After a long hiatus, my blog has returned. Let’s jump right into the deep end…
If you take a look around any home store right now they are bursting with decor and accessories. Quite rightly so, the holidays are the quintessential time to decorate the home with accessories. Pretty as all of those glittery baubles are, they are majorly lacking in one area: purpose and meaning. Let me explain…
This time last year I wrote about holiday decorations and included a cute poem depicting the sentiment of decorations. If you missed it, here’s the link: Twinkle & Sparkle. Now, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t acknowledge that my home too is decorated with beautiful and curated store-bought decorations. I’ll even confess that I have a color coordinated Christmas tree that I put up with military tactical precision, calculating the distance between the same colors so as not saturate any area but rather evenly disperse the ornaments. (Seriously, I’m a real treat to decorate a Christmas tree with, its serious business. Occupational hazard, my apologies!)
But, with that precision, in the adjacent branches should be the ornaments that over time your family has created by gluing together popsicle sticks, knitting and crocheting bits of yarn, painting doilies, and drawing on tissue paper with markers. Children’s art and family heirlooms are so precious and the most meaningful decorations you’ll ever have. In my mind at least, therefor the most beautiful, deserving the front row center spots on the tree. Your tree will be forever the more humbly beautiful with them.
Another offender in the decor category besides pretty but meaningless holiday decor are the pointless accessories that stores sell to decorate your mantel, bookcase shelves, and coffee tables. You know the type of things I’m talking about, its the abstract armillary globe with the arrow sticking out for your mantel shelf or the droid looking horse head bookends for your bookcase. I think the worst one of all has to be the innocently placed, beautifully carved bowl on the coffee table but then is ruined with these five to seven “balls” sitting inside it. They’re usually made of wicker or painted resin and they do absolutely nothing. They sit in the bowl and just act as decor. Really? We as a society have come to this, we can’t leave the bowl empty to stand alone and just be? We have to fill it, don’t we? We’re uncomfortable unless there is something in the bowl. I issue a challenge to all of you with a bowl with these fake balls in them, for the New Year…toss out the balls.
What’s my point with this rambling rant? When decorating your home with accessories, think about their meaning and purpose. Are they a real item with history or are they simply shelf filler? Beautiful things are nice, but they should more importantly also hold a functional purpose or meaning to your heart. A decorative bowl can just be a bowl, in all its glory, and sit empty. Really, it will be OK, I promise you!
Have a great holiday season everyone, I’ll be back next year with fresh ideas and more satirical humor.
I’ve lived in 200 sf and I’ve lived in over 3,000 sf. Both of these sizes provided everything I needed…at the time. That’s the key, living in a space that provides you what you need at the time. It’s simple and basic, but many people don’t do it. Their house is either bursting at the seams with people and stuff or they are rolling around like marbles with empty rooms they no longer use.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose the house among several, realize the home isn’t just the style or location but also fit. Knowing and really thinking about the stage of life you’re in currently and probably the next 5-10 years will allow you to choose correctly. Budget is a separate issue altogether; what you should buy and what you can afford to buy can often be two very different numbers, therefore housing options.
When people live in a space for a few years the phrase “I need more space” often starts creeping in. It’s not that you need more space, you just need less stuff or better organization. (Check out my previous blogs under the minimalism category)
Houses now have man caves, living rooms, family rooms, play rooms, teen hangout rooms, bunk rooms, craft rooms, finished attics, rec rooms and finished basements. That’s a separate type of room that 50 years ago used to be all the same room. Let that sink in for a minute…all the same room. Whoa, right?
Once settled in the +3,000 sf house, people feel like they’re always picking up, tidying, cleaning, and honestly- constantly walking around stuff. Kitchens now have two islands and built in banquettes, breakfast bars that seat 6-8 plus a dining room to host 8-10 people. That’s a lot of places to sit and eat a piece of toast with your morning coffee. Also a lot of counters to clean and furniture to walk around.
Have you ever cooked in a really small kitchen? It’s fun! You’re at the stove, turn around you’re at the sink. Need a knife? It’s in the drawer right next to you. Need something from the fridge? It’s beside you an arm’s reach away. While you’re stirring the pot, the spice rack and spoon rest are most likely beside you already.
So what’s my point? Just because your mortgage says you can afford the +2500 sf house doesn’t mean you should. Think about that cute craftsman you saw or that 2 bedroom town home, would they really work better? What would the added income, that you would save every month from your mortgage, do for you? Can it pay off a car loan, old student loans, zero your credit card, then bulk up your neglected retirement accounts or maybe start a nice juicy college fund for your kids? Just think about it…
Join me next time when I discuss decor and accessories with a purpose and meaning. Thanks for reading, have a great day!
As I write this month’s blog, it’s cloudy and snowing. A perfect setting to discuss spreading daylight through the home. Do you have a dark room or hallway and wonder how to get more light? Many people have their lights on during the day when there’s no need. With proper delivery of sunlight, lights would only be used in the dark, completely logical right?
