Some of us are lucky enough to have a foyer or entry hall where we can drop keys, take off our jackets, and transition slowly into our homes in anticipation of the warm comforts ahead. But many of us, unfortunate as we are, live in apartments or houses where a front door opens directly into our living rooms. No graceful transitions. No place to drop the keys or store the shoes. No nothing.
In this unpleasant situation, there ARE steps you can take to provide a sense of transition, however. Here’s what to bear in mind:
1) Create the illusion of an entryspace by using objects that serve as boundaries. Your main objective in creating an entryway is to provide an emotional and physical passageway for those entering your home. Furniture and objects that can help provide this sense can be as simple as a rug, but might also include a chair, a table, a coat rack or a hanging pendant lamp. In the photo below, the homeowner has used a rug, a storage bench and a key holder to provide a sense of transition.
2) Make use of barriers to prevent a livingroom view from the front door. Preventing guests from seeing directly into the livingroom from the front door provides privacy, but also a pleasant sense of anticipation when entering a home. A good way to obstruct views is with movable barriers that could include see-through bookshelves, a folding screen, a hanging cloth panel, potted plants, or a low console table. Barriers of this type can effectively provide a transitional space without stealing much space from the living room itself, and it can add a sense of drama to a room. Below, a screen by O’Hare and D’Jafer provides a dramatic barrier in an entryway.
3) Create your own storage options. Look for furniture or storage bins that can be placed near the entry to provide a place for keys, coats and shoes. A storage bench is a great option for storing shoes while also providing a place to sit when taking shoes off. In very small quarters, simple hooks on the wall can help create storage for coats, etc.
4) Arrange the furniture in the living room in a way that creates separation from the entry. In many cases, this may involve creating tightly-arranged conversation groupings that face AWAY from the front door. Many people opt to float a sofa in the middle of a room with its back to the front door, thus creating a walkway apart from the livingroom conversation area. What you definitely want to avoid is lining furniture up against walls which will give a livingroom the feel of a doctor’s office waiting room. Below, two couches facing each other floated in the middle of the room backed by a console table creates the feeling of a ”room within a room,” successfully addressing the direct access entryway dilemma.
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Not all of us can boast a master bedroom suite complete with sitting area, dressing area and private bath. In fact, many more of us are stuck with small, 10 x 12 foot bedrooms that are sometimes so tight they can be difficult to furnish. If this is your case, you’ve probably lamented from time to time over your tight night-time quarters.
But wait. There’s no reason a small bedroom has to be a problem. In fact, it can be an opportunity to create a focused, restful space that can actually be far more functional than a huge bedroom would. All you have to do is keep a few basic principles in mind.
1) Keep it simple. Choose unadorned, small-scale furniture, and rethink the idea of heavy bedroom sets with the requisite matching bedside tables, dresser, etc. All you really need in your bedroom is a bed!
2) Keep it neutral. Stick with restful colors in the same palette. Avoid too many patterns and prints. If you go for print, go for one print only. While there is no strict rule that you can’t use bright or dark colors, paler colors usually feel lighter and more restful in a small space.
3.) Think built-ins. Eliminate furniture like headboards and bedside tables in favor of sleek built-ins that take over these functions in one fell swoop. A headboard that also doubles as a bookshelf and bedside table is one excellent way of creating space. So is a built-in closet and storage unit. Look for bed frames with storage or drawers underneath the bed. Consider eliminating a headboard in favor of simple framed artwork or wallpaper above the bed.
4.) Go low. Small rooms with high ceilings automatically seem bigger. But if you don’t have the high ceilings, consider a low-to-the-ground Asian style bed and tables. Low furniture takes up less visual space, making a small room feel much larger than it actually is.
5.) Avoid flounce. Too many ruffles, or too many heavy fabrics or lace weigh a room down. Choose lightweight linen-like fabrics for bedspreads and window treatments. Forgo curtains in favor of simpler clean-lined shades that can roll up out of sight.
6) Don’t forget lighting. The appropriate lighting can work wonders in a small space. Recessed lights under or over shelving, strategically placed to emphasize artwork or create mood, can instantly expand the space in a small bedroom.
7.) Don’t forget the drama. Just because a space is small doesn’t mean you have to relinquish all dramatic flare. Choose one statement-making element. A dramatic pendant lamp, a beautiful painting, a framed mirror or an antique carved headboard, can provide that sense of drama that defines a space. Just don’t try doing it all at once.
