Interior Design on Your Own Time

Archive for July 2009

Now that I’ve spent a few Sundays at the beach watching the kids collect a million seashells, I must admit that I’ve gotten a bit caught up in summer styles.  And not just the latest bathing suit styles, but summer interior design trends.  Specifically, I’ve noticed that a lot of manufacturers offer sea-themed cabinet hardware.  At first I was skeptical- who would want to create such a summery space all year long?  But then I started wondering- if so many brands offer beach-inspired designs, there must be a reason.  And I suddenly realized that installing this type of cabinet hardware is a great way to remember the summer fun all year long.

As I began researching these unique cabinet hardware designs, I found that Anne at Home offers some of the most popular beach-themed cabinet hardware on the market…and for good reason.  Anne at Home offers an extensive line of pewter hardware, which is known for it’s longevity as well as its style.  More importantly, Anne at Home offers customers the unique opportunity to choose their own hardware style and match it with the finish of their choice, to create a custom look for any space.  With over 30 colored finishes to choose from that range from green verdigris to an orangey-copper tone, homeowners can create something that is subtly colorful, without being overly garish as many colored cabinet hardware styles tend to be.

Anyway, I digress.  Because pewter is a soft metal that is easy to work with, Anne at Home is able to offer sculpted cabinet hardware that is more than just a design stamped on a metal plate.  Although I’m sure that many people appreciate, oh, Liberty Cabinet Hardware’s Coastal Collection, which offers knobs with a nautical theme, I appreciate the texture and unique shape of Anne at Home’s selection.

Anne at Home Dolphin Knob

Anne at Home Dolphin Knob

Liberty Hardware Seashell Knob

Liberty Hardware Seashell Knob

But here’s the catch- pewter hardware isn’t cheap, and Anne at Home’s custom designs definitely aren’t cheap.  While I’m usually an advocate of purchasing home décor items that aren’t the most expensive, sometimes I think that buying what you love may be worthwhile.  Items like cabinet hardware are designed to last forever AND you generally don’t need more than 5 or 6 to outfit an entire bathroom.  So…despite my normally cheap tendencies, in this case I think Anne at Home is worth a splurge.

What do you think?


Anyone who knows me or has read my blogs or articles will know that I never claimed to be an interior designer- I’m really just a regular person who has learned a tremendous amount about home organization and affordable decorating in recent years. Most of my experience comes from being a newlywed, new mom, and student, and being forced to decorate each home we’ve lived in as nicely as possible on a limited budget. Likewise, while living in a ‘shoe box’ for 2 ½ years, I’ve created various home organization solutions that I’m happy to share with others.

I’m a fan of interior design shows as much as the next person- for the most part. But Keyshawn Johnson’s new show called “Tackling Design” has left me scratching my head. For one thing, I couldn’t really tell how many of the ideas were Johnson’s and how many were a collaborative effort with his entire production team. Even still, I didn’t find any of the suggestions specifically creative or distinctive.

Another problem I had with the show is that I felt as though Keyshawn Johnson tried too hard to impose his opinion on his clients, when he should have been more open to compromise. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important for a client to consider the sagacious advice of his or her interior designer- but it’s even more important for a designer to appreciate the desires of the client and to incorporate them as much as possible.

In short, I’m concerned that while Keyshawn Johnson may have had a fantastic NFL career, his foray into the world of interior design will be anything but phenomenal.

BusinessWeek’s property blog, Hot Property announced that the housing market has lost $27 billion dollars of value as a result of the failing economy.  Unfortunately, home depreciation is rampant today- but there are ways to protect your house from depreciation.

One easy way to maintain your home’s value is to stay organized.  As a mother of four, I know this is easier said than done- but staying organized helps every house make a better first impression (and first impressions are critical when you’re looking to sell).  Keeping an organized home will also prevent you from scrambling every time the realtor drops by.  And of course, staying organized as you try to sell your home is a great way to develop organizational skills that you can take with you to your new home, so that you won’t back to regress your old sloppy ways.

Another critical way to prevent home depreciation is to keep your home décor fresh.  This does not mean that you need to undergo an entire reconstruction just to refresh the look of your space.  There are, however, a few easy ways to instantly perk up the look of your space.  You can, for example, get a new paint job (or replace your old-fashioned wallpaper with a fresh coat of paint).  Or, you can replace your dingy light fixture with a new one that will present your home in the best light.

One of my favorite ways to keep your home looking fresh is to decorate it with decorative mirrors.  Because mirrors reflect the light and make every space look larger, they are a great way to decorate small homes.   Additionally, stylish mirrors will be easy to take with you to your new home and are more likely to match your new space than standard wall art that may be tied to the color scheme of your old home.

If you need to sell your home in a hurry, you may have to settle for a slightly lower price than you were hoping for.  But keeping your house in great shape is an easy way to ensure that you’ll get top dollar for your home and that you won’t become a statistic in the trend of house depreciation.

Since I’m still mourning the loss of Michael Jackson, I thought it fitting to discuss my favorite black bathroom accessories.  Why bathroom, you ask?  For starters, you won’t see many black bathroom accessories around, and I think that this is a pity, because black accessories have the unique ability to add drama to any room- especially to smaller spaces like bathrooms.  I’ve seen many 70’s bathrooms- mint green, powder blue, fuschia or light pink that would benefit from a bit of a modern twist.  And while not all homeowners can afford a full bathroom renovation, adding a touch of black will instantly update even the most outdated bathroom.  So here are 4 of my favorite black bathroom accessories…what are yours?

1- A modern black T-shaped knob.  Bathroom cabinets generally don’t require much in the way of cabinet hardware, so picking black cabinet hardware that will really make a statement is an inexpensive way to accent the space.  My favorite black cabinet pull is the one featured here- but you can see for yourself that any design will make a difference.

Berenson black cabinet knob

Berenson black cabinet knob

2- A fabulous black bathroom vanity.  Even installed against the oldest of solid-color bathroom tiles, a black bathroom vanity can do wonders to reinvent a bathroom.  If you have patterned tiles, however, you may want to think twice before installing a new bathroom vanity, unless you know for sure that it’ll complement the busy pattern.  I happen to love ultra-modern bathroom vanities, and choosing a black one is a great idea because black never goes out of style.  Just make sure that the dark finish won’t overwhelm your space- if you have a very small bathroom, black fixtures may overpower the space rather than enhancing it.

Double Black Bathroom Vanity

Double Black Bathroom Vanity

3-  A patterned black shower curtain. You may think that having a black shower curtain will darken your space but I must tell you that it can also do wonders for disguising an unsightly shower.  If your shower has mildew, cracked tiles, or an ugly design, you probably wish it would just disappear- and with a patterned black shower curtain, both you and your guests will have something beautiful to focus on.

4-  A black wastebasket and rug combo. OK, OK, I know these are really two different black bathroom accessories, but I think they mesh well together since they both sit on the floor.  Black trash cans are great (in my humble opinion), because they keep your eye focused on things other than the trash.  Likewise, they look terrific when paired with a black bathroom rug that will conceal outdated floor tiles and provide a plush experience every time you exit the shower.

Black bathroom accessories aren’t ideal for every bathroom, but they are definitely great for MOST bathrooms.  Without going overboard, you can add a touch of modernity to your space and transform an old-fashioned bathroom into a spa-like sanctuary.

Like the rest of the world, I’m a bit in shock over Michael Jackson’s sudden death. And like the rest of the world, I grew up listening to his tunes and watching as he displayed his distinctive Michael Jackson style. With tight pants, sequins and the most hideous shoes, I must admit that I never quite understood why “Michael Jackson style” became so popular. Still, I find Michael’s willingness to express himself (even the stranger side of himself) quite admirable- it’s a trait that has certainly influenced the way I design rooms and the way I help others to express themselves.

If you’ve ever seen a picture of Neverland Ranch, the home where Michael Jackson lived for several years before he was rocked by scandal, you were probably amazed by the ranch’s gaudiness. And yet, it held a unique style that embodied Michael Jackson style, and that is OK by me. So here are 3 things that I’ve learned from Michael Jackson- and may his memory continue to inspire others to stay true to their own styles.

1- Be true to your style. There’s no question that Michael Jackson style resulted not only from Jackson himself, but from a myriad of stylists and experts who helped create his public persona. When hiring an interior designer or enlisting help in your home décor project, it’s important that you recognize the line between professional guidance and abdicating your style autonomy. You have the right to let your own style shine through (even if it needs to be varied slightly).

2- Don’t be afraid to go bold. I am willing to guess that Michael Jackson would have still been a popular singer, even if he had not displayed Michael Jackson style. But I suspect that it’s BECAUSE he was not afraid to be bold that he was able to a capture the world’s attention. All too often, homeowners are afraid of designing with colors or with daring accessories. Possibly because they’re afraid of what others will think or because they’re afraid it’ll go out of style. And while these may be valid fears, I’ve found that embracing your own style is the only way to make sure that you get what you want- otherwise, you may end up with a ‘vanilla’ home that everyone else likes, but you’ll always feel that it’s lacking.

3- Don’t be too bold!
The last thing I’ve learned from Michael Jackson is that sometimes there is such a thing as too much. People in the public eye often exaggerate themselves to make a splash- and Michael Jackson definitely did that. If he would have scaled himself down, he may not have had the persona that we’ve come to know and love. Still, when doing any interior decorating project, there IS such a thing as too much. It’s ok to have a couch with a wild print, as long as it’s tempered by solid curtains or demure wall hangings. Recognize that not everyone can afford to embrace Michael Jackson style- and that it’s ok to take a step back.

My mother is one of my biggest interior design inspirations. She’s not a professional designer, but she has GREAT taste. Everything that she updates in her home has a look that is unique without being overdone. What’s more, my mother has the unique ability to create fabulous looks without spending a fortune (gee, I wonder where I get that from). Since I am currently visiting her, I wanted to share 3 free kitchen design ideas that can add enjoyment and value to your home without breaking the bank.

1- Over time, the side of my mother’s kitchen island became scratched, dirty and even cracked (as often happens with formica). Unfortunately, replacing formica is expensive, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t scratch or crack in the future. And so, my creative mother had another great idea- to replace the dingy sides of her kitchen island with a decorative tile pattern. The tiles won’t scratch like formica does when someone bangs into it, and the unique design is one that gets noticed instantly. Fortunately, the sides of my kitchen island are relatively new- but I think I’d love to implement this kitchen design idea one day in the future!

Great tiling on the side of this kitchen island transforms it from boring to beautiful.

Great tiling on the side of this kitchen island transforms it from boring to beautiful.

2- Replacing your kitchen furniture is another great way to update the look of your kitchen without overspending on a complete kitchen renovation. Changing your furniture quickly changes your entire kitchen design, especially if the room has a neutral color scheme. Consider replacing your wooden table with a metal and glass kitchen table for a more modern look, or swap your old kitchen chairs with sleeker kitchen stools.

3- Since you already know how much I love cabinet hardware, I feel it important to say what a shocking difference new cabinet hardware can make in an older kitchen. Replacing outdated or dulled kitchen cabinet hardware with shiny and stylish pieces is an easy way to rejuvenate your kitchen design. If you don’t believe me, order free samples and see for yourself!

The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in the home, and I’m a big fan of having a great kitchen. I hope that these free kitchen design ideas can help you improve your home affordably, or can inspire you to find the change that you’ve been looking for.