Design Insight

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

Wallpaper Do’s & Dont’s

Wallpapering has become increasingly common for the everyday homeowner. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing like it in terms of bringing color and texture to a room.  There are many beautiful options on the market now, but if you’re new to the world of wallpaper, you’re probably wondering where to start. And once you have the perfect rolls in hand, where should you go from there? Once you’ve made the commitment to wallpaper, refer to our do’s and dont’s to help you get the result you’re looking for.

DO: Consider the Room You’re Wallpapering
If it’s a bedroom and you want a romantic look, try delicate damasks and florals with fine lines in muted, soft colors. I don’t recommend using wallpaper in your bathrooms due to the moisture but in a powder room where you’re not dealing with steam it can be stunning and adds a point of interest to what would be an ordinary room.

Photo: Chameleon Design


Photo: Pinterest

DO: Consider an Accent Wall
Choose a dramatic, bold pattern to highlight an area of a room, such as behind a bed or sofa. Designs with a hint of metallic or gloss will give a classy, glamorous touch.  (See our recent post on this: https://www.chameleonoc.com/blog/2013/08/home-design-trends-wallpapered-accent-walls/).

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Pinterest

DO: Call in a Professional
Good wallpaper ranges from $60-$150 per single roll.  At those prices, it is recommended that you hire a professional paper hanger & choose a pattern you can live with.  A good installer makes a huge difference.  It is not as easy as the experts make it look.  If it’s off just a smidge you will know and your eyes will zero in on it every time.

DON’T: Go Overboard
If you’re going with a bold print, make sure the space can handle it. If you put that bold print on all four walls of a small room, you’re going to overpower the room and make it feel very small. Finding a print you like the first step, but make sure to think about the end result.

DON’T: Censor Yourself
Wallpaper removes in full strips, so it’s not a lifetime commitment. Without going overboard, pick a pattern that shows some personality!

Photo: Kelly Wearstler

Front Patios

The front patio has evolved along with the quickening pace of everyday life. Patios and porches were originally designed to create an extension of the living space, but as houses, neighborhoods and air conditioning evolved, families headed indoors or to the backyard instead. Today, the front patio is making a comeback as homeowners look to use the space to not only improve the look of their home, but also to better the quality of their lives as they spend more time with family, friends and neighbors. The front patio is just another limb of the house. It’s important to remember that it can be used many different ways, and its use should be specific to your needs. Here are some ways to use the area as it was originally intended.

Front patios are essential to helping create community in a neighborhood.  Using your front yard more proactively as part of your functional space on your property is a great way to be able to see what’s going on in your neighborhood and in your community.  A front patio can help you watch over the neighborhood, and a safe neighborhood is a happy and comfortable neighborhood. Parents know more than anyone how important it is to have a safe place for raising kids. Just by sitting on the patio you can help deter crime and unwanted activity.

Create an inviting walkway to the front door. This will excite your visitors and give your home great curb appeal. Consider using pathway lights for when you get home after dark. Lighting is one of those features many people think about at the end, but it should be an early design decision, since it dramatically changes the feel of a porch. It’s easy to just pull into the garage after work and walk straight inside. Start walking through the front door when you get home instead. Not only will you get a little more exercise, but you’ll get to see your front yard, too. It will give you the chance to see all the things you’ve been missing.

The best way to make sure you use the front patio is to turn it into an outdoor room. As a transition space, your modern patio should feel like an extension of the home’s interior.  If you have a large space, it’s easy to put out enough furniture that whole family can use. This is a great way to expand the house and create a new living room. Even if you think your area is too small, odds are that it can still suit you and some company just fine.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Houzz

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 9.22.53 PM

Photo: Houzz

Photo: Houzz

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Open Versus Closed Kitchens

For centuries, the kitchen was regarded as strictly a workspace. Tucked away, it was never seen as a statement piece in a home. But today people tend to favor a very different approach, making the open concept the more popular choice and turning the kitchen into the heart of the home. However, some homeowners still embrace elements of the past and prefer a closed off layout. At the end of the day, it’s all about choosing what’s right for you. Having a conversation with a designer will help if you’re having trouble deciding. Start with a list of needs and wants, and go from there. In the meantime, here are some initial thoughts to guide you in the right direction:

