A powder room or half bath is one of the places frequented by your guests – they may never see your bedroom, but your living spaces and powder room, absolutely! And because this is such a small space, decorating it beautifully doesn’t need to break the bank.Read More
‘Tis the season when out of town guests show up to stay with you. Assuming you actually want them to stay, here are a few tips for the gracious host on creating a welcoming guest room.
Think of your guest space as a boutique hotel suite, and plan accordingly.Read More
Spring brings with it spring cleaning, a season of holidays and entertaining, and the reminders everywhere of renewed life. And yet, here in New England it always seems to take forever to arrive! SO, while we are anticipating the ACTUAL arrival this glorious season of warmer days and fresh breezes, here are a few ways you can bring spring to your home even before the weather cooperates!Read More
Well, it's groundhog day and apparently we have 6 more weeks of winter. Honestly, no matter what the furry rodent says, we in New England KNOW that winter weather is capricious right up to (and sometimes into!) May. But spring is coming...eventually!
The good news? Trapped inside during winter is the perfect time to spruce up your house in time for the spring flurry (no pun intended) of activities. And one of the most effective ways to make changes is with paint.
There are many places where new paint will make a big difference:Read More
A well-designed room is alchemy…part science and part art.
Sure, we want our rooms to look good, but more importantly, we want them to be comfortable – to LIVE well. And the essence of comfort in a room is feeling good there. Comfort is about more than the cushion fill in the sofa. It also includes the convenience and functionality and welcoming FEEL of the space. Good design serves the occupants of the room, not the other way around.
Whether starting from scratch or reworking existing spaces, here are a few essential processes and principles:Read More
Trade Secrets: the do’s and don’ts of hanging draperies
It has come to my attention that in the wonderful world of decorators, most have jumped on the bandwagon of "hang ‘em high". I refer to, of course, the trend to hang the curtain rod for drapery panels well above the window to elongate the proportions in a room. And this does, in fact, work. BUT… like most things, this cannot be applied universally willy-nilly.
The advice is grounded in the notion that a longer line creates an unbroken vertical that makes the perceived height of the room taller. And while this is absolutely true, there are caveats.Read More
As the spring weather slowly warms up and freezing rain and snow appear to be left behind for the next few months, it is time to turn our attention to the upcoming season of road construction outdoor living. Designing spaces to live outside and revel in the warmer weather is even more important here in the northeast where we celebrate that we survived another winter and the gray, pre-spring months!
On my “must have” list for anyplace I live, is a slice of outdoor space. Whether you have a pocket sized balcony, a patio, a covered or screened porch, or a deck, make the most of it so you can enjoy the beauty of nature for a few months.
Arranging an outdoor space uses the same principals as arranging an indoor space – scale, color, and balance all apply. Here are a few key ingredients to keep in mind:Read More
A well chosen area rug can pull together a whole room. While there are many ways to approach decorating a room, starting with an area rug you love is one of the most logical. The rug you choose can set the design direction for the whole room and choices are available for every possible situation, from a trendy flokati to a classic oriental, and everything in between. That said, here are some guidelines to help you with your choices wherever the rug selection falls in your process.Read More
Sofa shopping can be intimidating. Choosing style details can be overwhelming, but comparing quality can be even more so since upholstery has a whole set of its own vocabulary, and the quality levels vary from store to store and even within a store or brand. Largely, price is an indication of quality level, but not entirely...there is some murky territory in the middle where many popular brands mix a few quality elements in with cheaper materials or construction so they may sound higher quality than they really are. Upholstered furniture can be found at pretty much any price point, so how do you determine how much to spend?
The answer to that question depends on a number of factors…Read More
Making your house into a home can be a daunting task, and sometimes despite your best efforts it still doesn't quite evoke the feeling you want. Here are 5 common mistakes that may be coming between you and your perfect room.
1. Unflattering lighting
Nothing can take the down the atmosphere of a room faster than poor lighting choices. Consider how you feel in a discount store with fluorescent lights versus your favorite art gallery or boutique … totally different moods. Nobody wants to live in a Kmart.
Lamplight is more flattering than overhead lighting, and any overhead lighting should be on dimmers. Chandelier shades can cut down on glaring bare bulbs, and the type of bulb, lampshade lining, and placement in the room all affect the character of the light you will get. Choose wisely!
2. Stingy area rugs
When purchasing an area rug for your room, size matters! Remember that at least some if not all of the legs of each piece in a furniture grouping should be ON the area rug – it is the visual cue that collects the furniture into a group. Don’t go too small. (hot tip: sometimes turning a too small rug on the diagonal can connect all the pieces and save the day!) Rugs under dining tables should be large enough that the chairs don't catch on the edge when you pull them out.
3. Furniture lined up around the walls
Furniture lined up around the walls tends to look like a waiting room. Furniture belongs in “conversation” groups – think of it as extroverted…it wants to be able to talk to the other pieces without shouting across a vast expanse of empty space, so pull your furniture away from the wall and into groups so it can party on ... and the people sitting on it can too!
4. Poorly hung artwork
Almost inevitably, artwork is hung too high …. generally placed there by well intentioned tall people aiming for “eye level”. Artwork should relate in scale and placement to the furnishings below it, or if there is no furniture below it, then to the size of the wall. A too small lonely picture placed too high on a wall is just sad. Please don’t just hang pictures where there was a nail already … forge new and better arrangements that flatter the artwork and the room. Everyone will be happier.
