How to Give Cheap Barstools a Designer Look
Oct 20, 2012
Quick post today, just to show you how minimal effort and money can have a big style payoff. These boring barstools were $20 each on sale at Shopko. Not exactly my idea of quality furniture, but they have held up well, they're comfortable, and I like that they get out of the way and don't contribute visual clutter to the kitchen. I thought about replacing them, because they look cheap with their faux-leather seats and humdrum frame. Then I decided to just spiff them up with things I already had.
I used two squares of some gorgeous vintage Scandinavian linen drapes (estate sale find) for the seat upholstery. I also added a little more batting under the fabric to give the seats more cush. Then I wrapped the top rungs in fine hemp twine to add a little texture and interest. Each stool took about 45 minutes to complete, and most of that time was spent wrapping the 80 feet of twine while watching What Not to Wear. Simple.
Need help envisioning ideas for reinventing your existing stuff? A design consultation can be helpful. Because I don't sell products, only my expertise, I often encourage revamping existing furniture and help you see your old stuff in a new way. Email me for an appointment. —Diane Kolak
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DIY Curtain Rods for Large Windows
Oct 17, 2012
An important feature of our house is a large window wall facing the screened porch. It's 16 feet wide, and the center windows slide open to create a sort of outdoor extension of the living room when weather allows. I'm generally a window-treatment minimalist, so we have lived for six years without any shades or drapes on these windows. I love the light and the color of the woods this time of year. But come winter, with an expanse of glass that large, it gets a little chilly sitting in front of it at night. The glass is well insulated, but it's not much of a match for those frigid Northern Michigan nights. So I decided to fit some drapes on the window wall for winter only.
This wall features a cove light high above, then continues upward to angle over the loft that serves as my office. The ideal placement for a rod and drapes is right beneath the cove, which means 10-foot-long drapes. I found a fantastic deal on some very well made 120" velvet drapes at Curtainworks. I ordered six panels so that I'd still have a little fullness even when they were closed.
Very David Lynch, don't you think? I let them puddle just the tiniest bit to seal the cold barrier and give them a luxurious feel.
The vintage Milo Baughman swivel chairs are headed for the upholstery shop soon to be covered in a textured taupe velvet with plummy-charcoal welt. I can't wait!
This shot below shows how the color relates to the stair surround painted in my favorite Sherwin-Williams shade, Poetry Plum (SW6019). It's the perfect shifty shade of brown/plum/aubergine. That wall is getting some attention soon. In my dreams, a vintage Cado unit. In reality, a gallery wall over low shelving.
Finding a deal on hardware was quite another story. Have you any idea how expensive a 16-foot drapery rod is? Even two 8-footers were going to run me. Standard drapery rods often have a telescoping design, too, which tends to sag when extended to its limit. Nothing seemed right for this extra-long space (and my budget).
Turns out, the best place to find an affordable drapery rod is not in the window treatment section. Head a few aisles over to electrical, where you will find the well-kept secret called electrical conduit pipe. We bought two 10-foot aluminum conduit pipes and had them cut at the store (free at Lowe's) to our custom 8'3" length. We threw in a coupling to connect them, then went to a craft store for some odd wooden pieces (two 3-inch discs and two miniature flower pots) to make finials. Here are the raw materials. We ended up not using that putty stuff, and substituted Gorilla Glue for the Super Glue after discovering that it wasn't gooey enough to make a good seal.
Here's my finial after painting. Looks a little rough close up, but 10 feet in the air, you'd never know.
Here's the coupling in the middle. We positioned the screws toward the back.
We (meaning my long-suffering husband) first spray-painted the pipe using an automotive primer, then gave it two coats of a bronzey finish. We did the same on the finial pieces, except that primer wasn't needed on the wood. Once everything was dry, we glued the finials together and let them cure during the installation stages. We mounted the curvy brackets I found on clearance at West Elm a couple of years ago ($7 each). One at each end, and two in the middle for extra support, and to make the job of connecting the coupling easier. Both rods slid into position. Next, we "threaded" the grommet-top drapes onto the rods, then finally connected the two with the screw-on coupling in the middle. The last step was wedging the finials into the hollow end of the rod. The mini flowerpots are perfect for this because of their conical shape. They just kind of wedge in there and stay put.
A custom-looking, sturdy curtain hardware solution for under $45. Not bad, considering the similar-looking model I found online was $265 + $100 shipping.