A dark and dreary interior doesn’t have to be with using purposeful historic features that carry daylight through a building while also bringing architectural interest and connectivity. One method is transom windows. These windows occur above doors and help spread daylight through to the next room. Sidelights are another method, often used on front doors. Any pet owner will recognize the immediate benefit of having a sidelight next to their doors; to alert them their furry friend wants to come in. Another method for delivering daylight throughout about space and is becoming more common is the interior window. Simply put, it is a window that is placed on an interior wall between rooms. Often used in a long horizontal orientation to ease sight lines to entrances, niche corners, or landmarks within a space such as a reception desk. When an interior window is placed in a wall that is adjacent to an exterior window, the daylight is pulled into that next room. If privacy is an issue, have the window sill placed higher up from the floor.
Beyond spreading daylight throughout the space, it’s also about connecting to the next space. Transoms, sidelights, and interior windows help pull you through to the next room. But it’s not just windows that can do this, decorative french doors on pantries, laundries, playrooms, basements, dens and even dressing rooms help connect you, draw you through to the view beyond, and expand the feeling of space.
Whether it’s with a window, a glazed door, or even a mirror, spread the daylight around, appreciate the view, and expand your perspective! Make a physical connection and engage with what is right next to you, whether it’s a room, your garden, or your neighborhood. It’s all about connectivity!
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join next time: “Downsizing; finding the right fit.”
First, I need to apologize for missing last month’s blog “Stained Glass, Tales of Color” that was supposed to be published. You see, a week before Christmas, when my blog would have come out, I suffered a technological apocalypse. My laptop experienced a quick and spontaneous demise. It turned on once briefly giving me a glimmer of hope but alas it was just enough to quickly harvest files onto a jump drive and then it glowed no more. When I logged onto my blog to complete it for the month on another laptop, I realized it was completely unsaved and was truly lost. I will address the topic again at a later date as it’s already written in my mind, but right now with the help of a new laptop, it’s time for the next scheduled topic of resolutions and decor dreams.
As the hurried pace of the holidays slows and the decorations come down, the focus shifts to the new year before us. Many people set resolutions; goals or dreams for themselves for the upcoming year. Most designers have a secret list of project types they would love to do in their professional lifetime. As a designer, I’ve taken that approach and created a bucket list of projects I aspire to be involved with at some point, may it be this year or in the future.
As an introduction on why these items are on my list, I like places that drip with ambiance. To make a place memorable and enjoyable, they have to exude character and have a good vibe. A restaurant for example, has to have a combination of good food and service, plus great atmosphere to bring repeat clients. If you have one of these food or drink venue related projects, call me today! I would clear my schedule for you…
English Pub/Old World Tavern
Now, here are some pretty pictures, let’s all dream together.
My design resolutions aren’t all food related. If you have one of these commercial or residential projects I will still excitedly clear my schedule for you…
Mid Century Modern House
Happy New Year everyone and thanks for reading my blog! Set your 2018 goals high and make them happen. Whether you want to renovate, redecorate, or just rejuvenate, contact my studio, I’d be happy to help you.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join next time: “Beyond Daylight; it’s all about Connectivity.”
When it comes to creating a cohesive and knock out space that’s on budget, interior designers have several tricks up their sleeve. From creative material use, budget friendly sourcing, and spatial analysis, a quality designer can blast a bland or chaotic space into the aesthetic stratosphere. This month I’ve curated a list of five situations that often arise in conversations regarding designer tips and tricks.
1.How do you create the biggest bang for you buck with a back splash?
In my September blog post DIY Kitchen Renovation, I eluded to a budget trick regarding the back splash area in a kitchen to make the most drama. Match the tile color identically and paint the remaining above portion of the wall, carrying it to the ceiling. It creates a knockout look for a budget price, particularly if you’ve chosen a bold color of tile. Look for cues from trim and flanking cabinets to decide where to stop extending the accent paint color, keeping it focused above the sink or stove.
The example below shows a pairing of red glass mosaic tile and a swatch of Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year 2018, Caliente.
2.Is there a budget option to granite or quartz?
Solid surface counters do not get enough attention due to their bigger and more expensive siblings granite and quartz. Its a viable upgrade from laminate counters by far without breaking the bank. The colors are similar to granite and quartz and the material mimics the granular aggregate of natural stone. I recommend selecting matte finish rather than high gloss to hide the scratches on solid surface, however, review solid surface specifications like you would prior to any purchase. Common brands are Meganite, Corian, Staron, and Wilsonart, Its a sensible option for smaller budgets.
3.How do you choose the correct size faucet?
Many people don’t consider the ergonomics behind a faucet, however you will once you do dishes in that sink for the first time. Taller people with longer arms don’t need a faucet that reaches into the sink as far as smaller stature people do. However, shorter people will suffer from backache because of having to reach forward past the middle of the sink. To select a faucet correctly, measure how far forward the head will need to reach to your palms with your elbows resting on the front edge of the sink counter. This will affect your back when washing both hands and dishes. Also, if you wash large pots and pans look at the height of the faucet.
