Getting the Trend - Black and White

How many times have you notice a fabulous new trend and thought, "love it, but it won't work in my house?"  While trends can be enticing, they can be difficult (aka expensive) to incorporate.  Today, I wanted to give you my thoughts on a current trend and how to make it work in your space.  The trend is "Black and White," and it's totally hot at the moment.  Here are a few images to give you the idea . . . 

This biggest problem with this trend is most of us do not have white sofas or chairs to use with the black and white pillows.  Don't get me wrong, I've sourced a few white sofas in my career.  But, even with those, they are always slipcovers that can be washed.  For most people, the larger upholstered pieces in your home are beige in tone (this makes it much easier to switch up the look with pops of color).  So what happens when you want to incorporate black and white pillows?  They just don't seem to work with beige to give you a chic vibe.

There is a simple solution - make sure your black and white pillow scheme includes some beige.  Yep.  That's it. Easy Peasey.  Here are a few boards I pulled together for a client project pulling in some of the beige tones. 

Now for a few images  of spaces using this trick!  Incorporating some beige tones in with the black and white makes it work . . . 

If you need help pulling your spaces together or just want a fresh perspective, call me.  I can help!  For more information on my design services, click here. M.

Creating More Space

Are you craving more living space and not sure how to get it?  Well, the basement is a great place to start.  If you've not thought about reclaiming that space, now's the time to consider it.  It's one of the cheapest ways to gain square footage since this space already exists in most homes.  You just have to make it livable.  

Here are some layouts I completed for a growing family who wanted more living spaces for their family.  When I develop furniture layout plans, I like to give my clients a couple of options on layouts so they can really think about how they want to live in the space.  

In the first layout, I included a pool table.  You need a proximately four feet of wall clearance for a comfortable game of pool (reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld when they put the pool table in a tiny bedroom).  So, in order to get this spacing, the client will need a seven foot pool table (as opposed to the standard eight foot table).  

I also did a secondary layout that would maximize seating in the area - this is super important if the main function of this room is for watching football with friends!

Then, using the same basic furniture pieces, I created a different layout.  This is helpful for the client to see that they can make the space feel fresh an new by simply changing the layout of the pieces they already have for a new look. 

In addition to planning the perfect layout, there are a few other elements that can really change the way a basement area feels.  The single most important element would be lighting.  It's super important to make sure you have plenty of overhead lighting as well as layers of additional lighting in the form of floor lamps, table lamps, wall washers and /or sconces.  This will allow the space to feel light and airy as opposed to dark and cave like.  Here are a couple of other construction details that can really transform the feel of a basement area. 

If you have a soffit area than simply has to stay, consider creating an angled soffit (rather than a traditional boxed soffit).  It makes a huge difference visually to the space (especially if the ceilings are lower).

Lastly, this detail and really change the first impression you have as you enter the basement.  By opening up the stairwell on one side to the basement, you will get a much more open spacious feel.  Rather than feeling like you are entering a dungeon.  It works!  

Looking for a bit more space, it may already be waiting for you just under foot.  M.

Recent Project - Wet Bar Makeover

Here are a few before and after pictures of a rather large project for one of my clients.  Over the summer, my clients completed a total renovation to their kitchen and master bathroom.  During the process, we made smaller tweaks to this adjoining family room just so the rooms flowed and functioned in a better way.   Here is a before of a wet bar area in the family room (the kitchen/breakfast room area is to the left through the doorway). 

As you can see in the images, this was a very traditional style bar area with the walk around to serve your guests.  There was also a step down from the kitchen area into the bar area.

And here's the after:

We opted to remove the "walk around" area for more square footage in the family room.  This also allowed us to widen the door way (you can see it in the left in the below image) between the breakfast room and the family room.  

The result is a fabulous updated look.  Just one more thing to mention - we decided on a copper countertop to save a bit of money and inject some rustic charm into this otherwise traditional home.  This is a win win for the budget and the look!

As I've said in the past, small tweaks can have a huge impact on your space.  This area functions in the same way as before, but does so in such a visually different way!  Hope you have a wonderful week. M.

Recent Project - A Family Room Makeover

  Back in May, I helped a client with a design plan for their family room.  When we started the project, the TV was on the opposite wall from the fireplace and the furniture was facing in with the fireplace and TV as opposing focal points.   This really limited the amount of seating in the space.  

In my design plan, I placed the TV in the bookshelves to really opened up the space and allow for additional seating.  Sorry for the blurry image!  I snapped these with my phone, and I'm no photographer. 

I wish I had taken a before of the fireplace.  It was stone all the way to the ceiling, and my clients were never really happy with how it looked.    The dark grout and stones made the room feel heavy, and dark.  So, rather than tear out all the stone work, I suggested we leave it and cover the upper portion of the stone with some architectural detail.  Here's the result.   

By reducing the amount of stone work you see, it becomes a lovely focal point adding great texture and interest to the space.  Also, the painted trim work above the mantle really lightens up the space and gives the entire room a less rustic more traditional feel which is in keeping with the rest of this beautiful home.  

We also painted the backs of the bookshelves a darker tone to help "blend" the TV into the bookshelves and ground that entire wall. 

I then restyled the bookshelves for balance and interest. 

Just love this flying pig! 

Lastly, we kept this well loved leather chair in the room, and I think it looks fantastic in it's new spot.  The patina of the leather really adds lots of character to the room. 

Hope you enjoyed the tour.  I'm going to try and remember to take more pictures of my projects in the future even if it's only with an iPhone! Hope you have a great day. M.

What Camp Are You In?

