Design Insight

Common Decor Mistakes // The Living Room

There are certain mistakes that even the savviest home designers make. We’re calling out some of the most common issues we see when it comes to living room design, as well as some solutions to assure you won’t make these mistakes again. We’ve shared images of our work to demonstrate how you can effectively tackle these common décor mistakes.

Purchasing Furniture in Sets
We tend to gravitate toward rooms that give off a collected air, spaces that feel as if they have lived a life. When the sofa and chairs are perfectly matched or the side tables, coffee table, and armoire are all the same, the space loses that unique, personal feeling.

Solution: Switch up your furniture selection to create a unique mix.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Lighting is an Afterthought
Home decorators commonly focus their attention on statement pieces like a sofa, and then add in lighting at the last minute to fill in any gaps.

Solution: Think about the lighting scheme from the beginning of the design. Whether opting for a statement chandelier, a pair of sculptural table lamps or decorative sconces, paying attention to the lighting you incorporate into your décor will create a more cohesive overall look.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Pushing Furniture Against the Wall
While it’s not a pitfall often seen in large spaces, pushing all of your furniture flush against a wall may be doing you a disservice.

Solution: A furniture plan featuring floating pieces is more conducive to conversation both when hosting guests and when just enjoying family time at home. Place a console behind a floating sofa to give it additional heft or position a side table between floating lounge chairs to provide a sense of permanence.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Not Mixing Materials

Solution: A variety of fabrics, finishes, and textures is key when designing a layered, dimensional space. If your side tables, console, and coffee table are all wood, consider subbing in a glass or metal piece to create more variety. Similarly, if your sofa is linen, we recommend switching up the fabrics on your draperies, lounge chairs, and throw pillows to create more visual appeal and keep the eye moving.

Photo: Chameleon Design

 Area Rug That’s Too Small
An area rug that is too small will make your furniture look crowded rather than planned and you’ll lose valuable useable square footage by cramming everything close together.

Solution: Take time to measure your space to see what the ideal size would be, and invest in a rug that is suitable for your room.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Essentials for an Eclectic Home

Eclectic design encompasses a variety of periods and styles and is brought together through the use of color, texture, shape and finish. A space that is eclectic allows for traditional furniture to mix with modern, or vice versa. Though it may not look it, a true eclectic style is a very purposeful and well thought-out way of decorating, and it’s not easy. Some styles don’t mix well, so it’s best to use no more than two styles unless you’re a professional.

To achieve this look, choose a color scheme and stick with a neutral as your grounding force. Then add to it with colored and textured solids and patterns. A combination of finishes and textures sets an eclectic look apart from the rest. If you like a wide variety of styles in your home and don’t like things that are too matchy matchy, a more eclectic style may be just the thing you’re searching for.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Pinterest

How To Create an Open Plan Kitchen

The kitchen is often called the hub of the home and for a while we’ve seen spaces designed to open to adjacent family rooms, creating a more intimate, homey feeling. Now formal dining rooms are following suit: in many homes, they’ve effectively become obsolete, being absorbed by the kitchen, creating larger, more functional spaces.

Homeowners have broken free of formality and embraced floorplans that combine rooms for optimal use. There’s no sense in wasting square footage on a room that’s only used sporadically. Considering an open-plan kitchen? The key to design success in these spaces is to separately define the

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dining and kitchen prep-areas, while ensuring the combined space is harmonious. Read on for why these rooms get it right.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design

Diverse Materials:
A mix of materials and surfaces keeps the eye moving in these large spaces and prevents visual boredom. If your countertops are granite, opt for a wood table with chrome light fixtures. If you have butcher-block counters, a marble-top table set underneath iron light fixtures is a good way to introduce a variety of texture into the space.

Lighting Variety:
Using an assortment of lighting fixtures and styles will define the kitchen and dining areas as different zones, though they may only be separated by mere feet. Switch up the styles of your sconces, pendants, and chandelier to keep the design cohesive, but dimensional.

A Decorated Space:
Combining kitchen and dining spaces doesn’t mean you have to lose all of the décor components. This makes dining rooms special. By introducing art, vintage and antique seating, beautiful draperies, and decorative accessories, you can still give the design of your open-plan kitchen the high-end look of a formal dining room.

