Design advice for couples

One of the most unanticipated hurdles of cohabiting with the one you love is agreeing on how your home will look and feel. Many times, partners have very different tastes and preferences, making the design process stressful. Read on for my top tips on merging your styles.

Prioritize. Have a discussion about each space’s use and your needs for that space. List points you both agree on and build on your list from there. Your ultimate goal should be to create a home that everyone feels loved and nurtured in.

Traditional beach house design
J. Rhodes Interior Design

Budget. Assign a number to each project that your both comfortable with and stick to it. Once your in the thick of the design process, arguing about money is a guarantee that your project will come to a screeching halt.

Merge styles. Fortunately most anything goes in the design world these days. Eclecticism is in and will remain that way, so it’s okay to mix traditional furniture with more modern or even industrial designed pieces. If done right, combining opposing styles leads to creating interesting dynamic spaces.

Designate spaces. Giving each person the freedom to make all the design decisions in one space is a great way for everyone to get their wish list.

Modern Family Room
J. Rhodes Interior Design

Compromise. In a relationship, you each bring unique things into the mix. Don’t discount your partners stuff because it’s not your taste. Find common ground when deciding how to incorporate each others treasures and unite your design styles.

When it’s something more... During times of change, a lot of repressed annoyances often show up. Don’t let a decision to renovate the kitchen devolve into arguments about the in-laws. Keep in mind that if an ugly chair is driving a wedge in your relationship, it may be indicative of more severe underlying problems and that it may not be the best time to tackle a design project together.

Engage a Pro. If you can’t seem to come to an understanding, consider hiring an interior designer to assist you with your design dilemmas. An experienced designer will have helped many other couples and will provide a fresh perspective without taking sides.

Mr. H says: Home is not a place but a feeling-Enjoy!

Top ways to love your home

The places we inhabit on a regular basis, impacts our mood and well being. From it’s efficiency to it’s appearance, your home can make you feel either energized and inspired or depressed and tired. We’ve found that these three obstacles are usually what keeps our clients from loving where they live.

CLUTTER

Multiple studies have shown that clutter increases your stress level, making it difficult to focus and may lead to exhaustion. Piles of stuff make it harder to clean, allowing dust and pet dander to go unchecked, causing allergic and respiratory problems.

Clutter makes us feel anxious, guilty and sometimes embarrassed that we let it become a problem. The best solution is to create a schedule to tackle your clutter. Start with one area at a time and finish completely before moving on to another. Be sure to celebrate your success with each space you conquer.

Uncluttered shelves
Pottery Barn

ORGANIZATION

Clutter and disorganization go hand and hand. Clutter develops because there is no place or plan for dealing with your stuff. Spending the energy looking for your keys or that important bill is both frustrating and huge waste of time. Stress and physical ailments such as headaches and backaches affect the unorganized. Your home should be a sanctuary and I’ve given tips on getting organized in the past to help you get there.

Organized living room
California Closets

BUDGET

Don’t let your budget prevent you from having a home that works for you. A space can be transformed with a new wall color or by rearranging your existing furniture. It is possible to improve the function and appearance of your home with any size budget.

Besides moving the furniture around or painting a room, other ways to improve your home’s appearance on a budget is with the lighting, window treatments and artwork to name a few. Click the links for in depth advice on all these subjects.

Organized dining room
J. Rhodes Interior Design, Inc.

Mr. H says: Any home can be a castle when the king and queen are in love-Enjoy!

How To Choose Paint Colors To Sell Your Home

Are you downsizing or relocating to a new city in 2020? There are lots of tips out there advising sellers on how to make their home appealing to prospective buyers. On the top of the list is the interior color palette. Don’t let your home sit stagnant on the market because of some questionable paint choices. Here is our color guide to getting the most for your investment.

Avoid Dark Colors

While you love your dramatic dark chocolate living room, others may think it feels too cave like. Lighten up dark rooms as much as possible so rooms appear spacious.

Rugo Raff Architects
Photo by Rugo/ Raff Ltd. Architects

That bright turquoise accent wall in the kitchen looks great with your retro dining chairs however possible buyers will not appreciate your bold choice. Paint feature walls the same color as the rest room.

