Tag Archives: living room design

Cooling Your Home Down without A/C

For centuries, older houses had no such thing as air conditioning for relief during the warmer months. Instead of flipping a switch, the following eco-friendly, old-school methods were used to get air flowing through the house during the dog days of summer.

Using the passive-cooling principles that hot air rises, and cool air moves toward warmer air, you can design or retrofit your house to make use of fresh air to stay cool and invite in those long hot days of July and August.

Open Up the Room

Open windows for ventilation in the summer

Since hot air rises, and cool air moves toward warmer air, a house that has vented openings on both sides of the building has a lot more airflow – and any air movement is a good thing. Using operable windows on the cooler side of the house, you can open them wide to draw the air through from the hotter side of your home.

Shutters Aren’t Just for Outdoors

Shutters can be useful inside too. Shutters aren’t just a decorative alternative to curtains and blinds, they’re also a green way to ventilate – you can open up the windows behind them to let in air, and close the shutters to keep out the sun, and voila! The room is cooled down the old-fashioned way.

It’s Obvious, but: Fans

living room ceiling fan

Courtesy of housesen.com

Fans have been used since ancient times to keep things cool, since any air movement is good and a fan can suck away the warm air and push cooler breezes around a space. Ceiling fans are available in every conceivable design, whether you want something unobtrusive or bold.  Fans are even offered in retro palm-frond styles, and most fans also offer a light fixture combination if you don’t want to lose overhead lighting when you install the fan. Look for fans with a reverse switch or feature for winter, which helps push warmer air (it rises, remember?) back down into the room.

Take it Outside

Screened in porch sunroom

Courtesy of jpandcompany.net

Screened-in porches have long been an architectural staple in hot regions, and they deserve a comeback. Consider enclosing your covered porch, or enclosing a deck with screens, and you will have created an airy, insect-free outdoor living space. You can use a screened room for months, provided you furnish it with pieces made from materials that can withstand some rain, like wicker or metal. Bonus: a generous couch with some indoor-outdoor cushions becomes an ideal spot to sleep on hot summer nights!

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.

Looking For Finished Basement Ideas? These are the 5 Have-To’s.

For those with basements, we often have grand ideas of having a finished basement when first moving in, but usually end up filling it with the everything we couldn’t be bothered to unbox or sort for the past year. Yet back in your mind, you still want to turn that cold, dark basement into another addition to your beautifully crafted home. Well, it is time to buck up and finally finish that basement of yours. So what are the need-to-knows before starting?

1. Go all neutral.

Most basements suffer the curse of having a low ceiling and little light, so to start we want to find ways to open up the space and brighten it up. The easiest way to do this is to use neutral colors for the walls and ceiling. Grey, taupe, and any shade of white will make the room feel more expansive and assist in dispersing light around the room.

For those thinking gray, you might want to look into warm grays to keep your basement from feeling too cool during our famous Northeast winters.

2. Let there be light

As should be expected, you are going to need to bring more lighting into the room. Floor lamps are best when you need to make a room look taller. Recessed can lights are the perfect low profile solution for basements with low ceilings. Also, be sure to add a few mirrors to spread the light around the room.


3. Define each space without confining the room.

If you are trying to use the basement for multiple uses – maybe adding an awesome cocktail bar to go with your entertainment room – be sure not to add any walls. Keep the space as open as possible so you don’t defeat your lighting and décor efforts. Use area rugs to anchor down furniture and split spaces from one another without physical barriers.


4. Heated floors are a must.

And if the thought of concrete or tile floors is sending shivers up your spine. Carpeting really helps retain the heat but also don’t discount wood floors. Wood is always a welcome complement to a neutral color scheme and you can install radiant floor heating to keep from having to suffer walking across the basement barefoot.

5. Do not forget about storage.

Last, you probably do not have an alternative space to stick those miscellaneous boxes that we discussed earlier in this article. So be sure to create a few places for storage like floor to ceiling cabinets and closets that can stow away your college textbook collection and holiday decorations.


What is Your Living Room Telling Your Guests?

What we don’t talk enough about is home design, specifically room design. The placement of your furniture can determine the role of a room. Is this space for play or for reading? Is it a personal getaway or does it invite guests in to stay and chat?

Here’s one layout you are probably using – your furniture faces your television. This could also be your fireplace, window view, etc.

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If the room is meant to invite conversation, then face your seating inward. Notice that television is set up and away from eye level. TV is an afterthought when guests are visiting.

Those with children will want to create an open space for the kids to play by pushing their furniture farther back towards the walls. Then surround the play area with seating so you can both monitor and chat.
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Here the sofa is used to split the room in two. The conversation has been left in the rear where guests can talk over cocktails.

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The center sofa keeps out the chatter so you can be left to read by the fireplace in peace.
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Helpful hint:
Before you get to carrying couches all over your living room, draw up a plan using an online room planner. Start with the bigger couches and chairs and then position the small items like coffee tables and end tables.
blue floral patterned wallpaper ceiling

If you aren’t incoportating your ceiling, you should

With our heads constantly bent down, buried in our phones, it’s no surprise that highest opportunity in the room goes unnoticed in most homes. A wallpapered ceiling can add a unique and outstanding effect to a room when used as an alternative to the more common accent choices. By utilizing dark or lighter colored prints, you can make a rooms smaller or larger. Create texture where was none before or add the perfect back drop to your favorite ceiling fixture. The uses are limitless.

When choosing the right wall covering for a ceiling, my one preference is to go bold. I look to use either bright colors or detailed designs that draw the eye. I want my guests to gaze at my ceiling, mouths agape, as if it were the Sistine Chapel (photos are permitted). If you aren’t looking to break any necks then I would suggest using a neutral pallet and a design that involves simple geometric shapes. Oh, and lots of white space.

wallpaper ceiling light design

Unsure of how the wallpaper will play out? Try the look on the smallest rooms in your house – your closets. After a few days of testing you can choose whether to go fully commit or maybe even test out a different color or pattern.

Yet there is one small caveat. If you aren’t hiring a service to apply the wallpaper for you, the task is a bit difficult. Instead of a one man (or woman) job, you would need at least one partner to help you as you move along the ceiling flattening out the material. But as usual, hard work pays off. After a bit of frustration and a good amount of effort you will have a truly unique feature that will have your guests stunned.

bedroom with wallpaper ceiling

In my opinion, the bed room is the perfect place to apply a covered ceiling. I find that I can appreciate my work more laying face up in my bed then when I am taking the rare nap in my living room (or trying to sip the last drop of wine from my glass in the dining area). It becomes the first image to greet me when I wake up in the morning, and the last to wish me goodnight.