Archive for February, 2011

Small Can Still Be BIG

A tough economy is no longer an excuse for not giving your home a face lift. Most people assume it take big bucks to completely change the look of a room- but you know where assuming gets you! Today I want to show you steps that will still make a big impact on the look and feel of your space that can fit within all types of budgets.

The first thing you need to do is assess what final look you want for the space. Can you benefit from just adding a piece of art to a blank wall? Does your furniture still function but need updating? (See my previous post about Affordable Design in the News) Maybe you’re looking for a bigger change? I’ll walk you through my steps of change for making big impacts. We’ll start with the smallest budget change, and take you to the biggest. Each can be done individually but I’ll show you a progression as we transform this ordinary kitchen.

Starting Point

My advice if you’re on a tight budget is to start with wall color. White or beige are good colors to be a simple background, a “blank canvas” for someone who likes to change out accessories frequently. A bolder color might help add personality to a simple space and take the place of having to find the right piece of art for your blank walls.

Painted Walls

Next I would suggest looking at ceiling design. Most people forget the 6th surface of the room! Unique ceilings are unexpected and can add interest to a small space. Whether you use paint, wood, or another material you are sure to create a lasting impression on your visitors.

Metal Ceiling

Another way to change the feel of a room is to take an ordinary element and reinvent it. In our example kitchen I’ve just taken cabinetry which would normally be white or stained and painted it an unexpected color. You can accomplish this same effect by having an old piece of furniture reupholstered uniquely, or turning a table lamp upside down and making it a pendant. This is your chance to get creative!

Painted Cabinets

And finally for the icing on the cake, I suggest replacing old, out-dated flooring. This can improve the value of your home! Carpet can transform a once loud dining room into a quieter, more intimate setting. Wood can be warmer on bare feet than a winter-chilled tile floor. Area rugs can add life and color to an otherwise dull color scheme. In our kitchen I’ve completed our design by replacing the contemporary maple-look linoleum with a darker, prominent grained wood. To add pizazz the counter tops were also changed from a light color to black. Just for fun, here’s the before and after of our kitchen:

Before and After

Voila! Complete transformation. Not all projects have to make drastic changes to turn heads. Maybe instead of replacing your kitchen cabinets you slap on a few coats of paint or install new hardware. That hand-me-down chair of yours might look great in a “Tiffany” blue instead of cream, or just in need of new contrasting buttons. The secret to making small changes that make a big difference is to find what element is holding back, dating, or not contributing to your design and do something about it.

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Special Thank You

I wanted to say a special thank you to the interior design classes of Midway High School in Waco, Texas for allowing me to come talk to you about interior finishes yesterday. Good luck to all the graduating seniors and hope to see some of you enter the wide world of interior design!

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Achieving Your Remodel Goals

More and more I hear people make statements like, “This remodel will cost more than I can afford right now- I’ll have to wait until next year.” Sometimes this means a client wasn’t fully aware of the expenses involved with renovations. Other times a client’s eyes are bigger than their wallet. Most of the time I find that this statement is said because the scope of a project was not properly assessed. I liken it to trying to unload a car full of groceries; most people overload their arms and then have trouble opening the door or dropping items all along the way- taking as few trips as possible. The same final goal can be achieved by taking more trips with smaller loads. Maybe it adds another 2-3 minutes onto your unloading time, and takes a little more effort, but it saves stress and you still end up with a refrigerator full of food.

Remodeling is the same way. Some projects (such as moving walls) are better to complete everything at one time. More often I find projects are easily done in pieces over a period of time. It makes the home more livable since the home is normally not entirely in disrepair for months and spreads out the financial burden for the client. Meet James and Brenda- a recently retired couple who hasn’t updated their kitchen since buying their home over 25 years ago. The overall scope of their project includes new floors, cabinets, counter tops, lighting, window-coverings, paint, and appliances as well as building a wet bar with a pass-through to their dining room. Their original construction estimate was for $28,000 and a schedule taking 45 days to complete.

Initially James and Brenda decided it might be better to just scrap the project, but were willing to reconsider once I revised the initial proposal. My new proposal included a series of mini-projects within the overall project. This included a schedule that extended the project over nearly an entire year, but left less than 8 days total down-time where the kitchen would be inaccessible. While this added another $2,700 to the project total this meant that James and Brenda would be able to stagger payments with the progression of the project, not having to take out a bank loan with interest, as well as be able to live in their home for the entire length of the renovation. These “steps” allow them to be in control of the overall project and “pause” or stop the project as needed and still have a functioning kitchen.

