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 FineArtAmerica.com, and Zazzle.com 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.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finding decor inspiration for your home online

Dining room tableThe internet is probably one of the most invaluable tools out there for finding unique items for our homes. For those that can not afford an interior designer or decorator, the internet is the net best thing. To begin your hunt it is important that you try and at least loosely define your design style and taste. A fun way to do this is to make a scrapbook or photo album and collect pictures and articles on interior design and decor that speak to you visually and even emotionally.

Start off by defining what your ideas of a dream home entail. Then go through articles, magazines, and start collecting an imaginary profile of your dream home. Collect snippets of colors, fabrics, photo graphs, and soon you'll have your own vision. Many now are utilizing the Pinterest website for this and its a wonderful way to find your design style, unique to you. 

Once you begin to see your own tastes, and recurring themes in style, colors, textures emerging you can then start your hunt for items that can replicate what you have found. There are no shortage of sites out there and if you have the finances you can make any dream come true. However, true style and inspiration should not be about copying something in a photograph or spending a lot of money. Instead let the process be about taking great ideas, finds and making them something special and unique for your home. Mixing items you buy online and in stores with personal items you salvage along the way will give you a lot of wiggle room to express yourself in your home. It also makes good financial sense to revive, restore, re purpose and re use what you can.

There are several sites online you can go to and find unique and creative decorations, but more importantly they will give you ideas. See something you love but it costs a fortune? Chances are you can replicate it. One King's Lane, Country Door, Pier 1 Imports are all great sources of inspiration. Many of the items you see in these stores can be easily copied.
See an example of something you can replicate:
You can take an old coffee table, paint it white, distress it with sand paper and add a small old garden gate on to the top.
Garden Gate Coffee Table 
The idea is to use your creativity and never stop looking for those "finds" along the way. Great design doesn't take place in a furniture store, or Walmart, it takes place in your imagination. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mobile home upgrading: What you can do to bring yours up to date

updated mobile home kitchen
mobile home kitchen (Photo credit: mastercabinetmaker)

Your mobile home, is your home. There is no reason to treat it any differently than you would any other stick built home. Like every home in existence it needs updating. While it may not be in your budget to do all of the suggestions above, this article is just to give you a few options you may want to try. Every home needs a little updating, usually every ten years. Mobile homes come pre-designed for the era/decade they are built in. If you are tired of being stuck to that color scheme and design, it is good to know you can do something to give your home a new look and feel.
  1. Paint the walls. Yes, you can paint the wall paper. Today's interior paints come with built in primer and you can paint easily over the wallpaper inside most mobile homes quite easily. Paint is one way to update your mobile home and removed the dated colors associated with your home and the decade it was manufactured
  2. Replace plumbing fixtures. Many fixtures in manufactured mobile homes are also date specific. Brass is in many homes built in the 80's and 90's. Switching out these for current finishes like brushed nickel etc. is a way to get your home into the modern era.
  3. Replacing the carpeting and flooring. There are many advantages to changing out the flooring in manufactured mobile homes. Many homes built during the 70's through the 90's are style and color specific to that era. In many cases they don't fit well into the neutral furniture and décor currently used today. You may have to check around to get the best deal for installing carpeting in larger homes because many rooms are not built in traditional measurements that carpeting comes in. This means you may have to have it professionally installed however this is a good investment if the home is your permanent home or a home you are currently trying to sell in a market competing with houses.
  4. Painting the wood trim. Now you may see many shudder at that idea of painting wood but unless the wood trim is expensive wood, there's no reason you can't paint the wood molding in your home. Whether it's paneling from the 70's and 80's or even the molding from the 90's, chances are the manufacturer did not put in Mahogany or real Walnut. With that in mind, if you like white trim and you plan on painting the walls, why not paint the trim too? It will update your home instantly and brighten up the room.
  5. Refinish or replace your counter tops. There are products on the market for laminate counter tops that will allow you to paint over them and completely change the appearance. There are many options depending on your budget but you are not stuck with your counter tops in your older mobile home and if you are planning on selling, it may be worth it to try. The least expensive would be to use a laminate counter top kit. See *link below for more information on that.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Country Design, its coming back into the spotlight

Chrysanthemums (Photo credit: Dawn Gagnon)

For some this look never went anywhere, for others there may be a long collective sigh of "oh no" but for others, who actually check out the way the "country look" aesthetic has evolved, they'll be pleasantly surprised. There are different faces to the look of country, and finding one that fits into your lifestyle is key in getting you in the right direction. We're going to look at why there are trends, and what's new in the "country" design themed world.

Why are there trends?

