Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ask The Interior Designer

Today, I will provide the answer to a previously asked interior design question.  Each Tuesday I will pick one question that has been asked and dedicate an entire blog to answering that question.  Feel free to post questions on the Designing Life Facebook page, as a comment on this blog, or you can Convo a question to me on the Etsy Shop for Designing Life.


Is it necessary to match all of the wood furniture in each room?  The furniture stores sell sets of bedroom furniture that are all cherry or dining sets that are all mahogany, but is that something that must be done to be correct?


While there is nothing wrong with buying a bedroom set or dining set that all have the same finish or veneer, most interior designers love using multiple types of wood furniture within each room.  The story behind furniture is often the most important aspect of design.  The mahogany roll top desk that once belonged to a grandparent has so much history that the piece should not be sacrificed just because the perfect bookshelf for the study only came in cherry.  Each new wood color within a room adds character to a room.

One reason that furniture stores sell the matching sets is in order to encourage a customer to buy more furniture than they need during one purchase.  If a customer needs a chest of drawers for their bedroom and sees an entire set within their budget, the customer may purchase the entire set even though they may already have a headboard or bedside tables.  The main thing to consider when going furniture shopping is not matching the finishes, but rather buying the best quality piece of furniture within your budget.  Reconsider going with the matching set that seems like a steal and instead buy a nicer chest of drawers that will last for years to come.

Monday, August 29, 2011

E-Design In A Nutshell

Since opening up my Etsy shop with E-design products, many potential clients, friends, and family have asked me to explain exactly what E-design entails.  In order to take the guesswork out of the concept, today's blog will explain what is involved in a room e-design.  In order to do this, I will explain the process that I used to create my recent client's Craft Room/ Guest Room E-design.

Existing Floor Plan
The Need
My client has a small bedroom in her house that she wishes to use as a guest room and a craft room.  Many people wish to have a room where they can house guests as well as routinely use as a craft room or office.  With the limited space, she had felt limited as to her options and decided that an e-design could help to give her ideas, product choices, and a layout that she had not previously considered.
The Room
The room has one double window, one closet, one entry way, a bed, an existing set of drawers, and an existing desk.  The floor is carpet and the walls are stark white.  The windows are dressed with blinds, but have no draperies.  In essence, the room is pretty must a blank slate with tons of craft room potential!

The E-design Interview
After a client purchases an E-design, they are sent an E-design Interview that helps me to understand my client's needs, wants, color preferences, and personal style.  No design should represent the designer, but instead it should be representative of the client.  From the words and expressed needs of the client within the E-design Interview, I am able to understand how to help them best and can provide them with an E-design that helps to solve their design problems with feasible solutions.

Color Selection

The Selection Process
After I have a full understanding of the room, the client's needs, and the client's personal home style, I begin the selection process.  Typically, I begin with colors.  I choose often choose two main colors and up to two accent colors.  My client loves teal, turquoise, and a fresh look.  So I chose the color Spa from Sherwin Williams, which is a light teal that is not overwhelming, and I also chose white to correspond with this color.  My suggestion was to use the white to create horizontal lines that would serve to make the room feel larger and taller.  The main accent colors were brown and light beige, which were mostly emphasized in the accessories.

Furniture and Accessory Selection

After choosing the color scheme, I began to consider the furniture and accessories that would best suit her room.  I choose items that will help with organization, storage, and add a specific style to the room.  I found tall inexpensive bookshelves that would be able to house much of her crafting supplies and I also located decorative fabric bins that would help her to organize her crafting supplies on those shelves.  To offer her more space to work on her craft projects, I found an adjustable folding table.  Due to the small space, she could have her table set up while working on projects, but hide the table under the bed when hosting guests.

Her closet has previously been underutilized for storage.  The solution was to add hanging shelves for fabric swatches as well as utilizing pants hangers for larger fabric pieces.  This allows her to save floor space while having visual access to all of her fabric.

