Apr 02 2014

Remodeling Rights and Wrongs: How to Bring an Older Home into the Modern Day

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

With such an influx of homes on the market, it is amazing how many older homes are available at incredible prices. Some of these homes need just a little love to make them look wonderful. However, a lot of them need some serious rehab work, which can make your investment more of a process than the old buy-and-move-in standard of real estate.

With the market prices dipping so low, it may be worth while to buy an undervalued home and put in the work it needs yourself. Here are a few things to keep in mind when snatching up an older home with the intention of remodeling.

Right: Keep the Charm

One problem which many people run in to when remodeling their home is that they don’t pay sufficient attention to the character of the house. If you are buying a 1920’s bungalow, don’t try to completely change the feel of the house by bringing in modern windows, flooring, and roofing. Remodel within the parameters of the home’s personality. Take notice of the unique molding, the vibe of the fireplace, and the coziness of the rooms or the eating nook.

If you try and “change a leopard’s spots” you may wind up with a home that is sending mixed signals. There is a lot of beauty to be enjoyed by maintaining the home’s original appeal. If there are exposed beams or rounded doorways, try to match the style and color of the original work on the home to create a new spin on an old home.

Wrong: Not Planning Ahead for Displacement

Before buying a home that needs some work, for example many of the foreclosures and bank owned properties on the market today realize that you may feel somewhat displaced in your new home for as long as projects are taking place. If you have a relative or family member that would be willing to put you up, while you tackle the big projects in the home, take advantage of that. Especially if you have children, the feeling of having a home but not enjoying or living in that home can be unsettling, not to mention the effect of the constant loud noises and dust.

Before getting too excited about buying an older home and renovating it, have a back up plan about where you will live in the meantime. If you are just remodeling one or two bedrooms then you may not have to plan ahead for long bouts of unsettled living, but if it’s a major project it can be stressful and wear on you and your family if you don’t have a secure place to call “home” in the interim.

Right: Color Matching

Another good idea is to keep the color palette of the home in tune with the original era during which the home was built. If you are buying a ‘70’s rambler you don’t have to bring in the bright greens and oranges that were popular back then, but it will make for a seamless escape into modern day if you bring in variance of orange or green that harkens to the old charm of the house and gives it a fresh, new and modern feeling by having neutral undertones, or an understated presence.

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Jun 29 2012

How to Decorate a Traditional Kitchen: Top Tips for Creating a Timeless Space

Published by under Kitchens

Traditional decorating may seem like a no-brainer, you just choose standard decorating items, right? The truth is that “standard” doesn’t exist. The fun thing about decorating is that today’s definition of traditional comes from a blend of stylistic approaches.

Standard and traditional are not synonymous- nor does the term “normal” or “average” have a place in the world of design. Because creating any style, whether traditional or not, takes an innate understanding of how to blend styles, it actually takes some savvy and innovation to create an effortless entertainment space. The traditional kitchen doesn’t mean that it’s easy to create- in fact creating a timeless space really involves blending the right elements of the past and the present and can take some time as well as an understanding of these tips!

Avoid Pieces that Define the Space 

In order to create a kitchen that can stand the test of time it is best to avoid furniture or decorating items that come from a certain time period or style. Instead, select just a few pieces and stay far away from sleek lines of contemporary or modern furniture or dining sets.

Crown molding can quickly add a traditional flair to any kitchen space, so be sure to add this when applicable. Being eclectic is the key to traditional- and while that may sound counterintuitive, in order create a space that blends well and won’t age too quickly you need a few quirky items that blend in with the more traditional ones.

Traditional Additions to Consider 

Breakfast Nooks

Adding bench seats or a breakfast nook can take any traditional kitchen space from cute to incredible. Having a built-in eating area makes the kitchen seems centered- anchored if you will- and the finality that comes with a custom breakfast nook will never go out of style.  Furthermore, it is always a huge selling point even if traditional may or may not be the preferred style of those who see it.