More than anything, trends tend to reflect societies current economic and social frame of mind. When society goes through difficult times, their needs change to fit their mental state of being, and their financial state of being. Another factor that dictates trends are of course the demographics of a certain area. The media tends to pay a lot of attention the the demographics of main stream America but they tend to do a shallow job when it comes to practicality. How many home design and decorating shows have you seen that you thought they could have spent a lot less money? Young American homeowners tend to migrate towards contemporary and modern design, and if they're often marketed to. Today though we're faced with a slightly different situation, a sluggish housing market, and a sluggish economy..what happens in these times is people make do, and that is what the country lifestyle and design aesthetic is all about.

What's new in country design?

Well for one thing, there's a lot more ways for those who don't have an understanding or a background to go by to get the look. There are a lot of companies out there that have beautiful furnishings and decorative items that have that weathered, soft, simple creature comfort appeal. Try visiting sites like One Kings Lane and Country Door can give you lots of inspiration and head you in the right direction. Depending on whether you like rustic country, french country or shabby chic styles is up to you. Start off simple by understanding and researching the various styles mentioned here. Once you do this, then the idea is to start small and gradually move into the direction you want to end up using many photos as your inspiration. Paint color, and the right furnishings will make the biggest impression. All else can be acquired through time. Remember regardless of what trend is currently out there, timeless beauty never goes out of style and comfort has to be a priority.

Why would anyone want to decorate their home this way?

It doesn't matter how lovely a room looks if you can't spend time enjoying it comfortably you've wasted time and money. The real skill comes into play when you use what you have, and that may be about finding new ways to use old things, it may be about recycling and re-purposing as well. With the economy struggling, and more people skipping on their vacations away from home, it is important to make the home the comfortable, nurturing space it is supposed to be. Country today is about merging comfort with simple design that reflects a homeowners needs. Most homeowners need that soft place to land at the end of the day, seeing things around them that offer both a useful purpose and a visually lovely reminder of what we truly need in this world.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Using astrology with design concepts

Cancer (Photo credit: Marjorie Lipan)
If you are ready for a change in your home, or maybe just a room in your home you may want to consider thinking outside the box. Way outside the box, using your own astrological signs to guide you in the decor and design concept. Sound crazy? Well why not give it a try. The first step in any good design idea is to study the client, and in this case the client is you. Look up your sun sign and your rising sign and you may discover there is a lot of information about you that you were unaware of. Colors that are compatible with your sign, design concepts that nourish you on deeper levels can also be discovered and put to use.

What is my rising sign?
We all have two signs, your sun sign and your rising or ascending sign. To learn your rising sign, you must know the exact time of your birth and the location, no guessing or approximating. Check your original birth certificate, or birth announcements to see if you can find this information. Once you know this information, there are many sites online that can easily calculate your rising sign. These two signs are actually key components to who you are. This is why many times simple predictions and descriptions you've read about your sign may not have rung true, you're really only getting a fraction of your true complete astrological profile. With that being said, I'd encourage those with broad minds to look up their ascending signs to help fill in the gaps and then read about those signs as well to get a better understanding of the whole "you"  By knowing your ascendant sign, you can study both, and merge the special properties of each one into your design scheme. For instance, a Gemini with a Leo rising would no doubt naturally enjoy sun rooms because of all the windows that allow for the air Gemini craves, and if painted a warm and vibrant shade of orange or gold to keep their Leo side grounded and happy not to mention all that sunlight.

The elements of our signs
Many of us don't realize it, but we can sometimes find the right fit with interior design when we factor in our astrological signs and the elements associated with them. Fire, water, air, earth. To learn more about these elements and how they influence your signs, see the link below. For instance, if your sign is an air sign (Gemini, Aquarius, Libra), than no doubt you would love a space that has lots of windows and fresh air available. If you are designing your home from the ground up knowing these things in advance can be a huge benefit. If your sun sign is one of the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), you may considering having fountains, large jetted tubs, sheltered outdoor spaces that allow you to enjoy even rainy weather. Earth signs like Virgo, Taurus, Capricorn may enjoy and thrive with designs that are practical and multipurpose, and plenty of natural elements around to make them feel their most content.

Colors and the zodiac
Color also has a role in your astrological signs and learning what colors are best for your sign can also have a surprising effect on your mood and happiness. Learning what these colors are can add just the right balance to your home. Finding out what colors represent your sun sign and what are associated with your rising sign can open up a lot of creative possibilities in your home and can no doubt affect how you thrive and flourish on a deeper level. Play around with the possibilities and integrate them in your home's design in various ways and you may be surprised how well it suits you, after all it's in the stars.
Rising sign calculator
The Four Elements and their Signs
Colors and the horoscope