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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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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Could you use an Interior Decorator?

Great room
Great room (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)
On first glance you may say no, I have my own style and I'm sticking to it. However, there are some reasons you may want an interior decorator. Many people don't realize what services an interior decorator offers but it's not just coming to your home and taking over your design. Many interior decorators can give simple consultations, help you find your own style, be your shopping assistant, etc. There is a lot to be learned from finding the right interior decorator, and you should never feel like you are surrendering your own design aesthetic, rather, you're finding new ways to explore it.

Interior Decorators often will conduct in home consultations for a small fee. With that being said, you can learn a lot from an Interior Decorator in a short period of time. They can advise you as to color choices, accessories, de-cluttering, furniture placement, artwork arrangements, artwork displays, proper lighting, etc. Some will even consult with you about design and decorations that you are considering and have a hard time deciding on, a second opinion if you will. Consultations can range from in home, to even assisting you during a shopping trip for things for your home.

 Many people that have used Interior Decorators for consultations will tell you they learned a lot of time saving valuable things in an hour or two than they may have ever learned from a magazine or television show. Reason being, it's personal, they can assess your individual needs rather than give generic one size fits all advice that you get on television and in magazines.

Interior Decorators can stage your home. While some people may know how to properly stage a home to market it's assets, some may feel they could use the services of a home stager. The truth is, an Interior Decorator can do this as well. Some can even advise you on staging right on the internet. Did you know proper staging of your home is one of the top five most important actions a homeowner can make to improve a home's chance of selling? Interior decorators are trained to visualize a space to bring out its best attributes.

Many will come to your home for a nominal fee and help you increase the feeling of space and give your home a new look just through a room redesign. If you hire a decorator to help sell your home there are a few tips to consider. If you're selling your home be open to the decorators suggestions. It is imperative that you let the decorator do their job, don't try to dictate how you want things to look if you're planning on selling.

Why? Well if the job of the decorator is to improve the visual appeal, and maximize flow and the look of space, they have to appeal to the general public. The general public is not an individual entity but a mass of consumers that need to like what they see, or more importantly be able to picture themselves in your home. That requires making the home neutral enough that any potential buyer can move right in and not have to worry about their décor working with your home. Trust the decorator's judgment, they have nothing to gain from failing your expectations..
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

What are the biggest kitchen renovations

granite countertops

This question recently turned up in a search and it is a good question. When we decide to update our kitchens it is really important to prioritize our updates according to our budget and our needs. If you are thinking of selling your home in the near future that is also a major factor to weigh in on your decision. The biggest expenses are listed below.
Appliances- I'd have to say this is probably where a majority of money would be spent in any thorough renovation. Many homes for sale fail to update appliance and when a buyer sees old appliances they know the price of the home has gone up several thousand dollars. No buyer wants to replace old appliances. Would you? If you are considering updating and renovating your home and your appliances are more than 10 years old, you can not go wrong replacing your appliances. Newer appliance not only sell your home faster, but if you're not selling the newer ones are far more efficient and will save your money on your utility bill. The refrigerator is the big energy elephant in the room and as such you may want to opt for a slightly smaller one, with the freezer on the bottom. Studies indicate these are the most energy efficient of all designs.

Cabinetry- This renovation may be almost as expensive as replacing all appliances depending on how expensive your tastes are and if you are planning on doing a complete tear out and replacement. However, unlike appliances that pretty much have to be replaced, cabinetry is one way you can save money by simply refacing, refinishing or painting. If you are trying to sell, evaluate the overall condition of your cabinetry first and foremost. If they are older solid wood, you may want to refinish, repaint and/or replace hardware and leave it at that and use your money in other areas that are more important like appliances.

Counter Tops- Again, depending on material used, this can be right up there with appliance replacement. If your counter tops are laminate, you may want to opt to replace with an updated granite look laminate. Brands like Wilsonart laminate create some beautiful glossy texturized laminate that have the look of granite at a fraction of the cost for materials and installation. Considering the housing market, this may be the most cost effective improvement with counter tops you can do. Any update is an upgrade to old, dated, worn out counters. There are also products that will allow you to paint and refinish your own counters. The most expensive counter top materials are always going to be your natural solid surfaces like granite, marble, quartz, etc. They will however last a lifetime with proper care.

Flooring- At the risk of sounding like a broken record, again we have to consider the materials used. If you opt for hardwoods and tiles expect to pay much more. Less expensive alternatives may be peel and stick tile that are made to look like stone with bevel edges and texture to mimic solid stone. These tiles are attractive come in a wide variety of colors and you can save money by installing them yourself. The main question is what can you afford and what condition your floors are in. If your floors are damaged, faded, stained or dated, even a fresh new linoleum floor is still an improvement over leaving them as is.

With all renovations it is truly about your budget, and your needs. If you have but one chance to make an impact, your best bet is to replace the big ticket items and then adjust your budget from there, especially if you are going to live in this home for a long time or planning on selling. You may not get a second chance to do it. Good luck and enjoy! Remember regret is the dearest price we pay in the long run.
For more on Interior decorating, see: Dawn's Interior Decorating Solutions.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Decorating with photography and artwork

Art Prints

Today we have many options and ways to bring our own cherished photographs and artwork into our design plan. Many companies will take your photographs, artwork prints and mount them on canvas, print them and frame them, or even convert favorite images into beautiful cards and stationary. The choices are unlimited.