8.) Edit and declutter regularly. Get rid of knick-knacks and other non-essential decorative items. Consider eliminating any object that has nothing to do with sleep — including TVs, bookshelves, and chairs.
With these few design principles in mind, a tiny bedroom can feel far cozier and more restful than even the most palacial bedroom.
Wood. Linoleum. Tile. Carpet.
When it comes to choosing floor coverings, the options are many, and growing all the time. Ever considered cork, seagrass, poured resins or engineered woods? You should.
So if it’s time to choose a floor covering for your home and you find yourself stuck, here are 10 options:
1.) Solid Wood.
A classic choice, wood is hardwearing and practical but feels high-end too. One of the best things about wood is that it can stand up to kids and pets, and needs to be refinished only every few years. Although it is more expensive to install than carpet, the value is much higher because it will never need to be replaced. If you want a narrow room to appear wider, choose narrow boards. For a large room, wide boards help provide balance. Choose wood with knots and color variations for a rustic feel. Trend tip: The hottest look has moved away from the dark woods and finishes of the last few years back to blonde woods.
2.) Carpet. Because carpet is often the cheapest choice in floor coverings, a lot of people look down on it. Yet, carpet can be appropriate in many settings, especially in low-traffic areas like bedrooms. The big advantage: carpet provides sound insulation, helps with energy conservation and it doesn’t necessarily require a level surface for installation. And although there is a certain “ick” factor in carpets that are only cleaned rarely, carpets can trap allergens and dust which can be vacuumed up regularly. When choosing carpet, look for a loop or twist pile of 80 percent wool/20 percent nylon blend for the best look and durability. Trend tip: More and more people using carpet in stairways and halls are going for stripes.
3.) Poured resin. Looking for an extremely modern look that isn’t concrete? Consider poured resin (pictured above), which is decidedly warmer than concrete but still waterproof and hygienic. Poured resin can be poured into very large spaces without visible joints or seams and works well in kitchens and bathroom. Trend tip: Although white is always in style, the hot look in poured resin is vividly-colored lacquers.
4). Porcelain Tiles. Harder wearing than ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are virtually maintenance free. They cost more than ceramic tiles and usually need to be installed by a professional since they need to be properly bedded and spaced, as they can expand and contract. Trend tip: Latest looks come in metallic finishes, modern weaves and wood effects.
5.) Bamboo. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly floor choice, bamboo is the way to go, since it can be harvested every 3 to 5 years, unlike the 15 to 25 years for most wood. It wears well and comes in many color choices. Trend tip: Glossy, almost black bamboo is hot, especially in rooms with an East Asian feel.
6.) Concrete. The big advantage of concrete is its durability and industrial chic factor. It can also be poured onto an existing floor with no need for leveling and needs resealing only every seven years. The down side is that concrete is cold, and can feel a little bit too stark in cold climates. Concrete can look especially good in indoor/outdoor settings where an outdoor patio adjoins an indoor living space. Trend tip: Wax concrete floors for a high-sheen finish. Color choices also range far beyond just the standard grey.
7.) Cork. If you’re looking for an anti-slip floor, you can’t do better than cork, which can help impede falls and is a natural fire retardant. It is also a great choice for those looking for sound and energy insulation but who don’t want to go the carpet route. Trend tip: Pale shades, greys, dark browns and metallics are gaining favor over the traditional light brown.
8.) Laminate. Laminate floors were trendier a few years ago than they are now. Perhaps that’s because too many people bought cheap laminate floors that bubbled and warped. These days, high-quality laminates are the norm and are perfect for high-traffic areas. They should not be used in areas like bathrooms or kitchens where water will encourage laminates to warp. Trend tip: Look for laminates with a textured surface for a more realistic finish.
9) Stone. Widely-used in mediterranean countries, marble, limestone, granite and basalt floors are classic and elegant. The advantage is that they are perfect for high-traffic areas and generally can last a lifetime or two. The disadvantages is that stone is porous and can stain and must be protected with a sealant. Stone can also feel very cold in cold-weather climes. Trend tip: The most modern look is large-scale matte tiles.
