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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Coming up with your own design philosophy

One thing that I can not stress enough is how important it is to have your own ideas and philosophy in your home's decor and design. Too many of us are swept up in what we are told by the industry is the best look for our homes, but few of these sources know your individual living needs, or the dynamics of your family and home life.

This is why it is important to develop your sense of style based on what you know about yourself. Now many have expressed to me that they don't always know what their design style or philosophy is, and I can understand this completely. It's not necessarily a cut and dry assessment. Chances are though, your style is right under your own nose, or you may even be wearing it. This is something most of us don't realize but the way we shop for our clothing, our cars and even the homes we pick all lend themselves as evidence to what our real style is.

Once you come to know and embrace your own individual style and philosophy, it becomes easier in time to know what you like and what you don't, what works, what wont, and ultimately what will make you happy. Designers, Decorators all can tell you what industry standards are, they can suggest and offer ideas but if you don't allow or develop what your philosophy, you will soon find yourself living someone else's dream and not your own.

When you do seek out the advice of someone like an Interior Designer or Interior Decorator (like me) be sure to find out what their philosophy is and decide whether it mirrors any values you hold near and dear. I truly believe my job is to help you, or the client find their own philosophy and design style. Once I have that as a template, it is then my job to use my skills in getting what is in your mind, in your life in the most creative, beautiful way that works for you on multiple levels.

So here's my tips to help you find your design philosophy:

 Look in your closet. Examine your favorite articles of clothing and footwear, jewelry, and accessories. Ask yourself what it is about these items do you love.
Walk around your home.  Take note of your artwork choices, furniture, flooring, wall color, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures.

Here's a check list you can use:
1. Color
2. Texture
3. Comfort on a scale of 1- 10
4. Durability
5. Usability- in other words, how often do you find these items as a go to, and why..

Notice Repeating colors, finishes and textures
List these repeating colors, finishes and textures

If you're seeing a lot of repeating metals, finishes, colors etc. then you've probably found a good starter list for what your likes are.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Easy Coffee Table Decor

Every so often I like to post these little ideas I get on the fly that are so easy and simple I question whether to write about them. This particular idea is one such post.
I am always looking for something cute that can be customized to match your color scheme and be inexpensive.


Decorative sphere's all assembled in a bowl are lovely for the coffee table.  However I could not find the particular colors to match my current color scheme in my family room so I decided to get some left over yarn, and styro foam balls and cover them in yarn. The great thing is you can get styrofoam balls in different sizes and this helps when you just have left over pieces of yarn from your knitting or crochet projects. Add a cute basket and voila, a simple way to use left over yarn and make a centerpiece for your coffee table :D

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Family Room Before and After




Hubby and I are constantly dreaming and scheming with ideas for home design. I believe to truly be able to help others, I have to make sure each idea is tried and true. When moving into our 1984 Colonial home we knew our dreaming and scheming would have to take charge and our individual skill set would have to come into bear.  On the list first was the large family room which was stuck in a time warp.


My belief, as an Interior Decorator is that trends are not where it is at in home decor and design, but timeless design is. That being said, I love to take an older home that was built in the 70's and 80's and leave my visitors guessing as to the true age of the home. That means "de-dating" it. When a home transitions from 1970 or 1980 it should glide into "date unknown." Why? Because that is lasting design. If you can't date the home you're looking at visually, you've done it right in my book. That means merging the past and present in clever ways and it should not mean costly updates.


The family room was dark and dusty before we took it into a new direction

Now I understand there are people out there that will love this look, and say leave it alone. My response is, if grass cloth wall paper and pine tongue and grove paneling "float your boat" by all means embrace it and love it. At the end of the day we all have to love the space we're in and I say do what you love. If done right almost any design can be a great feature.

Our family room before was a huge dust trap in part due to the glass cloth wall paper. It was also dark for my tastes so we decided to strip as much of the grass cloth off the walls-- a nightmare and go with textured paintable wall paper. We also painted the tongue and groove wood work. Sorry guys, but it's always a personal choice and I can't stress this enough, "do what you love."

