To Each His Own (Bedroom)

Personal defense has become a big issue in this country due to rising crime rates, particularly in urban areas. People are taking martial arts classes and buying pepper spray, stun guns, and Tasers. Alarms are doing a good business (entrepreneurs take heed). I am not promoting anything here in today’s blog, but want to point out that as an interior designer, particularly for homes, I have to consider these trends. Good design is surely about the best use of space and lighting, a consistent and friendly décor, complementary colors and textures, and functionality of every detail. You have to envision the needs of the occupants including their special safety concerns. I don’t go so far as to provide a real panic room unless the owners are terrified of unforeseen possibilities. Maybe someone has experienced an assault in the past and is particularly skittish. Otherwise, there are ways to protect oneself in a bedroom, for example, where many home invasions occur.

I talk about good locks and even one on the bedroom door to make it an interior barricade. It is a problem for couples with children who need access to their parents in the event of an emergency. It is something to consider in any case. It is also easy to remove a pane of glass. I have often been asked to put in double thickness in bedrooms. I counsel homeowners to keep windows locked at night and be leery of how easy it is to cut a screen. Bars don’t look nice unless they are in the back of the house or on the sides. They are a bit formidable in front. However, they work to deter aggressors. The world is full of nasty, greedy people and not just on Facebook. You can’t be too cautious.

One idea I invented, or so I believe, is to use a nightstand as a gun safe. This is very practical and a great camouflage technique. It would be on the side of the family member most likely to use the best personal defense weapon to protect their home. Of course, children should not know about it or at least be coached not to open the cabinet door. It should remained locked the same as the safe. There are all too many home accidents. If it is locked, however, the home defender (let’s say the husband and father) might have trouble opening it in a flash. If you keep weapons in a closet or under the bed, you have the same problem. The end table idea works well but may be a point of danger for a family. I like the idea that the gun safe is not staring a robber in the face prompting him to use his own weapon as a kind of reverse self-defense.

If you are a designer or hire a professional, this is an area you might want to address. It is part of my package when I work with a client. Safety is incorporated into all interior design projects, even if it is child proofing. Self-defense is part of modern life.

Life After Termites

I love the prospect of remodeling just about any time. Kitchens and bathrooms are difficult and expensive so I really relished a different kind of undertaking. It would mean more space on a practical level, but on an artistic plane, it would also mean lots of fun selecting furnishings and fixtures. I had spotted the abandoned garage ages ago as a possible rec room combination man cave and home theater, complete with all the latest gadgets. It is big enough and no one parks there anymore, not even a bike. I don’t have tools or tons of suitcases to store, so it’s ideal for a new repurposing. A perfect project waiting to happen. I roughed out some plans and hired a contractor friend to do the honors. Got the bids and the paint swatches. This is going to be great, so I thought.

Not so. At least not at the outset. Guess what? We had termites. Yikes. I envisioned a major tenting of the entire house and adjacent garage at great expense. Plus all the mocking from snoopy neighbors. Fortunately, I discovered orange oil. For a reduced price, you can locally treat an area that is infested, and it is guaranteed for three or more years. It is not toxic to animals or your kids, and you can feel confident about its potential performance.

So there is life after termites. It took a couple of hours to do the job and kill the termites, using a professional service (do not attempt this on your own). The next day I started planning a schedule of minor interior demolition, some shelf building and a closet addition. Some of the wood on existing shelves had to be replaced due to the gnawing that had gone on for probably a few years or more. We had some carcasses here and there but a quick vacuuming did the job. We then washed the space thoroughly and started hammering away.

I love watching things get built. I love the finishing touches — the color, texture, and detailing. I kept changing my mind on what would go in the new cupboards and where the giant plasma TV screen would go. I started piling things up in colorful boxes and woven bins. It was going to be awesome, and termite free! (I did check the main house and mercifully it had not been under recent attack). I looked at pictures of comfortable overstuffed chairs and the latest surround sound systems on a budget.

