Interior Design

The unsexy part of design

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I'll admit when I first thought about doing interior design I imagined fabric swatches and paint samples, hunting down treasures at antique stores and going shopping with clients. 

The reality is that you have to do the hard parts first before you can start playing with fabric samples. The rest of the design falls apart if you do not have a solid base. 

I'm working with a fabulous couple and they have done what I usually recommend-which is to live in the home for awhile so they could decide what they wanted to do. That and they've set a budget.  The home has a kitchen with a dining area and a living area in the back of the house. The front living room and dining room, would generally be more formal, but they decided they don't want a formal dining room. They have a record player and love to listen to records but beyond that they just want a space to entertain and hang out in. 

I'm a pretty intuitive and empathetic person, which I feel helps me suss out people's design styles pretty easily. I also have my clients fill out a questionnaire, share a Houzz or Pinterest board with me and I take a look at the rest of the house. 

The very first thing I do when I meet with a client is to measure their space. We do also talk about their design style, living needs and color preferences. Then I'll pull together a first draft of a mood board. Here's a sample of some of the pins I pulled. 

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Sometimes, I rely on pinterest for a little inspiration, but in this case I already knew what the style was and I needed some layout ideas. My clients definitely have a mid-century modern clean vibe with a color palette of blues and greens. Since we were nixing the dining room I needed a way to pull the two rooms together and create separate spaces without the room feeling like a bowling alley or disconnected. The core request was for a space for the record player and records, and I started pinning ideas.

The floor plan and searching for furniture sometimes happen simultaneously. In this case I mapped out a first draft of a floor plan. A general idea of where things are going to go. 

RoomSketcher 2D Floor Plan.jpg

I liked the general direction this was going but I didn't quite like how it was flowing. Plus the window behind the couch has a low ledge and the couch was blocking some of the light. 

I pivoted the couch which made a huge difference and it felt like the rooms were a little more connected. Once I get the core furniture placement down then I hone in on how I want the room to feel. I'll start to pull furniture based on their style and color and adjust the furniture layout with those measurements in mind.

While a floor plan is extremely helpful to get an idea of how the room is going to look, it's also helpful to mark out where the furniture is going to be on the floor. This room is a little tricky because the entryway is right behind the chairs, there is a hallway through to the back of the house, a staircase and a bar. When I met with the clients to present the plan, I measured out and taped off where the furniture would be. At that point I realized that while there was physically enough clearance between the chair and the entryway, it just wasn't enough. I shifted everything a little closer to the window and that opened up the space a bit. 

Next up is choosing the furniture and wallpaper. 

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Adding the Finishing Touches to Your Home Style

 candlesticks on top of dining room table

I tend to decorate a home in layers. It's a little bit like getting dressed for a chilly day! The foundation layer are your core basic needs, which would be furniture. The next layer is rugs, window coverings and maybe some throw pillows. After that are books, collections and art. Then there is the icing on the cake, those finishing touches that make your house feel like home. 

That final layer can take years. I'll admit, that in some areas of my home I didn't realize that the final layer was missing. My coffee table was empty, my dining table didn't have anything on it and the kitchen was missing any styling. 

I used to resist putting things on surfaces because I didn't want my home to feel too cluttered, but it felt kind of cold. I also learned that it is a good idea to put something on your dining room table from a Feng Shiu stand point. The energy blows past the dining table, but when you have something on it, then the energy has a place to swirl around. I added a beautiful linen table cloth and some hand made wood candle holders. I really wanted to add some natural elements to the dining table. 

 coffee table decor with succulents and coffee table books

My coffee table got a couple of books that mean a lot to me. A Danish mid-century modern vase, some hand made ceramics and plants. When in doubt add plants! 

Over the years I've collected bits and bobs and they are what I use to style my home. I don't often buy something for a specific spot, because I already have things on hand. Shop your home and see what you already have on hand. I also, move things around a lot and play with styling. 

Here are a couple of styling tips:

  • Varying height-Make sure you have items of different heights when you are styling a grouping. 
  • The rule of odds-When you are styling, put one, three or five things together. Feel free to play with this, but when you start out it just works when you put three things together. They look good. 
  • Use books-Books are great for adding height and interesting things for people to look at. Coffee table books can get pricey, but I've found some great ones at second hand bookstores or estate sales. 
  • Something funky-One thing should be a little bit odd, different or interesting. 
  • Play-Try something and if it doesn't work, then change it up. Move stuff around until it feels right. 

