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Give Your Mantel a Makeover

Even when it’s not in use, the fireplace is a natural focal point in a room that can’t be ignored. And the mantel is a great vignette that you can redecorate as often as you’d like!   It’s a wonderful place to incorporate your room’s overall design scheme and a simple adjustment can change the feel of the entire space.  Determining what to showcase and how is often times a challenge for homeowners.  Design is very personal, and the mantel is no exception. Whether you prefer contemporary or traditional design, here are some ideas for giving your mantel a little makeover:

Pick A Color, Any Color
Use your fireplace mantel as a place to showcase color.  Be bold with layering and position a small piece of art over a large piece. Or, for a splash of color, warm up a neutral mantel with a colorful painting.

Photo: Better Homes & Gardens
Photo: Better Homes & Gardens
Find a Focal Point
Choose a painting or mirror as your focal point. Surround it with beloved accessories of different shapes and sizes, such as flowers, pictures, or even a replica of the Eiffel Tower!
Photo:  House Beautiful
Photo: Pinterest

Go Eclectic 
Be confident in an eclectic style by incorporating a few repeating elements, which will create a chic, not disorganized, look.   Create visual interest by selecting a collection of objects.

 Photo: Pinterest
 Photo: House Beautiful

Keep It Simple and Symmetric
A classic look relies on simplicity and balance.  In a traditionally decorated space, keep your mantel decor simple and uniform.

Photo: House Beautiful
Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

Layer it Up 
Layering allows you to show off a variety of objects without creating a cluttered look.  The variety of shapes and sizes allows for an interesting pattern within a consistent overall look. Incorporate other striking objects that add height and contrast to your core collection.

Photo: Elle Decor
Photo: Pinterest

Make A Statement 
Use your mantel to showcase a single, showstopping piece. An obvious choice, because it works so well, is to hang a large mirror above the fireplace. Whether your style is simple and modern or antique and ornate, it’s sure to make a statement.

Photo: Elle Decor
Photo: Pinterest

Feminine Florals
We love to use the mantel to present changing displays of flowers. The flowers are not only a sign of the season, but reflect your personal style and taste as well!

 Photo: Pinterest

 

Photo: Elle Decor

Feel at Home in Your New Home

One of the joys of owning your own home is the ability to customize it however you want to make the home yours.  Personalizing your home to suit your and your family’s taste is very important in the overall enjoyment you’ll get from the home.  You need it make it feel like yours!  Here are a few simple ways to customize your new home- even if new just means new to you!

Customize Your Paint Colors:
Paint helps to create the look and feel you want, inside and out. Painting your home with colors you’ve hand selected is a low-cost way to create a completely personalized living space.  Painting the exterior is the single quickest way to change the look of your home.  You’d be surprised at how a simple color change can make a huge difference. And if you do decide to do any exterior color changes on a new home don’t forget to get association approval first!  After exterior consider the accents: the front door, shutters and fences.  If you bought a home that doesn’t need a new paint job and overall is a color you like, consider painting just the front door to add a pop of color and your own personal touch. Yellows, reds and more modern greys and blacks all make for a polished entrance.  And don’t stop there!  Painting shutters, fences, eaves and other exterior accents a contrasting color of your choice is quick and inexpensive. These are all small tweaks that have a large impact and most importantly,  they’ll make your home all yours. For interiors,  aim to match colors to a room’s purpose, so that bedrooms have the feeling of a restful sanctuary, bathroom walls look clean,  and common living areas are warm or energizing. If you have a limited budget, or you’re afraid to make bold color choices, try accent walls which we’ve blogged about before.  A single wall of color in every otherwise neutral room can go a long way toward customizing your home.

Take an Inventory
We’ve also blogged about taking inventory before as it relates to cleaning out closets and decorating your home for the holidays, but perhaps the most important inventory you can take is the one that happens when you move from one home into a new one.  Many people are buying smaller homes in an effort to manage costs of ownership, but even if you’re not moving into a smaller home, moving anywhere presents an opportunity to truly customize your living spaces for the activities you want to do and how you want to live in them.  There’s no rule that says the table and chairs have to go in the dining room just because it’s called that.  It’s your house so take control! Maybe that space would be better as an office for you and homework space for the kids, and you can eat in the kitchen or part of the living room. The extra room doesn’t have to be a guest room.  It might make for the perfect exercise room or playroom for the kids.  Before you move in, make a chart that divides all your home’s spaces, including any seemingly wasted spaces or small areas under the stairs or in the garage. Then decide what you want to do, and store in each area. This approach empowers you to make sure every person, activity and thing in your home has the right amount and type of space.

Built-Ins
If you can afford to splurge on the extra construction costs, built-ins make a world of difference.
Consider build in items like: closet organizers, window seats, desktops and bookshelves,  pantry-optimizing shelves, spinners and drawers, and medicine and linen cabinets.  If you need some guidance or some inspiration as to what types of custom organization systems will work with your home, a consultation with a carpenter should answer all of your questions.