5. Cookie cutter rooms
You liked the room in the store or catalog, so you bought all of it and dropped it in your house and now, even if you are lucky enough and it happens to be appropriately scaled for your space, you can’t figure out why it doesn’t feel like “home”. Home is an emotionally charged word – and to create it you need to curate rooms that reflect you and your family’s personality. Pieces culled from different sources and time periods keep a room from being static. Accessories and artwork, especially, should be unique and meaningful to your family. Take your time and put together a collected look from a variety of sources so that your room cannot be mistaken for anyone else’s!
What do you find most challenging about creating an inviting and comfortable home?
Let us know your biggest challenges and we’ll try to address them in future posts!
Tablescapes are an exercise in visual storytelling. They are meant to be changed up occasionally so they are a great way to herald the current season, or inject some personality into your room.
Here are 5 tips to help you create fabulous tablescapes using things you probably already have somewhere in your house or yard!
1 Start with lighting
A single interesting lamp or a pair of buffet lamps (tall and skinny) on either end of the console or entry table will not only shed light in that area of the room, but provide some structure and a starting point for your tablescape.
2 Include something organic
No, we are not talking about pesticide free food here ... I mean something natural like flowers, a plant, branches, a nest, seasonal berries or greens, a bowl of fruit … a little something organic always adds life to a room or a tabletop.
3 Strive for balance rather than symmetry
While symmetry can be useful and is a great tool to create a more formal feel, for the most visual interest aim for balance. Huh? What do you mean? Rather than static pairs of things, I mean use odd numbers of like items in varying shapes or textures (candlesticks, frames, etc) and/or vary the height of similar or identical objects with decorative boxes or books. Items should relate in some way to other pieces without being mind-numbingly repetitive. The overall distribution of your selections should be visually balanced ... picture your tabletop like a seesaw - the goal is to arrange your objects so that it stays level!
4 If you are including framed photographs, mix it up
There is nothing more boring than a barren table top full of identically framed 5 x 7 portraits all standing sentinel at a 45 degree angle. Vary the heights, sizes, and orientations and even the shapes of the frames – I also prefer frames that coordinate (in style or finish), but don’t match for a far more interesting ‘collected’ feel.
5 Edit, edit edit
Too much of a good thing is still ... too much! Resist the urge to cover every square inch of space with stuff. You need to leave some blank space to give the eye a break and allow the viewer to appreciate your thoughtful arrangement.
Most importantly, have fun! Use things that have meaning and reflect your family’s personality. Keep moving things around and trying different combinations until it works!
It is more than likely, if you are downsizing, that you will be editing down to less rooms – perhaps one ‘great room’ space to live in rather than the ubiquitous and sometimes redundant ‘living room’ AND ‘family room’. Planning these new living spaces wisely is tremendously important to the ability to live comfortably and well.
Here are 5 things that should be prioritized in your new living room space:
1 Colors you love (look at our March 28, 2016 post for tips on choosing paint colors)
Color has the power to shift the whole mood of a room so plan your color scheme to accomplish your goals. Are you looking for a serene, calm space? A vibrant, energized atmosphere? A cozy, warm retreat? The right colors can help get you there.
2 Comfortable seating for yourself and a variety of guests
Plan furniture arrangements conducive to how you live. If you watch TV frequently or prefer the atmosphere of a cozy fire, seating that is arranged around the TV or fireplace, or both if that is part of your routine, is imperative. Seating pieces should be arranged for comfort and comfortable conversation – if at all possible, in such a way that someone passing through the room doesn't block the view of the TV or interrupt a conversation. Consider how you want to use the room first and then what you need to use it that way. Perhaps an ottoman to prop your feet while watching TV or reading? A sofa long enough to stretch out on? Perching spots for guests when entertaining? Fabrics that are durable and cleanable as well as beautiful? The days of the 'living room' with plastic protective covers on the furniture and invisible velvet ropes at the doors have, blessedly, come to an end.
3 Tables within easy reach of each seat
Coffee tables, side tables, console tables – all can make a difference in usability of the room. Tables need to be available to hold a drink, a book you are reading, a laptop, a flower arrangement, or the remote. Whatever your goals are for use of the room, plan your tables accordingly, but each seat should have access to a spot to put down a drink, at the very least!
4 Appropriate and adequate lighting
Well dispersed lighting can create a flattering atmosphere, or accent art or architectural features in a room. Lamps tend to cast friendlier light than overhead fixtures, and any overhead fixtures should be on dimmer switches, Lamps can provide reading light or ambient light or both. Fixtures and lamps can also contribute to the overall mood of the room as accessories in their own right. Choose both the lampshades and the bulbs for your lamps with an understanding of the impact they have on the quality of light and the resulting atmosphere. My personal suspicions that fluorescent lights were conceived by an evil overlord bent on destroying civilized society aside, choose what is best for you!
5 Personal, meaningful accessories and art
Favorite art that may have been scattered throughout a larger home previously, can have great impact gathered into a gallery wall arranged for best effect in your new space. And meaningful accessories or carefully curated collections will personalize your new space and help it instantly feel familiar.
The key to making your house into a home lies in surrounding yourself with the things you love and making your home furnishings and accessories choices serve how YOU want to live.