As an interior designer I not only work to understand buildings, finishes, and furnishings but I am also curious about the nuances of human behavior and emotions. I would define interior design as designing spaces for people to use rather than for the interior spaces themselves. Interiors are not stand alone objects to simply exist. They are meant to be experienced, interacted with, loved, and enjoyed. On a fundamental level, we have all experienced the same interior type, the HOME. However what makes up that home type will be completely different for everyone, as every person on this planet has a home base in which they locate themselves every day. But what exactly makes it feel like a home?
A developmental psychology paper published in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, presented an idea that all humans have needs categorized in five different levels and that there’s a distinct hierarchy to them. His belief was that as humans go about their lives, they transcend the five tiered pyramid as they achieve each level. He outlined those levels as physiological at the base, then safety, love and belonging, esteem, and finishing with self-actualization at the top. But how does that relate to the feeling of home? At the rudimentary level, the concept of a home can be simply be defined as a semi permanent structure to protect the occupant from the elements and danger. A structure could be defined as a traditional house, apartment, or condo. The non traditional can include a boat, tiny house, tent, RV, or any other manufactured structure the occupant designs for elemental protection and shelter. This is the foundation level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
At the next more complex level, home can be defined as a specific place where someone lives and all of the stuff that’s inside it; the furniture, the decor, and the accumulated personal items such as clothes or books. Maybe there’s a pet or two, maybe the person lives with other people or has a family, maybe they work from home so it also acts as a place of employment. This covers the middle section of Maslow’s pyramid. Covering needs such as love, belonging, esteem, cognitive needs and aesthetic desires, the home becomes richly layered with decor, trip souvenirs, sentimental tokens from loved ones, books, plants, coordinated furniture, and personalized touches such as colorful paint or pattern wallpaper. Large rooms for entertaining family and friends become a priority, comfortable guest rooms and pretty front hall powder rooms are desired. Home offices are needed to focus on work, and the latest aesthetic trends in decor are introduced. These are all beautiful ideas and items, however what happens when the home interior moves beyond the tangible?
At the top of Maslow’s pyramid is transcendence and self actualization. Prioritization of accumulating items and creating a coordinated interior changes as the occupants shift their beliefs to the intangible. Dreams of simple stress-free living, minimalist lifestyles, scaling back decor, reducing one’s carbon footprint and going off grid blossom at this top tier. It can even be as basic as downsizing the size of the home as one prepares to age in place by moving out of their larger empty nest. People at this level know their style, whether its colorful and quirky or monochromatic modern to coastal grandma and are striving for a home that’s calm, tranquil and nourishes the soul.
The application of Maslow’s needs hierarchy theory to interiors and the concept of home creates questions to ask yourself next time you are shopping for new home decor or pondering a renovation project. When gathering items for your home, pause a moment and ask yourself what is it providing for you physically, socially, emotionally, or financially. Will it serve your best interest long term or simply meet an immediate feeling or need? Do you need it or do you just want it? But, most importantly…contemplate about why and maybe work on that deeper issue instead.
Thanks for reading, please join me again next time. Check out my new “All Things Interior Design” podcast, available on all podcast platforms, as I delve into my blog archives.
I love minimalism, I believe the lifestyle philosophy is hugely beneficial for both mental clarity and lifestyle simplification. Its a reoccurring theme in my blogs. Last year I wrote about minimalism in a two part series Minimalism & Living Simply; Part 1 and Minimalism & Interiors; Part 2. The topic is also mentioned in many of my other posts including those about purging and downsizing, check out my blog archive for more. In this blog, let me get back to basics, both in regards to minimalism in interior design and in a broader sense of life itself.
People have a preconceived notion about what a minimalist interior looks like. Words used often have a negative connotation like barren and stark. Case in point, the photo below:
Its a simple room with only the most basic furnishings. Most likely this photo was staged this way to make an obvious point. In reality, minimalist style doesn’t have to be so…well, minimal. For me, I would furnish a room with all the necessary items and then stop when something has no purpose other than being idle decor. Simple window shades, for example in the photo above, would not detract from the minimalist aesthetic. Its all in the way that its done. In reality, these windows would need covering for both weather and privacy.
For a minimalist decor approach, if it serves no purpose or meaning then it should not go into your home. Its visual clutter, fills up a space, and eventually just needs dusting. Visual clutter and chores create stress and prevent relaxation. Minimalism goes beyond the aesthetic but rather its about life simplification. So that minimal interior isn’t barren and stark, rather it should really be considered simplified and calming.
The purpose of minimalism is to return to the basics and focus on what’s important in life. Simplification for the sake of getting more enjoyment from the space and being mindful of the actual activity. Some people would say “oh, but its not cozy!” I’m all for a cozy space, bring on the Hygge factor. The very definition of Hygge is cozy, its a Danish philosophy focusing on the people and activity but not all of the superfluous stuff. And you know what else does that… minimalism.
