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Decorating Mistakes: Chameleon Design Shares What NOT to Do

You don’t have to be a professional interior designer to understand and apply some basic principles of that will help you create a comfortable home with style.  By combining personal taste and individual style you can achieve an interesting decorating look for almost any room. But there are some things you should just never do.  We’ve put together a list of the top things you should NOT do when decorating a room:

Mixing Too Many Styles
The biggest mistake we see people make is trying to change styles within one residence. If you want to have a beachy house, have a beachy house.  Don’t do a mountain decor theme in the den and switch to a beachy look for the living room.  This may seem like a good idea in theory but it actually prevents your home from having any kind of flow.  People don’t realize it but they love the look of model homes because there is always style and consistency throughout.  If you consider this when decorating your own home you’ll undoubtedly be happy with the results.

Choosing Furniture That Doesn’t Fit
You wouldn’t wear clothes that don’t fit properly so why would you choose furniture that doesn’t fit your home? Before you shop for furniture, make sure to measure your space, think about where you’re going to put the piece, and take notes. Resist the temptation to buy a too-big sofa, thinking you can put it on an angle if it doesn’t fit. Write down the measurements and stick to your plan. It’s just as bad to buy pieces that are too small, thinking you can add more pieces to fill the space. Plan out your arrangement, think it over, and then find the pieces that are just right.

Fixating on the Small Things
People often fixate on little things instead of looking at the bigger picture.  The proper way to go about decorating any room in your home is to make a plan including only the bigger decisions and make that your blueprint.  The little things are easy and will come naturally once the overall look is in place.  If you need help with the major choices, a simple consultation with a designer can help you build those parameters.  A little goes a long way and will help you to stick to certain rules. 

Pushing All the Furniture Up Against the Wall
Sometimes people think that a room will look larger if the middle of the floor is open, but the opposite is actually true. Unless you’re going to have a dance party in the middle of your room, move the furniture into groupings in the center. Arrange a sofa with a table behind it, away from the wall with a walking space behind. Show off the back of the sofa and arrange decorative items and a lamp for reading behind it.  Move chairs out of corners and you’ll have a more open, airy look in your room.

Getting Too Attached to “Things”
Some people get too attached to the “things” they have in their lives.  You may have spent a lot of money on something or it may represent a special time in your life that you want to remember, but no matter what reason you may be hanging onto any particular item, if it disrupts your decor, get rid of it!  Remember the wagon wheel coffee table in When Harry Met Sally?  Take a picture if you want to remember it!   And the same goes for collectibles.  Whether you collect knick-knacks from travels or fine pieces of sculpture or one-of-a-kind hand-blown glass, you shouldn’t put everything out at one time. Do your best to select only the most important pieces, either in monetary or sentimental value, and get rid of the rest. If you can’t bear to throw the pieces away, put them away and rotate the items on display. Less really is more!

Doing Artwork Wrong
A common mistake that people make is putting up smaller scale artwork in each room of the home.  If you invest in bigger pieces they will actually help your room come together!

Tricks for a More Comfortable Home: How Decorators Make a House Feel Cozy

Your home should be your sanctuary.  And if you can’t be comfortable in your own house, where can you be comfortable?   If you want to create a cozy environment that makes you (and your guests) feel at home,  selecting a cozy and inviting decorating scheme is a wise choice. By carefully planning your home hues, arrangement and accents, you can craft the space that you look forward to coming home to.  Here are some tricks that decorators use to make sure we’re creating a cozy space for our clients that also looks great:

Color Consistency
The mistake that most people make is that their walls, floors, and upholstery don’t work together.  Keep your color palate consistent!  Base selections are the most important, so think about color blocking.  Look at the big blocks of color in your room (the walls, the couch, the area rug) and how you’re blocking them out- make sure they’re all complimentary to one another.  For example, in the bedroom, pick a soothing color for the walls and then make sure you pull that in with your bedding.  If your bedroom walls are blue make sure the comforter has at least a hint of blue in it.  But don’t try to match it or buy a blue bedspread.  The sameness will feel overwhelming and definitely not comfy.

