Design Insight

Luxury Upgrades: The Kitchen

The kitchen is the other obvious place to spend your upgrade dollars, yet tackling a kitchen renovation can feel overwhelming with the wide array of choices available. We’ve helped narrow down the options to some of our favorite kitchen innovations today, some of which are quite pricey, others less expensive, but all of which are great investments for your kitchen’s future.

Granite is the most standard kitchen counter top we see and still very much in style, though some buyers are upgrading that to quartz. If you don’t have a back splash, consider taking your tile up the walls. Pretty kitchen back splashes are both popular and chic, but simple is better.  Clean color blocking is commonly favored over fancy tile work now. For cabinets, medium wood tones are the most popular right now, with darker stains coming in second and white being a close third.  Open shelving is also a big trend that we’re seeing a lot of and using ourselves.

Some useful updates that will make your life easier are pullout shelving, tip-out shelves by the sinks, and concealed pullout garbage and recycling containers.  Though cabinet exteriors are usually the main attraction in any kitchen, it’s well worth it to invest in their insides too. We recommend soft-close doors and drawers. They’re great because drawers don’t bounce back when you close them, and there’s no more slamming of cabinet doors. And don’t forget the appliances. You’ll be making a smart investment if you choose to purchase more luxe models.

Overall, look for ways to make your home special. These days, with resale competition fierce, it’s smart to plan ahead and upgrade wisely in ways that will make your home stand out.

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The Great Room

Open and airy space is one thing homeowners can’t get enough of these days.  Smaller rooms can make a home feel broken up and cluttered, and tight spaces tend to send everyone to different areas of the house. Families today are quite busy and it’s not easy for everyone to be together all at one time, which is why great rooms have become so popular.

The great room is essentially an all-purpose room for the home. Most great rooms consist of the kitchen, living or family room, dining area and sometimes a computer or workstation area. It’s the room where the homework is done, the dinner is cooked, and the family can eat, entertain and enjoy different activities all while

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being in the same room!  This concept has become so popular that its beginning to replace the family room in many new homes.  Being that it functions as several or more traditional room spaces wrapped into one unified space, we’re not surprised!

 Photo: Chameleon Design
Photo:Chameleon Design
Photo:Chameleon Design

Updating Your Fireplace

The moment it’s lit, a fireplace becomes the glowing centerpiece of any room.  They provide warmth and a focal point that draws family and guests naturally.   Over the years fireplaces have gone from strictly utilitarian to completely modern and unique in their design and their function. From fireplaces that are portable to architectural features that demand a second look when you enter the room, they’ve  transformed how we decorate our interiors. If you’re considering a new face for your existing fireplace or thinking about going for new look completely, take a look at these varieties that will have you scratching your head as to which one to decide on!

 Chameleon Design’s Orange County Dream Home

Update your fireplace with modern tiles:

Photo: JohnLumArchitecture.com
Photo: Houzz.com
Create an architectural centerpiece:
Photo: CaliforniaHomeDesign.com
Don’t disturb your minimalist decor:
Photo: ArchitecturalDigest.com
Create a fireplace that blends in seamlessly:
Photo: ArchitecturalDigest.com
Photo: LonnyMag.com

Technology at Home

In this day and age, we’re welcoming new innovations in technology into our lives everyday. As interior designers that means we have an endless array of new elements that we’re able to integrate into the design of a home. This design movement grows from the

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integral role technology now plays in our lives and the majority of American homes, and it makes our lives easier, which makes us happy.

Chameleon Design has become pros at the blending of technology into the overall design of a room to create functional, stylish and unique environments that work well and look great. From lighting panels with computerized systems that control all the lighting in a home, to entertainment systems that rival the local movie theater, we’re embracing all of it!

This system controls the lights, the thermostats and the whole-house audio system.

Bringing in Nature

Chameleon Design has been always inspired by nature in our design work. Natural elements contain a unique beauty that can’t be replicated and we love to integrate them in our home design projects. Natural design lends to a clean and modern feel and works well with many styles. Even in modern spaces, a touch of nature can introduce a certain softness and balance to sleek surfaces and angular corners. Some of our favorite elements to use are reclaimed teak and stone, which pair nicely with glass and forged steel. We also like to work with natural woods, textural fabrics, natural concrete, and patina metal.

