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Design Insight

Basic Design Principles of Modern Decor

Modern decor has been quite popular for years now and the look is not going anywhere! Creating a modern feel in your home doesn’t have to be difficult but there are a few basic rules to keep in mind if you want to go this direction. If you go overboard in any one area, you may end up with something that’s cold or uncomfortable, when what you really want is warm and relaxed. It’s possible to get there if you follow these simple guidelines and before you know it, you’ll have a modern decor that you’ll love:

Simplicity
This word describes modern design better than anything, so make sure that you’re always considering it when decorating your space. As we mentioned, don’t go to the extreme and think you only need a few items in each room. But do go for an uncluttered look, with clean lines, which will naturally simplify things and be more cost effective in the long run.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Functionality
Once you’ve nailed the simplicity by using clean lines and minimal artwork and accessories, you also need to make sure everything in the space is functional. This will vary from room to room, but the key is being able to walk into any area and easily access the items in it. For example, the room below utilizes extra wall space for a built-in desk/computer area that’s not at all out of place in the open family room.

 

Open Spaces
If you are going with a modern decor, then you will want to have lots of open space in your home. This won’t be as easy if you don’t have an open concept but you can still create the appearance of open spaces by using color, fabrics and furniture. You can also keep windows coverings that are light in color and airy in feel to create an open feel in to the room even if it isn’t.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Character
Last but not least, don’t forget to always inject character in each space. Whether it’s done with color or a fun pattern added to an otherwise neutral palette or an incredible statement piece such as a chair or chandelier that packs a punch, don’t neglect to add some personality to each room.

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

Design Essentials for Every Home

Every home should be different and reflect the personality of its owners, but there are definite style rules that every designer lives by. These are things that every home should have and we come back to them again and again because they just work. Our essentials to build the foundation of a beautifully designed home add up to more than a few, but here is a basic checklist that’s simple enough to get anyone started on their way!

A Well-Organized Bookshelf
Look at your bookshelf as a wall of endless decorative possibilities. It’s the perfect place to store your favorite books, but it can also be a great way to display a personal collection, a bold black accent piece, and even family photos, all of which can be tweaked over the years as your preferences change.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Black Accents

Just as with clothing, the same rules apply to using the color black in home decor- it never goes out of style and goes with anything! Black pieces will accent the other colors in the space, while adding definition and sophistication. Remember that you don’t need a lot to make this work, one or two pieces is all you need.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Mixed Textures
Materials are easy to mix and will add lots of depth to your spaces. Whether a room is bold and colorful or subdued and neutral, a truly designed look involves a mix of textures. From fabrics like linens, silks and sheers to materials such as wood, metal and glass, a mix is always the way to go.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Living Plants
A space doesn’t feel truly finished unless it includes some greenery to give it a sense of life. If you don’t have a green thumb there are plenty of options that aren’t high maintenance and will flourish indoors.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Personal Touches
Every space should have at least once piece that speaks to a sense of history with some personal meaning. These types of items will assure that nothing looks too perfect in a room, which is something to watch for. Furniture and accessories are one way to go, but simple vintage details like moldings or sconces will also give your home a great look.

Photo: Chameleon Design

A Mid-century Piece
Trends come and go but mid-century will always feel current and timeless. We’ve talked before about how you never want your decor to be to matchy-matchy and by adding a punch of modern style you won’t run into that problem. An easy way to add modern pieces is through seating- chairs or tables will look stylish and keep the room from feeling too formal.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

 

Art You Love
Art stays with you for a lifetime, and each piece marks a place and a memory. Start collecting pieces one by one and grow your collection over the years. The pieces don’t have to cost a fortune, they just have to speak to you.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

Why You Should Add a Statement Piece to Your Home

The purpose of a statement piece is fairly self-explanatory: it makes a statement. The right pieces can make a big impact and dramatically change the look of a room, with just one new addition. How great is that? Do you have a room in your home that is fine but could use a little pizazz? Whether it’s the living room or the guest room, a simple addition like a statement chair or piece of artwork hung on the wall can give you just the boost you need. Here are some things to help you decide if you should add a statement piece of your own:

You Have Too Much of the Same
This can happen when you furnish a room in your home with multiple pieces from the same store or have a minimalist look. The space may look sleek and fluid but you’ll likely get bored with it really fast. A statement piece of home décor can easily solve this problem, helping an otherwise bland interior while also reflecting your personality and style.

