Your Space Matters. It really does! As we go about our day, following our crazy schedules, it’s so easy to get caught up in life and ignore this place we call home.
And then one day we wake up and notice that things around us are looking a bit worn and tired. There are rooms we avoid because we just don’t feel comfortable there. Sometimes we’re unorganized and often late for work or carpool because we can’t find the car keys. Does this sound a little bit familiar?
And worst of all, because we feel this way, it starts to impact the way we act around other people and how we respond to them…even if we don’t realize it. You know what I mean. The kitchen counter is piled with a PTA project that needs to be finished, so you’re stressed. Then the kids start clamoring for your attention…and you snap at them. Or you’re embarrassed to have friends over because your kitchen “doesn’t look as good as their kitchen.”
We’ve all been there at one time or another, and it’s not a fun place to be. Now’s the time to sit back, take a deep breath, and make a plan to design your life at home. Here are my 3 secrets to making it happen:
Secret #1: Define your values
Start by making a list of everything that HOME means to you. Do you want it to be a retreat to come home to at the end of a long hectic day? Do you love to welcome family and friends? Next make a list of your priorities in order of importance. But be sure that they fit what you value most about home. A good example of this would be loving to cook but dreading it because your kitchen is always a mess.
Secret #2: Discover what works for you and your lifestyle
How do you want to live in your home? If you love to be relaxed and casual, then choose furniture styles that reflect that. When low maintenance is something you value, a clean and simple style with few accessories might be the way to go.
How do you want to feel when you’re at home? Do you want to feel relaxed, unhurried, and stress free? What about energetic, organized, and carefree? Think about the lifestyle you have now, or even the one that you’d like to have, and create your home makeover to compliment that.
What do you want more of? For me it’s more creative time. If I don’t create a space for that to happen, I don’t plan it into my day.
What do you want less of? Maybe you want to spend less time cleaning or staying on top of the clutter. Less accessories and better storage solutions would be the answer.
Secret #3: Just do it!
Too often we make excuses….
I don’t have the time.
We can’t afford it.
I can’t live through construction.
I don’t know where to start.
So many times these excuses are just us getting in our own way because we’re afraid to take that first step. Start with something simple and begin the process with what you already have. Get rid of the outdated floral arrangements, move lamps and pillows to another room, or re-purpose a table for another use. One client realized that she was spending less and less time in her home office, and instead working later and later at meetings and other busy work. As soon as she admitted to herself that she really hated the way her office made her feel, she was ready to make a change. And guess what? A new paint color was enough to soothe her feelings of uneasiness, and she’s now using her office again!
I have to admit that Fall is my favorite time of year. Why do I love it? Because, finally the temperatures begin to cool down and the leaves change to vibrant gold, orange, and red. I love spending time on the porch having a glass of wine with my husband in the evening, enjoying our tree house view that changes daily with different colors. But most of all, I love entertaining and creating Fall table settings that set the mood for the evening.
The moods you create can be endless…completely your choice! One mood might be warm and cozy like the table setting above. I loved it the minute I discovered it on One Kings Lane. The swag draped down the center with glowing candles and fresh flowers make me want to pull up a chair and sit there all evening!
Have you ever gone to a dinner party at a friend’s home and they’ve really taken the time to create a beautiful table setting? How does it make you feel? I hope that it makes you feel as if you’ve entered a special place that welcomes you, because they want you to feel special.
Remember that you don’t have to hire a professional floral designer to create it for you when it’s so easy and so much fun. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to learn how to do it yourself.
MOOD: Do you want your dinner party to be formal or casual, rustic or festive, simple or elaborate? The food that you plan to serve for the evening may be the deciding factor. Don’t you love how the rustic setting above uses food in fall colors as part of the setting? Even the use of fresh herbs in a vase adds to its farm-to-table appeal. But I especially love how this table setting makes me want to sit down with friends, share a delicious meal, and have great conversations.
The table setting below, shared from BHG, takes the opposite approach from the traditional settings above. I call this “opposites attract” with its use of the sky blue tablecloth pared with a simple arrangement of autumn leaves. Doesn’t it make you feel a little more festive and ready to party?
FOCAL POINT: It’s important to have a focal point to your table. And it’s a lot more fun to ditch the traditional floral arrangement to be a little more creative. That’s right! It’s time to think outside the box. Take a walk in the woods. Shop your pantry and cabinets. Stretch your imagination!!!
Keep placement in mind when you create your focal point. Remember that guests like to see your face when they’re talking with you. Arrangements that are too high or too wide are beautiful to look at when you enter the space, but not so practical during dinner.