In another post I can easily write about an aesthetically pleasing cozy atmosphere that’s filled to the hilt with stuff. But to defend my point, all of that stuff had still better serve a purpose. To all of those people who say “I can’t get rid of my things!”, I’m not asking you to, but just ask yourself this: is your life calm? Are you relaxed or stressed? Do you have a list of chores and always find yourself searching for something or having to tidy up the house? Maybe you’re not ready to be a minimalist yet, but would it help to start being a “reductionist”?
Join me next time for another thought provoking design topic that hopefully helps bring you insight for your home, business, and life in general.
T’is the season of color! From October through February, the holiday season creates a race through the color spectrum. We kick off with oranges, reds, and golds of autumn, the deep purple and orange of Halloween, moving to plum and brandy colors of Thanksgiving then into deep reds and greens for the Christmas season. The crisp blue and silver of Hanukkah and the bold black, red, and green of Kwanzaa bring even more festivity. We welcome the new year with silver, black and gold and finish the winter with the barren feel of white and brown. Yes, there is the red and pink show for Valentine’s Day, the green parade of St Patrick’s Day, lavender shower for Easter and the colors of spring and summer flowers, but no other time of year is color ever more present in such a rapid succession. Color is all around us and quite rightly so. It invokes feeling, reaction, ambiance, mood, and stimulation. So, take these feelings and bring them indoors.
The trick to using color well is understanding its undertones, meaning, the colors that are behind the front color. For example, is it a pure color or does it look “dirty”? By that I mean that the color isn’t a true color, but rather a gray or beige version of it. Is there another color in the background? White, for example, is famous for having a second color present. As an experiment, hold your paint swatch next to a piece of blank printer paper and you’ll see what I mean. Then, look at how much black or white does your color contain (how far up or down is it on the paint swatch card.) Does it read as a pastel, mid tone, or a deep tone?
Current color trends are getting darker, bolder, and a little dirty. This works better for walls and lets the furnishings and decor hold the true color versions to accessorize and feature. These types of paint colors tend to change in the daylight as the day progresses and become moodier as the evening sets in to create ambiance. The black undertones come out allowing the contrast to increase of adjacent white trim and metallic hardware. If wood trim is your preference, opt for middle tones of the color.
The trend used to be an accent wall, now its more of an accent area or alcove. Painting a bigger space creates a bigger impact. The corners of the room blur as the color continues to define to an area rather than a single, flat surface.
Colors in the Home
The 60’s and 70’s brought avocado and burnt orange. The 1980’s brought mauve and pastels. The 90’s brought the golden oak craze paired with jewel tones of hunter green, navy blue, and burgundy. The 2000’s brought espresso brown and beige, mimicking the Tuscany region in Italy. The Tuscan influence touched everything from bronze fixtures and lighting to large scale stately furnishings and dark wood trim. If you didn’t choose the brown Tuscan style, did you have the red accent wall in the kitchen and brushed nickel finishes? Coming out of the 2010’s to present day is the all white kitchen, gray or “greige” walls and shiny chrome metal.
The color trend is moving into drama! Dark and dirty jewel tones are even showing up in kitchen cabinetry. Mid tone woods are also raging due to the renaissance of the mid century modern style. Its time to bring color back. Below are the selected paint colors from various paint manufacturers for 2o17 and 2018. These colors are where the paint industry believes the trends are headed. It should be noted that Pantone (considered to be the industry leader in color) at the beginning of every year announces their choice of the “hot” new color, driving influence into all design fields from interiors, to clothing, and graphics.
Farrow & Ball, Studio Green, 2017
BEHR, In the Moment, 2017
Benjamin Moore, Shadow, 2017
Farrow & Ball, Radicchio, 2017
Sherwin Williams, Oceanside, 2018
Sad to say, but the pale neutrals of the Farmhouse style have had their time in the spotlight. Moving in aggressively are neo-classic styles that take the standard furniture profiles and turn them on their heads. Traditional armchairs are showing up in bold colors with animal prints. Mix in a little bit of the eclectic granny Chic and some feature mid tone antique wood pieces with a bold wall color and you have the new classic. It’s the navy pin stripe suit with a dark fuchsia tie and caramel color shoes.
Bring in the color, don’t be afraid! Contact my studio for assistance in selecting the perfect colors for your project.
P.S. Tune into my Facebook page, routinely I post “Design Ideas” featuring a specific color. These montages are great ways to get some inspiration for the specific color you desire. Also if your’re working with the exterior of your home, check out my previous blog Creating curb appeal and exterior detail for additional color tips.
Sarah Daricilar, NCIDQ
Studio Owner & Interior Designer
Daricilar Design Studio – Medway, MA
Join in November: “Designer Tips & Tricks; Creating a Vibe.“
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.
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.