For an interesting take, pair industrial finishes with natural elements and organic textures. For example, nature-inspired accessories and organic textures against a metal coffee table and muted gray walls would look amazing. Linen and linen-like fabrics on windows, pillows, and furniture also convey a natural feel. Houseplants add a little color and help the room lean more toward organic than industrial. Homeowners can also bring in just a touch of nature by using various woods, seashells and natural grasses in their decor.

A New Spin on Laundry

Laundry rooms off the kitchen or in the mud room used to be the norm in home design. However, more and more new residential designs of today are mixing things up and putting the laundry room upstairs instead!

Thanks to new and quieter machines, the upstairs laundry room is pefect for homeowners who want their laundry as close as possible to the dirty clothes and bed linens.   The linen closet is often built directly into the laundry room so that you  don’t have to take your bedding and towels into another closet area.   Home builders are always looking for new ideas like this that make homeowners’ lives a little bit easier.

Photo:Lennar Homes

Photo:Lennar Homes


Photo: Houzz

Photo: Houzz

Photo: Houzz

Photo: Houzz

Decorating in a Day

Small decor changes make a big impact in a home’s look. Here are some fast and inexpensive quick fixes that deliver big results without a lot of effort. 

Organize with Trays
Corral items like TV remotes on a tray on the coffee table. Put liquor bottles, glasses, and bar accoutrements on a tray in the living or dining room.

  Photo: Pinterest

Display Children’s Art
Display drawings in a colorful frame, or in a white frame with a colored mat. Hang them in an otherwise unimaginative space. They’re full of spirit, and meaningful.

 Photo: Pinterest

Paint an Accent Wall 
Wake up a wall with brightly colored paint. A cheery color goes a long way in a small space so limit it to one wall in a room. This color would be especially effective in a north-facing room that doesn’t get a large amount of natural light. 

Photo: Pinterest

Remove Upper Cabinet Doors
If you love the look of glass cabinets, but want an affordable alternative, consider removing your upper doors. Arrange your dishes and glasses in an interesting way. Put miscellaneous items in low wicker baskets that are all uniform.

 Photo: Pinterest

Reconsider Your Artwork
Put pieces in unusual places, like above a door. Lean some against a mirror or a wall.

Photo: Pinterest

Refresh the Bath
Change your shower curtain, or just the liner. Add fragrant candles and a small bouquet. Clear the counters of everything except your prettiest essentials.

 Photo: Pinterest

Update with New Sheets
Refresh your bedroom with new sheets. My favorites are white hotel-style sheets, which you can also find with a colored border. They have a classic look and you can buy them anywhere.

Remove Rugs
Take up some of your rugs. Bare wood and stone floors can be just as beautiful. Or get a carpet remnant and put it down in an unusual place, like a patio or balcony.

Accessorize with Books
Stack art, design, gardening, travel books- whatever you collect- on a table or in a cool bookcase. Books are a great accessory because they’re so personal- they reflect your interests.

Photo: Pinterest

How To: Throw the Perfect Outdoor Party

With the warmer evenings upon us, we can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off the day than by enjoying a leisurely dinner outside.  Whether you’re hosting a small get-together among friends or a large neighborhood potluck, you’ll entertain outdoors like a pro with our easy-to-follow ideas for outdoor parties. We’ve included tips for planning, decorating, and food prep- everything you need to get you on your way to throwing the best parties of the summer!

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Outdoor Party Planning Tips 
Follow these easy outdoor entertaining tips when organizing and planning your next outdoor party:

-Send invitations if you’re going to invite more than 12 people or if you have a theme for your outdoor party. Otherwise, call or invite guests in person.

-Ask guests if they have any food allergies or special preferences (vegetarian, kosher, diabetic, etc.), so everyone is able to enjoy the party fare.

-Lessen the stress of hosting an outdoor party by making it a potluck. Assign each guest a dish (appetizer, salad, side dish, or dessert) to contribute, so you only have to make the main dish. If you want a cohesive buffet, organize the potluck around a theme, such as Tex-Mex, Asian, or All-American.

