10 Common Decorating Mistakes That Will Haunt You

10-common-decorating-mistakes-that-will-haunt-youWe can provide all the lessons, tips and tricks in the book, but sometimes the examples of what not to do speak more clearly. There are common decorating mistakes that we see repeatedly in our line of work. Learning to avoid them in the first place will help you create timeless designs that enjoy more time in between interior design re-dos and remodels.

10 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

  1. Overdoing it. This applies to virtually every aspect of interior design: color, patterns, furnishings, accents etc. There is a naturally pleasing effect created when these elements are in balance. When you overdo it, the eyes are confused, your room can feel cramped or overwhelming and it will be impossible to settle on a single focal point, theme or motif.
  2. Adding something that doesn’t quite fit. If it doesn’t quite fit, leave it out. That extra inch of couch that extends beyond the entrance space, the ottoman that leaves nary a foot between the and the adjacent wall, the television that’s too big for the old entertainment center, all of those have to go. We’re sorry – but those little “you hardly notice them,” rationales don’t work. We notice them, and so does everyone else.
  3. Not creating (and sticking to) a budget. When you don’t have a budget, you can get into serious design trouble, winding up with a half-finished room and no money left to finish it. Create a budget, add a 10% contingency cushion, and stick to it.
  4. Going all matchy-matchy. Yes, there is a place where matching matters, but when everything matches it can be overkill (see Number 1 above) and/or it can yield a space that looks more like a hotel room than a home. That’s not what you want. Use a range of both complementary and contrasting colors, patterns, textures, materials, etc.
  5. Low curtain rods. Hanging your curtain rods too low will shorten the length of your walls and can hide your windows. Instead, hang the rods closer to the ceiling, which creates a feeling of height and expansiveness and allows your windows to shine.
  6. Backs of furniture to the walls. Of course, it makes sense for some of your furniture and furnishings to be back against the wall. But pulling at least a few pieces forward creates a more intimate feeling in living rooms and other social areas. It can also improve traffic flow.
  7. No focal point. Each room needs a focal point or two. Our eyes need somewhere to rest. When your interior design has a mish-mash of stuff everywhere, it’s unsettling. Pick a piece of art, the fireplace, a unique furnishing – and let the rest of the design direct attention towards it.
  8. Photo barrage. We love to see pictures of your family, friends, pets and vacations. However, we don’t need to see all of them at once on the same surface.
  9. Poor lighting. Unfortunately, we find that lighting is one of the last things clients are thinking about when they are brainstorming design ideas. However, poor lighting can make a room feel harsh, smaller, closed in or grotesquely shadowed. Using a variety of light sources, overhead, lamps, recessed, sconces, etc., is a good way to enjoy a beautiful ambiance.
  10. Ignoring the foyer. We recommend starting with the foyer and working from there. Ignoring the entrance to your home leaves a poor first impression. Make it welcoming, interesting and like a preview of the visual highlights yet to come.

What are some of your biggest interior design mistake stories? We’d love to hear them.

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Color Combinations that Always Look Fabulous

color-combinations-that-always-look-fabulousDeciding to change your interior color scheme can seem ambitious, especially for those who are new to it. While no changes are absolutely permanent, it’s not necessarily cost effective to re-paint an entire interior or purchase new furnishings should you decide you’re unhappy with the final outcome. Fortunately, there are a few time tested, tried-and-true color combinations that always look great together.

What’s the deal with color relationships anyway?

First, let’s talk a little bit more about colors and their relationships. Many moons ago, artists put together The Color Wheel, which helps to show color variations, as well as the relationships that exist between various colors. For example, complementary colors live directly opposite one another on the wheel. Analogous colors live in triads right next to one another. Both of these color relationships are considered harmonious.

Then, you have your neutral colors. These are colors like whites, creams, beiges, and browns. They can provide a backdrop that remains consistent while your accents, furnishings, and textiles comprise ever-evolving color schemes.

All of these terms, complementary, analogous, and neutral are thrown around willy-nilly in the world of interior design. But, at the end of the day, the important thing is that you are happy with the color combinations you select.

