Monday, May 26, 2014

5 ways to avoid boring decor

Many of my clients remark  that my home must be perfectly decorated.   The answer is a resounding NO.   I actually have little interest in perfectly decorated homes because that usually means boring in my book. Besides, the reality is that there is only so much money and time that one can devote to a place to live.  You have a life, you have things you want to do, and often home projects get pushed to the bottom of the pile as you live with your decisions.  It's called setting priorities.

If you are spending your hard earned money on a place to live, how can you have the best space possible within your budget parameters?  This is a roundup of suggestions supported by  past posts that you might want to consider as you decide how to create an interesting home.

1. Don't try to keep up with the neighbours

  Don't go there. I've had lots of chats especially with young  professional first time homeowners who feel trapped in the friends' comparison games. You know the checks and balances  of where something was bought, the cost, the  hot style you need to have to be "successful". This is a trap for more than young homeowners.   Designing your house considering  such dictates will lead to a  very cookie cutter product (the show home look) and will possibly deplete your bank account at the same time.

white kitchen granite counter
Today's most popular kitchen look

teal kitchen

 Rather than questioning if your home is up to par with the neighbour's, switch your thinking to how can I make my home unique. Not everyone is daring enough to have a teal kitchen, but it looks lovely and inviting and certainly isn't like ever other kitchen.  Read this to find  ways to add interest  your space.

 2.  Don't be a slave to trends  

 Trends come and go and adhering to them often means  changing  accessories, appliances and furniture more frequently than is warranted by normal wear and tear.  Are there trends that you should pay attention to?  I've discussed that topic here.  Would you be horrified to have white appliances,  natural oak hardwood or 80's European style cabinets?  ( I have all three)  Is granite the only countertop you would accept?  ( I have butcher block and laminate)!

yellow dining chairs timeless design
Timeless v.s. trendy

 Right now yellow, gray,  and black and white are "on trend", but I wouldn't call this space trendy.  Ten years from now this modern space warmed with wood and art will still look distinctive and inviting. 

chevrons antlers gray nursery
Chrvrons, antlers and gray


 If you are at a home decor store every week  looking for accessories to add to your home,  you might be  going down the trend road. If you have chevron patterns, a chalkboard wall, antlers, cute lettered signs about family, love or keeping calm, lots of  baskets, or starburst mirrors, you are an accessory  trend follower.  Pinterest tells all!

3. Dare to have a personal style

 A more creative solution to home decor is  to determine what your personal style is and stick with that, adding select pieces over time. Make choices that reflect your family lifestyle and history. What makes your home yours?  Do you like antiques; are you a painted furniture aficionado; do you collect things or have travel mementos;  are you into yoga and zen spaces;  is music important to you;  are you a painter,  a wood worker,  a stained glass artist or photographer?  Reflect your loves in your space.  Check out this post for a more in depth look at what your house says about you.

zen bathroom
Distinctive zen bathroom

This is not your average bathroom space nor will it be everyone's cup of tea. That's the thing about personal style.  It should not be cookie cutter.   Each element is distinctive and they are creatively combined to produce a quiet, zen like space. 

green antique cabinet bathroom storage
 Antiques and interesting finds

 This bath has an interesting combination of antiques and practical objects.


 4. Forget about over matching 

There is nothing that sucks the soul out of a space more  than over matching. If I went through fifty spaces in a row on Pinterest on any one day, way too many of them are so perfectly matched they are downright boring.   Every space needs an edge, you choose what that edge is.  This post discusses the matchy match look and how to avoid it.

spa bathroom
 A well matched spa inspired bathroom

There is no doubt this is a restful space reminiscent of cool ocean breezes, but I would love to see at least one thing that was "out of theme". Something unexpected... a different mirror,  shelf  or light fixture.   

spa bathroom
Spa bathroom with interest

This is still a small bathroom space but materials have been used more creatively to produce a distinctive look. Imagine this space without the art work over the tub.  I would nix the plant.  I could see myself tripping over it every time I moved.


5. Move around what you have

 One of the first things I do when I begin a project with  clients who has hired me to  accessorize their space is ask them to pull out what they have stored. You would be surprised by  some of the finds that went from the basement to front and centre.   This post  will give you an idea of this type of thinking.

With so many ways to to create inviting, individual environments, do you have a favourite one that works in your space? 

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to design a compact bathroom

I hope you enjoy the tips and very on trend images our guest blogger, Anna,  has for designing a compact bathroom.  Welcome to Designing Home blog Anna. Do check out the links below for more bathroom decor inspiration.

Hello! My name is Anna and today I am really excited to be guest posting on this wonderful blog about how we can design a compact bathroom without going through a lot of trouble. For more bathroom decor tips follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

compact bathroom

The bathroom is hugely important to the comfort of your home: just imagine living without a bathroom for a week and you will soon see what I mean! Therefore, it is well worth the effort and expense to plan, design and fit out a bathroom with the best possible products. After all, your bathroom is going to be a high traffic, intensive-use space for years to come!