Who would use the room and what would they need? Form always follows function as the saying goes. Did I want a utilitarian look or some wall art? Would guests want a cold drink and would the cat find a cozy place to nap? These are all vital considerations after all when doing remodeling. When all is said and done and you sit ensconced for the first time, it is like a dream come true. Just be sure to check for stray insect wings before you start!

Shower Design

If you are thinking of remodeling and it will include a new shower stall design, you are in luck. There is a whole new world of options out there including beautiful streamline transparent enclosures. Very chic. They are so delicate they practically float in space. It opens up the bathroom very well and is visually appealing. No more metal frame or trim that corrodes just by looking at it. You do have to constantly wipe the multitude of glass down, but it seems well worth the effort to get such a modern effect.

Frameless is thus the new name of the game. The edges are so precise that it is a pleasure to see this geometry at work. It’s pure perfection. Furthermore, you can see all the gadgetry inside, assuming you have purchased some dramatic state-of-the-art shower heads and knobs. Some people like to add a hand held device on a snaky coiled neck to give a European flair to the design. If you haven’t upgraded in a while, during your renovation is the perfect time to replace your water heater as well. The latest generation of tankless water heaters are amazingly energy efficient.

The ice cube looking cubicles have sliding doors that are imperceptible. I have even seen some versions that come in the round. Every style for every taste is yours for the asking. Even better yet, they come in variable sizes so you don’t have to custom cut them to fit an odd space. This saves a lot of time and money when you want to get right to your project. You can fit them in a wall niche or have them freestanding with tile sides that project from a flat wall. It’s your choice. If you have done demolition and have an open room, your choices multiply nicely. Having a clean slate makes the process easier.

What you use as a base is another choice. The color is usually white or gray these days. I like it in tile, not prefab plastic. It should look clean and crisp. The tiles themselves are neutral now to look like a spa. Very inviting, don’t you think! I kind of miss the use of color, however, and might, for myself, throw in an accent band of a simple hue here and there. You can also play with texture if you decide it needs some added interest. When and why did color get tossed in the trash heap of history? Remember pink and black bathrooms? Not any more. Aqua and yellow. Not to be found. Color seems to be an intruder from a modern design perspective and I’m not sure that I agree. If you have one of those burgundy toilets, keep it as a relic of the past.

Designing is an art and sometimes a science when you think of the dimensions and need for a perfect fit. With glass, you must be super careful about measurements. Ready-made systems that cost around a thousand dollars or more are a good way to go. They have done all the hard work for you. Just get your carpenter in to prep the walls. It is so nice to get a new bathroom, especially when they don’t age well. It can change the complexion of an entire house.

Fabulous Fan Designs

Color and décor. These simple words go hand in hand, as tightly knit as a woven basket. You can’t have a wonderful interior realm without the perfect color palette, the right textures, and the most suitable accessories. Surprises and whimsical gestures make a place inviting and exciting unlike any others. You want to avoid cookie cutter looks at all costs. Get creative and make your space shine.

Lighting is the pearl in your oyster when it comes to the world of interior design. In fact, lighting is high on my list of considerations to warm up a room and add singular flair for myself or others. Lamps, ceiling fans, chandeliers, sconces all have design potential as they imbue a room with atmosphere. Soft, bright, warm, cool, ambient light—it is all different in affect. Natural light is great during the day (and make the most of it); but at night, lamps and shades come into real play. Sizes, shapes, textures, colors, patterns are all possible and welcome. Pros have a catalog of them at all times in their minds.

Coordinating diverse elements is an art and almost a science. The choices are legion and you can become easily overwhelmed. Most interior decorators focus on ordinary lamps when it comes to lighting—table and free-standing—but often neglect ways of sprucing up a space with more personality. I find fans to do the trick in any room from the kitchen to the bedroom. People don’t always ask for them and they are not vital requirements. Looking into it, you will be delighted at the options available and the creative uses supplied.

Plain walls, modern furniture, tile floors, sleek appliances. It can get monotone and dull. Add a ceiling fan and suddenly there is a whole new vibe. In a kitchen, you can circulate air and eliminate odors while you add visual appeal. Selecting the right glass insert is the key. The same goes for bedrooms, dens, rec rooms, and basement retreats. Each can have a different fixture in tune with the walls, floors, and furniture. Wood slats can’t be beat for richness and a luxurious feel in cherry, maple, oak, or walnut. Matching painted blades to a room can make them fade quietly into the ceiling. They are lower key when you want bedding or drapes to be more salient.