Photo: Martha Mulholland

You’re Lacking Color or Pattern
If your statement making piece has a pattern on it, it may be just what your room full of neutrals needs. This will help to create balance, while adding color and interest to your space.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

You Need a Focal Point

There are certain pieces that are more secondary such as an end table, mirror, or nightstand and those become more of a supporting element. If you’re looking for your statement piece to really up the wow factor make sure it’s a main part of the room, you need to go for something larger such as a bed or console.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

You Want More Character

Without a doubt a statement piece adds character and a wow factor. It draws your eye in when you enter the room and stands as a conversation starter when guests come over. It can be bold, unique, eclectic and anything from a distinctive piece of furniture or a bold painting to an incredible vintage rug to anchor the room.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Best Furniture Pieces for Small Scale Spaces

In a smaller room, you want to maximize your space as much as possible and how you decorate is everything. A few of the wrong pieces can overtake the room and throw the balance off entirely making the space feel small and cramped. However, that same room can feel open and larger if you select the right pieces of furniture, including some that do double duty eliminate the need for extra pieces. Below are our top picks for making your smaller rooms feel comfortable:

Bench
A backless bench is a highly versatile piece that can easily be moved from room to room. In the dining room it can be used for seating and tucked under the table when not being used. It can also be pulled into the living room or family room when guests are over and you find yourself without enough chairs, or even used in the bathroom against a wall to stack extra towels.

Chameleon Design Bathroom

Photo: Chameleon Design

Settee
A small settee, or love seat as it’s also known, is perfect for areas that aren’t large enough for a full-size sofa or two bulky chairs. And just like the bench, it can also be pulled up to a dining table for added seating.

Photo: West Elm

Photo: West Elm

Nesting Tables
When you have guests over, tabletop real estate to place drinks or food on is hard to come by. But a set of nesting tables or pedestal table will solve the problem in a snap. When they aren’t in use, they stack together or can be tucked neatly into a corner.

Photo: decoist.com

Large Mirror
It’s not news that a mirror is one of the easiest tricks to make a small space appear larger. Don’t forget this simple and affordable addition to make your room appear bigger and brighter. Bonus points if you can hang it across from a window to boost the natural light.

Photo: Domaine

Desk
You might not use a desk for working daily, but a smaller Parsons desk or floating desk are both great for smaller rooms. Both can double as extra table space and a floating desk has a table portion that flips down, opening up space when not in use.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Pouf/Ottoman
Poufs and ottomans come in a wide variety of sizes and colors and are also typically very affordable. They can be use as footrests, extra seats or side tables so they are great to have around.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

How to Transition Your Home From Summer to Fall

It’s always bittersweet when Labor Day weekend rolls around, as we know that means it’s time to say goodbye to summer. However, fall has an appeal all its own and the fact that it ushers in the holiday season makes it a special time. It’s also a natural time to transition your home for the cooler temps that will be here before we know it.  With simple things like swapping out textures and colors and adding natural elements into your décor, your home will be beautiful, comfortable and ready for the cooler days ahead. 

Layer Your Home
Just like we begin to layer our clothes come Fall, you can do the same with your home. Use differing but complementary colors, patterns and textures to add instant warmth to any room. Double up on pillows to make couches and beds extra cozy and try throwing sheepskins on your summery printed chairs, for texture and to create a warmer vibe.

