An article that will give you tips and advice on how to "Love Your Home".
Written by Diane Garey
Personalize Your Space - September 2018
One of my favorite parts of my job is helping people with the "finishing touches" like window treatments and accessories. These are the things that personalize one's home and sets it apart from another's. Careful attention needs to be taken to make sure the window treatments and accessories balance with the size and scale of the room and with the furniture that has been selected, as well as balance the color throughout the room and reflect the theme or feeling that the homeowner wants reflected.
I love to shop with my clients. I then can see what catches their eye and what they gravitate to without my input. I want their house to reflect their personalities after all, not mine. The "before”"picture shows a large blank wall in a dining room. Quite often a homeowner will chose to decorate such a wall with a large horizontal piece of artwork . What this actually does is accentuates the large horizontal space. The "after" picture shows how I finished the space.
While shopping with my client, she had shown an interest in the family tree accessory. To fit with the theme I added the chalkboard painted vertical pieces with the saying, "And so together they built a life they loved". The dark background was a nice contrast to the light wood and metal in the family tree piece, and balanced with the dark chandelier. To add some softness to all of the straight lines of the pieces, and some height to the accessories, I added the "Gather" script...perfect for a dining room where the family gathers!
Often when I am in a client's home I will quickly sketch out my vision for an awkward area. This helps me to ensure that the client and I are on the same page, and helps me get some dimensions that I might need when shopping. The "before" sketch and "after" picture show how I addressed one such area recently.
The triangular shape made by the drywall on the side of stairways is a shape that people often find difficult to finish with accessories. As you can see in the sketch, I specifically wanted the lampshade to break the line of the stairway to be high enough to balance with the picture layout I planned for the opposite side of the credenza. I used large enough wall frames to make an impact, added a fern for some softness and neutral color that would not detract from the pictures. An assortment of different frames in different heights finished the area. It looks great and the homeowner loves it!
So, as with any part of your decorating your home, there should be a lot of personal taste reflected in the selection of your finishing steps. However, there are definitely rights and wrongs that need to be considered….especially in regard to the scale and balance of accessories to be used. I hope the above article has helped you in some way, and will guide you as you create a home that you love!
Floor Planning 101 - July 2018
When people ask me what the most common mistake is that I see in my line of work, the answer is simple. People fail to floor plan their rooms before shopping for furniture. They will go out shopping to "get ideas", buy furniture because they "fell in love with it" or because "it was sooo comfy". While all of these are valid reasons for purchasing furniture, without a proper floor plan they will give you pieces that you love, NOT a room that you love. If you want the type of room that you (and others) walk into and think, "WOW", you need to start with a floor plan.
Floor Planning 101 - The first step is to determine the function of the room you are decorating, then create a floor plan that embraces that function. For a formal living room, primarily used for conversation and entertaining I might create a conversation area utilizing the fireplace as a focal point. For a family room, I might create a seating area around a large coffee table for snacking and family game nights, that faces the television for nightly entertainment.
Below is a pix of a customer's home office at our first appointment. It's just a quick pic-not great-that I took on my phone to keep as a visual for myself, but you can tell it's like a lot of home offices. My client had his desk up against the window so he could look outside while he was working. Bookcases and a credenza flanked the adjacent walls, leaving a lot of empty space in the middle of the room. Functional, but nothing special.
I suggested the customer "float" the desk in the middle of the room, an idea he loved because it allowed him to interact with his family in the connecting living room. It also led to an aesthetically much more appealing room. The finished picture below shows what a difference a floor plan makes. Yes, the client did get some new furniture, but it is the floor plan that made all the difference in the world for this project.
Photo courtesy Aaron Bobeck Photography
So, the lesson is simple, plan first, then shop. And remember, I'm only a phone call away if you get stuck. Call me, I'd love to hear from you and help you...after all, my job is simple...helping you to "Love Your Home!"
Custom Draperies or Ready Made? - May 2018
One of the most common mistakes people make when decorating their homes involves their draperies. Proper window treatments are one of the most effective ways to create a design statement in any room. The right treatment can create balance, give odd window treatments uniformity, control light, give privacy and create visual interest. They can "make a room" by accentuating it's high ceilings, or ruin a room if done incorrectly. To determine whether to suggest custom or ready made draperies to a client I discuss 3 things: budget, timing and quality expectations with that client.
