5 Ways To Have Great Design On A Budget

5 Ways To Have Great Design On A Budget

 

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

decorative tile backsplash

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

Subway tile in different patterns

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

color fan decks

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

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

 

Front Porch Envy

I have porch envy!  Even though our home has a very cozy, spacious screened-in porch with peaceful views of the lake, I would love to have a front porch.  Not the kind of porch that only has enough space to decorate for the seasons and greet our guests.  But a front porch where you can sit on a hot summer afternoon with a glass of lemonade and greet your neighbors as they pass by.  A front porch that evokes small town life.  Because to me, warm weather bliss starts on your front porch.  It’s a way of life.

Do you have certain feelings that bubble up when you hear the words “front porch”?  Maybe you think cozy, comfortable, welcoming?  What about neighborly and community? There are so many things that make a front porch appealing and bring back memories of days gone by.  But for me, the secret ingredient is to choose your function first.  If you love hosting parties, set up your porch as a second dining room.  If you love to spend the afternoon curled up on a porch swing with a good book, then cozy seating is for you.

Here are my 5 ways to give your porch a country-style update this summer.

Plant flowers in re-purposed vases and containers Before you run out and buy something new, shop your basement, attic, or cabinets.  And then visit flea markets and antique shops where you’ll almost always discover the perfect treasure for your porch.

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Display those unique flea market finds.Here’s an example of a uniquely re-purposed oil can.  Filled with LED string lights, it’s the perfect element to  brighten evenings on your porch.

This colorful front porch is filled with flea market treasures.  Everything about this porch invites you to come sit for a while and enjoy the day.  And, of course, who doesn’t love hydrangeas?

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Use a vintage sign as wall art. This one, though not exactly vintage, was handcrafted and made to look old.  Do you have old wooden tennis rackets or canoe paddles?  Hanging a grouping of old things that are special to you is another way to make your porch your own.

 Add mirrors to reflect light and bring inside elements outdoors. Our outdoor living spaces have become extensions of the inside of our homes.  So adding elements like rugs, lamps, and mirrors make us feel right at home on the porch.

Photo courtesy of Country Living Magazine

Add a cozy place for diningWho doesn’t enjoy having morning coffee on the porch watching the day come to life?  Or maybe sitting with family at the end of the day sharing stories.  Do you notice the blue ceiling?  It’s often referred to as Haint Blue, a color to ward off evil spirits, especially in the South.  If you’d like to learn more about it, click on the link to my blog post.

Even though I get a little bit of house and porch envy when I tour a home show or visit my friends, it’s always nice to come back to my very own happy place.  Because… 

If you suffer from House Envy like I do sometimes, and you’d like  help creating your very own Happy Place, I’d love to talk with you.  You can contact me at Randi@randidestefano.com

And…if you leave your name and email in the box on the right, you’ll receive my  newsletter, Life In the Kitchen,  straight to your in box twice a month.   Since I hate SPAM too, I only send design and lifestyle tips that you’ll love.

Kitchen Lighting Tips

kitchen lighting

Being an interior designer means more than helping clients with the pretty stuff.  It also means staying current on technology and trends.  This week, to stay current with my design certification, a class on kitchen lighting was in order.  Even though I know the basics, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher now and then to learn something new.  And, of course, I love to share it with you!

The most important take-away for the class, that I can’t stress enough, is the need to plan.  We plan our vacations, our road trips, and even our days.  In a remodel, we plan our cabinet layout and our appliances.  But how many of us don’t even think about planning the best type of lighting we need in the kitchen?  We know that we need overhead lighting.  And if you’re “lucky enough” to have a fluorescent box on your ceiling, you know that you want to get rid of it!  But what should you replace it with?  Let’s take a look at the three essential layers of lighting that are important in every kitchen.

Layer 1 – Ambient Lighting is the general lighting that brightens our kitchen and is the foundation for all the other lighting in the room.  The goal with ambient lighting is to have even distribution throughout the space so we don’t have dark pockets that make it hard to see.  

In the past, builders and re-modelers turned to the flush mount light fixture, or the lovely fluorescent box centered in the work space.  The trend today is to use recessed can lights.  And then we always have the questions…How many cans should we use?  How should they be spaced?  The answer to this is based on the ceiling height, the colors in the room and how they reflect, and…your age.  Yes, our eyesight gets worse as we age, and some of us feel more confident with more overhead lights.

accent lighting

Krieg Home. Shooting for Home Forge Remodeling. June 27, 2006.

Layer 2 – Accent Lighting

Most of us love this layer because it’s the “jewelry” for the kitchen.  A few ideas of where to place them are:

  • Pendants over an island or table
  • Over the cabinets, tucked away behind the crown molding
  • Inside cabinets with glass fronts to show off what’s inside
  • Lighting in a tray or cove ceiling
  • Under counters
  • On floating shelves which are popular today
  • Toe kicks…especially good for late night visits to the kitchen so you can find your way!

Layer 3 – Task Lighting is especially needed to help us see better when we’re working around the kitchen.  Things like reading the buttons on the coffee maker or dicing vegetables are all made easier with task lighting. 

