Category Archives: How-To

How to Choose a Kitchen Table: Interview with Susan Serra

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

Today, the kitchen isn’t just about cooking — it’s where we spend the majority of our time at home. We work, eat, play games and even watch TV in our kitchens. And today’s kitchen designs reflect this lifestyle — particularly when it comes to the kitchen table. “There’s been a strong trend toward open plan living, which means that ‘real’ living room furniture, accessories, lighting and artwork are moving into the kitchen,” says Susan Serra, CKD, President of Susan Serra Associates, Inc. Bringing furniture into your kitchen allows the space to flow seamlessly with the rest of your house.

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But how do you choose the right kitchen table? Do you need one if you already have an island? Read on for Serra’s professional tips to help you find the kitchen table that’s just right for your home.

Table or Island?

Even if you have a small kitchen, you can often put both an island and a table in the room if your layout allows. “Consider putting a table up against the back of an island, whether it’s a small table for two or a large table for eight,” says Serra. “It’s a custom look that saves space, looks great and functions well.”

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Impossible to fit both in your space? Think about which option will be more flexible in the long run. “Which one will allow you to do more with the space, other than dining? I.e., projects, prep, etc.,” says Serra.

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Size

What will your table or island’s purpose be?  Will you be entertaining? Working? Prepping for dinner? Also, consider how many people you want to sit comfortably at the table. If you have a dining room, you can probably afford a smaller table, but if you plan on serving most dinners in the kitchen you’ll need some extra seating.

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Space

During the kitchen design process, it’s easy to overlook the amount of space needed for a proper kitchen table. “The focus is usually placed on the kitchen work area and the dining area is often an afterthought,” says Serra. “In existing kitchens, when replacing a table, it’s a great time to reassess lifestyle issues as well as how much space you want surrounding the tables and chairs.” 

Are you on the hunt for a new kitchen table?  We may have just what you need.

Inspired by Color: 5 Easy Ways to Update Your Home with Color

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

It’s easy to fall in love with all whites or neutrals, but when the weather turns warm, it’s worth taking a risk with bold and bright colors that reflect the season. Don’t worry — it’s easier than it looks! Read on to learn our top five tips to bringing color into your home.

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Bedding: Since bedrooms are more private rooms than living rooms or dining rooms, it’s a little easier to take design risks without messing up the color scheme of an open floor plan. Try changing your bedding with the changing of the seasons! Fresh patterns, light fabrics and bright colors will give your bedroom a summery feel.

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Pillows: Throw pillows are an easy, affordable way to instantly update your decor. Change things up for summer and choose a single accent color (Or more, if you’re feeling daring!) in different patterns to spice up your living room, bedroom, outdoor living space and more.

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Art: Choosing art is harder than it looks. We know! Wall space is critical real estate in any home, and you want to make the right decision. But that doesn’t mean you have to play it safe — colorful, geometric patterns in classic frames can add an unexpected element to traditional and modern interiors.

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Dishes and glassware: Give your entertaining a seasonal boost and switch out your white dishes for something a little more festive. Turquoise, bright yellow and bold coral are surprisingly flexible colors that work well at any summer dinner party.

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Rugs: Don’t be afraid of using color on the floor! Brightly hued rugs help more neutral furniture stand out. Coordinate with the other textiles in the room, or mix and match patterns and colors for extra visual interest.

Tell us: How do you like to use color in your home?

 

 

Calculated Space: How to Set Up Your Home Office

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Shane Inman is an Interior Designer in New York City. Today, he’s sharing 5 simple tips to help you set up the perfect office work space.

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From dormitory to home office to corporate office, learn how to set up your work space for optimum success. Whether you work in a Fortune 500 headquarters or are spending your work hours in a college dorm room, the space where you choose to secure your future may be helping you or hindering you. Follow these five steps to transform any inefficient work space into a your own powerhouse of creativity and motivation.

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Location, location, location. The real estate that you choose to do all of your work is of the utmost importance. From a corner office to a spare closet, it needs to be all yours and off limits to the rest of the world. The most successful work environments are those where you can shut the door to avoid life’s interruptions. Place your desk in front of a window, if you are lucky enough to have one – the vitamin D will enhance your concentration and mood.

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Work on it. No matter if you have a traditional desk or stacked milk crates with a plywood top, you need to have an uncluttered work surface large enough to spread out easily, in order to enable you to work on a multitude of projects simultaneously.

Light it up. Task lighting and general lighting are both important when utilizing your work space. A freestanding lamp placed on your desk will assist you with reading, while overhead lighting will illuminate the entire space.

