Color Love: Neutral Kitchens
Aug 01, 2010
There's a real movement toward neutral color palettes right now. After years of hearing TV designers talk over and over about making things "pop," perhaps we're craving a little calm. Inspired by the first image below, I went hunting for more gorgeous examples of kitchens that pull off a warm, interesting look without using intense color to do it.
Be inspired, then read my tips for keeping a neutral kitchen interesting. —Diane
This kitchen may not have juicy color, but it has tons of texture: the stone wall, corrugated metal ceiling (love!), thick butcher block, wicker chairs, and polished concrete floors. Photo: Better Homes & Gardens.
Look at the beautiful proportion here. Tall ceilings are done right with custom to-the-ceiling cabinets, extra-tall doorways, slim fixtures and furniture. Several neutrals plus green accents and a mixture of metal finishes create a layered and interesting color story. Photo: Canadian House & Home.
This is a look anyone with a modest budget could pull off. Dark floors, white cabinetry, black and chrome accents. Simple stock cabinetry is given a custom look with serious mouldings to the ceiling. Industrial accents add interest, and a large, unadorned window gives the impression of spaciousness in a smallish kitchen. Photo: Canadian House & Home.
Gray and white get warmed up with a pale but taosty neutral on the walls. This looks a lot like the color on my kitchen walls: Sherwin-Williams Ramie. Photo: Canadian House & Home.
Rustic elements shine amid a mostly white kitchen: brick floors and a pine harvest table. The black door adds a nice bit of "punctuation." Photo: Lonny Magazine.
- Choose several neutrals. Don't forget that elements like appliances and fixtures have color, too.
- Play up texture. Without it, the room will look boring. Add it with rough tile, cork flooring, slubby fabrics, a butcher-block top, or a tin ceiling.
- Add an element of interest or two, but don't overdo it. Easy places to express your style: light fixtures, quirky barstools, cabinet hardware, accessories.
- Invest in lighting. Neutral or not, any color scheme can fail if its not lit in an effective and appealing way.
- Keep surrounding spaces neutral, as well. Now that open kitchens have become the standard, it's important to integrate the look of your kitchen with its surrounding spaces.
- Cook! Nothing makes a kitchen more interesting than what's created within it. Let your colorful food take center stage.
Need help making your kitchen look better without a total overhaul? My "Spiff It Up" eDecor Plan gives you a complete plan for a cosmetic redo of a kitchen or bath for $400… and during the month of August, take $50 off any eDecor Plan at Dwelement! For $350 you get a color plan, 3D Views of your finished kitchen or bath, an Inspiration Board that shows all the materials, fixtures, furniture, and accessories with live links to buy them with a click, a To-Do List that guides you through the project, and 14 days of unlimited email consultation after delivery. You can take your time finishing things as your budget allows, and I won't try to sell you anything. Questions? There's never an obligation (or an onslaught of spam) when you email me. —Diane
TAGS: kitchen neutral color scheme palette palate pallet rustic industrial modern beige gray grey white off-white cream tan how to make neutrals interesting edecor edecorating e-decorating
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Room Redesign: Karin's Bayview Beauty
Jul 27, 2010
I was lucky to be asked to help Karin redesign her living room. Lucky because a) she has an amazing view of West Grand Traverse Bay, b) her room had "good bones" to start with, and c) she is a professional photographer and provided all of the photos you see here. Of all the rooms I've spiffed up in my 2- to 3-hour Room Redesign Sessions, this one was probably the closest to being almost there. So it's a good example of how small tweaks can make a big difference.
Here's how the room looked when I arrived:
BEFORE: The furniture was spaced too far apart and the pieces seemed sort of scattered. The rug looked too small for the room, and there was no way to easily sit and appreciate the view.
BEFORE: The colors weren't relating well to each other. Read on to see how we improved that without even painting.
BEFORE: The shelves flanking the fireplace had been a source of frustration for Karin. I helped her rearrange and rethink the accessories to make the items stand out and look better as a whole.
In a nutshell, here's what we did:
- Rearranged furniture to cozy up the fireplace area and create a separate seating area for enjoying the view.
