Thursday, June 12, 2014

Kitchen Design Part 2: Guide to Cabinet Selections

Kitchen remodels are my favorite to manage and design. The mix of functionality and design is intriguing and the end result of creating a design that is both useful and beautiful is rewarding. When embarking on a kitchen remodel cabinet selections should be the first aesthetic item to consider.

Cabinets can tend to take up the larger part of the budget, and these carefully crafted wooden boxes will set the tone for the overall feel and function of the most important room in a home.

Overwhelming right? The first step is getting educated with the choices of construction, door styles and the details. Once familiar with the options, well formed decisions can be made that work best for the home.
Plus after the cabinet decision it always gets easier... well relatively.

Construction - since cabinetry tends to be the most costly portion of a kitchen remodel it is important for homeowners to educate themselves.

There are many different pieces that make up a cabinet, always ask what kind of material is used to ensure the best value for your money.

Standard construction is comprised of a particle board interior. (Particle Board - Is a composite material manufactured from compressed wood remnants). This form of construction is considerably less expensive. However, before cutting corners it is important to evaluate factors such as humidity levels and extensive use of the kitchen since particle board is likely to swell and warp due to moisture.

Full plywood construction is the preferred product for cabinetry. Plywood is naturally stronger and resistant from dimension warping and swelling. Plus many professionals tend to prefer to work with ply wood cabinetry.

However, this expense is not always a necessity for example part time homeowners whose kitchens aren't frequently used.

Cabinetry Styles

When it comes to design there is an array of techniques used to create an individual style. First and foremost one must identify which style they wish to display in their homes and cabinets can help execute the intended style.
4 Popular Cabinet Styles

1.) Shaker Style Door is reflected from the "Shakers style of furniture" which emphasizes simplicity and little ornamentation. This door style allows the woodworking to be the focal point with a recessed door panel. 

Because of the simplicity factor many rustic and craftsmanship styles utilize shaker style doors because they focus on clean organic lines. 

Trend --> Mixing styles with a shaker style door and modern accents.

2.) Inlayed cabinets are when the door sits inside the cabinet frame. It is a chic and classy look, versatile for many different styles. For a unique detail on inlayed cabinets the hinge hardware can be exposed

3.) Raised Panel door lends to a more traditional style. This detailed option coordinates with a more decorated kitchen.

4.) Slab style drawers are often paired with shaker style doors. Slab drawers are a flat solid piece ideal for smaller kitchens or letting the hardware be the focal point.
Slab drawers with an overlay

Slab drawers on an inlay


Putting thought into details like trim and hardware will ensure a cohesive design. 

1.) Trim is a detail worth considering. Many love the effect of extending cabinet trim to the ceiling. However, you can also get a great clean look without.

Cabinets with little trim

Cabinet trim extended to the ceiling trim

2.) Glass Doors to create a focal point

Glass doors are the perfect focal point, plus they are great for displaying finer china

3.) Hardware knobs and pulls are the final touch that really extend the style that was pursued. It ties in a rustic feel or elaborates on modern inspiration.

Tip - when making a budget for a kitchen remodel provide an allowance for pulls and knobs. Depending how big of a kitchen and how elaborate of hardware they can really add up.

When starting a kitchen remodel it is pivotal to spend time understanding the variety. Once the construction and style options are understood it becomes easier to make a decision based on what is right for your home. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 Tips to Develop a Color Scheme

Color schemes are a crucial aspect to interior design and decorating, I also find it to be a rather stressful set of decisions for many homeowners. Which is understandable, it can be overwhelming stepping into the local hardware store, starring at walls filled with color swatches trying to imagine what each cleverly named paper sample will look best in the living room. When creating a color plan it is necessary to get organized and following guidelines can aide in making esteemed decisions.

Recently, one of my most loyal clients needed me to create a color scheme and design plan for their recently purchased NJ home. With the closing date quickly approaching and pressure building to get the move in scheduled, I had to design their color scheme remotely using the home's listing pictures and gathering as much information during my design consult as possible.

I utilized my guidelines to create a concrete color scheme that best expressed their individual style.

1: Establish a Theme

My first question was what style did they envision in their "spacious colonial?" Since they felt a farmhouse theme best suited their taste best I got together some pictures to make sure we were on the same page.

Pictures ALWAYS help for design inspiration they don't have to be exact but it helps determine the overall design goals. 

2: Consider the Existing Color Scheme 

Next, I had to determine what factors would impact their color scheme, an empty house is not necessarily a blank slate. Aspects like trim color, flooring, cabinetry, and carpentry are important when picking colors.

TRIM COLOR - so important. Wood trim vs. white trim. The same color beige or brown that you find on Farrow and Ball won't look the same against wood trim that it does white. 

White trim

Wood trim

Other items to consider; Kitchen what color are the cabinets and countertops? What kind of flooring do you have? Carpet, hardwood, tile? And what kind of furniture do you plan on keeping?
All of these factors contribute to the overall color scheme and are important to keep in mind when picking paint colors.

3: Color Theories 

There are so many great articles that explain what the benefits of color are, we all know that greens and blues are soothing and yellow tones are energizing.
(A lot of these color theories are beneficial, like this Psychology of Color.)

But - I've been asked multiple times, well its my bedroom so I have to go with a blue or green right? You are the one that has to live with the colors - if you find a great sage green for your bedroom that you love perfect! But don't paint the home office Buttercup yellow expecting it to make you more productive.

Which one would you get more work done in?
Hot mess with an energizing yellow
Clean (organized) lines with grey and blue accents

4. Neutrals don't have to be boring. 

It is perfectly ok to utilize the benefits of neutrals grey, beige, "greige", and even white. I love working with a great neutral wall, this lends to so many possibilities for patterns, fabrics, window treatments, furniture, decor items.

Neutral wall coordinates with patterns and colors
Great mix of neutrals and pops of color

Neutral walls are so versatile and make it easier to enhance and update with accents.


5.  Plan then plan again

Planning is by far the most important aspect of design and remodeling. 

(I could go on, but for now I will stress why is it important for color scheme).

A- It establishes clear communication with the painters. No one can get blamed for a color mistake if you both have the same copy of the color by room. Including paint color, brand, color number, and finish. Eliminating room for silly errors, remodels are stressful enough.

B- Future touch ups are easier if you save your color plan. I promise you will never ever remember color names.

Here's a sample of the color scheme proposals I put together for my clients. Categorized by the room with all the specs listed, make sure to include the paint finish. The color name is great for reference but always include the number as well.

Of course the right design professional is the perfect key for a less stressful remodel and an amazing end product. These tips can help get anyone on the right track for an awesome color scheme. 

As always - happy client happy designer!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Decorating - (or lack there of) 2013.

With Christmas quickly approaching and the holiday season in full swing, it is painful to admit that this designer has only a select few items of christmas decor in sight.

In compromise with my practical contractor of a life partner, I agreed to not go crazy (end quote) with holiday decorations since we are in the midst of moving and need one less thing to pack.

With the realization that my craving for sparkly lights and crimson ribbon was going to have to be put on hold, I became determined for a brief moment of homemade holiday cheer. Stuck at home due to a snow storm I planned on making Ryan and I Christmas stockings.

D.I.Y Steps:

The most important part of a sewing project is the pattern, I made mine by tracing a stocking over poster board.

Then I traced over some on sale felt from (fold fabric in half to double the cut)

Next I used my sewing machine and stitched all the way around leaving a half inch on the top two sides for the fold over.

Love the minimalist feel burlap gives

For the overlap at the top of the stocking I used my recent obsession burlap
Such a great textured neutral to use

I found a great gold spec burlap (also on sale). I sewed the burlap on to my red felt with the machine once then folded it over and repeated the stitch.

After the insides were all stitched up I turned the stocking inside out and used a thick golden flaked yarn and threaded it through the top of the stocking.

So happy I decided to make our own stockings this year! Such a great Christmas project that only took a couple hours and a couple bucks! Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Being Thankful for Decorating

With Thanksgiving in the recent past and the shopping craze of black friday around us. You can't help but notice the struggling theme of being thankful for what you have versus giving into the temptation of what you want. Instead of fixing up the chair or coffee table that might just need some TLC  and creativity- its much easier to give into the retail crazed temptation. 

Especially with deals off off my all time favorite go-to's lingering in my email.

This leads me to a design for thought - What is worth keeping versus what is worth the extra investment?

Many items in our homes end up staying for sentimental value, like an antique vanity or the couch that was inherited. What many people don't realize is that upholstering can often be more expensive than buying a new piece. The Catch 22 of design - where keeping things for sentimental value, while also being more sustainable, can end up costing you.  

Sometimes it is most definitely worth the extra penny to save these pieces and others it may be time to let go.
Where a piece with good structure and just a dated fabric could be
worth the investment to reupholster or slipcover.

If something could be living within.. It is definitely time for the trash

Carpentry pieces like coffee tables, rocking chairs, book cases even as simple as picture frames that have been passed down to us can often be brought back to life with some paint and stain. Just remember preparation is key with these projects a good primer goes a long way and making sure you have the steps down before starting a project can really help you in the end. 
I love the simple and easy tips gives for all things DIY.

The design for thought when you are in need of something different and trendy for your home, you may already have it. Sometime it just takes some innovation and elbow grease but it could be worthwhile and even fun than giving into the retail temptations.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Rule of 3

I am frequently asked by clients in the midst of bare living rooms and freshly knocked down walls if there are any "rules" to remodeling. While there are plenty of technical rules, the design aspect is often a wide open range of possibilities. A harsh thought for any rule followers out there. In my study and work in interiors I have discovered what I like to call my Design Rule of 3.