Thus, a fan is an element often overlooked that can make a huge difference, especially on a budget, especially in the bathroom. You need to have one of the best bathroom fans to keep mold away. There is nothing like it to add quick and easy pizzazz to a room—assembled and installed in less than an hour. I love some of the fabulous designer looks that have two-tone color schemes, metal instead of wood, neon plastic for kids, and chrome or brass detailing. You can go for shiny, brushed, oiled bronze, or antique finishes. Take your pick, there are plenty of ceiling fan reviews out there. Fans don’t have to be tradition or staid. Paint them with your own designs or have the family pitch in. Cover them with a textured surface or leave them sleek and matte. The sky is the limit (or rather the ceiling I should say).

We Demand … A Shrubbery!

images (2)

Aside from their obvious ability to beautify our indoor spaces, plants can also provide tangible health benefits when brought inside the home. Studies have shown that plants, which take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen, vastly improve air quality inside a room. Some plants have even been shown to eliminate allergens and toxins from the air – a health benefit for all nearby humans and animals. When making a decorating plan, consider forgoing neat freak impulses to avoid dirt, and make a few finishing touches with appropriate and lovely plants. Popular and easy indoor plants include Norfolk Island Pines, Chinese Evergreens, Grape Ivy, Spider Plants, and Hoyas. Popular blooming houseplants include the African Violet, the Hibiscus, the Peace Lily, the Jasmine, and the Calamondin orange.

The two major considerations in choosing indoor plants are light levels and temperature. All plants need light to thrive, so putting a potted plant in a completely lightless room is not an option. Some plants, however, have adapted to low-light conditions, and will do perfectly fine inside the house. Think of the natural environment of the forest. Beneath the canopy of trees are literally thousands of plant species perfectly happy to live in the shade, off the minimal light which streams down through the gaps in the leaves. These are the types of plants that will do well in your home.

Temperature should also be carefully regulated around houseplants. Too much sunlight will cause too much heat, which will lead to burnt leaves and dead plants. Heat from radiators or baseboard units can also harm houseplants, as can drafty windows and doors. Before making a trip to the local wholesaler or garden center, take a few minutes to think strategic placement. Determine key areas of the home that are well suited for plants. Then, decide what type of plants you would like – flowering or non-flowering. With those ideas in mind, go into the store armed with a plan. This will prevent needless wandering and indecision.

When shopping for houseplants, it is important to inspect the product before purchasing. Thoroughly inspect the leaves of the plant for signs of disease or insect activity, and put aside any plants that have obviously been nibbled upon. Get around inside the pot and feel the soil. If it’s not wet, the merchant has not been watering his wares regularly, and the plant is more likely to die once brought home. Check the bottom of the pot for protruding roots, which are an indication that the plant has outgrown its pot, but hasn’t been repotted. This can cause growth stunting, which can limit the future growth as well. Finally, choose plants that appear healthy and are about medium size. If flowering, there should be plenty of buds present, but they should be closed. Try not to buy flowering plants that have already bloomed.

It is important to be flexible with plant choices. Despite the care labels included with all plants, choosing and locating plants in the home can sometimes be a hit-or-miss operation. Nuances of particular rooms or hallways might not be apparent until after a plant location has been chosen. Do be willing to move non-thriving plants around until each one has its own “sweet spot”. Most importantly of all, give regular attention to your new plant companions. Water according to directions and remove any dead spots as they appear.

Color in Fashion: Match Your Look and Your Colors

This season, as many in the recent past, have extolled color, hoping to wipe out the dominance of black. People are generally afraid to wear color, but it seems to be getting better as they venture into forest green or deep purple. Not much in the way of risk-taking, but it is a start.