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Organization on every level. Everything needs to be impeccably organized, from the top of your desk to your filing cabinet. Any time you have to spend time searching for something is time away from what you really need to be doing.

Superior surroundings. Your office should be all your own. Decorate and design your environment with items that inspire and motivate you personally. Live plants release oxygen that is good for the body, and pictures of loved ones will remind you of why you are doing all of this in the first place.

Don’t underestimate your home office needs! Whether we are an ambitious college student or a chief executive officer, we all require our own calculated work space to thrive in our tasks.

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7 Ways to Decorate with White

Decorating, How-To | | | 4 Replies

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All white interiors usually bring two thoughts to mind: constant cleaning, or super boring. But the fact is, white interiors are anything but bland when done right. Like any other color, there are plenty of variations of white: warm whites, cool whites, blue whites, purple whites and more. Playing off of different hues and textures of whites can make any space interesting.

Keep reading for our top tips to decorating with white in your home!

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Soften your space. Warm whites can make a room feel soft and cozy. Look for whites with red, pink, orange or brown undertones.

Keep it crisp. Cool, bright whites make rooms feel fresh, crisp and modern. But be careful! Too many cool whites can start to feel clinical and cold.

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Add texture and layers. This works especially well in bedrooms. Mix and match different linens, quilts and cushions in all white.

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Don’t be afraid of white. It’s not as scary to clean as you might think! Washable paints, indoor/outdoor fabrics and washable slip covers can make things easy to clean. As designer Jeffrey Alan Marks said during our Facebook Chat, “I think that’s why bleach was invented!”

Go for contrast. Sometimes white is its most powerful when paired with a contrasting hue. Try pairing warm whites with cooler colors (like the blue and warm whites in the photo below) and cooler whites with warmer colors.

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Avoid things that feel too precious. The fragile feel of some white interiors can be intimidating. Instead, aim for linen slipcovers and cotton pillows paired with a jute rug and distressed finishes. Let your whites feel comfortable and cozy.

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Use white for cohesion. A few white elements can instantly refresh a space and make it feel cohesive. Use white frames to tie together a gallery wall, a white nightstand to match your new headboard, or white cabinets to create flow between your living room and white woodwork in the hallway.

Get more design inspiration at our Design Studio.

8 Ways to Upgrade Your Bedroom

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Shane Inman is an Interior Designer in New York City. Today, he’s sharing the 8 things you can use to help you upgrade your bedroom’s style.

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1. Padded Headboard
A padded headboard adds additional fabric to your bed, so you can tie in more texture and color with your surrounding bedroom fabrics. A wooden headboard tells a story of heirloom quality, whereas a padded headboard brings a sophisticated, boutique-hotel element to your room.

2. Window Treatments
Bare windows can look great in the right setting, but windows covered in fabric soften up a room and tone down harsh sunlight to create ambiance.

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3. Chandelier
Whether you’re designing a bachelor pad or a feminine boudoir, replace your existing surface-mounted fixture with a chandelier and watch your bedroom go from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s easy, and can be affordable, too.

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4. Throw Pillows
The more throw pillows you have on your bed, the more inviting it appears. Designers love to use pillows because they’re an easy way to add color and texture. Forms should be in every shape, from square to round, and in all varieties of sizes to add volume to the bed, which otherwise can appear very flat. Add a bolster for that extra je ne sais quoi.

5. Painted Ceilings
The traditional white ceiling is great for reflecting light down onto the room, but for a more sophisticated approach, paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. Not only will this trick change the mood of your bedroom for the better, it will also make it appear larger when ceiling and shadow lines disappear.

6. Crown Moldings
It’s all in the details! Adding a 6-inch border of crown molding at the top of your walls will make your bedroom appear more elegant. Moldings act like a frame on a work of art.

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7. Floor Covering
A fabulous floor of plush wall-to-wall carpet with a good quality pad will set the tone of unwavering standards. Should you choose classic hardwood floors instead, you will want to purchase a good area rug to further define the space.

8. Seating
Any great bedroom also includes comfortable seating. If your bedroom is too small to accommodate a quintessential Hollywood-style chaise lounge, try a simple upholstered chair or ottoman in a corner.

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10 Expert Designer Tips from Jeffrey Alan Marks

Decorating, How-To | | | 2 Replies

Jeffrey Alan Marks is no stranger to design dilemmas. One of Hollywood’s “most wanted decorators” and a frequent star of Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Decorators,” Marks is familiar with virtually every problem — big or small — that can arise in interior design. That’s why we asked him to share his expertise during a Facebook chat with our fans. Take a look at his top 10 tips from the chat, below!