But how does this help you? The lesson to be learned here is planning. Initially a project needs to be completely thought through. Think big. Ask yourself, what look or function am I trying to achieve for this space within the next 5 years? From there take time to assess needs versus wants. I usually break it down to 3 categories- a “wish,” “to-do,” and “need” list. James and Brenda WISHED to have the wet bar, pass through, and new flooring- none of which were a must. They NEEDED to replace their old appliances, worn window-coverings, and broken cabinetry. The new counters would be necessary for new cabinets, and the outdated paint and lighting would be an easy addition to the project to complete the new look. Our initial planning helped in mapping out clear “stopping points” for the project with minimal tear-out of new work while addressing the “need” priority of each item within our time line.

James and Brenda are fully enjoying retirement in their newly remodeled kitchen with plans to add a wet bar and a pass-through in the next month. I’d love to help you sort through your project plans and turn dreams into achievable goals. So what is your next big project?

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Special Promotion!

Check out our latest promotion going on in the store:

Karastan Logo

Follow this link to our promotion page!

This special runs through April 5, 2011- perfect for investing some of that tax return back into your home! Come by the showroom and let us show you how we can take you from “before” to happily ever after!

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Treasure Troves

I’ve received some questions about local places to find your own diamond-in-the-rough pieces. There are a few local places that I frequent but I’m always looking for new hideaways!

Like this past weekend I traveled to Dallas and set out junk store shopping. We finally tracked down this placed called Lula B’s. Everywhere I turned I saw beautiful blown glass vases to turn into lamps or pendant fixtures, worn out old furniture only in need of a funky fabric and some stuffing, and shoe boxes full of once-loved baseball card collections just waiting to have their purpose reinvented.

So what did I bring home? My partner in crime found a classic bedside table. As for me: nothing. Well ok, maybe a cute little smocked dress, but nothing for a new home project. I DID get a few ideas though! Definitely on the “I Will Be Back” list after my next paycheck.

I know quite a few people who travel to Dallas and Austin to gather up great resale items, but there are several local spots on my local radar too. My favorite places in town are: Laverty’s, Habitat Restore, and the Style Station (mostly clothes, but great stuff). Share some of your favorite resale spots here and help ensure we preserve local small business!

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The Results are In!

There is a clear winner from our first poll. We asked and you told us!

62% of you would like to see blog posts about affordable ways to design and get more “bang for your buck.”
23% were interested in “green” or energy efficient design.
15% were split between wanting to know about color trends and other topics.

So… let’s get to it! Last week we posted a link to a morning news broadcast. On this broadcast there were several great ideas to redecorating using what you already have. If you don’t have much to work with, like me, then try going out and using other people’s cast-offs. Local resale stores can prove to be a great resource for pieces to add to your decor. But can you REALLY transform a space with bargain bin junk? Yes, you can. The great way to jazz up an uninspired space is to create a conversation piece.

In my own home I was inspired by an old family friend also blessed (or cursed- however you see it) with creativity. She salvaged an old door and turned it into a headboard for her bed. That got me thinking about using a door as an art piece. I had a long wall in my living room that needed some love- my small heirloom table and lamp just weren’t doing the trick. In a quick trip to the Habitat Restore I found some paint ($10) and a sturdy door ($35) with the size panels I wanted. After a coat of paint, I glued mirrors ($18) and glass seed beads ($12) into the panel recesses for a more glamorous feel.

Even though the work was tedious, when all was said and done I had spent $75 on a large piece of art that would have cost hundreds to find a similar sized piece in a retail store. My mirrored door is the first thing that guests see when they walk into my home and I get compliments all the time. I’ve even had people ask if they can commission me to make a similar treasure for their own home. This affordable masterpiece took my drab living room and turned it into an artful expression. Not to mention it’s functionality as a final mirror check before running out the door!

Homework: Think about a lost piece of furniture in your home, a neglected corner, or an unsatisfied function that needs improvement. How can you update it or alter it’s function to suit you better? So dust off that old be-dazzler and give it a try. We’d love to see pictures! I’ll be waiting to see your projects with my own completed “homework” piece to show and tell.

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Affordable Design in the News

This morning on CBS’ “Early Show” there was a nice segment on affordable updates to pieces in your own home. Proof that anyone with a little ingenuity and a can of spray paint can update their decor! To check out the piece from this morning just click on the link I’ve included below. Do you have treasures like this in your own home? Share with us!

Early Show – Update Your Decor with… Your Decor!

I also found this gem from a previous CBS segment that shows how minor investments can make a BIG difference:

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