Color, however, can make or break a look. It can transform a person from drab and blah to stunning and eye-catching. No matter the time of year or the occasion, sporting hues is never taboo. I admire a guy who can wear an orange shirt without flinching or a woman who can accent her hair with pink or green. Customizing appearance is what it is all about. Sewing and fashion bloggers, such as She Likes to Sew, along with following the right selection of Pinterest and Instagram accounts is sure to leave you with an infinite number of ideas. Be an individual with overt pride.

You can take charge of your image by taking a look at your wardrobe. Do you have some basics that you can mix and match? Do you have some dominant primary colors that you can pair with black, gray, or brown? Does your clothing match your self-image? Color is as much a form of expression as the cut of a jacket or the shape of a skirt. You should match it to your mood, lifestyle, and environment. If you live in New England, you may relish tweeds and plaids in rich, warm tones of bronze or burnt umber. If you call Arizona home, you may feel at home in yellows and corals when out in the sun. Everything goes in Florida but not in Washington DC.

I remember a TV reality show where a contestant had to choose from three sets of clothing. Each had a color theme and particular style. A new haircut and makeup design went with the choice. It was interesting to see what the show stylists put together to suit the candidate’s personality, and also what that person thought was flattering for her. Watching the show over many months revealed quite a variation since each group of items was hand-picked week after week. It taught me a lot about color coordination for one thing and also what it means to create a “look.” All the items in a set matched in tone and spirit.

Most people define basics as colorless. Beige, tan, off-white, slate, charcoal, and camel. They never say red or green. At best navy (even though it is still hard to find shoes in this color). It is time to give color its due in fashion and encourage more people to emulate what they see on the runway. Designers work overtime to inspire with new looks, which includes wonderful textures, patterns, and colors. The latter get names like palomino, auburn, and primrose. Wearing sea spray or marigold can only make you feel good! So I vote for more color either alone as an accent or as a central theme that marks your inner essence. You will be following the trend, but in your own unique way. In the minority, you will be a harbinger of change and a locus of personal style.

You can shop around for clothes with the colors you require. Or you could try crafting your own clothes. Pick up a sewing machine and the best color fabric you can find and away you go.

Colors for Modern Bathrooms

A bathroom represents a space for personal hygiene. Therefore, it has to be functional, pleasing to the eye and suitable for day to day usage. In ancient cultures, a bathroom was a place of relaxation and health. Nowadays, modern bathrooms are getting the look of a small wellness oasis in order for people to relax and clean their bodies and spirits from everyday stress.

A bathroom becomes by each new day a true oasis of each home. Every day, we spend a lot of time there. We make ourselves prettier and relax. We basically start our day in the bathroom, but also we finish it in the bathroom as well. There are so many reasons for a bathroom to be pretty, prettier, the prettiest.

Along with the sanitary, ceramic tiles are the main features of the bathroom. Esthetic criteria play a huge role when choosing tiles for our bathroom. If you have a small bathroom, lighter tones are the best choice. When renovating a bathroom, think globally. Think about the colors you will be using, the sanitary, shower heads, sink and all those things that a bathroom can not go without. Try to visualise your future bathroom. Think about the color of your shower and other sanitation. Try to incorporate all that in one harmonious whole.

In rooms that do not have plenty of natural light, it would be a good idea to use pastel tones, different shades of white color, beige and alike gentle nuances. Imitation of wooden and stone surfaces is an inexhaustible source for interior design. In a bathroom, just like in any other room in the house, it is nice to have a classic ceramics with light colors. Besides the elegance that the ceramics give to the space, it is always in the trend. You can never go wrong with them.

Ceramic tiles have an important esthetic function, and they enrich the space, but never the less, their role in a home is not just esthetically. They protect the walls from moisture; they make cleaning very easy, and they are durable and long lasting.

Modern bathrooms contain a lot of luxury details, from decorations and lights to mirrors. With all this in mind, it is very important to find a unique solution which will please our needs towards the practical, beautiful and functional elements. Everyone needs a place to relax, gather their thoughts and recharge the batteries, so to speak.

When redecorating your bathroom it is important to think about the color of tiles in order to create A Great Shower experience every morning. Colors are the most important in a whole story. For example; red color will have a cheerful and vivid effect. Yellow, on the other hand, will have a soothing effect. Green is also nice and pleasant to the eyes.

