Saturday, February 1, 2014

Update your Furniture on a Budget!

The look of granite and natural stone is what a homeowner desires when they think of "new" or "updated". When looking at homes the expectation is that the kitchen and/ or bathrooms will have granite, marble or some unique countertop. The perceived value is higher walking into a room that sports a huge island with a shiny counter, it screams gourmet! The same goes with bedroom furniture, or an occasional table in a foyer. Many manufacturers are adding a touch of stone to their collections, as an accent piece. Granite is available in so many styles and colors! One of my favorite things to do is take friends and clients through the stone yard at my favorite place to buy countertops; Stone Tech
Walking through their lot you cannot image how many colors and exquisite natural stone exists. They carry the standard Uba Tuba, that became so popular, to Labrador in all colors and marble. The collection is unlimited with so many one of a kind looking specimens it is like walking through an art gallery! When my mom wanted to update her bedroom, she considered new furniture, but the cost was high, and her feeling was that nothing was wrong with what she had, so why spend excess money. Knowing how much she loved the new granite countertop we had installed in her kitchen ( from Stone Tech, of course!), I thought, "why not renovate the furniture?" As painting is my thing, and I love to re-purpose old furniture, we got started. Here you can see the original set; a six drawer dresser, platform bed and two nightstands. This set is teak, and was my original bedroom set when my husband and I first moved to New Jersey to start our life together. It was the most beautiful set; very sleek and modern but we felt classic in the natural teak wood. Over time, we bought a new set as our tastes changed and developed. My parents were moving to NJ from NY to be closer to our family; so we gave them our set so they had less to bring when they made the move.
Amazing what you can do with a little paint!
Mom wanted to lighter the look of the bed and make the furniture look richer! In order to paint this furniture, we needed to give it a soft sand and primer. We chose a chocolate color for the base. Adding ceramic hardware to the drawers changed the look entirely. We found a design that coordinated with the new bedding perfectly!
This hardware would change this Scandanavian teak set to give it a more French Provincial look. Next I chose a granite that I knew mom liked and painted the top of all pieces to look like natural stone! A few coats of glossy polyurethane and vwahlah!!! A new bedroom set! I was sure to paint the entire top, including the sides, as if this was real stone it would have this thickness and depth.
You can re-purpose anything! No need to spend a lot of money; go to a flea market, look on Craig's List for moving sales and put your imagination to work! This is the perfect solution when on a tight budget, updating a young child's room to a more teenage look, and especially for college dorm rooms and first apartments. A great way to add some of your personality to your room!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Inspiration is the key to new projects!

Funny how quickly time flies, and now I look at my blog and think, wow, I was going to write every week, or month, and now it has been way too long! So here is my new year hope… that I can get my thoughts on paper and express creative thoughts to whoever will read them.
Inspiration comes from all around us!
When my daughters were young they knew they could always count on me to be up for a "room change". They know it is my favorite thing to do, and as their taste level expanded, we would always be willing to change their room colors and genre. We went from soft pretty colors, to painting the sky full of clouds and bright yellow stars to deep golds, acid greens and woodland tones. When they moved into college their dorm rooms were a blank canvas to paint on, and then into apartments where they were able to better express their own sense of style. I wanted to show you a few pieces I painted, with a little inspiration, that re-purposed tired worn out pieces into fun and new items that they now will have forever! I have always re-painted, and re-used furniture, in fact my old bedroom set is still upstairs in one of their bedrooms, after being painted and painted again. Re-purposing furniture is the easiest thing to do! With some time and inspiration, you can do it too!
I used a primer, so that my colors would be clean and pure, and then acrylic paint in this case, as the item were small. All of these items were then coated with 3 coats of satin polyurethane to properly protect them. The satin finish helped the colors pop as well!
Here you can see, pillows I found with all the colors I knew she would love, with a Bohemian type motif. This little wicker and bamboo table was one my mom has had in her basement forever! Who doesn't love the stuff from Grandma's house! You can see what a transformation this made!
I then took this idea and moved on to the chairs we bought at a garage sale for her sister's apartment! Riding my bike to the farmer's market, I passed a driveway full of useful furniture that all I could think of the rest of the day was how I could paint! I rode back and bought these great old kitchen chairs, brought them home, and as you can see, added the same look to update them. My daughter did not want them fully painted so I carefully designed how to incorporate the look of the chair and the new motif I wanted to add… needless to say, she loves them!
Take time to let your inspiration be the source of a new project!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Dream of an Elegant Master Bathroom

People make resolutions every year; get to the gym, eat better, empty those boxes from the move, how many years ago? I find that every year I tell myself I am going to focus on my blog, on posting my ideas and experiences. Each year time gets away from me. Reading my last post I have to laugh; I can say I have spent the last year re-designing my life. My youngest daughters went off to college, I met my weight loss goal ( finally) and I have reconnected to many past friends and clients.

