Like bears coming out of hibernation, people start to stretch and yawn and look around and ask me “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?” It’s similar to the fall preparation for hunkering down for the winter…”What can I do to cozy-up my house?” as the leaves drop and a chill wafts through the air.20170301_084712

Spring is the season for re-birth and starting fresh. Fresh – what does that suggest? This year we are very fortunate that Pantone set forth the color direction for the entire year – greenery. I have great enthusiasm for incorporating this bright verdant living color throughout the seasons – yes, a color for all seasons – but we are not limited to green in its various forms. I give you permission to add color that makes you feel good. Pick your favorite color…any color!

Now let’s get to that question about “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?.” Here are 10 tips to change your world and bring joy as spring approaches.

  1. Color POP: Speaking of your favorite color…”paint magic” as its often referred is the practically instantaneous positive reinforcement that you need to make a quick, effective change in your interior! Pick an accent wall – preferably one that is framed by inside corners (rather than stopping a color on an outside corner) and take the leap of painting it an entirely different color than your norm. 20170301_085601 Bear in mind other color cues in the room so as not to create a discord of color or completion between your design elements – but don’t be afraid either. The idea is a pleasing POP! and an extra pointer, if your room is already painted a decisive color, white can be the accent. Yes, white can be an intentional color accent and not the lack of color that it can often seem to be.
  2. Live Plants and Flowers: Spring suggests flowers and greenery – to watch them grow toward the warm weather, bulbs inside can be fun, bouquets of your favorite flowers, sprigs of greenery in a small vase can even be enough. red_tulips_spring_decor-16A bud vase on your bathroom sink counter, a statement piece at your entry or coffee table, a flowering plant with young buds to last a few weeks, a fern to add feathery freshness. – any and all of these can add life to your interior spaces.  If you have flowering trees or bushes outside, this is the time to cut a few branches and bring them inside, place in a vase with water and the warmth of your interior will “force” the buds to bloom – Voila!
  3. Reupholster to Refresh: Do you have a tired piece of furniture that might deserve a new fabric? A favorite comfy chair, a hand-me-down of sentimental value, a good frame (bones) that can be salvaged to new with a change of printed fabric, leather, or woven textile. This furniture facelift is just the trick to give new life to older pieces.20170301_084752

4. Change It Up: When you move things around and rearrange your furniture, artwork              and accessories you will be surprised how you can refresh without adding anything                new. Take a look at your furniture arrange. Can the same pieces be rearranged in the              same room and create a new look?? Might you move one piece out to another room or            bring in a different piece from some other room?

5. Pillows to Toss: Throw pillows…throw them out! Well, I exaggerate a bit, but cycle                them into a bag in the closet for another time or place or “recovery” and find some fun        new pillows to brighten and refresh your interior. What an effective change a few                    colorful pillows can make in a room!20170301_084945

    6. Add Art: DIY or find something to cheer you! Dressing your walls with new work can              lift your  spirits! 20170301_152224

  1. Fresh Fragrances: Like Votive’s Pink Mimosa or Skeem’s Current Mangosteen scented candles, or Vance Kittera incense will add a dimension of sensory appreciation to refresh the stale, stagnant air of winter.votivo-czwxdsjwwaahpr_1
  2. Wipe and Dry: New dishtowels are a great and simple boost to change seasons! Find some fresh and uplifting colors to brighten your kitchen and make wiping up more fun! They make a great gift too!
  3. Stash Your Throw: What’s that afghan on your sofa or that blanket on your bed? Switch out the dark colors of winter with fresh new accents to add color and cuddle in too!
  4. Get Tidy: Marie Kondo has written books about it- she knows the “life-changing magic” that getting organized and tidy can do for you! 20170301_085323Spring cleaning is a great therapy and introspective look at the things you own, how much you have and what is clutter beyond your ability to enjoy it all.

 

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Short days and longs nights…Do you find that your interior is dull, lifeless and even feels a bit cavernous after dark? As the sun  sets and the lamps come on, the effects can be horrible, adequate or sensational.

Poor lighting can have remarkable subliminal effects on mood, energy, and attitude. The subtle signs of poor lighting such as dark corners, shadows on faces, difficulty reading and dull colors are all important factors that contribute to an uncomfortable interior in these short days of long, dark nights.

