Saturday, October 24, 2015

Space saving solutions

If you've been struggling with tight spaces and want some new ways to conquer the problem, you may be pleased to know that there are some new ideas that just so happen to be old. Yes you've read this right, old ideas that are actually helpful.

Not only are there some old ideas that are practical to help return some floor space to your life, but a few revamped ideas on everyday items that you need. Desks that float, Wall beds, also known as Murphy Beds, and downsized furniture that suit your smaller spaces with a better fit in scale and style to boot.

We all know we need extra space, we all know we can pack things away and put them into boxes, but what we don't always know is there are other means to take back your space. The link below gives you some ideas, and also perhaps some motivation to address your space issues and get you thinking of what is out there for you to take advantage of.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to find the best deals on home decor

English: eBay Logo
English: eBay Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interior decorators and designers alike, strive to work with in the constraints of a budget. That being said, it is important to know where to go to get high end looks without spending all of your clients money. Here are a few tips for getting great things at great prices.

Look online for a vast wealth of informational resources. Books on interior design, and decor are everywhere and can be quite expensive, however there are endless resources online to help you in the quest for anything your heart desires. Books sold by individual sellers on every subject can be easily discovered once you learn where to look.

Ebay & Amazon- Ebay and Amazon  have some of the most hard to find merchandise out there. Have an incomplete set of old china? Chances are you will find the matching piece on Ebay. Want to expand your collection of Fire King Bakeware, these online avenues can help you. Paintings? Wall art? Bedding and name it, you can find it on Ebay, or Amazon. There are independent sellers on Ebay trying to sell their personal collection in order to get the best deals. You don't have to bid -although this is the best way to get the best price, you can also search for "buy it now" merchandise. Its a great place to find out in advance if the product you are in the market for is worth the money as the customer reviews are extremely honest and helpful.

Antique Malls- One can find some wonderful great buys at antique malls. Contrary to the name of these malls, you can find things that aren't necessarily antique by definition but nonetheless unique and valuable. There are a lot of great second hand items to be discovered and once revamped they are beautiful and can serve a decorative or functional service anew. Whether its to complete collections, or start one, antique malls have something for everyone. Always check these stores for great unique decorative items.

Flea markets- Not all flea markets are the same, but the good ones are worth the extra mile. What constitutes a "good" flea market? One that has a great deal of local sellers and not one that has a lot of dime store seconds on the tables. Look for great furniture that can revamped, reused and re-purposed in creative ways. Have a good eye for that which is quality and that which is junk and don't be afraid to negotiate that asking price down.
Check out our Home decorating page on Facebook: Interior Decorating and Home Staging Advice

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ten Small Things that Make a Big Impact on Your Space

Formal Living Room
Photograph by ©Dawn Gagnon 2015
The best interior design is that which can yield the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. Effective design starts off with finding the balance between what adds to a space and what takes away from it. Good design can best be measured by the immediate "feeling" a room gives off. Does this mean a lot of work? Not necessarily. A room simply has to have a few good attributes. Much like putting on make up, if the model doesn't have great features to begin with, the make up won't do much more than mask a few imperfections.

1.  Less is more - You've heard it many times in your life I'm sure. Instead of always thinking what you need to add to your space to make it more attractive, try removing things. If it's not performing a function, isn't decorative it's probably not contributing much to the beauty of the room.

2.  Paint- This is always a simple change that has huge impact. Remember, if you are a novice at decorating, or painting, try a small room or space first. Don't be afraid to try out a new painting technique on a closet wall first. Keep in mind as well that paint can cast a very different look on different rooms with different or varying degrees of natural light. Painting a piece of canvas with the color you are considering and hanging it on the wall for a few days will give you an idea about how the paint will look.

3.  Rearrange Furniture - Sometimes, the biggest flaw in a room isn't design, or decor at all. It's poorly placed furniture. Furniture needs to be in the right location in a room to really bring about the beauty of the room. The general rule of thumb should be, big furniture should be placed along big walls, small on small walls and so on. They should also relate well to each other to form a conversational triangle.