The rule is quite simple, at least 3 different colors and 3 textures in every space. I created this rule to put an end to "matching." Which in extreme cases is the use of the same floral print fabric for your valance, curtain, and pillows. Matching perfectly to the couch which also matches the pale wood coffee table that matches all the end tables. A vicious cycle that can eventually take over.

Extreme cases of matching.

Putting an end to the matching craze

One tacky print at a time

Stop matching and think coordinate. What colors can you live with that look nicely together? A forest green and a firehouse red? A buttercup yellow and a deep sea blue? What patterns work together? A geometric print curtain with an ikat pillow?

In this living room there are three base colors, a bright yellow, a forest green, and a heather gray. Utilized over the solid couch, printed club chairs, painting, and ikat pillows to create an interesting environment where each piece compliments the next.

For a more subtle approach it can be as simple as using two different shades and tying them together with a neutral. Here they used a deep grey with a hint of blue and a lighter blue accent wall both wall colors are in the tile under the mantel. They are tied together with a cream color found in a solid love seat, in the geo patterned rug, curtain panels, and the accent plate. They finished the look off with the black accent tables and hints of silver. See how nothing actually "matches" rather each piece highlights the next.

Coordinating your interior space rather than matching everything together lends for a much more interesting space. Not only will you enjoy the details of the space for longer but when it comes time for a change it is much easier to swap out accessory pieces when everything doesn't "match."

3 different patterns with the same base color.
These bold reds and yellows complement each other.

The trick to using bold colors in a design is using them more than once. Here purple is found in the pillows and as a lighter shade in the rug and the black and white tapestry is accented by the ornate urn.

In this example all the colors are tied together in the painting but instead of matching the deep blues they went with a shade of purple for the chaise. The chairs accent the cream in the painting but they opted for a textured pillows for more interest.

A lot of times I have people ask me how I know different patterns and colors are going to look good together. To achieve this complement each bold move with a safe one, a brightly colored end table with a neutral coffee table, or a busy patterned accent pillow with a solid throw. Adding interest and thought to every decision without just adding pieces because they "match."

Coordinate your way through your new space! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

5 Tips for getting a house Rental Ready.

Living in Northeast PA, where families come from all over to enjoy the Lake Region of the Poconos, there are tons of rental homes available. From lake side cottages to rustic log cabins, whether looking for a long term rental property or a vacation stay, renters have their share of choices. 

Many times property owners can overlook the value of good decorating; a great wall color can distract from floors that may need to be stained, a runner in a high traffic area can hide unwanted scuffs, or adding a small desk in a living room can allow tenant to envision a home office. 

After my most recent project I created 5 steps to help get your rental property ready.


A new color scheme should be a top priority on the expense check list. A fresh coat of paint can change the entire feel of the space and enhance dull walls.

These walls we painted over were faux wood panels that had a ton of dings and bows in them. This flat paint helped cover the imperfections. 

2.) Establish a budget

When walking into any retail store during a home improvement project, it becomes easy to get carried away in all the things you could possibly need. Determine how much you are willing to spend making it easier to decide what is really need.  

Example - Step away from the fancy $370 light fixture when you have 47 new outlet plates to buy.

3.) Create a theme

Even if it is a small one a common theme allows for fast and easy decision making and helps distract from random acts of decorating. 
Try to avoid.

Random acts of decorating - excessive use of vinyl, shaped into a plant and the haphazard arrangement of picture frames.

This homes wood like paneling reminded me of the beach cottages in my University of Rhode Island days. I went with a New England inspired theme and added rustic pieces like the lantern and wicker vase above the fireplace.

I also wanted my recent favorite color heirloom red to make an appearance and added it with this burlap framed art and coordinating tin vase. Tip - adding more than one accent color allows for a more detailed final design.
4.) Be practical

As a designer I can get carried away in the finishing touches of a space. It is important for rental properties to practice practical thinking. 

Problem - Room was missing a clock. Solution - Clock over desk.

Makes sense right? Focal point in the room and the future tenants won't be late for work.

5.) Keep it Simple

Realistically the tenants are going to add there own pieces to make the house feel like their home and the landlords job is to provide them with the necessities. Therefore a portion of the budget was allocated to these Hunter Douglas Applause blinds. They are durable and will last for years. With the cordless operating system no one will ever have to worry about a cord snapping. Win. Win.

Interior design and decorating is a constant balance of aesthetics and function. This balance is very present in rentals, making the space appealing to the market will ensure quality renters. Adding practical pieces to withstand wear and tear is key. Hiring the right design professional can rid the stress of remodeling and get your property ready for success.