Furniture Arrangement Challenges May Call for Different Furniture

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

When it comes to furniture placement, some rooms just will not cooperate. With bay windows, bow windows, niches, dormers, and other odd architectural challenges, where on earth do you put your sofa? One solution is to forget the sofa altogether and replace it with a circular arrangement of very comfortable chairs, either all matching for a formal look or all mismatched for a casual eclectic look.

Either way, the arrangement gives you an instant, inviting seating area where you can sit down with others and have a cup of coffee or read the paper. In this photo, the designers put a round coffee table for holding popcorn, drinks, books, and just about anything else. But as you know, I’m a big fan of the big overstuffed ottoman– what I consider to be the perfect piece of versatile furniture– so that would be my choice for the center.

If you simply cannot figure out where to place your living room sofa, consider moving it to the family room or wherever the TV is. Replace the sofa/loveseat/chair concept with four comfy upholstered chairs. You’ll love the change.

Choosing Paint Colors From Room to Room

January 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

ImageCreate flow throughout your home by sharing colors between rooms. In this luscious red Venetian plaster dining room, the red is shared with the living room pillows across the hall. Just enough to draw your eye over there and pull the two spaces together.

Paint colors in nearby rooms “speak” to each other because they are adjacent on the color wheel. Red and yellow are separated by a neutral with a slight green undertone, adding a punch of contrast to the hallway.

Layering colors between rooms that you can see from one location and “cross-pollinating” the colors with pillows, accessories, and artwork will create a flow that will make your home appear bigger, less chopped-up, and more thoughtfully planned for optimal warmth.

(Interior design: Marcy Masterson)

Shutter Color Inspiration for Stone and Brick Houses

January 10, 2013 § 6 Comments

One approach to choosing an accent color for your stone or brick home is to let the stone or brickwork dictate the color. How easy is that. The stonework on this house and walkway revealed a whole palette of dusty blue-gray greens from which the shutter paint was then custom-mixed to a perfectly coordinated color.

In the brick example, this Old Town red brick contains a lot more colors than just red. Purple is what pops out and that gorgeous shade was the inspiration for a dark purple shutter color: Ben Moore’s Caponata AF-650. Dark purple shutters are a wonderful option for other homes as well, not just red brick.

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Natural wood tones always work for shutters, especially on stone or brick and especially if the shutters are actually wood and not vinyl. Old World wonderful.

When selecting a shutter color, take your color cues from your house. Chances are pretty good that if you have a stone or brick house, you have quite a palette of colors to choose from already.

Coordinating Brick House, Siding, and Roof Colors

January 9, 2013 § 651 Comments

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In this brick house example, the dark sandy grout color was used as a siding color, and it coordinates beautifully with the earthy shades in the brick. Even the roof is tied in although black would have worked just as well. Contrast that with the pink brick and lemon yellow siding example below right. Yikes.

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Sometimes there’s just no way around ugly brick except to paint it. And the results can be stunning. Not only have you made your house bigger visually by blending in the brick with the siding color, but also you have added texture to the house without the busy look that highly variegated brickwork can create. A great compromise and an updated house.

Tired Brick Fireplace Takes Cover

January 9, 2013 § 4 Comments

uglybrickSometimes the “bones” of an old house fall under the category of “What were they thinking?” You could say that about this brick fireplace with its random placement of dark bricks and the outdated brass enclosure. But not to worry. Your family room is not doomed to the styles of 1972 — you have options. One of the best ones is to paint the brick as shown in the after photo (from Southern Living Magazine’s Makeovers).

The homeowners covered the offensive brick with a flat, textured paint in the green wall color. They painted the hearth in a natural stone color. Then they added two bookshelves for a built-in look and painted them the same green. The new fireplace insert in a bronze color blends nicely. A narrower mantel and corbels painted cream pop off the green — art finishes the focal point.paintedbrick

The overall result is a fireplace wall with emphasis on everything but the original dated fireplace. When faced with old brick or other outdated hardscape in your home, consider painting it for an almost instant update without the expense of covering it or replacing it. This makeover was a huge success. No more ugly brick.

 

Choosing a Metal Roof Color

January 7, 2013 § 4 Comments

Just a pet peeve of mine, but I really do not care for a bright red metal roof on an old historic stone house. I know that some of my bias is regional–I’m sorry if I’ve offended anybody’s taste. But what I much prefer is a color that comes from the stone itself. What that does is blend the roof with the house and not call it out like a big old stop sign on a dirt road.

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This photo shows a neutral option for a metal roof color. Perfect actually for the little stone house above.

