Category Archives: Blog

Finding “Home” When Life Changes

Re-Inventing Home (Photo)

During times of personal transition, our home environments are often radically disrupted and don’t feel or function as before. However, whether you are staying put or moving into a new space, the shiny silver lining is that they represent new beginnings.

As our lives change, our homes must change with us to nourish us emotionally and spiritually. They can provide a foundation for our lives and a personal connection between our past, present and support stepping into a future of new possibilities.

This blog post outlines a process that you can use when life transitions allow you to re-think your living space.

Time Out

Going through transitions encourage us to stop for a moment, take stock of our lives and resolve to make changes that will improve their outcome.

With this said, there is nothing more disheartening than investing time, energy and money in your home and ending up with something that is not at all what you wanted or expected. We must plan for our homes, as we do for our lives, so that they nurture our personal success.

Dream Big

Before starting to plan, allow yourself to play first. Create a vision of the big picture. Think of spaces that you have seen or visited that you have liked, a restaurant, hotel or your friend’s beautiful summer home. What elements spoke to you? Was it the color of the walls, the fabric on the sofa, the stone flooring or maybe it was the way the space flowed from one room to another. Think about how you may be able to incorporate some of these ideas into your own vision, literally or figuratively.

Following is our three-step plan to help simplify the process:

1. Assess and Prioritize 

Understanding our personal needs and priorities is the first step toward moving forward. It is the key to maximizing the design  and functionality of a living space by providing a solid foundation for successful decision-making

2. Get Up Close and Personal

To create a living space that looks, feels and functions the way that you envision, you must really get to know your physical space.

Become familiar with the proportions of the room, ceiling heights, architectural details, the available storage, the quality of the natural light, the focal points you want to highlight and the features you want to play down.

3. Weigh the Options

Our lifestyles and individual preferences create demands on our living space. Assessing your requirements and determining what is optional versus what is necessary and what adjustments you can make are key.

Once you have a clear sense of both your physical living space and your personal lifestyle requirements, the next step is to combine the two to create the foundation for a successful design.

The Silver Lining

Life transitions are an important time to reflect on our homes and their role in our lives. Our living environments are integral to our success and set the stage for almost every experience that we have. Not only do they effect how we feel and perform, they influence our relationships and the message they send about us to others

Whether your life is in transition or not, we hope that you will find some value in this process for yourself!

As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help! In addition to full-project design, we also offer design consultations, when you just need a few hours of support from a seasoned professional.

Also posted in Change, Uncategorized

From Downsizing to Rightsizing

Heather Higgins

As we move into summer, it reminds us that there is always a new season. Just as the seasons transition, so do our lives. This post explores solutions, when life transitions lead to downsizing our living space.

Seasons of Change

My interest in interior design surfaced as the result of a life transition. At the age of five, my Father’s job promotion transplanted our family from a small, quiet town in Florida to the windy city of Chicago. I had to leave almost everything that was familiar to me behind, including friends and relatives.

To fill this void and at great embarrassment to my parents, I would forage through the neighbor’s trash, looking for treasures to decorate my room. You probably have not resorted to picking through rubbish, but I’m certain that you can relate to wanting a living environment comprised of elements that have meaning to you. When everything and everyone around me was new, my room felt like a warm hug.

When the Solution is Downsizing

During times of personal transition, our home environments are often radically disrupted and don’t feel or function as before. When the outcome involves downsizing to a smaller living space, it can feel overwhelming.

With a design practice based in New York City, it is not unusual that many of our clients live in less space. In fact, we are real advocates of small space living. Requiring less time, energy and money, smaller living spaces provide greater lifestyle flexibility.

Whether you’re an empty nester moving from a house into a condo, or a renter trading in a two-bedroom for a studio and shorter work commute, many people now see downsizing their home as a step forward, not backward.

From Downsizing to Rightsizing

The benefits to living in less space are many, but saying goodbye to a familiar living environment and memory-filled belongings, can be a challenge. Having helped numerous clients through this process, mindset is crucial. Following are some suggestions that may help to make it an easier experience for you:

  • Consider your future home as a fresh new slate, not a lesser version  of your former home.
  • Visualize the lifestyle you want to embrace as you move forward and be willing to make sacrifices and part with furnishings to achieve this.
  • Shift your focus to the time, energy and money a smaller space saves and the greater lifestyle flexibility it provides.
  • Choose quality over quantity. Select one great piece of furniture that makes a statement, rather then several smaller, less significant pieces.
  • For items that are too hard to let go, put them in storage and if you don’t need or use them within twelve months, give them away.

