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Design Insight

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Get rid of that worn-out, outdated piece of furniture or rug, even if you spent a ton of money on it seven years ago.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

How to Choose the Perfect White Paint

Choosing the perfect shade of white is an exercise in subtlety and anything but simple. A friend recently called to ask my advice on picking a good shade for her home interior, and it got me thinking about how tricky it can be if you don’t understand the spectrum of whites that are out there. Benjamin Moore, for example, makes over 150 different shades of white! As white reflects all colors, it easily takes on hues of all surrounding colors. So if your selections look like a this…hopefully our tips on differentiating the most common categories will help.

Creamy white

A white bedroom can be a very relaxing haven. For best results, use a few different tones of white and layer them in the space. Creamy white walls are lovely when combined with crisp white curtains and ivory colored bedding. This type of variation will prevent your space from looking too stark.

Photo: Vogue

Cool white

Cool white walls will create a serene, homogenous space that has very little contrast and/or distraction. These whites work well in contemporary spaces because they provide a feeling of newness. For a classic cool white to shine, the hues around it need only a hint of pigment.

Photo: Pinterest

Soft white
Soft white is a great choice as it creates a blank canvas for adding any other color. A soft white wall will also pair nicely with a crisp white trim, adding a subtle contrast. These shades are wonderful for bringing out the dimensions of panelled woodwork.

Photo: Pinterest

Snow white
A very classic way to treat wainscoting is to paint it with a glossy, snow white paint color. This look also works great in a more contemporary space, as shown here.

Photo: Pinterest

Antique white
For a more traditional space, antique whites work best because they provide a lived-in feel to a room. They have a timeless appeal, with slightly tarnished brown undertones that help lend depth to white walls without overpowering a space.
Ivory white
Many people like the look of white cabinetry in the kitchen, but they don’t want the space to appear too cold. In this case, look for a white that has a slight ivory undertone. You can also add warmth to your kitchen with wood flooring, and by using clear halogen lighting.

Photo: Pinterest

Gray white
A crisp, grayish-white wall color will always make a sophisticated, museum-like backdrop for artwork and vivid accent hues. Having undertones of blue & grey can make the room feel cold, so be careful where you use this shade.

Is Your Home Ready for the Holidays?

The holidays are the year’s busiest social season and every home is bound to have a guest or two! Whether you’re planning a big party or hosting overnight guests, the preparation can be a lot to tackle when your to-do list is already a mile long. Luckily, there are small things you can do that will make a big impact.

Spruce up your entry, inside and out
It’s the first things guests see, so make sure it sets the right tone. A festive, fresh wreath on the door or garland hung above and some candles will create a very inviting front porch. And don’t forget to give the foyer a little bit of love. This small space is what gives guests their first impression of your home- so make sure it looks terrific.

Let the Light In
One of the neglected areas of holiday parties, or parties of any kind, is the lighting. Use votives and tea lights to light stairs, dining tables tops, consoles, bookcases, guestrooms, bathrooms, anywhere!

Prep guest rooms
Fresh sheets and extra towels, a mirror, working bedside lights, curtains on the windows, a place to put a suitcase — check the basics off your list now so you won’t have to scramble when a guest is due to arrive. Stock the guest bathroom with spare toothbrushes and other items guests may have forgotten to pack. And if your guest room shares space with a home office, now is also a good time to clear out the clutter. Guests shouldn’t feel like they’re sleeping in an office.

Stock the bathroom
It’s perhaps one of the cheapest and easiest ways to prep your home for party season, but it’s a must-do. Buy new hand towels, add a small arrangement of fresh flowers and a nicely scented candle and you’re done!

Just-In-Case Gifts:
Don’t forget to have a few extra gifts around for unexpected guests or a last minute party invitation. These gifts should be fun for kids and adults alike. Pick things that are unique so they look less like an after thought.

Happy Holidays! We hope all your hosting is a success!

Style Your Home Like a Pro

It’s that time of year when holiday parties and get-togethers with friends and family are in fill swing. If you’re looking around the house and wondering if there’s anything you can do to make things look better before guests begin to come over, then keep reading! We’re sharing some secrets that will work miracles without much expense or effort.

Dress Up a Table: Refresh an old favorite or give an inexpensive one a grand look with fabric. A draped table appears inviting and you just have to change the material to mix it up. For a formal touch, let the edges pool and for a tailored, clean look cut the hem so it skims the floor.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Turn Your Kitchen Into a Showplace: Domed-glass cake stands look elegant, especially when used in multiples. We like to display greens or fresh fruit such as green apples, lemons or artichokes.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pottery Barn

Wallpaper the Ceiling: Craving a jolt of color or pattern? Set your sights overhead by papering just the ceiling of a room such as the guest room. This will give you a wow factor that guests will remember.

Photo: Parker Palm Springs

Bring the Outdoors In: There’s something so romantic about an olive tree indoors. The leaves have a feather-like quality that softens a space. Select one that’s tall enough to graze your ceiling and ground it by

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placing it in an oversize basket or pot. Fiddle leaf fig trees are another designer fave.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Master the Stack of Books Trick: In almost every story in a decorating magazine, you’ll spot a pile of books crowned with an object or two. Designers love this look, which not only brings personality to a room but also can be used to break up the library-neat rows on a bookshelf or create a stylish vignette on a coffee table. To do it right, gather similar sized volumes in a favorite palette and top them with a large shell or patterned bowl. You don’t need numerous objects; pare down your choices to one to three items that have meaning for you.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest