Are you a globetrotter? Do you love to collect mementos for your home while travelling?
Nothing adds to the décor of a home like special artifacts picked up on one’s travels. But foresight and planning are a must when shopping for your home while on the road. Following are some pointers:
Do your research and stay on point. Always know what you intend to purchase and do so in moderation. Be careful not to bid impulsively at auctions. When purchasing from another individual, it’s OK to say, “I’d like to think about this and let you know.” Do your best to take your emotion out of the deal. And most importantly, don’t collect just for the sake of collecting. Collect items that truly interest you, regardless of their value.
Ensure items are a fit. How can you make sure that a lamp, rug or chair will fit into your existing home décor and space? Know your interior, and know it well. I typically bring 8-1/2″ x 11″ file folders with small swatches of the room’s fabrics along with photos of furniture, and a furniture floor plan (to scale, along with the size of the furniture pieces). There are a variety of apps you can use to help with space planning and color options.
Consider numbers, pricing and more: When shopping for collectibles you intend to put on shelves, make sure you know the number of shelves and the continual amount of linear footage. The rule of thumb: approximately two accessories per linear foot. But before shopping for antiques, purchase an updated copy of Miller’s Antique Guide or better yet, bring your tablet or iPad with you, so you can access their website for current information to help guide you on pricing.
Measure, measure, measure: When shopping for artwork, know the size of your wall and the size of the painting. An oil painting should not consume more than 60% of the allowable space of a wall (measuring from end to end, horizontally). This measurement should be inclusive of the frame. Since frames are typically three inches wide, add at least six inches in both the width and height to the size of the painting.
When shopping while you travel, think small. Purchase portable, easily packable items – pieces that will accent your room, not anchor it. Above all, the pieces you buy should reflect you. Purchase according to a theme and color palette instead of accumulating a hodgepodge of knick-knacks.
Where do you like to travel and what little treasures have you picked up along the way? Post your photos and stories on our Facebook page.
For many reasons some homeowners choose to live in smaller homes or townhomes – for lifestyle, convenience, budget and more. Yet a compact residence need not limit your design options. There are many techniques to make a tiny space appear larger. Following are a few tips to bring out the very best in a small space:
- Use light colors and neutrals in a monochromatic scheme. While dark colors can provide a “wow” factor, they are not ideal in a small space and can make a room appear smaller than it is. The lighter the shade of the room, the more airy and open it will feel.
- Choose one unifying paint color. Using one color makes a room appear more expansive, so keep contrasting colors to a minimum. For example, draperies should ideally be a similar hue as the wall. Also consider furniture that blends seamlessly with floors and walls.
- Let the light in. An abundance of natural light can especially enhance a small space. Use window treatments, blinds and shutters sparingly. If you’re remodeling, build in extra-large and well placed windows.
- Stripes widen a space. If a space is ultra small, a good remedy is striped walls or flooring, e.g. a striped rug or painted/contrasting wood can make a room feel larger.
- Vertical lines lengthen. Vertical lines can also make a room feel taller. For example, purchase a four-poster bed. Or Install crown molding around the perimeter of the ceiling – this will draw the eyes up.
- Use glass. Since glass gives the illusion of space, incorporating glass tabletops, doors and glass cabinet panels pulls eyes beyond the glass.
- Pocket doors. These doors conserve space by sliding in and out of the wall, so you don’t have to leave space for doors to open.
- Clear clutter. A clean, uncluttered space appears much larger than one filled with accessories and knick-knacks. Keep your design simple and avoid unnecessary frills.
- Mirror, mirror. Groups series of mirrors together or place an oversized mirror behind a key piece of furniture to create depth. If you are feeling bold and really want to make your room look larger install a mirrored wall.
- Multifunctional pieces. Use furniture that serves multifunctional purposes, like a platform bed with large drawers underneath or an ottoman that can be used for storage.
- Built-ins. Built-in bookshelves provide much needed extra space in a small room and can meld beautifully with a room’s overall design.
- Limit pattern. If you really love patterns, try smaller prints. Too many patterns in a small room will overwhelm the space.
- Purchase a few quality pieces of furniture. Avoid large, overstuffed pieces. Furniture with legs feels less heavy and cumbersome than pieces that sit directly on the floor. Do opt for a few lightweight pieces that are portable.
Most importantly, when you design a small space, look at everything with an editor’s eye. If you own an accessory or a piece of furniture you’re not crazy about, give it away or donate it.
Remember, less is more – especially in the case of a small space.
It’s chilly outside – and what better place to warm up than your own cozy bed.
