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Highlights. Trends. Insights. We’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know about interior design right here in one tidy space!

Open House Prep: Insider Secrets

With all of the model home projects Chameleon Design works on, we’ve come to know a thing or two about selling a home!   You’ve probably heard the same old tips for getting your place ready for an open house a million times: repair, spruce up, stage, clean, etc.  And all with good reason because they work! But beyond the bare minimum, here are some less obvious things you should consider doing if you are aiming to pull off an Open House that showcases your home at its very best.

Visit other open houses in your neighborhood
Get a feel for how the competition is putting its best foot forward to prospective buyers – or not, as the case may be. This exercise of seeing how clean and pristine, well-decorated and neutralized (in odor and decor) some listings are, and seeing how basically clean, but well-lived in properties, appear to be down at the heels by comparison, will help you see your own place through new eyes: the eyes of prospective buyers who will be making those same comparisons with your house.

Do a pre-move packing session. Literally, pretend you’re moving (if things go well, you will be) and pack up almost everything you don’t need to use on a daily basis. Toiletries, nick-knacks, family photos on the fridge — none of this stuff should be visible to Open House hunters. And remember – perspective buyers open closets, drawers, cupboards and garages. Consider renting a storage space if you need to.

Invite the neighbors
Yes, your neighbors are probably nosy and would love to get a glimpse into how you live. But there’s a good chance they are also aware of other people who want to live in their neighborhood and vested in getting good neighbors. So, invite them! A neighbor attending an open house may lead to them letting a house hunting friend know that they must go take a look.

Enlist the neighbors
Even if your neighbors don’t personally know someone who is in the market for a place in your neck of the woods, they want your home to sell at top dollar, as your home’s sale will form the basis for their home’s value! So while you’re inviting the neighbors to attend, be aware of whether there’s anything they can do to make your Open House run smoothly – and ask! Things like moving their cars to free up street parking and not having their kid practice his trombone in the backyard during that particular three hour window on Sunday afternoon are favors almost any good neighbor will be happy to do.

Mow your neighbor’s lawn
This one’s not for everyone, and you’ll have to exercise good judgment to decide how far to go with it, but if you happen to live next door to the blighted house on the block-  it might make sense to reach out and offer some help to your struggling neighbor. (Even if your home is amazing, some buyers will just not live next to a place like that).  Be sensitive to the idea that you might be insulting the way they live, but more likely than not, they are just elderly, down-on-their-luck, ill, or otherwise overwhelmed people who would welcome some help. If you have reason to think that your neighbors fall into this last group, take some cookies or their newspaper over and see if you can help them – and help yourself in the process.

Get over yourself
The goal in preparing your home for an Open House is to neutralize the decor, so that the broadest possible number of people will crave to live there. So, instead of insisting on using this moment in time to express your unique design leanings, let your agent (or a pro stager) help you decide what should stay and what should go.

The Perfect Setting- Table Setting Tips

Setting a table should be an expression of your personal style. But even the most creative stylists need structure to achieve the best results. After deciding on the time, place and guest list, consider the following steps to setting the perfect table.

Table settings can make your kitchen table look beautiful, turning a dinner, buffet or breakfast into something really special. Here’s how to get it right, whatever the occasion:

Bend the table-setting rules
There are lots of traditions around table settings, but you don’t have to stick to them. The aim is to create a beautiful table where your guests can relax and enjoy themselves, as well as presenting your meal in a way that does justice to your hard work in the kitchen. If a formal setting works for you – great. If not, or if space is limited – improvise!

Think about what you want to include
Table settings include china, glassware, cutlery and napkins. You may also want to include condiment sets, candles and napkin rings. Before you start, think about the ambiance you want to create. Whatever the occasion, I prefer to go with plain white china.  Leaving the patterns behind will make your table look clean and fresh.  And for serving bowls and salad bowls, try clear glass!  This will show off your food and make it the star of the table.  Target carries a nice selection, that are of course very affordable.

