How to Use Black Paint Inside Your Home

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Black is sophisticated color to add to your interior design palate. However, it can be a bit intimidating if you are a new DIY interior decorator. It takes a good eye and a little know-how to choose the right type of black, and to know how to use it without creating cave-like spaces, or winding up with an undesirable interior design that is more oppressive than stylish.

Here are some tips about how to use black paint inside your house to add drama, accent and perhaps even an element of surprise.

Use Black Paint on the Ceiling to Visually Alter a Room’s Dimensions

This one may seem counterintuitive since one of the main tenets of interior design seems to be, “Keep ceilings light to make a space seem bigger…”. But, there are times when we don’t want a room to seem bigger; in fact, we want to shrink it a little. This can be true of a dining room, bedroom, study or library. Sometimes, too-high ceilings can make the furnishings feel lost or dwarfed, which is not the feeling you want to create in a space that is known for intimate, cozy gatherings or conversation. A black ceiling can be used to take it down a notch, and make a room feel more anchored.

Another great use of black paint on a ceiling is to highlight a fantastic chandelier. Look at how the black ceiling makes this light fixture seem to float in the ethereal plane. At night, the ceiling virtually disappears, creating the ultimate, infinite dreamscape.

A Black Accent Wall Can Make All The Difference

In most cases, an accent wall is about adding a splash of color to a room. In this case, a black accent wall is usually implemented to spotlight a particular furnishing or work of art. For example, in this modern San Francisco living room, we used a black wall to serve as the background for two stunning, colorful works of art. While the white walls work to feature the rest of the interior design elements, the paintings could never have had the same impact on a white background. The simple addition of black paint on a single wall makes a statement, don’t you think?

Frame Your Space Using Black Accent Trim or Moulding

Speaking of dramatic impacts, consider using black paint for your crown moulding and base. You can also use it for your window and door trim. It will help these feature to stand out and will create more dramatic lines for the eye to follow. This technique can be especially helpful in rooms with really high ceilings. Adding a perimeter trim about 8-feet or so up the wall, and painting it black, will help to anchor those spaces you want to feel more welcoming and intimate such as a foyer or living room. Of course, black trim, or black walls with white trim, will also help to highlight any unique architectural features you may have in your home.

Black Lacquer Paint is an Instant Furnishing Facelift

If you rent your space, or don’t feel confident about painting an entire surface of your home in black, then look to your furnishings and accent pieces. It’s amazing what a coat of black lacquer or a high-gloss paint can do for an old or beat-up antique or vintage piece. It makes it look brand new and ultra-fashionable.

Would you like to explore the idea of using black paint in your interior design? Give me a call at Kristina Wolf Design (510) 848-8773, or contact me online. I would love to help you.

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How to Choose Paint

While painting isn’t a permanent change, it is an investment of your time, energy and money so it’s important to get it right the first time. The following tips will help you choose the right color(s) and finish for each room in your house so the results are both aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting.

Afraid to make the final decisions on your own? Contact a professional interior designer. In one affordable consultation, you can get the advice you need to execute a beautiful whole-house interior paint job with complete confidence.

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How to Choose the Best Paint Color for Your Space

First, you need to make sure the colors you select are appropriate for the mood or effect you want to create in that particular space. If you have existing art work, area rugs or furniture, those will need to be taken into account as well.

  1. Start perusing. Start bookmarking websites and home decor magazines with rooms you like. It doesn’t matter if this one is red and that one is blue – just bookmark them. After you have a range of options, you will be able to figure out whether you are drawn to bold, neutral, or pastels for a particular space.
  2. Consider the lighting. While that color may look great in the magazine spread, in a room with a ton of windows and natural light, it may not look so great in your back guest bedroom with one east-facing window. Consider the lighting in each room so you choose the right shade.
  3. Use samples. Invest in small sample cans of your potential colors. Paint them on poster board or as large of a paintable surface as you can find. Then watch how it looks throughout the day, on different walls, so you get a better idea of whether or not it will work in your space.

Which Paint Finish Is the Best?

