Design Insight

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

Essentials in Bathroom Functionality and Design

The bathroom may be the smallest room in your home, but that doesn’t mean it should get less attention than all the others. And you of course would like it to be as functional as possible for the specific needs of you and your family. Be it your master bathroom or a guest bathroom, aesthetics and functionality are essential to a space you use on a daily basis. So if you’ve been feeling like your bathroom could use a face lift, go for it knowing that it’s an excellent idea and good place to invest. It’s a small update but can add to the overall value of the home, while boosting efficiency and functionality. There are many factors to consider when it comes bathroom design, but we’d like to cover the top essentials to give you an idea of where to start:

It’s All in the Details: The bathroom should be treated the same as every other room in the home, though many people forget to decorate it! Something as simple as hanging a nice picture on the wall will make it feel more comfortable and inviting. When looking at counter top options, select a material that is durable but one that also reflects the rest of the style in the home. As always, make sure your home design is consistent from room to room- and that includes the bathrooms!

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: Elle Decor

Form Follows Function: When designing your bathroom, it’s important to think about the intended function and purpose of the space and design with that in mind. Consider how many people will be using the bathroom regularly. Maybe you’d like his and hers sinks. Shower heads and toilets are another major element to put some

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thought into. If water conservation is important to you, there are great options for both that won’t use a lot of water. If you’re more concerned with having something that looks and feels great, but maybe doesn’t skimp on the water output, you’ll find plenty of options there as well. Just make sure to do your research before you buy!

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Light up the Room: Lighting is very important in a bathroom for numerous reasons. The obvious one is that you don’t want it to look like a dark cave, as a bright and inviting room is always nicer to spend time in. Also, women use the bathroom to apply makeup and get ready and they need to see what they’re doing! If possible, a mix of natural and artificial lighting is best. Skylights are a great way to bring in gorgeous natural light that will brighten up the space.

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 4.56.28 PMPhoto: Eric Olsen Design

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

The First Steps Inside A Model Home

Chameleon Design has a design philosophy which is built upon three key experiences we want people to have when they enter a home.  Those first few steps are so important and we work hard to make sure those impressions are good ones!  The key experiences that we believe can virtually guarantee a good first impression are:

Excite the senses
The home needs to be visually exciting of course, but there are other senses to consider as well.  A nice scent is an easy way to immediately give a good impression that the home they just entered feels nice and welcoming.  Hearing a calming sound such as running water is also pleasant and can easily be accomplished with a water element in front of the house near the front door.

Consistency in Design
People like to experience consistency in home design.  This is especially important when designing model homes, as many people will walk through the plan and they won’t be interested in buying if they don’t get a good feeling.  The flow is instrumental and considered throughout the design process. One of the first things we consider is what is happening with the style of the home before the décor.  If the home is a Cape Cod style build, we want to reflect that in the décor so there’s continuity with the structure. Once we get the style direction down, we make sure that same design concept is seen from room to room.  For example, we’ll  materials used in the kitchen for the bathrooms.  A slight variation, such a brighter colors in the kids room, will still work if you make sure to naturally tie it in to the overall style of the home. The consistency is the main thing people love about model homes and they often say they wish their own home looked that way!

The Living Room, Family Room, Kitchen and Master Bedroom all reflect the same design concept at a West Grove model in Anaheim.  Source: Chameleon Design

Clever Solutions
Every home has a different layout, and we’re always thinking about clever solutions in space planning and furniture arrangement.  It’s important to really get those down, as they make a huge difference in the look and feel of the home.  If architecturally, there’s an oddity to a room, the way we design the furniture arrangement compensates for that and it can go unnoticed. The architecture plans for the models we work with are done and approved before we even get involved in the project. So we have no choice but to make the most of it, and we know that many problems can be solved with furniture placement.

This layout is a clever furniture solution to a very narrow room.  To expand the seating we did a sectional with a bench at the dining table. Source: The Row by Chameleon Design

Where To Fake It & Where To Make It

Over the years, we’ve been given budgets of every shape and size. And one thing we’ve learned is that that no matter how big your budget is to begin with, if you’re not savvy about your purchases, you’ll always end up going over the limit of what you want to spend. We have become expert innovators in this area and have learned where to cut corners and still get the look you want in the end.  It may take a little more time and effort, but the big impact on your budget makes it time well spent.

If you want to reduce your overall budget, take it line by line and see where you can make adjustments through researching potential alternative options. Flooring is a big area where you can cut costs without compromising the look you’re trying to achieve. There’s a huge variance in prices here, as there are a ton of options. Solid wood planks, engineered wood planks and vinyl planks to name a few, and the cost difference in these materials is extraordinary. Bedding is another element that you can easily find yourself spending thousands on if you’re not careful. If you go to a store like Bloomingdale’s, you’ll spend a pretty penny. Try Target or Home Goods as an alternative for good quality sheets. You can always mix and match, buying less expensive sheets and splurging on pillows, for example. Integrating high and low price points will save you money too as long as you’re smart about it.

