Quick Old-Kitchen Updates

April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

paintedcabinetsYou inherited your kitchen. We get it. No money for a costly re-do. We hear ya. But there are a few things you can do to lighten and brighten your dark, dated kitchen while you pour money into other fun things.

  • Replace the door handles and drawer pulls. There are so many new metal options out there, and many of them are quite inexpensive. Some even come by the bagful. So there’s no excuse for keeping these. uglyhardware
  • Paint the old golden oak cabinets. It may sound hard, but anything is better than the dated, dry and grainy orange beauties many of us were stuck with for awhile. Painting takes patience: in a nutshell, remove the doors, take off all the hardware, sand the cabinets and doors to give the surface “tooth,” prime everything with a really good primer and then paint the doors outside on a horizontal surface to prevent drips. I like to use a cabinet-grade enamel that holds up pretty well. Stay neutral for longevity although painted cabinets are all the rage. So pick a color you’ll love for a long time. Here’s what the Pros recommend for a really nice finish. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20315665,00.html
  •  Switch out the overhead lighting. This is a really cheap, DIY project (remember to turn off the power first!!). There are so many options way more creative than the central overhead ceiling light or the yellowy brass candleabra over the kitchen table.
  • Add under-cabinet lighting. This is a great way to add both task lighting to an old kitchen counter space and ambiance. If you don’t have a tile backsplash, make sure that area is freshly painted as it will show up now. Here’s a link for the many options and how-to’s. http://www.lowes.com/projects/kitchen-and-dining/under-cabinet-lighting-buying-guide/project
  • And don’t forget to paint the walls. The easiest, cheapest, and quickest update to any room is a fresh paint job. If you need help with color, let’s work together.

Now, isn’t that easy? You will love pouring your morning coffee in your face-lifted new kitchen. Yes, you still have the old layout and probably none of the new gadgets currently available, but your kitchen will feel brand new. And think of the fun you can have with all your saved money! Enjoy.

(Photo: Brian Wilder for This Old House Magazine)

Don’t Let Your Art Fade Away

February 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageOld faded jeans and old faded glory aside, old faded artwork in your house is a No-Go. If you have art prints that have hung on the wall in your bright cheery living room for several years, take a close look at them. Do they have a blue-green aura to them? Are flowers that used to be red sort of a strange blue? Is there any red or pink left in the piece at all? No?? Then haul it down. It’s done. Off to the recycle bin. Use the frame for something new that will add life to your room. Just this next time, opt for glass that will prevent color-fading. It’s more expensive but worth every penny if you love your art and prints.

Don’t be stubborn. Love your faded jeans, but get rid of your faded art.

Let There Be (New) Light

February 15, 2014 § 3 Comments

ImageTake a look at your lamps. Have they been on the same side tables for more than 20 years? 30 even? (okay that’s scary) Listen up. One of the easiest and cheapest updates you can do for your house is to exchange the old lighting for something fresh, colorful, and uplifting.

New lamps come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some with colored glass, some with clear. Some have updated metals, some are made to look old. But all have crisp shades with a nice clean barrel shape. (Traditional lamps are still, well, traditional. They will never go out of style. But you know what kind of outdated lamps I mean. Check out your grandmother’s family room, decorated circa 1968. Now you get it.)

You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can shop at a fancy lighting store or Target and get an updated look.

And while you’re looking at lighting, check out your ceiling fixtures. For a few bills at a home improvement store, you can switch out the old brass candelabra flush-mount fixture for something MUCH more current. The change will transform the house — you will see it in a whole new … (wait for it) … LIGHT.

(Lamp from Bellacor: Number 541835)

Mixed Metals Get My Rave Review

January 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageGold and brass are finally officially back. The cheerful, dressed-up metal color has been scorned and ostracized for years, it seems, with homeowners rushing to change out everything from drawer knobs to door hinges. Well, hold up.

Over the past couple of years, we have watched brass trickle back into design (you knew it would) but have been waiting for the main stream to catch on. Now we’re seeing a mix-and-match approach that seems to fit everybody’s home style.

