Posts belonging to Category Home Design



HOW TO ACHIEVE ‘TOTAL ZEN’

We were standing in the living room of my client’s home.

As we looked around us, taking in the handiwork of the previous owners, it was clear that my client wanted to make this house her own.

That’s when she declared “I want to have an absolute Zen-like space to come home to.”

That one statement set a very clear vision for the project.

Sparsely furnished, this particular home would be clean-lined and minimalist, with Asian overtones in the bamboo floors and accessories.

Plus, there would be plenty of built-in storage to avoid clutter.

It was the sort of project that took an entire team to pull off.

Well, you might not be in need of an entire team.

But, perhaps you’re drawn to the idea of a peaceful, Zen-like space to come home to.

You may also love the idea of having someone to bounce your ideas off of and help you pull the project together – from start to finish.

That’s what I call Total Zen.

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HOW TO TRANSFORM A ROOM WITH MINIMAL EFFORT

It’s official!

Designer in a Box is launching next week and I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that Thursday, June 28 is the date – so mark your calendars!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a story that came up a few weeks ago.

As you might recall, I’ve occasionally made references to our rustic family cabin, nestled in the woods.

The one made out of logs.

In fact, I recently wrote about it in a post called “How to Decorate a Log Cabin”. That article was all about honoring the unique style of architecture in such a home.

This story refers to an unused shed on the premises that was converted to a guest cabin many years ago.

I know, that sounds fancy.

But trust me, it really isn’t.

What I love most about the guest cabin, is its small size.

It’s snug and cozy.

Yet, it contains everything you could possibly need, including a private bath. Although, I will admit, said bathroom isn’t much larger than what you’d find on an airplane.

Which is how we unwittingly flooded the place this past Spring, when we turned the water system back on.

Unbeknownst to us, the shower head was facing into the room, instead of the shower stall – and had also been left in the ‘on’ position.

Ha.

Needless to say, that is how we managed to ruin the bedroom carpet since it was in close proximity.

It wasn’t a huge loss, though.

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WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED

“The challenges we go through are often the raw materials we need for the solutions to break through.”  Christine Kane

 

I thought I’d take a step back this week and focus on a topic that many of us try to avoid – the fact that things don’t always go as planned.

Whether you’re re-designing your home, traveling or simply spending time with family – this seems to be a fact of life.

And this is what has been on my mind lately, after returning from a rather eventful, five-day trip traversing the country.

During my travels, I’d experienced everything from lost luggage  – not once, but twice! – a boarding pass that wouldn’t print (resulting in a missed flight), unexpected delays and late arrivals.

In some ways, it seemed reminiscent of an earlier trip this year, where I later marveled at how everything seemed to have played out exactly as the universe intended.

However, this was different.

When things don’t go exactly as planned, or expected, and our stress levels go through the roof – at that point we’re dealing with a whole different animal.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be messed up travel plans.

Maybe you’ve hired an architect to build a new home from the ground up, or have embarked on a home remodeling project.

Chances are you’ve run into a few glitches along the way, including unexpected mishaps and delays.

Let’s face it – they are to be expected.

Since delays on any kind of home remodel or design project are usually the norm, it helps to learn how to take things in stride and not fight the inevitable.

Meanwhile – in the interest of helping you maintain your sanity – here are some things you can do for yourself, regardless of the crisis at hand.

 

Acceptance is Key

The first step is Acceptance.

Whatever might have befallen your carefully laid out plans, I encourage you to repeat this mantra – “it is what it is”.

Do this as many times as is necessary.

Unless you’re dealing with something as serious as a death in the family, the situation likely isn’t the end of the world.

At least, that’s what I told myself when I was standing at the Austin airport, realizing my suitcase had remained in another part of the country.

While not exactly delighted about the situation, I also realized that things could be worse.

After all, we had arrived safely.

I had my family with me.

And surely, such material things as a toothbrush or a change of clothes, I knew that I could easily manage without for just one day.

That’s the real message here.

Regardless of the crisis you’re currently dealing with, ask yourself:

  • How bad is it, really?
  • If your project is delayed by a week or two, is that completely unmanageable?
  • What is the worst that could happen?

Knowing that you can’t change what is – that’s the first step toward Acceptance.

 

Be Kind to Yourself

When you feel you’re at your breaking point – rather than give in to your anger and frustration, and feelings of hopelessness – that’s when you need to step away.

It’s now time for some pampering.

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GOING FAUX

Are you familiar with the term trompe l’oeil, French for ‘fool the eye’?

At some point, you’ve probably seen a painting, or wall finish, which looks so realistic you’d swear it was the real thing.

Except that it isn’t.

Paintings can be especially deceiving. You might find yourself looking at a still-life arrangement of books, or writing implements that are so convincingly 3-dimensional you feel you could reach into the painting and pick them up.

It literally fools the eye.

When it comes to countertop finishes, the eye can also be fooled, especially in the presence of a highly qualified artisan who specializes in faux.

I met such an artisan recently, and was intrigued by the possibilities. I browsed through all the samples, realizing there wasn’t an ounce of actual stone in the entire lot, even though everything appeared to be granite or marble.

That’s right. Everything I saw was a painted finish, yet it looked and even felt like the real thing.

Now, you might be wondering, why would you choose to go faux?

Is it less expensive than natural stone? Not necessarily. You wouldn’t choose a faux finish in the hopes of reducing costs, because anytime you hire an artist who excels at his craft, you are paying for his expertise and creativity.

That is the lure. As it says on their business card:  “…distinctive finishes for the discriminating client”.

That said, the cost of a faux finish might be comparable to natural stone, depending on your selection. Plus, there may be savings in other areas.

As with anything in the world of interior design, custom work means custom pricing.

The benefit to you? You get exactly what you want.

Listed below are 5 reasons for ‘Going Faux’, instead of choosing something more traditional.

 

You’ll Save on Demolition

When it comes to countertops, a faux finish can typically be applied directly over the existing surface. How great is that?

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DOES YOUR HOME NEED INTERIOR THERAPY?

Interior designers and therapists have a lot in common. Of course, in the case of a designer, the ‘patient’ is someone’s home.

Did you know that homes, just like people, can have a story to tell?

If we’re lucky, it will be a very good story, especially if the home is relatively new. Older homes, on the other hand, might come with a bit of baggage  – what we sometimes refer to as a colorful history.

It’s all part of the package, right?

As an interior designer, it’s my job to sort through it all, and highlight the home’s true character while downplaying the flaws.

Where to begin?

Sometimes I need to be a sleuth, and coax out the story, but other times the story is told more easily.

For example, if you’ve ever seen a house with peeling paint on the exterior, and broken blinds hanging at the windows, you know right away that particular house is in need of a bit of love.

I’m reminded of one client project in particular –  a condo with an intriguing layout. It was intriguing in the sense that the two wings on either side of the main living/dining space seemed to be almost mirror images of each other.

It wasn’t immediately obvious, but when I learned the background story, it all made sense.

The home I found myself in had originally been two separate condos; the previous owners had joined them together into one combined unit.

This explained the mirror-image layout.

It also explained the problem that had emerged as a result of the remodeling:   a large center support column – smack in the middle of the living room.

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ARE YOU STALLING?

“Ambivalence – is the liminal point between the problem and the solution.”

 

In other words, ambivalence is that point of uncertainty, when you’re not sure what to do next and perhaps terrified of making a mistake.

Let’s say you’ve been thinking about a kitchen remodel, or are toying with the idea of re-decorating your home.

Let’s also say you’re feeling overwhelmed by the details and not sure where to even begin.

Could be you’re stalling.

A few days ago, I was talking to a couple of friends, both interior designers. The one friend is planning to remodel her townhouse and is brimming with new ideas.

She’s a designer, after all.

Still, she’s not sure where to begin. She’s stalling for time.

A year ago, I was considering an update to my home office. The impetus, for me, was better organization and flow within my workspace.

The intentions were all good.

Still, I was feeling stuck, not sure what to do with the old furniture for starters. (It’s a classic case of “Designer’s Own Dilemma”) .

For many of us, that is the BIG question,  i.e  what to do with the old furniture?

Do we donate it, sell it or give away?

And to whom?

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DEFINING THIS PLACE YOU CALL HOME

For Christmas this year, I gave my husband this little footstool – complete with a ski scene.

My husband happens to be the skier in our family, and an avid one at that, and so – I couldn’t resist.

Does it fit our décor?

Well, not exactly – although, I did intend this footstool for our Family Room, the most relaxed and informal part of the house.

Plus, the furnishings in this room are fairly neutral.

Which, to me, means that pretty much anything can work in this space.

I also have in mind that this particular ski-themed footstool, is a seasonal item that will likely go into storage over the summer months.

I share this with you today to help illustrate a point, which is the importance of blending the personal hobbies and interests of various family members into the overall décor.

You needn’t limit yourself to just the children’s rooms, the home office or your kitchen.

These small, personal touches belong anywhere and everywhere that your family likes to hang out.

Because this, more than anything, is what adds to the warmth and comfort of this place you call home.

GIFTS OF THE SEASON – PART 2

Last week, I wrote about the giving of gifts, and my fascination with the Japanese scroll, which reveals itself just like a gift when removed from the custom box it has been stored in.

A home can reveal itself in very much the same way. If you think about it, just the act of entering someone’s home can feel like a ceremony.

As you move from room to room the house will continue to reveal itself. There could be a pleasant surprise around any corner, maybe even the kind that takes your breath away.

“Oh, what a beautiful room!” we’ve all been known to say at one time or another.

This is one reason why both designers and architects will typically hold back with their design. We don’t want to overpower your senses all at once.

We want you to take things in a little bit at a time, and take a moment to savor the design before revealing the next surprise.

So take a moment to to ask yourself  – what is the first impression visitors have when they enter your home?

Let’s start with the entry – what I like to refer to as the “amuse-bouche” of your home.

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WHERE’S THE MAGIC?

Do you remember the TV commercial from the 70’s – the one with the little old lady at a fast food joint, demanding to know “Where’s the Beef?”

Sometimes I ask “Where’s the Magic?” 

I do this instinctively with interior design, whether flipping through a magazine or seeing a vignette that feels less than exciting.

It’s the same idea, really.

Both scenarios imply that something is missing.

Good design tells a story. It engages and envelops you. The excitement, the magic that I speak of is subtle, but it’s there.

It’s what puts a skip in your step, or makes your heart skip a beat.

It’s a sense of being taken care of, of feeling cocooned in your own home because it is furnished to reflect the lives – and loves – of you and your family.

Are you wondering how to achieve that kind of magic in your home?

Whether your style is minimalist, clean and orderly, or a more laid-back, ‘lived-in’ look – you can rest assured.

Help is on the way!

I’ve just released my new FREE offer – 7 Ways To Create Harmony In Your Home.

A series of seven amazing tips delivered to your in-box over seven days, giving you time to absorb and implement each one.

It’s available IMMEDIATELY, upon signing up.

Simply completing the Opt-In box to your right – and you’re on your way!

 

MUSICAL CHAIRS

Are you familiar with the history of the chair?  

Did you know that the chair, as we know it today, has only been around for a few hundred years? Back in the 16th century, you had to be somebody Very Important to sit in a chair, let alone own one.

In fact, that is where the word “Chairman” comes from.

As in, Chairman of the Board. The ‘Chair’ of a committee. The head of the table.

The person with the Chair!

In earlier times, everyone else sat on hard wooden stools or benches. No-one concerned themselves with thoughts of comfort. Indeed, the very idea of comfort didn’t even exist.

It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

In celebration of the modern chair, I thought I’d share with you two of my favorite designs.

 

‘Ghost Chair’ by Philippe Starck

This chair, pictured above, is by the notable designer Philippe Starck. It is one of my all-time favorites, and here’s why:

I love that it’s inspired by a centuries-old design of a Louis XV Chair – straight out of 18th century France. A chair that, 250 years ago  was the height of modernity & comfort.

Today’s Ghost Chair is also completely modern – with a ‘barely there’ presence – since it is made out of clear polyurethane, rather than wood.

This classic chair has been given a completely updated look, simply by changing the material. I consider this the best of both worlds.

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