The Perfect Accent Wall

Accent walls are typically thought of as a way to use a bold or daring color, patterns or wallpaper, that would be overwhelming if used on all four surfaces. However, they can also create a subtle contrast, used to deepen the effect of your interior color scheme. Regardless of which way you go, there are a few common questions we hear over and over again from clients who are thinking about adding accent walls to their living space.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Accent Walls

Here’s the tricky part, there really are no rules, so while we can provide you with some tips and advice, your home has its own personality and it might be that the best accent wall for you bunks all the traditions!

How do I know which wall to select as my accent wall?

There are a few “tricks of the trade” that we use when selecting which wall would make the best accent wall:

Warm colors. Warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) draw the eye, which make the wall seem closer than it really is. You want to choose a wall that can handle this. If you choose a longer side wall, be aware that the room may appear narrower than it is. If you choose an end wall, make sure the room is large enough, or that you don’t mind the “cozier” effect created when that wall appears closer and shortens the room.

Cool Colors. If you’re using a cool color (blues, greens, purples) then it will have the opposite effect. These can be a great way to help a room feel larger, wider, or longer than it really is.

Visual Temperature. Similarly, the way sunlight infuses the room will make a difference. This is often called “visual temperature”. Rooms with south or western exposure are considered “warmer” rooms, and can benefit from a cool accent wall, while those with northern or eastern exposure may do better with a warm accent color.

Exposure. There is no point in using an accent wall if you are going to cover the bulk of it with a huge entertainment center and stunning wall hangings. Conversely, accents walls can be too dramatic if they are left bare. You may intentionally select a wall to feature a unique architectural highlight or a spectacular piece of furniture, but make sure there is a balance between the furniture and furnishings and the wall color.

What Color Should I Paint My Accent Wall?

You can use the information above to help you out with this. If you have always wanted to use a certain color, go for it and then change or upgrade your furnishings to match. No need to buy everything new, reupholstering and changing your pillow shams may suffice. Also, look at the accent colors used in your existing art or textiles. Is there a color you like the most? This might be a great one to use on the accent wall.

Do You Have Any Unique Ideas for accent walls?

Paint isn’t the only options for accent walls. Consider using the following:

  • Stenciling
  • Beadboard
  • Wainscoting
  • Wallpaper
  • Stripes
  • Polka Dots

Need more ideas? Contact Kristina Wolf Design, Inc. to design accent walls that will add pizzazz to your interior design.

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Choosing the Perfect Dining Table

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The dining table is more than just a place to sit and eat meals; more often than not, it exists unoccupied. That’s why it’s important to choose a dining room table that suits the space and is complementary to your interior decor.

The following tips will help you choose the right dining table for your home, in terms of size, shape, seating, etc.

The basics. First, there are some general basics to keep in mind before you get into the details. Consider that you’ll want at a table that’s at least 36-inches wide to accommodate place settings and food. Also, you will want to have between 42- and 48-inches of clearance between the edge of the table and the wall, or any other furnishings, so seated occupants have enough room to enter and exit their chairs comfortably.

If you have a smaller dining room space, you want to measure and mark these distances so you don’t end up buying a table that nobody can fit around!

Size. Now that you have got the basic dimensions down, you can begin to think about table size. If there are rarely more than two to four at your table, there is no need to splurge on a larger table if you don’t have the space. However, if you entertain, have a larger family, etc. you will want a table that seats everyone comfortably. If you don’t have a large room, consider purchasing a table with leaves that extend the length temporarily when necessary.

If you have a hard time visualizing, use graph paper to draw a scaled model of your space, furniture and all. Or, use bed sheets or blankets folded to the prospective table size to see if it works for you.

Shape. The most classic shapes for dining room tables are rectangular and oval. However, round and square tables are becoming more popular. In most cases, you should choose a shape that complements the shape of the room. So, a room that is longer than it is wide would have a rectangular or oval-shaped table, and a square room would have a round or square-shaped table.

Keep in mind that the larger the round table is, the more difficult it can be to reach for food or to pass dishes across the table. If you love the look of an oversized round table, consider finding a complementary lazy susan when you have guests.

Looks. Most dining room tables are made of wood. However, the finish of that wood is completely dependent on your style. A darker wood will look more formal, distressed or barely-finished natural woods will look more casual. If you are a modernist, or you have a small dining area, consider a glass table top to create the illusion of space.

Seating. If you have the room, go all out and find the most comfortable dining room chairs you can find. There is nothing worse than enjoying a delicious meal and wonderful conversation while counting down the minutes until you can get out of the chair. Purchase your dining room chairs with comfort as the primary consideration and looks as the secondary component.

If space is an issue, keep your eye out for chairs with a minimal profile so they don’t take up a lot of space, or use a bench on one side that can be tucked away when it isn’t being used.

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.

Wallpaper vs. Paint

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There’s nothing like being cooped up in the winter to get those redecorating juices flowing. One of the first questions to tackle when changing the look of your living space is Wallpaper or Paint? This primer will help you decide which wall treatment is best for your home. You may find the answer is both!

Before we compare the two, let’s start with some general information.

Wallpaper. Wallpaper was “out” for a little while but then it came back, and with a vengeance. Not only that, we should really be saying “wall coverings” because today’s trendy homes are using linen, high-end chinoiserie coverings, and textured fabrics to transform walls into works of art. Unless you are an artist (or you hire one), paint rarely compares to the textured and patterned potential of wallpaper. That being said, highly stylized patterns can quickly become dated and can turn off future potential buyers with different taste.

Paint. Paint is the default wall decorating medium for a reason. It’s relatively easy to apply and can be custom-mixed to any color preference. While most people do choose to paint their walls a single color, you can get creative. Two-toned walls, stripes, and multi-color designs are all a potential, but their execution must be fairly flawless to be successful.

Now onto the categorized comparisons:

Cost

Obviously, if you choose a high-end professional painter and expensive paint, it will be more expensive than most DIY wallpaper jobs. That being said, paint is usually the most affordable way to go. There’s one exception – if you pick a wallpaper you love and live with it for 10 or more years. Most paint needs to be redone every few years to look fresh. A high-quality, well-installed wallpaper can last a decade or so.

Labor Intensity

If you’re attempting a DIY home improvement project, wallpaper is the most labor intensive. While taping before you paint can be time consuming, it is very straight forward. For a monochrome paint job, you can get the whole family involved in the middle parts, and adults can take over around the edges. Wallpaper, on the other hand, must be very precisely measured, cut, and applied. You have to get the adhesive balance just right and be meticulous as you smooth to avoid bubbles, wrinkles and to prevent edges from peeling. Removing wallpaper is also very labor intensive.

Permanency

Well-applied wallpaper probably wins on this one, assuming you haven’t installed it in a bathroom (more on that later) and that the job was well-done. Quality wallpaper can be occasionally washed and will retain a fresh look for years. Paint needs to be refreshed every few years to really look its best.

Best Applications

Paint: Get familiar with paint finishes. While paint can be used in any room of the house, glossy finishes are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens, where wall washing is more common. Scrubbing marinara from a flat-finish kitchen paint is no laughing matter.

Wallpaper. Ideally, you should keep wallpaper out of rooms that experience high and/or transient moisture levels, like the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. It will begin to curl and peel pretty quickly. Also, if you have kids or pets, keep the wall paper out of their reach. Yes, it can be washed, but intensive scrubbing for crayons, dirty smudges, etc. will make it ragged.

One way to get the best of both worlds is to use them both. You can use wallpaper as an accent wall and get the best bang for your holistic buck. How about you? Do you prefer wallpaper or paint?

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.