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Design Insight

Choosing Paint: Pick the Perfect Neutral

Neutral paint may sound blah and boring, but it’s far from it.  It can be a backdrop for your artwork and furnishings, complement more adventurous colors or make a statement all its own.  Picking a perfect neutral color is not difficult when you know what to look for, but picking the wrong color can indeed look a bit blah.  Still, there are so many neutral paint options that it can be a bit dizzying trying to pick one.  Here are some helpful suggestions to make the experience a little less painful:

Do Your Research
Go to your local home store where they have a larger color and brand selection of free paint swatches to choose from. Even if you don’t plan on getting the paint there, any store will match a competitor’s color.  Load up on every possible variation you see. Tip: colors look darker on the little chips then they will look on the wall. If you’re not sure, choose the darker one.  Get test quarts or 2 oz. testers of the colors you picked. Paint them directly on the wall so you can see them in different lights, both artificial at nighttime and in natural daylight.

 Photo: Domino Magazine

Consider the Existing Space
Sit in the space you plan to paint and fan out the colors. You will notice a huge variation in shades. Some beige’s will have green tones, others pinker, gray or brown.  It will also help to look around your room. Is there a predominant color or tone? Very often, without even realizing it, we pick up colors in certain shades while rejecting others. You may see many shades of green and sage around you, or peachy warm tones. Pay attention to this because these are the colors that make you feel good.

Start with the Living Room
The living room is where the color scheme for your house is typically determined. Consider the color of your floorings, sofa, window coverings, etc. The largest pieces in the room will naturally dictate the neutral you end up with.  Aim to choose one that matches your overall theme. A warm tan neutral for dark, masculine furnishings, or a sunny neutral for a lighter, yellow toned decor. Or you may want to complement your decor by choosing a neutral with cool gray undertones to set off the warmer colors already in the room.  Both of these choices are great; it just depends on what works for you.

Photo: Pinterest


Photo: Pinterest

Take Extra Steps
Don’t be tempted to skip the extra step of trying the right on the wall. It will be insurance against getting nonreturnable paint in a color that doesn’t look the same as the swatch. More than anything else this will help you pick the perfect neutral paint!

A Living Room Makeover: Tips on What You Can Do Now to Improve the Look

Your living room is the focal point of your house.  It should accentuate your beautiful interiors and designs.  If you feel like yours might need a little work, it might be time for a makeover!  Giving your living room a makeover can be a fairly simple project, but the results can be drastic and satisfying if you do it right.  Changing the look can do a lot for your mood and make the room more inviting too. Take a weekend to achieve a completely new ambiance, or take on some of the ideas one at a time for an evolving project.  Most of these ideas require minimal do-it-yourself skills.   Change is good. Why not look around your home and see the possibilities?

Re-Arrange the Furniture
Make a wide open space feel homey by arranging chairs and sofas close together and away from the walls. Just make sure you include plenty of space for traffic flow. Add a central piece, such as an area rug, to help define the area and eliminate “floating” furniture.

Photo: Lonny Magazine

Painting the living room is a big project in terms of time and effort, but is actually quite inexpensive. Two or three gallons of paint will do for even a large living room that requires two coats. Add some accent colors, brushes, rollers and paint trays, and you’re set to go for under $100. To make this idea really effective, choose colors other than off-white. Look at some of the colors you have used in your decorating and find one intense color that you really like. Use it on one wall and select a complementary color for the other walls.

Today’s wide selection of slipcovers makes it easier than ever to change the look of a room. The fabrics, colors and designs can fit almost any size couch, love seat or chair you may have.   And once you decide on a color scheme, changing your throw pillows is next. This can be done simply with pillow shams that can slip over existing throw pillows. If you would prefer new pillows, you can do that as well. Maybe you can recycle your living room throw pillows by using them in another room.

Quick makeovers can also be accomplished by changing the window coverings. The color of the blinds, curtains or whatever you have on your windows can totally change the mood of the room. Curtains can be as simple as two rectangles of fabric attached to a curtain pole with rings. If you want to be a little more creative, line the curtains with a contrasting color and add curtain tie-backs. When you pull the curtains back, the lining will show, adding interest to the window treatments.

 Photo: Elle Decor

Add Accessories
Dress up a neutral room with accessories.  Look for statement pieces, such as a wall sculpture or mirror, to create a sophisticated vibe.  Keep furniture simple, but accent it with a boldly patterned rug.  Color accents will add a punch of color that may be needed, but don’t distract from the statement pieces.  Art can also make a huge difference.  What do you have hanging on your walls? Maybe you are getting tired of the look you have going and switching the art work will completely change the look and feel of the room.   And don’t forget to think about pieces that you currently have in other rooms.  Maybe you want to swap them out into your living room. That is always another way to give the room a new look.

Photo: Chameleon Design
Photo: Pinterest

Consider Your Space
Prevent a small living room from looking cramped by choosing the right furniture. Exposed chair legs and airy coffee tables make even the smallest spaces look larger. Keep accessories simple so they don’t overtake the delicate feel of the furniture.   If you have a wood floor, clean and polish it to a high shine. Have your carpet professionally cleaned or use an off-the-shelf product to do it yourself. Add an area rug to define the conversation area. If you don’t have a conversation area, make one by arranging a sofa, a coffee table and one or two chairs in a space small enough so that you can easily hear someone sitting anywhere in the conversation area speaking in a normal voice. Try to coordinate the colors of your walls, rug, curtains and upholstery with each other.

 Photo: Lonny Magazine


 Photo: Trad Home

A room makeover can be drastic but a change for the better. If you need assistance with a makeover for any room in your home, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help!