- Switched out the coffee table with a longer, narrower one from the basement.
- Brought up a family antique from the basement, a drop-leaf table that serves as a console table behind the sofa.
- Brought in two small accent tables from other rooms.
- Swapped the gigantic plant for one of a more manageable size.
- Accessorized with pillows and textiles Karin had stored elsewhere.
- Cleared out and rearranged the shelves next to the fireplace.
AFTER: The view from the kitchen. We had placed Karin's only matching pair of lamps on the console table during the session, but they were a bit dated and large, so she went shopping for these smaller-scaled orange cuties. The color picks up on the rug and a runner that we brought into the room.
AFTER: We turned the chairs around completely, to create a nice spot for enjoying the view.
AFTER: This wedge-shaped accent table was designed just for this use. Perfect. This photo was shot with the bay under a haze, but on a clear day you can see all the way to Charlevoix.
AFTER: I really reworked these shelves. Karin let me wander the house gathering pieces from other rooms. She had a lot of interesting things that were hiding unseen in out-of-the-way places. These niches will get a new coat of paint. I recommended Dried Thyme by Sherwin-Williams (SW-6186) to help tie together the color plan. The pheasant feather was a contribution from Karin's 6-year-old daughter, Lauren… I thought it was a brilliant addition to this layered vignette!
AFTER: To bridge the gap between the bright, saturated colors in the rug and the neutrals in the hearth and walls, we raided Karin's large stash of pillows and placed a few on the hearth. They create more comfortable seating and also help carry some brighter colors through the room.
AFTER: This 1960s table had been banished to the basement, but I wanted to use it because its shape was more suited to the proportions of the sofa and fireplace. Its top was worn, but we pulled this runner out of storage to cover the faults and further emphasize the brighter color palette.
So there you have it, another room redesigned in 3 hours. And all Karin bought was a new pair of lamps. —Diane
All images ©Karin Willman of A la Carte Photography.
Want me to help you work some magic in your own room? Email me to set an appointment for a Dwelement Room Redesign Session in the Traverse City area. Only four more days to take advantage of my July special, $50 off! More information here.
TAGS: interior redesign design traverse city northern michigan use what you have decorating home staging budget decorating inexpensive design affordable interior decorator edecorating e-decorating
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July Special: $50 off a Room Redesign Session!
Jul 26, 2010
Heads up, Traverse City: this doesn't happen often. I'm doing a special on my Room Redesign Sessions during July! Book a morning or afternoon appointment in July (yes, I do weekends!) and get $50 off. Most sessions take 2 to 3 hours, making the regular price $150-200. During July, pay $100-$150. The time depends on the size of your space and the extent of rearranging required.
What is a Dwelement Room Redesign Session?
It's a fast and inexpensive way to make your space more functional, more inviting, and more appealing. We don't buy a thing— I just make the best of what you have, and every time I walk out the door, clients are amazed at how good their old stuff looks. The session begins with a discussion of your needs and wants for the space. Then we take a walk through your house. The whole house: basement, garage, storage areas… because we're going to think out of the box and swap, rearrange, repurpose, and reinvent. Then we rearrange furniture, declutter, refresh and refine the room together. I'll probably suggest using things in ways you never considered. The session finishes with a wall color recommendation for the room.
The session illustrated below utilized pieces from the spare bedrooms, the basement, and the storage area. See more before-and-after pictures and details of this Traverse City Room Redesign Session here.
Company's coming, right? It's a great time to refresh your home with me. I bring an unbiased and constructively critical eye to a room you see every day. Email me to book now for any session in the month of July 2010 and get a $50 discount. And hey, don't bother cleaning up for me… I've seen it all! —Diane
TAGS: room redesign interior design use what you have decorating home staging traverse city michigan mi leelanau grand traverse benzie frankfort suttons bay glen arbor empire elk rapids
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Look for Less: How to Get a Designer Look in an Average House
Jul 21, 2010
You know that person… the one who hits thrift stores once a week and seems to always find the good stuff? And they have a fabulous house full of stuff you'd swear came from a high-end antiques store or a slick catalog, but they say it all came together naturally, on a dime? This photo could well have been taken at the home of such a lucky person. But is it luck or skill? A bit of both, but usually more of the latter. Understanding some basic design principles is the key.
