Category Archives: Tricks and Tips

Helpful tricks and tips related to the fabric and upholstery industry. Helpful tricks and tips related to interior design and home decor.

Mid-Century Modern Endures

In design, the adage is that “everything old becomes new again.” Since the late 1990s, many designers and creative types have abandoned the “shabby-chic” ethos for 1950s-inspired mid-century modern. The clean lines and simple finishes of mid-century design are functional and beautiful, and now available at almost any price point.

Even though most design trends last a few years – see the aforementioned shabby-chic, 1920s Spanish, and art Nouveau – mid-century modern remains popular with designers and consumers alike.   You need only to flip through a home magazine or stroll through a mass retailer like West Elm or CB2, and it’s all variations on the Eames-chair-and-tulip-table theme.

mid-century
Photo from The New York Times

Why does mid-century remain so popular?  Its wide appeal makes sense, because it was designed specifically to be lived with, rather than show pieces – it is democratic and made in simple shapes with classic materials – so it seems timeless and goes with everything.  The pieces are beautifully functional and they lend themselves well to smaller spaces and urban environments like city lofts.  Its simplicity is universally understood and appreciated.  Mid-century modern is also uniquely American, so it’s easy to find – both the antique versions and reproductions at modern retailers.  

mid-century-1
Photo By Interior Designer Amy Lau

Designers caution that you should not use midcentury exclusively – filling a room entirely devoted to a theme looks too deliberate and not reflective of personal taste.  You’re not trying to recreate a ‘Mad Men’ set in your home, after all.  But melding mid-century modern basics with some personal, interesting pieces can create an elegant interior that’s uniquely yours.

Consider mixing a pair of clean-lined mid-century chairs in an otherwise traditional space, and add some mid-century accessories like drum lamps or a spiky-legged coffee table to tie it all together.  Or use mid-century seating against a rustic wood dining table for an interesting mix of modern and traditional.

Bold Decoration

Even the most expertly-decorated spaces can feel like they are missing something, especially when the palate is neutral and people are afraid to stray from the predictable.  But using bold color or pattern, even in small amounts, can really take a room to “wow” status, especially when that bold element is used somewhere unexpected.

bold-bedroom

Photo from Contemporist- Wall Decoration Inspiration

For instance, an attention-grabbing print on the walls can reinvent a featureless space. A modern graphic paper in a deep color delivers a powerful statement whether you use it on a single accent wall, or all four.  Try a boldly patterned wallpaper to highlight a feature like the fireplace wall, or use it behind shelving or build-ins.
If you don’t want to make the commitment to wallpaper, try using a bold paint color instead – if you decide it’s too much drama, paint is easily (and inexpensively) changed.  Try a deep jewel-toned hue like emerald green, cobalt blue, or fuschia on a wall to make the artwork or furniture pop, or to highlight architectural features in a room.

Presidio Heights Kitchen contemporary-kitchen

If color or pattern on the walls isn’t what you’re looking for, think about what’s underfoot to highlight the décor – go for bold floors! Colorful, patterned, stenciled, or boldly carpeted, floors can help you make a gorgeous statement and even become the star of the space.  Bold floors can add style and create ambience in even the most ordinary spaces, and it’s an unexpected way to use pattern.  If your hardwood is beat up and sad, consider painting the wood floors in a deep glossy hue like navy or chocolate, or painting a geometric pattern like stripes or chevron – this works especially well in small places like hallways or entryways, and provide a powerful first impression when someone enters your home.  If a painted or patterned tile floor is too permanent, consider a graphic print rug in a bright color, which can easily be swapped out.
Other quick, and less expensive ways to add bold style to a room include incorporating metallic decorative elements, like brass mirrors, side tables, and vases, or simply employing a bright color like coral or turquoise in your throw pillows, linens, and picture frames to give the space a punch.

Modern Home Office Ideas

When it comes to a home office space, no single design idea will work for everyone –there is a wide range of different needs for a workspace, depending on the work being done there.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t create the perfect home office for you, though!  Here are some universally appealing suggestions to help you create a home office space that’s both functional and attractive.

Specific Task Areas

When envisioning a design for your home office, it’s important to take into consideration all of the activities you’ll complete in a given workday/week.  While a desk is an obvious starting point for most offices, to tackle paperwork or writing, those are likely not your only activities, so creating separate focus areas for tasks can be useful.