Open Kitchens

The main reason homeowners prefer an open concept kitchen is because it allows them to spend more time with family and friends while cooking and cleaning.  When the walls come down, the kitchen becomes the main hub of the home- the room that everything else revolves around. This style is particularly popular for families, as it allows for optimal multitasking- parents can make dinner, keep an eye on the kids and help with homework, all at the same time. Another major benefit of an open kitchen is to show off the investment that often goes into it! From counter tops to gorgeous back splashes to stunning appliances, there are many design elements worthy of showing off with an open kitchen in your home.

Photo: Architectural Digest

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Chameleon Design

Closed Kitchens

While most clients do prefer an open-concept kitchen today, some do still like a closed-off space; it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want to leave your smells and mess behind when serving meals, a closed layout could be for you. Some people don’t want to worry about keeping their kitchen clean and organized all the time and would prefer to have their kitchen closed so that it’s not a major focal point in the home.  In those homes, the kitchen can still be a beautiful room, just not a room that’s on center stage. And for homeowners who’d rather invest in other parts of their kitchen, reworking the layout may not be worth it.  When it comes to allocating your kitchen budget, which is more important- an efficient, functional kitchen with better appliances, or an open layout? Don’t forget that you CAN get creative with a closed kitchen, too.  If space allows, a small booth, fold-down table or rolling bar can make a closed kitchen more of a social space.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Simple Design Tricks to Make a Small Bedroom Look Bigger

Your bedroom is the one room in the house that should feel like no other.  It’s the place you go to relax and unwind from a long day and, most importantly, to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re challenged with a small space it can sometimes feel cave-like and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to. Your bedroom can go from cramped to cozy with a few simple ideas and tips. You’ll find that not only will your bedroom look larger, it will also be more functional. Here are a few tricks to help make the most of the space you have:

Let in natural light: While you should avoid blocking natural light in a small room, sometimes the only place that makes sense for a bed is right in front of the window. If that’s the case, try a low or see-through headboard to make the most of your sunlight.

Use a daybed: A daybed can help create the illusion that the room is more of a small sitting area, instead of a small bedroom that’s been taken over by a bed. Daybeds often have storage built in underneath too — another bonus for a small room.

Paint the ceiling: Painting the ceiling the same hue as the walls can help to erase the shadow lines that visually define a space. A white ceiling against a darker wall immediately shrinks a space — your eye can sense the room’s size right away. When the walls and ceiling are the same color, it’s harder for your eye to tell where the room’s parameters start and end, so the room looks larger.

Install pendants: Don’t take up precious bedside table space with bulky lamps and oversize shades; install pendant lighting instead. Hanging pendant lights from the ceiling creates a focal point while providing task lighting on each side of the bed. Pendants lights are also very on trend and you’ll have no problem finding a wide selection of stylish options.

Find Creative Uses for Storage: To help keep your bedroom clutter free, use decorative baskets in a bookshelf or wall unit to keep small items that don’t need to be seen tucked away. Storage bins under the bed are easily accessible, inexpensive and can store just about anything. And don’t forget to use your imagination when it comes to storage.  A small bedroom benefits greatly from multifunction pieces.  If you have room for a furniture bench at the foot of your bed, opt for one with a flip open seat with storage space inside.



Design Tips for Guy-Friendly Spaces

It can be tricky to decorate a space with a guy in mind. The definition of “masculine” means different things to different people but doesn’t have to mean a pool table, big screen television and brown leather furniture. Design is personal and it’s impossible to narrow one gender’s style down to a handful of characteristics. One thing we do know for sure, and we’ve learned this with years of experience, is that whether a space is designed by a man or for a man, there are always a few things that stand out as being necessary to incorporate. It’s not a catchall for guy style, but here are some tips gleaned from stylish bachelor pads and other guy-friendly spaces that should make designing your masculine space a little bit easier:

Be Functional: Men are utilitarian, as they love to think in practical terms. That’s why functional spaces that incorporate things such as multi-purpose spaces and versatile storage units are the keys to any guy space.