Let's use this room as an example and dissect it. It looks pretty "designery," right? It's the kind of place you'd take pause to notice.
Photo: Jessica Linn for Canadian House & Home
Analyze it and you'll see that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.
Architecture: This room does have a fireplace. But outside of that it's pretty architecturally average, and it's small. So it doesn't have any advantages in that department.
Color: Again, nothing shockingly special or "designer" about the color scheme. Basic cool neutrals with a little grey, gold, white and plum.
Flooring. Points for nice, neutral hardwood. But hardwood flooring is no longer a luxury: With popularity comes lower prices.
Furniture and accessories. Look at each piece. A lot of it is pretty standard. I see things that could have come from a discount furniture store, Ikea, Grandma's house, the thrift shop.
So how did these normal pieces come together to make a room that has that finished feeling? Some basic design principles are at work here.
Balance. The room looks grounded in this arrangement. One side is not visually heavier than the other. Using pairs of items can help achieve this. One pair of chairs sit together, another apart but symmetrically arranged around the centerpiece, which is the coffee table. The lamps are not identical, but their shades are.
Proportion. Pieces are scaled appropriately for the room size.
Direction. The fireplace is the focal point, and the eye is led to it by its color and proportion. The furniture arrangement hinges on creating visual direction toward the fireplace. Even the mantel arrangement has a leading line toward its high point.
Contrast. Monochromatic schemes can be beautiful but take a skilled hand to execute them correctly. It's safer to choose dominant tones and then throw in some contrast. Here, the dark colors of the fireplace are repeated in the narrow stripes on the armchairs, and black drapery hardware and picture frames add a little "eyeliner" to the room.
Unity. Look at each color and see how it's sprinkled pretty evenly throughout the space. White on the drapes, tables, armchairs. Gold in the sofa, rug, baskets, and books. Plum on the wooden chairs, artwork, and sofa pillows.
Surprise. All it takes is a piece or two that are full of personality and style to put your stamp on a room. Here, the Chinese garden stool makes a statement and personal accessories lend warmth.
How to Spend a Lot of Money on a Room that still doesn't work
To contrast, I'm sure you've seen rooms like this one, decked out with mouldings and fancy windows, filled with expensive designer furniture and still lacking a feeling of cohesion and warmth. Which room would you rather relax in?
The Design Don't: What's wrong with this room? Pretty much everything. It's imbalanced, way out of proportion (furniture and fixtures too small), has no direction toward the natural focal point (fireplace), lacks contrast, and is devoid of surprise and personality.
Need help seeing your own old stuff in a new light? I have services both local and online to help homeowners anywhere find a new love for their old stuff. Online, try my Mini Makeover eDecor Plan for $95. In the Traverse City area, I'll visit your house and we'll work together for 2-3 hours to rearrange, repurpose, and reinvent a room during an Interior Redesign Session. Book an appointment in July and get $50 off! More details here. Questions? Think your room is beyond all help, short of a sledgehammer? Just email me. (Hint: It's not!) —Diane
TAGS: interior redesign room redesign use what you have decorating designer room on a budget dime thrift store discount furniture finds accessories basic design principles
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Inspired Idea: Adirondack Desk Chair (not a typo!)
Jul 20, 2010
Today is sunny and mild with puffy white clouds dotting a blue sky and a light breeze blowing through the trees. Stuck inside at a computer? Never fear… clever, prolific, and down-to-earth designer Todd Oldham has tweaked the classic Adirondack chair to make working outdoors just a bit more tempting. And, he shares a complete how-to in ReadyMade Magazine. Maybe you can't whip this thing up in time to meet your next deadline, but in the meantime, seize this gorgeous day. Even if it means getting a neck-ache from working on the grass. —Diane
TAGS: adirondack desk chair todd oldham readymade magazine how to
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