4.How do you lay out a gallery wall correctly?
This one is tricky for me, as I am such a big stickler for symmetry and uniform margins when laying out anything from a floor plan, design board, or artwork. The key to a good gallery wall layout, that’s currently on trend, is balance and spread. It should appear as one large ensemble. Nothing should overhang the area where its centered, no object should overpower the eye’s attention, and objects should be closer together than farther apart. I recommend laying it out on the floor and start with the center objects first.
In the example below, many of the frames are too small for the spacing and the eye is drawn to the meaningless ampersand sign. The mirrors reflect nothing to the viewer. With careful rearranging, the frames can be laid out in a rectangular grid, the mirrors moved to a useful location, while the “and” sign is removed.
5.Where do you find old architectural relics?
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a part of the country where antique malls and fairs occur, definitely check those out, however, one of the best places to source architectural pieces is Habitat For Humanity Restore. New and used Items are donated and then categorized into building sections, like doors, windows, cabinets, furniture, and lighting for example. These stores sell the items to the public and the profits go towards Habitat For Humanity. Check here for store locations.
Whether you’re updating a back splash or counter, changing out your faucets, or adding the finishing touches of decor with art and accessories, creating a harmonious and cohesive look is key to creating the vibe you desire. Interior designers can be a great asset while you procure items for your space. Contact my studio, I’d be happy to help.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in December: “Stained Glass, Tales of Color.“
I applaud you! Taking on a kitchen renovation is like ripping at the soul of your home. Its the lifeblood that keeps your household working. Even though you aren’t doing a full blown remodel, a simpler renovation can still grind on your nerves. (To quickly distinguish the terms: a renovation is aesthetic changes like cabinetry, flooring and lighting where as a remodel also includes opening up walls and tearing into plumbing and electrical.)
You’re ready to start a DIY kitchen renovation. Now, contact a designer. Better yet, contact me. I would love to help you! Even if its simply to review your floor plan or help you brainstorm ideas and get organized. Across the miles, via email and FaceTime, I can help you save some headaches. If not me and my studio, then find a designer in a kitchen showroom, your local big box home store, at the very least ask your neighbor who just finished theirs. Don’t jump in head first alone, without a plan, a schedule, and a project outline.
So, you’re going rogue and being truly DIY, on your own. I will still help you. I’ve generated a list in the most practical order, however if your project doesn’t include one of these steps, then move onto the next one.
1. Fix ALL Repairs First.
As you plan the path of your renovation, fix the broken items. A leaky faucet, broken window, rattling exhaust hood, even bad wiring. Fixing the repairs is a must before installing new finishes. If you don’t, then down the road when the neglect has exacerbated the problem, you’ll end up tearing out your new kitchen items to fix the old problems, and you’ll kick yourself. Fix them now when its cheaper and easier.
2. Keep Appliance Locations The Same.
Many factors raise the cost of kitchen remodels and renovations with one of the biggest being the relocating of the sink, stove, or refrigerator. If your kitchen was haphazardly put together like it fell from Kansas into Oz in a bygone era, then appliance locations should be reworked to create a layout that’s current with today’s lifestyle and more importantly, building codes. Dedicated and grounded circuits need to be created. If plumbing needs to get reworked, gas lines moved, or electrical panel work is needed, its no longer a DIY job. Unless you or a loved one is a licensed contractor, leave your appliance locations alone. This is not a Do It Yourself part of the project! Hire a professional for this step.
Also, if installing professional grade appliances, these are very heavy units and the floor and support below need to be checked and if necessary reinforced. Again, hire a licensed contractor for this portion.
3. Keep Functional Appliances.
It is very tempting to want to upgrade the appliances, however, if they’re functioning then keep them. If you want to switch from white to black or stainless steel to make them all match and unify the aesthetic of the kitchen, work the numbers out on paper first. If you know that your stove is on the fritz, you should replace it. But wanting to get a new refrigerator simply because its the wrong color will wreck your budget. Creative solutions can be found online for recovering appliance fronts. Work with the color of the newest, most expensive appliance and adjust the others to that one.
4. BE The Labor.
Depending on what part of the country you live, the labor portion of a renovation estimate can run 25-40% of the costs. The DIY method is a no brainer for a job you know you can do, from demolition, re-sanding, painting, and installing new cabinets can all be done by willing and careful homeowners.
Have an expert friend or family help you, watch your how-to videos, and read manufacture’s instructions. Also think about attending workshops available in your area’s home stores and check out books at your local library and bookstore.
Become a task master. This is where your project schedule will come in handy. If you break down the renovation into smaller tasks, you won’t get burnt out nearly as fast. Its when multiple tasks get started all at once, that homeowners quickly get stressed and their project becomes overwhelming.