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Photo from Jeffrey Alan Marks, Inc.

1. Look for easy ways to update your bedroom: “Use throw pillows and new sheets. I love all the Pottery Barn sheets, especially the summer sheets this season —they’re amazing. And if you can’t afford all new sheets, just buy the pillowcases.”

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2. Be playful and surprising: “I always throw in an unexpected element in the room. There’s always a color that’s a little bit shocking that gives a room a little personality. Things that are too matchy can feel like a model home. Every room should have a happy accident. “

3. Don’t be afraid of a white sofa: “I use a lot of slipcovers. Often white can be the easiest fabric with kids — I think that’s why bleach was invented! A little bit in the water when you’re washing the slipcover will help. And you can wash a slipcover over and over again.”

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4. Use new hardware in rental kitchens and bathrooms: “I’ve lived in rentals where hardware can transform the entire space.  I love Pottery Barn’s Ella Hardware and I also love the Modern Sink Console hardware from Pottery Barn. It would fit in with any house!”

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5. Consider sofas without skirts: “The PB Comfort Square Upholstered Box Edge Cushion Sofa doesn’t have a skirt, which is nice, since that can cause problems with dogs and kids. Something with its feet off the ground makes the room look bigger too, so you’re killing two birds with one stone. “

6. Grays go best with cooler colors: “A soft pink and a dark gray is beautiful because it mixes the masculine and feminine. I also like grays and blues and gray and coral.  I stay away from warm tans and reds with gray, I tend to like cooler colors with gray.“

7. Don’t use too much gray: “I also think you need to use gray sparingly. For example if I use a lot of gray on the wall, I won’t use a lot in decorating. But if I use a lot in the decor, I’ll use a light pink or blue on the wall. “

8. Keep family photos in private spaces: “I tend to frame family photos down private hallways to the bedroom. I like to do a collection from floor to ceiling of all the family and friends photos. I think it’s a nice way to honor memories, but it’s not right in your face in the living room.”

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9. Two is better than one: “In long hallways and entries, use two long runners with a break in the middle. A pair of anything is always better! It will draw you down the hallway — one runner will just stop you.”

10. Use paint to make a room feel cozy: “Use a Sherwin Williams color from the Pottery Barn palette and paint low ceilings. When you have a ceiling that low, I find that painting it is the best way to go to add intimacy.”

Don’t forget to read Marks’ new book, The Meaning of Home. And if you’re in the Orange County Area, be sure to visit him at our South Coast Plaza store for an in-person book signing at 2PM on May 10th, 2014.

Bath Reno 101: How to Choose Lighting

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

Your bathroom may need correct lighting more than any other room in your house. Sure, vanity comes into play (putting on makeup isn’t easy to begin with, let alone in a poorly lit room), but it’s also about safety. Slippery surfaces, plugs and plenty of water can make any bathroom a dangerous place. Making sure every nook and cranny is well lit will ensure your bathroom is safe, soothing and comfortable to spend time in.

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Read on to learn about the three main types of bathroom lighting and some tips for installation.

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Sconces:

-Often installed on the sides of a mirror.
-Help even out lighting on either side of your face when looking in the mirror.
-Great for shaving and putting on makeup.
-Should be mounted evenly on either side of your bathroom mirror, at least 60-inches off the floor.

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Ceiling:

-Usually placed in the center of the room to provide ambient lighting.
-Sometimes installed in alcoves so that darker corners are bright, light and safe.
-Work best above the shower/bath and toilet.

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Bath and Vanity:

-Usually three or two bulb style fixtures installed right above bathroom mirrors and sinks.
-One of the most popular forms of bathroom lighting.
-Used along with sconces to cast light evenly on your face in the mirror.
-Can also be bath bars — more modern fixtures with a single bulb.
-Should be mounted above the mirror, at least 78-inches off the floor.

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Five Tips for Installing Bathroom Lights:

1. Layer your lighting to create an adequately lit space. This is for aesthetic and safety purposes. Don’t delegate a single fixture to light up a specific part of the room — let the light from all your fixtures overlap.

2. There is such a thing as too much light, especially when it comes across as harsh and jarring. If your bathroom has a lot of natural light, don’t go overboard with your fixtures. Dimmers can do wonders, too.

3. Experiment with different styles of fixtures before making a purchase. Go and see them in person! Make sure that they will cast the right amount of light without shadows.