Photo: Homepolish.com

Swap Out Your Bedding
When you feel that first chill in the air, it’s a great time to freshen up your bedding for the fall season. If you had lightweight cotton bedding for the summertime, incorporate luxe, cozy textures like cashmere or a soft flannel for fall. Fresh shams and maybe a few new throw pillows in richer tones will complete the look.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Ready Your Fireplace
Most of us don’t use the fireplace at all during the spring/summer months, so it’s likely that it could use a good cleaning to prepare for the cooler nights fall will usher in. A contractor of fireplace inspector will sweep the chimney and check for possible safety hazards, which is good to do once a year. If you prefer not to use your fireplace, you can create a beautiful and warm feeling with white pillar candles in varied sizes.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Prep Your Patio
Don’t neglect your favorite summertime space when the seasons begin to change. As fall ushers in, we experience some of the best weather of the year and evenings spent outdoors are lovelier than ever. Look into inexpensive fire pits if you don’t have a built-in and throw some machine-washable blankets on the outdoor furniture to fight that slight chill.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Pay Attention to Your Plants
One of the prettiest and most inexpensive ways to decorate for the fall season is to put foliage, flowers, and produce on display. Bring in an armful of cut branches or fill bowls with apples, pears, pomegranates, and nuts. Pumpkins and gourds are perfect in October and November.

Photo: Florali.com

Dim the Lights
Candles add a perfect touch to fall decor. As the days get cooler and we want to curl up with blankets, good books and warm cups of tea, a candle-lit room creates a perfect fall ambiance. Change the fragrance of your candles so they have more of a holiday feeling. Go for a warmer, muskier scent- we love Le Labo’s Santal 26 and Diptique Fig.

Photo: Barney’s NY

 

Make Sure These Features Are Included in Your Plan

From the countertops to the closets to the flooring, there are many things to consider in the home buying process. You’ll find that it takes hours upon hours of working with the architect or building designer to ensure you get exactly what you want. There are so many details to check off the list, that some of the obvious items that buyers assume are included aren’t discussed and can lead to big surprises in the budget later on. Our advice is to make sure these things are specified and confirmed with the builder well in advance so you’re all on the same page. Below are a few of the main features that may be missing from your plan:

 

Flooring
The plan should specify the intended floor finish, such as wood, tile, carpet or polished concrete. Carpet is often left out of the building quote and since you’ll likely handle it directly through a supplier. However, other types of flooring, wood in particular, are a different story. Wood flooring is too general of a term, as it can include wood laminates, floating wood floorboards, bamboo and traditional strip flooring. With such a wide range of products and costs, it’s important to understand what the builder has allowed for to avoid any surprises.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Lighting
Lighting is one of the most common items to cause unhappy surprises in a buyer’s budget. The main reason for this is that an electrical plan is completed at the quoting stage. At this point, you’re likely still unaware of the lighting options available, as well as their costs. This can lead to prices being highly underestimated in terms of number and type of lights. Make sure you visit a showroom in the early stages of your project to better inform yourself about what the builder is quoting.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Woodwork
Homeowners are more and more likely to want built-in cabinets for storage and display solutions in a variety of spaces, including the bathrooms, laundry room, bedrooms and family room. Woodwork is easy to identify on a floor plan, but just like wood flooring there are so many options in terms of color, material, fittings, design detail and hardware, it’s very difficult for builders to quote an accurate cost for the item. It’s smart to enlist the help of an interior designer to develop detailed drawings for quoting or specify an allowance in your plan.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Closets
Custom closets are a must-have for many buyers these days. But there are many options for actually fitting out a closet, from wire racks and shelves to high-end custom cabinets. People tend to focus on the size of the closet and forget to consider the details of how it will be used. You can ensure more accurate quotes by including details in the drawings.

Photo: Pottery Barn

Photo: Pottery Barn

Wall tile
Wall tiling is another line item that is assumed to be included in the builder’s quote. However, it’s necessary that both the cost of the tiles and the extent to which they will be used is clear. For example, you’ll need to know the cost per square foot that has been allowed for the tiles (for both floor and wall), as well as whether the wall tiles have been quoted as full height, half height or even skirting tiles only. This may well vary from one bathroom to the next, so make sure to set out your expectations room by room.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

How to Decorate an Open Plan Space

Open floor plans have become almost an absolute must in every modern home.  Contemporary homes are all about rooms that flow into one another without any visual obstacles, which can be a decorating challenge for some. The key thing to remember is that having an open floor plan does not mean that each individual area cannot have an identity of its own. Here are a few principles that can help you to organize beautifully and get the most out of your open-plan living space:

Create Spaces Within Your Space
Just because there are no walls doesn’t mean you can’t have different “rooms” in your open space plan. Smaller pockets of space, usually grouped around furniture and art, can create separate spaces within the open plan. Try using large furniture pieces for function or architectural elements as natural partitions to anchor each room.
Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

 
Focus Your Accessories
Designing an open plan area can be challenging in that there is so much space to fill. While you might be tempted to fill every square foot with furniture, a few careful arrangements of smaller furniture pieces will complete your room-within-a-room concept.
Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Delineate the Space with Rugs
Another simple way to organize large, open spaces is by being smart about the positioning of area rugs.  Rugs bring the decor together and clearly create a more organized and curated space.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

 

Statement Lighting
Another way to set a space apart from the other “rooms” in an open floor plan is to install a distinct light fixture. Defining the dining area with a great statement pendant or globe light will do the trick.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

 

Use Color to Create Flow
Since an open floor plan demands one uniform backdrop for the entire floor, go with a single neutral color for the walls. Pops of color can then be added as accents in the form of throw pillows, artwork and rugs. In the kitchen, use a new material or color for the cabinets to allow it to stand out as it’s own room.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

Open Up to the Outdoors
Whenever possible, extend your open floor plan even further by incorporating an outdoor room.  A covered porch or patio is extremely versatile and can be used for dining, relaxing and entertaining.
Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

Simple Tricks to Modernize Your Interiors

No matter how old your home is, modernizing the look of the interiors can be a challenge. If renovations aren’t in your plans or maybe not even necessary to get the job done, we’re happy to tell you that your home can easily be modernized with some small aesthetic touches.  Here are some simple tricks to bring your home up to date, without breaking the bank!

Make a Statement
With mid-century modern design, less is more. This is especially true when it comes to choosing furniture. Instead of cluttering a room with countless items from the era, choose one statement piece that will serve as the room’s focal point. Perhaps you can splurge on an original Eames chair or set of Eero Saarinen tulip chairs?
Photo: Herman Miller

Photo: Herman Miller

Hang Contemporary Art
The look that contemporary art juxtaposed with the architectural detail of a traditional home is very cool. Seek out artwork with colors that complement your existing furnishings, and you’ve got a foolproof combination. If a new art collection is not in your budget,  you can simply change the way your existing pieces are framed. Choose clean-lined frames in wood (stained or painted) and recycle the gilded molded frames into a mirror for another time.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Mix it Up
There’s nothing wrong with mixing styles and if done correctly this can give your rooms an exciting and modern look. For example, if you have an antique dining room set, keep the beautiful table and replace the wooden chairs. Buy some modern chairs to juxtapose the look of the table and you’ll be shocked at the result.

Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

De-Formalize Your Rooms
Formality makes most people feel like they can’t touch or sit, which doesn’t allow for a welcoming or comfortable home that you can live in. If you can’t bear to part with grandma’s Victorian loveseat, put it in the living room, but re-upholster it in a bright, new fabric and maybe even throw a patterned rug underneath.

Photo: ngocminhngo.com

Photo: ngocminhngo.com

Avoid Symmetry
The key to creating a modern look is balance over symmetry. Details and accessories, like table lamps and side tables, will look better if they don’t match. In the large scheme of things, this applies to the ratio between styles as well. Adding a little bit of one style to a lot of another makes more sense than dishing it out 50/50.

 

Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Pare it Down
I often tell my clients that “modern” does not have to be white walls, floors and furnishings and a stark environment. However, modern is clean and clean is pared down. Delete the clutter and choose the accessories, whatever style, carefully.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

Infuse Pattern Into Your Home Decor

Patterned furniture and décor should not be left to professional designers alone. Infusing pattern into your space is a great way to tell your story and make your home cozier and more lively. Pattern is very personal and the best place to start is by finding the ones that you really connect with. Think outside of the box and explore the world of pattern a bit before you buy. Living in a world of solids can be boring, but the pattern doesn’t need to be crazy to stand out: artwork, pillows, and fabric are easy ways to incorporate pattern into any space! Start small and build so you don’t get overwhelmed. Here are some of our favorite ways to bring pattern into your home:

Artwork
One of the easiest ways to add interest to any room is through artwork. Artwork can be intimidating for many people but really, it’s all about displaying things you love and you want to look at. It’s about exploring those interests, and seeing how they relate with one another.