We all want to have our counter work space illuminated so that we can see better and avoid dark spots.  That’s why it’s so important to install under cabinet lighting in your home

To get the best coverage and light up your whole counter, the lights need to be installed to the front of the cabinets.  LED tape strips offer the best opportunity for this.  And the length of the light strip needs to correspond to the width of the cabinet.  A big no-no would be to try to save money and install a 12” light strip on a 36” cabinet.  Doing that would create shadow pockets on your counter, and make seeing difficult.

Unfortunately, on tight budget projects, this is often the first thing to get deleted off the want/need list.  And it’s the one thing that clients regret not including.  I can’t stress how important it is to find other ways to stay within your budget.

We plan everything else in our kitchens, so why not take the time to plan our lighting.  Remember before you run out and buy the pretty fixtures, put some thought into where you want the lights, where you plan to do the most work, and then where you want that WOW factor of beautiful pendants.

How To Know When Your Home Isn’t Serving Your Needs

 

Homes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are spacious, and some are small.  Some are clean and simple, while others are cluttered with things we love. When we’re young and active, we never give a second thought to feeling confident and safe doing everyday basic things around this place we call home.  It’s a given…right? You’ve set it up and decorated it exactly the way you love.  So, how do you know when your home isn’t serving your needs? It happens when you least expect it, and not always when you’re ready.

Several years ago I became a Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS).  During the two day course we learned how to modify homes so that clients can live there as long as they choose.  Basically, we learned how to make life easier in our homes as we age.  Little did I know, how several years later, we’d be needing these design tweaks in our own home!

Since helping clients remodel their kitchens and baths is my all-time favorite thing to do, I always recommend putting these Universal Design principals into place in these rooms.  But I also know that as aging Boomers, we think we don’t need them.  We still have the image of the institutional bathroom in our minds, and can’t face the thought of installing grab bars just yet. 

Well, that’s what I thought too, until the unexpected happened.  When my husband had his knee replaced a few years ago, we discovered all kinds of design issues with our three story townhouse.  This was certainly something we never considered when we bought it. The doorways were only 28” wide when a walker is 30”.  There were no grab bars in the bathroom, and too many stairs to maneuver that required him to stay in the lower level for weeks. Check out my blog post to learn more about it.

I was determined that all of these issues would be corrected when we designed our new home.  Every shower wall and toilet area was prepped for grab bars.  No need to actually install them now.  We’re healthy and active.  Doorways are 36”…check.  Plenty of good lighting…check.  Wide open walkways…check.  Appliances at a user friendly level…check.  We are good to go!

Or so we thought.  Until my own foot issues kept getting worse and worse.  I put off the much needed surgery for as long as I could, asking friends what to expect. 

I learned that I needed a knee scooter and crutches.  I learned that to maneuver the stairs, sometimes you just have to sit down and scoot.  Crazy, I know.  But sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to make it all work.

What I didn’t hear from anyone was some basic advice that we all know and just don’t think about.

  • A curb-less shower would have made entering the shower so much easier, and I would have felt more confident. No problem with the actual showering, because a bench seat and hand held shower have made it so easy.
  • The beautiful accent rugs gracing our floors had to go. Yes, they are rolled up and sitting on the sidelines waiting for full recovery day.  Again, safety and confidence is an issue.
  • Grab bars in the shower would help the fear of losing balance and falling.
  • Grab bars next to the toilet, or even a temporary raised toilet seat with built in grab bars, would make life easier.
  • And this one thing, that has nothing to do with your home but everything to do with your physical body, is to exercise. For me it’s yoga…a strength building intense yoga…at least two days a week.  Had it not been for my yoga instructors Karen, Nancy, and Caren always stressing the need for balance and strong bodies as we get older, this journey would be a struggle.

As recovery continued, life got a little easier each day.  My “recliner office” was all set up, and I was plugged in to all my devices trying to get work done.  Life’s an adventure, I always say.  And now I know how to be prepared for “the next time.” 

Your Design Homework: 

  • Take a walk around your home. Check the doorways, the bathrooms, the floors.
  • Now make a list of the little things you can put in place that will make your life easier if you need to have an unplanned surgery…or an accident. Can you add grab bars to you shower or toilet areas?  Are your doorways at least 32” wide?  Do you have rugs that might cause you to trip if you were on crutches?

 

It’s all in the Details: Easy Solutions to Make Life in the Kitchen a Little Easier

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.

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana

Like children everywhere, Italian kids look forward to the arrival of the red-suited Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. However, this relatively modern tradition pales in comparison to the anticipation generated by the arrival of an old witch in early January.

On Epiphany Eve, the old, tattered and soot-covered Befana flies around the world on a broomstick and comes down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to children who have been good during the year. For those who have fallen a bit short of model behavior, la Befana will leave lumps of coal. (Realizing that no one can be perfect for a whole year, these days la Befana often leaves a sweet “lump of coal” made from black sugar.)

The Legend of La Befana

La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. The story is that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time, so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus.

Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child. On January 6, the first day of Epiphany, Italian children hold their breaths as they search their stockings for a sign that they have been good that year.

The arrival of la Befana is celebrated with traditional Italian foods such as panettone (a Christmas cake) and marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy.

panettone

Article from: http://everybodylovesitalian.com/legend-la-befana