Rule number 1: Never use a paint with a flat finish. It is cheap for a reason. In addition to being relatively lifeless, it is nearly impossible to clean because the paint rubs away with the scuff, leaving an unattractive smudge.

Now that we got that important rule out of the way – let’s move on to your other finish options.

Eggshell: This is a step up from a flat or matte paint. There is very little sheen so while it will mask slight wall imperfections, there is enough shine to it that you can wash off occasional scuffs or marks without taking the paint with it. Eggshell is best used in dining rooms or living rooms.

Satin: This is probably the most attractive and universal paint finish. It has just the right amount of gloss, without being too shiny, and it is easy to clean. The only downfall is that any imperfection in roller or brush strokes will be visible, which also make it trickier to touch-up. This is ideal for just about any room other than the bathrooms or kitchen.

Semi-gloss. Semi-gloss paints are pretty shiny, which also means they’re relatively moisture and grease resistant. It’s easy to clean. You can use it on bathroom or kitchen walls and it’s often used for trim since trim is prone to scuffage.

High-gloss. A high-gloss paint will be ultra-durable, ultra-cleanable, and ultra-reflective. It’s a good choice for anything that sticky fingers or pet noses will come in contact with regularly, such as cabinets, trim, and doors. Just remember that any flaws will be more visible so prep these surfaces well beforehand.

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?

10 Simple Ways to Make Your Home Warm and Inviting

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Sometimes the simplest changes to a living space can have an immediately noticeable effect. With the holiday season right around the corner, we thought we would share some simple ways to warm up the rooms in your house. These 10 changes or additions will make your guests feel right at home.

  1. De-clutter the entryway. When you first step into your front door, what do you see? If your front entryway has become the catch-all for mail, bills, all-weather gear, and a pile of shoes, take the time to clear up the clutter. Use hooks, a hall tree, or an armoire if there’s room, to keep things organized.
  2. Make the fireplace a focal point. Whether you light the fire or not, fireplaces can take up a significant amount of wall space, which makes it worth your effort to make it an attractive focal point. Adding a large piece of art or a mirror above the mantle, and seasonal decor on the mantle shelf, will draw the eye. Arrange furniture so it faces the fireplace. If you never light the fire, use art, candles, or other accents where the fire would be so it isn’t such a dark hole.
  3. Mix-it-up. Purchasing a matching furniture set can seem good in theory, but it can often make a room look too formal or cold. Try mixing up your furniture and textiles a bit to make the space more interesting.
  4. Spruce up the paint. Living in our homes day to day can make us oblivious to the small signs of wear and tear. Take a fresh look at your paint and see if touch-ups or a re-do are in order. A fresh coat of paint works wonders.
  5. Freshen up the color. When was the last time your home or room was re-designed? Give it a quick overhaul on your own. Changes can be as simple as purchasing colorful new window panels or accent pillow shams that add a new dimension to your existing design.
  6. Go white. Do you have a room with dark walls? Consider changing them using a high-quality white paint. White reflects colors, so it can pack a powerful punch. Without changing any of your furnishings, you can end up with a more open and welcoming space.
  7. Add throw blankets. This time of year, throw blankets can add a little color and style, plus they provide a warm and cozy cover for guests when you are enjoying one another’s company on cold weekend days, and after your traditional holiday meals.
  8. Be yourself. Let your design and style reflect who you are, not what you admire or what you want your home to be. Make sure that your elegant or modern interior has a bit of personality and is an expression of your taste, and your family’s.
  9. Test the furniture. There is nothing worse than sitting down on hard, uncomfortable dining room chairs, or having to perch awkwardly on a low-backed modern chair. In order to avoid this experience for yourself and guests, thoroughly test furniture before you bring it home. It may be beautiful, or it can seem like a deal that’s too good to pass up, but if it isn’t comfortable once you get it home, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
  10. Just add Mother Nature. Use fresh cut flowers, branches, fruit and other living accents to tables, countertops and book cases. These bursts of seasonal color always add a warm and cheerful ambiance to any living space.