Knob Choices

Avoid linear hardware, and look for more inventive or one-of-a-kind pieces. Hand whittled, porcelain or antique, or even repurposed items can take a boring kitchen space into the realm of traditional customization. Even though stainless steel is in right now, consider using pops of color, bronze or white in a more traditional space.

Choose Appropriate Faucet and Hardware Finishes 

Farm sinks are no longer just for the farmhouse, and in fact, the sink in your kitchen can be the first tell-tale sign that you have either stayed in line with your traditional vein, or you have strayed too far outside of the box. Look for brushed nickel, bronze or dark espresso finishes when it comes to your sink hardware and faucet and stay away from over customized faucet that lean towards a particular style, i.e., trough faucets, modern restaurant style faucets, or something too elegant. Boxier faucets and simple knobs are going to give you much more room to blend eclectic elements than trying far too hard to make a statement.

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Jun 28 2012

Kitchen Crisis: 3 Simple Budget-Friendly Fixes for the Heart of Your Home

Published by under Kitchens

The kitchen is where life is experienced and memories are made, whether the scent of a freshly baked apple pie is wafting through your home or whether a frozen pizza is cooking in the oven- you don’t have to be a chef to realize how much of your time is spent in the “heart of the home”.

While it is the place where most people pony up to share a glass of wine of nibble on appetizers, it is also one of the most expensive rooms in your house to update. If you are on a budget but want to bring your kitchen into the modern day here are 3 simple fixes you can whip up without much investment at all!

Hardware Overhaul

Are you cabinets outdated or too simple? An easy and inexpensive way to update cabinets without the labor-intensive process of re-painting or the budget buster of customizing is simply to purchase new hardware. Depending on your home’s style- no matter if it is cottage or modern there are hundreds if not thousands of choices.

It is amazing how a simple change like hardware can take an otherwise boring cabinet front and give it some pizzazz. Be sure to choose hardware that is durable and easy to install. Most options are, with a simple screw backed design- but be sure that you choose something interesting enough to make a difference. 

Crown Molding Miracle

Another cheap but high impact way to update your kitchen on a budget is to purchase some crown molding. Depending on what type of cabinets you have- this works best with stock cabinets; you can take an otherwise boxy and unappealing cabinet and give it a customized look. Be sure to match the finish of your crown molding to the finish of the cabinets.

Also if you have a dining space off of the kitchen, use some of your extra crown molding to install a chair rail. This not only defines the dining space super cheap, it also adds an air of elegance to any eat-in kitchen space. 

Peel-and Stick Tile

If you’ve never considered peel and stick tile to cover up your outdated vinyl flooring now is the time to do so. Peel and stick tile has come a long way and can fool even the most savvy of designers. You can choose anything from marble to slate finishes, and even choose to grout between the tiles, creating a finished ceramic tile or marble look. This is an especially great trick if you have children, and don’t want to invest in brand new floors only to have them get scuffed up mere weeks later. Visit your local home decorating store or home improvement store and take a gander at the options. Super easy to install, even a layman can install them. Most kitchen spaces only cost about $50 to tile, and it makes a huge difference!

So even for those of us that have to watch the bottom line with an almost religious devotion, these 3 tips and tricks can take your outdated kitchen and make it pop for under couple hundred dollars. You can even do it for less if you keep your eye out for great deals!

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Jun 27 2012

The 3 Most Important Things About Decorating Your Home

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

With the influx of home decorating shows, DIY tips, and remodeling reveals it is easy to get overwhelmed with so much advice. Isn’t there anything simple these days? Well, for those of us who would like a quick education in the basics of design, there are 3 things that every person should know before trying their hand at redecorating or remolding.

There are so many things to learn about creating and decorating a home; follow these simple guidelines and the rest of the details should fall into place naturally. 