4. Match your lighting finishes to your bathroom hardware finishes for a cohesive look.

5. Don’t forget about accent lighting! Toe kicks, mirror lighting and cabinet lighting can all make nighttime bathroom trips easier and safer.

See all of our bathroom lighting. 

Read the rest of our Bath Reno 101 Series:
How to Start Planning
Choosing a Console

Knobs, Pulls and Handles: Jewelry For Your Furniture

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

The right piece of jewelry can do wonders to the most basic outfit. A big bold necklace instantly turns a pair of jeans and a white tee into a stylish ensemble. Hardware — drawer pulls, knobs and handles — does the same thing for your furniture. Whether you want to dress up old cabinets or complement new ones, the right piece of hardware can make all the difference. Read on for our top 5 tips to help you choose just the right piece.

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1.    Size. If you’re replacing hardware, make sure that your new fixtures are about the same size as your old ones and require the same installment method. You don’t want to have to drill new holes or figure out how to cover up old ones. Measure your new knobs or pulls carefully, too. If you have cabinets that open from the center, you want to make sure your new hardware won’t prevent your cabinets from closing all the way.

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2.    Finishes. Select hardware that coordinates with what’s already on your existing cabinetry and/or furniture. Choosing nickel bar pulls when your cabinets have brass hinges or your lighting fixtures are all copper could clash.

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3.    Number. Double and triple count the amount of knobs or pulls that you’ll need and take that into account when budgeting for your project. Don’t skimp on quality though — this is the part of your furniture that you’ll be touching and using the most. Make sure it lasts!

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4.    Style. Take the style of your home and the piece of furniture into consideration when choosing hardware. Do you like things to feel contemporary and sleek? You might want simple, modern bar pulls. Or does your home have more of a cottage feel? Quirky knobs are probably your best bet.

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5.    Forget the rules! All of the points above are great tips, but there are no fast and hard rules for choosing hardware. Hardware doesn’t have to be subtle. Go big and bold or mix and match. Use this as an opportunity to dress up an existing piece of furniture that you’re not thrilled about.

See all of our hardware, drawer knobs and pulls here.

Bath Reno 101: Choosing a Console

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

Even though it’s often overlooked, the bathroom is one of the hardest working rooms in your house, and one that everyone ends up spending time in — make sure it looks, feels and works perfectly! Choosing the right console is an important part of that process. It all comes down to size, style and storage. Scroll down to learn more!

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1. Size. Your vanity should feel to scale with your bathroom — a tiny console in a huge bathroom and a huge console in a small bathroom will look and feel awkward. Be realistic about how much space your bathroom has to offer. Where will you put your new vanity? Do you have a large spot under the window and space for two sinks? Then don’t be shy about choosing something grand. But if you’re stuck with a corner slot, search for something compact and super functional.

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2. Storage. How many people will be using this bathroom? If it’s just you, a full console with 3 cabinets and 6 drawers might not be necessary. But don’t try shoving your family of four into a tiny console — you’ll be plagued by overflow later on. Do you have space for wall shelving? Consider other storage solutions, if necessary. Think about the practicality of drawers versus cabinets, too. Cabinets are usually necessary to conceal plumbing and can hold larger items, but drawers tend to be easier to organize and access for all family members.

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3. Style. Your bathroom’s console is going to be an instant focal point in the space, so choose your style, material, finishes and hardware with care. Think about the finishes in your bathroom, as well as the rest of your house. Is most of your furniture downstairs dark wood? You might want your bathroom console to look similar. Your console or vanity also needs to withstand all of the chaos that comes with a bathroom. Changes in temperature and humidity can wreak havoc on certain materials, so choose wisely.

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See more of our bathroom consoles.

Read the rest of our Bath Reno 101 Series:
How to Start Planning
How to Choose Lighting

5 Ways to Use Pillows for a Seasonal Pop of Color

Decorating, How-To | | | 3 Replies

We love using pillows to bring new life into our homes each season. When it comes to adding festivity, color and seasonal punch, few accents are as easy and as powerful as a perfectly placed pillow. Read on to discover 5 simple, statement-making tips to accessorizing with pillows in your home.

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Mix up sizes and shapes. Choose pillows in an assortment of sizes and shapes to mix things up. Many decorative pillows come in a standard 18-by-18 inch square, so seek out other shapes and sizes for added visual dimension. Bolsters, round pillows, lumbar pillows and oblong pillows can bring variety to your decor with very little effort.

