Behold: The Gloom of Gray is Lifting

December 12, 2017 § 3 Comments

Thank goodness we’re finally moving away from gray, gray, and even more gray. (If you just repainted from Linen White to Silver Shadow, don’t panic though — it will be okay!) As we move into a new neutral trend (yes, Black), here’s some good advice. Don’t jump on it.

What sometimes happens with trends is that people go overboard with them. They think, aha Gray Trend, I must do everything gray! I have been in so many houses that are all gray on the interior. But in New England, where it’s gray much of the time anyway, those interiors are looking pretty dreary.

The goal should NOT be to create a room that looks like it was decorated in a particular period. The goal should be to create a room that is, as the color maven Maria Killam is known to say, “Classic and Timeless.” http://www.mariakillam.com/whats-next-grey-trend/

How do you achieve that? By mixing stuff up. Here are three basic rules:

  1. Keep the walls a light neutral. There are wonderful shades of whites out there, and most of them don’t read like spackling paste so don’t be afraid to go light. You won’t have to repaint every couple of years if that trendy color you love goes stale. Compromise? Paint only one wall, the focal wall, that trendy color.
  2. Keep the large, expensive furniture pieces, like the sofa, plain (remember plaid? No. Go with no pattern or just a texture so that the sofa stays timeless. Color is okay, but make sure you love it!) If you have a well-made sofa that you do not want to replace, you can opt for a slipcover (custom is best — but regardless, make sure the cushions have individual covers.)
  3. THEN mix things up. Add color in the rug, pillows, art, accessories, and other decorative and personal stuff of life that will make your room feel like it’s yours and not a designer’s.

And of course, let me mention the elephant in the room: inherited pieces. Don’t be afraid to mix your styles to incorporate family heirlooms. You will either have an objet d’art with a story behind it or a cozy room with treasures that remind you of home. Either way, do not be a slave to a particular decorating style just because an inherited piece “doesn’t go.” Embrace it!

Now let’s amp up the color for 2018, shall we?!

 

 

 

 

Why “Fixer Upper Style” is a Thing

March 28, 2017 § Leave a comment

MagnoliaWhat is it about the latest home decorating craze that has us all rushing out to buy accessories that look like they belong in a barn? Well lots of things, it turns out. But first of all, in case your TV is not permanently fixed on HGTV, here’s what I’m talking about.

“Fixer Upper,” the smash HGTV show featuring the lovely designer Joanna Gaines and her cute, goofy, muscled, builder husband Chip, has transformed the design aesthetic in much of the country from Pottery Barn chic to We-All-Want-to-Move-to-Waco fabulous. What Chip and Joanna do with ugly fixer-uppers is remarkable. Here’s a Before & After example of the French Country episode exterior:

Fixer-Upper-French-Country-Episode before

Fixer-Upper-French-Country-Episode-after

The interior style is relaxed with a simple black, white, gray, and cream color palette, reclaimed wood pieces, including “ship lap” (horizontal wide-plank panelling) on the walls, and lots of textures and accessories that Joanna acquires from the “antiques and junk” shops of rural Texas and her own Silos full of treasures at Magnolia Market. She is a master at accessorizing a room to give what others have described as that Modern Farmhouse aesthetic — lived-in yet chic, folksy yet uncluttered. What she does is truly an art — really!

BP_HFXUP303H_living-room_AFTER_194792_647412-1196046.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960

HGTV, Joanna Gaines

Why is this style so popular now??

  • We love Chip and Joanna. They radiate love for each other and their four cute children. It’s fun to watch them at home and, like a soap opera, the show is such a refreshing antidote to the routines of our own daily lives.
  • The style reminds us of Grandma. Many of the items Joanna finds and uses in her designs are old antiques and treasures we might remember from visiting our grandparents out on the farm. It’s refreshing to travel back to those simpler days.
  • The color palette is relaxing. With the over-stimulation of our lives, it’s calming to see whites and woods and neutrals that don’t generate an emotional response. We need downtime in our lives and this style seems to create it.
BP_HFXUP205H_Purks_dining-room_detail_474488-1044036.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.853

HGTV, Joanna Gaines

  • The style starts from scratch. The show guts houses and creates new spaces. There’s something cathartic about the idea of tearing down walls, donating all the old furniture, and starting with a clean slate. It says something about our group needs as a culture.
  • What’s old is new again. Even though the bones of the rooms are new and updated, the look appears old and recycled. Scratches and dents don’t matter in this style. They add character. And how relaxing is it to think that your kids can sit at a table without coasters under the glasses.
  • Things have a reason for being there. Joanna’s design uses lots of accessories but the rooms don’t appear cluttered. That is the work of a skilled artist. It’s hard to accessorize mindfully without overdoing.