No matter what color you choose, it is important to incorporate the colors of tiles with the color of other elements in the bathroom. Bathroom accessories are an integral part of any bathroom. Although small, these beautifully designed bathroom fittings embellish the look of a modern bathroom.

Choosing and Planning a Color Scheme


Interior decoration comes naturally to some people, while others feel lost and at the mercy of poor decorating decisions. If you are among those who have no sense of color coordination, hiring a decorator is an option, though a costly one. Another choice is to seek out friendly advice, especially from those who have a flair for well-coordinated decorating. Yet another option is to borrow decorating tips from television shows. There are a variety of home-improvement shows across a number of different channels. These shows provide a wealth of decorating advice, and are certainly a good place to begin researching decorating ideas. Books and magazines are another source of decorating advice. Flipping through the pages of a do-it-yourself book or magazine can provide divine decorating inspiration. You might even start to learn a thing or two about decorating.

A common mistake made in room design is failing to create, and then follow, a plan. Many people get involved in decorating projects without a clear idea of desired end results. This can lead not only to disastrous, clashing choices, but also to costly and often unnecessary do-overs. To ensure successful room design, start with a concept, a focal piece or focal idea, and let the color scheme and decorating choices radiate outwards from that first inspiration. A color scheme might be fueled by nature, in the way that the rolling hills of Italy inspire Tuscan design. Objects in the home can also inspire color choices. A patterned shower curtain or hand towel or even a painted dinner plate can provide a starting point for a room’s décor.

When approaching paint colors, it is a really good idea to start with samples. A color that looks good on a tiny, square color card might look awful when spread room-wide. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to tell what will work and what will not until the painting is done. Most reputable paint suppliers sell small jars of popular paint colors just for this purpose, priced reasonably as samples. Don’t be afraid to buy a whole range of different colors to take home and try out on the walls. When trying out samples, don’t just cram a bunch of different colors onto one wall. Instead, spread them out over the entire room, even painting the same color on different walls to see the color from multiple perspectives. Just remember to label each sample swatch in light pencil so you don’t accidentally choose the wrong color when it comes time for the real paint job.

Hot Design

Fireplaces are among the most polarizing of decorating subjects in the modern home. Some people consider a fireplace sacrosanct and refuse to modernize it in any form, while others are more open to paint and refinishing options or even (gasp) covering up a fireplace with drywall. “One thing that is certain about fireplaces and decorating is that they cannot simply be ignored,” says Philip Connor of  Even the tiniest of hearths must be considered when choosing the right décor for a space.

An exposed brick fireplace can be decorated to compliment any color scheme, whether modern or traditional, warm or cool. Many options are available for different finishes in fireplace doors, and wooden mantels can be painted, refinished or even replaced altogether. Stone mantels are a little more difficult and expensive to replace and have fewer decorating options, but can still complement almost any décor. A more expensive option to dress up a fireplace is to add marble tiles of any color. Ornately carved fireplace surround pieces, though costly, are available as well, and come in a variety of paint colors and wood finishes.

A controversial though permanent option is also to paint exposed brick. Brick can really be painted in any color, though choosing a color other than white is not for the faint of heart. Before painting a fireplace, it is a good idea to take some time to really think the choice over. For one thing, once a fireplace is painted, it can’t be unpainted – the only option is to change the color. Also take time to consider color choices other than white. A six-foot wide swath of bright blue fireplace in the middle of a family room, for example, might cause some decorating difficulties in the future. Properly done, however, and with the right tools, a freshly painted fireplace can breathe new life into tired décor.

Traditional, wood burning fireplaces are being frequently replaced with the advent of new fireplace inserts like these ones here. One of the main reasons for this is cleanliness. There is no escaping the dirt associated with a wood-burning fireplace, and this is a turn off for many. Gas inserts provide a cleaner option, especially for those who suffer from allergies that might be irritated by wood-burning fireplaces. Electric fireplaces that provide completely fake flames are also available. While these lack the homey feel of a real fire, they are a clean and safe option. One thing to consider when choosing a fireplace style is cost. A traditional, wood-burning fireplace will cost little outside of routine maintenance. Gas inserts require a gas supply line, whether to a tank or public gas service. Both options will be a little more expensive, especially with the fluctuating cost of gas. Electric fireplaces might seem like the least expensive, but since they plug into the wall, they draw from a home’s electricity supply and can raise electric bills. Costs vary from person to person and with the charge for electricity from the local company.