While your desk is the likely workhorse in an office space, don’t forget about incorporating a seating area for hosting and meeting with clients, and having a face-to-face discussion.  Additionally, if the office space hosts multiple users who need to share the office, you can help keep things organized and make the space work for everyone by giving each person an individual workstation.    

Home office seating

Courtesy of californiaclosets.com

Be Careful with Color

Since your office is a place where you need to be able to stay focused, it can be useful to set big punches of color — and the emotional responses they bring — aside. Instead, focus on choosing a largely neutral color palette that will allow you to put the bulk of your attention on the task at hand.  You can add small pops of color to keep the space visually interesting, with easily swapped-out elements like throw pillows or area rugs, but the more permanent parts of the design – furniture and wall color – should be calm and neutral.

Neutral color home office

Image courtesy of idekohome.com

Make your Office Personal

As much as we’ve emphasized that you need to be able to focus within your workspace, it’s also important to create an office where you’ll enjoy working and spending time. So while keeping the workspace décor neutral is key, so is accenting your office with things that highlight your personal taste and make you happy.  Those might be pieces of artwork, or items from favorite travels, for example.

An easy way to add personal elements and keep a cohesive scheme in the home office is to use your personal items as a jump-off point for accent colors in the room.  Draw out a bold color from a favorite painting on the wall and use that hue for pillows or a throw in the seating area, or mimic the pattern on a piece of displayed pottery in your window treatment or area rug.

Home office decor

A Place for Everything

Staying organized is a perpetual struggle in any office space, yet it’s crucial to efficiency. So for any workspace, and especially if you’re prone to becoming buried under your desk, it’s imperative to work lots of storage solutions into the design.  Ideally, if you have the space for them, built-in cabinetry helps store large items and hides clutter; you can repurpose a sideboard into file and supplies storage.  Bookcases and open shelves are also a great way to keep things organized and provide display space for both functional and decorative elements.

home office organization

Bearing in mind just a few important themes – organization, a neutral palette to encourage focus, task areas, and making the space personal – you can carve out a functional workspace in your home that you won’t want to leave.

Colorful outdoor summer chairs

Add Charm and Functionality to your Outdoor Living Space

This summer, as the temperatures rise and the evening light lingers, take advantage of your outdoor spaces – making an outdoor area functional is like adding another room to your home for a few months each year.  Here are some ideas for turning your balcony or backyard into a summer oasis.

A Container Garden

colorful outdoor garden plants

Photo Courtesy of KeystoneGardens.com

Adding pops of color and texture to an outdoor space is made easy with pots and planters of all shapes and sizes. Choose lightweight materials, or put planters on moveable bases or stands, to make rearranging them easier on your back. Anchoring the corners of your patio or deck with groupings of plants in colorful pots establishes the borders of your space, and swapping out a rotation of seasonal plants – tulips and hyacinth in spring, geraniums and begonias in summer, colorful mums in the fall – keeps your space fresh and bright.  Non-flowering plants with a variety of textures and shapes also add interest, and can especially dress up an outdoor space that’s lacking in foliage, like a balcony.

A Variety of Seating Options

An outdoor space is more functional and enjoyable if you provide multiple seating options; benches, chairs, a chaise: the more choices you provide, the more your guests will appreciate the space.  Even scaled-down stools work double-duty; acting as plant stands but also letting little ones seat themselves. Chairs are a flexible option as well; you can pull a half-of dozen of them around the table for an al fresco meal, or pair just two chairs together for a more intimate arrangement.  Adding colorful cushions in weather-resistant fabrics to seating makes the area more inviting.

Interesting Visual Elements

Even one or two accents, like a bubbling water feature or an architectural element, can make outdoor living spaces feel unique and interesting.  An old Radio Flyer wagon full of plants, a painted chair with the seat removed and a colorful pot inserted, or a piece of wrought iron architectural salvage hung on the wall can all lend visual appeal without costing a fortune.  Flea markets or yard sales are good sources for repurposing accents for your outdoor space.  And even if you don’t have the space or budget for a water feature, a tabletop fountain can add the soothing sound of moving water for a fraction of the price (and size).

A Fire Source

If you’re lucky enough have a fireplace in your home, then you know it’s where everyone loves to curl up on a quiet night, and where larger groups gather to fight the chill of winter. The same is true of outdoor living spaces: a fire draws people and creates ambience.  Consider a fire pit, fire bowl or chiminea, which are flexible and affordable.  Just be sure to check local building codes to verify fire safety and placement rules regarding outdoor fireplaces.

