The Outside Is Just As Important As The Inside

When people think about decorating, remodeling, or renovating their homes, they are usually thinking of the inside. The inside of a home is the most important part since that is where most of the family’s time is spent, so it is a great place to start when considering a style change or update. According to Better Homes and Gardens, homeowners should not forget the importance of curb appeal, though. While the inside of the home is fun to upgrade, the outside is equally as fun and is actually a great place to start when considering a remodel. Often times homeowners cringe when they think about making over the outside of their home. Landscaping can seem like a taxing feat, but while it is an important part, landscaping is not the only part of an outdoor makeover.

Creative Outdoor Makeover Techniques

Any kind of remodel can be costly, but it does not have to be. While it might be easier to spend money on readily made décor, it pays to be creative and spend time coming up with unique ways to capture the style you are looking for when remodeling. Consider using materials that are easy to come by and can be painted or fixed up to look nice such as pallets or crates. Pallets or crates can be turned into beautiful weather proof outdoor furniture as well as be used for storage. Not to mention they can easily be found at little to no cost. Turning items such as these into furniture is a great way to spruce up a patio or front porch without spending a fortune. Another part of outdoor remodeling that many homeowners dread is repairing or replacing fences. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars replacing an old wooden fence with fancy new vinyl, consider giving the wooden fence a fun colorful paint job. Wooden fences are also great to hang shelves on to hold plants and other outdoor décor. Gardens and flower beds are a big part of yards, but homeowners do not have to spend lots of money on expensive plants to make them beautiful. Pavers are actually easy to make and there are several unique ways to make them colorful and festive. They also take up space meaning less money has to be spent on plants to fill garden and flower bed space.

These are just a few outdoor decorating ideas that are cheap and easy and make all the difference when it comes to making yards look nice. Again, while remodeling the inside of a home might seem much more fun, homeowners should not underestimate the importance of the outside as well. And as these few techniques have shown us, sprucing up the yard can also be fun!

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News brought to you by


Branching Out In Home Interior Design

Not everyone has the eye of an interior designer and even fewer people have the discretionary budget to hire one to redo their entire house. And yet, some people who claim not to be creative or rich are able to organize their homes with elegance and style. Of course, their claim that they lack creativity my just be modesty, but they might be telling the truth. You actually don’t have to have training or a knack for picking out stylish things in order to make your home warm, inviting, and pleasant to be in. All you need is the motivation to make a change.

If you’re tired of living with the same old boring decor, throw out your excuses and be willing to make a difference. That’s precisely what Trish and Bonnie, the masterminds behind blog sensation Uncommon Designs, did. Despite having no formal training in interior design (one has a Bachelor’s degree in Management, the other has one in Nursing) they have been able to beautify their lives and their homes simply by taking
the time and energy to infuse their decor with their own personality and flair. And they came up with some tips for other homeowners who would like to do the same.

1. Find what inspires you.

If you aren’t sure what your style is, sit down and make a list of objects, patterns, textures, motifs, colors, etc. that inspire you. Do you love butterflies? The outdoors? Books? Fine dining? Keep a notepad nearby as you go about your daily routine and jot down those topics that most interest you. Or take a walk through a home furnishing store, a friend’s home, or even a greenhouse to get a feel for what appeals to you.

2. Choose a new accessory.

You don’t have to completely refurnish your living room to give it a different feel. Instead, pick out that one item that has been tempting you every time you visit Pottery Barn or Pier 1 Imports and either buy it (if you’re really throwing caution to the winds) or see if you can find an item like it that’s off brand. Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with a gold-framed mirror. Could you make it yourself for less than it costs to buy it new? Once you have your item, start looking around for matching accessories that might help tie it more concretely into your room.

