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Creative Roadblocks: What to Do With Trouble Areas in the Home

Every home has those rooms or areas that get left out of the design and décor mix- often because people don’t know what to do with them. Follow our blog in the coming weeks for series of “Creative Roadblocks” that we’ll help you out with. First up- the laundry room!

The Laundry Room:
The laundry room is often a room that homeowners don’t think about. Yet there are simple things that you can do to make it much more functional and maybe even show-worthy! One very helpful addition is to hang a dry bar for those items that have a tendency to shrink and delicates that need to be air-dried. A drying rack only holds a few shirts at most and can look sloppy, but a closet rod mounted on the underside of a laundry-room shelf makes a good spot for a row of shirts on hangers. The rod can also be helpful when you’re ironing to hang pressed shirts as you work.  You can see an example of this, and other features, in the photos below from various Brookfield Homes laundry rooms.  They are one of our favorite clients to work for and one of the most creative developers of new homes out there.

Speaking of ironing, the laundry room is a logical place for the ironing board to be stored, but many don’t have closets. Consider having a pullout ironing board built into the wall and you just might find yourself looking forward to the chore.

So now you’re organized and tidy, but if your laundry room feels a bit dreary, add a brighter paint to the walls such as yellow, green or turquoise. You could also consider a textured vinyl wallpaper to give you a nice, tonal texture in the room. If you do go with color on the walls, keep trim, counters and the backspash looking clean with a color like white.  Laundry rooms are busy enough with clothes everywhere, so keep your design simple. I like Caesarstone counter tops instead of granite because it creates a more uniform look. Also make sure you have adequate lighting.


Brookfield Homes builds great functional features and clean design into their laundry rooms.  Check out the rest of the homes in their Colony Park Anaheim development: www.livecolonypark.com.  And, as always, if you need help with your laundry room you know that we’re here for you at Chameleon Design!

Fall Is Here! What Does It Mean For Your Home?

School has started back up, it’s beginning to get dark a bit later and temperatures have begun to drop by the slightest bit. Fall is on everyone’s mind! I’m sharing some helpful hints on how to get your home nice and cozy for the season ahead.

Fall Cleaning?
Though spring-cleaning typically gets all the attention, fall should not be ignored! It may not be on the top of any Southern California residents’ to-do lists, but it’s a great way to prepare a home for the cooler winter months where much more time is spent indoors. Before the temperatures start to drop, tackle all the loose ends that build up over the year. We talked about organizing the closets a couple weeks ago, but don’t forget about the kitchen pantry, turning rugs to avoid ware, removing summer slipcovers on furniture, changing bed linens and so on. While vacationing with my family this summer in the Caribbean, I was catching up on my favorite magazines and came across some incredible cleaning checklists from homemaking maven Martha Stewart. I thought these were excellent tips to share with you, and you can check them out here: www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/fall-homekeeping-tips

Changing Seasons, Changing Wall Color:
The leaves are changing color, the weather is changing, so why not transform a room in the home with a wall color change? Painting is the quickest and most inexpensive way to give any room a new look and feel. You can even do it yourself! Over at Chameleon Design, we find ourselves getting sucked into that late-night infomercial just like the rest of you. One of our latest faves is the “Paint Zoom” paint gun www.paintzoom.com. This can turn anyone into a pro, and make transforming a room with a color change a low-cost breeze that anyone can do.

Also, consider painting one accent wall as opposed to a warmed background color on all four walls.  An accent wall is traditionally a brightly-colored wall added to a room where the other three walls are white.  They draw your eye to a particular part of the room and give you a chance to play around with color in your house in a new way.  When deciding what wall to use, look for the natural focal point in the room.  If you have a fireplace, you can make the room more dramatic by painting the wall around it a different color.  The wall behind a bed’s headboard or an important piece of furniture are also great options.  When there is no natural focal point in a room, you can create one. Look around- where do you want the eye to go first?  Here are a few examples to illustrate this design technique:

This orange bedroom accent wall is a bold choice but works with the mostly neutral decor colors and the pops of color on the bed tie it all together.

 The accent wall in this office brightens up the room and creates a focal point around the desk.

Chameleon Design Is Getting A New Home

We’re taking you behind the scenes of our studio construction and design in progress!

We’ve acquired a new space for Chameleon Design and we’re working hard on building out and creating our new design offices. Throughout the process, some unexpected design dilemmas have come up and we’ve had to put our heads together to come up with the best ways to address them. Read about how we handled them, as the tips may come in handy in your design adventures as well!