Lighting has multiple reasons for being—three primary ones—to see, yes, ambient light. But to do tasks (reading, sewing, playing games), and accent lighting to illuminate artwork and other interior features. Mood lighting such as candlelight (once the primary light source – now an effect in most cases) is a lesser but effective  lighting tool.  Good lighting makes amazing differences.

Beware of down-lights. Lights that shine down from the ceiling. Although a very effective and common lighting tool, they must be balanced with good ambient light.  I have often used this example of sitting in a restaurant across from your date and their face is painted with ghoulish dark shadows under their eyes, beneath their nose, and accentuating all the folds of their features. It is the opposite of a kid putting a flashlight under their chin shining upward creating similarly haunting effects. Creepy. Certainly not flattering.

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The same unpleasant effects happen in the home. It’s such a common malady of ineffective lighting that most people assume it is a necessary evil of short days. It’s sad—no, really it’s SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder! To treat the serious effects of this syndrome there are many studies and inventive solutions, but for most of us, the less arresting effects of poor lighting can be greatly improved and our lives enhanced.

To begin this process of evaluating your lighting an improving it right away, start with the lamps—the light bulbs! We have so many choices these days including the familiar incandescent, compact fluorescent, and the newer LED with excellent color choices and low energy usage.  We could talk about the “temperature” of light sources measured in Kelvin, but we won’t—only that it runs a spectrum of warm to cool.

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Walk around your home and look specifically at the color that glows from the various light sources. Does it look yellow? Does it look white? Does it look blue-ish? Recognizing these distinctions from warm to cool is the start.

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Where are the shadows? Are the corners dark and recessive? And, when you combine these two, do you find, for example, dark areas and yellow glowing sources? Sometimes that soft, warm yellow is preferred while other scenes are made more intentionally crisp with cooler light.

Experiment with different lamps in your fixtures – light bulbs in your table lamps and recessed cans, hallway sconces and bathroom fixtures. It’s a fun experiment and very illuminating – yes, the pun was intended.

Are your lamp shades opaque or translucent? Do the shades themselves cast a color? Do they block the light or allow it through? Do they throw the light up and down or up, down and out? This is another detail of which to take note.

If you have dated recessed fluorescent tube units – common in kitchens for example – they are often housed in a box either recessed or surface-mounted on the ceiling. Take a look at the plastic lenses – are they discolored and yellow? This aging process can dramatically affect the quality of light that is emitted. So if you are not ready to replace these fixtures with more effective modern lighting statements, try replacing the lenses.

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A similar installation is that of skylights which have fluorescent lamps up inside the wells with that same plastic lens over the opening to the skylight. The original idea was to have the natural light pass through during the day and artificial light take over after hours. The lens  was to intentionally conceal the unattractive fluorescent tubes, but it sacrificed the depth of the framed well. A quick update is to remove the lenses and fluorescents and expose the well of the skylight adding dimension to the room and eliminating the unattractive lens that conceals the dimensional cavity. Recessed can fixtures around the skylight in the surrounding ceiling are the most common solution to this transition from old to new, a cable can be strung, pendants can be hung, but if budget constraints prohibit that investment at this time, you might investigate the power source up inside the skylight well and replace the fluorescent fixture with an inexpensive, adjustable, surface-mounted spotlight – perhaps with two heads to provide light from that same source while opening the skylight well without the unnecessary lens.

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The dark pockets around your rooms can be improved with up-lights in corners and up under plants. Inexpensive fixtures are available at any lighting store or big box home improvement stores. Place one of these up-lights (remember to select the color “temperature” that pleases you the most) and see what that additional pop in the corner does to open your space. When up-lights are used beneath plants to shoot upward and cast shadows onto the walls and ceilings can create drama and exotic interest at night. This is true both indoors and out.

Torchiere floor lamps are those that face upward. Like a torch, they send the light toward the ceiling – another effective splash of light in an otherwise dark space in the room.

Colors are radically affected by the color of light that shines upon them. Therefore, an interior color scheme can be horribly tweaked to not resemble at all the actual colors chosen and combined to create the scene, when artificially illuminated after dark. Contrarily, colors can be rendered with great brilliance and accuracy when illuminated with the right combination of lighting. (although daylight contributes in these two examples).

By the same token we can have great fun and “paint” with light creating a color scheme entirely with colored lamps washing the walls, and interior elements just for the art and exercise of doing so, but I digress.