Painting and Decorating the Smallest Room in the House

For most of us, the smallest room in the house – the bathroom – often provides the biggest decorating challenges. There are two very basic cardinal rules when approaching the décor of a small room.

One: avoid dark colors, as they will have the effect of making the room appear smaller.

Two: minimize the stuff in the room. For example, in a tiny bedroom, you would want to avoid heavy, thick oak furniture that dominates the room, and instead pick light and airy pieces, perhaps made of wrought iron, or that are minimalistic in nature. This same approach applies to decorating a small bathroom. Both rules can be bent a little when approaching bathroom décor, but in general, should be followed.

Don’t assume that the rule against dark colors means that a tiny bathroom must be completely colorless. If you must paint dark, save it for trim or on an accent wall. Painting one wall a contrasting color from the other three walls will make a tiny space appear larger to the eye. If your bathroom is taller than it is wide, painting the same color all the way up – ceiling too – will also make the space seem larger. Do avoid painting the entire bathroom white. Just because it is tiny, doesn’t mean that it has to be dull and boring. If you do go with one basic color, spruce it up with stenciling or accent colors.

Many people approach the “small stuff” rule with some confusion, wondering, how do I make the stuff in my bathroom smaller? We don’t often realize that toilets and sinks do come in different sizes. When shopping for a commode for a small bathroom, ask to see the compact models – the best toilets on the market today tend to shrink the amount of floor space taken up by the unit without compromising on comfort. The difference in size is miniscule enough to be unnoticeable when using the toilet, but large enough to save on room space. In a small bathroom, it is also a good idea to make use of a pedestal sink. Another option is a sink that hangs from the wall with no pedestal or base. There are many attractive options in the hanging style that will keep your home bathroom from resembling a barroom stall.

Finally, to keep your small bathroom from appearing cramped, don’t clutter it up with a lot of nonsense or decoration on the walls. One way to create the illusion of space is to hang a larger mirror, but that should be the biggest thing in the room – and – avoid a mirror with a large, ornate frame. Avoid large, clunky shelving systems on the walls and keep any accent pieces minimalistic in nature.

Feng Shui

images (1)

Feng Shui refers to the ancient Chinese principles of spatial arrangement. The phrase comes from the Chinese words for wind (feng) and water (shui). It originated in the belief that both good and evil spiritual influences live in all spaces, From that belief, a system developed for arranging spaces, both public and private, to maximize those forces. Decorating according to Feng Shui principles can be complicated at first, and seeking the help of a guidebook is a good idea. There is no rule, however, that says all decorating choices must adhere to Feng Shui rules, and small touches can be added wherever appropriate.

An essential element of Feng Shui is chi, the omnipresent energy that permeates everything around us. In Feng Shui decorating, the essential goal is to create and maintain a good flow of chi through a living space so that the flow of chi through the body is maximized. Feng Shui decorating seeks to avoid the blockage of chi through a space, which would then negatively impact the flow of chi to the body. Examples of blocked chi would include a doorway that opens to a wall or closet, and rooms overwhelmed by clutter and disorganization. Chi can also be lost through misaligned spaces. In a home where there is a direct line between the entrance door and an exit door, chi would be said to be lost.

Another essential element of Feng Shui decorating is the principle of Yin and Yang. The Yin and Yang theory holds that the universe is composed of two complimentary forces, the Yin, or feminine, and the Yang, or masculine. These forces permeate everything around us, work together, and cannot exist without each other. In a basic sense Yin as a female energy is expressed in black, and Yang as male energy is expressed in white. As energy, Yin is soft, slow, passive and silent, while Yang is aggressive, unyielding, and active. A home decorated according to the principles of Feng Shui will have a healthy balance of these two energies.
An easy way to apply Feng Shui in decorating a home is through the interaction of color. A guide called the Bagua offers direction as to color arrangement in a Feng Shui home. Each color is associated with a different directional area of the home, such as the south or north area. The five elements of Feng Shui color are wood, represented by brown and green; fire, represented by red, orange, purple, pink and strong yellows; earth, represented by light yellows, beige or skin colors, and earth or sandy colors; metal, represented by gray and white colors; water, represented by blue and black colors.