3. Keep furnishings neutral.

When it comes time to replace your threadbare couch or squeaky recliner, resist the tempting floral patterns and plaids that you see at the furniture store. Stick with neutral colors. Trish explained, “I love to change out my rooms for seasons and holidays. A neutral background allows me to throw in whatever colors I am currently loving without disrupting the flow of my room.” Neutral goes with virtually any accent color you could pick, unlike those pretty, but non-neutral furnishings you might be tempted to buy.

4. Don’t be afraid of change.

Sometimes we resist changing color schemes or furniture layouts because we’ve become attached to how things are. Will it feel like “your” home when it doesn’t look the same? Trish encouraged homeowners not to resist change to stubbornly, saying, “Embrace change. You may decide your current style does not match your family’s lifestyle. . . . It is ok to let go, and change things up a bit at times.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

4 Tips For Quick Clean Up When You Have Unexpected Guests

When it’s 4 in the afternoon and your husband calls to say he forgot to tell you last week he’s invited a co-worker and his wife over for drinks tonight, you want to throw the phone and his invitation out the window, but you’ve already started a whirlwind of cleaning before even hanging up on him. There’s nothing like an unexpected visitor to help get a messy house clean.

However, there are a few strategies for making that quick clean even quicker, and making your home look more classy and organized at the same time. Susan Baldrige, an interior design writer for Lancaster Online, suggested 4 ways to get your house ready without feeling like a hurricane in a handbag.

1. The 2 minute clutter snatch.
Don’t even bother trying to sort through the clutter. When time is of the essence, you can’t sit around sorting stray socks or packing toys neatly into their respective cubbies. Get a laundry basket, bucket, or other large container and toss all those odds and ends into it to sort later.

2. The pet hair scrub up.
If you haven’t had the chance to vacuum your furniture in a while and your cat or dog loves to lay out on it and scratch themselves luxuriously, don’t bother trying to untangle that vacuum cord now. Instead, don your rubber gloves, dampen them with water, and wipe them over any affected furniture. According to the Real Simple website, the pet hair will stick to the gloves to be easily rinsed off later in the sink.

3. The secret decor stash.
When kids are in the house (and husbands) it’s hard to keep things nice. Pillows get stained and worn, vases get used as bug houses, decorative ornaments get dropped and cracked, flower petals get plucked or shredded. That’s why Baldrige suggests putting all those accessories that match your accent color (and are relatively unbroken) out of reach until you know a visitor is on their way.

Baldrige said, “Get a couple accessories like pillows, pillow covers, small picture frames, a vase—anything that will unify the room with that color. Keep these in a box or cabinet . . . and whisk them out before you entertain.” These items will make the room feel organized and stylish, even if it only looks that way a couple hours each week.

4. The civilized smell.
It’s amazing what a difference the scent of a room can make. Even a clean room that smells of dust or dander can seem dirty. Light your candles or plug in your wax warmer as soon as you know people will be coming over so they have time to melt and spread their scent around.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Tips On Choosing And Framing Artwork For Your Home

Many homes aren’t in need of an extreme makeover, a drastic renovation, or a time-consuming remodel. Their interiors are just fine, pleasant, but often blank. How many walls in your home are bare simply because you don’t know what to put there? Sometimes, homeowners resort to tacking up a few pictures they find at a thrift store or random images they’ve been given just for lack of anything better to display. Real art is expensive, after all, and only rich people and museums can afford to buy it, right?

Of course not. There are many forms of art that are affordable and tasteful and perfect for a homeowner with refined or elegant tastes. Mark Leithauser, senior curator and director of design at the National Gallery of Art in Washington buys art for a living, and he had some tips for homeowners wondering how to tastefully display art in their homes.

Artwork Is Subjective
First of all, he urged people to remember, “Display of art is subjective,” and “There is no right or wrong way to do it.” That may come as a shock, especially from an art expert such as him. But unlike mathematics or grammar with all their rules, art in the end should be pleasing to you first, and the rest of the world second.

You May Already Own Artwork
“Most people have prints, drawings—things with mats and frames,” Leithauser said. “You start with your object, with what you own. You want the work of art to be the strongest possible thing.” So the art you hang might not be purchased at all. It might be something you already own. Pictures of family members, pictures from old books, photos of your ancestors, drawings by your children are all considered works of art.

Framing And Matting Prints
If you buy a print intending to frame it yourself, Leithauser warned that if you use a frame “that is stronger than the work of art, then you’ve detracted from the work of art.” Don’t think of a frame as a statement. Rather, it’s an enhancement of a picture. Sometimes you may choose to mat the artwork, which means there’s a border between it and the frame. Leithauser explained that you’ll want to stay away from a stark white mat. “Paintings get little cracks in them as they get older,” he said. “They look grungy, a little bit sad, a little bit dirty. They pop on a gray much better than on a stark, stark white.”

In the end, art is merely in the beholder’s eye. Don’t just buy a piece of art because someone told you it’s art. Buy things that appeal to your interests. After all, as Leithauser pointned out, “You live with what you like.”

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Using Wood On Walls, Ceilings, And More

Ever wonder what you can do with wood besides put it on the floor? That’s actually just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to ways you can integrate the outdoors into your home. These days, homeowners are often eschewing carpet for the natural, clean look of wood for flooring, but they’re also using it as an interior design accent, a wall covering, a ceiling material, and a way to emphasize texture and scale.

Using Wood As An Accent

You don’t have to cover your walls or floor with wood to use it in a tasteful, pleasing way. In fact, wood can be used simply as an accent and you’ll still get the natural look homeowners love so much. Look for ways to integrate it in accent pieces, furniture, and even place settings. Reclaimed wood is a popular choice for those with an artistic bent.

Brian Patrick Flynn, an interior designer consulted for this year’s “Wood, Naturally” campaign, and other experts suggested several ways reclaimed wood could be used in interior design, explaining, “Upcycling wood found in barns and older buildings gives homeowners the chance to bring new life to beautifully aged wood.” Among other uses, homeowners might choose barn doors for a headboard or old fence planks for a nightstand or end table.

The interior designers also said, “Weathered wood has a unique quality that can really add character to a space. Leave the wood weathered or grayed, or you can refinish the wood for a polished look.”

Wooden Ceilings Or Walls
Homeowners rarely give a second thought to how their ceilings look, unless that ceiling is covered in wood. Using wood on the ceiling adds visual interest with its architectural detail, attracting the eye upward. Flynn said homeowners might use “wood trim, plank, decking, or even siding” as ceiling materials or just as decorative elements. Highlighting the ceiling this way makes it a “fifth wall,” rather than an invisible boundary.

Combining all wood ceilings and walls might be a little much (unless you’re going for a cabin-in-the-woods look) but doing a single wall in wood can add visual interest similar to covering only the ceiling in wood. Sandra Powell, interior design blogger, said, “Paneled walls and ceilings have been on trend for a while now, and are still going strong. Whether an appearance wall features stained or natural wood, it will add beauty, character, and personality to a room.” Stained wood creates an elegant feeling, while leaving it natural creates a more rustic, outdoorsy-look.

Wood With Scale And Texture
There isn’t just a single type of all-purpose wood. It comes in all different grains, colors, even fragrances (cedar is distinctly different from pine). The amount of wood you use and its texture can significantly impact its effect on the room. For instance, designers suggested using wood for molding, wainscoting, and trim to add dimension and scale. Wainscoting, for instance, points the eye upwards, making a small room feel taller. A large baseboard, on the other hand, grounds a room with high ceilings, giving a room with open concept more definition.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

What Do Interior Designers Do, Anyway?

Interior designers get a bad rap, at times, because some people believe their services are extra, unnecessary, excessive. They imagine only the rich and famous bother to hire such people and their expertise can be of little value to a normal American lifestyle. This image is false, however, because the true aim of interior designers is not to charge unearthly bills or rearrange expensive artwork, it’s to empower homeowners, making their houses into homes that reflect homeowners’ personalities.

Finding Inspiration
Homeowners should feel as though their dwellings are their sanctuaries. The best way to do this is to arrange it in a way that is conducive to your vision and your lifestyle. Tatum Brown Interiors suggests, “Before you begin a project, outline your preferences, color palette, inspirations and aspirations.” Even if you don’t believe some of what you put down has to do with interior design, jot it down anyways. It might serve as inspiration later on.

For more inspiration, try browsing through Pinterest or Houzz for pictures of your ideal home. Sometimes you’ll see styles that appeal to you but which you’d like to tweak to make your own. That’s where an interior designer comes in: keep those images close by and a designer will help you see how they can be incorporated into your home.

Matching Furniture And Decor
One thing interior designers really excel at is making a room feel whole, rather than mismatched. You can mix modern with antique and still get an attractive look, but it’s tricky. Designers use their expertise to make all the elements in a room feel like they were supposed to fit together.

Morgan Farrow, the senior designer for Tatum Brown Interiors, said, “We recommend avoiding a look where it appears that all of the furniture in a room came from a single source, just as we guide clients away from a mismatched look. Start with a vintage pieces and build from there, mixing in contemporary pieces or interesting fabrics to really bring the space to life in an updated way.”

Making Myriad Decisions
When you’re doing a full home design, there are hundreds of decisions to make. Neutral or bright? Wood or carpet? Pendant or recessed? Linoleum or tile? White or black? With all these choices come corresponding costs, challenges, texture changes, palette tweaks, and the average homeowner simply doesn’t have the time or expertise to ferret out the best solutions. For the busy homeowner, hiring an interior designer can be the answer they were looking for.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by

Phase Two of Renovation: Programming

There are several phases of the design process every homeowner must go through. First, they decide whether it’s worth it to renovate rather than move out. When they decide they want to stay (for a variety of reasons, including a desire to avoid breaking family rituals, a lack of homes for sale in the area, emotional ties to the current home, etc.) they enter the second phase of the design process: programming.

To Add Or Not To Add

Homeowners often jump to the conclusion that building an addition is the only solution to their problems. This is patently untrue, and can lead to far more hassle and spending than necessary. Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, interior design contributors to Deseret News, said the point of programming is to make goals for your home, how you’d like it to function, and how you’d like it to support your family.

Room Utilization

One way to decide whether your home is functioning correctly is by identifying whether each room is serving a useful function. Schwemmer and Robinson said, “Every room in your house should be used at least once a day for something useful. Having square feet in your home that sit idle day after day is wasteful. Why heat, cool, clean and pay taxes on space that isn’t contributing to you or your family.”

Instead of adding on, families might find that they can repurpose space that is currently underutilized. Home offices are no longer as useful as they once were because of wireless wifi access throughout the home. If you still have an office and it isn’t frequently used, think about whether it can be changed to fit the needs of your family.

If you’re really just lacking a few feet in one room or another, you can do that—add two or three feet to a room—rather than adding a whole new area. It’s amazing what a difference a few feet can do to a kitchen, bathroom, or closet space. Schwemmer and Robinson gave the example, “Your kitchen may not have enough width to add that island you want . . . so a few feet could make all the difference.” The designers also said the best way to decide how to handle a renovation that adds space is by speaking with an architect.

Important Questions To Answer

Consider the future when you’re deciding how much room you need or how to use space you already have. Yes, the bedroom situation is tight, but how much longer do you have until the oldest leaves for college? How often do grandparents come to visit? Do you anticipate their needing to live with you in the future? What about your own health? It’s best to have the main appliances all on the main floor if you’re aging. What parts of your lifestyle are adversely affected by the current layout of your home? The answers to these and other questions will shape how your renovation should be implemented.

Interior Decorating and Remodeling News Brought to You by