If you are choosing a metal roof color for your home and you do NOT want to feature the roof as the focal point of the neighborhood, choose a color that blends or approximates a traditional roof color (grays, bronze, brown, charcoal, black). On the other hand, if you need people to find your house in a snowstorm, then choose a bright Crayola color and love it. Fair warning.

Everybody’s Favorite Neutral: Revere Pewter

January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

As our design aesthetic moved steadily from beige to gray over the past several years, one warm gray popped up as the perfect transitional color. Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter HC-172 is currently the number one  all-around neutral as it is not too light, not too dark, not too yellow, not too green, not an ounce of pink, and even not too gray. Perfect with all kinds of complementary colors including this luscious Persimmon 2088-40 on the ceiling.
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I like Revere Pewter in public areas like the dining room as it looks spectacular with warm golds and crystal. In the kitchen, it highlights the stainless steel appliances. In the hallway, it even makes a golden oak bannister look terrific.

As one fan describes it, the color “calms and restores, like driftwood found on the beach.” Yup. Kind of makes me want to dunk the whole house in it.

Return of the Gilded Age, Well Not Exactly

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

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We have Downton Abbey, Princess Kate, and the popularity of all things English to thank for the resurgence of gold in interior design right now. At least that’s my opinion…  And what a welcome sight it is.

After too many years degilding homes of anything that even hinted of gold, brass or yellow, the hue of royalty has returned.

The new interpretation, however, is decidedly fresh as we see in this living room from Traditional Home magazine. The wall color is so subtle that it accentuates even the creamy tan stripe on the window panel and the moldings on the ceiling. The gold demilune table and classic gold-framed art above it pop. As does the Chinese porcelain, as if pulled directly from the painting. Even the floor color is perfect, establishing a solid grounding upon which to layer all those beautiful blues and wheat tones.

The look is not your grandmother’s living room, with all due respect to your grandmother. Gold is nolonger shunned from updated decor.

Welcome back, gold.

Interior designer: Joseph Minton, with Paula Lowes and Michelle M. Wade

Black: Sophisticated, Modern, House Color?

January 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just like the LBD (little black dress), black houses are popping up all over and with predictably dramatic effect. The trend seems to be particularly hot in Southern California although I’ve seen it in Massachusetts too. Why black? Well, why not.

-Black as a house color fits into any neighborhood and certainly stands out from the myriad white, yellow, and beige houses already out there.

-Black looks terrific in the winter if you have snow in your area. We all know how dirty white houses can look even after a fresh snowfall.

-Black can make a small, insignificant ranch look modern and even spacious. Add a pop of bright color to the door and you have a stand-out in the neighborhood instead of a ho-hum been-done-before.

-Black, like white, makes any color look good. Imagine the opportunities for vibrant landscape color along the foundation of a black house.

-Black is a color to consider if you plan to paint your red brick rambler. If you’re tired of the tract house vibe, why not make a major statement.

When does  black on the house NOT work? When it starts to fade unevenly and make the house look like charred remains of a terrible event.

If you decide to paint your house black, you must prepare to keep the paint fresh, the lawn mowed, the weeds pulled, the clutter corralled, and the driveway plowed because your house will create quite a sensation on the block. Nobody will drive by without noticing. And that’s kind of fun.

Bored with beige yet? Consider black.

 

Hop the Trend: Consignment Stores

December 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Okay, I admit it. I am a consignment store junkie. And with good reason. Not only is it “green” to furnish your home with items that have been around awhile, it’s amazing what you can find for a fraction of the retail price for a new item.  And the consignment bug has started to spread to my clients. During one project, we were looking for a settee of a specific length to fit in a tight spot. Tricky to find new anyway unless we went custom. My client decided to check out the local consignment store, and he found the perfect piece. Even the legs and wood color were perfect. Call it luck or call it karma.

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The Cannery Exchange in Newport Beach, CA. (photo credit: Jody Tiongco)

I am convinced that these vintage pieces have a soul — they certainly have a history visible by the lovely worn patina on the arms or the scratches on the tabletop. But every scratch has a story attached to it, and that story comes with the piece to its new home.

You can always paint and recover a chair, for example, if you want a painted furniture look. Again, you’re probably starting with a chair that’s far better constructed than what you can find now so you’re already ahead. It’s like finding a piece of gently worn designer clothing or better yet a piece with the tags still hanging on it. Bonus!

Give your home some character by adding a piece or two of consignment furniture. But beware. You might catch the consignment bug too.

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