-Mix up the seating. If you have multiple outside spaces, set up a table, chairs, and blankets throughout the yard.

-Account for anything that might prevent entertaining outside: If you think bugs, rain, heat, or cold might get in the way of your party, make sure you have a backup plan.

Table Setting & Decorating Tips 
Transform your space and add a bit of elegance to your outdoor party table with a few of our simple and easy outdoor decorating tips:

-Buy two of the same tablecloth if your patio table is too large for one to cover. Simply fold each in half and drape over the ends of the table.

-Coordinate your tablecloth, place settings, and table decorations to give your outdoor party table a coordinated look.

-Hang string lanterns from trees to make your outdoor party glow.

-Use candles on the table if you’ll be dining outdoors after dark. Votives can be set in wineglasses, jars, or tin cans with holes punched around the sides. To create magical overhead lighting, make wire cradles for jars and suspend them from trees. String icicle lights along a fence, around a porch, or through a tree or shrub for another take on whimsical outdoor lighting.

Food Prep
Keep food for your outdoor party fresh and serve it efficiently with our helpful tips:

-Keep unwanted pests away from individual dishes using wire domes, which are available at kitchenware stores.

-Serve drinks in glasses or clear bottles rather than cans, which can hide bugs in the openings. Avoiding red or yellow drinks, which can attract bugs, is another way to keep your party pest-free.

-Follow the two-hour rule: Never serve food that’s been out of the refrigerator, off the stove, or out of the oven any longer than two hours. On warm days, follow the one-hour rule. Sit down to eat for an intimate gathering, and pass the food in bowls family-style.

-For a larger crowd, set up a buffet table and stack dishes at one end so guests can help themselves.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

How To: Make Overnight Guests Feel At Home

Summertime is always a fun time of year to invite guests for an overnight or weekend stay.  It means they can linger longer at your BBQ or cocktail party and enjoy brunch with your family the next day.  So when you have guests coming to stay with you, it’s nice to go the extra mile to make your guest room especially inviting.  Now if you haven’t given much thought to your guest room (in which case you’re not alone) we’ve got good news for you!  It’s actually quite simple to make it inviting and comfortable for guests, and it can even be done at the last minute.  It’s all about the small, but important, details.  Those little touches go a long way.  Keep reading for some simple tips you can incorporate anytime to turn your spare room into a place your guests will want to come back to again and again.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

The Guest Bedroom 
First things first- the bed!  If your guests don’t get a good night’s sleep, the rest doesn’t matter. Make sure that the bed linens are freshly cleaned and laundered.  There’s nothing better than crisp, clean sheets and your guests will thank you for it.  (Use fragrance-free laundry detergent in case they have allergies).  The bed should also have plenty of layers so guests can choose the coverage they want without having to hunt through closets for extra linens. It’s nice to provide some extra pillows on the bed too.  And keep extra blankets nearby or drape a stylish, cozy throw at the foot of the bed or on a nearby chair.

Once you’ve got the bed dialed in, focus on some of the smaller details that we feel make all the difference.  The bedside table is a key guest room element, so make sure you set yours with the essentials.  A bottle of water and a glass (an all-in-one bedside carafe is a great option) is important so that guests won’t need to navigate their way to the kitchen when they’re thirsty in the middle of the night.  A pretty bouquet of fresh-cut flowers lends a charming and cheerful touch, but keep it simple.  A small bud vase will work just fine.   And stock your guest room with a few good reads, especially if there’s not a television in the room.  Go for a combination of books and magazines that are easy to flip through. Fashion, interior design and travel are all good options. If your guests are arriving in the evening, set a mellow mood with dimmed lighting and a burning, unscented candle.   It’s also nice to give guests a place to sit other than the bed.  You may need to bring a cozy chair or chaise lounge into the room but a bench or simple chair will work just fine.  And make sure to stock the closet with a few hangers- we go for the wooden option.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest


The Guest Bathroom 
Make sure there are clean towels in every size- bath, hand and washcloth.  I also like to place a basket with a blow dryer, shampoo and conditioner, a shower cap and some shower gel, lotion and a good hand cream in the bathroom just in case my guest forgot anything at home. You can also fill the medicine cabinet with any other items they might need, such as Band-Aids or mouthwash.  A toothbrush, toothpaste and floss are also good to offer.  And don’t forget, guests don’t want to ask you for extra toilet paper.  Place a new, full roll on and store a few extras in the bathroom cabinet where guests will easily spot them.  And, for the ultimate in luxury, stock the guest bathroom with a plush robe and French-milled soaps.