Photo by Gacek Design Group, Inc. 

Remove Wallpaper

Wallpaper has enjoyed a renaissance over the last few years and as a designer it is a favorite design tool. When selling a house though, you are better off taking down the wallpaper and painting. The only exception may be in the powder room especially if it is a current pattern trend and is in excellent condition.

Thibaut Wallpaper
Thibaut

Stick to Neutrals

It’s good practice to stick to a neutral scheme throughout. The goal is to create a blank canvas so people can envision themselves living there. A neutral palette doesn’t necessarily mean white walls though. Depending on your furnishings choose either shades of gray or taupe for an updated look.

Neutral master bedroom

Mr. H says: A new home means new beginnings-Enjoy!

Best Home Design Trends for 2020

If there is one way to describe the interior design trends we will see more of in 2020, it’s that anything goes. Strong geometric patterns, new interpretations of neutrals and texture everywhere are just a few of the trends we are incorporating into our projects.

Color as a neutral: This trend started popping up on Instagram, with lots of images of navy blue cabinetry, a few seasons ago. Going a step further, watch for saturated hues of green, red and gold jewel tones on walls, tile and in furnishings.

Kravet Fabric and Furniture
Michael Berman for Kravet

Layered patterns: As with fashion, there are no rules for mixing different patterns in a single outfit. In homes, walls, windows and floors can all have their own unique pattern while forming a cohesive look.

Interior design mixing patterns
HRI Design

High contrast design: Monochromatic spaces feel fresh with bold accents. Bright whites juxtaposed with dark grey, rich black, and those deep jewel tones like red add depth to a space.

High contrast interior design
ZLINE Kitchen and Bath

Natural materials: Marble especially will be a major player in kitchen and bath materials, as well as accessories and lighting for the rest of the house.

Marble table lamp-Curey
Currey and Company

Textured Surfaces: Add dimension to your space by incorporating texture on walls or ceilings. Wallpaper, faux finishes and textured paint can all be used to achieve a certain look. Added bonus: textures hide drywall imperfections

Thibaut wallpaper
Thibaut

Mr. H says: Nothing you really like is ever out of style-Enjoy!

Easy habits of organized people

Happy New Year!

Behind losing weight getting organized comes in at a close second for New Year’s resolutions. If this is one of your promises you’ve made for your home here are the top tips from a habitual organizer.

Don’t dump the mail: Managing the mail immediately is a fundamental principle to an organized home. Set up a central mail station where letters and packages get sorted out. Have a bin to recycle junk mail and place bills and other important correspondence into an action spot.

Mail organizer
Etsy-signedandnumbered

Containers don’t equal organized: Resist the urge to invest in a lot of fancy containers which only moves the mess into a plastic bin. Start your organization journey with three baskets: one for items to keep, items to toss and items to donate. Only after you’ve done this exercise figure out a way to store the items your keeping.

Plastic storage containers
The Container Sore

Keep counter tops tidy: Corral frequently used items like wooden utensils and olive oil on a tray or canister to keep counter tops junk free. Anything that is not used daily should be found a home or tossed.

Ceramic utensil holder
Pottery Barn

Have junk drawer strategy: It’s time to find a solution if you have drawers stuffed with batteries, pencils and even worse bills. Drawer organizers come in handy to keep things tidy. Be sure to follow the keep, toss and donate rule when cleaning your drawers out.

Drawer organizer
All About Tidy

Manage your closets: It’s easy to ignore your closets since you can just close the door to the mess. Start with tossing what you don’t need and dedicating a place for what your keeping. Add shelves or hang rods to tame the chaos and organize the things you use and wear the most to the front so that your not constantly upending the all the hard work you’ve done.

Organized entry closet
California Closets

Create a plan: Staying organized is a habit and takes time to master. Schedule time to tackle one organizational challenge either daily or weekly, depending on the scale, and pretty soon you’ll be able to keep at least one resolution.