Tips:  If you want to incorporate the Fixer Upper style into your decor,

  • Start with the kitchen as it can accommodate extra accessories without appearing overdone.
  • Stay authentic. The reason Joanna’s style works is she uses actual old pieces she finds.
  • Shop antique and consignment stores to find accessories that fit the style, and don’t forget to look in Grandpa’s old barn. Lots of stuff in there, I bet.
  • Do what you love. Make your space a happy one to come home to. That means way more than following a particular trend.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TV: Love It or Lose It?

March 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

We all have them. TVs. They range in size from small in the kitchen to medium in the bedroom to large/X-large in the living or family room. It’s the piece of furniture we cannot live without, but it’s the piece of furniture that can totally dominate the room. What to do?

Hide it. This shuttered cabinet completely engulfs the blackshutterTVCab box so it exits the visual space when not in use. This idea is perfect for a formal living room that happens to house the media components. It’s an open and shut case. (Available through http://www.ballardesigns.com)

Frame it. Literally. Put a picture frame around the TV screen.FrameTV (Available through http://www.wayfair.com, but I can imagine this as a DIY project, can’t you?) The idea is that when guests come over, you simply turn on the TV and run a slide show or pause the TV on a pleasing pastoral scene. Black box problem solved.

Make it go away. This cabinet, though not inexpensive, lowers the TV down into an enclosed piece of furniture at the end of the bedelevate-rich-black-32 or across a crowded room. Nobody will ever know there’s a TV hiding beneath the cabinet surface. Brilliant, but the TV size is limited by the size of the cabinet. (Available through http://www.touchstonehomeproducts.com)

Embrace it. If watching the Super Bowl on an 80″ TV is non-negotiable, then you simply must embrace the huge black box at the end of the room. But never fear.ikeabookshelf To camouflage it and keep the room from leaning too far visually in that direction, balance the black by adding more of it in the room. For example, opposite the TV, add a black shelving unit (available through http://www.ikea.com). The tall black unit will balance the huge black TV and actually make everything else in the room (the items that are NOT black) stand out. It’s like hiding the TV in plain sight. How cool is that!

It goes without saying that we rely on our TVs for entertainment: news, sports, movies, binge-watching, kid shows, soap operas, game shows, and concerts. Although some people have chosen a TV-free path, most of us haven’t. And TVs are getting bigger, not smaller. I hope these ideas have given your design muscles a much-needed energy boost. Now go deal with that TV!

 

Got Personality? Show It

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

What does your room say about you? Designer Jeffery Bilhuber (House Beautiful, Feb 2016) infused a boatload of personality and let us know a few other things as well. What this room shouts to me:gallery-living-room-1

  • Forget about symmetry. Mismatched end tables are way more interesting than a set.
  • Go ahead and mix woods. We acquire furniture from our parents, we find treasures at a flea market, and sometimes pieces have sentimental value. Use them — even if they don’t “match” your decor.
  • Add your favorite color to the room. And if you don’t have a favorite, use several. If you keep the colors at the same “hue value” (lightness or darkness of a color), they mix well together.
  • Function is important. Don’t forget that you need to set your wine glass down.
  • Forget matchy-matchy. This designer has taken that declaration over the top by using two different window shade colors. Bold and impetuous design choice there, but again, the room screams,”I want to be different.” And I applaud that.
  • Let color speak in the room by creating a neutral backdrop from which the color can “pop.” Here, the light gray walls and the neutral woven rug give the eye a rest.
  • Flowers and the little accessory details finish the room. Without them the room can look cold and staged (too many, of course, and you have a clutter zone).
  • Texture matters. That sofa looks so soft. Adding warmth and texture with pillows can warm up anything, even leather.