 Photo: Pinterest

 Photo: Pinterest

These few simple details will go a long way towards transforming a spare room into your guest’s home away from home!

Home Decor: Where to Splurge and Where to Save

Unless you have the advantage of working with an interior designer, it’s tough for many people to know what they should splurge on with their home decor, and where it’s safe to cut costs.  We break it down room by room to find out what can be purchased for less, and what you should be spending a little more on. Shower curtains versus faucets, duvets versus throw pillows, lighting versus love seats, read on to find out what to spend on, and where to save:

The Bedroom 
In general, be prepared to spend a lot on your bedroom.  Start with sourcing a good-quality mattress. Sleep is important, and you don’t want to compromise a good night’s rest for the sake of saving a few dollars. Plus you want your mattress to last. You also want to spend on your duvet cover and bedding. After all, your bed is the focal point of the room, so spending on good bedding will help keep the room looking current and polished. You should also spend more on dresser drawers, because they get lots of wear and tear.  You can save on extras like nightstands, reading lamps and decorative pillows. Rather than spending money on artwork, go with a beautiful headboard and stylish bedding instead.

The Kitchen and Dining Room 
There are a few areas to splash out on in the kitchen, but lots of opportunity to opt for more affordable items.   It’s a good idea to think about upgrading to stainless steel appliances, which look great and are a good idea for resale value. You also want to spend on faucets and taps and splurge on a beautiful countertop since that’s usually the first thing you see when you walk into the room. If you can, splurge on a good, functional dining table. It will likely get lots of use, and you want it to last. When it comes to kitchen cabinets, go simple and affordable. The visual impact can come from unique and eye-catching hardware and handles. Visit antique shops and even thrift stores to scout stylish, one-of-a-kind options. Save on chairs since you may want to change them after a few years, plus you need several of them, which can get expensive.

The Living Room 
The living room is where you spend a lot of time, between relaxing at home and entertaining. Larger items are worth splurging on here. Buying note: Fabric, foam and construction are what determine the quality. When you sit down, it shouldn’t feel like you are sinking endlessly into it. The sofa should have a little bit of give, but the shape should hold.  You definitely need to splurge on your sofa. It gets enough use that opting for quality will save you money in the end. There’s no point purchasing something just because it’s cheap and then having to replace it two years later. A good-quality sofa should last about 10 years. Spend a bit more on good lighting, which can do wonders to make a space look beautiful. We also suggest splurging on art, which will help tie the room together. You don’t need a lot- one nice piece of original art is often enough to make a statement.  Save on accents (pillows, rugs, carpet) and on carpets. Carpeting acts as more of a decorative item and is something you should feel you are free to change if the mood strikes.

The Bathroom 
It’s easy to create a chic, on-trend bathroom look by only spending on a few key items…and saving on everything else.  Spend on faucets and taps. Think of them as the accents of your wardrobe, like enhancing a simple black dress with great accessories (belt, beautiful necklace). Even a plain sink and vanity can be dressed up with stylish faucet and ultra-modern taps. Also invest in a nice showerhead that will last. Not only will your morning showers improve (big bonus), a quality showerhead is good for resale value. If you’re thinking of renovating your bathroom, a shower stall with beautiful tiling makes for a relaxing and spa-like setting.  Save on towels, shower curtains, toothbrush holders and other accessories you’re going to switch up more often.

The Foyer
The foyer or entrance way is the first impression people have of your home, which means you want it spend more to make sure it looks good. But that doesn’t mean spending a fortune all around.   A good place to start is to splurge on lighting. Think about pendant lighting, which hangs from the ceiling and adds both ambiance and architectural influence. You can also spend on one focal piece, such as bench seating that also works as storage or a beautiful antique side table.  An area you can save is with accessories such as mirrors, vases or small tables that can be purchased with less regard for cost.