A Variety of Seating Styles:
By distinguishing the look of your kitchen barstools from your dining chairs, you can evoke the feeling of a separate dining room and make the space dynamic and interesting while you’re at it.

Key Decorating Tips to Make Any Room Better

Designers don’t follow a secret rule book, but there are definitely some rough principles that guide us to ensure a great result every time. They are tried and true things that work, not necessarily tricks or skills that take years to master. Consider these tips a foundation for developing your own design ability:

Pick the paint color last
Homeowners commonly want to pick a paint color before they move in. This is not ideal as there are thousands of paint colors with various tints, tones and shades, and each one looks different from home to home. Light sources vary, meaning what looks good in your current home might not be perfect in your new one.

Give your furniture some breathing room
Resist overcrowding a room. You don’t need to fill up a space with lots of furniture for the room to look great. Spend more of your budget on fewer, better-quality pieces, and your room will look better than ever.

Photo: Houzz.com

Hang artwork at the right height
Galleries and museums hang artwork so that the mid-line (center) of each piece is 57 inches to 60 inches from the floor. (The average human eye level is 57 inches.) You should do the same in your home.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Resist the urge to have a theme
Some people have a tendency to go overboard with one particular theme or style and it can come off all wrong. For example, the Cape Cod look is a very popular, but it has been done so many times, it lacks individuality.

Create a focal point
Choose your piece and make it the focal point to anchor a room, while other items take a secondary role. Your focal point might be a dramatic hood in the kitchen, a mantel and art piece in the living room or a headboard in the bedroom. Whatever it is, choose something that will draw the eye’s attention.

Add layers of lighting
In a well-designed kitchen, the backsplash is lit, the artwork is highlighted and the cabinet interiors are filled with light. One central lighting fixture would not have had nearly the same dramatic result. Professionals build layers of lighting to create interest, intrigue and variety. In a room where everything is lit evenly, nothing stands out. Pick a focal point and perhaps a secondary focal point and highlight those. Add general ambient lighting and some lower lighting, like table lamps, for interest.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Be bold
Personality is what makes a space great. Make your own statement and have fun. The more you try, the more you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t. Incorporate unexpected elements for drama.

Photo: Houzz.com

Tips for Designing Your Dream Kitchen

A place where function is certainly more important than form, there’s a lot to consider in a kitchen renovation, beyond fabrics and pretty finishes. So below are a few expert tips to get you headed in the right direction:

Splurge on Hardware
Hardware is definitely something to spend some money on, as it really dictates the look of your kitchen.  Three things to consider in hardware: it should feel good to your hand, it should be easy to use, and it should be aesthetically pleasing.

Photo: Pinterest

Connect Your Rooms
Many kitchens today have an open plan, flowing into the living room or dining room, or they have a “breakfast nook” that’s used regularly, even for dinner. To create continuity between these spaces, surfaces need to speak to each other.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Be Smart About Appliances
When shopping for appliances, work with a professional for guidance. Weigh all factors, such as who uses the kitchen, how many people are cooking at one time, and how often your family cooks. Not everyone needs all of the appliance features on the market, and they’re very often not used.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Upgrade Your Cabinetry
Replacing cabinetry will always give you the most value. It takes up the largest part of your kitchen, and it will inevitably make the most impact.

Photo: Pinterest

Install More Lighting
Lighting is always important, and every room should have a balance of countertop and overhead lighting. New innovations in LED bulbs have greatly improved the options of undercounter lighting- with the LED bulbs now, your food even looks more attractive. Interior and lower cabinets are also recommended. Anything that’s deep, dark, or below the counter should have a light.

Photo: Pinterest

Boost Your Curb Appeal

We have a tendency to focus on the interiors of our home, but the truest first impression our friends and guests have is what they see from the curb. With a few exterior updates, your house will be the biggest supermodel on the block. Even if you are not planning to sell your home anytime soon, a fresh and welcoming exterior is a wonderful thing to come home to each day. From front doors, house numbers and porch furnishings to color schemes, landscaping and basic repairs, this smorgasbord of ideas will hopefully inspire a few changes around your own home.

