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PostHeaderIcon Design Tips

PostHeaderIcon February Designer Log

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It’s important for our homes to be a physical and mental refuge from today’s unrelenting world. The place where we raise a family, gather with friends or settle down with the dog to enjoy our favorite TV show defines our mood. Whether we sense it or not, our personal space can enrich our life or make it stressful. We can return home at the end of a long day and feel peaceful or be confronted by chaos and overwhelmed. 

But, just how do you make your home a more restful and stress free environment? 

Start with the entrance and front door. For many of us living in planned developments or condos, our front door is essentially the gate to our bliss. Paint your door a soothing color like eggplant or chocolate brown. Let it be a welcoming presence after a hard day facing the world. Plant an assortment of pots of flowers on the front steps. One of my favorites is a mixture of wildflowers. Seed packets of these can be bought for a few dollars at Navlet’s in Danville or any local gardening center. Use colored ceramic containers that glimmer when covered with dew or in the dim light of the evening sunset. Keep it simple.  Forgo doormats with funny sayings and opt for a natural woven mat.

The living room should be a place where you can spend the evening as a family and entertain effortlessly. If you grew up like I did, the living room was strictly off limits and rarely used. This room is not a museum. Use it and enjoy it. It’s possible to have a room that is stylish and functional. 

Use a textured or ribbed fabric on your sofa which can be beautiful and kid friendly. Invest in a professionally applied fabric protectant to minimize worry about soiling or spilled red wine. 

Arrange furniture for optimal seating options. Upholstered ottomans are great for use as a table (with a tray on top) or additional seating, and they can be moved around as needed.  Turn off the overhead recessed lights and enjoy soft lamp light.

It’s not easy to make a kitchen stress free. This room is designed for activity and gathering. But, it’s important to have an easy maintenance work space. Contemporary cabinetry is now designed with sliding panel doors right at counter level. You can store all your small appliances like toasters, blenders and coffeemakers behind these doors for easy access. This way your counter stays clutter free. Don’t let your kitchen table end up being the computer desk and the spot where you leave your keys, briefcase and unopened mail. Keep it clean and ready to set for dinner. If your personal entrance into your home is direct access from the garage into the kitchen or laundry room don’t let the first thing you see be a messy space. Clear your clutter. You’ll be glad you did.

One word about the bathroom:  Spa. This room, more than any, is your personal sanctuary. Paint it a restorative color. My signature color for bathrooms (and bedrooms) is called “Shaggy Barked” by Dunn Edwards Paints. Roll white fluffy bath towels and keep them in a basket or on the tub decking. It always makes me feel like I’m at a resort, far away from the everyday. Keep counter clutter to a minimum. Use a silverware divider or handled plastic bins for toiletries and makeup. No more searching around your vanity drawers for what you need. 

The best place for renewal and recharging is your bedroom. Use the bed only for sleeping and intimacy. Don’t watch TV in bed and don’t sit propped up with your laptop. It’s not a home office. Take the TV and computer out of the bedroom completely. I’m not always a fan of wall – to - wall carpet, but the one place I find where it’s needed is the sleeping room. The warmth and silence it brings to this space is essential. Keep excess pillows and unnecessary items off the bed. If every bedroom looked like the pictures in magazines, we’d be exhausted by the time we removed all those pillows from the bed just to get into it. Have scented candles in the bedroom. You don’t have to light them to enjoy the fragrance as you sleep.

Home offices and children’s playrooms are an important part of today’s home. They will never be completely organized and don’t need to be. The key is to close the door to that space when not in use. In real life, there are just some spaces that are what they are.  Resist the urge to try and de-clutter this space, but go to the rooms where you can relax.

Remember, in these times where pressure and stress run high, it’s important to have your sanctuary so you can start each day refreshed and ready to face new challenges. Your house can do this for you if you allow it. When you get home tonight, look around and see where and what you can improve in your own home. Have fun and enjoy your new surroundings.

Steve Wallace lives in Danville.  An interior designer for more than 20 years, his work has been featured in Palm Springs Life and he is completing a book about design for publication soon. He will be writing a monthly entry for All News No Blues about design and style in 2010. Contact him at www.stevewallacedesign.com or call 925.915.1005.

Last Updated (Thursday, 11 March 2010 07:48)

 

PostHeaderIcon Design Tips for 2010

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Think GREEN… and blue and orange and red. We often hear “color is back”, but color never went out of style. Don’t be afraid to go beyond beige and earth tones. This year, go for it. A little color can add a new dimension to your room. Toss a bright lime green pillow on your sofa, paint your powder room or dining room so it says to guests “Look at me."

Make your rooms multi-function. My den does double duty as an office by day. Behind double doors the TV cabinet hides a pull out laptop desk with room for printer below. Don’t have a guest room that  sits lonely 360 days a year, waiting for your mother-in-law’s visit. Make it a hobby room or a study. Today, the kitchen is not only the heart of the home, it’s the brain. Don’t just eat there; pull in a chaise for morning coffee and your favorite book.

Get into stone. Take your basic tract home and transform it to your own Napa hideaway. Tear out that boring carpet and let your tootsies feel cool, clean slate or warm Italian limestone. If you need carpet, go for area rugs in textures and natural weaves. Forget the cut pile and plush along with the Berber you installed in the ‘80’s. 

Give your windows a facelift. Lose the heavy draperies, valances and overworked window treatments. Those white plantation shutters?  So last century.   Use warm woven blinds and light airy draperies that move in the breeze.  Paint your frames a color and let ‘em show.  It’s good to let the natural light in. Keep heavy drapes to a minimum.

Step away from the granite. Once upon a time, granite was an upgrade, looked at as a luxury. Now new construction across the country installs granite as a standard feature. It’s lost its cache as well as its imagination. Look into interesting glass or metal tiles. Consider crushed quartz or onyx counters. If you really want to show up your neighbors, try colorful composite countertops.

Lighten up. I see so many homes that have only recessed lights in a vaulted ceiling for illumination. That doesn’t give any ambient lighting and can be harsh and glaring. Lamps in the living room and especially in the bedroom bring warmth, sophistication and romance. From small boudoir crystal with linen shades to large 60’s style porcelain with round drum shades, the choice is unlimited.

Think inside the box. Your sofa and chairs don’t need to be pushed up against the wall or blocking windows. Float them in the room, give them space to breath. Furniture placement should be conducive to entertaining. Set up conversation areas. Nothing is worse than having to yell across the room to guests. 

You deserve the best. As a designer for more than 20 years, I have seen styles come and go. It’s more important to invest in quality furniture than to have your room filled. Avoid going into a furniture store and buying the whole “vignette." If you have a limited budget, buy a few good pieces and over time add to them. It’s better to have a room with only a classic sofa and chair, than many pieces bought in haste.

Don’t fall for the latest trend. Keep in mind the long-term picture. What looks totally hip today may look completely ridiculous tomorrow. Who wants a living room that screams 1989? Think twice before investing in something today that’s going to be an embarrassment tomorrow.

Interview an interior designer. Sure, they cost money, but it’s better to pay a consultant who can help you stay on budget, and in the end, save you big bucks. Years ago, most designers charged a fee for their services and up charged the items they were able to buy for you at wholesale. It’s still true that through them you have access to the wholesale furniture showrooms and other places you can’t get into alone. Today, most designers only charge a consultation or hourly fee. It’s worth it.

Steve Wallace lives in Danville. His work has been featured in Palm Springs Life and he is completing a book about design for publication  soon. He will be writing a monthly entry for ANNB about design and style in 2010. Contact him at www.stevewallacedesign.com

Last Updated (Friday, 23 July 2010 05:36)

 
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