One of the best and most exciting proposals I made through the E-design was to use a white pegboard for craft organization.  By utilizing pictures found on other crafter's websites, I was able to help my client see how useful and beneficial this concept could be for her craft room.  The concepts provided through the E-design are not always my own created concepts, but rather I find ideas that will work for my client's space.
New Floor Plan

Floor Plan
I take the measurements provided to me through the E-design Interview and draw out a floor plan.  This helps me to visualize the clients room.  Often, my clients will provide me with pictures as well.  The floor plan will then be rearranged for the best efficiency for the client's needs.  With the craft room, I decided to maximize the wall space by moving the bed into the center of the room.  While this may appear to hinder the ease of movement, the extra wall space is much more importance for my client than worrying about the time it will take to move around the bed.  In addition, the new floor plan allows space for the folding table and her ironing board while she works on projects.

E-design Presentation
After compiling all of the furniture and accessory selections, paint colors, concept ideas, and floor plans, I put together a custom E-design Presentation saved as an Adobe file.  The client is then able to flip through her E-design and see the selected furniture and accessories, the paint colors, floor plans, and the concept ideas at her own convenience.  In addition, I provide each client with a shopping list saved as an Excel file so the client can go directly to the websites of the retailers who carry the furniture and accessories featured in the E-design Presentation.  Simple, fast, and easy!

Below are a few more examples from this clients Craft Room/Guest room E-design.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Furniture Feature: Matthew Holdren Woodworking

Furniture Maker: Matthew Holdren
Location:  New Orleans, Louisiana
Specialty: Furniture and lighting made from reclaimed material salvaged from 100+ year old abandoned New Orleans homes

The French Quarter Bed

I found Matthew Holdren’s Etsy shop while browsing for unique local furniture.  His products are distinctive in that they are made from reclaimed material from old New Orleans homes.  The reuse of these materials is fantastic because instead of them being lost forever, they are being fashioned into furniture and lighting pieces that hold a part of the heritage of the New Orleans area.

The first piece that struck me as a great find was the French Quarter bed.  If you have ever been to New Orleans, then you know that intricate iron work laces the balconies of the French Quarter.  The French Quarter Bed has a headboard that is made up of some of this same ironwork.  This bed would make a statement in any room with the rich wood framing to the ornate ironwork.

Small Under Window Bookcase

I love small bookcases!  This being said, Matthew Holdren’s Etsy shop has the perfect size bookcase to go under a window.  The small bookcase made of reclaimed pine and has a stylishly rustic look.  This piece would be perfect in a dining room or kitchen for holding cookbooks or in a living room as a wonderful accent bookshelf.

Be sure to check out Matthew Holdren Woodworking’s Portfolio to see his custom projects.  Some other notable items from the portfolio are farm tables, lighting, and bathroom cabinetry.  Whether you are right next door to Louisiana or miles away, you can have a piece of New Orleans in your own home.  I hope you will fall in love with these awesome pieces of furniture as much as I have!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dining In Style

My Dining Room
Is your dining room a room where you can gather with family and friends while enjoying decor that sets the mood for a great time?  In its perfect state, my dining room as a room is both functional and intentionally styled.  However, if you are like me, then that perfect room status occurs only when company is coming!  Below are some ideas for decorating and for maintaining your dining room in style.

Styling Your Dining Room
Everyone has decorating needs for their dining room.  Some of these needs are met to achieve functionality, but if you take time to consider further you can have function and style.  Finding out the needs of your dining room helps you to style your room custom to you and your life.

How often do you host?  You want to have the chairs that you need for dinner parties, family parties, and even for the holidays.  If you host parties regularly for six people, but have over ten people during the holidays, you will want to have a table that seats at least six people with six chairs.  For the holidays, you can utilize quality folding tables and chairs for the extra four guests.

Are you a table cloth or a placemat kind of person?  Both tablecloths and placemats help protect your table from hot dishes and hot drinks, but a tablecloth will need to be wiped down frequently, while a placemat will collect crumbs and be tossed in the washer at whim.  A tablecloth will hide unseemly table tops, but a placemat will allow pretty tables to show.

Each element that you consider and plan for in your dining room helps to create an aura for your room.  If you stick a card table with four chairs in a room with some food, you had better have some wonderful social skills to create the mood for a great party.  However, if you have a longer table with six chairs, your company is spread evenly a the table allowing for conversation, each person has their own placemat and no one is fighting over space, candles are lit, the painting on the wall brings extra comments and discussion, and the rest of the decorations make for a cozy feel, then your company will naturally enjoy themselves with the added enjoyment of your wonderful social skills.  Every detail matters.