Decorating with Pattern: Fun and Inspiring Ideas

Getting creative with pattern is an inexpensive and fun way to breathe life into your home environments.  From wallpaper to towels, there are endless options to explore in order to achieve the look you want.  Many people like to play it safe by having one pattern with all solids in a given room. but I urge you to experiment by bringing in different kinds of patterns to create unexpected and unique combinations. Prints and patterns are also a fun and creative way to express your taste and personality.  Here are some important things to consider so you can decorate with patterns like a pro: 

Mix Patterns

Designers like things in odd numbers, especially the number three. Whether you’re combining colors, patterns or decorative objects, three is often the magic number that just works best.  And it’s no different when working with patterns in a room!  When selecting patterns, pick a large scale pattern that will make the strongest statement in your room.  For the secondary pattern, select a very different pattern that’s half the scale or size of the first pattern.  If your first pattern is a large floral, the second pattern should not be a floral but should include some of the same colors.  And the third pattern can be similar to either of the other patterns and use two or three of the colors in the other patterns.  Don’t let the fear of mixing three different patterns leave you perplexed.  Just remember: large scale with many colors, medium scale with some colors, and small scale with just a few.
Photo: Pinterest
 Photo: Elle Decor

Limit Your Color Scheme

When you decide to add some pattern to your decor, remember to limit the palette of colors and designs you are using.  Patterns can be quiet dominant in terms of color and appearance.  For example,  if you combine two floral patterns, be sure that they are not overpowering each other, but rather complimenting one another.  Mixing patterns should achieve a balanced look.  Don’t mix pastels with primary colors, or muted with vibrant jewel tones.  A large floral, a smaller floral, a stripe and a check will work together if they are made from the same set of dyes in the same hue.  Also, using related colors is what will tie the patterns together.  Try choosing obviously different patterns, such as a wide stripe and a paisley, in the same palette and it will look intentional and not mismatched.

 Photo: Jonathan Adler
Photo: Pinterest
Consider Fabric Feel
Be aware that there’s more to a fabric than simply color.  All fabrics have a personality or a feel and some don’t mix.  Most people would identify damask, for example, as a formal fabric.  While most would  agree that stripes or plaid are casual, informal fabrics. These levels of formality should definitely come into play when you’re mixing patterns.
 Photo: House Beautiful
Create Balance

Avoid putting all patterned pieces together on one side of a room as they may throw off the room’s balance.  Distribute solids and patterns smoothly throughout the room to create an aesthetically pleasing look.  Also consider that other elements of the room, from the fireplace to paneling, contain patterns that should be considered as part of the grand scheme.

 Photo: Elle Decor
Think About Function
Pattern can have a big impact on how a room feels. If you’re trying to pull a space together and create harmony, think larger patterns. If your goal is to draw attention to one part of a room, smaller patterns will do the trick. Also think about pattern personality. A busier pattern will up the energy level in a room, while a simple or pale patterns will promote a feeling of calm.
Photo: Pinterest

Decorating for Dudes: Designer Advice for Creating a Handsome Home

Masculine details in home interior design are clean and simple in appearance with rich colors, strong designs, and an absence of excessive detailing.  It’s something that everyone should think about when decorating the home, as the masculine aesthetic is truly appealing to both the sexes…whether women realize it or not! A warm, natural look is very “today” and here are some tips for incorporating it into your home:

Go with darker tones!  Rich color schemes such as chocolate brown, black, grey and deep blue are one of the most effective ways to impart a masculine look in your home design.  When it comes to upholstery- stay with the darker shades as well. If you go with a smoky color on the walls, go with a darker, chic brown leather sofa.  Color has a great impact on household style. If these colors provide the majority of the backdrop, you can add subtle splashes of color and texture to give the room some depth.

 Photo: Pinterest

Ask any man what the most important factor should be when designing a masculine room and they’ll likely say it’s the electronics.  Make sure you plan for this in the design stages.   The most important electronic- the television- should be in a location that is comfortably orientated to the furniture.  You don’t want to be craning your neck to watch your favorite show!  Also consider a stereo or gaming system as a room won’t work for men unless gadgets are integrated into the design. These should be hidden in a cabinet as to keep with the clean and simple style of the room.

If you have a fireplace- make sure to include it in your design!  Don’t let it be an after-thought as it’s an element that will add to the masculine feel of the room unlike anything else.  Configure the furniture around it as best you can. If you main seating area is focused on a television, create a separate seating area around the fireplace.  Trust me- you’ll use it!

Photo: Homebunch.com

Furniture and Lighting
Careful consideration of furniture is essential for a masculine and comfortable room. It is important for that the couch looks good, but it must be comfortable enough so that the man of the house can curl up all afternoon when he wants to watch a football game.

As for tables, chairs and other pieces of furniture – the pieces should be strong and solid. Items that are extremely ornate with floral carvings should be replaced with pieces with strong lines, elegant curves and simple accents. Consider a reclaimed wood piece such as a coffee table to add texture to the room. The key does not lie in making the room a masculine room, but rather, avoiding a style that is too feminine.

Lighting is also very important, as we’ve blogged about many times.  Make sure you follow the basic rules and have multiple sources such as recessed lighting and table lamps, but consider adding an industrial element such as exposed lighting. Having fun with details like this will make for a handsome home that everyone will appreciate.

Photo: Pinterest

When it comes to other props and ornaments Look for items that are interesting rather than merely pretty – international ornaments like Chinese lacquer boxes, African tribal bookends, Moroccan candlesticks. etc.

And when it comes to the vast array of wall art available today, men, stereotypically, like animal prints and woodland scenes. Women tend to gravitate to garden and cottage landscape scenes. If a landscape cannot be agreed upon, consider a seascape or a coastal scene. Architecture and city scenes also make good compromises and anything abstract will look right at home.

Photo: Pinterest

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.

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.
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.

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.