Bottom line: You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t just follow the design trends. Let your room reflect who you are and what you love.

 

Fashion Colors and Your Home

October 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

What we wear affects everything: our mood, our self-confidence, our success, and even our home. It makes sense that the colors we enjoy wearing should follow us into the rooms we decorate. And they do. If you take a glance through the clothes racks in your closet, you may see a color trend that pops right out: neutrals like black, white, gray or beige? Brights like reds and purples? Nature colors like greens and blues? What you see in your closet may very well help you pick a color palette that not only looks good in your home but also coordinates with you. Vincesweater

Grays are popular in fashion everywhere now (photo http://www.vince.com). And in the home, gray is still the new Linen White. It provides a neutral backdrop for any accent color and gives young home owners something different from the creams and beiges they grew up with.

One of my favorite grays is Benjamin Moore’s Abalone 2108-60.  It has a subtle warmth that looks great with stainless in a kitchen, white trim in the living room, or dark woods in a master bedroom. A touch of silver metal adds the sparkle.

Next time you’re stuck wondering what to paint a room, think about what colors you like to wear. And go from there. AbalonePaint

It’s Time for Faux to Gaux

June 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

spongeDrop the sponges, folks. Honestly, without trying to offend anyone or stomp on creativity, I have never seen such awful faux finishes in my life! It’s high time we roll over those ugly paint jobs and simplify our visual lives a bit. And if you plan to sell your house anytime soon, please listen up.

Faux is out. It was hard to perfect from the beginning but as of now, it has been totally overdone. From walls to kitchen cabinets to dressers and dining room ceilings, enough!

What’s in? Paint. Just plain paint. And in some applications, wallpaper. But not too much! No need to match the curtains to the wallpaper to the bed linens. As one who tends to find a badfauxgood thing and overdo it, I can certainly sympathize. But the next time you have the urge to spend hours dabbing wet sponges on the wall or cabinet door, take a deep breath and stop.

Marital (Decorating) Mismatches

December 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

stuffAre you and your significant other on the same page when it comes to the “stuff” of life around the house? The newspapers, magazines, mail, books, TV clickers, recycling cords and the like? Are you one to snatch the Sports Page right out of his or her hands as you make your daily pilgrimage to the recycling bin? Or are you content to let paper pile up on the coffee table until you get around to reading it? If you both treat life’s eternal clutter the same way… then congratulations. At least you don’t fight about it. But what if you are mismatched? Here are some ideas:

1. Make a deal to keep the main public space (maybe the living room) clear and ready for guests who pop in. At the end of each day, spend 5 minutes picking stuff up and putting it away. If you can only manage one room of the house, then that’s okay.

2. Contain clutter with baskets and bins. Little stuff on counters and tables may drive you crazy, but your partner needs to know where to find that restaurant receipt from last weekend. Make an agreement that things left on the kitchen counter can be found in a certain basket or bin by the recharging station.

3. Which brings me to the Recharging Station. Have one. That way you can find your phone when you are ready to leave for the day and more importantly, you can contain cords and loose devices to one particular spot instead of draping them out of every outlet. Rescue the TV clickers from under the cushions and keep them in a dedicated clicker basket.

4. And speaking of baskets and bins (see #2 above), invest in them. Closets, garages, spare bedrooms, offices, and every other clutter-prone area will benefit visually from containing the loose items in baskets rather than letting loose items and papers pile up. Both partners win. One gets to keep the stuff. The other sees some semblance of organization and unity.

5. If you are the neat one of the pair, give your partner space to mess up. For people who need everything out in full view instead of behind cupboard doors, your neatnik nagging is undoubtedly really annoying. Not everybody can be as organized as you. Give your spouse a space that he or she can call home and not be under constant pressure to pick stuff up.

6. If you are the messy one, appreciate how clutter can affect your partner’s mood and even creativity. Make an occasional attempt to go through piles and purge — even if you just move piles from one area to another. Any free space will encourage marital bliss.

7. Most importantly, take a chill pill. Fighting over “stuff” is pretty silly in the grand scheme of things.

Hope this helps.

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