Scale of Furnishings
Making sure your seating is comfortable is very important for a cozy home.  Standard seat height is 17 inches so keep that in mind.  It’s important to not feel like you or your guests are sinking into the ground and people don’t want to feel like they’re squatting.  Make seats at comfortable heights and also make sure your furniture is spaced well so you’re comfortable.  For the dining room table, a standard width is 36-40 inches across.  Some people like the look of a wider table, or think they need it so there’s plenty of room for table settings and food.  However, this makes casual conversation more difficult so use a sideboard of you need more room for food and other plates.

Lighting
Dimmers are important to create a moody setting. Overhead lighting in particular can potentially be very harsh if you don’t have your lights on dimmers.  You can also create soft lighting with lamps.  Place them throughout your home and rely on them solely for those times you want to make the mood particularly cozy.
 
Accessories
Remove the clutter!  People often think they need to pack their house full of knick-knacks to make it feel cozy but it actually creates the opposite effect and makes people feel at ill-ease.   Keep it clean and simple.  Some family photos and a few decor accents in each room is all you need on tables and shelves- don’t be tempted to pack them with random items.  

An easy trick to cozy up any room is to add pillows and throws to seating areas to make them more warm and inviting. Look for accent pieces in hues that correspond well with the patterns that you already have in your space.  And in the colder months it’s nice to have extra blankets around the house. Buy a pretty throw that goes with your decor in each room and lay it out so anyone in the room has easy access.  They won’t have to go through you cupboards looking for it or track you down to ask for it.

Make Your Home Happier: Tips to Create a Cheerful Space

A cheerful home is one that makes you feel happy, energetic and uplifted. If you feel like your home could use a little love, there are many easy and cost-effective ways to brighten the appearance, while cheering up your family in the process!   From fresh coats of paint to sunny lighting schemes to lively window treatments, small changes can have a big impact. And some projects can be tackled in just one short weekend.  Here are some simple tips to make your home cheerier and more inviting:

Brighten Things Up
One reason color is so important is because it has the powerful ability to change your mood.  Liven up rooms by selecting a bright color scheme.  Use colors that are associated with cheerfulness.  Bright, sunny colors like orange, yellow, gold, apricot/peach, rose and blush are good options.  Vibrant hues tend to lift our spirits the most because their intensity naturally produces energy. However, any color or color combination that is not considered routine can make us smile.  White is also a good option.  A bright white kitchen is definitely going to be a happy place in the home where everyone congregates.  Remember, dark colors can absorb light and make rooms darker, so avoid those unless that’s the look you want to go for.

 Photo: Pinterest
 Photo: Lonny Mag
 Photo: House to Home UK

Let the Light In
To achieve a cheerful energy in any space, tap into as much natural light as you can.Large, open windows are ideal. Enable the light to pour in at all times during the day. By literally letting more light into your home, you can make your days more cheerful. Also, make sure to avoid anything too heavy by way of drapes or blinds. Try replacing heavy drapes or dark colored shades with translucent curtains or blinds. This way you let in natural light while keeping your privacy in place. Another trick is to make use of mirrors to bring reflection and brightness to the room. Mirrors reflect light and color to make a room feel cheerier.

Photo: Lonny Mag
 Photo: House to Home UK

Choose Happy Accents
Using striking colors and patterns can create a room that makes you smile.  You can add warmth as well as color by layering on pillows and throws to accent favorite pieces of furniture.  And something that you may not consider is that lighter woods and furnishings will make the room feel happier. Avoid dark furniture if you want a lighter, brighter room because it can tend to suck up energy and make the room feel darker as a whole. And an easy touch that anyone can do to instantly see an improvement is to add paintings or other artwork that have cheerful themes and lots of color.

Photo: Lonny Mag
Photo: Pinterest

Add Some Life:
Plants can bring a bit of the outdoors into your indoor space, which is always a good thing! Pleasant smelling and brightly colored flowers can work wonders in making the space livelier. A plant on the window above the sink, pink tulips in the bathroom or an indoor herb garden in the kitchen are some other suggestions.

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.