I feel like my home is almost there. I do have a couple of spots that I'm still playing around with. I'll stop moving things around some day! 

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Create a Cohesive Design

Last week I talked about finding my style and setting a budget and now I'm talking about cohesion in your home. I had a great question from a podcast listener about creating a cohesive interior design style and that episode made me want to really hone in on how rooms flowed in my home. 

First, let's talk about design mistakes. FYI, even interior designers make them. At some point I knew I wanted to add color to my house and so I bought these amazing orange La Marie chairs by Philippe Starck. I love these chairs, but they are the wrong orange. I'm a rust orange type of girl.

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You can also see a peek at the bright green carpet squares under the dining room table. Lesson learned was I am not really into bright colors. I want my colors dark, moody and super muted. Also, if you have a love for modern design, you too can own these chairs, because I've listed them for sale! 

Really taking a look at my style and picking my core colors made me see not only what needed to be added to my home, but what needed to be taken away. 

Pink and green are the core colors in my home, but that leaves some wiggle room for other colors. For example, I already own a rust orange vintage theater chair. I'm keeping it. I also own a blue/green French Victorian chair. These two are kind of tucked into a corner so they can stay.

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Mixed into my rug is burgundy and green, which works with the pink and green that I've got going on. The burgundy also helps tie into my bedroom, which has burgundy and blue/green in it. 

Bedroom.

OMG there is so much going on! Let me take a step back. The living room and dining room have a neutral base of grey. The walls are grey, the furniture is either white, wood or grey and everything is chill. From that you can start layering on colors and styles. 

To add cohesion does not mean that I am adding swaths of pink and green all over the house. Instead, I'm going to add hints of it. Touches of it to lead your eye from room to room. My office is already painted black and pink. It's more of a copper pink along the top 1/3 of the wall. From that room you see into the living room, which will have pink curtains and some pink accents in the pillows. The living room opens to the dining room, which has some pink in the artwork in the gallery wall. Tucked into the corner from the dining room is a hallway that leads into the bathroom and will have pink and green wallpaper. Standing from that hallway and looking into the dining room and then living room you see a blue/green chair and the green fireplace. 

I've also grounded my dining room with hints of black. The artwork is framed in black, the curtain rods are black and I'm adding a black light. That way I can add color and it won't feel excessive. 

Hints of it lead from room to room. Another way to create cohesion is through design style. My primary style is mid-century modern and my secondary style is French Victorian. There is mid-century modern and French Victorian furniture in each room. 

The other thing that is a constant in each room are plants! Yes, plants are a way to add some warmth and Oxygen to your home and also create design cohesion. 

Now that I know what the plan is I have a list of things I want in order to round out my home. 

  • Wallpaper for the hallway
  • Shelves in the hallway
  • Paint the fireplace
  • Make pink curtains
  • Black light for over art in the dining room
  • Items for the workbench (it's a little sparse on styling)
  • Dining Room Rug
  • Dining Room Chair
  • Pillows for the couch

My first search is actually my house. I already had the fabric to make the curtains and I swapped around some pillows from the living room and office that totally worked. I usually try to look to Etsy for lighting, but I couldn't quite find what I was looking for and actually ended up finding a light at Urban Outfitters. I hit up some vintage stores and found a fabulous candle for the workbench. Target released their Opalhouse line and the removable wallpaper selection was crazy amazing. I'm going to buy some reclaimed wood and make shelves for in the hallway. Then I can finally take my books out of the linen closet! 

I'm still looking for dining room chairs. I have the perfect chair in mind, but because I don't like to buy knockoffs, I'm either going to have to save up or find another option. For right now, I'm going to wait on this one. 

My budget often dictates my choices. I try to buy handmade and local, but sometimes I don't find exactly what I want or I do and I can't afford it. Sometimes you just need to go to Target and get your wallpaper! 

We'll see how this all works out. 

 

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Turn your Apartment Rental into a Home

 Wall with framed photos above a side board

I've lived in a lot of apartment's. As a kid we lived in apartments until I was about twelve and my mom always did little things to make it feel like our home. Even in my college dorm room I did things to try to make my little space feel like mine. 

I've spent my adult life living in apartments and the one thing I've learned is you need to make it yours. Many of us treat an apartment as a temporary living space because you may move out sooner rather then later and, well, it's an apartment. 

