My Dream Living Room

March 26, 2017 § 2 Comments

Fireplaceart

What makes a living room dreamy? Here’s what works for me.

  • A fireplace mantel that can anchor a beautiful inspirational piece of art. This one, “Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior, does it for me. Even the name makes me happy.
  • A big comfy sofa. I’ve always wanted a curved sofa (this one from Arhaus) as it invites conversation. People tend to sit down and talk with each other instead of staring at the TV (which, you might note, is absent from my dream living room).ArhausSofa10
  • Neutral major pieces. I chose Taft Pewter for the upholstery color because it goes beautifully with the stone around the fireplace, and the color won’t grow tiring. Even if pillows come and go with new color trends, the sofa’s soft, sophisticated neutrality will endure.
  • A rug thatColombe Flatweave Floral Rug will further define the conversation area
    and be cozy underfoot.
    This neutral coordinates with the sofa and doesn’t detract from the focal point of the room.
  • An ottoman is
    Butler36OttEspressoan absolute must as it beckons you to put your feet up and relax. With a tray on top, an ottoman serves as a hard surface for drinks and snacks.
  • A pair of perky chairs (opposite the sofa) yellowpillowschairto round out the conversation area and yell “Surprise!” when somebody enters the room. Everybody needs at least one chair in their favorite color.
  • Pillowsorangepillows that pull the whole color palette together and come in different sizes and textures and may be swapped out seasonally if you like. OC23classicgray
  • Finally, a pretty paint color that provides a backdrop for the room but does not compete with anything for attention. For this room, I chose Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, OC23.

The whole idea of my Dream Living Room is to set a happy, relaxed tone for the house in a classic and timeless style that won’t look too dated when the next big trend comes along. Keeping the bones of the room classic (hardwoods, architectural details) and the expensive pieces timeless (sofa and large furniture) allows you to play with chairs and accessories and art and have fun.

Create a dream living room in your home. Ahhhh… I like dreaming.

__________________

Sources: Art (“Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior). Mantel (MantelCraft). Sofa (Arhaus.com for other living room inspirations). Rug (Arhaus.com). Ottoman (Arhaus.com). Armchair (Dot&Bo). Pillows: Yellow (Fine Art America), Damask (Wayfair), Lumbar Pillow (Pier 1 Imports). Paint: Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray OC23.

 

Torn Between Two Paint Hues

September 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Gray Owl

Gray Owl, Ben Moore

As a home stager, I suggest a lot of paint colors as I help to prepare homes for the real estate market. And by and large, grays are what sells these days. Young buyers grew up with Linen White and seem now to cringe at wall colors with a yellow base. But is gray right for your house?

If you live in an area where the weather is cloudy for much of the time or your house is nestled in the shade, then a gray interior is only going to make your visual life grayer. If you want a fresh gray interior, here’s my advice:

  • Make sure you have tons of natural light — big windows with as much light as you can get streaming in the window. That will allow you to see the gray as a distinct, intentional color and not as a shadow of a different color. You know how white and other colors can appear gray in the corners of a room? That’s what I’m talking about. You’ve chosen Gray. So show it off.
  • Add white for trim — that will make the gray pop and will avoid any semblance of dinginess. For Pete’s sake, you don’t want your house to look dirty.
  • Add some warm color — pillows, a chair, artwork. Just for contrast and to add some warmth when needed. Yellow looks spectacular with gray.
  • Pick a warm gray if you live in a cold climate or your room faces North.
  • Pick a cool gray for a warmer climate or a room facing South. The color of the light and the season will influence how your room looks. If the room looks cold, chances are that it will feel cold in there too.
  • Add wood texture to warm the room. A hardwood floor and other natural wood tones in the room will look sensational against a backdrop of gray.
Linen White

Linen White

If gray is not for you but you want to get away from the Linen White look from decades past, try one of these halfway gray paint colors. They are warm but not too yellow and will move you in the gray direction without making your house too cool. Now let’s get painting!

Gray Mist

Gray Mist (BM)

Maritime White

Maritime White (BM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

Not-So-New Kitchen Flooring Ideas

June 2, 2014 § 2 Comments

ImageKitchen floors always pose a challenge. Do we continue the not-always-practical hardwoods throughout or do we interrupt the flow with a more indestructible surface alternative? In this kitchen by Designer Sarah Richardson, she used a linoleum tile to create a colorful and durable floor to complement the light pastel blue and white palette. What we do not see is the adjoining room and how the two areas are connected.

Here is my rule of thumb:

If you have a small house, continue the hardwood floors throughout the downstairs public areas (living room, dining room, family room if there is one, and kitchen). That way, the house will appear larger and less chopped up into individual rooms.

If you have an old house (or a large one) with distinct room divisions, go ahead and select an alternative flooring that offers color or durability (although carrying the hardwood throughout is okay too). I recommend using the color palette to pull the public areas together so in Sarah’s case, the adjoining room would have some light blue in it. Mixing and matching within the color palette will create the feeling of a larger, more pulled-together house — even if the rooms are boxy and divided by walls and small doors.

Just like there are more options than granite and Formica for your kitchen counter top, there are now numerous exciting alternatives to wood and tile on your kitchen floor.

 

 

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)

Warm Your Soul with Color

January 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

ImageThose of us with light airy neutral homes are feeling the chill this winter. Whether it’s the frigid temperatures outside or the cabin fever inside, the light, low-contrasting palette we enjoy so much of the year for its calm and cool comfort just isn’t cutting it.

A recent trip to a home goods store had me craving color. On two separate occasions, my eye scoured the store’s palette of spring selections and landed on the same warm vibrant coral. I had to have it. First the pillow. And next time, two towels (for me only, I might add).

Color makes us feel good. Color cheers us up and calms us down. And the right color can make our homes feel cozy and welcoming any time of year. Welcome home, my new coral accents. And if the temps don’t rise soon, I’ll be off to the paint store for a gallon of, you guessed it, coral.

Stay warm, my friends!

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