Comfort and Functionality:
When designing a new space, professional designers have to think about functionality before we even begin to consider furniture and decor elements. In our space, which was built with a contemporary feel, the walls between each room and office do not go all the way to the ceiling. This may look cool, but in actuality this is not ideal for offices. The open space can allow sound to travel, as well as make temperatures hard to control. There is nothing more miserable than too much noise or being too hot or cold when you’re trying to get your work done! We came up with a concept to put clear glazing on the upper areas that look almost like windows, and reach to the ceiling. This way the light is still able to travel through, allowing that airy feel to remain, but sound is kept at a low.

For the storage room, we decided to add a door and an air conditioner vent, and make this the home of the computer system. No one wants to see the ugly wires all over the place, so tucking all of this away is a great idea. This was most definitely the best use of the storage closet.

We mainly think of hiring a professional designer to make things look pretty in the home. Though that is definitely important, making sure the space is functional ranks just as high. If you need to re-think the function of any spaces in your home, Chameleon Design can help you do it.

Stay tuned through the coming weeks for more updates on the progress of this project!

Get Organized for Fall…. starting with the closet.

While many people see Labor Day weekend as the last chance to squeeze in a mini-vacation before the fall, some are up to their ears transitioning their closets from summer to fall and getting organized and prepared for back to school. So for those who have opted to stay home, we thought we would offer some tips to organizing your closet in style.

Take an inventory:
In order to assess what’s in your closet, start by taking every single thing out. You’ll be surprised by what’s been hiding in the far corners and on hard to reach shelves. Once you can get a clear picture of everything you’ve got, be choosy about what you put back in. If there are items you haven’t worn in two plus years, it’s time to get rid of them. Donate to a charity and make room for new pieces. We love Working Wardrobes: www.workingwardrobes.org. If you have a ton of outgrown kids clothes, make some extra cash by taking them to a children’s consignment store such as PrettyDotz in Corona del Mar. Once you get things cleared out, stay organized year-round by spending 10-15 minutes each morning making sure things get put back where they belong.

Create a Hideaway:
Consider storing off-season clothing such as bathing suits and sundresses elsewhere. These items don’t deserve prime closet real estate and can easily be tucked away until the summer weather rolls around again next year. An attic, garage or extra closet in another room is a great place to store boxes. Also consider creating mud room area in your garage with wall hooks and a bench. By leaving items such as coats and shoes just outside the door, you’re saving much-needed closet space.

Invest in New Hangers:
You know those wire and plastic hangers from department stores or dry cleaners that somehow always manage to find a home in even the nicest of closets? Well get rid of them! Any dry cleaners will take them back and recycle them for you. Splurge on nice, wooden hangers that will keep the form of your clothes and you won’t regret it. Investing in all matching hangers, which will also allow your clothes to all hang at the same height, is one of the quickest ways to make your closet look and feel more organized. And don’t forget about the kids hangers! As your kids grow, and so do their clothing sizes, make sure to get rid of old hangers that are too small. Involve the kids in any closet organization projects, so they can learn how to do it for themselves as they get older.

Make the Most of the space you have:
Don’t let any space in your closet go to waste. The simple act of adding hooks to the backs of doors gives scarves, purses, belts or long necklaces a tidy place to hang out. If it will work with your closet configuration, install two-tiered hanging rods, allowing you to hang blouses and shirts over your pants. That way, you’ll get twice the amount of clothes in a smaller amount of space. Purchase plastic bins to store knits such as cashmere, that lose their shape if they are hung, and stack on shelves above your clothes racks.

If you don’t have shelving and your closet will allow for it, consider having something built. Chameleon Design can work with you to design a beautiful custom built-in for even the tiniest of spaces in your home. It will leave you feeling not only luxurious, but fresh and organized for the new season!

A Chameleon Design closet in a master bedroom.

Proportion Parameters

One of the biggest telltale signs that a home has not had the input of a designer is that it is out of proportion. I see a lot of out-of-scale furniture, underutilized space and awkward floor plans. I was just in a house recently where this was apparent. It was sort of odd how they arranged things and uncomfortable to move from room to room, making it feel un-inviting. But the homeowners didn’t know what they were missing because no one had taken the time to rearrange it and edit it for them!