4.  Change Drapes/curtains - Heavy drapes are often a great way during the colder months to contain heat, and also to keep it from coming into a room. As the season changes, new drapes and curtains can be a great way to breathe new life into the room. Just as your wardrobe changes when the season does, think of the drapes in your home in the same way. Lighten up the weights of the fabrics and color choices. It will yield a huge impact on the room.

5.  Mix textures, not color - Too many contrasting colors in a room can give off a bad disconcerting feel. By mixing up the textures in a room you can often give a room a lot of interest and a visual boost without having to overdose it in different color. Most rooms don't need more than three colors working in it at a time. Textures however, can be blended and used to make the room a treat to look at. Woven fabrics, Smooth accessories, if the colors are complimentary to each other this will give your room a lot of drama.

6.  Adding an area rug - Area rugs can make the room feel like you have actually changed out the flooring but for a fraction of the cost. Besides being a great way to protect flooring, area rugs can be additional layer of texture, design and color.

7.  Change the lamp shades - Lighting is a key functional and decorative item in a room. Just like anything else though, a change is sometimes called for. Rather than buying new lamps, new shades is a great way to change up the look and feel of the lamp itself but also has a big impact on the room.

8.  Add some foliage - Yes, plants can be a challenge to keep alive. They require attention. However, if you research the topic a little you can no doubt find the right house plants to fit your lifestyle. Plants add a beauty to a room like few things can. A few large plants in a room can do wonders to soften the hard edges. Living things often reflect a certain amount of vitality to a room that may be otherwise lifeless and drab.

9.  Cleaning - The beauty in any room will go completely unnoticed if the room itself is not clean. Windows need to be cleaned, carpets shampooed, and a thorough dusting can all improve the look and feel of a room.

10.  Change out the artwork - Looking at the same decor day in and day out will at some point lose its appeal. Much like watching the same movie over and over again. Change out the artwork and wall hangings can be an easy way to make the feel of the room change. Even changing frames can be a little change that will have a surprisingly big impact.

Renovation Resolutions

Can you believe we are not that far from  2016???
Dining room
Photograph By Dawn Gagnon
As the New Year approaches, there are many resolutions swirling about. Vows to change diets, achieve world peace, or giving up a nasty habit all seem to be common themes among us all. When thinking of the New Year, it is good to get out a notepad and start thinking of goals to accomplish. A big goal to strive for is tackling  those necessary renovations you have put off in your home.

Many homeowners no doubt, felt reluctant to put money into their home with the dropping of real estate values that took place nationwide in 2009. One thing all homeowners should bear in mind is regardless of current market value, improvements are still improvements nonetheless.
Home improvements should always be about what makes the home owner happy first, investment prospects should be secondary.

Start off with a list of goals for the next five years. Usually these goals vary from the very inexpensive cosmetic fixes to major home improvements. By placing a time line of five years as the goal, this makes it easier to accept and work toward. Start off with the small stuff. However, if you have a nightmare kitchen, or bathroom, it should be given priority. It may surprise many to see that most goals listed on a five year plan get achieved in considerably less time.

List everything you can fathom that needs doing. Why not? You've got five years. Your list may very well resemble a wish list more than a realistic one, but that is half the fun. It doesn't hurt to dream big. Its also financially sound to always have a plan. Its a great reference to have a list already waiting for those extra funds that you stumbled across from time to time. Maybe a bonus? A tax refund? A relative that left you something in a will? The idea is the money will go towards something tangible and that is smart financially.
uld be secondary. A homeowner is less likely to regret improvements done for themselves, as opposed to those that do  them based on market statistics.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to furnish small multi-functional spaces - Columbia home and living |

As an Interior Decorator I get a lot of questions from people about how to arrange furniture in small or tight spaces. This becomes even more of a challenge with rooms that are multipurpose spaces. Many times people have to find creative ways to get the most function out of their limited space and that can be a challenge. There are a few tricks to doing this effectively, however there are a lot of factors that determine just how much you can and can't do.
Limited floor space always presents a problem when you need a room to function in more than one way. However, floor space alone isn't the only hindrance when arranging furnishings. Available wall space is also a key element in determining how much you can and can't do.
Windows and doorways tend to take up a lot of available space and in some cases can cause a bigger problem than lack of floor space. With these things in mind, you have to employ a few creative tactics. Read more here : 
How to furnish small multi-functional spaces - Columbia home and living |

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kitchen Remodel, How much should you spend?