Choose your centerpiece
A lovely centerpiece is the heart of your table setting. Candles and fresh flowers are a popular choice – again, just make sure to keep it clean and simple.  Alternatively, why not try succulents,  a lantern, or candles in hurricane vases filled with pebbles or sand.   You can find them at Home Goods or Crate & Barrel.  Make sure your centerpiece isn’t too high for your guests to see over.

Arrange the cutlery
For cutlery, put the knives on the right, the forks on the left. The rule is to work from the outside in, so the cutlery that’s going to be used first goes on the outside. Knife blades should face the plate. Dessert spoons and forks go at the top. The napkin goes on the left, or in the center of the plate.  If you have a left-handed guest, be polite by putting their cutlery on the right sides to give them extra elbow room and avoid upsetting the balance of your table setting.  Seat them at the end of the table if possible.

Put your glasses in order
Glasses go above the knives, in the order they’re going to be used. For formal dinners, the water glass goes first, followed by the white wine glass and red wine glass. For informal meals, it’s water glass, glass for wine or juice, and if there’s room, coffee or tea cup and saucer.

Get your china in position
Again, don’t be bound by strict etiquette – adapt the rules to suit you. Traditionally, the side plate goes on the left of the forks with the knife laid across it. A base plate or service plate goes on the mat in the middle of the setting, with the soup bowl on top of it if you are serving soup.

Decorating With Kids in Mind

When you have kids, your home and decorating style definitely change a bit.   You need to take them into consideration when making decorating choices, otherwise, you may live to regret your purchases they don’t hold up well to the wear and tear of kids. And, you probably don’t want to increase your cleaning chores or spend even more time keeping your kids away from or off of certain items!   I don’t believe you have to become a minimalist…don’t take every item off the coffee table, tear the curtains down, and pack away all of the nick-knacks yet.  It’s fun to incorporate their toys and activities into your decorating theme!  Try to compromise with whatever element you feel is delightful and attractive to your children, but never go whole hog into a kid theme.  Bridge the aesthetic gap between child and adult.  Just because you have children doesn’t mean you have to give up sophisticated design.

Flooring may be on your decorating list. Kids and carpet are often not a good combination. Ceramic tiles or laminated floors may be a more practical choice. If you have your heart set on carpet, consider using carpet tiles. These can be replaced easily if one becomes stained or torn.

 Photo: Flor.com


 Photo: Flor.com

Window & Wall Coverings:
Your choice of window coverings is extremely important because those with cords are hazards for little children. Be sure to choose cordless varieties. And think twice before buying long curtains that pool on the floor. They won’t look as nice after your child has stepped on them hundreds of times or even climbed them. Valances are good since your children won’t be able to reach them.

Wall coverings come in several kid-friendly varieties. Some paint manufacturers market paints specifically for households with children. Good semi gloss paint also works well since it can be wiped clean. Flat paints can’t be wiped without leaving a mark, but they can be touched up easily. Decide whether you prefer wielding a damp cloth or a paintbrush to get marks off of your walls. Some wallpapers are developed with kids in mind. At least get wallpaper that is scrubbable so you can wipe off marks with a damp cloth.

 Photo: ConvoyTumblr.com

Another fun tip: instead of artwork, try using wall decals in kids’ rooms.  They are safe and removable, and indestructible. And when the kids are older, the decals will peel right off without damaging the paint job.



 Photo: WhatisBlik.com

Shared Areas:
Choose textiles for couches and chairs that can be easy cleaned or those that don’t show marks.  create a family room that is perfect setting for entertaining guests and equally fitting for popcorn and movies with the whole family.

Photo: LonnyMag.com

Family time around the dinner table is an important part of family life. Look for a dining table that works for both kids and adults.

Photo: Pinterest
 Photo: DucDucnyc.com

Bedroom & Nursery:
When designing for children, it’s important to consult the child within ourselves.  Consider buying grown-up pieces that have whimsy and personality, and will grow with the room as your child grows—and stay away from themes.  It’s also nice to involve your child in the decision-making process. Not only is it a great opportunity to teach them about the power of editing and compromise, but they will respect and appreciate their room all the more because it will really feel like their own.

We sometimes find that trying to decorate in a “kid” style feels constrained and forced.  Consider using proper furniture in kids’ bedrooms- things that inspire and interest them.  Think great art, cool furniture, and interesting shapes and textures that are enlivening and inspiring.