Happy Labor Day weekend, everybody!  I hope you have Monday off and are enjoying a long weekend.  I often think of this holiday in two different ways, and I'm wondering what camp you're in on this?  Do you think of this weekend as "One last opportunity to savor the Summer"

Or is it a "Let's get this party start for Fall football"?

I guess it could be a bit of both, but I tend to think of it as one last nod to Summer.  I guess because of all the amazing sales to be had on Summer clearance items.  I love to scope out discounted items that transition your home (and your wardrobe) into Fall.  There are so many sales going on this weekend that it's mind boggling.  Here are just a few I plan to check out today! 

C Wonder
I love love this shop.  We actually have one near us and it is so much fun to check out the offerings.  I do find their website has way more products and right now they are having a great sale with 30% off all full price items (aka, the new Fall items) and free shipping when we spend over $100.  It's no wonder I love this . . . 

and this . . .  it comes in three different colors (and yes, I know this has nothing to do with interior design. :)

Serena and Lily
This is another great go to website for me when sourcing bedding.  The quality is second to none and you have to at least peruse their offerings on Labor day for the sales!  Right now they are offering 70% off all Sale items.  I've got my eye on a few things.

This could make a fantastic wall hanging/artwork installation in a colorful bedroom, and the price is right at $11.99. 

Also, I adore these lacquered pedestal trays in the gray and white starting at $48.00.  These would look great grouped on a Fall tablescape. 

Rugs USA
This website has a couple of sales a year that are simply unbeatable.  I've snagged rugs for a couple of bedrooms in the past, and I'm constantly on the look out for client project when this sale rolls around. To ensure you get a high quality rug, keep your selections to 100% wool or natural materials such as seagrass or sisal.  You will thank me later!  Here's just one of many examples.

Now for some Fall fashion.  Here are just a few items on my wish list!

Trina Turk
Right now you can enjoy 20% off all sales items on the website plus free shipping.  But this will be over at midnight Monday, so don't delay! Just a few items to get you thinking. 

This would be another great transition piece for  early Fall weather (when it's still blazing hot here in the South). . . 

And last, I am in LOVE with this belt.  It's such a great width for belting a thin sweater or adding some interest is a simple dress.  I can also see it paired with white jeans (yes, we do wear white jeans beyond Labor Day here in the South), and a chambray shirt. 

With many of these sales, I can literally see the inventory vanishing before my very eyes!  It pays to shop early and make your selections.  Have a marvelous Labor Day - whatever you choose to do today! M.

Power of Paint - Before and Afters

Here's just a quick example of what a little paint can do for your house.  I had a client who called asking if I could help her with a exterior paint schedule for her home.  I was thrilled because I knew paint would completely transform the curb appeal of this fabulous house! 

When I got there, we immediately went to the back of the house where the issue with what paint to select was looming!  You see, the house has vinyl siding on the upper back area which does not paint out well.  You can certainly paint it, but most products do not last as long as painted brick so you begin a cycle of repainting the area more often.  Our goal - to find a color we loved that would blend and work with the color of the vinyl.  

Here's a before of the back (with a few samples up to consider). 

And here's a before of the front.

Since the sliding on the back of the house had a blue/gray tone, we were careful not to select a color with yellow undertones which can be very challenging when selecting a white.  We also did not want to go too blue as to give the house a "baby boy nursery" effect or even just a stark white feel.  So, we opted for a white that has a bit of gray and brown in it.  Our goal was not to match it, but to blend it.  Here are the afters.  I love the result!

And now for the front! A total transformation - elegant and stately!  
Notice we made the decision to paint out all the trim work the same color as the body of the house.  This down plays the arches over the windows and gives the home a more modern feel.  We also selected a darker color for the shutters and notice we painted out the tiny bit of brick on the chimney our shutter color.  It would have been a sliver of white and would have drawn your eye, rather than simply blending with the rest of the stack.  

Our next stage (which will hopefully happen in the Spring) will be to trim back the hedge in front of the large landing area to make the front appear larger and more welcoming!  But, for now, my clients are enjoying this major transformation to their beautiful home! M.

A Little Workhorse - An Ottoman Roundup

Today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite pieces of furniture.  This piece of furniture is a major work horse, can be affordably added to any space, and makes a huge difference in the overall look and feel of a space.  I'm talking about the humble ottoman (aka stool or even pouf).

Ottomans are one of the most versatile pieces of furniture you can invest in for your home.  They can of course be used for over flow seating, or to kick your feet up to relax.  But they can also act as a coffee table, or even paired with a console table for some much needed softening of a space.

I love to think of them as an opportunity to inject a fun trendy style (like you think of pillows).

Most importantly, they are one of the least expensive ways to get some major WOW without breaking the bank or feeling wed to the piece for a lifetime!

Here are just a few of my favorites. 

          Ottoman: Threshold Ottoman - Gray

Orange Linen Stool with Brass Nailheads

When your space feels like it's not quite finished, it may be in need of a pair of ottomans! Enjoy your day. M.

Birmingham Locals:  Not sure if you're having trouble getting back into the swing of things now that school is back in session, but I wanted to share a service with you.  In an effort to make the transition back to school a little easier and to give back to our community, my church is hosting a Meals for Missions fundraiser.  The service is provided on Wednesday evenings.    The proceeds from this fundraiser are used to support our missions work.  The way it works - you can place an order any time before 5:00pm on Tuesday of each week.  Then, you simply run by Covenant Presbyterian Church (they are located across the street from Samford University) and pick up your dinner between 1:00 - 6:00pm on Wednesday.  Just think, it's for a great cause, you get a night off from cooking, and you have a yummy meal for your family!  
To see the upcoming menu and/or order your meal click here.