5. Replace, Refinish, Or Remove The Cabinets.
You’ve created your plan, outlined the project into tasks, and chosen the new direction. You’ve done the repairs, confirmed the appliance locations, now its time to get to the aesthetics. If your cabinets are in good structural shape, keep them. New cabinets are expensive. You can either get them resurfaced, repainted, new doors installed, or keep the upper cabinets open. Give the insides a good scrub and vacuum. Install drawer organizers, slide out racks, and under cabinet lighting if desired.
6. Paint the Walls & Cabinets.
Paint is the cheapest way to redo a room. Layout your color palette and assign locations. Research the proper prep work for the surface you want to paint. Below is a photo of similar profile cabinet doors. Notice the difference a coat of paint and a new counter top can do. Even without a new counter top, the cabinets go from a warm Tuscan vibe to a modern farmhouse feel.
Choose an exciting paint color for the walls and give your painted furniture a touch up. Make sure to check out my next month’s blog regarding color and how to choose the correct one.
7. Redo The Floors.
Depending on what kind of flooring you choose determines how much is DIY and whether you’ll need professional installation. If you do choose to do this step yourself, be sure to prepare the underneath properly prior to installation. Also, where specifically on the floor your first piece is placed will determine the look of the final outcome. (Traditionally, planks start at the perimeter and tile products start in the center.) Always read the manufacture’s recommendations thoroughly.
8. Select New Counters & Back Splash.
Beyond the ubiquitous glass mosaic or white subway tile options, there are many choices regarding back splashes. How about brick veneer or tin? In a future blog coming up, I’ll address how to get a knock out look for your back splash for a budget price. Stay tuned.
If you can’t afford the cost of granite or quartz counter and want to upgrade from laminate there is another option: solid surface. Solid surface is a viable budget conscious option, commonly used on counters. Second to quartz and granite lines, it provides a similar look and feel of stone without the hefty price. Don’t know whether to choose gloss or matte finish in the solid surface? Contact me, I can tell you the pros and cons of both finishes.
9. Replace Hardware, Lights, & Faucets.
I consider this the jewelry portion of the renovation outfit. These are the items that add sparkle and character to what otherwise is simply a functional space. If you can only afford one change other than paint, make it this one. As with any work related to water or electricity, shut them off at the main first. Contact me for more information regarding how to choose the best faucet for your sink, the correct lighting for your needs, and to coordinate the cabinet hardware with the rest of your home.
10. Update The Decor, Bar Stools, & Window Coverings.
A finishing touch to all of your hard work is the soft surfaces. With the decor, bar stools, and window coverings I would also add dish towels, oven mitts, place mats and rugs. These items are the “clothes” of your kitchen. They’re also an economical aesthetic option to change compared to replacing cabinet fronts or flooring.
Now, let’s generate some ideas with the following photos. Who doesn’t like looking at kitchen photos, am I right? I’ve included a variety of styles to cover all tastes.
One more bit of advice, before taking down your kitchen for the renovation; set up a temporary one in another room to preserve your sanity. An electric tea kettle, a crock pot, a hot plate, and a toaster oven can fix numerous meals. Create a dish-washing station in the laundry or bathroom and fire up the grill outside. During renovation you need a dust free counter to pour your morning coffee and in the evening to prepare your dinner. Preparation of a temporary kitchen is an absolute must!
God speed and contact me for questions. I can help you through it.
This is part two of my ongoing series regarding minimalism and living simply. This month I discuss minimalism and interiors. As I mentioned in my previous month’s blog Minimalism & Living Simply:
“Any style of interior can be minimalist by simply not getting lost in the details and decor.”
Often times in the glossy decor magazines the rooms are filled to the hilt with accessories. I’ve always felt that when designing an interior that the room needs space to breath and the eye needs a place to rest. This is where minimalism shines.
See? All different styles of interiors, but they’re ALL minimalist in nature.
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, father of modern architecture is credited with the famous design phrase “Less is more.” however after delving in further, I found the phrase, under the same context, first appeared in a line of “Andrea del Sarto, The Faultless Painter”, a poem by Robert Browning. Regardless of who said it first, the statement remains the same. Less IS more.
To reiterate my minimalist point even more, this month’s blog even mimics my mantra when approaching minimalism in interiors. Don’t get lost in the details. If you are developing a minimalist approach to a room, I invite you to share it with me via my contact page. I would love to see what my readers are doing or work with you on a project!
Next month we step away from minimalism and into the DIY world of kitchen renovations. If you want your kitchen project finished in time for the Holiday season, you must start now. You can do it, but let me help you.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in September: “10 steps to a budget friendly, DIY kitchen renovation.”
This isn’t a one and done blog topic but rather an introduction to a new, more satisfying lifestyle for those seeking simplicity. Are you downsizing or leaping excitedly into a tiny house or cottage? Maybe your cluttered or full rooms make you feel overwhelmed, like they’re taking over? Or, do you enjoy looking at bare counter tops, sleek furniture, and tidy rooms? The beauty of minimalism and living simply is that you get to define it by how it makes sense for you and your lifestyle. Most likely you know where you fall on the minimalist spectrum as it covers furniture design, home decor and design, fashion, lifestyle and personal processions. Terms like simple, streamline, uncluttered, pure, serene, calm, bare, and essentials, will resonate with you and you’ll strive to enact these principles into your life. Welcome and keep reading!
