What your living room says about you...

I'm a sofa in your living room... what am I saying to you right now? Am I brown and outdated? Am I way too big for my surroundings? Do I look lazy and unstructured, like I'm just tired and worn out? OH NO... am I beige? I'm beige, aren't I? What do my friends look like? Do the chairs look just like me or are they more exciting with patterns and bold colors? Is my room even painted, or is it still the color it was when we first moved here? 

The living room is one of the most important rooms of the home. Unless your home has a family room, it's where you and your guests sit and watch television or talk. It's one of the most viewed rooms of the house, so it should always look it's best. It should also FEEL it's best. Is it cozy? Is it warm? Does it make you want to sit and stay awhile? 

Believe it or not, your living room says a lot about you! If you're a neat freak, your living room will be well cleaned and organized. If you collect things, your room may contain clutter. If you're bold and like to make a statement, your room may have fun pieces in it. If you're daring, it will show in the patterns throughout the room. If you love color, your room will be nothing neutral but if you're scared of color, your living room may be lack-luster. 

Now, if you look around your room right now and think, hey this room is nothing like me! It doesn't express who I really want to be... then congratulations, you're ready for a remodel! You've probably known this for a while but just haven't pulled the trigger. I understand, it's not necessarily a cheap endeavor, nor is it an easy one! Decisions must be made, colors and patterns and textures chosen... and depending on the size of the room and quality of the furnishings, it can cost a pretty penny to show off your true self. There is that saying my mother used to have- "Champagne taste and a beer budget!" 

I say TAKE A CHANCE! EXPRESS YOUR INNER YOU- whether it's your inner diva, your secret love of navy blue or polka-dots, your long held-in desire to do an ethnic space or channel your love for classic cars. Take that step and change the conversation your living room is having about you. Some of your living rooms are straight up swearing right now! Lol

Small changes can make a BIG difference in your family room

A few months ago I had a client with a typical family room dilemma. They had SOME idea of what they liked and began to work on their space. They purchased a large flat screen LED television, then needed a cabinet to house it. They went to Ikea and planned a unit that the husband (the ultra contemporary of the couple) loved. They set it up in the space after they painted their walls a color they liked, and that was it... they were stuck on where to go next. 

They are an amazing family with three young children who have taken their light beige furniture and destroyed it over just a few short years. The complete set of sofa, loveseat and matching chair and ottoman, not only looked tired in the space, but took up WAY TOO MUCH space. They wanted me to breathe life into the room at a budget that was comfortable for them. At just under $6,000, I accomplished just that. Let me show you how...

Inspiration board created on www.olioboard.com/users/designer01

My client's designs always start with a drawing and/ or Olioboard in 2D or 3D format (when I have an empty shot of the room) and a floorplan of the proposed new space. The clients loved the furnishings selected and decided to proceed with the new space.

Before shot of the family roomAbove is the before shot of the family room space. I actually like where TJ was going with his asymetrical cabinet design, but Debbie and her more traditional sense hated it. My job was to balance out Debbie's traditional view with TJ's ultra contemporary style, keeping the existing wall color and addding a new anchor color that they both agreed on- grey.

Grey is the neutral of the century. I never get tired of playing with it and challenging it's ability to stretch a color palette. Watch what I did with it in this space...

This sofa from ZGallerie was the perfect solution for this space. Not only was it a perfect fit, but the fabric is far more forgiving for little messy fingers. It also gave TJ a lounge to chill out and watch tv, replacing his massive chair and ottoman. His favorite piece in the room was this table, a funky take on his previous asymetrical cabinetry. Accent colors of red, teal and a pale khaki green bounce nicely off the wall colors in this room.

Just a small adjustment to the previous cabinet layout allowed for fun colorful accessories, lighteing up the space and appealing to Debbie. Fun canvas art on the wall helps tie in all of the colors selected.

I can't forget to show this adorable, deep red barrel back swivel chair from Pier 1. Not only is it a comfortable find for a great pricepoint of just $400, but it comes in red, brown and teal to match many current color palettes. Here it fit in perfectly, alongside the floor to ceiling faux silk, charcoal grey curtain panels. 

This whole space works so well together and was done at a great savings to my client. They didn't need to repaint, they kept their carpet, lower cabinetry and ceiling fan, making this space an affordable cosmetic remodel. Even though we didn't change everything within the room, the change is no less dramatic. The mood is now more energetic, light and fun, yet the furnishings look more luxurious and most importantly... they love their new space! And that's my favorite part :-)

Modern Beauty in a Living Room Niche

Tomorrow we begin the installation of an ultra modern fireplace niche in Scottsdale. I am so excited about this one for many reasons. First- we are working with my FAVORITE design style- contemporary and even more so, Ultra-Contemporary. Second- we are using a product which I love and have been dying to use in a residential application- 3-D Wall Art wall tiles.

