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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 décor, 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

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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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Trends:The Good, the Bad and the Down Right Ugly

grey-bathroom2 (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)
I shun trends!! Well, I will correct myself, trends are a good and fun thing in small easy to take doses.Trends can be costly if you are one of the many that run out as soon as a television show tells you this is 'all the rage' and buy something they are using in a design. There are just a few simple things you need to remember when it comes to following trends, and they are the following;

Keep it simple- Trends in color should be done is small increments that you test before you commit. In other words if you're thinking of painting a wall in some wild blue turquoise color, try painting only one wall in the color first and living with it before you commit the whole room to the color. If you really want to play it safe, paint a piece of paint-able wall paper in the color and hang it to your wall for a week or so and see if it works with you. This is especially handy in a room with changing light from many windows..colors change color in different lighting situations.

Make sure it's changeable- If you must go with a trend it should be one that can change easily. Throw pillows, area rugs, slipcovers, all are things that can be brought in and taken out. Never invest in a trend that is extremely costly and/or hard to remove. Anything that has to be permanently affixed should be given careful thought. We are already seeing now where small glass tile backsplashes are on their way out. This was one of those trends that may come back and bite you later on. Research classic designs to find a better timeless fit for your decorating needs.

Here's some fine examples of using a bold color choice in your home in a safe way, this trend is becoming popular as we speak, Turquoise is a hot color right now:
If it costs a lot, wait, hesitate and wait some more- Big items cost big money, big installations, etc are all red flags in design. Refrain from jumping on bandwagons that promote colors and finishes that have not been deemed classic. The eighties had their brass age, we don't want to go back to that, especially the 'imitation' brass age. For more on trends that are safe to use, see:

Good trends-movable, changeable, removable, Bad Trends- fake anything, imitation anything, if everyone is putting it in, wait..wait...wait....Ugly trends- google decorating trends from the decades, 'nuf said.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Have your home singing the blues

English: La Sal Gallery interior design 1
English: La Sal Gallery interior design 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you feel like you got caught up in the neutral twilight zone? Many interior design shows tend to have the homeowners jumping from one foot to the next  in their pursuit to have that commonly accepted, easy to adapt to perfect home. The frustrating part is, neutrals can be boring at times, especially if you have a yen to create a different sort of space more conducive to your tastes. To  heck with appealing to the masses. The good news is, the "masses" are shifting in what they like right along with you.

It is true neutral colors are easy for others to adapt to, and this can be extremely important when you're selling your home, however year in and year out, it can be a little monotonous visually. Initially the neutral concept was probably born out of an era pre dating -home decorating shows, where home owners  had to just wing it. It was like born out of the necessity to help those tone down some of those more bold colors and learn some stylish design in the process.

Today's buyer is looking for overall style over neutrality. What they are desperately running from is homes stuck in a time warp.  Luckily,  blues and greens are being embraced, and this opens up and gives us some well deserved wiggle room from the beige days. However, that being said, the style you pair up with these colors still needs to have a modern and contemporary flair, IF you'd like to sell.

 Muted colors are on the way out and some of those caustic bold colors in the reds and oranges may be as well, the quest for clean lines, and serenity may be reflective of a society now well informed about decor and design and over stressed economically, thus needing the serenity.  Greens and blues pair well also with crisp white trim which is timeless, and they also marry well with dark wood finishes so it is a win win yes?

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blinded by the light? You don't have to be...

The big questions about lighting are right here. If you are wondering what to buy to replace old fixtures, please don't be side tracked by all the bedazzling styles, and finishes, you have to answer the following questions first:
bathroom lighting

Where is the light fixture going?
 One light does not fix all problems, so it is always good to make a note of each room in your house you are replacing the lighting fixtures in. If you are replacing lamps be sure to find those that are the optimal height for reading and sewing. Lamp shades have an impact on the lights performance so make sure to pick a shade for your lamp that directs light into the area you need it. The lamps that are taller make for easier reading. Shades that go upward, are typically better suited for aesthetic purposes and ambiance.

What is this light being used for?
 If your light is a simple over head fixture, ask yourself if it was adequate if so take note of the size and type of light bulb being used and use that as your guide. If your lighting was not adequate a simple change in bulb wattage may be in order. If it was over your bathroom sink, or perhaps your kitchen sink , these lights tend to be “task” lighting and often times, must provide a stronger light. If harsh lighting isn't preferable, you can purchase dimmer switches that will allow for you to brighten and dim according to your needs when it is in use.