- Brackets: $14.00 on clearance, West Elm, 2010
- Electrical Conduit Rods: $12.34
- Coupling: $2.79
- Automotive Primer: $4.97
- Metallic Bronze Spray Paint: $6.00
- Wooden pieces for finials: $3.78
TIPS FOR MAKING A CURTAIN ROD FROM CONDUIT PIPING
- Choose a diameter in proportion to the placement and length of the rod. Shorter rods should be smaller in diameter.
- Use a primer for metal under the spray paint. The finish has to hold up to movement of the drapes.
- Hang brackets using molly bolts. Especially for long, heavy drapes like mine, strength is crucial to stability.
- Use smart guidelines for hanging drapes of any kind. Hang 'em high, and extend the rod a bit past the edges of the windows if possible. (Here, we were limited by perpendicular walls.)
- Don't mess up your hard work by hanging the wrong drapes. Make sure the length is correct, within 1/2" of the floor. Drapes should be wide enough to maintain adequate fullness when closed. Drapes pulled taut across a window look cheap.
Need help designing ideal window treatments for your home? I can help you choose from off-the-shelf selections or design custom treatments to complement your room. Just email me. —Diane Kolak, Design Consultant
TAGS: how to make drapery curtain rod from conduit pipe piping 16 foot extra long curtain drapery hardware how to hang curtains over a long wide window easy diy curtain rod electrical piping
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Hang a Rug as Art
Oct 01, 2012
One of the most common things I do during a design consultation in a client's home is to help them accessorize. Often they have a lot to work with but aren't sure where to put it all. Here's a quick example.
This client had hung two prints of similar size and subject matter on the same wall: one up high over the fireplace and one lower and to the side. The prints were fighting with each other. I suggested a different type of focal piece over the fireplace, something larger and textured. Like, say… a beautiful rug. My client's eyes lit up, and she ran down the hall and came back with a gorgeous silk rug her husband had bought for her 17 years ago in Asia. It had never been used because she was afraid the dog might ruin it.
Turns out, it was the perfect size and a nice color complement to the room. The added height is great for a wall with tall ceilings, and the difference in texture and style gives another layer of interest to the space. And now it's on display but protected from pets and other casualties of floor usage.
Do you need a little help arranging your favorite objects and art? We can accomplish a lot with just one hour of my time at your house in the Traverse City area. Just email me. —Diane Kolak, design consultant
TAGS: hang rug as art above fireplace textile focal point traverse city interior design consultation staging help with accessories
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Color Love: How to Choose Bright Colors for Walls
Aug 11, 2012
Photo: Courtesy Pittsburgh Paint voiceofcolor.com
Color consulting has become the most popular service I offer. It's not really surprising, because color is one of the more difficult aspects of design for most people to visualize. One type of client I encounter is the color lover. He or she has a bold personality, loves to wear intense colors, and wants the same for the walls but isn't sure how to do it. This person is often confused about why it's so easy to wear bright colors but hard to choose them within their home. There are a few reasons why this is true.
1. Surface Area
A bright orange scarf looks terrific on a woman with dark, warm-toned skin and green eyes. But dress her head to toe in the color, and she might be perceived as eccentric or garish. The same thing happens in the home: a bright pillow is very different from four saturated walls.
2. Highlights and Shadows
Walls in a room generally are large and face four different directions. They may be affected by multiple light sources, both natural and artificial. The more saturated or intense a wall color is, the more variation will be present in how our eyes perceive the color under various lighting situations. That means brighter highlights and dingier shadows, more contrast and energy.
3. Psychology and Anthropology
Human beings are of the earth. Our visceral responses to color are rooted in nature. Think about bright colors in nature: flowers, birds, reptiles, stones, seashells. These are small objects. To feel calm and "at home" in an environment generally requires a subconscious sense of placement in nature. We may derive energy and inspiration from very bright colors, but they need only be present in small doses to have this effect.
So what does all that mean for the bright-color-lover choosing paint for the walls? Tone it down. Those tiny, bright swatches that draw your eye on the wall of chips at the hardware store look very appealing at 1-by-2-inches. But if you cover your walls with those colors, the effect can be garish, juvenile, and overwhelming. There are many color chips on that sample wall that truly are inappropriate for walls, in any circumstance. Especially if they're being used by someone without a thorough understanding of color in the home.