I was asked recently how does someone live minimally when their spouse wants to hoard and keep everything? This situation is a common frustration among couples. Luckily, the solution is simple: start with your own stuff. This will help relieve some of your burden and lighten your load. Hopefully, along the way, your spouse will join you in your efforts.
In two of my previous blogs Making room in your rooms and Evolving rooms and flexible spaces. I discuss how to clear out the clutter. For those who are ready to start really simplifying its time to purge the surplus from your home or business. Below is an outline of categories I’ve cultivated to reference when starting to reduce:
Clothes, shoes, coats, & seasonal gear
Bags & luggage
Furniture & decor
Bedding & linens
Pans & baking dishes
Pantry & refrigerator
Tupperware & food storage
Toiletries & medicine
Office & desk
Bills, mementos, & mail
Books & media
Electronics, gadgets, & small appliances
Junk drawer & tool box
Toys & sporting goods
Car & gardening supplies
Spend time clearing and reducing items from these categories until you only have your desired and used items. Some categories may be very easy while others may require more time. Once you’ve exhausted this list, you should feel emotionally and physically lighter. Arrange a charity to pick up your items, sell them, or pass them along to someone you know, just free yourself.
Now, its time to start putting in place some principles that maintain your newly found freedom. What may seem like discipline will quickly come routine. Additional resources are abundant on this topic. Two that I am familiar with and follow are the Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus and becoming minimalist by Joshua Becker. If you want to learn more in depth on the living minimally then these three gentlemen are a great go to resource.
A few principles that are constant throughout any minimalist reading deal with the accumulation of new things once you’ve purged the old.
1 in 1 out Rule. If you bring something into the home then an old thing needs to go. Example, if you buy new shoes, then toss out the old ones.
Stop Leisure Buying. Going shopping at the local mall used to be a common Saturday activity. People have accumulated a vast amount of clothes that they rarely or no longer wear. The too tight designer jeans bought on clearance, the leather boots that make your feet hurt, the wet suit you bought for that one vacation, and the wool ski sweaters that make you itch, its time for them all to go. Now, with the help of online shopping, the impulse of casually browsing is reduced. Only shop when you need something.
Getting Unusable Gifts. Receiving a gift from a loved one is wonderful, if you can use it or want it. However, if its not your style or useful to you, thank them, keep it for a while you’re comfortable with and then pass it along.
Keeping Nostalgic Items. This one is very difficult. Some people want to keep everything because of its meaning. Ask yourself “If I get rid of this item, did that event/person change?” You still have your memories, the situation still occurred. Baby clothes for example, keep the “coming home” outfit and your favorite onesie and then pass along the rest. Teens’ sport/activity t-shirts are another nostalgic category. Memory quilts are popular options for sentimental clothes and then can be actively used again. If you or someone you know doesn’t sew then there are companies online that will make the quilt for you, simply mail the clothes to them and six weeks later, your memory quilt is ready. Children’s drawings and artwork is another tug at the heartstrings. Every year, purge out the ones you and your child don’t really care for, take a photo of them and toss them. Keep only the ones that you cherish and frame them or place them in a memento box.
Saving for “One Day If…” It makes financial sense for children’s clothes to be kept for younger siblings but if you’re hoarding things in the garage and your basement is bursting, its time to reevaluate. “You might need that one day” is a slippery slope. Use it today, plan for tomorrow, but never keep for what if. Your house is a home to live in not a closet to store stuff.
Traveling Light. I’ve heard this from so many seasoned travelers, travel light. Once you start this practice, you’ll never want to travel burdened with big suitcases again. People who travel heavy need to have a lot of options and feel completely prepared for any situation and don’t make outfit decisions before they leave. Check the weather for your trip, make outfit choices that mix and match and leave the rest at home. If you have access to a sink or bathtub, then you can do laundry. When I studied abroad for four months in college, I packed one week of warm weather clothes, one week’s worth of cold weather clothes, and travel sized toiletries to cover the first few days there. All of my clothes layered with each other. I had space in my luggage for my art supplies, souvenirs and items that I bought there during the four months. For a regular vacation, a small 19″ carry-on and a backpack will work for you just fine, you’ll see.
Capsule Wardrobe/Uniform. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs made wearing the same thing everyday trendy. Their wardrobe of a gray tshirt and black turtle neck respectively, with jeans became their signature looks. Who would dare comment to these two successful gents if they wore the same shirt yesterday? They’re tech icons and they rock the “uniform” idea. A capsule wardrobe (~30 items) is much easier for many people to get on board with and adopt. I’ve even read about seasonal capsule wardrobes, however I feel that idea is stretching the concept beyond its intent. The idea of a capsule wardrobe harks back to the 1900’s where people simply didn’t own a lot of clothes. Instead, they owned only what they loved, choosing quality over quantity and maintained them. Don’t fear judgement as you embrace your freedom and lighter lifestyle. A minimalist wardrobe will simply be another aspect to your lifestyle and extension of your beliefs. Your coworkers will see your tidy workstation and your friends will see your uncluttered home, then understand your capsule wardrobe as completely logical.