Who will be using this light?
Believe it or not this is an important consideration. We all don't have the same eyesight, eventually someone in the house may have declining eyesight and need brighter lighting to be able to live comfortably. Led lighting is great for lamps and will provide a specific direction for light to travel. Fluorescent lighting provides powerful overhead lighting and is idea in baths, laundry rooms, and kitchen cooking areas. These are important for those with poorer vision. Both are more energy efficient than regular incandescent lights and LED lighting lasts far longer and ultimately uses less energy than all others. That being said, for best lighting of an entire room fluorescent works the best.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Big Design Practical Expense

White Diamond Stitch Quilt
White Diamond Stitch Quilt (Photo credits: West Elm)

Find the deals. There are certain stores throughout the United States that offer wonderful designer styles that are practical for every day people. Stores like Pier 1 Imports, even Big Lots often have stylish accessories that will give you similar looks that are at a fraction of the cost. When looking for furniture that has an expensive designer feel, remember to look for sleek lines paired with soft fabrics and solid colors. Bear in mind to chose shapes of sofas that can easily be covered with a slipcover to give you more options if you should decide to change your style or color scheme.

Bedroom designs that are tired, need a boost. Designer Bedding can be extremely expensive but the real key to getting a chic and designer look is with picking a good quality, yet simple comforter or duvet and adding layers of contrast with throws and pillows.Keep large surfaces like drapes and comforters solid, and add the interest and pattern in removable layers through out the space and you'll create a much more random yet pulled together look. Many times we get caught into that "matchy-matchy" look and they are fine for a while but at some point you may become bored with it because you're limited design wise. If you love the value of the bed in a bag approach, try to find solid colors so you can use layers and contrasting accessories.

Avoid getting backed into a corner. One problem consumers face when they go to find decorative pieces and items is there are a flood of "themed" items on the market. Beware of anything too themey, yes for the purposes of this article that will be a word. How many of us found ourselves trying to obliterate themed wallpaper, covered in grapes, or even the revered Holstein cows of the 80's? Themes are like trends they come and go. Classic design lasts forever. Why? Because classic design doesn't follow trends rather uses time honored style, design that is bases in exceptional function and practicality. Do not let a current trend or fad dictate to you what looks good. For those on a budget these tactics prey on you and as such you end up trading a long lasting design for a temporary fad. It may seem cheaper initially but in the long run you're spending more because fads and trends are generally short lived.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Design trends and colors for 2014

Are you looking for a change? Have you been pummeled by the winter and can't wait to migrate to better days and warmer tropical dreams ahead? You're not alone and fortunately, the new trends in color and design are right there with you. 2014 promises to be a year of risk taking, bold colors and jazzy patterns that add interest and personality to your living spaces.

 Caribbean inspired blues and greens are making a splash in décor this year urging homeowners to step out of the safe zone and try a serene blend of cool blues and greens, as well as warm blues and greens. Bright white is still the optimal complimentary trim color, however we're also seeing dark browns and blacks being used with the cool blues and greens as well. With the warm shades of blues and greens, we're also seeing calming creams and vanilla trim coming into play as well. The idea this year is to migrate into a space that feels like a vacation, offering relaxation without compromising style and lively color.
 Pier 1 Imports reflects the trends here
 Mixing and mismatching prints used to be a no no- but in the world of design, rules were made to be broken and we're seeing a shift with regards to what is acceptable and what isn't. We've lived through the stripes and floral mix and match design styles, and now in 2014 we're seeing geometrical patterns, back up on the walls with exciting new styles of wall paper with contrasting patterns to compliment as window treatments and accessories. Spring green is also making a showing in many kitchens, sun  rooms and bedrooms using interesting shapes, lines and patterns. The common denominators are in the colors, not the individual patterns, the result for some may be busy, but for others it can be a complete expression of your inner design rebel.

These concepts in design free up the design spirit in us all as we move into an era that becomes more about making ours homes suit our own tastes and less about pleasing the majority of people in the world. Since the housing market experienced a significant drop in recent years most homeowners now are staying put, and as such are going back to designing homes they love to suit their tastes rather than trying to appease potential low balling buyers. If you can't move, love where you live and that means creating a design, color scheme and aesthetic that appeals to you first. Have fun this year. 2014 says experiment with tropic flavors and patterns. Be happy, don't worry!
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relocating in South Carolina?