It is great to be able to spend money on a complete kitchen remodel, if you have the funds to do so. However, for every day people, money for such projects is hard to come by and in many cases, do not yield a big return investment wise.  Well I am sure you have heard that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes and this concept has been reinforced many times on television remodel shows,etc. The truth is, you may not recoup a majority of your expenses. You may only break even, or even lose some money. Why is this? Simply put, its all about where you live and what your neighbors have that dictates whether your money is well spent.

Consider this. If the homes in your existing neighborhood all have dated kitchens and are fetching at or below market value, you may want to scale back your improvements if you're looking to make money off your efforts. Dated homes take longer to sell but if you have many in your neighborhood the buyers looking are not expecting to pay far more for your lavish updates. You'd think just the opposite would apply, your updates should set your home above the rest, and command a better price. Unfortunately that rarely is the case.

So what can you do in this situation? Well you might want to scale back your project. If most kitchens in your neighborhood have laminate counter tops, that is what buyers in that  price point expect to find in your home. That doesn't mean you can invest in nice laminate though. Wilsonart has incredible updated styles that would surely appeal to a buyer, but save you thousands at the same time. Dated old wood cabinets in other homes on the street don't mean you're stuck either, but you may want to considered giving them a fresh new look with paint. Flooring too can be freshened up using some of the tile look alike peel and stick varieties and again save you thousands.
Here's an example of what paint can do for a kitchen, that can stand out and be noticed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mold in your dream home?

Black mold growing on an inorganic surface pro...
Black mold growing on an inorganic surface probably gets its energy from light &/or heat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First and foremost there are many different types of mold. Treating mold can be as simple or as complicated as contacting a mold remediation team to come in and tackle the problem. The first thing you have to address is what is causing the mold. Mold can lead to any number of health problems. Those that are already highly allergic, young and older family members may be at the highest risk of developing health issues. That being said, it is imperative that it be dealt with sooner than later. It will get worse the longer you let it go.
1. Identify the source of the problem. This may require hiring a professional that deals with mold or a contractor, home inspector, or handy man.
2. Don't always opt for the cheapest remedy. Mold has a nasty way of coming back if it isn't completely removed. Even if you identify the source of the moisture, a small amount can still grow and flourish with just a little moisture to live on. A simple solution of bleach and water may remove it visually but it can come back if it is inside the wall or ceiling.
3. Don't be afraid to replace a whole section of ceiling or wall. It is good to go ahead if it is in a wall to remove the whole wall to make sure you can see exactly where all the mold is present. This requires having your windows open and lots of ventilation. You don't want to cause mold spores to be air born if you can help it.
4. Be prepared, you may  have termites.  Termites love moist wood. Sometimes termites are the reason for the mold in some homes. They get into a wall, the baseboards and studs become hollow and This allows for moisture to enter in via rainy days, etc. and before long what the termites don't destroy mold will.
5. Trust your nose. Your nose often times can smell damp, rotting and unfresh smells like mold very easily. Don't just chalk it up to normal. It is not normal for a room in your house to smell like a soggy old gym sock.  Hire a home inspector or someone specializing in mold remediation and get it taken care of. If you're planning on putting your house on the market than this becomes especially important. Any mold that turns up during a home inspection will be a deal breaker.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Layout vs Square footage in home design - Columbia home and living |

Key Factors:

The key factors with any home is 1. The home addresses your families
needs. 2. Potential room to expand if you need to. 3. The layout is one
that offers the greatest use of space and comfort. Lets examine the
third factor in this article, layout. Many many times the importance of
layout is overlooked when people do initial searches for homes. Buyers
tend to zero in on square footage and use that to assess their family's
needs over everything else. Additionally many believe that open concept
design automatically means a better more functional layout and this too
is not really always the case.