Fitting Furniture?

small scale half size bathroom fittings

If your bathroom is particularly small and tending towards cramped, then you can choose smaller than usual fittings and furniture for your bathroom refit. These half-size items take up much less space but still allow for a complete and comfortable bathroom experience. You just will not be able to lie full length in the tub!

Shapely Bathroom!

fitting bathroom inspiration into available space

Rather than simply transplanting your ideal bathroom from your favorite magazine or website, make sure that you fit the elements of the bathroom into the available space of your existing, empty bathroom, taking into account any awkward corners and angles. By all means, allow yourself to be influenced by outside sources, but taking the time to tweak and rework the layout until it makes the best use of the available space will give your new bathroom a professional looking finish and polish.

Wet Room Popularity

wet room bathroom

The wet room is a fairly new bathroom décor concept, and it works best in very small bathrooms. Not only do you maximize every inch of available space by stripping out internal divisions but you will be back on trend for bathroom décor fashions! Do be prepared to invest in excellent waterproofing and water tight storage units as the entire room will become steamy when in use, which can lead to damp setting into poorly prepared surfaces.

Go Up High!

vertical shapes small compact bathrrom

Opt for a tall and narrow décor and furniture scheme to minimise clutter and give you the maximum amount of storage while only using a relatively small amount of floor space. Another idea is to perhaps eschew a vanity in favor of a stand-alone pedestal basin. This will make your bathroom appear better proportioned as the pedestal looks tall and slim compared to the blocky squat profile of a vanity cabinet.

Reflect Large

large mirror compact bathroom

Always install the largest mirror that you can find, afford or fit to your bathroom wall! The larger the mirror, the greater the illusion of depth and width, opening up the whole bathroom to pleasing proportions.

Store and Pack it!

storage compact bathroom

Bathrooms always need plenty of storage, so make sure that you include it from the very beginning stages. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easily you will find hidden nooks and otherwise wasted spaces into which you can fit a small cupboard, cabinet or shelf when you begin to include storage from the design stage.

I hope you found something to spark your  creativity.  I just finished a compact bathroom remodel which will  make a great next post topic. 

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Feeling flowers

Do  you agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson that the earth laughs in flowers? I do.  Flowers are such an integral part of my existence; I could not imagine a world without them.  There are certain times of the year that I think about flowers more than others, and spring (so called, little evidence yet) in Newfoundland is one of those times. As I look out at a light dusting of snow today (yes, snow), I am happy I have beautiful tulips on my coffee table.

tulips coffee table Margaret Ryall
Happiness reflected
I can't get enough fresh flowers in my house, but my budget doesn't allow frequent trips to the florist resulting in long gaps between vibrant colour.  No deals in this city when it comes to flowers!  I constantly joke that if I won a million dollars I would have fresh flowers in every room of my house every day.   Yep, that would be the first change I would make. Not a very exciting option according to friends, but it would make me happy.

  Flowers also move me to paint.  I  go through cycles of painting florals and gardens, and several weeks ago when  I was  in total despair about the weather I went downstairs and painted a fantasy bouquet.  I had no reference, these are not identifiable flowers; they are a hybrid I dreamed up to represent the many flowers I like.

Feeling Flowers (2014) Margaret Ryall acrylic on cradled panel
Feeling Flowers (2014 ) Margaret Ryall
This work is a joyful  expression of my love for flowers. Painting helps me to bridge the seasonal gap between winter and spring while I wait for nature to turn green and colourful. Sometimes my work is the exact opposite of Feeling Flowers.  It can be close up, calculated, detailed - an invitation to the viewer to take a closer look at the world of plants.

Garden patterns 1 2010 Margaret Ryall acrylic red poppies
Garden Patterns I (2010) Margaret Ryall

Garden patterns II 2010 Margaret Ryall mixed media on cradled panel red poppies
Garden patterns II (2010) Margaret Ryall

Leyton Gallery of Fine Art 
 But all the paintings come from my deep love of flowers, a love born early as I lay face down in the meadow and smelled the buttercups.

 Red poppies are favourites because they are so brilliant and fragile. I am attracted to them in all their guises: in a garden, painted or as design motifs on household items.

 poppies vase accessories table

 I don't even mind a good fake poppy as an accent in decor.

 Where did all this poppy design love come from?

 Well, it started a long time ago with the first  Marimekko's poppy design released in  1964!  I was not very old when  I first saw  Finnish textile designer,Maija Isola  iconic unikko design  in a magazine in our local library.  A love affair began.

And now 50 years later, I am thinking about this same design for a duvet cover in my guest room.

 red poppies Marimekko duvet

  In many ways 2014 is the year of the poppy because I just received two metres of Marimekko fabric from my daughter . Then my sister got in on the act and made me 12 dinner napkins from the fabric. A family affair for sure.

 black poppies Marimekko napkins
From tulips in the flesh,  fantasy flowers, poppies and wherever your heart desires if you feel flowers.
I will end as I began, with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson...
" Flowers.... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world".  

Sometimes you get to combine both !  
Happy Mother's Day 2014.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Basement window solutions that wow

 While a simple window treatment might solve your  basement window woes,  there's a whole lot more you can accomplish with a little creative thinking.  Why accept mediocre when you can have spectacular!