Great Home for Sale:
It's all about lifestyle. Living in the south affords people the lifestyle of warm weather and a long season of summer fun that usually starts a little early and leaves a little late. If you love the charm of southern life, this home offers it. Sip on iced tea on this homes lovely large front porch, wave as neighbors stroll by, enjoy the breezes and the gingerbread details, and not to mention lovely sunsets.
You'll find sunsets like this right on your front porch in the evening...
Sipping tea and enjoying a quiet afternoon on a porch that many can sit on

South Carolina offers some wonderful advantages especially when it comes to cost of living. Many homes for sale currently in the market of central South Carolina are very affordable and offer many desired updates, like the home pictured below. Orangeburg South Carolina not only is an inexpensive place to live, but also can afford you the lifestyle you'll love like  this particular home in the lovely Creekmoor subdivision.

This home is a 3 bedroom, 2  bath 2100+ square foot home. On the inside the potential buyer will find a home that has been updated through out with new flooring in nearly every room, crown molding, french doors off the great room lead to a large bright year around sunroom/family room.
This home's kitchen is large, open and has custom refaced cabinets, and granite counters. Appliances were all replace in 2007. The main bathroom has double sinks, and new lavatory, light fixtures etc. The master bedroom has two walk in closets, a dressing room with double sink and new lavatory. New tub, new toilet and all new flooring.

This home has very little left to do for the next homeowner. Perfect space for family or those who love to entertain, spacious great room with gas fireplace and formal dining room, additional room for guests with sunroom which leads out to large back deck, new above ground pool that can stay or go, your choice, a screened private porch can be found through french doors off of the master bedroom for a private retreat.
Private screened in retreat off of Master Bedroom, watch birds and smell the Magnolia tree all in privacy

Located directly under a large magnolia tree and privacy fence, enjoy every summer smelling the heady aroma of lovely Magnolia blossoms, while sitting on your carpeted screened in porch under two ceiling fans for added comfort. Morning coffee and evening birdwatching is what awaits this homes next buyer and a lot more. The back yard is fully fenced in a large enough for the family to play a game of foot ball, or relax in the pool.
Mature landscaping in front and back

Enjoy summer in this large 27' above ground pool, notice the easy access to this pool, no flimsy ladders, even a little changing room for swimmers

Whether it's parties and entertaining during the holidays or back yard barbeques, this home is perfect for those that love the entertaining lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Holiday Gift Giving

Right now for a limited time you can own some original artwork for your gift giving needs this year. I have assembled a whole product line devoted to the holidays for my readers to take advantage of. I am offering original Dawn Gagnon  designs in a wide variety of products that will be guaranteed perfect not only for that person in your family that has everything, but also that person who loves one of a kind original art not found just anywhere. If you'd love to see what I've been working on and offer for your gifting needs check this out:

Holiday Gifts
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Monday, September 30, 2013

Cold space blues, a few tips to warm up a cold space...

warm spaces
warm spaces (Photo credit: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓)
We allllll hate a cold space, its the space most wont hang out in or venture in. We have to ask ourselves what makes the space feel cold. Color, temperature, lack of visually appealing and or comforting items. If you address each of these problems, you'll soon find you can warm a space up in no time.

Temperature: Is the space really cold? A cold room will never feel warm no matter what you do it to it. If the space is poorly insulated you may want to consider purchasing insulated drapes in warm colors like browns, golds and reds for visual warmth and physical warmth. Electric fireplaces can be a wonderful focal point and also provide additional heat and have varied settings.

Visual appeal: Visual tools for warmth in a cool space can be utilized with candles, not just as décor but actually using them on a regular basis. Candle light emits a soft warm glow and will play off of the other accents in a warm to allow a little warm light to bounce off of any reflective accessories in the room. Reflective surfaces like metallic finishes, fabrics that have a sheen all can be mixed with matte finishes to create a balance of light and dark and warmth. Plants also have a welcoming, calming effect and where life will flourish, warmth can be felt.

Colors : Color matters in a space, and you can not make a cold space feel warm without color, however its not just color alone that works. Depending on the light in the room, the type of paint you choose is also important. Satin finish paints will let light reflect and lighten a dark space. Matte paint is soft and can give off the look of suede in candle light. A bright room that is stark and cold would do well with matte, while a room with limited natural light could make best use of the light with a satin or semi gloss finish to help the light source redistribute.

Other ideas: Sconces add decorative elegance and a nice soft light in dark spaces. Whether they are with candles or electric, they add to the atmosphere. They are decorative when not in use, take up little space and are purposeful when needed which makes them a great choice for lighting. Area rugs can also warm up a space where you have a lot of hard surfaces in a room. Always view your space top to bottom and side to side. Floors like hardwoods and tiles can sometimes use a little softening and warming up with area rugs and soft plush warm hues will do the trick nicely.
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