Basic #1: The Budget is always the Biggest Design “Do” 

This may not seem like a fun or unique detail, but when it comes to design the budget is always the first thing to consider. You can spend hours scouring the Internet or magazines for great design ideas but if you don’t know what your budget is, you may end up falling in love with Italian marble floors or top-of-the-line hardware, and find that your budget does not allow for such extravagance.

Set your budget first, and then look at which design elements fit into that number. The good news for you is that there are so many options from expensive to economical these days which will allow you to make a room look like a high end room on the cheap. Don’t fall victim to blowing out your budget on unnecessary items- choose a number, and stay within the number.

Basic # 2: De-cluttering is Like Discovering a New Home 

You may be surprised to discover that one of the top 3 basic design “dos” has less to do with bringing stuff in and more to do with taking stuff out. Too much clutter can hide a beautiful home. Unwanted collectibles, loose papers, disorganized hutches, and mismatched furniture can all add up to a messy and uncomfortable living space.

De-cluttering is the most powerful tool that any person has when decorating their home. So pull out the gloves, and dig in to take it out. This simple step can reveal that the most beautiful aspect of your home is the exact thing you are covering up.

Basic # 3: Color is Key 

It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. One of the most inexpensive ways to decorate, painting a room the right shade, can really transform the space from blah to brilliant. Never underestimate the power of a carefully chosen color. When adding color, don’t forget to add texture too. Wallpapering is another chic option when adding an accent wall with some depth and interest to a room. Don’t go too crazy with bold patterns and colors, but a subtle grass cloth, cross hatch, or circle pattern can take a room from pretty to “pow”!

If you don’t know what color will look best in your space, it is always a good idea to consult a color specialist. Just as color is key to making a room look its best, the wrong shade can also make a room feel smaller, less inviting, or cold.

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Jun 26 2012

3 Tips on How to Modernize a Nursery without Losing Traditional Elements

Say “so long” to those frilly, ruffle crib sheets, gingham basket weave bassinets or those little geese who wear bonnets on your wallpaper border- today’s modern mother has a much wider range of decorating options available when determining her nursery’s style than her mother did.

What used to be either pink or blue has reached an entirely new level of sophistication where pale greens, neutral creams and even slate grays can make a child’s nursery into a space where your child can practically live and function- and you won’t feel like you stepped into Ronald McDonald’s play land.

However, bringing the miracle of new life into this world and “nesting” that nursery is a right of passage, and some of those old throw-backs such as vintage toys, hand-knit blankets and sentimental art is still in style and can actually add personal flair in a traditional way to any nursery. So, how do you blend the old and the new? Here are a few tips:

1. Stay Far Away From “Themed” Nurseries 

It is so tempting to create a princess room or an Winnie the Pooh motif, but if you are seriously concerned about the design and flow of your home, there is a way to bring in certain aspects of “themed” rooms to make your nursery less typecast and more open for interpretation. If you love one certain element, for example owls or the zoo motif- choose one bold accessory or art piece that will act as your inspiration piece.

From there, choose more neutral throw pillows, crib bedding and accents that fit in the same color palette but that are less demanding to the eye.

2. Subtle is Savvy

Cultivating a child’s imagination is what their room should be all about.  Bring in creative ways to modernize the nursery. Your son may love the lion exhibit at the zoo, but instead of focusing on primary colored paint or circus wallpaper consider buying a durable grass cloth wallpaper that can “stand in” for a tall grass jungle.

If you want to bring in a nautical theme, purchase some old navigational maps and frame them, or buy a lighted globe that represents the world which the ancient explorers discovered. These subtle ways of bringing in your overall scheme won’t be as overpowering but just as powerful.

3. Fall in Love With Your Baby’s Room 

Remember that the nursery is a place where the baby will live. In the traditional sense, it should be a reflection of the both of you and how you came to love each other and now this child. This is where you can bring in some traditional elements like the father’s baby booties, or the mother’s first handprints.

Adding a tip of the hat to the parents alongside the photos of your new family member makes a very traditional but unconventional addition to the room. No matter what style you choose- modern, vintage, shabby chic, or mid century- fall in love with the room that you decorate, because it is a reflection of this new and exciting time in your life!