Your bed is truly the core of your bedroom and should be beautiful, stylish – and inviting. To make your bed a sanctuary for peaceful rest, keep in mind the following:
- Quality counts. Always purchase top quality bedding, in particular high thread count, 100 percent Egyptian or Supima cotton sheets. Most linen from Italy is superb. Invest in high quality down pillows, standard and European-style pillow shams, duvets, blankets and more.
- Comfort is key. Top your bed with ultra soft covers such as a down, or even eiderdown, comforter.
- Color sets the mood. For bedding, use varying fabrics and textures in an array of hues to create interest and an inviting feel.
- Play with pillows. Place standard shams (20” by 26”) closest to the headboard, and then add a pair of European shams. For king-size beds, use three Euro shams (26” by 26”). Top off with fun, decorative pillows for a pop of color and texture. Embroidery is a wonderful touch.
- Blankets. For added comfort, as well as another layer of interest, add a plush folded quilt or blanket at the foot of the bed.
- Don’t forget the mattress. A comfortable mattress and sturdy box spring are critical – as is a quality mattress pad. For the ultimate sleeping experience, purchase a mattress and box spring set from The Ritz-Carlton.
- Height matters. Ideally, your bed should not be too high or too low. The mattress and box spring should top out at 28 inches high and be no lower than 25 inches.
- Handsome headboards. Make your headboard a focal point of your room. Headboards come in all shapes and sizes and can be upholstered in fabric or made of wood or metal and even serve as storage space or bookshelves.
- The foot of the bed matters too. Finish the look of your bed by placing an elegant bench, small sofa or a storage trunk at the foot.
However you adorn your bed – let it be an expression of your own personality and style since you will certainly spend a lot of time there. As with most design projects, start with a fabric you really love and choose colors based on that fabric to create a palette. This fabric doesn’t have to dominate the room, and you don’t need to choose the predominate color in the fabric – just the ones you like the best.
Have fun and let me know how it goes.
With the new year upon us, it’s time to think about décor trends to watch for in 2013.
Whether you’re planning a total renovation or a simple update this year, take careful note of the latest trends and design predictions. But even with this in mind, always design for longevity and practicality.
- Vibrant colors: Color is a key, but evolving, aspect of interior design. Colors this year are bright, fun and fresh with greens emerging at the forefront in vibrant emerald and jade hues. While brown is still popular, it has a red cast with cinnamon overtones; tangerine orange has been replaced by paprika; and while bright red remains popular, fuchsia is white hot. Steel blue and navy continue as perennial favorites.
- Transitional takes off: Sleek contemporary design is softening with textured fabrics and rounded lines, making way for a more transitional look – an appealing mix of traditional and modern motifs.
- The classics: Classic patterns prevail, with a return to stripes, florals, paisleys and more on walls, ceilings and fabrics.
- The floor: Hard surfaces versus carpeting take precedence. For flooring look to stone or, perhaps, woods like hickery, mahogany, pine and cherry. Cork and bamboo are very popular sustainable choices.
- Metal trends: Chrome and nickel are out but metal finishes including satin, brushed gold and pale bronze tones are in. Brass is also in vogue this year.
- Going green: Reclaimed and repurposed materials – among them wood planks, bricks, glassware, metals, wall coverings, natural fiber carpets and more – are popular, and locally produced and crafted products are in hot demand.
- Heart of the home: Vintage style kitchens continue in popularity accented by beautiful weathered concrete, natural crackle-glazed tiles and rough-hewn wood floors.
- What’s old is new: Antique furniture, materials and accessories remain de rigueur, but many incorporate a contemporary touch – such as modern fabrics or a coat of glossy paint – for a transitional look.
What else do you think is hot on the design scene in 2013? Let me know and send us some photos – we might post them on our Facebook page.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to pull out your collection of holiday décor – the bundles of tangled lights and boxes of ornaments and accessories that have been around longer than you can remember – and adorn your home for the season. This can be daunting I know unless you keep yourself on track and stick to a simple theme.
With that in mind, following are some simple decorating tips that can help add a festive flair to your holiday season:
- Make it fun. Create a party among friends and family and invite them over for cocktails and hors d’oeuvre – let everyone have a hand in transforming your home.
- Decide on three key elements: a sparkle factor, a color scheme and a theme. Sparkle accents can be frosty snow with clear sparkle, glittery silver, shimmery gold or a colorful sparkle. Next decide on two or three main colors. Lastly, dream up a theme such as “Winter in Montana” or “A Children’s Fantasy” or whatever strikes your fancy. Making these three key decisions in advance will help keep you on track.