Front Door
A new front door instantly enhances your home’s appearance, and what’s more, it can greatly increase resale value.

Photo: Pinterest

Frame Your Doorway
Bring a little life to your doorstep by framing it with a pair of topiaries, citrus trees, or potted plants. A little greenery can go a long way, not only adding color, but also bringing a sculptural element to your home.

Upgrade Your Hardware
Get new house numbers, a new mailbox, and a door latch with the same finish to give your exterior a cohesive, stylish look.

Lighting
If your guests and neighbors can’t even see your house, it will have literally no curb appeal whatsoever. So install outdoor lighting to light the way and offer safety and security. Be sure to illuminate your walking paths and any entrance areas. Properly planned and installed outdoor lighting can add safety, drama, and interest to your home. Path lighting should also be an integral part of your outdoor lighting plan.

Photo: Houzz

Paint Your Trim
Painting your home’s entire exterior is a surefire way to update its look, but of course, it’s costly. Plan B is to simply paint your shutters and/or trim. You’ll surprised what a fresh coat can do.

Exterior

Photo: Chameleon Design

Decorating Habits to Break

For those of us who aren’t interior designers, a lack of awareness can result in telltale rookie design mistakes. We’ve listed some of those we see the most below, plus tips on how to break those habits for good!

Entryway Neglect
Make a good first impression by finding another spot to pile shoes, mail and keys. Your foyer is the first thing people see when they come to your home, so use the space to display an important piece of art or to hang an unusual light fixture.

Photo: Pinterest

Unnecessary Cabinets
But thinking differently about kitchen design—like swapping bulky storage cabinets for windows and using a center island to hide your dishes, pots and pans—can really open up your space. Floating shelving, our trend this week, is also a great tip!

Photo: Pinterest

Too Formal Dining
More and more these days, homes are about your personal comfort and use, not about entertaining twice a year. Reject the notion that your dining space needs to be formal and intimidating and decorate in a style that is more in line with your other living spaces. After all, why waste the space on a room you only use occasionally when you could be hosting family meals at the table every night?

Photo: Chameleon Design

Don’t Put your Sofa Against the Wall
Rather than automatically pushing your couch back against the wall, consider placing it into the room instead. Doing so will create a more polished and conversation-friendly area. Add a console table behind the couch with a couple of lamps to complete the look.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Don’t Follow Fads
If you don’t like Mid-Century Modern or Danish Minimalism, don’t decorate in those styles. When the same style or pieces are popping up in your favorite design mags or blogs, you may be temped to cave to their aesthetic sensibilities even though you don’t really…like them. Stick to your guns and be true to your own look. After all, it’s your home, it should reflect your taste.

Over Matching
Buying sets suck the personality out of a room. Mix and match styles to keep your home from looking like a catalogue. Purchase your big-ticket item—like a sofa or bed—first, then pick smaller pieces from other collections or, better yet, a completely different store.

Not Letting Go
Get rid of that worn-out, outdated piece of furniture or rug, even if you spent a ton of money on it seven years ago.  Sometimes, you just have to let pieces go if they no longer work in your space.

Why We Love Midcentury Modern Design

Midcentury modern is everywhere and Chameleon Design has been using this style in many of our newer models. Its emphasis on pared-down forms, contemporary patterns, natural materials and a seamless flow between indoors and out create a medley of functional comfort and chic style that has a very wide appeal. Here our some of our favorite things about this look and how to get them:

Indoor-Outdoor Flow
It may sound like the norm now, but back in the ’50s, the idea of indoor-outdoor living was revolutionary for the average American. Midcentury modern homes took advantage of the new passion for bringing the indoors out and vice versa: wide windows, sliding doors, patios.