Overhead Lighting

outdoor lighting

Courtesy of HGTV.com

Twinkling outdoor lights are a perennial favorite in outdoor spaces for a good reason: they’re romantic, functional and fun, providing a soft light source that doesn’t distract. There are lots of backyard options in pretty shapes and colors; you can string them over a table and chairs, wind them through a railing or fence, or use them to wrap a tree – all providing instant charm and subtle sparkle.

Double-Duty Furniture

Since space is often at a premium in outdoor living rooms, furniture and accents should work twice as hard. Your benches should have storage cubbies inside or underneath; chairs and side tables can act as pedestals for container plants until they’re called into use for seating or surface space.  A long rustic or glass-topped dining table makes a great surface for potting or outdoor projects until it’s time for a dinner party.

Flower Power – Incorporating Floral Prints in Your Home Decor

There is nothing more classic in home decorating than the floral – it never goes out of style.  Floral prints can be botanical and iconic, or colorful and modern, and they provide a fresh, feminine sensibility to a space.  In honor of spring and all its heady blooms, here are some ideas for incorporating the floral into your decorating.

 

A Bright Accent

If you’re not sure about committing to floral prints, you can test them out with some bold floral accent pillows on your more neutral furniture or a pretty flower-patterned tablecloth in your dining room.  Swap out some wall hangings you’re tired of for a pair of garden-inspired framed botanical prints.  These are all easy and low-risk ways to try florals in your home.

Floral print throw pillows

Courtesy of http://nestprettythings.com/

Here we have a beautifully done example by Tamar at Nest Pretty Things where the throw pillows have a subtle touch of floral print that really blends in with the room. The goal is to not be overwhelming with this pattern, and Tamar has done a wonderful job! Check out here awesome blog and accessory designs over here!

In the Bedroom

A floral duvet cover or another bedding is a great way to introduce a bouquet into your sleeping quarters and adds femininity to the room.  The same can be said for floral window treatments, lampshades, or a headboard upholstered with a floral fabric that complements the bedding.  If your aim is to keep the space more gender-neutral, pick a floral on a grey or tan background.  Finally, the bedroom is a lovely and unexpected place for fresh flowers by the bedside or on a dresser.

Floral Duvet Cover

Courtesy of http://www.smartstyleinteriors.com/

Phoebe Oldrey of Smartstyle Interiors has done a fantastic job with this master bedroom! The blue shade makes is not overwhelmingly feminine, but still gives a classy touch of floral. The matching color wall and curtains tie the whole room together, making this an excellent example of floral print being used in the bedroom. Check out her blog  for some very insiteful design tips with her English background and style!

Wallpaper

Garden-inspired prints are classic wallpaper subjects, but there are just as many bold and modern floral wallpapers on offer.  Consider an accent wall of paper behind your sofa or your bed, to bring florals in without overwhelming a space.  Small prints look great in bathrooms or kitchens, but you can also use papers with bolder patterns and colors as an alternative to tile in a kitchen – bonus: most wallpaper is more durable than paint for use in food prep/cooking areas.

Floral Print Wallpaper Kitchen

Courtesy of http://www.lisawolfedesign.com/

Lisa Wolfe used floral wallpaper as an accent wall in this kitchen to bring this eclectic, bohemian kitchen to life! While it is not behind the cooking area, this pattern makes this an interesting and unique kitchen design without overwhelming you with the floral pattern. Check out her blog for some cool design tips and lifestyle tricks!

Pattern Mixing

If your sofa is a checked pattern, that doesn’t mean you can’t use florals in the living room too.  In fact, layering patterns is a chic way to sophisticate a space. Traditional florals on classic upholstery are one of a decorator’s favorite tools. Try matching your accent chairs and sofa pillows to tie together a cohesive look. The key is to use patterns of differing scales; if your floral is a large cabbage rose, pair it with a smaller more geometric pattern for balance.

Courtesy of http://www.wesley-wayne.com/

Courtesy of http://www.wesley-wayne.com/

Texas based designer Carl Wesley Lowery executed this technique with ease and class in this living room by matching his chairs with the throw pillows on the couch, contrasting the leather footrest in between. Well done Carl!

Try Floral Underfoot

Artful floral prints on the floor are another way to use this style. Awaken a room with pale neutral walls by adding a lively color palette underfoot.  Use the colors from the floor covering as inspiration for accompanying textiles. Floral kitchen rugs are an excellent way to add pattern, color, and warmth, and a bright print effortlessly livens up a white or neutral kitchen.  Area rugs in the kitchen should be durable materials that can withstand traffic and spills – an added plus is that floral prints tend to hide stains!