I'd suggest ditching the temporary mentality. I can't tell you how many people have thought they would be in a place for one year and then five years later and they still don't have art on their walls. When you move in, move in and make it yours. 

I've taken a few years to make the changes I've made in my home. I like to live in a space and see what will work. Plus my style has evolved over time and I like to explore new things in my home. 

The one thing that will have the biggest impact is paint. Most leases will state what you are allowed to do. If you aren't sure if you can paint then check with your landlord. They may stipulate you need to paint it back when you leave. They should paint between tenants anyways, so there shouldn't be a problem. 

I lived in my apartment for three years hating the paint color. It was beige and had these jaundiced yellow undertones. I finally painted it a light grey and it made such a difference. I can't believe how much time I spent hating my house. I also painted my fireplace because the red was just too much and it wasn't my color. I did check with my landlord first and he gave the OK. 

Here's the before-

 Living Room Fireplace with coffee table and rug

And after! 

 Living room fireplace with new paint and furniture

Temporary wallpaper is everywhere these days. I got mine at Target! I cannot yet attest to how easy it comes off. I'll report back, because knowing me I'll want to change it out. The very top paper shows a subtle temporary wallpaper I used. While the wallpaper below was a little bit more bold. 

 Floral wall paper in entry way of home design

I highly recommend going for something bold in small spaces. 

 Hand stitched textiles and updated wall paper

Another option is to use paint canvases. In my bedroom I hung three large canvases behind the bed (I got them on super sale) and it adds color and pattern without having to paint the walls. Here's the how to

If you don't feel like getting out the paint brushes, I get it. Definitely make sure you decorate and design your home so it feels like you. Hang your art, find a beautiful rug, and get some plants. There are so many small ways that you can make your house feel like your home. The main point is to not treat your home as a temporary way station. It's your home, so own it (at least temporarily!).  

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Home Decor Style-Why Hiring an Expert Pays Off

 Mood Board of fabric, jewelry, dishes, and flowers

Why Should You Hire an Interior Designer?

Before I give you my top three reasons why you should hire an interior designer I'd suggest hopping over to my podcast where I am diving much deeper into this topic. Give it a listen. In the meantime here are three reasons why hiring an expert pays off. 

  1. You are stuck. We've all been there. Either you don't know where to start or you just can't quite get the room over the finish line. I'll freely admit that I've had rooms languish for years because of lack of time, resources or energy. Yet, I can tell you finishing up a room feels good. It makes your home come together. I had a client yesterday say he loves coming home. That is what I strive for. 
  2. You are in transition. You've moved into your very first apartment (yay you) and it's time to jettison your college furniture, you are moving in with someone (congrats) and you need to figure out how to get it all to work together, you are downsizing and you aren't sure how to make it all fit, or you are about to have a baby and need to rearrange somethings in your home to make space for the newest member of your family. An interior designer can help you through the decisions you have to make, on your own or with your partner. I have to admit that getting couples across the design finish line is kind of one of my specialties. Change can be good and it also can be stressful, so don't let your home stress you out. Hire someone to help. 
  3. It just isn't working. I've had some funky rooms in the apartments I've rented over the years that are either too small, too long or there just isn't a good place to put the couch because of all the windows and doorways. I've swapped rooms, moved couches around until I finally feel like the flow is right. Except, I do that after I've done a floor plan and mocked up how everything is going to look, because moving furniture isn't fun and I only want to do it once. If you aren't sure how to make a space work then bring in a professional. 

When I work with clients it is a collaborative process. I am not the type of person that comes in and tells you your furniture is all wrong and you must have this that and the other thing. This is your home, your style and most importantly your budget. If you love your sofa, then keep it, we'll make it work. If you have great-grandma's dining room table and it needs to stay in the family, then yes, keep it. I also believe that interior design should support your life and your lifestyle. A big part of my process is to see how you are living and how you want your home to support your life. Finally, I work within any budget. I offer a DIY option where I give you a floor plan and a mood board to hone in on your style and give you direction, or I can come in and do it all. I'll even hang the art. 

Another reason to hire an interior designer is we can help you avoid any costly mistakes. Laying out a floor plan and taking into account the space and needs of my client are one of the first things I do. I also save people from having to repaint rooms by getting color right the first time. So save yourself the headache and hire an interior designer. 

An Interior Designer should help you with what you need. They should work with you on your home to make it some place you love coming home to. That's my goal and if you need some design assistance please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to help. 

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