Photo: House Beautiful

Iconic Furnishings
Midcentury style is unique in that it’s largely driven by innovative mass-produced furniture and accents. Perhaps no other period produced the same volume of household-name artists and designers as this era: George Nelson, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and dozens more. Their singular furnishings and accents drive and define the look, and though they come at a price, you can find knockoffs and reinterpretations that will give you the look. Or invest in one authentic signature piece to anchor the space, then layer it with others that complement the look but aren’t necessarily true to the period.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Statement Lighting
Sputnik chandeliers, Bubble lights, Arco floor lamps: classic midcentury lighting pumps up a room’s drama. Although its forms are sculptural enough to double as art, function remains paramount.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Architectural Digest

Neutrals Paired With Brights
Warm and earthy colors, largely through the natural woods that predominate, are central to the midcentury palette. Yet it wouldn’t do for this look to come across as too quiet, and a few strokes of rich, saturated color give it strength and presence. The best thing about midcentury colors is that here aren’t a lot of rules. Want to pair persimmon and plum? Go for it. Or bring in rich teal, avocado, oxblood red, gold or all of the above — unexpected color combos suit this style.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Is It Time for a Redesign or a Refresh?

Spring is certainly in the air and our thoughts turn to our own personal spring cleaning and editing, as well as to our clients who want to refresh their interiors. Here are a few of my “rules of thumb” and ideas for updating designs for those who aren’t really ready for a full new look:

Spruce up a room with a new rug
Perhaps you have a traditional oriental rug, why not try replacing it with a fun striped rug that will bring summer brightness to your room. Or a sisal blend rug can instantly freshen up a room.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Add some new color and patterns with pillows
Fresh, new pillows can make a great deal of difference when you want to spruce up a bit. There are lots of great sources that can provide a quick colorful update, at a range of prices. Choose pillows that do not match the upholstery fabric in order to add a different color and texture.

Photo: Chameleon Design

A fresh coat of paint
New paint is an inexpensive way to decorate for spring and can add a lot of color to your design. And don’t just think in terms of walls…what about a fresh new color on a dated piece of furniture. Re-upholstering a key item will give you a like-new piece for a smaller price tag.

Organize your library and arrange your books in a new order
Nothing is lovelier than a beautiful, neat library or bookshelf. Adding accessories to a bookcase updates the look, as does painting the back of the shelves in an accent color or using wallpaper along the back.

Photo: Pinterest

Consider a crisp new duvet cover and sheets
This gives us such a feeling of elegance and what a great way to pamper yourself! One of my favorite places to look for well-priced sheets is Bed, Bath & Beyond and the Bloomingdale’s Home Store.

Photo: Pinterest

Spruce up your guest room for summer guests
Update the linens, add some fresh flowers and consider a new reading chair or beautiful lamp on the bedside table.

Update your tabletops and china
New tabletop items, such as china, glassware, or linens can give an entirely new look to your breakfast or dining room for a reasonable cost.

Photo: Heath Ceramics

Editing is also a great way to update interiors
Sometimes it can be difficult to part with or put things away temporarily, but this effort can be very helpful in giving

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interiors a new look. I tell clients to go room by room and take out one or two things that they are tired of. And if you feel it looks empty replace it with something new, vintage, or antique…depending on your concept and willingness to mix.

Now that spring is here and your home has a fresh look, fill it with beautiful flowers from your garden or the local flower market and enjoy!

Is the Formal Living Room a Thing of the Past?

The formal living room, once the centerpiece of the American home, has been dwindling in size for several years. Now it’s being eliminated in many new home plans. Most new houses still have large rooms with deep seating and media, but they’re called great rooms rather than living rooms. And unlike their more formal predecessors, they’re usually open to the kitchen, the better to accommodate casual family activities. As a private, set-off area, the living room is losing its form.

In today’s homes, the kitchen is king. We no longer hide it; we open other rooms up to it. People work so much away from home, that when they are home, they want to relax. They’re still entertaining, but it’s less formal than it once was. Now, when you have company, everybody wants to stand in the kitchen near the center island. Today’s open floor plans help to foster togetherness for time-strapped families. When families are together, they want to be together, not separated in different rooms.

All that said, the living room still has its devotees. Some buyers will enter a model and ask, ‘where is the living room?” Though they tend to be more mature, and often they’ve accumulated a lot of beautiful living room furniture and need a place to put it. But even people who insist on having a living room are satisfied with much less space than in the past. Today’s living rooms are about as small as they can get- just big enough to hold a sofa, a chair and a coffee table. They’re not the big showcase they used to be.

What do you think-  is the living room dead? And how have you reinvented it in your home?

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Chameleon Design (Gold National Award Winner)