Things to Consider:

When thinking in terms of good layout vs. bad layout, one thing that
is a basic way to determine which is which is to think flow. Imagine the
home you are looking at, beyond the furniture inside. Think of the home
when it is empty. Imagine it being filled with a steady stream of water
from the entrance. Ask yourself, will the flow have to navigate around a
lot of structural obstacles, or could it flow rather easily from one
living space to the next. Chances are if you see it not having an issue
in the living areas, that means the layout is conducive to good flow
potential. Also look around the spaces to see if furniture arrangements
will work with the best flow a space has. Many times a home can have
great flow potential but due to bad design allow for limited furniture
placement which may interrupt that flow. On the other side what may seem
like a home with a bad layout may be due to the fact the homeowner is
not using the space to its advantage. If you rule out that and the home
still feels “choppy” chances are the square footage wont matter, the
flow will still be off.

Read more here: 

Layout vs Square footage in home design - Columbia home and living |

Monday, August 11, 2014

Interior Design Advice: Beware of one size fits all suggestions - Columbia home and living |

Interior design
Interior design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not all interior design advice is good advice. We as homeowners
sometimes are taken through a lot of hoops with regards to trends and
what is the latest design rage. Often though we find out through
considerable cost and trial and error that all those wonderful ideas
don't always work for the average home or homeowner. While it is the
responsibility of Interior decorators and designers to help expand and
educate homeowners in the world of interior design and d├ęcor, many in
the media seem to be eager to showcase their vision, with no side notes
to the viewer/homeowner that their ideas may not work for every space.
Here are a few examples of not-so-great advice from Interior designers.

On the Diagonal Furniture Placement- For a long long time designers
were advising homeowners to rearrange their space. Placing furniture and
area rugs on the diagonal was supposed to open up spaces, and redirect
focal points. Interior Designers were seen doing this in countless
magazines and home improvement shows. What most designers failed to
mention that this is not always a good idea and that homeowners would
have to indeed have more than enough space in the room to accommodate
such an arrangement. Furniture placed on the diagonal can only be
effective when there is more than enough open floor space to make it
easy for those entering the room to navigate around large pieces of
furniture. If your home is not already open concept, or is a traditional
rectangular shape this design will come off looking haphazard and
impractical. Better Advice: Balance is far more important than trendy
furniture placement. If the diagonal seems to throw your room off
balance it will be due to the fact the room naturally isn't large enough
or laid out in the best way. A room that is properly balanced with a
smooth flow for traffic and visual impression is a room successfully

 Continue Reading Here:

Interior Design Advice: Beware of one size fits all suggestions - Columbia home and living |

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Your Design Style

Great room
Great room (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

"I don't have a design style..."  If you're like a lot of people you may think you either don't have a style or your style doesn't fit into any pre-determined categories. That is actually far more common than you realize and the good news is, there is a way to identify your style. By using your own home as your model, you can go room by room and notice what repeating patterns, shapes, colors etc exist.  I promise you if you do this, you'll soon discover you're a lot more predictable in your tastes than you think you are. I have heard many say they are "eclectic" when in actuality, they are just caught in a state of confusion on how to display what they love in the best way for the space they are in.
For instance you'll notice a lot of people with extreme clutter tend to define their design style as "eclectic" when in fact we all know they are hoarders. Now that doesn't mean to suggest all those with problems identifying their style are all hoarders, but I do mean to suggest the word "eclectic" may be the victim of over use. Most of us do tend to like the same styles, shapes, and patterns, and we will see common aspects of this over and over again through out the home. Even if it is wild and colorful, from different parts of the world, with different materials, chances are, they will share some common traits overall. Bottom line, you do have a design style unique to you. It doesn't have to follow the rules of any recognized design scheme, but if you find that your style lacks cohesiveness there are reasons for it and ways to correct it. Please take a look at this link to find out the best way to pull your style together, here: Tips on finding your design style and making it work

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