When putting together a room, it’s really worth to hire a designer for a few hours to help out. They can help you create a floor plan which is useful in many ways.  They can also do some drawings to scale so you know what fits size-wise if you are going to buy the furniture yourself. Even if you want to do it one piece at a time, you have that background of information to use for as long as you’re in the home.

This kind of consultation is something just about any designer will do. It can really help you create the kind of space that people will want to be in AND stay in.

Below are some photographs of a media-living room-dining room that was tricky to design.   With a little expert planning and design they came together beautifully!

Transitioning Kid’s Rooms

As our kids grow, their tastes change and they literally grow out of their old rooms. Your 12 year old might have hit a growth spurt and has feet dangling off the bed he or she had as a child! Their needs also change. They don’t play with the same “toys” that used to entertain them for hours on end. Once kids are in early elementary to late elementary or middle school, it’s usually time for a transition. People often do a beautiful job from the nursery to the little kid’s room, but changing a room to be tween/teen can take a little bit more thought. They aren’t grown-ups yet, but will be adults by the time high school is over. Such a broad range.

The main idea: you want to think about this as a cool place where they can hang out with their friends— better your home than somewhere where you can’t keep an eye on them! This is going to be their sanctuary where they begin to develop a sense of self and identity. I’ve recently done a few of these rooms and they can be really fun to do.

  • Out with the old: First you want to take all the kiddie stuff out—the castle, transportation-themed items, over-the-top glittery and girlie, childhood characters, etc.
  • Bedding matters:  Ever wonder why kids are drawn to your bed and don’t like to be in theirs? Part of it is that your bed is super comfy! You’ve made cozy bedding a priority. Your kids would appreciate the same consideration. Why wouldn’t they want to sleep in a nicer bed? If you can believe it, kids can make a distinction of thread count. A pillow top mattress with a down-filled duvet they would be happy in their own bed. But if your worried about spending money on a bed you fear will get destroyed quickly, you can get high thread count sheets at Target and Costco.
  • Kids today:  The days are gone when kids sit at a desk and do homework. They are sitting in chairs with laptops or iPads, so they need a surface for writing. A chair with a little table next to it that will swing out for them to work is great use of space and practical for their needs.
  • Friends are huge:  Remember who will mostly be in this space— your child and their friends. Think about what will make them want to hang out in there. Use lots of photography of them with their friends and the activities they are involved in. It will give them feeling like this is THEIR space.
  • Dealing with trends:  If your child is really into something you think will soon fade, a good idea is to wallpaper a wall with tackable surface (it looks like fabric). Your kid can just pushpin things right into the wall with their changing tastes. It’s also great to organize it like a giant bulletin board to keep track of the most recent things happening in their life.

The INformalizing of the Formal Dining Room and Living Room

The case of the unused formal space is pretty common. This is an example of a home I recently did where a family in Cameo Highlands was looking to make better use of their formal living and dining room. They didn’t need the formal space, and it was going unused.

Their objective was to uphold the distinction between the entertaining area and the everyday family room and kitchen, while softening the space so that it became a relaxing place to read a book and take in the view. Truth be told, the husband was the one asking for a place to get away, and with a traditional “man cave” not in the cards, the couple reached a compromise. The designers at Studio Chameleon were able to re-imagine a space that fulfilled both her needs as a hostess, and his desire for a quiet retreat.

New arched doors provide an architectural element while further dividing the room acoustically and visually.  The chaise sofa parallels a wall of windows highlighting the home’s north facing views of the Pacific and Newport Harbor.
 The dramatic over-sized Joan Davis art piece creates a focal point that draws you into the room.
Occasional swivel chairs seat two, perfect for entertaining other couples and extra guests.  The photos above the TV are the husbands own, adding a personal touch that isn’t cliché.
Natural elements like fossil boxes, petrified wood, and a roughly hewn bronze sculpture give the room a more masculine, less fussy feel.

Christmas in August: Redecorating Takes Time

Hope you’ve had a great summer! It might seem crazy with the warm weather and grilling, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday decorating and the design projects you want finished in time for guests during the holidays. I highly suggest enlisting the help of a designer. Even if you are just repurposing items from last year and don’t plan any new purchases, a designer can help you lay out your decorations and furniture to make hostessing a breeze.

Here are some things to think about when working with a designer to plan your holiday look.

