Thursday, 28 March 2013

Not so Neutral Neutrals

Wow it's been crazy around here!  SO this will be a quick post on something I've noticed on several projects lately.  I wonder if maybe you have too at some point but couldn't put your finger on it.
You walk into a newly built house or a new renovated space and think, this is nice enough but something isn't quite right.  You just can't put your finger on it.  Some how things don't quite flow together.

If you've felt this way then there's a good chance that space had conflicting neutrals. 
But aren't neutrals neutral?  Yes and no.  Black, white, grey, and brown are supposed to be neutral but there's kind of a catch. 

You choose a beige sofa, chairs, walls, and rug, altogether they should create a nice neutral backdrop, right?  Not necessarily.  This picture is a prime example.  While it's definitely not the ugliest room ever, it definitely feels "off".

Unless a neutral is in it's basest form they have added other colours to it.  So why is that a problem and why does it look off?  Conflicting undertones.

For example beige comes in several undertones.  You may have chosen some nice brown/beige tile for your backsplash and decided to keep things neutral you'd go with a beige wall colour too.  But when you get it up there it just doesn't look right. The wall colour looks blah.  Is something wrong with the paint?
Most likely it's because your tiles are yellow beige and your walls are pink beige.  Pink beige will look dirty next to yellow beige.

Just check out this paint chip.  A light brown/beige (Lennox Tan BM).

When you put it next to a yellow beige...kinda dirty and blah.
 You can see the same thing with these couches and chairs.  The pinky beige sofas looks kind of dull next to the yellow beige chairs.

The same thing will happen with your finishes.

So when you're picking finshes please keep undertones in mind.  Just because you're picking all brown or gray stuff it won't aways go together.

If you're picking finishes and on the fence about hiring a decorator, just remember a consultation or two with me is much cheaper than ripping out and replacing flooring or furniture that looks off in your room.

Have a wonderful Easter weekend everyone!!!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Inconvenient Built Ins - Working With What You Have

Emily A Clark is having a link up party today where bloggers can show off and share some of the projects they've done where they worked with what they had.  She's had posts on this topic for a few months, showing ways she and some of her readers have worked with things like beat up hardwood floors, less than desirable furniture, long narrow living rooms, etc.

So todays post is was a last minute throw together of a project where I worked with what I had.  When we redecorated our office/guest room into a nursery for our little girl we were faced with a bit of a challenge.  While the room was larger than the nursery in our old house this room had lots of "things" in it.  Three windows in the corner, a closet door in the middle of one wall, the door on another, and built ins.

We have a lot of built ins in this house.  A doctor had this house custom made back in the fifties (so I'm told) and just about every room on the main floor has some kind of built ins.  While some are nice, others are pretty inconveniently placed and make furniture placement difficult.  That was the case in the nursery.  I loved the bookshelf and drawers in the corner but didn't love the desk that was attached to it.
I wish I had a before picture of the actual desk but I didn't think ahead at the time and was just eager to get rid of it.  When we started the room my plan was to remove the desk altogether.  It was covered in a peeling shiny (but scratched up) black laminate and constructed of ugly pine.  It even had one of those slide out keyboard shelf things.  I wanted it gone!
However when it came time to take it out it wasn't just some boards attached to the side of the bookcase and mounted on the wall, it was literally part of both.  If we were going to take it out it would've been major surgery and left the side of the bookcase marred and meant a lot of patching and possibly drywalling the wall behind it.  Since that work wasn't in the timeline or budget we decided the best route was to try and spruce it up a bit. We tore off the laminate, removed the keyboard shelf, and sanded everything really well.  A few coats of primer and paint later we had what would be our baby's change table. 
It actually ended up being a perfect length for the change pad and had enough room behind it for all of the diapers, wipes, lotions, etc. to sit conveniently and space underneath for the laundry basket.  It was one less piece of furniture to try and fit in (since our change table was too large to fit in that space anyways) and when she no longer needs a change table we can take the pad off and bring a chair up so it can be a desk again. 
I can't wait to see her sitting there drawing masterpieces... or doing homework!