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Jun 22 2012

Foyer Phenomenon: How to Turn Your First-Impression Space into A Stunner

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

When you first enter a home it’s no secret that the first impression is the strongest one. Whether it’s a sparkling chandelier or a bright accent wall, there should always be an element of drama present when you first open the door. For those whose floor plans include a foyer, this is an excellent space to make the most of that awe factor. Here are a few tricks of the trade to turn an otherwise awkward entryway into a breathtaking precursor to the rest of your home!

Use the Space You Have 

Most hallways, foyers, or entryways tend to sit empty. While the echo of a distant “hello” can be alluring in some ways, if you want to create a home that is cozy and calming, it is best to make every space- no matter how small or oddly-shaped into a space that is easily utilized. Bring in some table and chairs, a skinny side table, a few chunky baskets for shoes or a couple of unique hooks for coats and hats.

Thematic Elements

Choose a theme for the entry that will continue to unfold in the rest of the home. If your foyer leads into the kitchen and you have a Tuscan theme waiting, bring in some rustic urns or hang a painting of the landscape above the stairwell or on the first wall to welcome visitors.

For those that love the country style of decorating, consider buying a stack of old apple boxes or an old wagon and fill it up with some potted plants, or use either as a place to hold their shoes. The foyer is the place for your guests to get comfortable, so providing them with a place to put their shoes or coats is just the way to make that happen.

Swank, Swill & the Right Scent 

For those of you who like to throw swanky parties, the foyer is the perfect place to bring in a mini bar. That way before you guests even enter the party they can have a signature cocktail in hand. A fun way to create a “mixer” is to set out all of the tools that your guests will need to make their own drink. Having a Bloody Mary bar is a great way for people to interact with one another and try their hand at making the best version of whatever ingredients you’ve supplied.

If you are not the drinking kind, then you can create you own sense of swank by simply having the perfect scent. Consider bringing in an antique table, or purchasing one that has the right dimensions for the space. Decorate it with an array of candles or diffusers. Make sure that the majority of the candles are unscented, and just invest in a few that have a scent. That way you don’t overpower your entryway with too many smells.

It has been proved that the sense of smell can evoke emotion and feeling more than any other sense we have. Comforting and calming scents include vanilla, lavender and of course anything that smells like fresh baked cookies.

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Jun 21 2012

Patio Problems: How to Turn Your Outdoor Living Space into an Oasis

No matter if you live in a sunny climate or one that is predisposed to bouts of chilliness, everyone likes to have an outdoor living space that is usable for entertaining and cookouts. The only problem is that for those of us looking to spend our money wisely, outdoor decorating can seem daunting and unnecessary considering the amount of time the space may be used.

You may be surprised how often you would use that abandoned deck or backyard of yours if you just put a little love into making it appear like the outdoor oasis it is capable of being.  If you are short on cash or short on time, here are a couple of quick and easy ideas for turning that backyard into a gem! 

Never Underestimate the Power of Plants 

Your yard may seem like an overgrown field with no shape or purpose, but with a quick clean-up, a good mow job and a couple of carefully placed plants- whether potted or planted- you can make any backyard go from lackluster to lush. If you do not have a green thumb, then do your research on the type of plants which will do best in your yard year round and which will come back year after year. Perennial such as ox-eyed daisy’s or Purple Coneflower’s will always pop up the following spring, so for a few dollars you can count on a burst of color to enhance your backyard’s beauty.

However, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, season after season, a lot can be said for choosing exotic or interesting annuals to spice up your yard no matter the time of year. Pansies make for an excellent pop of color even in the cooler months, and you can always invest in groundcovers in all shades of green to add freshness to an otherwise brown backyard.

Think of Your Backyard as a Rec Room 

Even outdoor living spaces should be approached with an indoor design style. When you are choosing patio furniture choose something that won’t overwhelm your yard, but that will be inviting. These days you can purchase beautiful outdoor furniture that looks like something you could put in your dining room, living room, or rec room and no one will blink an eye.