TIMING-If a client needs to spruce up their home before an event they are having in a few weeks, there's nothing like ready made draperies to change the look of a room quickly. However, this is true only if you can use a standard size drapery, which is often difficult, especially when it comes to drapery panels which usually come only in 84" and 95" "lengths, sizes that do NOT accommodate standard windows in most homes, if they are hung properly (more on that later).
QUALITY-Custom draperies are usually far superior in quality than ready made, because they can be tailored to fit the exact length you need and have 2-3 times the fullness of the window they cover, so there is still fullness if they are pulled closed. There are endless fabrics you can choose from that can help you create a statement with pattern, color and texture. They have a quality lining, are weighted so they hang beautifully and don't have the obvious stitching that ready made draperies do.
BUDGET-Because custom draperies use finer fabrics, offer higher quality workmanship and offer more fullness, the price is going to be higher than ready made, where the manufacturers buy fabric and produce in bulk. But when you consider the proper way to hang any draperies, including ready made, the price difference may not be as much as you would think. To get the proper fullness with ready made draperies, I usually have to buy 4-6 panels per window, and sometimes buy the 95" panels and hem them to get the proper length. This adds up and increases the price substantially.
If my client wants a designer look, something unique for their room, or has windows that do not fit standard draperies found in stores, we go with custom draperies. Perfect fabric, perfect workmanship, perfect installation every time! But...if my client has a tight budget or timing parameters and does not mind mass produced draperies, we sometimes have to go with ready made draperies, which I can usually make look so much better than the norm by properly installing them (see illustration).
Click illustration for larger view.
The illustration above demonstrates the same window treated 2 different ways. What a difference! The #1 mistake people make when hanging draperies is hanging the hardware improperly. Drapery hardware should be hung as close to the ceiling as possible, NOT on the window trim like our parents used to! A good rule of thumb is to hang the hardware 1/2 - 2/3 the difference between the window and the ceiling, with the panels just touching the floor or 1/4 inch above. Panels should only come into the window a few inches on each side, so take the hardware out 10-12 inches on each side, if possible, keeping the window pane open for viewing and making the window look larger in the process. Valances should also be hung so they come into the window pane only a couple of inches, framing the window, but leaving most of the window open for viewing. What a difference the right treatment and installation makes!
When choosing draperies, as with most design decisions, there is no one correct answer. Depending on your timing, quality and budget parameters, the right decision for you may be either custom or ready made. There are, however, rights and wrongs as to the proportions and installation of the draperies, so take heed. Regardless of your choice, may you and your family be happy with it, in a home that you love!
Spring Spruce Ups to Make You Love Your Home Again - March 2018
Nothing warms a Buffalo native's heart like the first signs of spring. Longer daylight hours, singing birds, as well as newly budding flowers and trees signify it's time to pack up the snow boots, pull out the raincoats and complete our inside "to do" list before the weather turns warm and our attention turns to outside chores.
My first suggestion for spring cleaning is to always clean house windows inside and out. I do this the first warm day that I have a chance to...sometimes not even waiting until spring. There's no better way to brighten your outlook than to wipe away the dirt and grime from the long winter and let the sun shine in. I also love to bring some springtime greenery inside; fresh cut flowers, pussy willows, store bought floor plants or tabletop succulents. Greenery is a great way to add life, form, texture and function to any interior space. Besides the visual impact, greenery purifies the air while muffling noise and helps to create a quiet and peaceful environment.
Next it's time to deep clean those "forgotten areas". The ones you never have time to address like ceiling fans and vents, behind and under furniture, beds and appliances. Vacuum furniture, window treatments and lamp shades, wipe down kitchen cupboards and walls, applying a fresh coat of paint if walls are beyond cleaning. Schedule an appointment to have your carpets professionally cleaned. While cleaning I usually make a mental note of areas I can spruce up with some inexpensive new accessories. A new throw and pillows can update a sofa that has seen better days, new towels in a trendy color can add a fresh new look to a kitchen or bath. I love to relocate accessories from one room to another and can give a room a whole new vibe at minimal to no expense by doing so.
If you have the resources, pick one large scale project to tackle this spring. Remodel that bathroom you've been putting off for years, redecorate your family room or refinish those outdated kitchen cupboards to a stylish white kitchen that you will love, while increasing the resale value of your home. If you are overwhelmed and not sure where to start, call in a professional to help you coordinate things. Hire someone you are comfortable with who is detail oriented and is willing to invest the time with you to provide insights into design and manufacturers and also works well with tradesmen. Someone who will work with you to provide multiple options and knows how to direct you toward choices that make sense to your vision and your budget. This will insure that your finished project will meet or exceed your expectations and your home will be the haven that you deserve...regardless of your budget.