In this kitchen by architect William Hefner (http://www.williamhefner.com/) we see dramatic gold accents along with the other metals (chrome sink and wrought iron light fixtures). What I’m sensing, as with fashion, is that you can pick your accent metal like you pick your hem length. If it works for you, then go for it. We love that approach as it allows you to update your home without having to replace everything in it all at once. Casual acceptance of materials seems way more sensible than dictating that “Metal X” (whatever that turns out to be) is totally OUT.

Hurray for sensible design.

Light Up Your Front Door

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Why wait for the holidays to light up your front door? You spent enough time choosing the color — show it off all year with a boost in your exterior lighting.

Choose properly spaced recessed fixtures that will wash light down on the door color and other parts of the porch as in this photo (lighting by IlluminationImages, Inc.). Or add a large pendant over the door and sconces on either side. Make sure the lighting fixtures are big enough that they don’t look skimpy from the street. Bigger is usually better when it comes to lighting.

While you’re choosing your new light fixtures, take advantage of all the different metal color options you have now. Don’t settle for wrought iron if another color would update your house and make it look fabulous.

So when the holidays are over and you take down the hanging twinkle lights and box up the spot light from the front door, take a close look at what lighting is left. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

Let there be light!

Getting Down to Brass Tacks about Brass

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a difference a decade makes. What used to be the lighting Imagefixture of choice in upscale homes is now (still, even after several years out of favor) being tossed in a dumpster by young home owners who view the shiny yellow metal as the equivalent of how we viewed our grandmother’s dark brown paneling. Of no value.

Instead there are dozens of metal choices and finishes for lighting and other home accessories like light switch covers and doorknobs. So anti-shiny-brass are today’s home buyers that some are just shy of insisting that even all shiny brass door hinges be switched out to something else.

Note: these design trends may be regional and they don’t apply to historic homes so don’t panic if you love your brass chandelier and it fits your home’s decor perfectly. But If you are not happy with your shiny traditional yellow brass chandelier in your dining room or kitchen, you have three options:

1) Thumb your nose at metal color trends and simply wait for shiny yellow brass to come back in style. Kind of like you kept your go-go boots and bell bottoms from junior high. Yes, both trends came back around but not quite the way they looked in the late 60s. But still,  doing nothing is always a design option.

2) Paint the shiny brass chandelier a different color. I once stood on a ladder, leaned over the dining table and painted my client’s brass chandelier first with a base coat of matte black to cover all the sheen and then a faux finish of browns and oranges to simulate a rustic bronze finish. It worked. The house sold.

3) Replace the old chandelier with a more current brass option like this one. The metal is toned down (antiqued) and the candelabra bulbs are covered with contemporary silk drum shades — a traditional yet updated look. Honestly, the antique brass has been around forever, and it went through a period of disfavor right around the time the shiny metal took over. But the muted finish, with updated shades, is back and looking good.

Image

http://www.lampsplus.com/products/crystorama-luxo-collection-antique-brass-30-inch-wide-chandelier__p9693.html

Christmas in NYC

December 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

New York takes on a special character during the holidays: strolling down Madison Avenue, walking by Macy’s window, and being part of the busy crowds of shoppers. All of that says Christmas like nothing else. The big, the bright, and the beautiful!

One challenge to decorating NYC for the holidays is how to make what is already glitzy even more noticeable and memorable. The answer? Big oversized displays and lights — lots of them — as we see in these photos.

Another challenge to decorating NYC is the scale. One example of a large venue that usually needs little embellishment is Radio City Music Hall. With its gilded walls, it’s already dressed for the holidays. But designer Thom Filicia and his team found a way to add drama to an already-dramatic lobby. They hung a white crystal Christmas tree from the ceiling — an imposing focal element as you enter the building. He documented the project on Christmas at Radio City Music Hall (an HGTV special: http://www.hgtv.com/radio-city-holiday/show/index.html) and after seeing the program, I checked it out. Even with all the crowds milling around the lobby, the decorations make a huge statement.

The take-away from this study in light and scale is something you can use at home. Go big with your wreath and other Christmas ornamentation or if it’s small (like lights), have a lot of them. If it seems too big from the house, it’s probably perfect from the street. Here’s a tip for decorating deciduous trees: wrap the lights around each of the branches and then the trunk. You will get a much more dramatic effect than simply winding the string of lights around the outside as if it’s a typical Christmas tree.

Enjoy your holidays!

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