Floral pattern kitchen rug

Courtesy of http://www.bannercarpets.ca/

These Canadian carpet experts have managed to place this carpet strategically by the island for cooking prep, and doesn’t let the pattern make the kitchen feel too cluttered. Wonderful job!

Creative Design Solutions for Shared Bedrooms

Many of us remember (whether fondly, or not) sharing a bedroom with a sibling during childhood.  Kids can learn a lot of positive lessons from sharing space, like compromise, sharing, and respect for others’ belongings.  And to ensure that your children’s memories of sharing a room with a brother or sister are happy ones, here are some great ideas for room designs that meet kids’ needs and cut down on sibling squabbles.

Division of Space

Whether your children are close in age or there is a large age gap, everyone likes to have their own space.  Carving out separate areas for each sibling can be done more elegantly than a stripe down the middle of the floor (who can forget the childhood refrain of “you’re on my side!”), employing some creative space dividers like bookcases, wardrobes, or drapery.  An open bookcase with multiple compartments allows the space to be divided without a complete visual block, and doubles as storage and display space for children’s things.  A tall wardrobe or armoire helpfully adds closet space.  Individual work- and play-spaces are also key; small coordinating desks or tables allow kids a surface to set up projects or puzzles, and do their homework.  Furniture can also be custom-designed for the room to maximize square footage and give each child a unique space of their own.

Storage Solutions

With children comes stuff.  Toys, clothes, books, schoolbags – in order to keep a shared room from devolving into a cluttered disaster, it’s important to provide useful, child-friendly storage solutions.  Shelving with lots of compartments, desks with drawers, closet build-ins, toy bins and baskets, and dedicated places to hang things all help cut down on clutter and keeps the children’s room functional.  If your space allows it, consider moving most of the toys to another play area in your home, to free up floor space in the shared bedroom.

Cohesive Design

Many parents struggle with whether to let each sibling decorate their section of a shared room to reflect individual tastes, or to choose the same colors, furniture and textiles for a more cohesive scheme.  Most designers will agree that, either way, the room should have some unifying aspects.  This can be achieved using a color palette and furnishings in complementary finishes.  Having walls painted two coordinating colors can add interest.  Each sibling’s bedding doesn’t have to be identical, but layering similar patterns and colors ties the room together while allowing each child to differentiate “their side.”  Giving each child a small area to display their own artwork and treasured items ensures that, even in a room where everything is thoughtfully designed to coordinate, children’s unique personalities can shine.

Shared bedroom ideas for boys and girlsCourtesy of http://projectnursery.com/

Modern Ways to Use Wallpaper

The mention of wallpaper can conjure images of a dusty grandmother’s parlor, or dated patterns that smother a room – but many designers know that modern wallpapers can add elegance and texture to a space, and there’s no rule they have to be used on all four walls.

Living Room Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of  daleeramo.com

In a room that lacks architectural interest, hanging a bold wallpaper on one wall can create visual interest and layer pattern or texture into an otherwise boring space.  Savvy designers have been using rich fabric or fabric-like papers like grasscloth or damask on the wall behind clients’ beds for years, to add luxury and color to sleeping quarters.  Modern wallpapers in of-the-moment prints like chevron, arabesque, toile, and Greek key all provide a canvas to layer pattern in a space.

Hand-painted wallpapers with botanical scenes, birds, and vines also add whimsy and romance to places like a dining room or child’s bedroom.  Botanical papers are particularly stunning in Parisian-inspired boudoirs as well.

Living Room Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of rezanouranian.com

Bold geometric or patterned patterns, and wallpapers with very rich colors don’t just have to be used on walls, either.  Clever designers have used them in the recesses behind wet bars or china cabinets for example, or as panels to cover wardrobe doors.  Textured papers printed to look like tiles or plaster scrollwork can take a space from plain to knockout with less commitment and expense than the real thing.

Textured Wallpaper Design

Courtesy of clarke-clarke.com

Some contemporary wallpapers add metallic elements to their patterns and textures as well, which can bring light and shimmer into dim spaces.

With so many choices available, at a wide range of price points, wallpaper is definitely enjoying a renaissance in interior design, and can add depth and polish to a space without ever evoking grandma’s parlor.