Here are some tips to help you trick the eye into believing a room is much larger than it actually is.

*Use different shades of paint on different walls to create an effect of contrast within an overall unity. (note- this is not the same as an accent wall)

*Ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall curtains with no hardware showing can serve as a wall. This can come in handy when decorating a loft!

*Use pieces that can serve dual uses, i.e. stools in which you can store items and an up-to-date sofa bed or even a Murphy bed (see earlier blog post for more info).

*Avoid Clutter!

*For additional storage, create floating storage shelves above doorways.

*Move furniture away from walkways, it will make the room look larger because furniture and accessories can block the view into a room. Place large pieces across walls and choose short pieces such as ottomans, armless chairs, or short tables to keep most of the floor visible. The more floor you can see, the larger the room will appear.

*Light, cool colors make a room appear open, preferably, soft hues of blues and greens.

*Choose colors in the same color family. Also, choose coordinating furniture and wall colors because contrasting these colors tends to break up your space. Steer clear of printed fabrics except in pillows.

*A room will seem much larger if it is well-lit. Open up windows by avoiding heavy draperies and add more lamps. You may also use sheer window treatments to make the room seem larger.