Calendar
Maddi Bazzocco

Mr. H says: With organization comes empowerment-Enjoy!

Outdoor Holiday Decor Etiquette

Every neighborhood has one. You know, the house so bright with holiday lights that it can be seen from the space station. If your that guy or gal, who prides themselves with their over the top decor follow these rules of holiday etiquette to maintain peace on Earth with your neighbors.

James Wheeler

Put up the holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving. Even though all the stores are pushing Christmas before Halloween, follow the Black Friday to the Epiphany (January 6) rule for putting up and taking down your own holiday decorations.

Know your neighbors floor plan. If your neighbor’s bedroom windows overlooks the side of your house, be courteous and not shine the lights directly at them. Make sure your display is not in your neighbor’s line of vision either. You don’t want to temporarily blind as they pull into their driveway. Same goes for those inflatables, that could block visibility to the road. If you’re not sure, create good will and ask your neighbors if the decorations are a nuisance.

It’s OK to keep the lights on all night. Putting the lights on a timer is an easy way to save energy, however it’s fine to leave them on all night as long as no one complains.

Cut the music. A light display set to music may look and sound fantastic but you must resist. Even if you were to turn off your display at a reasonable time, none of your neighbors want to hear Tis the Season to be Jolly on repeat.

Wesley Tingey

Know your neighborhood. Take note of the level of decorations in your neighborhood. Festive as it may seem, a massive holiday display is going to attract visitors, possibly creating a traffic nightmare. Don’t land on your neighbor’s naughty list! Proceed with restraint in your your Christmas decorating.

Don’t be a Scrooge. If you find your neighbors are the ones with lousy holiday décor etiquette, approach with caution. If their multiple generators keeping the lights going or blaring music is keeping you up at night, say something. Do so in a polite way and offer a compromise, such as an ideal time to shut the party down. If it’s an aesthetic complaint, keep it to yourself. That mechanical Santa and eight tiny reindeer is filling your neighbor with holiday cheer and that is what this time of year is all about.

Mr. H says: Christmas lights makes us feel eight years old again-Enjoy!

10 things you need to host a holiday party

Pulling off a holiday party at home is made easier by having a few basic things on hand to make your soiree stress free.

1. The list

The key to any successful event is to make lists of all the elements that will go into the party. Include all the food and beverages along with glassware, tables and chairs, etc. that need to be purchased, borrowed or brought out of storage.

2. A coat rack

Clear out a space for your guest’s to stash their coats and purses. If you have the room, a temporary coat rack will eliminate having jackets draped over your furniture during your event.

Portable coat rack
Bed, Bath and Beyond

3. All purpose wine glasses

Stemless, dishwasher safe glasses can serve double duty for both wine and cocktails. Keep the boxes and store the clean glasses in a dust free space so they are ready to go for your next party.

Stemless wine glasses
Luminarc

4. Festive paper products

Cocktail parties call for themed paper plates and napkins, making clean up a snap while creating a lovely setting. Use a larger luncheon size for the food table and cocktail napkins at the bar for drinks.

Christmas paper napkins
Caspari

5. An easy menu

Keep the menu simple with a variety of five or six items. Create a festive spread utilizing both store bought items and home made. Stock up on crackers and cookies so that if the food is running low you’ve got back up. Forgo serving anything that needs a fork opting for pick ups, dips, and veggies.

Mini beef wellington bites
Wiliams Sonoma

6. The punch bowl

Turn any type of clean vessel into a serving piece. No punch bowl, no problem since a soup tureen can hold a libation with a matching ladle too. Bonus: Having a batch of cocktails premade will make serving easier than making drinks individually.

White soup tureen
Pottery Barn

7. Serving pieces

Take inventory of your platters and trays, designating what they will hold ahead of time. Don’t forget your cake stands or tiered trays for creating various heights on the table.

White cake stand
Frontgate

8. Holiday decor

You don’t need expensive florist’s arrangement to create a holiday setting. Snip greenery from your yard and intermingle with pine cones, berry stems and flame less candles for an easy table top design.