Maybe you already have your dining room styled how you like it.  You have the wall decor placed perfectly, the perfect number of chairs, and the perfect table.  Then you probably have little to do to make your dining room a place for fun and merriment, but you do have to maintain its perfect condition.  Certain household items creep onto my table, pile up, and never seem to leave!  Mail, books, crayons, and pens all are regular visitors to my table top.  The way to maintain a litter free table is by allocating places for these items away from your dining room table.

Place a mail holder on your desk with slots for each mail recipient in your home.  Put an extra bookshelf in your dining room or kitchen for those extra cookbooks, coloring books, and place a box for crayons right there on the bookshelf for easy access.  Those items that clutter your table can stop making their way to your table, if you intentionally make a new home for these items.

Maintaining with Children
I have a two year old son.  Kids make dining rooms into dining nightmares!  My floor becomes a colorful array of peas, carrots, and yesterday's noodles.  As a mother, I need to come up with a plan for keeping my dining room from becoming a daily disaster.  Here are some ideas for maintaining a dining room even when your children would rather you maintain it as a playroom:

1.  Buy thick, yet pretty, towels to go over the seat of each of your kid's chairs.  This will catch most spills that will coat the seat of your chairs and allow you the ease of pulling off the towel when company comes and having a perfect seat underneath.

2.  Consider buying colorful vinyl tablecloths to go under the seat of your young children to catch the big spills and daily spots of ketchup, milk, and yogurt.  They can be pulled up easily for washing and save you from having to sweep and mop daily.

3.  Develop a no toys at the table rule.  This keeps toys from collecting on your table and makes the table special for projects, coloring, and play dough time.

4.  Finally, remember that kids can help to maintain your dining room.  Yes, really!  Kids can wipe down the table, sweep the floor, and even help you to pull off the towels and take up the spill mat when company is coming.  Not only are children makers of messes, but they can also be taught to clean up those messes.

Make your dining room into a haven for hosting and decorate your room to perfection.  Plan your seating, dress your table, and be sure to consider the details around your dining room that pertain to your life and daily eating habits.  Remember that maintaining must be intentional and can be done!  Best of luck with dining in style!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And I Think to Myself . . . What a Beautiful House.

Living Rooms We Love

How many people live in houses that they can truly call beautiful?  Beautiful houses are in short supply.  Some houses are not being built as beautiful, but even more than that, many houses are not being decorated to be beautiful.  It is my personal desire to call my house beautiful.

A beautiful house is all in the details.  Each and every decision you make about the decor in your home says something about you and your house.  Each and every decision you don't make still says something about you and your house.  Choose to make every detail count.

A messy house is never beautiful.  Junk will always be junky.  If you do not have enough storage or organization, you must make a change in order to transform you home from clutterful to beautiful.  Buy the storage shelves for your garage, buy the storage bins for your closet, and buy a filing cabinet for those loads of paper that make your house messy.  Organization can happen if you purchase the storage products needed to organize.  Organization will lead to the beautiful home of your dreams.

Fear of Change
Okay, really?  If you fear changing the consistent elements of your home as it is now, then you can never change your home away from its status of being consistently not beautiful.  Change is not only inevitable, it is the key to beautiful.  Your home must change frequently to be beautiful and remain beautiful.  If you have a new addition to the family (a job, a child, or a pet), you must change your house!  Reorganize your desk to allow you to function best at the new job.  Change your home decor to keep your house beautiful even while adjusting to a new baby.  If your pet ravages your sofa, don't settle for keeping a destroyed piece of furniture for the rest of your pet's life.  Change is essential for a beautiful home!

Day to day a home can go from being beautiful to being trashed.  One of the best ways to encourage yourself to keep your home beautiful is by offering hospitality to your friends and neighbors.  If you have a guest coming over, it is highly unlikely that you will settle for the daily mediocre condition of your home.  You will spruce it up and enjoy it all the more!  Make yourself pick up and clean up by inviting people over!

A beautiful house is attainable and so very enjoyable!  Intentionally bring your home into the realm of beautiful by considering the details, staying organized, banishing the fear of change, and by offering hospitality.  Check back to the Designing Life Blog for more beautiful ideas!
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