Chameleon Design

Pillows
Pillows are another great way to update any room – bonus: just change out the covers if you already have inserts! Swapping out the cover seasonally or when the mood strikes is an easy way to change the feeling of a room. You can also move pillows from one room to another to give them new life without buying a thing.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

Rugs
Next to accent pillows, area rugs are our best bets for adding pattern without overwhelming a space. A classic stripe in tonal colors is an easy place to start adding texture and personality to your home. Still worried? Ease into it with a runner or small rug in a kitchen or entry, and work your way up to something larger in the bedroom or living room.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

Wallpaper
You have a few options when it comes to using pattern on your walls.  Wallpaper, of course, is the traditional way to go, and gives you a variety of choices.  However, you might also consider temporary wallpaper, which you can switch out with your changing decorating tastes or new furniture pieces.  You might also replicate part of a pattern by painting it on a large scale.  The drama of a large pattern can even make a small space seem bigger.

House Beautiful

Window Treatments
Introduce print to your home’s vertical planes without committing to wallpaper by opting to use a patterned fabric for your shades and drapery. A bold-colored print will enliven any neutral space and is a nice contrast to organic textures. A textural shade in classic colors is a good bet for any space where you’d like to project a serene vibe.

Chameleon Design

Chameleon Design

Tile
Tiled backsplashes, floors, and bathroom walls are the perfect way to add personality to utilitarian areas. Both the tile itself and the price of installation can be costly, so definitely consider your choice carefully before proceeding. A tonal installation in a classic pattern is an ideal place to start, while a bold geometric design will certainly make a lasting statement.

Better Homes & Gardens

Ceilings
A patterned ceiling is a fun and unusual way to add interest to a space. Whether in the form of painted stripes or tonal wallpaper, an eye-catching ceiling is unique and chic. We especially love the look in kids’ rooms, where it can be easier to get away with a more unusual color combination or bold design.

Domino Magazine

Domino Magazine

Make the Patio the Coolest Room in Your House

Memorial Day weekend is just behind us and that means that summer is officially here! If you’re looking forward to spending as much time outdoors as we are, you should make sure your patio is in top shape.  Whether your desire is to dine, entertain or lounge, patios are the perfect place to retreat and enjoy the weather. With a little attention you can turn your patio into a true extension of your home, both in function and design. Here are some easy things you can do to your patio to get it summer-ready:

Light it Up
Lighting is a “must do” for outdoor areas like patios. The right lighting will give it the ambiance that makes it a truly special place to be even well into the evening hours. You can string lights across the patio for a magical feel, or if that’s not for you, some outdoor lamps or more traditional landscape lighting will do the trick.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

 

Go with the Flow
It’s equally important to consider traffic flow when you’re organizing your outdoor spaces as it is for indoor areas. If your access to the patio is through the kitchen, put your grill and food prep area closest to the house so you can easily transport food in and out.  If your patio is off the living room, it’s great to extend that living room feeling into the outside with another conversation area. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in the backyard, try to set it up so that guests coming inside from the pool enter through a room with tile floors instead of carpeting.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

 

Go Green
Most people know that a patio begs for plants. Make sure you choose plants that add not only color but also different textures. Have a variety of plants of varying heights-  some flowering and some just green.  Though it’s a simple ingredient, plants really do make a huge difference in the overall feel of your patio.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

Add Some Warmth
If your patio doesn’t have a built-in fireplace, a portable or semi-permanent fire pit can be a great solution and will add a cozy ambience for your outdoor gatherings. People just tend to relax and settle in around a fire, and it can be the perfect backdrop for those long conversations on the patio or deck.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

 

Build an Outdoor Kitchen
If you’re hosting a party on the patio, people need to eat. So having some sort of outdoor kitchen space is a must. Some custom homes have an entire kitchen built into the patio. But if not, you’ve got to figure out a way to create a kitchen space around a simple grill. People will always gravitate to the area where the food is, so make sure to create a large enough space to accommodate them. Make some seating areas and include a big, galvanized tub full of ice and drinks.  Be sure to have enough tables on hand for seating as well as serving the food.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest