Your Internal Color Compass

Isolated coloured pencilsWe all have our favorite colors.

The ones we’re drawn to instinctively in the way we dress and what we surround ourselves with in our homes.

Me, I like blue, especially a faded blue, one that leans toward blue-grey. Other days I might be more in the mood for yellow.

Speaking of moods, who among us hasn’t had ‘one of those days’, the kind where you look in your closet and nothing suits your dark mood but black.

So you dress yourself in black, head to toe, and head out the door.

That’s a good example of your Internal Color Compass dictating what you should wear, based on your mood.

Of course, this internal compass can serve you just as well when you’re feeling sunny and upbeat, and it can also help determine the color palette in your home.

The following four Color Palettes were shared at a recent Sherwin Williams Color Forecast presentation.

If you’ve never thought beyond your favorite color and considered your Internal Color Compass, this might be fun for you to play with.

I’m sure you’ll recognize yourself in one of them.

 

Restless Nomad

You’ve only to think of all the journeys you’ve taken, imaginary and otherwise, to recognize your inner nomad.

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‘TIS THE SEASON

Recently, I wrote about the giving of gifts, and my fascination with the Japanese scroll.

The Japanese scroll, as you may recall, 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.

The main entrance to your abode should always say something about the person who lives there, i.e. YOU, so the question is – what do you want your entry to say about you?

You can emphasize either your decorating style, or your personal interests, thus setting the tone for the rest of your home.

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ARE YOU STALLING?

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

 

It’s 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.

The intentions are usually good.

Still, you might be 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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HAVE YOURSELF A COLOR PARTY

Early in my design career, a client presented me with a challenge for re-designing her living room.

She wanted a new look, with lots of COLOR!

Per her instructions, she wanted to keep two existing chairs , one red and one blue, and replace most of the remaining furnishings, including the sofa.

(In design parlance, that’s what we refer to as the scope of the Project).

Did you catch the part about the chairs – one red, the other blue?

The real challenge here, was to connect these seemingly disparate pieces into a harmonious color scheme.

Well, I love a challenge, and every project has one.

It’s what usually gets the creative juices flowing.

It is also where the ‘Color Party’ comes in.

Let me explain.

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THE ‘AMUSE-BOUCHE’ OF YOUR HOME

Are you familiar with the term ‘amuse-bouche’?

Normally experienced in a restaurant setting, an amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre – complements of the chef .

Its purpose is to tickle your taste buds and whet your appetite for what’s to come.

If you think about it, the entryway to your home is a kind of amuse-bouche, although you aren’t likely to see it described in that manner in any publications on interior design.

Why do I say this?

Let’s explore the purpose of the Entry, and you will see what I mean. The Entryway is:

  • A place to enter the home
  • A place to receive visitors

Here’s what else the Entry is meant to do:

  • Say something about the people who live there, by suggesting their interests and personalities
  • Be warm and inviting, so visitors feel welcomed.
  • Offer a hint of ‘what’s to come’

 

Do you see the connection?

In my own home, the Entry is pleasant enough, although fairly typical in size and furnishings – with a low ceiling, a small table, a mirror and a closet for hanging coats.

Yet one is immediately aware of an immense space around the corner, and the furnishings in the next room that definitely say something about me and my family.

Now, if you’re like me and your home has an attached garage, it’s a whole different story.

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THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

I’m a big fan of multi-functional furniture, and ottomans certainly fit that description.

I think every home should have at least one.

In the world of furniture, the word ‘ottoman’ originally referred to a particular sofa style.

I kid you not.

Of course, this was back in the 18th century, and things have changed somewhat since then.

Furniture historians aren’t exactly sure why this one-time sofa morphed into a padded stool, but there you have it.

Now, you might be wondering what’s so great about an ottoman, so let me explain.

In my living room, we have a large ottoman that is roughly 4 ft x 5 ft in size.

This one piece of furniture can hold multiple stacks of books and magazines, thereby serving as a coffee table.

Yet it can just as easily fill the need for extra seating.

In addition, if the top surface is flat and sturdy, it can even hold a tray of food.

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WHAT DO TRAVEL AGENTS & INTERIOR DESIGNERS HAVE IN COMMON?

“Hiring a professional to do something you could yourself can be a good idea or a bad one. It comes down to the value you receive.”The Seattle Times, July 2011

 

I just got off the phone with my travel agent. 

Yes, I might be one of the few who still resort to this ‘dated’ practice, when it’s so easy to book your own travel plans online.

But here’s the thing.

Spur of the moment, my husband and I decided to plan a trip to Hawaii.

We called our favorite hotel and were told there was limited room availability at the start of the holidays – plus prices would be higher than usual.

Then we attempted to reserve a flight on the airline’s website, only to learn there was only room for one of us on any given flight.

Clearly, this wouldn’t do.

Enter the travel agent.

The beauty of working with a travel agent is that, for a minimal fee ($35 in our case) she was able to book a flight – for both of us – plus a hotel room at a reasonable rate.

She did all this, and saved us about $2000.

I compare hiring a travel agent to hiring an interior designer. I think you’ll be amazed by the similarities!

 

Expensive? Says Who?

Hiring a travel agent, or interior designer – or any professional, for that matter – won’t necessarily cost you more.

Changes are, you will even save money in the end.

This is because interior designers not only know the ins and outs of their business, they also know where to find you the best deals.

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THE ELEMENTS OF DESIGN – PART 2

This week’s article is a continuation from last week. 

(If you missed that article, you can find it here.)

And as I said before, it’s a bit of a teaser.

I say this, because I’m using various elements found in Nature to illustrate the Elements of Design – the so-called building blocks used to create just about any work of art – and  therefore the principal tools that designers, architects and all creative types invariably use in their craft.

So far, we’ve explored Color, Balance, Pattern and Rhythm.

Still to come?

Space, Line, Proportion and perhaps my favorite – Harmony.

So here they are….

 

Space

See that wide expanse of sky?

If that endless space was filled with stuff, this scene wouldn’t look nearly as tranquil.

Which means Mother Nature got it right again, knowing exactly when to stop.

In home design, this translates to “Less is More” an oft quoted remark from one of the 20th century’s foremost architects, Mies van der Rohe.

When it doubt, a good rule of thumb is to edit the finished design by removing one item.

That’s when you’re done.

 

Line & Proportion

In Nature, line and proportion are pretty much perfect.

After all, who’s to say a maple leaf should have a different shape, or that a bunch of grapes should be less round?

We accept them for what they are.

A mix of lines and shapes is always a good idea for interiors, as well.

And knowing when to place a large sofa in a smaller room, or vice versa, is just as helpful.

Is the coffee table the right size for the nearby chairs?

What about the bed?

Understanding the relationship between all these different elements is key to a successful project!

 

Focal Point

This is your immediate field of vision.    

With a view like this, it’s easy to see what that might be.

The Focal Point is the one thing that captivates you, that is so spectacular, interesting or inviting that people can’t help but notice it.

It’s what we situate our homes to take full advantage – especially when there’s a gorgeous view.

Inside your home, this translates to either the fireplace, a bed or seating area, or even the television.

Hmmm.

Which would you rather look at?

 

Harmony

This is an easy one.

It’s what we achieve when ALL the Elements & Principles have been used together – well, harmoniously.

Just like in Nature.

If your home is feeling a bit flat and un-inspired, you can be fairly certain that one of these key elements is off, or missing altogether.

ARE YOUR KIDS MISSING SCHOOL?

Did you know that asthma is on the rise?

According to the latest statistics, more than 25 million people are affected!

Of even greater concern, is that asthma in children is on the increase, resulting in a lot of missed school days.

The culprit?

VOC’s – chemicals found in many household items, and what you should NOT be breathing.

VOC’s stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Even the word volatile sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it?

You know how, when food has gone bad, it typically has a rather awful smell?

Well, think of VOC’s as being the household equivalent to rotten food.

Just as you wouldn’t eat food that has obviously seen better days – you really don’t want to surround yourself with toxins that poison your environment and the air you breathe, do you?

That is why we need to pay particular attention to our children’s sleep environment.

While statistics show that at least 57% of today’s children are sleep deprived, what we’re talking about here goes beyond just making sure they are getting enough sleep!

Let’s say your children are, in fact, sleep deprived.

If you add toxins and food allergies to the mix, they are at an even greater disadvantage.

So how do you ensure adequate sleep, aside from sending them to bed at an appropriate time?

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THE SECRET LIFE OF SOFAS

I’m guessing that you have a sofa somewhere in your home.

Most likely it is one of several focal points in the living room (the others being a fireplace or TV), and the one piece of furniture that everyone gravitates towards.

Perhaps it is incredibly comfortable, inviting you to cuddle up in a corner with a good book?

Then again, maybe it is the style of your sofa that is so appealing?

Or perhaps it’s the well-worn fabric and cushions, that have seated generations of your family before you?

Do sofas really have a secret life?

Well, maybe not in the sense that some people lead secret lives, but if your sofa has any kind of history, who knows?

Let me share with you a little bit about the origins of the sofa, and you will see what I mean.

Sofas have been a standard fixture in our homes for only a little over three hundred years.

The sofa made its first appearance during the reign of King Louis XIV, of France, during the late 17th century.

The sofa was a French invention, ushering in a new age of greater comfort in home furnishings.

It wasn’t long before it became all the rage among the upper levels of society. Of course, the royal household benefited first with the Queen, herself, an avid promoter.

With the arrival of the sofa, this was the first time in history that an upholstered, padded piece of furniture was available that could actually seat two people!

At the time, this was considered incredibly daring.

The sofa developed a reputation of being rather racy.

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