As we experience life transitions, our homes can nourish us emotionally and spiritually. They provide a personal connection between our past, present and stepping into a future of new possibilities.

Understanding our personal needs and priorities is the first step toward moving forward. If you need assistance, we are here to help!

In addition to full-project design, we also offer design consultations, when you just need a few hours of support from a seasoned professional.

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Also posted in Change, Small Spaces

8 Reasons to Buy a 1,000-square-foot House – Trulia.com

 

8 Reasons to Buy a 1,000-square-foot House

With a design practice based in New York City, it is not unusual that many of our clients live in less space and look to us to provide design solutions to maximize their size and style.

We are real advocates of small space living. Requiring less time, energy and money, smaller living spaces provide greater lifestyle flexibility.

Recently, I had the opportunity to explore some of the benefits of small space living with Trulia.com. Following is a link to their article 8 Reasons to Buy a 1,000-square-foot House“.

Click here to read the article

We hope that you will find some value in this for yourself. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help – whatever the size of your living space!

 

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Also posted in Change, Small Spaces

How to Make Your Home Feel More Tranquil – WSJ.com

 

 

How to create a tranquil home

The fast pace and emotional demands of the outside world often make it difficult to find tranquility and relaxation in our lives. However, there are many simple opportunities for us to create the atmosphere of a peaceful, soothing sanctuary in the comfort of our own home.

Recently, I had the opportunity, with WSJ.com on their program “Wealth Watch”, to explore some ideas for bringing a calmer aesthetic to our living environments. Following is the link to that podcast episode, “How to Make Your Home Feel More Tranquil“.

Click here to listen

We hope that you will find some value in this for yourself. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help!

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Also posted in Podcast

Paw Patrol – This Old House Magazine

Paw Patrol - This Old House

Yes, You Can Live with Style… and Pets!

Living with pets does bring some challenges, but it doesn’t need to preclude living in a well designed home.

One of the most vulnerable targets of pet-related accidents is upholstery. It’s usually not possible to replace all of our furnishings to accommodate our pets, but there are steps that we can take to protect some of our existing pieces or to make more pet-friendly selections in the future.

In the March issue of This Old House Magazine, I had the opportunity to contribute some of these solutions in their article “Paw Patrol”.

Click Here to Read:  This Old House – March 2016

We hope that you will find some value in this for yourself. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help!

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Also posted in Pet-Friendly Design

There’s Always Room for Holiday Spirit – RealSimple.com

How to Decorate a Small Space for the Holidays

Don’t have room to trim a tree? Not to worry. There are so many other festive ways to decorate your small space for the holidays.

Recently, I had the opportunity with RealSimple.com to explore several fun options for maximizing holiday spirit, when space is at a premium. Following is a link to their article “How to Decorate a Small Space for the Holidays”.

Click here to read the article

We hope that these ideas will inspire you to make some new holiday traditions. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help!

Also posted in Small Spaces

There’s Always Room for Guests – Realtor.com

How to Make Any Room a Guest Room

Even when the size of our living space is limited, we want our houseguests to feel special and truly welcome. However, providing them with a home away from home, without compromising square footage or functionality, can feel challenging.

Recently, I had the opportunity with Realtor.com, to explore how rooms can multitask to include welcoming sleeping arrangements in just about any space in their article “Crowded House for the Holidays? Here’s How to Make Any Room a Guest Room”.

Click here to read the article.

We hope that this will inspire some new options and ideas for you. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help!

 

Also posted in Small Spaces

Custom Furnishings Pros and Cons – WSJ.com

WSJ podcast custom furnishings

More than ever before, we value our homes as a place of refuge. However, we are also cautious about spending. When most of us commit to a renovation or buying furnishings, we view the expenditure as an “investment”. We need confirmation that we are receiving a high level of quality and good value for our money, but are not always clear how to make this assessment.