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Blend different textures and textiles. Since pillows are a relatively affordable, easy way to change your decor from season to season, they’re a great excuse to take a risk. Don’t just stick to something simple here — mix and match solids, prints, silks, linens, cottons and more.

Pull from your room’s color. Choose an accent color that’ll bring your entire room to life. Try pulling hues from a favorite piece of art in your room — you can still choose bold hues that don’t feel disconnected.

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Be playful, not random. Play on the unexpected, but don’t let your pillow choices feel random. Mixing patterns can give your room a more eclectic look, but if you decide to go that route, keep your pillows in the same size for continuity. If you’d rather mix up sizes, make sure there’s at least one color in common amongst all your pillows.

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Even or odd? There are all sorts of rules about an even number of pillows versus an odd number of pillows. We say, do what feels right for you! If you enjoy a more eclectic look, try an odd placement. We like nestling two pillows in one corner of the sofa, and one pillow in the other. If you’re a little more traditional, stick to even numbers — two pillows on either side of the couch.

 

Bath Reno 101: How to Start Planning

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

Remodeling a bathroom is no easy feat. It involves a lot of planning, plenty of patience and a clear vision. With so many wires, pipes and materials in one space, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Before you start jumping into your bathroom renovation, sit down and take the time to plan. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at our four tips for bathroom remodel planning, below.

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1. Determine your budget. This seems like a no-brainer, but your remodel budget should actually be more than one big number. This isn’t just about how much you can (or want) to spend overall, but where the money should go. What’s your priority for this bathroom? Would you rather get a new tub, or splurge on tile? Do you need professional help, or are you going to DIY it? Answering these types of questions can help you determine how your budget should be allocated.

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2. How much time do you have? If you’re already in your “forever” home and you have more than one bathroom, you can probably take your time with this remodel and make sure it turns out perfectly. But that’s not always the case — for those trying to move into a new house as soon as possible, or for those with a single bathroom, you might need to make some compromises on design to get your bathroom ready in time. If you’re on a time crunch, be prepared to cross some luxuries off your list.

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3. Consider style and practicality. Deciding on your dream bathroom style isn’t quite the same as picking out new pillows for your living room. You might have a dream of a pristine all-white marble bath in mind, but the reality of three school-aged boys might put a damper in your plans. Don’t be afraid to dream, but be practical, too. You want your new bathroom to last!

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4. Don’t forget safety. In a room with water, electricity and plenty of potentially slippery materials, it should come as no surprise that a bathroom can be a very dangerous place. Consider non-slip materials, think about proper ventilation and make sure everything will be wired and plumbed according to code.

Read the rest of our Bath Reno 101 Series:
Choosing a Console
How to Choose Lighting

 

 

Designer Suzanne Tucker’s Tips to Refresh and Renew Your Home for Spring

Decorating, How-To | | | 1 Reply

There’s something about spring that gives us the decorating itch. When the weather turns warm and the world starts to feel fresh and new, we want to refresh our homes, too. But how can you do that without spending a lot of money or time on a full home makeover? We talked to interior designer Suzanne Tucker to get her professional advice. Read on for her tips to help you refresh and renew your home for spring!

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Q: Why do you think so many people feel the need to refresh their homes for spring?

A: I think it’s a natural renewal process we go through – out with the old and in with the new – the lure of “spring cleaning.” As the weather gets warmer and the quality of light changes, fresh colors emerge in nature and it makes sense to bring elements into your home that speak to these changes.

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Q: What do you like to do to your home in the springtime?

A: Other than the thorough spring cleaning, I clear off table tops and bring in lots of fresh flowers in lighter vases and containers and I embrace all the outdoor-indoor living elements: furniture, cushions, lanterns, outdoor textiles…

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Q: What are a few of your favorite, budget-friendly ways to bring new life into homes for spring?

A: Changing out bedding, pillow covers and throws is a quick and easy trick to instantly refresh a room, along with a simple hit of color with fresh flowers.

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Q: What types of colors are you drawn to this season?

A: I’m always drawn to luscious colors and, with the changing light and longer days, I look to nature – fresh greens, coral peonies, lilacs, parrot tulips, chartreuse moss… all speak of spring and summer.

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Q: What are a few ways homeowners can implement these new colors into their homes without buying a bunch of new furniture?

A: A fresh coat of paint makes for an easy update, as does a coordinating pillow or throw. I pay close attention to the quality and color of the light sources in a house; optimizing your light can make a world of difference to the way color works in a room!

You might also like: The Power of the Perfect Accessory