Basic Feng Shui decorating begins with identifying a purpose for each room, how it will be used and who will be using it, and then choosing a focal piece for each room. In addition to maximizing chi, the overall goal in Feng Shui decoration is to create a safe and comfortable space in your own home.


The Heart of The Home: Kitchen Design and Color

Kitchen hardware has come a long way in recent years, and is far more varied than the few faucet options that were available to our parents and grandparents. Choosing a hardware scheme that coordinates well with the color and décor of the rest of the kitchen is sometimes quite a daunting task. In general, hardware selection is more about creating an overall feel for the room than it is about matching specific colors. Start with the basics and determine if the kitchen has a traditional or modern feel to it.

Traditional décor, for example, a room with a Tuscan or Old World style, will look best with darker hardware, oil rubbed bronze, a weathered copper or even a polished brass. More traditional decors also match with hardware with smooth, rounded edges. These finishes will pair well with the warm and inviting reds, browns, and yellows of a Tuscan-style kitchen. Modern décor is more stark and angular. Modern finishes include chrome, aluminum, stainless steel, and brushed nickel, among others. Most modern hardware is elongated and rectangular, and goes for a sleek look. Handles are usually paired with modern styles over knobs. These contemporary pieces often pair well with the bright and bold colors of modern décor.

Once the initial choice between traditional and modern is made, the next step is to decide whether or not all of the hardware – from choosing a kitchen faucet and handles to cabinet pulls to light fixtures – will match exactly. Although many people prefer the uniformity of matching finishes across all areas of kitchen hardware, there is no hard and fast rule that dictates matching is necessary. Mixing is cool – even mixing across completely different finishes. Just try to keep some sort of coordinating element between different pieces. For example, combining hardware in three different silver-colored metals, perhaps brushed nickel, satin nickel, and chrome, would be fine because the base color stays the same. Another option would be to mix oil-rubbed bronze faucets with brass. When mixing, keep in mind that the eye will always be drawn to features that are not the same. Make sure that mixed features always coordinate in some way.

One caveat for mixing finishes is to be aware of room size. A tiny kitchen will feel more uniform if it has matching fixtures, and disorganized if it does not. A larger kitchen, with more open space and light to draw the eye away from hardware finishes, can accommodate mixed fixtures. Also be aware of cabinet finishes when choosing hardware. Different fixtures mix in different ways with wood cabinets than with painted cabinets. If you happen to have white cabinets, you’re in luck, as they match with almost any hardware finish.

Interior Design 101: A Breakdown


Interior design is often confused with interior decorating. Even though these two terms are often used interchangeably, you are likely to cause offense by applying the decorator title to a true interior designer. Although in the United States there is no countrywide legal designation between the two, at least 20 states have some sort of recognition of the profession of Interior Design. In these states, an interior designer must have a license or certification to call themselves interior designers. There are many organizations for Interior Designers, including the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC), International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NICDQ), which administers a qualifying exam for interior design students. When choosing an interior decorator, it is a good idea to get a feel for the person’s qualifications by determining if they belong to one or another of these organizations. Most hold rigorous standards for membership. Keep in mind, however, that having a certification might mean no more than the person was able to pass a test, which doesn’t really say much about their ability to design spaces.