These porcelein tile and cesar stone counters are a stricking combination and both are affordably priced.

Want a brick wall? This product comes in panels, looks like the real thing and is a quarter of the price of split face brick! Plus installation is a snap.

You do need the higher price point items sometimes to get the look you need.  Just determine the must haves and then mix with high and low.  Remember that you can always upgrade things over the years.  Over time, you’ll end up with the nice quality pieces as you may slowly phase out the rest.

This pendant chandelier packs a punch and it's only $162.25!

This oversized ruler growth chart is a clever way of detailing a space and it's only $69.95.

Hallways & Transition Spaces

Hallways and foyers are important in home design and decor because that can make or break the flow of the home.  It’s important to maximize these areas so that homeowners and guests feel comfortable in the home.  Hallways or corridors are supposed to deliver people through your home, and each hallway should be an experience rather than a tunnel. We have some designer tricks up our sleeves that we often refer to when working with these spaces.

If your hallway is at the entrance of your home, entrance of a stairway or leads directly into another room, be careful not to overcrowd the walkway. Consider using furnishings that ‘hug’ the wall, such as narrow tables, rather than pieces that protrude into valuable walking area. Also utilize vertical wall space for decorative mirrors, artwork and wall lighting sconces. This way you add decorative touches visually but don’t overcrowd the walking area.

If your hallway leads to awkward intersections of adjoining rooms, stairs and entry ways, be mindful of traffic patterns when decorating. If the hallway is narrow, opt for decor on the walls instead of the floor. Another good trick is the use of details such as wainscoting, which help to bring in more presence to the space without taking up a lot of room.

Adding Texture With Patterned Floors

Adding pattern is a great way to liven up a home, and doing so isn’t always relegated to wallpaper and fabrics. Patterned floors are a design element often overlooked in home decor. Neutral appearances or hard-wearing materials are usually the top considerations when selecting flooring, but implementing pattern into the design of your floors could be just the right move.

Whether painted, tiled, or inlaid, patterned floors are a unique way to create the perfect mix of a modern, warm, and eclectic style. It can be a gorgeous way to give an otherwise simple room some personality and texture, and the options are endless. We’ve selected a few of our favorite examples to give you a little interior inspiration:

Photo: egueyseta.com

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: studioone-off.com

The Modern Bath

A bathroom is more than a room of necessity. It should be beautiful, as well as efficient and easy to clean. Modern bathrooms are distinguished by clean lines, simple geometric fixtures, and sleek surfaces. This forward-thinking style has emerged as a popular trend and it’s not going anywhere! It can be adapted to your distinct taste by mixing classic design principles with modern features for a transitional look. Or you can go for an all out modern/minimalist look by combining geometric shapes, glass, metal, and even concrete surfaces.

Something to keep in mind is that a lack of contrast will always give you a fresh and airy feeling, which many people favor for a bathroom. Sleek, white on white, Scandinavian design is a style that we love and it keeps us coming back for more. It’s modern and clean and but an an addition of wood can add warmth and the use of paint, tile, concrete and other stone products can add depth.  Whatever type of modern style appeals to you,  and no matter your space and budget size, your dream bath can be achieved with good design and thoughtful planning. Here are some of our favorite bathrooms that showcase the best of modern design:

Photo: Marmol Radziner

Photo: Marmol Radziner

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: Elle Decor

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

A New Spin on Staircases

If you are lucky enough to have a multilevel home, the staircase is a central part of traffic flow from the main floor living spaces to bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.  Staircases are fast becoming a priority for architects and developers, seeing the potential to add that “wow factor” to a home, be it a new design or a renovation project.  I am really attracted to the open staircases that I’m seeing a lot more of these days. The trend for light and spacious, open-plan interiors has led to a new trend in staircases with the more open look. They have such a major impact on the space, and a more open look creates an airy feeling, which is exactly what we’re all loving in residential design right now!

I also really like that this idea seems to work in a variety of different styles.   Modern is perhaps most common, but the style can work with anything, even Mediterranean!  Here are some photos that illustrate this cool look:

Photo: Quezada Architecture

Photo: Quezada Architecture

Photo: Urban Front

Photo: Urban Front

Photo: Pine Street Carpenters

Photo: Pine Street Carpenters

Photo: LineBox Studio

Photo: LineBox Studio

Photo: Rockefeller Partners Architects

Photo: Rockefeller Partners Architects