Christmas decorations

9. Holiday tunes

Never underestimate the power of music. Besides providing background noise, Christmas music elevates everyone’s mood.

10. Trash cans

Make clean up easier on yourself by putting out plenty of trash cans for your guests to dump their used paper plates. Ditto on creating a dirty glass station with a tray near the kitchen.

Decorative serving tray
West Elm

Mr. H says: Tis the season to jingle and mingle-Enjoy!

Real or Faux Christmas Trees-the Facts

The Christmas tree is at the heart of the season’s holiday traditions. But as we become more eco-friendly does it make sense to cut down a living evergreen for such a short-lived pleasure? An artificial tree made of plastic doesn’t feel too “green” either. So it’s time to unpack the facts of both kinds of trees.

The Real

As with most types of farm products, Christmas trees are grown as managed crops. They are not cut down on a large scale in the wilderness. Taking about a decade to grow a six foot tree, farmers generally plant new trees to replace the ones that have been cut down.

Taylor Rooney

As the trees grow, they provide animal habitats, clean the air, and prevent soil erosion. Rolling hills, that are unsuitable for other crops, are where Christmas trees grow best. At the end of the season, real trees can be composted returning them back into the natural environment.

Keep your real Christmas tree looking good through the season by making a fresh cut to the trunk and immediately placing in warm water. Set up your tree away from direct heat sources and be sure to check the water level daily. It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is the stand.

The Fake

Most people that opt for an artificial version do so out of convenience. (Disclaimer: Mine is fake!) Since artificial trees are made of metal and plastic they are not biodegradable like real trees. Recycling is nearly impossible since the materials used to fabricate the tree would be need to be separated to do so.

Artificial Christmas tree Balsam Hill
Balsam Hill

The question of eco-friendliness depends largely on how long you keep your artificial tree. The more seasons you reuse it, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

Artificial Christmas Tree Birch Lane
Birch Lane

Look for artificial Christmas trees made with polyethylene, or PE plastic, instead of PVC. PE plastic is more durable and also tend to look more realistic. Proper storage in the off-season is key to ensuring that you can enjoy your Christmas tree for many seasons.

So now onto the next debate: white or colored lights?

Mr. H says: It’s not what’s under the tree that matters but who’s around it-Enjoy!

8 things an interior designer will notice about your home

As a designer, I know first hand that everyone’s taste is different. When I’m hired to professionally assess a space though, I do notice a number of specifics, both good and bad, about your home. How organized you are, how your children and pets behave, and which space your family uses the most are just a few. Don’t worry though-I’m not judging, but making observations that will help me design the best solutions for your lifestyle. Here’s a list of the top things I notice the moment I walk through the front door.

The Flow

Does the furniture placement in a room promote good traffic flow through the space? When there is too much or awkwardly arranged furniture, a room may not be optimally used. Rearranging pieces to create a natural path in and out of the space may be one of the first things we do.

Good room flow
J. Rhodes Interior Design, Inc.

The Lighting

I’ve talked about this before, how a room is lit is critical to it’s function and ambiance. Applying a layered approach with general illumination, task and accent lighting sources is key to a well lit room.

Layered lighting design
Restoration Hardware

The Little Items

Most interior designers dream of an uncluttered space, where one can appreciated the stunning architecture or thoughtfully arranged furniture. Many times, I enter a room and am besieged by all tchotchke that cover every surface. Just because you own it doesn’t mean it needs to be on display.

Uncluttered table

The Windows

How your windows are treated tells me a lot about how you use a room. Windows that are tightly covered tells me you value your privacy while untreated windows say bring in the sunshine. It’s a topic we will need to address when designing the space.

Window treatment design
Hunter Douglas

The Woodwork

High quality door casing, crown molding, and cabinetry make up the bones of a space. Well proportioned trim creates a layer of interest and the opportunity to accent with color or incorporate lighting.

Pretty ceiling details

The Smell

Pets, cooking odor and strong scented candles can often overwhelm the casual visitor. Most of us have become inured to our homes odors, but an outsider can pick up the scent right away and it can be most unwelcome. Open the windows, use the kitchen and bath exhaust fans religiously or run the HVAC fan clear out stale spaces.