The beauty of Ultra-Contemporary design is in the simplicity of it's minimalism. Cabinets are sleek and contain everything inside. Shapes are geometric and accessories are sparse. Lines are clean and color possibilities are endless. The home that we are working in emulates this style perfectly with strong angles, slick, linear marble floor tiles and modern touches throughout. NO TUSCAN HERE!

The fireplace goes 20' up from the floor.Here is the before pic.

Here is the basic drawing of what will be done. I am old school, so I still hand draw basically everything outside of my kitchen designs. (I just quickly colored these in for a better understanding of what we're doing. My client got the good colored version of this previously uncolored version). The fireplace on the left is getting wall tile running up the entire front and side, dying into the back niche wall. The wall tiles have a raised design embossed on them, making them an appealing 3-dimensional piece of art on your wall. They will be sprayed a charcoal gray.

The niche wall that recesses to the right of this fireplace will be painted a beautiful, soft plum. Fitting perfectly in this niche is a custom, wall mounted cabinet which sits 9" off the floor. It will be a high gloss red, a favorite color for my clients and apparent throughout their home in accents everywhere! The cable box will be hidden in a drawer and activated by remote through a 'red eye' system. This system allows full access to electronics which require sensors by placing a small sensor dot on the front of the drawer, allowing your remote to beam signal to the dot, which then transmits to your cable box. It works with virtually any electronic device, from cable to stereos and home theater systems. 

Above the custom cabinet will be three floating black shelves to tie in the black from the fireplace trim. The shelves are staggered to allow space for large artwork or finds for my clients. The red custom cabinet will be made by my talented husband Jay at J&M Custom Millwork & Remodeling and I can't wait to see the results! I'll be sure to post the after pictures when the job is completed.

The next project in their home will be a 27' wide mural of NY city above their patio doors (a strong desire of the homeowners, who are from NY, a couple after this NYer's heart!) 

A Homeowner's costly furniture mistakes-Why you should hire an interior designer!

I couldn't help myself... I was trolling on two of my favorite sites- etsy.com and craigslist, looking for a wingback chair for a client, when I came across this sad, little ad. I had to take a screen shot of it because this is such a common occurance, and yet seems to be so unreal to homeowners.

This poor homeowner custom ordered a sofa and wingback chair that they thought would be perfect for their space. They probably loved the style, planned for it, even matched the colors for other accessories in the space; hopefully they didn't paint! They waited for their pieces to come in, maybe told friends about the wonderful set, they no doubt spent a nice amount of money on. They had their eagerly anticipated pieces delivered and then carried into their space by the delivery guys...only to find out that they just don't fit in the room! ALL OF THAT TIME AND MONEY WASTED to only have to make another purchase or leave their living room empty.

Judging from the post and the size of the first picture (the sofa, showing a corner at the far left), this was to go into an Arizona formal living room space, which is normally a smaller room at the entry of the home, rarely used for more than decoration. I'm sure this homeowner never considered hiring an interior designer for this space. After all, they found a great sofa and chair they loved all on their own. What would they possibly need me for? This!... This is the exact reason you hire a professional to help you plan your home.

Scale is the number one, most misunderstood concept when homeowners try to design their own spaces. Don't be offended by this, no one should expect you to know how to properly interpret it. It's a skill that is taught to us, not just something the average person knows or understands. There are rules to perfecting it, there's some math involved with planning it and a good eye involved with implementing it to the best benefit of a floorplan.

Long and short of it, I could have saved this homeowner thousands of dollars. The average amount of hours required to plan a space this size, as a full service interior designer would have been less than the cost that she is selling this pair for on craigslist right now (it's cut off on the top, but they are listed for $1,800 ((less than half of what she paid)). Had she called me for just a DIY Design Consultation in Gilbert, AZ (where this ad was placed), she could have still made the purchase on her own, with the correct measurements and information to do it all herself for just $350.00. I would truly love to tell her this, but I don't think she'd appreciate this information after the fact. :-( 

Thank you, unhappy homeowner, for helping me show how valuable an interior designer can be when it comes to creating the perfect space. I'm sorry for what you have gone through and really hope you do sell your set to help you recover from your loss. In the meantime, I am hoping that your misfortune will help others to understand that hiring an interior designer can truly be a money saving tool. Our jobs are not as easy as one may think!