INDOORS OR OUT: When the weather is beautiful and the air is crisp, it’s nice to have the option of setting your table outdoors. My friend, Donna, has a lovely front porch that’s perfect for a long table to fill with friends. Tom and I love serving cocktails and appetizers on our porch since the table there is too small for a large dinner crowd. But that doesn’t stop me from creating a Fall table setting that sets the mood for the evening!
Each time I see this Southern Living outdoor dining space, my heart sings! I love the lights, the pots filled with mums and grasses, and the rustic setting. What a fun way to spend an evening with friends!
In the end, when all is said and done, the table you set and the food you serve is never as important as the people who share the table with you. Remember that life is about the moments spent with people you love, the laughter shared around the table, and the memories you create when you’re together. Happy Decorating!!!!
I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed. It’s a place where memories are made.
What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house? A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate. A room where everyone is always laughing and happy. A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends. Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now?
Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out. And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm! So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.
A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:
1.An open flow into the family room or dining room
2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party
3. Stools at the island
4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)
5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games
12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys
Your Design Homework:
- Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
- Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
- If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.
Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things. When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects your personality, your enthusiasm will carry over and memories will be made.
Have you noticed that kitchens are not just for cooking meals or washing dishes these days? They’ve become the heart of the home, command central, and the place where everyone wants to hang out.
For those of us in the Sandwich Generation, with grandchildren, adult children and elderly parents visiting on a regular basis, a one-size-fits-all type of kitchen doesn’t always serve everyone. When that happens, it’s time to take a look at the details that can make life a little easier for everyone.
Whether you’re planning a kitchen remodel or a simple kitchen make over, the details make all the difference in how comfortable you and your guests will be while you’re cooking, playing, or working.
- Room to easily move around. In the kitchen above, the space between the sink cabinet and the island is 42”. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has set 36”-48” as the standard distance to use when planning your kitchen. I like to think of a 36” space as a “one butt” kitchen…only one person can pass at a time. At 42”, two people can work comfortably, but 45” would be better. Now think about your family. Is someone using a walker or a wheelchair? Even if it’s temporary, they’ll need a little extra space to maneuver.
- Rugs. I love to soften the look in my kitchen by adding accent rugs at the sink and cooktop. But, unfortunately, they can become an accident waiting to happen. Be sure to use a rug pad to keep them from sliding…or don’t use them at all.
- Think of the little ones. If your grandchildren are like mine, they love to help out in the kitchen. A little detail that I’ve discovered to make everyone happy is a step stool. They can easily do it themselves (which is a HUGE thing to a 2 year old), and they now feel like they’re part of the cooking crew. Another little detail with big safety features are cabinet locks to keep the toddlers away from cleaning supplies and things that can hurt them.
- Lots of good lighting. This includes all the natural light you can get from windows. After that, I like to make sure that there is at least one recessed can at every work station for direct task lighting. Next, is the ambient lighting provided by island pendants. And last is the light provided by under cabinet lighting. Be sure to either put them on dimmers or have separate switches for different areas.
- Use levers instead of knobs. Levers aren’t just for our arthritic hands. Think mom-holding-a-toddler or yourself trying to open the pantry with an arm full of groceries. What would make life easier? A door lever that we can operate with our elbows.
- Bye-Bye stationary shelves. Adding roll-out shelves to your base cabinets and tall pantry cabinets will make your life SO MUCH EASIER!!!
- Faucets. Single handle faucets with pull-down sprays have been around for a while. But the latest faucet technology includes motion sensors so you can work hands-free.
- Heights matter. When making plans for your dream kitchen remodel or make over take the time to consider the heights of your major appliances, especially the microwave. When it’s too high, remember that for some people, it could be a problem. Have you ever tried to pull a bowl out of the microwave and forgotten that the bowl might be hot? You drop it, or even worse, spill the contents…and you get burned. Think about this happening to a child or your elderly mother. My least favorite location for a microwave is over the cooktop. I realize that many of you may have this configuration in your own home (we had it in our townhouse). But when you finally get to plan your dream kitchen, try to avoid this. Maybe select a microwave drawer.
- Other important dimensions to make life easier.
- Your Design Homework for this week:Compare these dimensions with your own kitchen.
- From the list above, make a list of the little details you can add to your own kitchen that will make life a little easier for everyone you love.
Well, it finally happened! The need for me to put into practice what I’ve been helping my clients to do for the last few years. Unfortunately, it’s too late. Are you wondering what I’m talking about? Let me tell you my story………..
Once upon a time a young, healthy Boomer couple purchased a three-story townhouse. They loved their spacious new home. But knowing they wouldn’t live in it forever, they chose not to modify it. After all, they were relatively active. The stairs were no problem. They were good exercise!