Minimalism & Interiors. I’ll continue this blog next month to cover minimalism and interiors in depth as many people have a preconceived notion that minimalism has to mean modern, not necessarily so. Any style of interior can be minimalist by simply not getting lost in the details and decor. Tune in next month for a more in depth discussion.
Remember that minimalism is a lifestyle, a practice, and a way of life that alters the way you see your possessions and environment. Set them free and they will set you free.
As I sit down to start writing this month’s blog, it’s 92 degrees outside with a heat index climbing to 100. It’s time to take a break from the heat and discuss a lighter interior topic: styling. More specifically, style overload, as I call it. When an idea is created for the inspiration of a project and accessory styling takes over turning the space into a themed space. Leave the theme parks to Disney, they’re professionals, they do it very, VERY well. Everyone else hold back!
The difference between theme and inspiration is how simplicity is implemented and the quantity of themed accessories used. Inspiration equates to a hint, an idea, or suggestion to the viewer. A theme however, leaves no doubt what the concept is, its obvious and blatant. Besides getting a bit kitschy when styling the accessories, themes detract from the main event, induce stress, and consume resources such as time and money.
The biggest offenders of styling overload and themes are:
1. Wedding Receptions
By far, the biggest offender! Take the idea of a rustic inspiration for a minute. OK, you’re a sassy cowgirl who loves teal. Your bridesmaids will wear teal dresses and brown cowboy boots while you wear teal ones under your gown, go on and bring out that personality! You’ve found the perfect reception hall, its a beautiful candlelit barn with tulle hanging from the antique rafters, so romantic, you’re doing great, keep going!
Now, for the seating, you thought hay bales draped with riding blankets, the table settings will be wrapped in twine, the bouquets and boutonnieres will be secured in burlap, the invitations will be printed on gunny sack embossed paper and will have teal horseshoe icons at the bottom. Careful, we’re in dangerous styling territory now.
While you’re at it, cowboy boot charms will dangle from every nook and cranny, when you two kiss everyone will yell “Yee Haw!” and toast you with their mason jars filled with moonshine cocktails. Too far cowgirl, too far! You know what works well for seating? chairs. Do you know what’s difficult to untie when you’re hungry? twine knots. Leave the mason jars to your pickles and preserves. Besides, what are you going to do with 250 cowboy boot charms after the wedding?
Another reason for keeping the themed inspiration in line is it will help reduce stress during preparation before the wedding and focuses the resources on the bigger ticket items like food, drink, hall rental, and music. Wedding planning arguments prior to the wedding get more and more ridiculous as the day gets closer. The topics are petty and the details don’t matter in the long run. Save the decor budget from the craft store and put it towards the reception. Guests want two things in a wedding: witness the happy couple get married and then attend an awesome party. They’ll remember the fantastic food and the complimentary bar long before they remember your time consuming, intricate centerpieces, handmade butter cream mints and custom inked, hand embossed wedding invitations that you and your crew spent weeks designing and making.
Simplicity is key in wedding planning. Choose one color as a subtle accent, sprinkle a few flowers petals, light the candles, and keep the themed details few. A concept wedding is fun and lively, but should provide only a backdrop or atmosphere, not the main focus. When the couple enters, they should be the center as intended.
2. Baby Rooms
Similar to themed wedding receptions are baby room themes. Many couples get inspired for a room once they discover the gender of the baby but run crazy with it. From themed cribs and bedding, hand painted mural walls, custom designed art, special light fixtures and curtains. That’s a lovely dream but let’s get back to reality, eager parents.
For the first few months, your newborn’s vision can’t see more than black, white and primary bold colors, then after that, they’re into faces, shapes, and bold patterns. The baby’s room for the first year is for you. It needs to be functional and stress free, while providing a safe place for your infant to sleep and play. They don’t understand themes and decor, save that for later when your preschool aged prince or astronaut wants to sleep in a castle or spaceship, then do the theme room. Keep the decor basic however, children’s interest change like the seasons, so replacing themed decorations constanly gets expensive.
When decorating a baby’s room, also think of how the room will evolve through childhood to the teen years and then to a guest room when they’re an adult. I always advise skipping the twin bed for example. After the crib has transformed to a toddler bed and is outgrown, go straight to a double /full bed. Its just over a foot wider than a twin, most rooms can accommodate the extra width. The bed will be more comfortable for childhood reading and snuggling, then lounging as teens, and a guest bed as an adult.
3. Vacation Homes
Yay! You have the vacation home of your dreams! It’s walking distance to the beach, you can see the water from your bedroom windows and you can bike to quaint shops and awesome restaurants. Now, hang on a second before your start decorating it, don’t spoil it!