- The front door is an important focal point and, of course, sets the stage. Don’t hesitate to go all out with a beautiful wreath, ribbons, pinecones, garlands and more. This year we are planning to search for small- to medium-sized pinecones and spray them with white glitter. Incorporating pinecones into the bows adds a real sense of depth and a wonderful pine fragrance. In addition, drape a fresh cedar garland around the front door frame and intertwine it with twinkling white lights. When making your wreath be sure to add ribbons and small white lights. And don’t forget to hang mistletoe above the front door for extra fun.
- Use the ribbon in your front door wreath as a continuing theme throughout your home. For example, last year we glued a 3” wide green and red plain ribbon to a 4” red velvet ribbon. We made up yards and yards of this double layered ribbon, so we had lots on hand as we decorated our home.
- A wonderful aroma adds to the festive holiday feel. Place scented candles and plenty of potpourri throughout your home. Use lots of candles as they always infuse warmth and sparkle – key holiday elements.
- Since candles can sometimes be expensive, gather and melt half-way burned candles of the same and re-make them into new holiday candles. I take square milk cartons, fill them with ice and then pour the melted hot wax into the cartons on top of the ice to create interest. Then tape off an inch or more at the base of the candle. Coat with white glue and roll the square candles in gold or silver glitter. Don’t forget to add the wick before you fill the cartons with ice!
- Fresh flowers add so much to any interior – especially during the holiday season. Create beautiful arrangements and centerpieces with roses, poinsettias, white chrysanthemums, tuber roses lilies and more. Always, always arrange with fresh evergreen, pinecones and shiny ornaments from last year’s Christmas tree.
- Start a collection – e.g. nutcrackers, distinctive candles or Santa figurines and add to it each year. This will create family traditions and memories and enhance your holiday décor. For example, nestle nutcrackers in and among a garland atop your fireplace. Add twinkle lights or battery-operated candles for extra sparkle and shimmer.
- Ask those who will gather around your tree this season to write on a card a wish for themselves and for others. Put the cards into two colors of envelopes – one for each type of wish. In addition to ornaments, hang the colorful envelopes on the tree. Make sure each guest will be able to open one each of the colored envelopes. For an even more festive touch, reuse the front of old holiday cards and glue to the front of the colored envelopes.
Over the holidays, people tend to go all out with décor and accessories. I think this is wonderful – decorate for the season and have fun with it! But again, do stick to a singular theme and color scheme. While you want your home to be fun and festive, you don’t want to overwhelm.
I would love to hear from you! Take pictures please, and post to my Facebook page.
With the holidays nearing, it’s fun to imagine cozying up by a crackling fire on a chilly winter evening.
And while fireplaces are not as popular as they were years ago – when central heat was nonexistent – I do believe that a home without a fireplace is missing an important element.
Whether you opt for a traditional, contemporary or transitional style, a fireplace is the natural focal point of any room and should always make a dramatic statement.
A key component of a fireplace is the “surround” – the material surrounding it which ensures its safety and enhances its design and beauty. The surround is an important architectural element which should always complement your color palette and décor.
Redoing a fireplace surround is a fairly simple upgrade that can make a tremendous difference to the overall look of your room. There are many options from which to choose, among them:
- Wood: A rich wood surround can lend a historic touch and withstand the test of time. Options can include walnut, ebony or maple. Depending on the décor, you can paint the wood a glossy or satin white.
- Tile: This can range from a delicate mosaic to vibrant Portuguese glazed tiles to glass to ceramics.
- Brick: For an antique appearance, use repurposed bricks or try painting them a crisp white.
- Traditional stone: This look offers a dramatic, rustic motif. A sampling of options includes river rock, sandstone, flagstone and more.
- Hand-carved cast stone: This alternative is not always so simple, but unfailingly beautiful. To infuse a warm, residential feel, we installed a series of cast stone fireplaces – hand-carved by a multigenerational family in a small Italian town – throughout The Grand Del Mar, a luxury resort just north of San Diego.
Other beautiful fireplace surround alternatives include marble or granite, for an elegant traditional look; or stainless steel or concrete, if you prefer a sleek contemporary motif.
Additional design considerations include the hearth, which is actually the fireplace floor and typically extends into the room and is comprised of sturdy, fireproof materials such as brick, stone or cement. A raised hearth is set up off the ground, as opposed to a flush hearth, which is even with the floor. If you choose to install a raised hearth for extra seating, it should sit between 18” and 22” high.
Also important is the mantel, which some homeowners choose to eliminate for a more modern look. The mantel can be the same – or a complementing material – as your surround.
And don’t forget the fireplace tools, which should be functional but can infuse a decorative accent. For accessories, I love shopping at The Hearthstone in Corona Del Mar, Calif.
Whatever style fireplace you choose, it will surely add an elegant – and warm – focal point to your home. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on fireplace styles, accents and materials.