Working With What You Have link up at emilyaclark.comCheck out the link up party!


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Using a Decorator on a Budget - One Idea

It's quite common for decorators to be called in half way through a project when a the client gets stuck.  As a decorator I have no problem coming and helping at whatever stage they need me at, however, projects like these are often more challenging.  Why?  Often clients have made quite a few decisions, made several purchases, already had their trades out to do some of the work, and the decorator comes into a "hodge podge" of decorating, so to say.


Probably the biggest challenge for a decorator when coming into half done projects is that quite often one or two (or several) of the purchases or decisions made by the client really don't work and we are asked to try to salvage the pieces. This usually results in more cost for the client (having to repurchase items or get trades out to fix problems) and/or a less than beautiful result (and who really wants that after they've spent all the money and time on it) If they had had a decorator out before making purchases or starting work they would have had the finished product they wanted for less money.

One way I have found that may save money for some people, and avoid the "hodge podge" rescue, is to do the leg work yourself!

Decorators charge for their time and mileage.  Gathering all of the samples and pictures they bring you to look at takes a lot of hours and leg work. So if you're willing to do the running around you may be able to save some dough. 

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

My suggestion is, if you're thinking about doing some redecorating, before you start anything, think about what you really want and what you really like. Fill your pinterest board, your houzz ideabook, or a binder with clippings and pictures of things you like.  This way when you meet with your decorator s/he can much easier see what your style is and what you want your project to feel like. (If you have no idea what you like then that's a whole other story and you'll probably need some help figuring that out) When you've got a collection together have your decorator out for a consultation.

Most decorators offer a one or two hour consultation for a fairly reasonable rate and you'd be surprised what you can get accomplished in a short amount of time.

Tell them up front that you're on a budget and want to do the shopping around yourself but you need to know what to look for and what to avoid.  When you've shown your decorator your ideas ask them what you will need to get the look you're after.  They should be able to give you a good idea of what to look for and possibly even the best places to find it. Make sure you take notes and ask lots of questions!

Once you have that information start your window shopping and sample gathering. Go to stores and get sample and good quality pictures of all of the options you find. Make sure you get prices, sizes and all the information you can on all of the items you're looking at. Don't forget to check prices at different places. Don't buy anything yet!!!

With all of your samples and pictures together have your decorator out for another consultation. Using everything you gathered they should be able to help you choose what will work together and get you closer to the desired look the first time around.

I think that extra hour or two at the start of the project is well worth it!  Often when I add up the extra money clients end up spending fixing mistakes or the headache and disappointment living with those mistakes (which they will probably get fed up with after a year or two and redo anyways) my fee for that hour or two at the start of the project would have been covered many times over.

If you're starting a project and need a little guidance I'd love to help!  If you have any questions about my services and how I might be able to help you, contact me at!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What's Old is New

I was visiting my mom last week and was browsing through an old binder she'd kept of decorating ideas clipped and ripped out of magazines and books.  How she managed to organize anything like this when she had four young kids I have no idea!  Most of the clippings were from the late 80's and early 90's and I couldn't believe how many of the ideas I loved and were things I'd seen all over pinterest, blogs and magazines.  So I took a few pictures with my phone to bring home and share with you guys just for kicks!

Here's some of the retro pictures followed by a current one.  Take a few of the dated decor items out of the retro pictures and they would almost pass as the current (besides the fact you can tell I took a picture of a picture with my phone of course,lol)  Enjoy :)

Black Painted Trim

Classic Furniture In Modern Patterns


Geometric Floors

Dark Painted Cabintery

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

Rustic Wood Tables


Geometric Rugs

Cool Kids Storage and Stencilling


Mixing Modern and Traditional


Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest
Ethnic Rugs and Mixing Industrial/Modern with Warm Woods

Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest



Source: via Kirsten on Pinterest

And just for fun...

I remember doing aerobics with my mom and the ladies on the videos wearing these outfits,lol 
What trends have you noticed from back in the day making a return? I'd love to hear about some of your favorite returning trends! Or maybe some you wished weren't back?