Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We Answer Wednesday - Mudroom Mayhem

“I have a mudroom in my house that I feel is underused. Sure, we come in and use it as the main entrance but I just feel it needs some organization. What are some tips for making a mudroom organized and functional?”

Having a functional mudroom can make the day to day hustle and bustle so much more manageable. If you are lucky enough to have a mudroom in your home, don’t let it go unused! A mudroom is a fantastic way to keep outerwear, books, shoes, mittens (depending on the season) tucked away so that it isn’t taking over your front entry. Of course, this blog will also show you how to make your mudroom both functional AND stylish.

 Situated near the back door and away from the cooking zone, this mudroom built-in holds cubbies and a boot bench for kids. | Photo: Eric Roth

1. Incorporate Storage
Depending on how much space you have, adding some cabinets or shelving will drastically increase the function of the space. If you have the space to add a “hall tree” (shelves, a bench and a place in the bottom to store shoes) you will see the function of the space increase instantly. If you have kids, you definitely need the extra storage. Having a cabinet or shelf gives you places to store hats, mitts, scarves and all the extras kids need.

2. Add Hooks
Adding something as simple as hooks for coats will change your life. No more Jackets on the banister or laying on the floor for someone to trip on. Having a few hooks takes all the clutter away and stores it neatly.

 Rustic entry bench and hooks - makes for a casual but still organized mudroom.  Wall space is used well with the large plank of wood and hooks, you can note what time it is also.  The bench is perfect, sit and put on or take off shoes and then there are containers to contain the smalls.  Love it.  #organizing_for_tranquility

3. Add Baskets
Adding baskets is a great place for hiding extra items such as winter clothes, the dogs leashes, extra keys etc. This is also a great place to add some colour or pattern! Adding baskets is an inexpensive way to add functionality.

4. Door Mats
Depending on the type of flooring you have, it may or may not be the most durable. Nevertheless, adding mats is another great way to pretty up your space. It also is a good spot for wiping your feet as you come in the door instead of tracking the outdoors throughout the house. Get a mat that is easy to vacuum and not too expensive, chances are this may change with the seasons.

Keep Calm & Carry On

Don’t be afraid to use colour and pattern. Most mudrooms are not in the center of the home so it’s a great place to be bold! Typically the mudroom is not the prettiest area of your home so bring colour to the walls or shelves and use a colourful rug, baskets and art! 

Part of keeping your ‘mudroom’ functional, is actually using these tools. So add name tags over hooks to keep the kids understanding where their things go. Adding their own specific area is a fun way for them to learn to clean up after themselves, and it saves you the trouble of always picking up bookbags, coats and shoes!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Interior Decorating - Do's and Don'ts

Don't: Use White Decor If You Have Kids or Pets
If you have pets or children, white rugs and upholstery are just not in the cards. People love the way they look but never realize that you have to hermetically seal your household to keep them clean.

 10 ways to make an old home feel new

Do: Find Inspiration in Your Travels
Travel as much as you can, and stay on the alert for inspiration wherever you go — you could find a great floor plan in a museum's period room, or a color in a painting. And don't just rely on your camera. If you draw something, you'll really absorb the detail. Or just amazing pieces that you love, display them in an artful way - this is such a great way to show off your style and surround yourself with what you love. After all your home should reflect who you are and what you love.

 Texture and interesting pieces are not always enough - seek out balance by moving your pieces around until you are happy with not only the look but the feel!

Don't: Forget About Seating
Today everyone likes rooms sparse, but for a living room, you need the sorts of chairs people can pull up together, so that they want to come into the room and sit down and chat. think about pieces that can do double duty (especially for smaller spaces) like drum stools, cubes, ottomans - they can act as seating when needs or surface space, plus this is a great way to add colour and texture to the space.

My house is an old bungalow so the rooms aren’t large, but it has surprisingly high ceilings. I decided to take advantage of this by raising the curtain height and playing with scale by adding a large chandelier and an oversized coffee table to a room that is actually quite small. The oversized furniture and chandelier actually make the room feel much larger (design rules be damned!). And I love having lots of seating.”

Do: Use Dramatic Color in a Small Space
Color is best used in small spaces that you pass through. A dramatic color in a room where you're going to be spending a lot of time might feel too heavy or dark, but if you use it in a foyer or pantry, it makes the whole house feel colorful. It also makes the house feel bigger, because it turns a space you might not notice into one that catches your attention. Plus if you are toying with the idea of bold colours in your home, a small room is a great place to start to see if you like it and can live with it...

 Love this for our half bath since its the one that gets used when we're in the pool.

Don't: Be Afraid to Splurge on Great Pieces
Invest in one great-quality piece. It sometimes hurts in the beginning, but you end up having that piece forever, and it can really carry a room, or even an entire house.

What are your thoughts on wallpaper making a comeback? Do you prefer big and bold prints or soft and muted like this pretty dining room?

