Thursday, September 18, 2014

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

Key Factors:

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

Things to Consider:

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

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Interior Design Advice: Beware of one size fits all suggestions

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
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


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

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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