With many of us stuck at home these last few weeks, you may be coming to realize that your spaces aren’t working for you and your family. It’s been proven that how your home functions affects your productivity, mood and even your health. Now is the ideal time to solve some of your space dilemmas without leaving the sofa.
The most requested design advice, regardless of the size of the project, is furniture arrangement. Most clients know how they want to use the room but struggled with exactly how to achieve it. With virtual space planning, we practice social distancing, since I never come to your home. I’ll have you complete a questionnaire, take some photos and send your room measurements.
With more Coronavirus cases showing up in the US, fears are mounting that the virus will become more widespread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has many recommendations for avoiding the illness and keeping it in check. Hand washing tops the list, along with hand sanitizing and avoiding crowds. A robust immune system may also help and your home can play an important role in keeping you healthy.
The links between the built environment and health have been studied for decades though applying it to your home is gaining momentum. Wellness oriented interior design influences both our physical health and our mental state of mind. Here are some fundamental tips on how to achieve an environment that creates a healthy lifestyle.
Commune with Nature Bringing the outside in with abundant natural light, vegetation, good air quality, natural materials and nature views will have a positive impact on your immune system.
Lighting Natural light is always best and studies have shown that it improves productivity, alertness, and mood. It enhances our vitamin D balance, which is critical in absorbing calcium keeping bones strong. Artificial lighting systems should mimic daylight as much as possible with controls in place to allow our circadian rhythm to work normally. Utilize bright light for active pursuits and progressively dimmer light as bedtime nears.
Color I’ve written about the effects of color before. While color is always a personal decision there are certain hues that either under or over stimulate your spaces. Educate yourself on specific colors and choose wisely.
Scents You don’t need to be an aromatherapist to understand the emotional and wellness benefits of scents. When we inhale aroma molecules they connect to the brain and incite strong emotional responses. Be careful with chemically derived scents though as they can cause headaches, respiratory issues and irritated sinus passages.
Clutter Studies have repeatedly shown that clutter = stress. We all know that stress impacts our physical health and that subconsciously, clutter effects your mood, relationships and sleep. Check out our declutter tips on a recent blog. Your body will thank you.
WELL For additional information on healthy spaces check out the The International WELL Building Institute™ website whose mission is to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world through its WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™).
Mr. H says: Those who have their health have everything-Enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mr. H says: Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul-Enjoy!
Are you sleep walking through your day without knowing why? Your lifestyle and design choices you’ve made at home may be the culprit. Here’s a checklist of all the things that may be negatively affecting your sleep and making you unproductive.
I’ve talked about this before: poorly designed lighting affects the mood of the occupants and can create either a restless or restful feel to a space. Access to natural light is critical as researchers have found that exposure to more natural light actually resulted in a more restful sleep at night. Sunlight first thing is morning has been linked to sounder sleep so be sure to open your shades as soon as you rise.
Study after study have found that those blue wavelengths from your cell phone, tablet and TV suppress your brain’s production of a critical sleep hormone-melatonin. Without sufficient amounts of melatonin, not only are you more likely to have a restless night, but melatonin suppression has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair the immune system, and possibly lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Using filters on your screens at night or amber glasses should help with your sleep without having to toss your devices.
The color blue has been shown to slow down your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, and make you feel sleepy. While a great in the bedroom, it’s not an ideal color in the active spaces in your home. Colors with yellow undertones, think green and peach, give rooms a mental boost by promoting conversation and social interaction.
Sitting Too Long
We’re all guilty of being a couch potato while binging on Netflix. Sitting for long periods of time though can deplete your energy and can actually make your body equate that inactivity with going to sleep. Frequent breaks are important so stretch often, get up and walk way from your sofa. Better yet, get outside and enjoy some natural light
Inefficient Overall Design
Dysfunctional kitchens and baths, lots of clutter, and an unorganized environment causes your brain to be overwhelmed and unable to focus increasing your fatigue. Set a goal to clear out and organize at least one area of your home to see how it changes your mood and energy level. Once you see the effects challenge yourself and your family to tackle the rest.
Flipping through a gorgeously photographed interior design book can spark an interest in revamping your own space. Find six newly released volumes that have all the tips and tricks to assist you in creating the home that fits your unique lifestyle.
In Living with Pattern, Rebecca Atwood demystifies how to use pattern, a design concept that often confounds and confuses, demonstrating how to seamlessly mix and layer prints throughout a house.
Both educational and beautiful, Vern Yip shares his favorite insider tips, and opens his doors to show how he’s made them work in his own homes. Vern Yip’s Design Wise provides both the inspiration and the clear, essential guidelines you need to create a home that perfectly reflects you.