According to the website of the American Society of Interior Designers, interior design is a “… total creative solution for a programmed interior. It encompasses the conceptual planning, aesthetic and technical solutions applied … [and] concerns itself with more than just the visual or ambient enhancement of an interior space, it seeks to optimize and harmonize the uses to which the build environment will be put.” Perhaps doubly confusing is that interior designers do the work of an interior decorator. The distinction seems to come in that interior designers do more. Typically, an interior designer will follow a project through from start to finish. Interior designers also do more than single rooms. A giant office complex or apartment building might hire an interior designer to create the layout of a multi-floor building. Interior designers also take into consideration all the aspects of a space. In considering the plan for a space, the interior designer will create a plan that encompasses functionality, aesthetic appeal, accessibility, environmental sustainability, and even safety. It is the job of the interior designer to make sure that all of these aspects come together in a presentation that is as attractive to the eye as it is practical to use.

Interior designers will often come in on a project in the earliest stages, when still in the architectural design phase, and will help prepare documents and supervise the construction period. An interior designer can be very helpful in dealing with layers of bureaucracy, and a skilled interior designer will be an expert in navigating the paperwork and policy that accompanies construction. Most interior designers – the good ones at least – are highly qualified and will have years of education and long lists of referrals to back up their qualifications.

The Psychology Of Color


Experts have long known that color affects individuals in ways that transcend basic aesthetic appreciation. As humans, we have palpable emotional responses to different colors. The study of these responses is collectively known as color psychology. Understanding the basics of color psychology can help in creating a pleasing color scheme in the home. Each basic color carries with it not only social connotations but also emotional overtones.

White generally represents purity or innocence, and in a home can convey a sense of spaciousness and freshness. Though easy, a color scheme based entirely in white will turn out seeming dull and sterile. Save white for ceilings and as an accent color to make other colors pop.

Black has long carried associations of death and negativity and is probably not the best color to paint an entire room, unless it has a specific purpose (like a dark room for developing pictures). Definitely save black for small accents or decorative purposes.

Yellow carries overtones of happiness and optimism. Too much yellow, however, can have the opposite effect and can sometimes make people feel hostile or angry. Bright yellow can cause eyestrain because of the amount of light it reflects back at the eye. If you’re going to paint a room yellow, break it up with white or another accent color, or try a muted yellow in the earth tone family.

Red carries very strong emotional connections. Think of all the emotional extremes that are associated with red, like both love and anger (or hate). Studies have also shown that red makes us hungry. Red as a room color can be warm, inviting, comforting and passionate. Applied poorly, though, red can also create feelings of anxiousness or anger. In the home, avoid bright red and opt instead for more muted shades. Even then, avoid painting an entire room red. Instead, consider a red accent wall, or pair reds with another contrasting color, split vertically by a chair rail.

As a combination of both yellow and red, orange carries the associations of both yellow and red: warmth, energy, and excitement. Orange is also a very cheerful color and exudes confidence. Bright orange (think of the Home Depot logo) might be too strong to use on a whole room. Earthy oranges such as terra cotta or lighter oranges in the apricot family will make a room feel homey and inviting.

Green carries overtones of energy and renewal since it is strongly associated with nature and has been an enduring symbol of fertility. Emotionally, green evokes tranquility, health, and calm … but also is associated with jealousy (remember Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster?). In a color scheme, green can be inviting and refreshing. Light greens leave a room looking bright and airy, whereas a dark green can make a room feel cramped if not applied properly.

Emotionally, blue carries calming and tranquil overtones, which may have something to do with its association with water. Blue has a tendency to make people feel more secure than other colors. Studies have shown that people are more productive in blue rooms, but also that blue can lead to feelings of sadness or melancholy. Despite this, blue remains the most popular color for wall paint.

Purple is associated with royalty and wealth and also wisdom and spirituality. Many wildflowers are purple – thistles, violets, irises, orchids – which may be where the wisdom association comes from. Many people avoid purple in decorating schemes, which makes it a good color if you’re looking for something unique. Darker purples should be limited to accents, while light, airy purples, like lilac or orchid can be used room-wide.

Earth tones are all the rage these days, leading to many popular variations on brown. Brown evokes comfort, strength, reliability and security but can also cause feelings of sadness and isolation. Darker browns are great as accent colors and more neutral shades are great room-wide.

Like red, pink is associated with love and romance, and is also thought to have a calming effect on people. Even though it is mostly associated with the bedrooms of young girls, pink can be successfully used to paint any room in the home. A light, petal pink can work well in almost any room in the house.