April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
You 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.
- 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)
April 25, 2016 § Leave a comment
What’s trending now in front door colors? Soft pastels. Although the traditional black and red will never go out of style on colonial homes, the palettes of many contemporary and new construction houses have been softened in recent years.
People are still loving the neutral siding colors: whites, grays, gray-blues, and sages. But instead of the dynamic contrast of a front door that shouts, we now have front doors that sing softly.
Benjamin Moore’s offerings:
- Corn Silk, 198
- Revere Pewter, HC-172
- Simply White, OC-117
- Soft Pink, 2012-70
- Gentle Gray, 1626
- Touch of Gray, 2116-60
- Moon Shadow, 1516
- Colony Green, 694
- Yarmouth Blue, HC-150, a personal favorite of mine.
Spring is here! Consider painting your front door with a soft new hue. You’ll love it.
(Photo: Better Homes & Gardens)
April 12, 2016 § 5 Comments
Is anybody else overwhelmed by clutter but put off by all the organizing gurus pointing out what a shambles our closets are in? Maybe I’m taking this too personally. After all, nobody has actually seen my closets. Isn’t that what doors are for??
Anyway… with Spring here, I feel compelled to get some order out of chaos. But at the same time, I want to avoid beating myself up that things got out of hand. Here’s how I plan to proceed:
- Start small. I think I’ll make the beds. Although Martha Stewart says it’s a daily must-do, she does have a point. Coming into a room that has a made bed helps us feel in control. And that’s a positive first step.
- Accept that some clutter is okay. Instead of getting rid of all the papers on my desk in one big shredding frenzy, I think I will opt for a quick sort. I’ll put the loose stuff in a plastic bin and put it next to my desk or by the kitchen table with a big note that says “Get coffee. Sort.”
- Hug the “collector” in the family. Acknowledge that, if left to my own devices and dream home, I could be as organized as the pros. But many of us live in families with people who are, quite honestly, messy. And we are not going to change them by bullying them into picking up their socks. So I think it’s a good idea to worry about our own stuff first. My mother always told me, “Set a good example.”
- Invest in large trash bags. Many of the clothes in my closet date back to junior high. Ya think? Time to get honest with myself and try on the clothes if that will help. If the zipper rips, trash. If I don’t like the way it makes me look, give away. If I want that concert T-shirt for nostalgia only, into a labeled bin it goes. The closet may actually heave an audible sigh of relief.
- Bring the camera phone. Sometimes just taking a picture of an object will help set it free. Like the children’s height markers on the kitchen wall. Or the ticket stub from a 1982 Genesis concert. If the actual item is worth keeping, then throw it into a bin labeled, “Great Memories.” At least you’ll know where that kind of stuff is.
- Create a public-friendly lobby. Establishing an area of the house that can be maintained clutter-free, like the entrance and maybe the living room, serves several functions: People can pop in without throwing us into panic mode; we can go to that space and stand there a few minutes soaking in the clutter-free atmosphere; and we can set the tone for the relaxed living space we all crave. I’ll start by picking up the sneakers I keep tripping over.
- Throw open the windows. There’s something about fresh air that stimulates the urge to clean up. Embrace the feeling before it passes, as the urge to sit down and scroll Facebook can be just as strong.
So having procrastinated long enough, it’s time to shut the electronics off for 30 minutes and make a small dent in my clutter. If you’re struggling from stuff overwhelm, know you are not alone. Small victories will turn into big ones. Breathe and let’s get started.
April 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
What is more welcoming in a home than rich warm color when you open the door. There are no rules that say your walls have to be a shade of white.
If you would like to add rich color like this Warm Apple Crisp (Benjamin Moore 1091) to your home, here are some guidelines:
- Make sure you have adequate light to show off the true hue. Natural light is best with big open windows that allow the depth of the color to show without making the room into a cave.
- Contrast the walls with white — trim work, furniture, accessories — so that the wall color “pops.”
- Pick an accent color from the opposite side of the color wheel to add interest. Since brown is a darker version of orange, blue is its opposite on the color wheel. There is something so fresh about that combination. Insert your accent color with art and accessories like the big, light blue egg on the shelf.
- When choosing colors for one room, consider adjoining rooms. Colors should flow from room to room so this warm brown wall color in the entryway was plucked from the adjoining kitchen cabinetry thereby connecting the two rooms and making the house feel bigger and more pulled together.
- Add cute dog for cozy family feel.
Brown is a wonderful color for making a large space feel more intimate or a small space feel warmer, and it is a great way to bring out the depth of color in the woods in your room. Try 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 black 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. (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 bed 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. 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!
March 18, 2016 § 1 Comment
Wallpaper continues to make design headlines as it rolls back into our homes. From half baths to bedrooms and dining rooms, we’re seeing it in almost every room. If you have an older home that always had wallpaper, then this is no big deal. But for some of us who have enjoyed plain neutral walls throughout, this wallpaper trend is a bit scary.
Here are some guidelines:
- Start Small. See how you like color and pattern on a small area before committing yourself to a big project. Try papering an accent wall in your office or guest bedroom. Or even wallpaper a table top for fun. Small projects are easier to undo or live with than full-room projects. Or break the rules: Dive in and wallpaper your dining room above the chair rail. You’ll love the dramatic change.
- Scale matters. Select a large scale pattern for a large area. That will keep the wallpaper looking contemporary and not left over from a different design era. Or break the rules: If you love the look of small flowers in a guest bedroom, then who’s stopping you.
- Love it. Wallpaper is a little more permanent than a coat of paint. So you should really love the paper you select. Stay in your home’s color palette and choose something that will coordinate with adjoining rooms. Or break the rules: If you really love foil, then it’s only wallpaper. Go for it. Make your home yours.
- Give the walls their stardom. Since you’ve wallpapered the walls, we presume you want people to notice them so back off on the other patterns in your room to let the wallpaper take center stage. Using a neutral sofa in front of a patterned wall keeps the pattern from overwhelming the room. Or break the rules: The latest trend is mixing lots of patterns together to give a room personality. Try to stay in the same color family to avoid room overload. But again, if you love it and it’s you, then own it.
- Take a deep breath. Before making that decision to wallpaper your bedroom ceiling, channel your interior decorator within. Realize that unless you are restoring an historic home to its original wallpapered grandeur, wallpaper for the rest of us is yet another design trend. In 7-10 years, you may very well hate it. So be prepared to undo the trendy foil damask in your half bath. Especially if you are planning to sell your home anytime soon. Wallpaper is what we call taste-specific. Potentially you may be the only one who sees it as timeless. Just an FYI. Or break the rules: Live for TODAY!! Enjoy your wallpapered ceiling and deal with it later.
Photo: This lovely wallpaper is 44 Gatti Secret Image (available at http://www.notonthehighstreet.com).