10.) Natural flooring. If you’re looking for something softer than stone or wood but you’re not quite ready for carpet, natural fiber floors may be your best choice. Floors of jute, seagrass, coir and sisal can be hard-wearing in high-traffic areas and classier-looking than carpet. The down side of natural flooring: it can be slippery and scratchy on bare feet. Trend tip: Like with most other flooring options, the color ranges are far broader than before. Coir, for example, come in back, grey, chocolate and a stripe mix.
Image: Mark C. O’Flaherty
image: s. murray construction
Remodeling your attic can gain you some extra living square footage you can use for a home office, guest room, children’s playroom, and even for a bathroom. What was considered only a storage space can now increase your home’s comfort and square footage.
First of all it is necessary to consult a specialist to check if your attic is suitable for remodeling. Is it structurally sound? Does my home’s electrical system, water pipes and air conditioning units allow for remodeling the attic?
The second thing you should do is set a budget. Consider a realistic sum to throw into this undertaking; the money spent should be at least equal to the benefits you’ll get from remodeling the attic.
Make a list of the supplies you’ll need, including prices; conform with the budget.
image: apartment therapy
Look at your attic’s walls. Do they need refinishing? If yes, then think about drywall or paneling. Advantages and shortcomings: drywall – cheaper but requires more work; paneling – more expensive than drywall, but easier to install.
What about the floor? Generally floor covering is determined by the room’s purpose. If you decide to make out of your old attic a brand new bedroom or children’s playroom, carpet is the best choice. For a home office or a guest room hardwood flooring is perfect. Though it’s pricier, it’s durable and will repay in time.
Furnishing: choosing furniture for your freshly remodeled attic isn’t a big deal; it’s like furnishing a room with the same purpose on the lower levels. However, there is one thing you should take into consideration – the roof. It comes in various shapes and inclinations, so keep it in mind.
image: apartment therapy
Maybe you’ve spent years looking for the perfect couch. But somehow, every couch seems to have a gigantic flaw. Or maybe you’ve spent decades reconsidering drapes for your den. But do you want drapes, or blinds or shoji screens?
Decorating paralysis can hit no matter how large or small your decorating project. You’re a victim if you’re still waiting to unpack boxes and arrange furniture in a home you moved into five years ago. You’re a victim if you find yourself explaining year after year what you plan to hang on your empty walls. How can you overcome it?
1.) Get over your fear. Behind all decorating paralysis is the fear of making a mistake. You want to buy a leather couch because it’s durable, but you’re afraid that it will feel uncomfortable — sticky and hot in the summer and cold in the winter. So you don’t buy a couch at all. After all, a fabric couch could never stand up to the kids. What are you afraid of? Making a choice you’ll regret. How do you get over that fear? Realize that whatever choice you make will involve trade-offs. True, a leather couch may not be as soft as a fabric couch, but isn’t that preferable to the destruction of the couch within a week of its arrival in your home? And if leather isn’t comfortable but functional, can you ameliorate this problem with fabric throws, pillows and cushions? Maybe so. Finally, if you buy that leather couch and later regret it, you can always put it up for sale on Craig’s List.
2.) Develop an overall plan. A lot of decorating paralysis comes about because people don’t know what they want. So buy decorating magazines and create a file of pictures of rooms that appeal to you. Over time, you’ll see a theme develop. Maybe you like clean lines and modern interiors. Maybe you like informal, “shabby chic” rooms. Or perhaps you prefer more traditional styles. If you notice a consistent theme, you’ve hit upon YOUR look.
3.) Break a big job into smaller jobs. You want to totally redecorate your living room. And yet, it seems like a mammoth project. You can help move your project along by tackling things step by step. First, spend one weekend focused on decluttering your space and getting rid of things you no longer want or use. Next weekend, focus on repainting. Some other weekend, focus on finding and buying a bookshelf or organizational system. If you’ve done step number two, you’ll already know the overall look you’re going for and it will be easier to tackle individual projects, one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed.
4.) Don’t shun hired help. Sometimes, in order to get off the fence about a decorating project, we need input from a professional. Professionals have the expertise and resources to cut through our fears and help us get to the core of what we want. And you don’t have to hire an interior decorator to redo your whole home or room. Plenty of designers will work with you on a small project — like helping you find the right couch for your home.
5.) Buy expensive items that are flexible. It can be pretty scary to lay out a lot of cash on a red couch. What happens if you tire of red in year or two? Our solution: look for options that allow you to indulge your decorating desires but in a flexible way. In this case, look for couches that come in slipcovers that can be changed out whenever you feel the urge.