Recently, I had the opportunity, with WSJ.com on their program “Watching Your Wealth “, to explore what points to consider before buying custom home furnishings. Following is the link to that podcast episode, “A How-to on Custom Décor”.

Click here to listen to the podcast

We hope that you will find some value in this for yourself. As always, if you need assistance, we are here to help!

Also posted in Custom Furninshings, Podcast

Are You Investing Wisely in Your Home?

Are You Investing Wisely in Your Home

Whether you are renovating your home, giving it a cosmetic facelift or purchasing furnishings, there is more how-to information available on television, the Internet and in publications, than you could possibly use in a lifetime! Unfortunately, many of these resources are supported by advertisers whose primary focus is to sell us something, rather than to educate us.

On a quest to support people in creating the home that they need and want, I invite you to reflect on the concept of “value” as we explore some of the pitfalls to avoid when purchasing home furnishings.

Although similar principles apply to a range of items from kitchen cabinets to office furniture, we will use the purchase of a sofa, as an example. Most of us own a sofa, it is one of the largest, most visible furnishings in our home and we usually live with it for a long time.

Today, two of the most common factors driving sofa purchases are price and availability. Although we all welcome saving money and receiving faster deliveries, corners often get cut to provide these benefits.

A Sad Story

The life of a good quality sofa, subjected to normal wear, is generally about 10 years. A neighbor of mine is about to purchase her third sofa, in less than 5 years. After she owned her first sofa for about 2 years, the cushions collapsed and lost their shape. After she had owned her second sofa for about 2 years, the fabric at an arm seam split open. The quality of neither sofa was worth the financial investment to repair them.

Quantity vs. Quality

To keep pricing low and allow for quick availability, manufacturers often mass produce sofas in limited upholstery and finish options. Although this reduces the selection available, it does not necessarily affect the product quality.

What You See, Isn’t Always What You Get

Other means of cutting costs, however, which are not as visible on the outside. Can make a significant difference in the life of a sofa. A few of these are:

  • Sofa frames not made from moisture-resistant hardwoods.
  • Plastic or metal legs provided instead of sturdy wood ones.
  • Springs used that are faster to install, but do not last as long.
  • Upholstery fabrics, which may initially look and feel great, but do not wear well.
  • Cushions made with lower-cost, less-dense foam that doesn’t retain its shape.
  • Skimpy padding on upholstered arms.

Again… What You See, Isn’t Always What You Get

Online suppliers, because they do not have the overhead of brick and mortar stores, often entice us with extremely low pricing. Unfortunately, being unable to see furnishings in person presents some real limitations:

  • The quality of the construction, fabrics and finishes or the fit and comfort of the seating cannot be verified.
  • Online color rendition is often so poor, that the grey sofa you ordered may arrive looking very much like a blue sofa or a brown sofa.
  • In addition, the purchaser usually bears the cost of returning any items to the supplier, which can be substantial, when a large, heavy sofa is involved.

In Hindsight

My neighbor, who is about to purchase her third sofa in 5 years, is a bright, educated professional, who loves television programs on home design. Although she had the funds to purchase better quality sofas, price and quick delivery were the deciding factors behind both of her initial purchases. If she had spent the combined cost of the two sofas on just one sofa and waited a few extra weeks for delivery, her life would probably look much different now. Most likely, she would be sitting pretty on a sofa that would have lasted her 4 or 5 times longer than her original purchase.

You do the math. I encourage you to recognize and invest in quality!

If you need some assistance, we can help! In addition to full-project design, we also offer design consultations, when you just need a few hours of support from a seasoned professional.

Thank you for stopping by our blog. We hope that we were able to inspire some new design options for you and that you will check back with us regularly!

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Also posted in Small Spaces

5 Design Tips to Bring Fresh Personal Style to Your Pet-Friendly Home

5 Design Tips to Bring Fresh Personal Style to Your Pet-Friendly Home

With a succession of snowfalls and cold, gray days, many of us have developed a serious case of cabin fever. Since we are pretty much stuck with the weather and stuck indoors, why not use this time to re-accessorize your pet-friendly home and bring in a fresh feel? We hope that these ideas will inspire you to bring home your personal style!

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Also posted in Pet-Friendly Design