Then one day the husband could no longer tolerate the pain in his knee. Walking had become unbearable, which meant no sight seeing on vacations. Once he decided to have his knee replaced, the questions began. Where would he sleep and bathe and live during his rehab? “Of course,” they said,”the lower level is perfect! It has a bedroom, a bathroom, a family room, and the ever important TV and recliner.”
But when he returned home from the hospital reality set in for everyone. The walker he required could only fit sideways through the bathroom door. The bath tub had a sliding glass door, no grab bar, and no hand-held shower. The floors were high gloss ceramic tile, and the toilet was too low for the knee that couldn’t bend.
This made the wife worry that he would fall. His world shrank, and he became dependent on others to bring him everything he needed. While the wife was being “nurse”she began noticing other areas of the house that should be changed to make life easier for her husband. Wider doorways into every room, roll out trays in all the cabinets, smooth flooring to move the walker easily. So many changes needed for one unexpected surgery. If they had only thought ahead when they bought the house, or made the changes when they moved in, they wouldn’t be facing these challenges today. Oh how they wished they had been proactive!
The moral to the story: Life is full of changes, and our environment affects our life. Think of areas in your home that could be changed to make life easier for someone else. Universal design doesn’t only apply to the elderly or physically challenged. When you lower a vanity cabinet so your small daughter can wash her own hands, brush her own teeth, and learn independence, that’s universal design at work. And when you add more lights to your kitchen because your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, that’s universal design.
Basically, Universal Design is changing lives, one room at a time, and allowing us all to age gracefully in this place we call home.
Most of us have been here before. You’ve stretched your budget to buy the perfect new home in a great location. It has the space you’ve been craving for family visits and that new craft room you’ve always dreamed of. But there are still some things about it that need to be updated to make it your own. Unfortunately, the amount of money you have left to invest in this makeover isn’t as great as you hoped. Don’t worry! You can still have great design on a budget if you follow the 5 ways listed below.
Whether you’re downsizing or up-sizing, have more wall space or less, design can (and should) be good at any price point. Your new home design should always keep your needs and lifestyle in mind. And it should always speak to your personality and your approach to life. This is always how you get started…even when you want great design on a budget.
The WOW Factor
Choose that one luxury feature or item that will make the most impact and become the focal point or memory detail in your home. This could be a treasured antique piece that’s making the move with you. Or you might want to spend a lot of your budget on a gorgeous vent hood and range.
No matter what you decide on for a luxury focal point, the rest of your design elements will need to be adjusted accordingly. We all place different values on certain things. For some, a blow out kitchen is more important. And to get there, they’re willing to pinch pennies in other areas. It’s important to spend some time thinking about your lifestyle and your values. This will help you decide on your luxury item.
Less expensive materials used in unique ways
The tile in your shower is simply too dark for you. Not your style, and it’s dragging you down. There are so many gorgeous tiles on the market, but you’re really committed to staying within your budget. Some simple 2×3 subway tile would work. But what about a 4×8 subway tile installed in a herringbone pattern? That simple change will make a huge impact. And you haven’t blown your budget.
Hardware and Lighting
I want you to think of hardware and lighting as the jewelry for your home. Updating your cabinet hardware to a new finish or different shape will make a world of difference in how you feel when you look at your cabinets. Consider different hardware for a bar area or hutch area…just to be different.
One area to make a big impact is with pendant lighting over an island. If the “new” home your moving into hasn’t been updated in years, it’s probably time to make that investment for yourself. Keep in mind the size of the island and how dark it gets in the kitchen. That will determine the size of the light, the color of the shade, and the type of bulb that you use.
Color, Pattern, Texture
Each of these three design elements can be applied with very little added cost. A fresh coat of paint on walls or cabinets will make a world of difference.
Pattern and texture can be added with wallcoverings. They’re back in a big way right now! But if wallcoverings are still not your thing, casually drape a throw over a sofa or chair to bring in new colors and textures. Accent pillows are another way to update your new space.
Use Only What You Love
Moving to a new home always brings the dilemma of “what should I keep?” “What should I take?” The number one thing to do is only keep what you absolutely love. And when you’re making a purchase, only buy what you love.
When you’ve finished this list, you can start a second list of things that you absolutely know you don’t want in your new home. This can also include furniture pieces that you know won’t fit in the new space. This always requires measuring walls and furniture. Sometimes it means moving pieces to different rooms than you had them in before. Furniture and colors that can flow from one room to the next give you the option of moving them around to suit your needs.
Moving to a new home is an exciting time. Sometimes you have the luxury of completing your makeover before you move in. Other times you’re moving in on the tails of the last homeowner. But whatever your situation, always remember that you CAN make this work if you take your time, don’t panic, and follow the 5 ways to good design on a budget.
If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed about how to make it all come together when you move, call Randi today at (404)213-8571