The family room is brighter and flooded with light now

This is just one more example of what paint can do to a space. Depending on what you love, it can re-create a space. What I love is, it blurs the line a little between yesteryear and today.
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Friday, May 27, 2016

Easy cabinet refacing idea

We all have had cabinets from one home or other that had old, original cabinetry that could use repainting, replacing or refacing. All ideas have their pros and cons but you can do this easy trick to get an awesome new look to your cabinets.
The cabinets in this kitchen were originally your solid dark wood cabinets that were built with the home in 1984. As shown in the photograph below:



The cabinets were in great shape, with a heavy lacquer finish. Overall the kitchen felt extremely dark even though it had a huge bay window (not visible in this photograph) to the right. The idea was to keep the cabinets since they were solid wood and paint them. However, the first go around with paint left much to be desired. Hubby used semi gloss paint and as a result the cabinets needed touching up every few months. They also did not wipe clean very easily and if one scrubbed too hard you took paint off. We could have removed the lacquer and stripped them down but with a long list of renovations to undertake, we wanted a simpler solution.

Here's an up close picture of the cabinets with the textured wall paper applied and painted:



The idea: High gloss paint and wall paper. Yep, wall paper. Textured to be exact. This idea has held up well over the past six months. That is how long I test an idea before I decide to write about it. We did not clean, scrub, or do anything special to the cabinets. I went to a favorite standby of mine, textured wall paper, with a bead board relief. We did not wet the pieces but cut them to size so that they fit into each cabinet door inside the mold frame work. We also did not wet them in water and then gingerly applied the pieces, we simply painted on wall paper paste on each cabinet door, and applied the dry cut wall paper pieces over the paste. and pressed into place. After that was completed, we waited to the next day and simply gave everything a fresh coat of pure white high gloss paint.
The result:



 This technique was not that expensive, a gallon of high gloss white, double roll of textured prepasted bead board wall paper, and wall paper paste. All new cabinets, and they wipe down easily, on both the painted wood AND the wall papered sections. It's six months and they still look new!! Give it a try!!!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Taking a vision to reality in home design

One thing I know for certain is that you can not be afraid to take risks. As the saying goes with big risks comes big reward. That doesn't mean to say you should throw caution to the wind or go beyond your scope of abilities, but it just means trying something that is different, and doable.
I work with my husband on every home design endeavor. We both bring different abilities to the table...literally..as you will see what we recently did to this kitchen dining nook below.
dining room built ins
© Dawn Gagnon Photography
I guess you'd say, we existed before Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV's show "Fixer Uppers." Which we happen to be huge fans of because they embody so much of what we love and believe and we share the same views in so many ways..
At any rate, this table did not come from a store, well, the base did. The top though was small and round and didn't suit our needs so with my vision and my hubby "The Donald" and his skills we came up with a solution. Simply build a top to the specific size we needed. Some molding and paint for trim and voila, we 're done.
Now the built in storage/benches made sense. Building those was merely about two by fours, one by twelves and wood trim to finish the edges off. I think it came out quite well and offers up the storage that gives the space additional functionality.
I can dream it, draw it, figure the materials and hand it to The Donald and from there he goes. That's how we work. We're a team. Donald is a little more wary of taking one of my brainstorms from paper to reality because he often can not "visualize" what I need until I sketch it for him. Once that happens, and he can see it, it "becomes."

It may not be something you'll see anywhere else, but that is when I like to say "well every idea starts off, not being seen anywhere else..." You truly can't let that be a deterrent. 
Here we needed a fireplace mantle, but I had a specific vision in mind..and with my sketch pad in hand...Donald was able to give this fireplace a cozy new look:



Once that idea came to life, well, you know I had to go further. The dreamer in me never gets rest and The Donald would say neither does he..matching book shelves we next on the list and I designed them to be simple, rustic and complimentary to the fireplace. I would tell others on this endeavor, to always start off with simple ideas and build from there. Experience and success come through trial and error.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Re-purposing entire spaces

Often we have rooms that have a purpose but in some cases, they may not function very well for your needs. When we run across these types of spaces in our homes we have a few options. We can make use of the space with space saving adjustments and scaled down furnishings,appliances, etc. Other options may be to see if there is a way to trade off one space for another in order to improve the function of both spaces according to your individual needs. This was the case here in these photos:

This dining room was stuffy, closed off and too small to seat comfortably a group of family members.

Trade off, small unused Formal Living Room will now be the Dining room with plenty of space for everyone.

The bottom line is you can't be afraid to try something new if it can be a better fit for your family. The old dining room now has a new purpose and function, but it can also be easily converted if needs change to a fifth bedroom on the main level, or even converted to a huge walk in pantry that can not only store food goods, but also house a freezer, and other kitchen related storage. For now it is a multi functional office space, with room for crafting, sewing and blogging!


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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.
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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 Drapes..you 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
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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.
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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.
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