Recently I had the great pleasure of working with a lovely couple on a master bathroom renovation. They came to me through a wonderful friend, my contractor, Ali Rad. They had two needs; one was that they needed to reconstruct their master bathroom due to problems they were having with leaks, etc. That is never a fun way to have to renovate... The other is that they needed to feel that they could make this room their own, to feel like a master bathroom - elegant, sophisticated and special. They had a specific look in mind, and it was my charge to help them realize this dream.

The challenge was not being able to make this dream come true... it was finding the time in their busy schedules to make selections and decisions so that the job could be completed by their deadline; and of course in the time that the contractor allowed.

As always I started with talking to them, and getting a clear understanding of what they wanted, what they like, and more importantly, what they do not like.
The ideas merged; "an elegant, updated, sophisticated master bath that would be kid friendly for now, but serve as a private sanctuary in later years."

As a designer, you need to help interpret ideas; bringing each persons thoughts to the table and creating one final picture that will please everyone.


The existing master bathroom footprint is large, which gave us some options. The homeowners needed to stay within a budget, so we were sensitive to this. Re-using the large oval master tub allowed for a centerpiece in the room that was beautiful and gave them leeway to spend the budget in other areas. We visited the stone yard and chose a beautifully rich, yet clean granite; with greys and deep burgundy highlights. We decided to use the same granite on the counter and the surface of the tub. A mix of glass and stone mosaic also had rich colors of grey and a deep plum like burgundy that would pull this color story together. We designed dark wood panels as the tub base to match the new cabinets. This anchored the room and created a focal point. Ali was able to swap the location of the commode with the shower to allow for a GRAND shower, with a seat. The entire room was coming together. We chose a very neutral floor with deep dark cabinets highlighting the space with white rectangular sinks to match the existing white tub and commode. The rectangle sinks were the final touch for the feel they were looking for; a "Restoration Hardware, upscale, trendy space".

Now the fun begins... faucets, cabinet hardware and wall color!

The deep jewel tone in plum brought out the rich burgundy in the granite, along with the glass mosaic featured in the shower and the sink back splash. Glass handles with brushed nickel hardware to match the faucets, a simple beveled edge mirror that illuminates the entire room, and lighting fixtures that accent the lines found in the oval tub, rectangular sinks and interesting room angles help create the final touch.

Take a look at the after images, what a change! I am happy to say that the homeowners are thrilled with the new look and I could not be happier! We continue to shop for the special details; photos and art for the walls, and the proper towels in a color that will blend perfectly and other decorative items that will finish the room.




Take the time to think about what you want your room to "feel" like. You can accomplish with a simple coat of paint, or just adding new art and towels to your bathroom to magically transform it into a space that you dream of!


Working hand in hand with an experienced contractor and my client we were able to realize the dream!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Designing Your Life

As the year progresses, I realize that I am just not posting as much as I wanted to. I think about design in all aspects; my home, my rooms, my wardrobe, and in the work I do every day. The more I contemplate design and blogging, the more I have to say
- there is one important thought I had, that I have to share...
- we should spend more time designing our lives than we do designing our surroundings -

What I mean by that is we need to think about what kind of life we want to lead, what is important to us as individuals, what kind of "footprint" do we want to leave behind, to be remembered as, to be known for. Although it is great to surround ourselves with nice things, beautiful furnishings and decorative homes, our foundation, our core, is who we are as people.

In these hard economic times we find ourselves reflecting on life. Most of us know someone who has lost their job, had benefits cut back at work, or just find themselves stressed over the entire global situation. It is easy to fall victim to being down and blue. I feel it is important at this time to re-evaluate what and who we are, what our dreams were, and how we can go about accomplishing them. Possibly reaching goals that we might have set a long time ago.
Re-design your life!

Take on a new hobby, or learn something you always wanted to know - with the internet, and the help from Youtube, there are millions of lessons online for all sorts of things from faux painting to learning to play guitar, how to plant a successful garden to composting. Join a community group to help others, give of yourself to your community, friends and family. It is wonderful to work on your home, paint a room a new color, change up your surroundings, but it is not the only way to re- design.

Focusing on your dreams and helping others acquire their dreams will ultimately lead you to more beauty in your own life. The glass is half full - design away!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year! Keeping a House Design Diary for your Home

We all look towards the new year ahead of us with hope and sometimes, if you are like most, new ideas; resolutions. Some vow to finally fix the gutters that are hanging off the house, or paint the family room a new color. Others make resolutions to themselves not to procrastinate projects around the house that they, or their spouse, have wanted to address. Sometimes it is just to touch up the paint in the stairwell, or the basement play room. If only you could remember what the color was, or the brand...