5 Examples of Tried-and-True Color Combinations

  1. Blue and White. This color combination explains why Blue Willow and Delftware are timeless china collections. It is clean, bright, and can work with any design motif – be it antique traditional or über-modern. Depending on the balance of blue and white, you can create a light, energetic seaside living space or a soothing bedroom retreat. Throw in a pop of bright yellow if you want to energize it a bit.
  2. Brown and Blue. Brown is a neutral color, and it is also one of the most common colors found in nature, which is why it pairs so well with blue. From bright blues to more earthy gray-hues, you really can’t go wrong. You can also swap your blue accents for green ones, without ever changing your brown backdrop should you want to refresh your look down the road.
  3. Black and White. From black and white checkered flooring, to striped walls and floral motifs, black and white are a classic color combination. One of the most fun aspects of using black and white in an interior design is that they pair well with almost any other color, especially, primaries, and you can safely layer different black-and-white patterns without worrying about clashing.
  4. Turquoise and Red. The first three examples are safe and lean toward the traditional. For the last two, we’ll feature color combinations with a little more pizzazz. Turquoise is an energized blue-green combo that will liven up any room. Pair it with red, and you have a striking combination. If turquoise walls seem too bold for your taste, then use light neutral wall colors and add your turquoise and red via furnishings, artwork, and accents.
  5. Green and Yellow. This combination is a citrus palate: greens, yellows, and oranges all work well together and you can add some blue too. Earthier versions of these colors, as seen in this retro-inspired backsplash can be provide a more muted aesthetic, or you can add a vibrant, warm energy to a space by using them in their full glory.

When in doubt, hire an interior design professional to help you select the color combinations that best reflect your style. What are some of your favorite color combos?

Creating a New Space on a Budget

If you are feeling the itch to redecorate, but don’t necessarily have the time or budget to scratch it, these tips and tricks can breathe new life into your living space in no time flat, and without breaking the bank. From touch-up paint and accent walls to changing accent pillow shams and reupholstering key members of your furniture family, you can get a whole new look without spending much at all.

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Painting grants a new lease on wall life

There are two options for sprucing up the paint colors on your wall: touching up the paint you have, assuming you like it, or repainting your walls entirely.

Touch-ups. You may find that re-painting isn’t necessary if you simply touch up your existing paint. The steps to completing a professional-quality touch-up paint job are:

  • Clean the wall first: You may not notice it but your wall has probably developed barely-there layers of dust and grime you’ve grown accustomed to. Then there are the more obvious smudges and marks. Use a damp cloth and wash the wall before painting it, otherwise there will be a noticeable difference when you add a fresh, clean patch of paint.
  • Fix any holes or dings. Take a piece of fine sand paper and go over the area to be repaired in order to get rid of raised or flaking drywall fragments. Use spackling compound and a putty knife to fill the marred spots in and let it dry completely.
  • Use primer. Most people skip this step, which can lead to an noticeable, uneven finish. Use a small to medium-sized paint brush and only prime the area that is going to be touched up. Let the primer dry completely.
  • Paint. Ideally, you will have stored extra cans of the paint in question. This will always be the best match. Otherwise, you may have to work with a paint professional to match it. Use the same type of applicator that was used before to match the texture. If brush strokes are visible, use a paint brush and feather the touch-up out from the center of the repair. If no brush strokes are visible, use a roller.

New paint. If you are willing to do the job yourself, re-painting can be quite affordable. However, a great alternative to repainting your walls is to locate a wall or two that could be used as an accent wall. In a fraction of the time it takes to re-paint an entire room you can have a whole new look and feel.

Re-upholstering is the ultimate way to re-use favorite chairs or sofas

Have a favorite chair or couch that is fraying around the edges? Start shopping for durable fabrics you love and plan a reupholstering project. Reupholstering is easy, really! Start with something simple, like a dining or living room chair, and work your way up to a sofa. This article from Mother Earth News is a wonderful resource.

Replace a few textiles for a re-vamped look

Much of your design is created by the textiles you use to decorate your living spaces. Changing out your window panels, duvet covers, and pillow shams can make it feel like your house was entirely redecorated. Even swapping furniture and textiles between rooms, or rearranging your furniture can update your look and won’t cost you a penny.

Need help breathing new life into your interior design? Contact Kristina Wolf Design. We make sure that your living space reflects your family’s style and needs, and we can work with just about any budget. Start 2014 off in updated style!

Decorating Your New Babies Nursery

decorating-your-new-babies-nurseryDecorating a nursery is such an exciting and tender interior design project. It is a chance for parents to channel their enthusiasm while waiting for the newest member of their family to arrive. That being said, the days of “pink or blue?” have faded into the past. Parents in the modern era are faced with a bevy of decisions: traditional or contemporary? Gendered or neutral? Theme or no theme?

We’ve put together a series of questions that can help you to decide the best way to decorate your nursery using a style that complements your home, your lifestyle and your taste.

Are you a serial decorator?

Or, how much do you enjoy changing the aesthetics of your rooms or living space? If you can’t keep your eyes away from design magazines, are always up on Pantone’s annual color palates, and love nothing more then to spend a weekend taping and giving new life to painted walls, you can design ahighly-stylized nursery today knowing you will look forward to changing it again within a few years. If you would prefer to create a nursery that will easily transition into a young child’s room, or guest room, you may want tobe more conservative in your selections.

What’s your design style?

What style do you want for the nursery? If you are a modernist, you may want something a little more minimal, free of the frills, bells, and whistles that so often become a part of a baby’s nursery. If you are a traditionalist, you may want a “no restrictions” clause in your interior design plan so you can incorporate the canopies, curtains, and prince- or princess-like accessories that will transform the room into a world of its own.

Do you want a theme?

You can create any theme under the sun, and it can be an easy way to build your nursery design by providing an intrinsic color palate. However, a theme can also lock you into a very specific look. Your child may love it once he is old enough to express his own tastes, which happens sooner than you would think. Or, your 2.5 year old may tell you she wants a fish bedroom instead of a princess room, which will take you back to square one. If you aren’t a serial decorator, as mentioned above, you may want to keep walls or wallpaper relatively versatile and leave themed items to window treatments, area rugs or pillow shams, which can be easily changed out down the road.

What furniture is necessary?

If you want to go all out and buy new nursery furniture, go ahead. However, many nursery items, such as changing tables and rocking chairs may only be used for the first year, or less. You may find that, other than the crib, there are smarter ways to go about acquiring ideal nursery furniture, and for the room it will become later on. For example, a dresser is easily converted into a changing table with the right pad and will transition back to a child’s dresser within the first two years. Rather than a rocking chair, you may find it’s better to reupholster an old chair in the garage, or one you find at a thrift store, that will become a favorite reading chair or comfort spot for your child throughout childhood.

How to Increase Your Storage Capacity

If you are an interior decorating aficionado, you understand the importance of creative storage. We decorators need room to store all of our seasonal decor, textiles, and favorite items when they are relaxing in the off-season. Plus, I don’t know a serial designer out there who doesn’t also love to entertain, which means even more storage for platters, dishware, and glasses. Sometimes, interior design is just as much about what you can’t see as what you can.

Here are some room by room ideas for how to increase your storage capacity in some of the most unlikely spaces. This can help you to store all of the extras that tend to become cluttered if you aren’t too careful.

The Kitchen. If you are planning a remodel, forget about the color wheels and cabinet door styles for just a moment (I know, it’s hard to do!). Instead, focus on how your cabinet and wall spaces can be functionally upgraded to the limit. Smart and organized kitchen storage is a reverent sight to behold, and we all shake our heads in wonder when we see it in person. The time you spend to be thoughtful now, will pay off for years to come.

Your Staircase. What? The staircase? Yes! The staircase is one of the most overlooked storage opportunities in the home. It’s vast, and it has lots of empty spaces that could be full of specialty cocktail glasses, seasonal cook books, and interior decorating accessories. If you happen to be in the process of designing your home, bully for you because you can begin working with your architect or contractor to modify the planned staircase. Otherwise, you can hire a contractor to take a look at your staircase and some of these pictures, to determine how your staircase(s) can be amended.

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The Laundry Room. Don’t let a single wall or nook in your laundry room or mudroom go un-purposed. If you see a blank space, think shelves. If you see a drawer space, think pull-out organizers. If there is a wide open closet, determine how the space can best be used. It’s amazing what well-planned storage (even in a small space) can do to reduce clutter in your interior decorating plan.

The Bathroom. If there is one room that is the most prone to clutter, it is probably the bathroom. We are usually in there in a flurry, and there are often deep-set cabinets that quickly become a mish-mash of stuff if you aren’t careful. However, just like the kitchen, you can create pull-out drawers and organized shelving and cabinetry that will help you keep things neat, stored, and clutter-free. Also, in an open floor plan, walls are usually a part of the building’s structure. However, bathrooms are the one spot where interior walls may only be functional, in which place they can be used for more hidden storage opportunities.

Closets. It can’t be emphasized enough what a difference an efficiently organized closet is. You will gain loads of usable space by making the investment in a professional closet design. Or, you can spend time at a local home improvement store and buy pre-made closet organizers that will also do the trick. Either way, the more space you have to store things, the less visible they will be in your actual living space.

Taking the time to redesign functional storage spaces will pay off in the form of an organized, clutter-free, and spacious interior design.

Whether you need help with interior decorating, or are looking to redesign your storage spaces, we can help. Contact Kristina Wolf Design, Inc. for modern interior design expertise.

5 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Living Room

Sometimes, we need a major interior design overhaul. Other times, some simple fixes are all that are needed to breathe new life and energy into a living space. If you are looking for room decor ideas that will give your living space a face-lift without breaking the bank – or your back – here are some ideas for you.

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5 (Relatively) Simple Room Decor Ideas for a Whole New Look:

  1. Add Wall Art. Painting a room is a tried and true way to change it up. However, wall art adds a completely different dynamic. It can even be 3-D. Whether you choose to draw a design freehand, use pre-made wall art decals, or trace stencils or pre-made forms, wall art can add a conversation-worthy element to your room decor. Here are some examples:
    • Whimsical. These lavender walls, adorned with a hand-painted, gold, bare-branched silhouette of a cherry tree add a magical feel to this small dining room.
    • Creative. This urban apartment mimicked the skyscape outside, adding a creative element to the living room. Best of all, the wall art is a decal, ideal for the non-artist decorators out there.
    • Patterns. Add an ornate pattern to a wall by using large stencils. They are easy to do on your own, using a level to ensure the lines are straight.
  2. Never Fear Stripes. Stripes are definitely in right now but they can be a little daunting for the first-time DIY striper! If you would like to add stripes to a room, take it easy. Tackle a striped accent wall, rather than the whole room, so you aren’t overwhelmed. If you feel confident, go ahead and use bold colors. If you feel more conservative, stripes in muted shades can create the texture and visual interest you want without the risk of creating visual chaos.
  3. Reupholster Your Furniture. Reupholstering is one of the most savvy things a homeowner can learn to do in order to get a whole new look from a solid piece of furniture. Plus, repurposing household linens or fabrics into new chair covers or slipcovers is good for the planet too! Look at what a little paint and new upholstering did for this chair – it went from Granny’s House to Swank Central.
  4. Go Shopping at Home. One of the best room decor ideas for a new look is to simply go shopping at home. Go through boxes of trinkets and textiles you tucked away in the garage or a storage unit. Walk through your rooms and consider how different pieces of furniture, accent pieces, and artwork might look better somewhere else. With a little rearranging and switching around, you can have a whole new look without ever leaving your house or spending a single penny.
  5. Invest in High-Quality Pillows and Shams. Accent pillows can completely transform the way a living room looks without changing much else. Make an investment in high-quality accent pillows and changeable pillow shams, and you will be able to make a change from conservative, to eclectic, to contemporary in a matter of minutes. Another quick change? Look for window curtain panels when they go on sale. Purchase a few sets in various styles and colors, and that blend with your pillow shams. In less than a half an hour, your room can have a whole new feel.

If you are interested in professional assistance for room decor ideas that will change your living spaces, contact Kristina Wolf Design, Inc.  We can give you the complete interior design overhaul you have always wanted, or can suggest and implement simple changes that will transform your home.

Interior Design for the DIYer

If you have the budget, hiring a professional interior designer is an ideal way to achieve an interior design that integrates your personal tastes with the savvy know-how of a professional. However, there are times where the budget doesn’t allow for a professional’s assistance, or when you just want to tackle an interior design project on your own. There are plenty of online resources for DIY interior design inspiration, tips, and tricks. In the meantime, here are some pointers for the beginning DIY interior designer to enhance any living space.

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Define your goals. What are your goals for your upcoming DIY interior design project? Are you changing a single room or tackling the whole house? Are you going all out, replacing carpet, window treatments, and furniture? Or, are you simply rearranging and sprucing things up for a refreshed look? What do you have on hand and what things do you need to acquire for the project? This can help you to create a schedule, boundaries, your budget, and a list of things to do.

What’s your style? Unless you are going for an eclectic or bohemian approach, in which case virtually anything goes, you may want to sit down and think about your style. Do you prefer bold colors, clean lines, and metallic finishes? If so, you are a modernist. Is your ideal home a Cape Cod cottage, decorated with heirloom antiques or French country accents? If so, you are a traditionalist. Are you someone who enjoys a nice modern leather couch and stainless steel appliances, but also loves to display homemade quilts and your few, high-quality antiques? That means you are a fan of transitional designs, blending the best of modern and traditional motifs. Within these three basic ideas, there are infinite other design styles that have ebbed and flowed throughout the ages.

Understand the color wheel. The colors you select for your walls, furnishings, and accents play a huge role in the energy, mood, and even a feeling of spaciousness. For example, light colors and cool colors tend to make a room feel larger and more spacious than it is. Darker or warmer colors will pull elements in a room together. Get familiar with the color wheel, and the relationships between various colors, to create a room that is harmonious and creates the energy you desire.

  • Complementary colors. These colors are directly opposite one another on the wheel. They are sort of the color equivalent of “opposites attract.” They may not seem to have much in common, but when placed together, they bring out the best in one another and create visual stimulation.
  • Harmonious colors. These colors sit between the primary colors, and have a soothing or harmonious effect.

What is your light availability? Lighting is a critical part of DIY interior design because it has a major effect on how your colors relate to one another and whether or not a room appears open or closed in. Windows are the most obvious source of light, and you will want to take the view outside of your windows into consideration as well. This is especially true if your view is one you are happy with. You can use the outside landscape as a part of your color scheme and patterning. Understanding how light plays around in your space (or how it doesn’t!) can help you create an attractive interior lighting design.

Once you have these DIY interior design basics down, you will be ready to decorate your space like a true professional. Who knows? You could be embarking on a whole new career.

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