Do: Test Paint Colors in a Big Way
When you test paint colors in a room, make big patches so that you can really see if you need to go darker or lighter, or if it is the right colour for that room depending on light and the other elements in the room like the flooring.  Paint in the store can look completely different in your home and can look completely different room to room.  Also take a look at the paint at different times of the day.

Above, we have a sample of Repose Gray painted on the wall and a large piece of poster board. Isn’t it crazy that both are the same gray?! The one on the wall looks purple-y and the one on the poster board looks like a perfect muddy gray. The difference is our walls have warm yellow undertones which are making the gray look purple because the two are complementary colors. Super quick art lesson:

Don't: Ignore Architectural Details
Respect the architecture of a space. That's not to say you can't be surprising — I might use period furniture in a modern room, but I'll make sure the lines and silhouettes are appropriate. The whole room has to hang together.

 Watch Hill Guest House | Bardes Interiors

Do: Trust Your Instincts
'Be true to yourself, and trust your instincts.' We all have different points of view — that's what makes each of us special — and our rooms should be a reflection of that. But if something looks off, it probably is.  We all have a natural inclination towards symmetry and balance
subtle texture in the wallpaper adds just the right amount of design without taking away from the eclectic decor

Don't: Make a Room Too Formulaic
Start a room with a classic furniture layout that's functional, then add in funky pieces to loosen it up, relax it, and keep it from feeling too formulaic. With the trend continuing toward open concept living in small spaces but with functional floor plans, it is important to have a cohesive look but add unexpected elements to make it fun and not formal.

Love the element of surprise with this aqua/minty green chair. Decor Resolutions | Fuji Files for Camille Styles

Do: Draw the Eye With an Interesting Piece
A photographer I worked with taught me the importance of the axial view. When you're looking down a corridor, you want a wonderful object at the end of it to draw you forward — a sculpture, a chandelier, anything to define the space and pull you in.

Love the DRAMA of this artwork against the darker walls, the composition drawing your eyes up, up, up the stairwell!  Well done!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

House of Cards - Get the Look

Who wouldn't want to live like Frank Underwood? Well, okay: We hope no one wants to live exactly like Frank Underwood. But the rich woods and luxurious fabrics of his Italianate townhome? That we're happy to imitate.

1. Brianne Gold Leaf Wall Mirror, $100.
2. Abigail Table Lamp by Currey & Company, $470.
3. Three-Ply Cashmere Throw, $200. Available at HomeGoods
4. WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine in Black Walnut, $1,495.
5. Tufted armchair with burlap backing, $299. Available at HomeGoods
6. Troy Natural Pillow by Allem Studio,
7. Kingston Bed in Caraway, $1,899.
8. Twilight Hurricane, $149.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Top 10 Home Buyer Turn-Offs

Looking for the perfect home can be a lot like dating to find 'the one' to settle down with and build a full life together. And just like dating, buyers looking for the house that is 'the one' well they have turn-offs, too.

If you are selling your home, you will want to make sure your home doesn't have any of these buyer turn offs.

1 Wacky paint colours
Some buyers can overlook strange decor choices and picture the house painted white or in tasteful neutrals, but many can't. Furthermore, colour can have a strong effect on mood, both positively and negatively. Don't take the chance.

2 Dirt
A house for sale should be as near to spotless as you can make it. Particularly in kitchens and bathrooms, grimy grout, stained countertops, dishes in the sink and crunchy floors are definite turn-offs. Do at least a light cleaning before every showing and a more thorough clean each weekend before the open house.

3 Odd (or oppressive) smells
If you smoke, at least take it outside while the house is up for sale. In fact, any noticeable odours, whether pets, lingering cooking smells or even heavy perfume, can turn away a potential buyer. Use fabric refresher on upholstery and air fresheners or room scents where needed, but use a light hand.

4 Unkempt exterior

Curb appeal makes a very strong impression on a potential buyer, and so does lack of it. Make sure the landscaping is trimmed and the lawn mowed; plant a few annuals or cover your flowerbeds with a neat layer of mulch, staying away from the bright red colour and opting for the natural coloured mulch. If the front porch needs painting, paint it. Also, keep the outside of your home as tidy as the interior: remove kids' toys from the backyard, and keep the porch steps swept.

5 Too many pets
It's hard to believe that not everybody loves Fluffy, Fifi, and Rover as much as you do, but they don't. A dog that comes barking fiercely to the door as soon as you ring the bell, or worse, a whole pack of them, is unnerving. One cat sleeping quietly in a chair might be fine; a noisy (and possibly smelly) menagerie isn't. Try to find temporary homes for your friends, at least while the house is being shown. And if you have carpets, get them professionally cleaned to get rid of the 'pet smells'

6 Wrong-headed renovations
This is on a slightly different scale than the other points mentioned here, but should be considered at the time of renovation if possible. A toilet off the kitchen; an open-concept reno that creates a vast, empty space; or an oddly configured hallway or room is viewed by a buyer as money they'll have to spend to put things right. Try to modify your alterations to make them more universal, or better still, avoid wacky renovations in the first place.