Not a photographer or artist? No worries, most companies like, and sponsor some of the most beautiful artwork and photography in the world and one only has to put “flower” into the search box on these sites to find the most beautiful images imaginable. From there you can find stunning original pieces for any room in your home and know that it will not be seen in everyone's home.

Unlike in stores where you are stuck with what they offer, on Fine Art America allows for the customer to customize the image, add a frame, matting, or even have it on ready to hang framed canvas. Good design, and a pulled together room start with the details. The prices change according to the level of customization you're looking for. When you are done, you'll have something that is a unique and one of a kind piece. This is what designers and decorators live to find for homes.

For other ideas and design inspiration visit: Dawns Interior Decorating Solutions

Photography by Dawn Gagnon Photography

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Problem Rooms and their solutions

Sun roomSmall spaces
Space too small? You'll be glad to know there are more options today than ever to help you outfit your small space and live comfortably in style. Choosing the right scale furniture is key in creating the feeling of space in a small area. Choosing the right scale décor is also important. Luckily there are furniture stores and manufacturers that are responding to small space living needs. To learn the tips and tricks for your small space, see the link: 'Furnishing small spaces' at the bottom of this article.

Dark rooms
Space too dark? Rooms that lack a source of natural light are always going to be a challenge to lighten up. Luckily though there are things we can do to bring light in a dark space. To brighten up a dark room there are a few designer insider tricks that can be utilized to maximize low light areas. If a room has no natural light we have to find ways to use artificial light and redirect. To learn the tips and tricks be sure to see the link: 'How to lighten up a dark space' below.

Odd shaped rooms
One of the most difficult rooms there is to decorate and design around is the dreaded “odd shaped room.” Whether is off centered windows, an off centered focal point, a strange layout can be a real nightmare. There's good news, you may be surprised to learn that there are very little differences in the design approach. Follow these simple guidelines and you will have a room that makes sense even with a “wonky” layout. See the link: 'Designing and decorating odd shaped rooms' below.

Open space issues
Many homeowners have gravitated towards open concept homes, but many don't realize open spaces can also be a challenge to decorate and design. Sometimes those challenges don't become apparent until after you've moved in. If you have a home that has an open concept, but spaces function in different ways, for example, a living room and dining room combined, it can be a challenge to incorporate separate styles between them and have them exist cohesively. The human eye is trained to spot the inconsistencies in pattern. If your open space has too many of these conflicts in décor, the eye will come to rest on these things. The end result is a space that is not unified, and distracting. To learn how to deal with an open space that isn't functioning see the link: 'How to give open spaces their own style' below.

Can't agree on color
One topic that doesn't get addressed often enough is when you have two people that don't agree on design, décor and color. It can be a hard road to walk when neither party have the same design aesthetic. It is somewhat unnerving to try and find a compromise when you have two completely different tastes in colors working against each other. The end result can be a mixed batch of colors that each clash the same way you and your partner do. Don't fret though, there are ways around this problem. Ideas on how to compromise at found in the link: 'How to find a compromise on color and décor in your home'.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jazzing up outdoor living spaces

Screened in Porch

Shades of green
This year seems to be popping with outdoor furniture options. Try dressing up your seating with bright fresh shades of green. Color to keep an eye out for? Pistachio and celery green! With their subtle hint of yellow and bright presence, it will make any seating you have pop with Spring time appeal and looks great with white wicker! If you don't want to invest in new cushions, which can be costly, consider using outdoor fabric and making your own. See Tommy Bahama Swaying Palms link below.

Blue and green floral patterns
If you love using combinations of colors, then you have got to try going with colors that are paired up with the hot green trend right now. Blue and Green go beautifully together and as you see here, offer a fresh and tropical feel, both working with tropical and beach themes too. Add accessories like Hydrangea floral arrangements to knock the look out of the park! See an example with the link below.

Wicker and Rattan
This is nothing new, it's a classic, but what this does mean is never having to say you're sorry, well almost. It means you don't have to say you're sorry you bought it. Classics stay in style and will accommodate your tastes throughout time. While wicker itself is a classic, the colors available today have really stretched. No longer are we limited to just white or natural. Many wicker finishes, whether it is true wicker or an imitation varieties can now be found in dark colors such as tobacco, coffee, and black. It all goes to what you're trying to achieve. Dark colors are often associated with sophisticated contemporary looks, while light colors tend to go well with a more laid back and casual feel. At any rate, there's no shortage of options, see a few examples in the links below.

Indoor/outdoor rugs
If you have a deck or patio that needs jazzing up a bit, try an indoor/outdoor area rug. Look for rugs made from recycled materials like plastic. They drain well and don't hold on to moisture. They usually require no vacuuming or extra care making them perfect for your patio, deck or screened porch. See just one example of many you can chose from on the link below. Feel good about going green with this product too.


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