Match Your Furniture
Match your furniture to your space.  Think about the things that always bothered you and you wished you could change in your last place.  Anticipate them, and as you plan to buy any new furniture, be methodical about it so everything has a purpose.

High and Low- Mixing High End With Affordable

You don’t have to spend a fortune for a high-end look at home. Interior designers commonly cater to wealthy clientele, but good design isn’t about spending a lot of money. Good design is about having the things that you love around you. The key is to bring together different elements into your interiors, complementing a mix of the high end furnishings and decorative accents with the lower design foundations.

Balance:
The most important thing for a room to work is to have harmony and balance. It doesn’t matter what the individual pieces within the room cost. While everything in the room doesn’t need to match or be of the same price point and quality, they do want to relate to each in some way as part of the overall design. Don’t worry about matching things perfectly. Mixing the old with the new gives your rooms their personality. In fact, mixing high end furnishings with the lower price points makes your decorating more fun.

Furniture pieces themselves can combine the best of both high and low end design features. You can easily make your living space look lavish, with many of the decorative items scattered throughout the rooms purchased from budget-friendly stores.When shopping at stores like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, pick a few pieces from each instead of outfitting an entire room with one look. Mix it up, be patient and shop around. What makes a room look rich and expensive, no matter what the budget, is time.

Key Elements:
Two areas to pick up on the vibe of an upscale space include: window treatment fabric or styling and furniture arrangement. Other things to notice in a luxurious interior design space are the sense of warmth, coziness, soft fabrics or the minimal use of fabrics.

A beautiful, unique room scheme has an unfolding drama. It has elegant shapes and finishes throughout such as: glass, mirror, metals, wood and quality upholstered furniture. Shop and look for design possibilities. If you have a budget that is low, lean and limited, do not despair. For an affordable version of a designer space, in addition to the stores we previously mentioned, pick up home furnishings at furniture clearance sales and bargain shop at big department stores.

Know When to Splurge:
Splurge on decorative accessories that give a high-end look. Great lighting, pillows and rugs may cost a bit more, but can be mixed with less expensive furniture that still looks amazing.

Home Decor How-To: Combining Traditional and Modern

By mixing traditional and modern decor you can create an individualized, multilayered living space that’s very appealing.  Furnishing your home should be more about developing your own personal style rather than adhering to any single style.  That being considered, combining modern furniture and accessories with traditional ones can result in a huge miss if you don’t put some planning and thought into it.  Here are some helpful tips and suggestions on mixing modern and traditional styles:

Unbalancing act
Interior design is all about creating balance and harmony, but that doesn’t mean achieving a 50/50 ratio for both design styles. Representing both styles equally will simply result in an interior that looks confused and poorly designed. Pick one as the dominant style and incorporate the second style with smaller furniture pieces or decorative accessories.   It can be a modern space with antique accents or a traditional space with contemporary accents. Letting one style dominate is crucial, because you don’t want to create a space where everything is fighting for equal attention.

Traditional room with modern accents: Barcelona chairs & Eames lounge Photo: Desire to Inspire

Traditional room with modern accents: Barcelona chairs & Eames lounge Photo: Desire to Inspire

Modern Lines Photo: Elle Decor

Modern Lines Photo: Elle Decor

Keep it simple
Nothing turns a room from chic to cheap quicker than clutter, so take it easy on the accessories. If you want your antique table lamp to pop on your sleek modern end table, don’t clutter up the surface with other accessories like decorative vases or picture frames.  Grouping too many accessories of opposing design styles together can leave your living room looking like a yard sale. A good rule of thumb in transitional spaces is to count each design style as its own item in a grouping, then find a decorative accessory that ties together elements from each.

Photo: Metropolitan Home

Photo: Metropolitan Home

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Harmony or Contrast?
It’s important to determine what kind of a look you’re going for before you begin.  If you want to create harmony and a relaxing look, select furniture pieces that are more alike, or just a few degrees apart. For instance, for a harmonized look you may want to pair Hans Wegner chairs with a more traditional wood table. Although these chairs have a very modern sensibility, they are made of wood, which can harmonize with the table.  To create contrast and excitement, juxtapose colors and textures, such as Eames molded plywood chairs in different colorful stains, or the Tolix chaise in steel or colored metal with your traditional table.

Colorful Tolix Chairs Photo: Pinterest

Colorful Tolix Chairs Photo: Pinterest

Panton Chairs Photo: Pinterest

Panton Chairs Photo: Pinterest



Unexpected color & bold upholstery
The simplest way to incorporate a traditional vintage piece into a modern décor is by updating it. But don’t simply refurbish antique furniture to its original condition. That fresh coat of paint and brand-new upholstery need to give the piece a contemporary feel. Give old-fashioned accessories a modern look with bright, unconventional colors and funky patterned fabric. On the fabric note, many are made more modern simply by a change of scale.  A traditional pattern, scaled larger and bolder, becomes new and modern.

Bold Fabric Photo: Elle Decor

Bold Fabric Photo: Elle Decor

Bold Color Photo: Elle Decor

Bold Color Photo: Elle Decor

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.

Move
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:
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.

RompBklyn.com

 

 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.