Design Insight

How to Style a Swoon-Worthy Backyard Vignette

With summer ushering warm nights, your backyard is calling you to visit. What better time to spruce up your outdoor space with these covetable finds: the glow of twinkle lights, an intentional drink bar and a tropical touch of greenery. Goodbye vintage, and hello magical backyard vignette.

Let It Glow

Whether your outdoor space is a cozy patio or lavish retreat, nothing creates mood faster than café lights framing the perimeter of a patio table or seating area. To create an illusion of larger space, place the center strand of lights at the farthest point from the backyard entrance and work your way out in a fan shape.

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Flirty Cocktail Umbrellas Not Required

Your backyard will become the hot spot for cold cocktails when you set up a one-stop bar station. Give a bar cart a new lease on life by rolling it near chairs or stools and stocking it with a large ice bucket, cocktail mixers and plenty of eye-catching glasses. Tuck blankets and Turkish towels in a nearby basket for cool evenings.

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Be a Green Goddess

Enhance a backyard vignette by using nature to its fullest. Palm fronds, banana leaves and jasmine entice your senses and create a spa-like ambience. Greenery breathes life and texture when flanking doors or creating climbing shapes along a back wall.

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Tiny Houses and Why We Love Them

Like a grown-up version of the Barbie Dreamhouse, tiny houses are big on style and functionality. These houses – often measuring less than 400 square feet – are part of a growing movement toward minimalism, born out of consumers’ desires to simplify their lives while maximizing their sense of fulfillment. Although living smaller may not be right for everyone, the lessons about simpler living in a more efficient space translate to virtually any home. Steal these ideas from tiny living to reap the benefits of their thoughtful, innovative designs.

Pare Down Upkeep

Although it’s a popular trend to hang a flat-screen television over a built-in fireplace, electronics and heat don’t mix well. One new solution to this dilemma is to select an ethanol-alcohol fireplace, which produces less heat, and recess a TV into the wall so it’s protected better. Although a TV is a focal point in many living rooms and dens, a cupboard design like this one allows homeowners to hide the monitor when not in use.

Look Up

One of the best features about tiny houses is that these designs maximize space. Imagine drifting off to sleep in a loft suspended from high ceilings.

Choose Double-Duty Furniture

Not every home has enough space for a separate home office, but with the right selection of furniture, every space can serve multiple purposes. A hideaway desk can morph into a workstation easily, especially one with lots of cubbies and drawers for storage. Another option is to build a desk and shelving into existing nooks.

Play with Color

A paler color palette comprised of soft neutrals can open small quarters to create the visual equivalent of space. But you don’t have to stick to white, beige and gray; a pop of color can focus attention on the spectacular design of a well-appointed piece. Alternatively, a richly hued scheme incorporating dramatic, even dark, color on the walls can add drama.

How to Incorporate Home Technology Invisibly into Design

Although technology is ubiquitously designed into every new home, no one wants to see the telltale signs of it. Gone are the days of showcasing technology as a design focus; today’s consumer wants it to work in the background seamlessly. Fortunately, thanks to a crop of new audio, theater, energy monitoring and security gadgets, technology is more powerful than ever before yet integrated into home design for practically invisible use.

Stage a TV over a Fireplace – Or Make It Disappear

Although it’s a popular trend to hang a flat-screen television over a built-in fireplace, electronics and heat don’t mix well. One new solution to this dilemma is to select an ethanol-alcohol fireplace, which produces less heat, and recess a TV into the wall so it’s protected better. Although a TV is a focal point in many living rooms and dens, a cupboard design like this one allows homeowners to hide the monitor when not in use.

Hear It, Don’t See It

For an ambient experience, consider embedding surround-sound audio speakers into existing design. In fact, some types of speakers are made to vibrate and amplify audio signals better when hidden in walls or ceilings. Other solutions include faux rocks to hide speakers in a backyard or on a patio.

Charge Wherever You Are

Mobile phone users swipe, tap and pinch their phones on average 2,617 times a day, racking up a million touches every year, according to research firm Dscout. All that checking in drains battery life quickly, but furniture with built-in, wireless charging pads mean you can set down your smartphone and charge up in no time.

Whole-Home Integration: There’s an App for That

For the ultimate in convenience, homeowners are turning to automated systems that run lighting, heating, security and other electronics from one touchscreen system – even a single app accessible from any mobile device. An integrated system like this one lets users control practically everything in a home.

Faux Finishes Mimic Nature

It all began the moment you settled in to read the latest thriller from your favorite author and draped a faux sable blanket across your lap. Since then, your love affair with all things organic and lush has grown in intensity. Now it’s time to invite other faux finishes into your home to drive your interior design choices. From rugs to ceiling aesthetics and everything in between, here’s your guide to using budget-friendly faux finishes to make everything look a bit more luxe.

Mesmerize with Marble

The faux finishing technique of marbleizing replicates the intricate, variegated veins of real marble. This countertop and back splash is made of natural quartz designed to appear like marble.

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Get the Look of Ancient Stone

Stone stands up to the test of time, but the cost can be prohibitive. That’s where artisan finishes on drywall or wood come in. The look of a faux stone finish is organic – even responsive to fluctuations in lighting.

Nature at Your Feet

If you love the appearance of real wood flooring but loathe to undertake the upkeep or cost, tile that mimics the raw wonder of wood is easy to care. Faux wood tile flooring bears details once found only in nature, such as varying grains, concentric rings and knots, as well as a range of hues.

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Wood Grain Craze

Enveloping cabinets or even walls in faux wood gain can mimic a range of looks from rustic to refined to exotic. The secret to trying this trend is to varying the direction of the grain to create the illusion of spaciousness in tight spaces.