Cooking smells

The Pillows

Two, sad lumpy throw pillows on the sofa does not constitute a welcoming vibe. Adding throws and fresh plump pillows will go a long way to making a space cozy.

Pillows and throws
Surya

The Bathroom

The condition of your bathroom tells me a lot about your lifestyle and the possible solutions I can offer. Unorganized, cluttered countertops and towels on the floor are mostly a symptom of the bath’s design or lack there of.

Uncluttered bathroom

Mr. H says: Good houses take work-Enjoy!

Best flooring for pets

Designing for Pets

We all make accommodations for our pets in our homes. After all they are more than just four legs and a tail, our furry friends play a huge role in our families. Since almost all our clients have pets we are often asked to design around them as well as other members of the household. You don’t have to sacrifice style in order to accommodate your four legged friends.

Pet Friendly Fabrics

Carefully consider the cleanability and durability of your upholstery fabrics for the areas your family and pets will gather most. Denim, canvas, ulstrasuede and synthetics such as Crypton are all good choices. Outdoor fabrics come in numerous colors and textures while resisting most stains, moisture and odors. Leather is a durable choice though it can be punctured and scratched by big claws. Look for top grain, semi-aniline leathers whose hides are dyed through and treated for additional protection.

Sunbrella Pure Collection Fabrics
Sunbrella

Smart Window Treatments

Avoid long drapes that puddle on the floor that will collect pet debris. Consider Roman or roller shades and wood blinds that can be easily raised up so as to not spoil your pets view of the outside world. Keep dangling cords in check with cleats or opt for the cordless models.

Hunter Douglas Provenance window shades
Hunter Douglas

Their Own Space

Cats love to perch and climb and dogs like to retreat to their own “room”. Treat your pets by incorporating those features into the design of your home. Dog beds can fit into a cabinet or under a window seat and cat perches can become an architectural element.

Pet Hays

Dog Bed Decor

Be sure to choose a dog bed that’s large enough to accommodate the size of your pet. There are many stylish options available on sites like Etsy, so find one that complements your décor and is easy to keep clean.

Designer Dog Bed
Lion + Wolf

Pet-Friendly Entry

Create a pet friendly entrance that keeps dirt from being tracked through your entire home. Place an easy clean mat or rug at your pet’s main entry point to catch mud or debris as soon as they enter. Wall hooks reign in leashes and some type of cabinet can hold pet supplies such as collars, bags and treats.

Pet Friendly Entryway
Paper Riot Co.

Easy Clean Floors

Top choices for easy clean, durable flooring include porcelain or stone tiles. Some laminate and vinyl flooring come in second. While beautiful, hardwood floors, are a design statement, they can scratch easily and require diligent cleaning should an accident occur. Harder woods such as oak or mahogany are the best species bets, however avoid highly polished flooring that can pose a slipping hazard. Trim your pet’s claws regularly to keep scratches at bay.

Best flooring for pets
Armstrong

Slip Proof Rugs

While rugs can enhance the look of a room, they can also protect your floors from claws and stains. There are many easy care options to choose from with a multi color pattern being best for hiding dirt and pet hair. Wool rugs are naturally stain resistant and many synthetic rugs can be taken outside and easily hosed clean. Whichever rug style you choose, use a good quality non skid pad beneath to prevent slipping especially in open areas such as hallways.

Slip proof rug pads

Washable Bedding

Admit it, we sometimes snuggle with our pets in bed. Inevitably hair and dirt come with your furry friend. Opt for duvets and shams with removable covers over coverlets and quilts. The covers can be removed and laundered regularly with the rest of your sheets keeping your bed somewhat fur free.

Washable bed linens
SDH Linens

Display Breakables with Care

Keep glassware, porcelains or anything else that can be easily broken out of reach of your pets or better yet behind doors if you have cats. Shards of grandma’s tea set on the floor will not only break your heart but can cause serious damage to your pet’s paws.

Display Cabinet
Wayfair

Mr. H says: Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul-Enjoy!