Vacation homes located by the beach, for the obvious reason, conjure ideas of surfing and fun in the sun. A jar of collected seashells from family walks is cute nostalgia, a coir walk off mat for sand by the back door is practical. Go ahead and cover all the furniture in durable canvas, but please pause when you want to hang fishing nets, lobster cages, and buoy floats above your mantle. That’s a theme, not inspiration.
If you’ve traveled anywhere to a different climate you may have noticed the buildings are painted very differently. Mainly to do with weather conditions, cultural influences, but also to do with the sun, particularly the quality of sunlight.
I recently read an article in a decor magazine recommending coral painted walls with mint striped upholstery and brass accessories for coastal homes. Not even the quaintest ice cream parlors should tackle that color combination. Unless your house is located in the heart of Key West, would I recommend bright pastel colors. Even then, do it with caution and a light touch. Vacation homes should sooth and relax you, not jolt you. Bring out your bright personality in more subtle ways like your dishes or bedding, not floor to ceiling all over your house.
4. Staged Homes
Any real estate agent will tell you that a staged home sells easier, assuming its done well. My concern is when staging turns stale. It is well established that neutral color palettes appeal to more buyers, but a bit of color can make the space feel lively. Accent colors are often used in staging for this purpose, however, sometimes incorrectly. Monochromatic accent colors (only using one and the same one) throughout the house makes the staging seem fake and stale.
For example, say the chosen accent color is turquoise. A bright refreshing turquoise shag rug is laid across the entry, contrasting the wood floor, cheerful! Turquoise accent pillows get strategically placed to the armchairs, the large painting above the sofa gets swapped for one that has turquoise, then a set of tall glass vases containing turquoise beads and baubles is placed on the mantle. Now walk into the kitchen, turquoise table linens dress the dining table with a large turquoise bowl overflowing with fruit is placed on the kitchen island. The bathrooms all have a turquoise hand towel and a matching turquoise candle. The master bedroom is beautifully dressed in fresh white linens and dark wood furniture, but now there’s a strategic turquoise blanket folded at the end of the bed and a specifically placed stool at the bedside…that’s, you guessed it, turquoise. Enough!
If using accent colors when staging a home, use two to three in different combinations throughout the home. This makes each room stay united but still feel fresh. Second, don’t get too crazy with the accessories that are brought in for the staging. People don’t have that many vases, lamps, bowls, and sculptures so strategically placed around their home, (especially in the bathrooms!) Remove the clutter, arrange the furniture, sprinkle a few fresh color attributes and then…STOP.
In general, when styling a space, the point is to celebrate and honor the interior not overwhelm it. Perusing professional interior design videos posted online recently regarding styling of accessories, I was shocked at the finished room examples. They were so full of accessories, styled to the hilt, that the room could pass for a shop. Add price tags and the displays were ready. Its time to scale back the tchotchkes. Yes, the occasional decorative bowl or vase adds detail, however not on every surface and shelf. Make it pretty but keep it simple. Remember, inspiration not theme.
Another season has started, real estate season! In Massachusetts, this year’s season seemed to start February 1st with the dripping of melting icicles. Many parts of the country may not get going until May, however out in Boston and the surrounding metro area, people are thirsty for new property as they move up, downsize, or try to shorten their commute by 20 minutes. Open houses out here are busy and the buyers compete. Just like a job interview, first impression is key and for property that’s curb appeal. Even if you’re not preparing to plant that powerful “For Sale” sign in your front yard, creating curb appeal for your home is important for maintaining property value, neighborhood feel and fundamental homeowner pride.
The most expensive purchase you’ll ever make should be made to shine. As an interior designer, my focus is inside a building, however I also have a background in city planning and urban design where I focus on enhancing the aesthetics of buildings and streetscapes. So let’s go outside for a minute and take a look at what’s going on out there.
1. Style Basics & Color Schemes
Studying the style and architecture of your home is the first step in analyzing the color scheme. All styles come with a feel and look that makes them work or makes them clash. Searching online for the style of your home, you can quickly gather color ideas of tried and true combinations. Another factor to consider is your weather and climate. If you’ve traveled anywhere to a different climate you may have noticed the buildings are painted very differently. Mainly to do with weather conditions, cultural influences, but also to do with the sun, particularly the quality of sunlight. Northern climates tend to favor gray and beige schemes as the sun intensity is greatly reduced during winter months. A brightly painted house would almost glow in the dark come January. Move slowly south, the “Painted Lady” Victorian house starts popping up with bits of colorful trim. Finally, go to tropical locales and you have fuchsia, turquoise, and canary yellow being acceptable and common place. Historical and iconic locations such as Rome and Santorini even have building covenants in place limiting the color schemes to maintain the look of the area that visitors and residents expect and love. Note: if you live in a condo community, check with your HOA for an official list of approved colors prior to painting, many communities have rules regarding color schemes. Once you have developed a color scheme, use that inspiration throughout your project for continuity. Painting a house or choosing siding is expensive and not done very often in the lifespan of a home. This is not a time to reinvent the proverbial wheel in color schemes or combinations.