Pantone’s Color of the Year Soothes the Soul

Does the pace of modern life have you yearning for the natural world? The Pantone Color Institute offers weary souls an antidote with its 2017 Color of the Year, called Greenery. The yellow-green minimalistic hue invites you to stop and breathe, disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Greenery is all about unity and community – and we can’t think of a better purpose for design.

Invite the Great Outdoors into Your Home

In announcing its color of the year, Pantone lauded Greenery for its “vitality of nature and new beginnings.” We recommend refreshing tired surroundings or calming busy interiors by bringing the soft, desaturated tone into your environment. Greenery answers the call for simplicity and evokes the grounding of nature, making it the ideal color to redefine a room. Almost every brand of paint incorporates a color like Greenery into its palette this year. Some of our other favorite ways to introduce Greenery into your environment include throws, furniture and appliances.

Sources: A: Alpaca Throw, Johnathan Adler B: KitchenAid Mixer C: Leather Pouf, All Modern D: Parsons Bed, Room & Board E: Rustic Platter, Williams Sonoma

Designing a Room from Scratch

Designing a room from a completely blank slate can be quite a daunting task! It can be difficult to know where to start and once you get going you need to be aware of the order you’re doing things to get the best results possible. There are also some basic design rules that are always good to keep in mind to give you that well-designed look that you’re hoping for. Whether it’s one room or your entire home, we’ve compiled some tips to help get you started:

Define Your Personal Style

When designing a room don’t just jump in, take your time to think about your personal style and the overall look you want to go for. Maybe you love mid-century modern or maybe it’s a more traditional look that excites you. Either way, making this determination from the get-go will guide every choice you make going forward and help you to put together a more cohesive look.

Photo: Amber Interiors

Mix It Up

Another way to think of this is to avoid being too matchy-matchy. If you decide you want to go with a modern look and purchase everything from the same store your space is going to be boring and you won’t be in love with the results. Have fun with the process and shop for items from various sources. The large commercial stores like West Elm are great to mix with custom items and even flea market finds.

Photo: C Magazine

Plan Your Space

Measure, measure, measure! Before shopping for your pieces it’s best that you measure and plan out your space on paper. This will ensure that everything you place will fit nicely in the room and not be too crowded or too empty. Another trick is to use painters tape to actually tape out dimensions in a room where you’re thinking of placing a sofa or bed. Do this before you buy so you don’t get stuck with anything that’s not a perfect fit!


Photo: Chameleon Design

Start with the Rug

If you select a rug you love for each room and build from there, you can’t go wrong. The rug will ground the space and with an endless array of fabrics, colors and patterns it will organically dictate how the rest of the room comes together. If you’re working with a carpeted room or don’t want to include a rug for whatever reason, start with the largest furniture piece and build from there. So for the bedroom it would be the bed and for the den it would be the sofa or entertainment center.

Photo: My Domain

How to Keep Your Home Looking Up To Date

We love trends as much as the next designer, but unfortunately trends eventually go out of style, leaving an outdated look in their wake. Luckily, we have some tricks up our sleeves that will allow you to indulge in the best trends of the season, while assuring your home stays fresh and up to date.

Pick a Neutral Color Palette

Selecting a neutral color palette for the main areas of your home will allow for the perfect base, while giving you the opportunity to layer in changing trends that can easily be removed if they begin to feel dated.



Photo: The Everygirl

Find Your Personal Design Style

Tapping into your personal style can help you decipher which home decor trends to lean towards and which to avoid. Consider the colors and textures you gravitate towards and work them into your existing pieces and palette. This should take you beyond the trends and leave you with pieces that are timeless.

Photo: Country Living

Opt for small pieces instead of entire rooms

When incorporating a trend into your interior design it is important to note that small is better. Sure, that Spanish tiled bathroom might look fabulous now, but will you still love it in a year? Small trending accents, such as throw pillows, are great ways to pay homage to a trend without overdoing it. Rooms that are themed tend to go out of style quickly.

Photo: Design Sponge


Choosing functional pieces and remodel choices will help to create a timeless effect to your home. The more functional your home and furniture is, the more timeless your design becomes. Select furniture that fits with your lifestyle and that of your family and you won’t need to buy new pieces every few years!


Photo: Chameleon Design


How Color Can Redefine A Room

Whether you have just moved in or have nested in the same place for years, a little change of color can do wonders to your interior. Big or small, painting or wallpapering projects can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your interior design. Grab some crafting tools and get started!

  1. Small furniture pieces

Painting a small piece of furniture can change the look and feel of an entire room. Something like a dresser or end table is an easy DIY and will add a fun pop of color to a room. We recommend using a piece that’s gone out of style or maybe one that doesn’t match your overall design.

Photo: Chameleon Design

2. Accent walls

The easiest room transformation: paint one wall. Need help choosing a wall color? Our recommendation is to pick a color you already love decorating with, that fits the overall interior design of your existing room. This will create a significant change but won’t require you to redecorate entirely. If you’re feeling really bold, check out our previous post on the trending moody wall colors.

Photo: Chameleon Design

3. Cabinets

A fresh coat of paint on cabinets can create an entirely new look in a room. Whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room this is a simple and inexpensive way to transform it. Recently we’ve seen dark cabinets trending, but whether you opt for a moody or bright color, be ready for your room to have a whole new personality!

Photo: Superfront

4. Architectural Accents

Wall papering a room is another great way to add color and it can also make the architectural accents look more dramatic. The colored wallpaper in this room accents the wood molding and creates depth while bringing the room together.

Photo: Chameleon Design