  • Establish budget. This is so important! You need to know what you can spend in order for your designer to be able to plan appropriately. Telling your designer you don’t know what your budget is can lead to problems. There is such a variety of pricing on items.  You’ve been to IKEA, Room & Board and high-end boutiques, right? So, just think about the variety of pricing. It’s even broader when you deal with a designer who has access to even more furniture. You also might need to refresh a few things like outdated or broken items.
  • Schedule accordingly. You need to give yourself about 12-14 weeks from the day you start talking to a designer until completion. Remember, if you are ordering furniture or even certain decorations you should plan for 6-8 weeks for delivery. You can’t make a decision that quickly. You might get lucky and find your items on the showroom floor, but don’t count on it.
  • Be prepared when you meet with the designer. The more prepared you are, the more you will save time and money (and energy). Designers work on an hourly basis. You will save the designer from having to create a million different concepts if you have a clear vision of what you want or at least come with ideas and know what you DON’T want. In your first meeting you will discuss concepts, so be prepared!
  • Final decisions. After you discuss concepts the designer will go back and begin pulling what she thinks will look best and is in your design aesthetic. You will have a design development meeting with specific selections and pricing for you to approve.
  • Orders are placed!
  • Wait. While you’re waiting for your décor to be delivered start planning your menus, preparing invitations and relax a little before the mayhem begins!
  • Delivery and staging. Yay! Your purchases are now ready to put in your home and the designer will help the look come together with existing pieces.

Studio Chameleon does lots of this work and we’ve already begun helping a few clients prepare. Would love to help you too! Call us today at (949) 650-7979.

Monochromatic Makeovers

People who go monochromatic often do it because they get tired of things quickly. They need something that is very timeless and will work forever. If you did something like a red sofa it can look really cool, but a lot of people will just get tired with such a strong color after awhile. People like their basics to be neutral. Before you know it you have a neutral scheme. Then you can just add beautiful neutral looking throws, pillows and art. Successful ones are typically in warm tones. Your browns, golds and taupes. If you do something like all blue, with baby blue walls and denim fabric it gets overwhelming. If you are someone who likes to entertain and throw parties, remember your guests will look good in the backdrop of a neutral color scheme. It will make for better photos!

One thing to remember if you are afraid of the monochromatic is that even if you have a mono color scheme you really don’t. You have plants, you have the flooring and even the food and people you have at your parties has varying color. You can change out your accents with the seasons with a pop of color, too.

These contemporary pieces from artist Dan Sayes are examples of neutral accents that would look beautiful as part of your monochromatic decor:


How about you? Any monochromatic successes or flops?

After the Honeymoon: How to Marry Your Decor

As marriage season is in full swing, after the parties and honeymoon the happy couple will go back to their home. And what awaits them? Stacks of gifts and two lives that now have to be merged. This includes furniture and home accessories!

Luckily for today’s couples, eclectic styles are really in. “Marrying” more than one style is what the art of interior design is about right now. You will need to think carefully how to best incorporate all of your stuff, especially when it comes to beloved pieces you may not agree upon. Bringing in a “mediator” like an interior designer can really help to figure out how to solve disputes over what goes and what stays. It’s not uncommon for interior designers to say they are also therapists- we’re skilled in handling these types of disagreements.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Think about this when you register.  As you are selecting items to build your home together, this is a great time to start thinking about what pieces each of you already own, that you’d both like to keep.  This will also help to ask for things that will  look great in your home, and compliment what you already have.
  • It’s not up to one person to decide.  More and more the idea that the woman is the one who dictates style is becoming an antiquated notion. Men care too. That’s why the whole house should be a collaboration with input from both sides. Sometimes men will say they don’t care or are fine with anything, but even in those cases thought should still go into what will make them happy, even if they don’t vocalize it.
  • You both need your space. While the whole house is a collaboration, you should still have places in your house where your personalities can shine and you can get things done. It might be a craft room/area for her, or a special space in the garage for him. Whatever you do, try to carve out “his” and “her” spaces where each of you can explore your own interests and enjoy your personal style.
  • Expect the unexpected. Doing an eclectic style right is all about releasing the need to be too matchy matchy. You want there to be an element of the unexpected.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does he really love the neon beer sign he’s had since college? Can she not live without her cat figurine collection? If it really means that much to the other person, find a way to make it work. Put the beer sign in a discreet spot at your home bar or create quirky places where the cats seem whimsical and playful.

Remember, marriages are forever but couches and the latest styles are not. Learning to embrace your partner’s design perspective can be a first step in many of the compromises you will be making in your happy life together!