6.) It’s only furniture. Finally, realize that there is no decorating choice that is irreversible. If you choose the wrong paint color, repaint. If you choose the wrong chair or couch, send it back or re-sell it on Craig’s List. There is no such thing as perfection and decorating is a continually evolving PROCESS that’s never truly finished. After all, it can’t be. You change. Styles change. That’s part of the fun, so embrace it.
It is the age of the Internet and with the world becoming a mini space in itself, many people are finding out fast that there are many comforts in working from a cubical that resides in your own home. For starters, you have the freedom of stretching out and making a snack for yourself at any moment you want and then there is the added comfort of not having to deal with the office hour rush on the streets and the subway.
In short, you are always a few paces away from work and in this time and age it’s surely a bonus. Here are a few ways to mark out and make the most of your home office…
Mark out a well-defined work space and keep it that way
Even if it’s just a corner with the system and a desk, make sure that you demarcate and clearly define your work space. Do not mix your office space with the rest of your home as not only will it make work harder for you, but will put your mood off as you start working with plenty of distractions.
Keep your space neat, organized and tidy
By maintaining your marked out and well-defined office space in a clean, clutter-free and organized fashion, you can save plenty of time and can make your work a lot more pleasant. Remember that mess hanging around not only pulls you down but makes it difficult for you to find stuff when in a hurry.
Pick a color scheme for your office space
Having a color scheme for your office space is both simple and gives a very stylish look to the entire area. The general preferred trend is to select two dominant colors and one minor color. While stuff like coffee mugs, pens and other office accessories on table can be shaded in the two dominant shades, the one minor shade can be used for stuff such as paper clips and less significant (tiny) objects to create an ambient feel.
Add storage spaces in accordance to your requirements
Any office space will obviously need storage spaces. Whether it is old fashioned files, cabinets and folders or cool CD racks for a trendier style, you will need something to hold all the mess. Get innovative and pick smart and durable furniture because they save you cash, space and add with their contemporary charm.
Prefer natural lighting
Arrange the lighting needs as per the nature of your work and timings. And in case you largely work during the day, ensure to maximize the usage of natural lighting. The theme of your office space can either be similar to the rest of the home or contrasting to give it its own unique feel so you’ll have to take the call on this one.
People worry about making small spaces seem larger, but what about the opposite problem? Large, cavernous spaces can also be a design dilemma. That’s because they often feel unwelcoming, disconnected, unplanned. They just don’t hang together. What’s the best way to combat this problem?
1.) Use warm, darker colors on walls. Warm colors can bring the walls in, and darker tones can enclose a space by absorbing light. So instead of going white, light and bright, consider mustard, muted pumpkin, cranberry red or olive green to help pull the walls forward. You can visually lower a ceiling by painting it a darker color.
2.) Select area rugs to help break up the space. One or more rugs — especially colorful patterned or textured rugs — can define areas within a room and pull furniture together.
3.) Consider floating furniture into cozy conversation groups. In a large room you’ll want traffic to flow along the perimeter rather than straight through the middle. Couches and chairs in the center of the room make the room feel connected and focused and will eat up more floor space. When you’ve got a large space, you can also think about arranging furniture on the diagonal — a no-no in most small settings.
4.) Divide a large room into different areas, according to purpose. In a family room you might include an area for watching TV, an area for arts, crafts and games, an area for quiet study and reading, and an area for dining.
5.) Use lots of artwork to help bring the room to scale. Artwork is another trick that can help bring walls forward. The key is to use artwork of the appropriate scale. If you have a huge, tall wall, use large pieces that don’t get lost. Tapestries can be especially effective. If you use smaller drawings or photos, group them together to form cohesive arrangements.
6.) Use larger furniture. A dainty apartment-sized couch will look out of scale in a huge room. Instead, consider a more substantial sectional that will adequately fill space. Although you will want one or two larger size pieces, it’s probably not a good idea to buy ALL over-sized furniture or you risk making the room feel oppressive.
7.) Consider built-ins. Larger rooms have the luxury of being able to comfortably house built-in bookshelves, entertainment systems, and window seats that would dominate a small room.
8.) Add accessories of the right scale. A large room calls for large plants or large sculpture. Plants and sculpture can help eat up space and mute wall parameters that would otherwise define a huge room. Other interesting space fillers include large pendant lamps in sculpted shapes and 3-D metal wall sculptures.