7 Dark and dingy interiors
You can't do much about the building two feet beyond your side windows, but you can do a lot to brighten the inside of your house. White or light walls and woodwork is a classic brightener; if you can afford to add windows, they're a good investment in a dark house. Adding more lighting, whether by wiring overhead lights or just installing more lamps, works too. At the very least, keep your windows clean, to let in as much natural light as possible.

8 Horrid basements
Again, this may or may not be under your control, but a dank, dingy basement, especially if the ceiling is very low, can be off-putting. If you have the option, painting the cement floor or installing low-cost carpeting can help cheer it up a little. Also, clear out all the junk, right to the walls, so that buyers can see how much space there is -- even if it's only for their own junk.

9 Dirty appliances
Even if the house is generally clean, don't discount the possibility that people will be looking inside the appliances (they are part of the home). Keep your fridge clear of old take-out containers and aging leftovers, wipe down spills-- and use the self-clean mode on your oven.

10 Swimming pool
It's perhaps unfair to include a pool as a buyer turn-off, since for some people it's a major attraction. But financially, pools rarely make back the money spent on them and can sometimes even lower a home's value. Almost certainly, a pool will cut down the number of potential buyers interested in the house. But if you do have one, make it look it's best !

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We Answer Wednesday - How to style my fireplace mantel

"This winter, my fireplace has been working over time!  I love snuggling up to my fireplace on cold winter days but my mantel is a mess. I want it to look good, can you send me some easy ideas to make my fireplace mantel pretty?" - Kelly S.

Great question, Kelly!  I think a lot of people have this problem.  The mantel should really highlight and bring focus to the fireplace not be an eye sore in the room.  We see this all the time when people use the mantel as a bit of a random collect-all area or a high 'hiding' space that the little ones can't reach!

A mantel isn't the place to pile up mismatched knickknacks or to leave bare, to gather dust. It's an eye-level stage of sorts, and a prime spot for showing off artful accents and collected treasures. Use the fireplace's facade as a cue to your color palette.

Then select one large item to feature--a light or open sculptural piece is best because it won't block the other objects. Pair it with a themed collection, like a few framed family photos or a grouping of different-sized glass vases. An oversized mirror or piece of art makes an ideal backdrop.

To keep it super simple but make an impact: follow this image -  even if this more traditional style isn't to your taste, take the principles of layering and add a modern or country twist.....

Create 3 layers of d├ęcor for your mantel.  Always includes layers 1 and 2.  Layer 3 is optional depending on your decorating style.
Mantel  Decorations : IDEAS & INSPIRATIONS :How to Decorate a Mantel

1. Start with an anchor piece - an oversized mirror is an easy option.  It let's light bounce around the room and it works with any decor style.  We like a piece with an interesting frame.  This image shows a dark frame which give some contrast in this very light tone-on-tone room but you could add a bold art piece that would give you the same impact

2.  The weight and height.  this image is demonstrating formal balance, that means you have two pieces (floral arrangements) that are the same colours, size, height, scale - identical and they are on each end of the mantel.  Creating a 'frame' for other, smaller display items.  These pieces could be vases, tall candles or candle sticks, sculptural doesn't matter just be sure to keep the height to the sides and make sure the items fit on the mantel (you don't want anything to hang over)

3. (optional) Filler.  Now this can get a bit want to fill that open space under the mirror and between the flanking vases with decor pieces.  Notice here everything is shorter, so not to block the mirror but the pieces have an airy quality - the glass candle sticks, the white planters and the silver circle pieces aren't heavy or bulky.  We see 3 main style of items and a few votive candles that are carefully dislplayed

Here's an example of a mantel with layers 1 and 2 but not 3.  Again these principles of layering can be used in all decor styles, just replace the pieces with items in your taste and style.


This country style mantel uses all 3 layers. The pops of black help anchor the space and the textural elements with the mantels itself, the greenery and the woven chargers add some warmth and the display items compliment the decor style and they relate to one another.

  It important to keep scale in mind not only as the objects relate to the fireplace, but also as they relate to one another.  All of the items should overlap each other so that they feel connected to each other and act as a cohesive unit.  Think of it as a step-down effect from the tallest point in the center of the mantel to the shortest point on the outside edges.  You want to take small, gradual steps without any jarring height decreases.

Do you have a TV on your mantel but you still want to create a beautiful styled mantel?  Yes, you can

See this image, that's a TV anchored by 2 beautiful vases with height, texture and a pop of bright yellow.  Yellow is an excellent choice here because it is the most intense colour on the colour wheel and that means your eyes can't help but be drawn to it.  So when the TV isn't on, these vases stand out and look beautiful

Once you’re comfortable with the process, think about what you might want to showcase on your mantel and where these items might fit within the layers mentioned above.  Consider using a mantel to showcase art, collectibles, seasonal decor, fresh flowers or even family heirlooms.  Then sit back and admire your work!