Photo: Chameleon Design

Photo: Pinterest

Define your space with something surreal: Maybe it’s an abstract painting or sculpture. Or maybe it’s turning a Manhattan high-rise into a wood-like setting with forest wallpaper. Either way, adding something outside the box will help give your space character.

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Chameleon Design

Find the perfect chair: Every guy needs that one spot where he can kick back and enjoy a book, a movie, a glass of scotch or soda, or great conversation. Keep in mind there are a lot of amazing chairs out there that are just as comfortable as a Lazy Boy, but won’t be an eye sore in your living room.

Lounge Chair & Ottoman, Eames

Hans Wegner, Papa Bear Chair

Learn to Love Your Home

Loving your home doesn’t mean it has to be perfect. We all have things we’d like to change, but sometimes being happy with your house isn’t about perceived shortcomings, it’s about learning to appreciate the small things. A fresh coat of paint in a different shade, new pillows on the couch, a lovely scented candle and fresh flowers are all small things that attribute in a big way to how happy you feel in your house. Start with the small things and before you know it, you’ll have a happier, healthier, calmer or more energizing place to live in. Here are some easy and inexpensive ways to take a new look at your house so that you’ll enjoy it even more.

Get Organized
Plan for the storage of things you know you’ll be accumulating, such as family photographs, your kids’ artwork and financial records and find a tidy way to tuck them away. You’d be surprised by the storage areas you can find in unexpected places around your house. Consider bins that tuck underneath a bench or console for gathering household items like shoes or toys. Woven baskets are a nice way to collect children’s toys, while cutting back on clutter and clean up time.

Photo: Architectural Digest

Make it Personal
Whether you live in a custom-built home, a townhouse or a rental, you can make it feel like you. Honoring your tastes, as they relate to decor, art, paint color, etc., will allow you to stay true to yourself and make your home beautiful too.

Photo: Kimberley Genevieve

Create a calm place
What makes a home peaceful? We know as soon as we see or feel it, but creating it in our own homes can be difficult. Most peaceful spaces share certain things in common: serene color palettes, filtered light and plenty of easy-to-implement tidiness tricks. Try integrating strategies into your own home for a simply calming space.

Photo: Pinterest

Pare down 
Simplifying your life can give you more time, space and happiness. This doesn’t mean giving up all of your favorite furniture. It’s about embracing what you really love and learning to let go of the rest. Work on creating simple systems that work for you and your home and stick with them!

Photo: Architectural Digest

Bring the Outdoors In
Plants and flowers are an absolute must for any home. Pick up fresh flowers at the market with you’re doing your weekly shopping, stick them in a vase and take note of how much you enjoy them throughout the week. Plants will last even longer and keep the air clean! If you don’t have a green thumb, try succulents. Their colors are soothing and soft and they can go for weeks when you forget to water them. Simple touches of nature  can make a big difference and an easy change.

Photo: Pinterest

Presentation Board: High Demand Color & Pattern Trends

A presentation board is a standard way for designers like us to show clients our vision for a space. In addition to many years of experience, there is a tremendous amount of thought and creativity that goes into creating a conceptual plan for a home. The board may look like just a collage of pretty colors and ideas, but it’s actually a science and skill to be able to learn how to appeal to the target buyer. From a young professional, to a first time buyer, to a family, to an empty nester, each buyer is going to be looking for something different and it’s our job to know what that is!

Once we know our demographic, we start by developing a color scheme. We’re able to draw inspiration from all over the place but magazines and mail order catalogs such as West Elm, Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel are excellent sources. They have new pieces always being introduced and they won’t hesitate to drop items that aren’t selling. This gives us a good idea of what’s “in,” and what people are responding to, as well as trends in the marketplace. Fabric manufacturers are also helpful in determining trends and getting new ideas. From color schemes to patterns, if we’re seeing something being used by a variety of manufacturers, it definitely catches our eye.

Here are some photos we snapped of four presentation boards, each for a different plan in the Roundtree housing development. You’ll see things like fabric swatches, wood and tile samples and photos that

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will eventually come to life in the model!

The Z Gallerie Collection

The West Elm Style

The Pottery Barn Classic

The Williams-Sonoma Home