Here's the same room from above, altered to show what it would look like if the walls had been painted a true turquoise (like Tint of Turquoise, 101-5). See how the dull-on-the-chip Breezeway (ATC-56, above) creates a beautiful sense of color in the room without "being" the color?
Here are the colors side by side. Resist these kinds of in-hand comparisons. The more complex (generally more neutral) color will always look dirty by comparison.
So how do you get from candy color A to correct color B? If you're going it alone, find your favorite color. Then go several degrees "duller" on the sample wall. So if you start with an intense royal blue, you'll end up somewhere in the blue-gray range. Don't trust what it looks like on that sample wall. (See comparison above.) Get quarts of your top two or three choices and paint them on a few large posterboards. Place them around the room and live with them for a few days. You'll see that the duller colors work much better with wood tones, natural stone, and neutral fabrics. They're more inviting. And they allow the bright colors in your favorite art and accessories to take center stage. Walls are not usually the focal point in a room, so don't give them the most color emphasis.
This guideline doesn't make color selection simple, but it does limit your choices a bit. There are the subtleties of neutrals that come into play even more when choosing a "dull" or complex color. If you really want your colors to harmonize, to make you love your existing things even more, I'm here to help. Just email me for an appointment. —Diane Kolak, Home Color Consultant
TAGS: color consultant traverse city michigan designer how to choose paint colors bright colors dull colors complex neutrals
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Inspired Question: Color in Sandhya's Kitchen
Jul 12, 2012
When time allows, I like to answer simple design questions from readers on the blog. Sandhya sent me a couple of photos of her kitchen and wonders:
"We have just put in new granite and have a very small area for backsplash. I do not have a clue of a direction. Can you please kindly suggest a wall color and backsplash idea for the space? Many Thanks, Sandhya"
This is a good question to feature here because it will give you a peek into how my color consultations work. I have a system, and there are right and wrong answers. For me, it's not at all about choosing what's in or what "pops." It's not even about choosing your favorite color most of the time. My primary goal is to use color as a tool to make your existing fixed elements look their best, and secondly to express your personality.
Below is Sandhya's kitchen with new granite countertops. The first thing I do when analyzing color in a room is isolate the fixed elements. Here we have a quite neutral granite with some hints of red, oak cabinetry with an orange undertone, and cool gray tile flooring. Remember that metals have color, too. The stainless appliances add a pretty heavy dose of cool gray to the room as well, although with the current yellow wall color, they look warmer by reflection.
All of that is to say that yellow is the wrong color for the walls in this room. But let's tackle the tile backsplash first. Paint is easy to coordinate.
Backsplashes tend to really trip people up. I think the reason is because they border countertops, which often are busy and full of many different flecks of color. My general rule is: The busier the countertop, the simpler the tile should be. Colors should be very harmonious or intentionally and beautifully contrasted. That means that getting professional advice is a smart thing to do. Tile is a pretty permanent fixture—best to get it right the first time.
I would begin by looking at porcelain tile in tones of taupe that are fairly balanced between gray and brown. I would also look for a tile available in a large rectangular shape. Why? The brick on the fireplace is a proportion cue. Putting obvious squares or diagonal tile design on the backsplash would feel "off" from this vantage point. Don't match the size of the brick, but pay attention to its shape. Look for a 6-by-12-inch tile and lay it in the same fashion as the brick. Or go smaller, like a 1-by2-inch mosaic tile.
Here's my solution, shown with your cabinetry and countertops.
- A porcelain field tile with a balance of brown and gray, in a rectangular brick-style arrangement. (The photo shows it with edges aligned, but follow the layout sketch.) Castle de Verre Porcelain Tile in Regal Rouge from DalTile.
- An accent is not necessary, but it can add interest and is a nice way to bring in more of the orangey tones in the wood. MS International Luxor Mixed Tile Mosaic from Home Depot.
- On walls, go with a medium shade of warm taupe. Try Sherwin-Williams Reticence (SW6064)
- Update your cabinets with stainless, nickel, or pewter-finished pulls. Richelieu Village Expression in Pewter has a curve to blend with the panel design but is simple enough to go with the linear look of the backsplash.
Always check samples in person. I would recommend working with a color expert in your local area for best results. Good luck, Sandhya! —Diane Kolak
TAGS: kitchen with oak cabinets granite counters how to choose backsplash tile taupe color consultation online electing tile daltile
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