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In summary, look around your rooms after dark and look for opportunities to make changes that will dramatically affect the comfort level – the results will be startling!!! If planning new construction or remodel – have plenty of light in key places throughout the space. Think dimmers so you can control the amount of light. Let there be light in this Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a while in the world of design trends, dark colors intimidated. Bold designers dared to apply dark eggplants,  chocolates, charcoals and black to surfaces of their projects, but only a rare few clients would take the leap. Now it seems that we are seeing people accept the dare and more dark surfaces and intense envelopes of color are appearing on the scene.  I have often been asked – “Won’t it make it small?” or “Will it be too dark?” and the reason I am making the suggestion is because I already know that it won’t!!!

I’ve blogged about small rooms with dark walls in the past, but two recent projects featured my recommendation for dark cabinets. Not dark walnut or the market-saturated “espresso” which is the trendy generic for “whatever the wood – or pretend wood, we’ll make it dark brown” – very dark.

In this first case, my client – friend after many years of consultations – brought me into their home that they had occupied for a couple+ decades. It began with the  “pickled” wood cabinets that were in vogue at the time – stained red oak with a white-wash that resulted in a peachy finish. When we first did a “punch-up” we added steel cut-outs of Mimbres designs affixed to the soffit. We also added a black table and chairs with a splashy fabric as a valance in bold colors intertwined with black. The drama lifted the anemic peach theme to new heights.

Fast-forward another 15 years and my dear client was ready for a change. She called and brought me into that familiar kitchen scene and announced that she thought she wanted to re-purpose/paint her cabinets white. l looked around the adjacent family room and beyond and pondered this request.

What you might like in a magazine spread or a Pinterest post is not necessarily applicable to your context. I visualized the dramatic change. Looked at her floor (oh, we had upgraded to a large format stone-textured porcelain from the original 8×8 glazed ceramics in the last 15 years – perhaps a decade ago), looked at her family room furniture and finishes and said “I’m not so sure that’s where you want to go.”

I knew she was fairly thorough in her investigations and would not have called me prior to doing quite a bit of research and trend monitoring so I tread a bit softly when I said “I think you should go black.”  And her response was EXACTLY what I expected as she repeated the color in complete quizzical surprise.

“Yes” I said and continued to explain why. She loved her fabric that had been hanging over her breakfast nook window for years. The table was virtually unused and the steel cut-out art was one of their favorite design elements. Black was a natural. “Don’t be afraid of the dark.” I laughingly said.

Black on oak gives a wonderful moiré effect to the grain texture as it reads though the painted surface. It’s a bit exotic, rich in texture and interesting to boot. So with a bit of hand-holding and massaging the description of the intended finished effect, she took the leap – husband in cautious adgreement – they braved this bold departure from the norm.

We first selected a granite to coordinate with the floor tiles and the soon-to-be black cabinets. A swirly geology of glorious goop featuring the rose-clay tones of the mottled stone floor with black tracing through and clear quartz for pizzazz. We then set forth creating the back-splash which began with her love of glass – but to depart from the off-the-shelf 1×1 offering we cut away sections and punctuated it with 2x2s and some 1×1 domed bullets that added further interest to the multi-toned field. 20160906_173401

With those complimentary materials selected, we began the process of painting the cabinets. Boxes in place and door and drawer fronts finished off-site. All flawlessly sprayed, with many coats of conversion varnish tinted black, the transformation was dramatic.

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The second example, of this fear of the dark when it comes to finishes, was another kitchen which was a small galley-styled golden walnut stained oak 70s model. To which, we added a rough iridescent slate floor to complement the existing stone fireplace – of the same material – only in boulder form. Seemed at this point, for this sophisticated bachelor, the perfect complement to the handsome slate would be striking black cabinets. In this case –  new, without the character of the oak in the previous project, as the cabinets were completely replaced and the new selection was made from a factory fabricated series. Similarly dramatic, the sleek black was perfect against the slate’s rugged grey/golden iridescence.

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The galley footprint was greatly expanded, by carving out of the garage work-bench  area. And again, the transformation was daunting. Here we selected a mosaic of horizontal stones and glass for the backsplash – one of the stones was exactly the same iridescent grey-golden slate as the original fireplace and stunning new floors throughout.

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Be bold, be brave and consider your context. You might just find that black is your best bet to transform your cabinets into stunning statements.