 Photo: ElleDecor.com
 Photo: Houzz.com


 Photo: DesignSponge.com

If you want your baby’s room to look neat, get the bones right.  Two pieces of furniture that match, like a crib and changing table, will get you going in the right direction. Invest in a good wool carpet- you can always clean it. And one good-looking lamp does wonders in a kid’s room.  No matter how messy it gets are how many toys stack up in there, you will have an elegant and coherent room underneath it all, and that will always shine through.

Photo: ShelfLife.com

You don’t want to have to close the doors to the kids rooms.  Storage is key for hiding some of the plastic stuff you hate to look at—because even if you swear it will never cross the threshold of your house, it will.  The secret is to let it go and embrace your child’s presence in the home.

 Photo: ElleDecor.com
Photo: OhDeeDoh.com
Photo: Pinterest.com

By decorating your home with your kids in mind, you can have a beautiful, low-maintenance home while reducing the time you have to spend policing your kids.

Collecting Lust

Less isn’t always more. Rooms are often made all the more alluring with the help of coveted collections. Arranged on a fireplace mantel, hung on the wall, or displayed on a console, collections of objects and art can bring a living room to life by injecting it with a homeowner’s personality. Adding collections to a home’s interior design scheme not only communicates individual passions and pursuits, but also creates a distinctive decorative statement that visitors won’t see anywhere else. An eclectic collection, from paintings to seashells to globes, can dramatically inject your home with heaps of style.

My personal collections include:  art glass paperweights, mid-century modern bottles and other glass art from that period, white pottery caves starting from the 1940’s, and globes.


A collection of globes placed on a table or shelf lends to a room’s playfulness, while also adding color. Viewed individually, any one of the pieces might not be so dramatic, but when clustered tightly together, the whole arrangement makes an especially striking statement.


In this living room a collection of photographs are united by simple black frames. As a collection, the many pieces are made more impressive by being displayed at different levels—on the wall, against a picture rail, and scattered across the floor.


Objects such as hats and weather vanes become wall art when grouped in a collection.


Chameleon Design Featured Project: The Wine Cellar, 2011 Philharmonic Design House- Newport Coast

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County has been presenting design houses since 1993. It’s their largest fundraiser and benefits their free Youth Music Education Programs which provides musical experiences and education for over 200,000 students in Orange County.   Maison de la Mer was last year’s House of Design and is a beautiful French inspired home with wonderful indoor/outdoor elements that are perfect for entertaining. Chameleon Design had the honor of designing the wine cellar.

We began with that point of view that wine is more than just a bottle to be enjoyed- it’s about an entire experience. This wine cellar and sampling room was inspired by the rustic elements of the wine country, yet we incorporated a modern edge through clean lines and natural elements.   Throughout the space you can see components from the wine making process from barrels that aged the wine, to the wooden crates that shipped the bottles. You will also see organic items that, like a fine wine, have been given their beauty through age.

Relax and enjoy conversation with friends and family around the reclaimed live-edge acacia table. It’s made of reclaimed wood and displays a leaf organically carved and made of onyx, with a sea urchin on top of it.  Adding to the relaxed feeling of the space, Joan élan Davis’ painting, Tranquility, is an an interplay of closely valued colors and varied textures in a painterly woven format. Layers of an earthy brown upon a russet upon burgundy in one palette to deep, rich greens in another lend a sense of movement to the surface.

At one end of the room is a striped buffet. A sustainable, organic and contemporary piece, the buffet is made of reclaimed teak and the stripes are formed from scrap wood in a variety of hues. Above this hangs a custom art piece commissioned for the room.  The Untitled piece is made of recycled wine crates and was done by Alex Adamonis of Woodworking LA.  Iron sconces flank the art, allowing you to see the depth and variety of the piece.

Just like the rolling hills of California wine country in the spring months, the colors chosen reflect golden yellows, vineyard greens, cabernet reds and the grey of morning fog.  The walls are textured with a Venetian-like plaster, and painted French Grey in the tasting room and Mahogany in the cellar.

