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Design Insight

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)

Combining Wallpaper and Artwork

As long as there has been wallpaper, serious art collectors have lined their wallpapered walls with art. With its repeat pattern, wallpaper is designed as a background, to lend a unifying structure to a room. Even if it’s a bold design, wallpaper complements, rather than competes with, art. Wallpaper is a fantastic way to dress up a bland wall, but its artistic design can pose a problem when you want to display artwork on that same wall. In fact, this dilemma can pose real design headaches for experienced professional designers, not to mention the at-home designer. Fortunately, there are a few rules of thumb to guide you through this home décor challenge.

Before you commit to hanging artwork on a wallpapered wall, you should be sure that you will like the visual impact. With ordinary drywall, it is not difficult to patch over a hole and repaint a small area as long as you have kept a sample of the paint on hand. With wallpaper, however, it is nearly impossible to cover up or hide a hole once it has been made. Aside from placing the hole to hang your frame in a busy area of the wallpaper so that it is less noticeable should you have a change of heart.

Photo: Pinterest

Think about the size of the artwork; on busy wallpaper, anything framed smaller than 11×17 is at risk of getting “lost”. Be selective. When working on a wallpapered surface, one work of art that makes a statement is frequently a better choice than several smaller works.

Photo: Pinterest

Go with a neutral colored frame, especially if your tastes are less eclectic. And use a wider mat, or artwork with negative space around the edges, to separate the art from the wall.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 9.17.31 PM

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Putting artwork on top of wallpaper can be a commitment. Be sure that you know what not to do before taking on this project. Your walls, and sanity, will thank you for it!

Step Out of Your Decorating Comfort Zone

If you’ve been making the same safe decorating choices for as long as you can remember, it can be quite a challenge to break out of the rut. But change is hard; there’s no way around that — which is why we recommend starting small, with more of a gentle nudge than a big push out of your comfort zone. Take the classic style you naturally gravitate toward and give it a fresh twist. Any one of these ideas here would be a great starting point:

Add a fun pendant light that doesn’t break the bank
Some of the reluctance we experience in making changes around the home is financial — what if we spend a lot of money on a new piece and then regret it? If fear of making a wrong choice has been herding you into picking the same old things over and over, find something inexpensive and fun that you could live with, even if it doesn’t work out.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Update your artwork
When was the last time you picked up anything new for your walls? If you’ve been living with the same prints and other art for years (or decades), make a date to take yourself to an art show, gallery or student sale and pick out a few fresh pieces that speak to you. New art on the walls can do wonders!

Photo: Pinterest

Be daring in a small dose
Want to push the style envelope a bit? Experiment with a small piece, like a stool, a side table or an ottoman, and you won’t have to worry that it will overwhelm the room. Try a bench with interesting legs, a stool in a bright, glossy finish or an ottoman covered in an animal print or a modern geometric.

Photo: Pinterest

Change your table shape
After we live with the same large pieces of furniture for many years, they almost become invisible to us. Try swapping out your dining or kitchen table for one with a different shape — round instead of rectangular or vice versa. In the living room, try using a pair of small square tables instead of one large rectangular one, or a large upholstered ottoman instead of a fussy glass-top table.

Photo: Pinterest

Sneak in something acrylic
If your home is really traditional (and you like it that way), but you’re looking to bring in something new without throwing off the balance, try clear acrylic or Lucite. This sturdy plastic has a distinctly modern vibe yet fits in with any style, because it calls to mind other more formal clear materials, like crystal and glass. It looks amazing for anything from counter stools to tables and has the added benefit of increasing the sense of space.

Photo: Pinterest

Hit on a vibrant hue that makes you happy.
Pay attention to your emotional response to color everywhere you go. Did the lush turquoise of the water on your Caribbean vacation make your heart sing? Run with it! Focus on updating one room that has been living in mostly neutral colors up till now and add several healthy doses of your happy hue.

3-The-Ridge-Plan-8-Master-Bedroom

Photo: Chameleon Design

Try a typographic print.
Want to bring a fresher, more current vibe to your house? Tag along with the typographic trend and pick up a wordy print or canvas (try searching on Etsy) in a statement-making size. Some artists will customize prints for you, working in favorite quotes or meaningful names and dates. Or you could always pick up some alphabet stencils and paints, and make your own.

Photo: Pinterest

Try your hand at a tablescape.
Nearly all designers love to play with objects on tables, and so can you. Start with a rectangular tray that will fit on your table or ottoman. Add a small stack of books, stack a decorative box or other small object on top of the books, place a pretty bowl alongside and finish the arrangement with a vase of flowers.

Photo: Pinterest

Define Space in the Home Without Walls

Walls in your home are the ultimate dividers of space, from a kitchen to a bathroom or bedroom. But how can you define different spaces in your home without them?  Open floor plans have become increasingly popular but without walls as the typical room barrier, designers must rely on things such as changes in level, materials and colors. These elements will change the way space is perceived in a room without relying on walls. Consider the following tips to create your home’s spaces without relying on the typical vertical barrier for enclosure.

Level Change
A step or two can differentiate two areas just as well as a wall. The level change will designate separate zones in an open plan, which is what you’re looking for.

Photo: Cary Bernstein Architecture

Photo: Pinterest

Overhead Element
A change in material at the ceiling level is a smart visual way to delineate zones in a home with an open floor plan. If you can’t make a material change in your space, try using paint for a dramatic effect.

Photo: Architectural Digest

Photo: Pinterest

Structural Elements
A home’s structural elements can be used to define space too. Wooden ceiling beams add another layer of architecture that is exposed in vaulted ceilings.

Photo: Architectural Digest

Photo: Pinterest

Screens
Screens are an easy way to incorporate a room divider and a great way to create an architectural pause between here and the rest of the home.

Photo: Houzz.com

Photo: Pinterest

Flooring Material
Dark wood contrasts nicely with bright white walls and also acts as an instant visual cue to a room delineation. The same will work in reverse, meaning if you have dark kitchen cabinets and walls, go with a lighter shade for your floors.

Photo: Pinterest