Here is an easy way to organize your home design, a house design diary. This is as simple as picking up a spiral or composition notebook, you probably have a partially used one lying around the house somewhere. Get yourself a few post it notes, a pen, and you are ready to get started!
• put the post it notes a few pages apart, like tabs on the side of the notebook paper
• label them with the names of each of the rooms in your house; for example the dining room, family room, or little Lauren's room.
Now you are ready to record.

Making a diary of the paint colors used in your home will be a great reference tool. You can store the paint colors, paint brand and paint finish in this booklet. As you give a room a new coat of paint, write it down in your handy diary. How many of us look at the stairwell in our homes, where everyone's hands ride up the wall, and wish we could remember the color used so we can touch up the area in the middle where you can see all the fingerprints?
How about the many times you see photos in a design magazine that would work great in your house? Tear these magazine pages out and paste them into the section of your new diary to save the ideas for future reference.

There are many ideas you can store in this diary :
• paint chips/ brands and finishes - for future touch ups
• images of furniture you own in each room - to help you when shopping for other items to add to the decor
• magazine pages of looks you love - to help you create the same feeling in your home
• lists of the furniture in the existing rooms and their dimensions- wood finishes, colors which will aid in adding items to the room
• room dimensions- great to use when figuring out how much paint is needed, or wallpaper
• window and door dimensions- also helps with figuring out how much paint or wallpaper is needed, as these dimension will need to be deducted from the total room dimension - but also great when shopping for window treatments!
• even a graph paper layout of the room!

A house design diary is a great reference tool!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thinking Ahead

As you put the finishing touches on your holiday decorating, it is never too early to think of next year. I know, this sounds crazy, but you will thank me for this advice in the end.

Do you drive past homes where you admire their outdoor holiday decorations? Have you been invited to a friend's or neighbor's home for a holiday get together and love what they have done on their dinner table, buffet, centerpiece or in the family room? Have you always yearned for a tree in every room with a different themed collection?

Now is the time to think about what you feel is missing in your home as all the lights, ornaments, and holiday decor will be marked down to extremely low prices! In this market retailers will be looking to clear out their stock to make their numbers for fourth quarter, so get in on the deals!

Special tips: think ahead, it will save you time and money in the long run!

• Look for the outdoor decorations that you dreamed of having - changing from colorful lighting to all white will give you an elegant and sophisticated look! Colorful lights lend themselves to a more whimsical appearance and can be fun and engaging!

• Think about your holiday table settings - do you wish you had wine markers or serving dishes with a holiday theme? Now is the time to get it!

• Don't wait for next year to first think about it, after all, you have to pack up all this years decorations, might as well add to the mix now, and be ready for next year!

• Add a second or third tree to your home - decorate it in a new style - maybe your family room tree is traditional; add a fun whimsical theme in the living room, a French Country or Victorian theme to the kitchen!

For all who celebrate Chanukah, there are great deals for you as well! Great paper goods, beautiful jacquard tablecloths and more. Even though the decorations for this holiday might now be as grand, you can find a bargain on a new menorah, manual and electric, and those unusual candles that are way over priced earlier in the season are probably half priced now!

Let's not forget holiday greeting cards, they are all available now at half the price!

Have fun! Enjoy the Holiday Season and have a Wonderful New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday decorating the easy way!

This time of year we are all so busy shopping and running around to get ready for the holidays. There is a sense of urgency to get the best deal, to be "done" and ready for the season. People feel this need to update their rooms with a fresh look, so their family will oohh and aaahh over how nice everything looks when they gather together. We all want an updated look in our homes, as we spend more time indoors.
Special Tip: give yourself a break! Adding a bouquet of fresh flowers or plant to a room will give it new life!

It is not important to spend a lot of money or time to renovate your home just because company is coming. Rearranging the furniture will give a room a new look and might even lend itself to a better layout for entertaining. I would not take on any large projects, even if they seem easy and small at the time. Painting a room can be the best way to add new life to a room any other time of the year, but for now, it is too much pressure and stress to add onto yourself at a time of year when these emotions run high anyway.

Here are a few ideas:

• Add a new centerpiece to your dinner table, or foyer.

• Make name placards for your guests that follow the theme of your holiday.

• Use silk flowers to make new napkin rings for each setting. This is much easier than you would imagine! Or buy ribbons and tie them around your cloth or paper napkins to follow the holiday color story.

Anything you do to add to the holiday cheer will lighten up your surroundings and give friends and family the sense of warm, inviting atmosphere.

After all, your guests are there to see and celebrate with you....