Chameleon Design Featured Project: Harmony at Colony Park, Anaheim

Chameleon Design won a Mame Award for this hip and playful Sales Office we designed at Colony Park in Anaheim.   Our idea was to use a vintage, chic design to lure in the younger buyers, as well as the “move-down” buyers looking to re-live their more youthful years.

The environment was very non-traditional for a sales office with its coffee house/lounge feel.


Multi-colored fabrics and patterns layered together give it that “collected” vibe.


Soulful tunes playing in the background and a guitar leaning in the corner may encourage someone to sit back a while and ponder a place where life is good!

Wallpaper Works

From traditional and classic to bold and graphic, wallpaper is back in a big way.   Some people may be scared off by wallpaper, with with ideas of tacky floral patterns and primary-colored stripes, but some of the freshest trends in wall coverings can be a great component to decorating your home.  We all remember the wallpaper growing up that we learned to hate, but now there are a lot of patterns that do enhance an interior.

We love wallpaper for its room-transforming, style-defining powers.  Wallpaper goes way beyond what can be done with paint. Painted finishes, although great in some spaces, don’t equate to the luxury and opulence a few rolls of wallpaper can provide.  People are often looking for ways to achieve that “wow” factor without having to add more costly items, such as tiles, stone or expensive textile fabrics, and wallpaper does a great job of it.   Here are just a few examples of the room-transforming abilities of wallpaper:

Create Coziness
Wallpaper has an amazing way of warming up a room and creating rich, layered sophistication.  It can be used in any room to create a more intimate feel.  

Photo: Pinterest

Little Gems

A busy, whimsical or interesting print can transform a small room into your home’s “jewel box.”  Powder rooms are the perfect place to use wallpaper. You can go big and bold without fear of committing to too much.

Photo: Lonny Mag

Make a Statement
Wallpapers can make almost any type of design statement.  Soft, organic lines lend a soothing touch to a room, whereas bold geometrics can really add vibrancy and energy to a dull space. 

 Photo: House Beautiful
 Photo: Mackenziehoran.com

Focalize It

Sometimes people like the idea of wallpaper but are nervous to commit to a whole room. By putting it on just one accent wall, say behind the bed in a bedroom or to create a focal point behind a sofa in a living room, you can get the upside without overdoing it.

 Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: Apartmenttherapy.com 
Create Art 

Everyone wants a great piece of art on the wall.  Can’t nail down that perfect picture? Why not choose decadent wallpaper?

 Photo: Capstonedwellings.com
Photo: Pinterest
 Photo: Ohdeedoh.com 
Design with Texture

Wallpaper makes a space more luxurious by adding another layer of depth to a room. Even the most subtle texture or pattern can add depth and warmth that paint cannot.

 Photo: Ohhappyday.com
Photo: Abigail Edwards

Get a Jump Start on Your New Year’s Resolutions:

We’re all in holiday-mode, but the New Year is right around the corner.  If you’re like me, my resolutions always include some form of home organization.  It’s great to start a new year by doing an inventory of everything you have in storage, stacked on closet shelves, tucked away in the garage, etc.  If even a couple years go by without going through your items, there’s a good chance that there are things you don’t need or no longer want.  Get a head start on your annual organization resolutions and filter through your holiday decorations this month!

This year, I took out everything I loved, set it up for my family and guests to enjoy, and got rid of all the rest.  I gave my sister, who has a more modern home now, some great pieces that I knew she’d use, and sent the rest to a donation center.  Some of it was brand new and had never even been opened!  Now all that is left to do is box up what I actually used after the first of the year.  I’ll make things easier on myself for next year, and I got a head start on my annual organization New Year’s resolution…which I have every year!

While getting out those season specific decorations to deck your halls, filter through them while you’re setting them up.  Most people say to themselves- I’ll do that when I put them away after the holidays- but it’s actually much easier to do it once everything is already out.  Why add an extra step when you don’t have to?

Anything you don’t use this season, and likely won’t use next season, can probably be parted with.  Send them to a donation center or a charity who helps needy families.  If you’re not getting use out of the items, it’s a nice thought that another family will.

Good luck getting organized.  You’ll thank me later!