Don’t fall victim to the temptation of throwing your old furniture or cheap yard sale patio set on the back deck. No matter how much time you spend outside, your backyard furniture will never get as much love as your indoor furniture, so you want to choose a quality set that can stand up to the weather no matter what the conditions are or how the climate may change through the seasons. There is nothing sadder than a moldy or neglected patio set on your deck- not to mention anything less inviting.

Set the Table 

Do you have a mix matched set of china in storage, or a fun plate setting that just never went with your indoor décor? Setting your outdoor table is the best way to bring a little life to dining al fresco. In your outdoor living space you can dare to have more of a bright and exotic design personality than inside.  Have fun with setting the table from time to time, besides, now you have an excuse to break out that Hawaiian printed glassware set you’ve never used!

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Jun 20 2012

Classic Style: Traditional Design Tidbits that Will Never Go Out of Style

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

If you want to design your house in a way that will wow your neighbors, family and friends years after you do the decorating, then sticking with a classic style as your design framework is the way to go. Some people love the revolving door that fads and hot décor can bring into a room, whereas others love the traditional staples of good design and would enjoy not having to bother with redecorating ever again. Here are a few classic style tips to keep your home looking fresh and inviting year after year.

Buy Furniture with Unique Details 

When it comes to furnishing your home, it can be tempting to choose cheap and poorly made big-ticket items based upon price. Even if you are budget conscious and you want to have a classically beautiful room, it may take a one-time investment to get it there; it certainly beats having to buy unoriginal furniture time and time again. Look for furniture items that have unique details, rich stain, or a rare wood. These types of characteristics can take an otherwise boring room into the realm of timelessness.

Also, mix and match your furniture. Don’t be afraid to mix a deep brown armchair with a more natural looking wood coffee table. Take notes from nature when it comes to creating a traditional room. If the color occurs in nature, then it will look good in your staple pieces. Oatmeal, creamy whites, pale blues, and neutral greens are sending a message of “fresh” and “clean”. When you have a home where not much changes, you want the overall message to be lively and crisp- this can be done by choosing the right base colors for your furniture.

Consider the Big Picture 

Try imagining your house as an entire collection in an art show. That may help you better understand how to develop a scheme that will be cohesive and classic. Where one room may be acting as the main attraction, the other rooms should be equally helpful and add beneficial accents to the whole home. You don’t want to create one room that is in a Bohemian chic style and another that is minimalist modern- this isn’t the way to create a design style that can stand the test of time.

Mixing and matching different types of design is what can make a room a perfect blend of traditional and modern- but those blending techniques have to be subtle. If you love an off-the-wall chunky wooden bowl as a centerpiece or want to add some interest to your wall by hanging antique keys, make sure that you have a more streamlined couch or dining set, and a traditional color of carpet or hardwoods. That way when you introduce a unique element to the room it adds interest instead of taking away attention.

Get to Know Your “Staples” 

Everyone has certain staples they are drawn to. Whether that is a certain design or pattern, or a certain type of couch or style of kitchenette, there will be a running theme in your style if you take the time to recognize it. Once you realize you have a certain affinity for white furniture or that you have always loved curtains that have certain variations of leaves or circles, then commit to that being your signature piece, and have one of those elements in every room of your home to create continuity.      

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Jun 18 2012

How a Little Help from Mother Nature Can Turn Your Home into a Green Dream

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

Green decorating is the wave of the future. Sustainable products and recycled lumber, flooring, and lighting are not only fashionable ways to spruce up a room but they are also a superb way to help the environment.

However, since “green” decorating and remodeling is relatively new, the price tag can leave most of us scrambling for the cheaper, less-green friendly products more often than we care to admit. Even if you can’t afford the green items and are new to the idea of decorating with the earth in mind, here are a few inexpensive ways to introduce a few green aspects into your home today.