Good taste is embedded into Aerin Lauder’s DNA. As the heiress to the Estée Lauder brand and the founder of her own Aerin collection, Lauder’s Beauty at Home is a love letter to the well-lived, well-loved homes of the Lauder family.
Veranda Elegant Entertaining. Providing the perfect mix of engaging advice and dazzling photographs, you’ll be inspired to take your next Spring party to the next level.
The Four Elements of Design: Interiors Inspired by Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Interior design icon Vicente Wolf, provides an inspirational guide to designing unforgettable spaces based on the four natural elements.
Closer to home, Southern Coastal Living is the first book from the award-winning J Banks Design Group. This beautifully photographed book reveals luxurious but relaxed home and lifestyle design on Hilton Head Island. Joni Vanderslice, ASID founded J Banks Design Group in 1986. As owner and president, she has built the design company into an internationally firm recognized for the J Banks signature style of timeless design and casual elegance.
Is a home redesign in your new year’s resolution? I’ve rounded up the hottest trends of 2018 that you might consider in your next interior design project.
Kitchen Colors: We are moving away from the white, antiseptic kitchens resembling medical labs and moving towards colors, real colors, that provide depth and warmth to the busiest place in the home.
Signature Kitchens and Bath Charleston Photo by Jim Somerset
Statement Ceilings: I’ve blogged before on the often ignored ceiling as a design surface. Bold colors, coffers, wood ship lap and wallpaper are just a few elements that can bring a wow factor to a room.
Photo by Toa Heftiba
Organic: Natural materials, that are eco-friendly and responsibly harvested, are handcrafted into lighting, furniture, wallpaper and fabric.
Bold Velvet: The lush new, poly-blend velvet fabrics that have inundated the market in recent years are poised to take over everyone’s living room. Rich colors, add elegance and luxury in one sophisticated child proof package.
Metallics: As I wrote in a previous blog, glimmering metals can make a space more glamorous. This trend will be seen in homes for years to come.
Big Prints: Large scale printed fabrics are enjoying a renaissance. From big, chintz floral patterns to bold contemporary designs, these statement fabrics are appeaing in rooms of every style.
Osborne & Little
Cozy living: Snug and sheltered are the keys to the cozy living movement playing off our desire for a simple, quiet, disconnected lifestyle where home is our haven.
photo by Behy Studio
Handmade Fixtures: Artisan fixtures made of forged metal, blown glass or other natural materials will be the focus for investment statement pieces.
Matte Black: In kitchen and bath trends, matte black fixtures are on the fast track to replace the polished and satin nickel finishes that have dominated the market the last few years.
Olive Green: While not the Pantone color of the year, the earthy sophisticated aesthetic of olive green is a super star in the design world. Green is making a comeback in many ways and this soft, natural color complements the cozy home trend for 2018.
Designing a home or space with luxury in mind is a design philosophy that I have always followed. For me a luxurious interior has a sophisticated feel that can stand the test of time. A well planned space is the first step and these are my tip tips to craft your own luxury.
Start with good “bones”
Pay attention to the walls, floors and ceiling as this is the permanent design back drop.
Form follows Function
Luxury design is always about problem solving and crafting solutions for your lifestyle.
Lighting should be done in layers with general ambient light, task lighting and accent lighting. Peppering a ceiling with recessed down lighting does not convey luxury or even good design.
Beautiful natural materials such as stone and fine woods are essential to luxury design
While purchasing, high quality furnishings is important in luxury design, adding a few pieces with an interesting finish, detail or shape adds interest to a room.
Textures and Fabrics
A space filled with distinct textures and fabrics, regardless of the colors, feels inviting and luxurious.
Add mirrors or other reflective materials for instant luxury and glamour in every room.
Apply restraint when arranging furniture, artwork and accessories. You should be able to appreciate every piece that composes the design of your space.
Mr. H says: Luxury is the opposite of vulgarity-Enjoy!
With the economic downturn, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and often the design budget is first on the block. Do not despair. Lighting is an ideal makeover candidate since one fabulous fixture can transform a room.
Urban Electric – Nadia Watts Interior Design.
This contemporary metal fixture from Utttermost features a polished nickel finish and a frosted glass shade with crystal accents.
Currey & Company’s delicate chandelier is quite large (48″ round) but its open iron frame and turned wood “crystals” appears so airy.
Quoizel presents a twist on the popular the popular drum shade with a perforated metal overlay, over the silk drum shade, featuring a leaf design.
Any room in the house can benefit with a lighting up fit.
Interior design by Novella Homes. Photography by Patrick Brickman.
Mr. H says: When there is no light, there is no beauty-Enjoy!