2. Windows & Doors
Once your color scheme is established, its time to pay attention to the main features of your house, the windows and doors. Accent colors tend to be used on front doors and shutters (if installed). Front doors should also indicate what’s to come on the inside. Classic black indicates traditional style, bright colors usually indicate a more modern style, and complimentary or neutrals usually indicate a more transitional or casual interior. Styles of front doors should also be considered when enhancing the architecture of your home. Cohesion is key to creating strong curb appeal. Mullion and muntin lines in window profiles lend to the architecture style of the house, choosing the correct one is imperative. Windows can cost up to 20% of the cost of your home, getting the style wrong is expensive and not a mistake that can be undone.
3. Wood Trim & Gingerbread
Victorian homes shine when it comes to wood trim or “gingerbread” when the correct colors are applied. The term “painted ladies” describes the post card row houses of San Francisco, what many people envision with the term Victorian home. Craftsman homes are another style where color palettes can greatly improve the wood trim appearance. Using more neutral and earthy tones in addition to stone accents can really enhance these homes. Like idea #1 above, this is not a time to reinvent the proverbial wheel in color schemes or combinations.
4. Details & Hardware
A quick way to enhance to the appearance of your home is with door hardware. Its an up close detail that can add a lot of charm and character for relatively little cost. Many home owners think of new door knobs and locks as the only option, however this category also includes items such as door knockers, hinges, brackets, kick plates, and house numbers. Again, stick to the common architecture style of your house and stay in the same “line” when choosing items at the store. Decisions to consider are the metal finish, profile, intricacy, and style. For house numbers, the font choice will also need to be considered. Just like letters, the font of the letter depicts a feel and style that needs to correlate to the overall style of your house. If placing it on your house, by your front door or by the garage are typical places, make sure its legible from the curb. It may be necessary to place another set on your mailbox or on your landscaping nearby as it needs to be functional as well as aesthetic.
5. Landscaping & Hardscaping
Flowers and landscaping is usually what most people think of when they think spring house projects outdoors. Many people enjoy adding the bright colors to pots and along their walkways and driveways. Don’t think you have a “green thumb”? You don’t have to be an avid gardener to plant a pot of flowers. Start simple with one bright color in one pot on your front step. When starting out, look for two things on the flower’s label: 1) amount of sun needed and 2) duration of flowers. You don’t want to buy a flower that requires all day sun that stops blooming in June when you have a semi shady spot and want color all summer long. If you’ve planted flowers before start analyzing your arrangement style. Do you want more height or like trailing flowers that seem to overflow? Hanging baskets and window boxes allow for the trailing feel on porches, while planting spike plants in the center of pots creates a sculptural feeling and provide height. Consider colors that coordinate like your clothes but also add drama from the curb. Consider your house color as a backdrop for the flowers and choose contrasting colors to add drama or similar colors for a more serene, calmer feel.
When it comes to hardscape, price quickly adds up. Paved patios of rock and brick can become pricey. Many revered English gardens use basic gravel for walkways, trailing into simple stone steps then disappear into the lawn. Trimming the edge of a perennial garden with bricks or stones end to end can create a crisp border line and ease lawn mowing. Build your garden slowly, maybe the first season you plant a couple of trees and outline the flower bed with some bushes, then add some perennials and a couple of potted annuals by the front door, finally adding the trim, decor and details.
6. Fencing & Mailboxes
Whether for safety or privacy, the aesthetic of the fence you choose is important. Cost directly correlates to the material chosen. Are you dealing with an existing fence or a mixture of fence styles? Consider adding tall shrubbery to the side you don’t like or want to block and open style pickets or rails to the side you want the view. Specific rules need to be considered when installing a fence in consideration to the neighbors and location on property line. Generally, the “finished” side faces the neighbors and the “back” side faces you. Fence companies in your area should be familiar with these courtesy rules as well as your local building department regarding fence permits and allowable styles.
Finally, your mailbox should be considered. This is the first thing someone notices when pulling into your driveway, don’t just stick a box on a post in a bucket of Quikrete and call it good. If your mailbox is leaning and peeling, or the numbers are faded or missing its time for a face lift. Also consider posts with planters included. Flowers at the mailbox add obvious curb appeal because its…at the curb!
Using all or any of these six areas can get the creative curb appeal juices flowing. Plant a flower, add some new numbers and paint your front door. Maybe you spray paint your old patio furniture, replace your mailbox, and throw down some fresh mulch. The point is to refresh and revitalize your home. The exterior of your home takes a beating from the weather and needs care. Landscaping needs grooming and the painted finishes need refreshing. The curb appeal of a house is like a person’s face, make sure its smiling.
Next month, I’ll move back inside as I focus on what to look for when you’re shopping for a new house.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Check out my previous blog regarding preparing the inside of your home for a showing here.