Create a can collage as an organizational system

I came across this great idea on HGTV.com. Instead of throwing away or even recycling opened and empty cans there are some green-chic ways to use them to create organized space in your house. From using opened cans with unique labels as a kitchen utensil organizer or using opened and clean-edged food cans for creating organization in a usually messy junk drawer, there are some wonderful ideas on how to turn trash into saved cash.

One favorite idea I discovered is to use cleaned and shiny aluminum cans as a way to store your children’s paint brushes and art supplies by attaching them to a pegboard or a corkboard in a neat row. What a cute and modern-looking way to add interest to a room.

Re-purpose old items in unique ways         

While there are hundreds of ways to do this all over the Internet and DIY sites, it can sometimes seem like we’ve gone on re-purpose overload. Do you really want to use that old, ugly box spring as a flower planter in your backyard or could you really pull off using that discarded old shower door as a coffee table top?

Sometimes, it is necessary to give the heave-ho to items that will only add clutter instead of add value- but if there is an item that you haven’t given much love to simply because you don’t “have a place for it”, and are thinking of throwing it away- think again.

Even if it is an old bookshelf or nightstand, entertain the idea of repurposing the wood to create hand painted signs around your house or if its unfinished wood, you could put it through a wood chipper to create mulch. Also, remember with so many options for eco-friendly paint, you can always take items that seem to clash and paint them to create a singular and harmonious look for a suite of furniture or storage units.

Splurge to Save: Go Organic 

Sometimes going organic can be pricey, but investing in organic cotton throw pillows, organic cotton prints, and organic grass cloth wallpaper, can be worth the price tag. If you spend the majority of your budget on items that help the environment, it is easy to get those finishing touches on the cheap. Forget pricey overhead lighting and buy a pair of vintage table or floor lamps at Goodwill. Paint them or find some inexpensive lamp shades and you have added a unique touch to your green room for pennies.

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Jun 15 2012

Why the #1 Tool to Becoming a Master Decorator Can’t Be Bought at a Store

Published by under Interior Design & Decorating

Ninety-nine percent of the time your first impression is the best gauge by which you should guide the rest of your design choices, no matter the room. If you are not used to making design choices on your own, it can be easy to second guess yourself at every turn of the page and every stroke of the paint brush. However, here are few ways to keep color, pattern, and design anxiety at bay.

Getting Comfortable with Trusting your Choices

For some of us, the simple anxiety of having to make a decision that we have to live with can be completely overwhelming when it comes to design.  It’s true; you are entering into uncharted territory, but fear not. Even if you are not trained in design, we each have a unique design DNA that is innately in us. The longer we go without trusting that instinct the longer we will spend in rooms that don’t inspire us.

Here are a few tips to get comfortable in your own design skin:

Remember that paint is relatively inexpensive and can be reapplied if necessary.

Before you start to second guess your choice of paint, finish painting the whole room.  Do it before you head back to the store for round two. Even seasoned designers question their color choices when the paint job is only half done because your eye naturally fails to settle until it sees the whole picture.

Don’t judge your design choices until you bring your furnishings back in. The color you have chosen changes when you bring back your furniture. The light of the room and the other colors in the space can change the tone of the paint entirely. Much like a chameleon, your furnishings will take on the hue of your paint and all will blend better than you could have even imagined- but you have to give it the chance.

The Mind and the Matter: Training Your Design Self to Think For Itself

Don’t put too much emphasis on the process. Some people make every choice too important, and thus feed into their mistrust of their instincts. Before you even think about your color or pattern choice blending with your décor, be brave, bold, and understand that the home you live in reflects your personality. You don’t have to be afraid to let it shine through.

Understand that there is a psychology to design. Beware of other people’s opinions. Design is such a subjective animal, and one person who loves shabby chic design elements may hate the modern look of more contemporary spaces. While it is important that those who visit feel comfortable in your home, remember that it is your home- and that the only person who has to live with your design choices all year round, is you. 

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