If you think of your window as one aspect of a vignette, you can create stunning spaces where the window becomes part of a larger design.  This is a bit of a different way to consider tiny windows, but it leads to interesting ideas and solutions.

Create a centred layout between windows

basement window treatments centered fireplace
Centered fireplace and seating

Christian Gladu Design
If you are lucky enough  to build a space give careful consideration to the placement of windows in basement spaces.  Depending on how your land slopes you can have sections where larger windows are possible.  Centering main structural elements between windows creates interesting designs.

basement window solutions window treatments
Small windows, big impact

basement window solutions window treatments
Centre large peices of furniture under windows

 A centered bed below a small window can do wonders to fill in the awkward space below.  Hanging drapes that also frame the bed adds an additional layer of interest to the vignette.


Disguise the size

If centering your layout around a window isn't an option there are other ways to make those cramped windows look more important.  Your next bet is to  "fake it".

basement window solutions window treatments shutters
Using a custom shutter to fill the space 
 This is a solution I  love. A simple treatment with no additional details apart from the shutters. But layering with draperies as you can see below brings the whole space up a notch.

basement window solutions window treatments shutters
Is that a shutter I see? 

This shutter is added to the wall below the window to create a longer, more interesting area  for the draperies to hug.  Adding the table below this faux treatment finishes the look. You could also get the same effect with top down cellulars with  an outside mount or even a woven blind attached permanently below the window.

basement window solutions window treatments shutters drapes
Go large or go home

Shutters  can be used very effectively to give the impression of a large window. The drapes add a second layer of detailing and softness.

 Fake it totally


No window at all?  Don't let that stop you from having a spectacular space. 

basement window solutions
This is one wow basement
Candice Olsen

basement window solutions backlit stained glass
Backlit  stained glass


Work with contrast

basement window solutions contrast
Window frame painted black

Sometimes you can use high contrast to actually make a small window work in a space.  It seems contrary to common sense, but it does work if you choose the right setting. If there was only one window in this room and it was smaller it would not look as spectacular. Of course, when using black it is important to have other black elements in the space to move your eye around. 

basement window solutions contrasting drapes
Dark drapes repeat the brown accent wall

 I think this space could be further enhanced by having something  under each window.  I am not a lover of the dark lines and the blank wall showing between them. Check out the next section for ideas to further enhance this contrasted look.

Fill in empty space

Because basement windows are so high up on a wall, you have to deal with all that empty wall space below them. Am I the only one who is annoyed by this?  If it bothers you too, there are several ways to solve this problem.  

1. Use art to trick the eye

basement window solutions  using art
Art used to extend and replicate

How much do I love this space?  Lots. It is fresh, well conceived with extra sleeping and the art work added below the windows visually enlarges each window by convincing your eye to read both as one unit.

basement window solutions displaying art
Display art to break up empty wall space

Many basements have a half wall  created when the concrete meets the wood framing. This space  provides the perfect  spot for art display but you  just need to know how to use them effectively.  This might be a good time to say never highlight  this type of wall by painting it a different colour from the top portion because it chops the room in half and is not interesting!

art filling space below basement windows
Larger art fills this space beautifully

The power of standard repetition... same size, same colour and layered over repeated shapes.  The repetition really works.

art filling space below basement windows
Beautiful drapes and art work together

 I think this is a stunning space because of how the windows were treated. Isn't it well balanced and interesting?

art filling space below basement windows
Think about  image shape when choosing art
Sarah Richardson

Doesn't a circular motif soften the look of this artwork?  The dark frames relate to the accent wall pattern.

art filling space basement window solutions
Large art  can be a great filler 

I admit it, I am fussy. While I like this look,  I want  the art to be a tad smaller and less busy with all the books.  An art work needs breathing space and low visual competition from what is surrounding it. 

2. Use furniture and accessories 

small basement window solutions

This is an interesting solution for a small window.  A second framed mirror was added below the window to fool the eye into thinking the window is much larger.  Then a chest of drawers and a lamp  was added to complete the look.

small basement window solutions
Working with bright accessories

I love the stools and the drapery fabric.  This is an excellent example of where a piece of art with vibrant oranges would work below the window or  I might add a more substantial piece of furniture. A fantastic start.  

basement bedroom window solutions
Using every trick mentioned
Klang &Associates

The two windows are dressed with drapes, the bed is centered, artwork has been added as well as furniture and lamps, and we have a new solution too - paneling which mimics the framing on the night tables.

 3. Use paneling

basement window solutions  paneling
Basement paneling should reach the windows

basement window solutions paneling
Window framing is part of paneling design

4. Add built ins to integrate small windows

basement window solutions bookcases
Using window size to determine shelving size

Keeping all elements the same size adds consistency to the wall and helps to blend the windows into the construction.

basement window built itn solutions
Built-ins, art and accent colour together

basement window solutions built ins
Built-ins and TV below window works well

And there you have it.  A collection of ideas from around the web that will ensure you don't have boring, small windows in your basement. Do you have a favourite from the ideas presented? 

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