Not long ago I helped a client who had good quality wood cupboards that were outdated. They were honey oak, the countertops a blue formica and the floors the original vinyl. We discussed their vision for their kitchen, as well as budget and timing parameters for the project. The budget did not include granite for counters or new cupboards. The results of the project are pictured below.
Click photo for larger view.
As you can see the results are beautiful! We transformed the kitchen by painting the existing cupboards white. A ceramic tile floor and formica countertop that looks like granite completed the look. Some reasonably priced accessories, added to the top of the cupboards, gave the room that "WOW" factor. The customers are thrilled. They have the kitchen of their dreams, finished under budget. And it all started as their one large scale project for that spring not too long ago. I wish the same for you.....a happy spring, and a home that you love that is a haven to you and yours!
Tips on Decluttering & Organizing After the Holidays - January 2018
If you're like most people, you've taken down your holiday decorations by now and your home is looking a little cluttered and unorganized. Some rooms look bare without the Christmas tree spilling over with gifts and other holiday keepsakes, while other rooms are strewn with boxes, wrapping paper, unneeded gifts, clothes and toys that are the wrong size or not the recipient's taste. Much of the rest of the house has become disorganized and cluttered due to the frantic pace of the holidays and excessive amount of purchases being brought into the house. It's no wonder January has been named National Organizational Month!
Hopefully by now, you have done an overall pick-up of your household, throwing out all unwanted food, wrapping paper, broken items and broken down boxes to be recycled. Post-Christmas is also a good time to follow the "one in, one out" rule.....for each new toy or article of clothing received, donate one to a local charity. This step should make a good sized dent in the clutter around your household - with a large bag of trash and another bag or two of gently used toys and clothing and possibly an unneeded gift or two.
Step #1 Select a Space to Organize
If one of your goals this year is to get more organized, now is a great time to begin this task. Once you have completed the initial clean up discussed above, pick a small area that is a complete disaster to organize and declutter. Predetermine how much time you have to work on the project so you do not pick a project too large to complete, leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Choose a crowded pantry or linen closet, NOT an entire kitchen. Doing so will give you a feeling of empowerment, motivating you to continue throughout the house.
Step #2 Determine how you want the space to function.
Whether you are designing a new space or reorganizing an existing space the first thing you need to determine is how you want to use the space and how it needs to function for you and your family. The bathroom closet, pictured below, needed to function as storage for personal care items for two brothers, as well as general care items for the family.
Step #3 Take EVERYTHING out of the space. You cannot clean and organize your space if you do not know everything that is in the space. After removing everything, wipe down the space and any items that are dusty/soiled. See above.
Step #4 Sort. Organize your items into 4 piles: Trash-things that are broken or expired. Also trash any bulky packaging to streamline open storage. Donate-items that are in good shape, but not used frequently. Relocate-items that are used, but do not support the function determined for the space. Keep-items that support the function of the space.
Step #5 Organize "Keep" Items.
Utilize fewer, larger storage containers for a neater look. Hang wire bins from shelves to create extra storage. Place smaller containers within the larger ones to sort further, if necessary. For example I placed a small container in the Oral Care Basket where the boys put their toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste. Group "like items" together, and place containers with seldomly used items on higher shelves, with items that are used daily within easy reach. The container with cold and flu medicines, which are rarely used, was placed on the top shelf, whereas the oral care products and band aids were placed front and center on an easy to reach shelf.
Step #6 Label, Label Label! Labeling each storage container makes it easy for everyone to know exactly where everything is. This makes it easier to find things and put things back where they belong. I used a trendy black houndstooth paper with a teal accent for the labels, a great finishing touch with unisex appeal that didn't cost a cent! The homeowner is a crafter and had paper on hand for the asking, and the tags really give the closet a finished look.
Organizing and decluttering your space does not have to be overwhelming or expensive. All of the items used in this project were either already owned by the homeowner or purchased at the dollar store. I chose plastic containers that were easy to wipe down for the boys. There are all kinds of books and websites which cater to people looking for tips on organizing if you just need a little help and can do it yourself. If the job seems overwhelming, consider enlisting the help of a professional organizer who can help you break the project into manageable pieces and make decisions about paring down belongings. Regardless of the direction you take, I wish you luck...and a 2018 filled with friends, family and a home that you love!