Posts from the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Red, White and Blue – Who Knew?

When I am getting ready to redecorate a room in my home, one of the things I tend to keep in mind is, “Will I be happy with this decision in the long-term?”  I really try to stay away from anything that is too trendy, unless it is something that I can easily and fairly inexpensively change.  I will usually keep the most expensive upholstered pieces fairly neutral, or at least in a palette that I know I will not tire of for the next few years, or one that I can change the look by switching out accessories or accent wall color.

So when we moved into our home, I knew immediately that I would be changing the color scheme of the rec room as soon as I could.  The previous homeowner had the room done in a red, white and blue scheme.  There were red buffalo check couches, with matching valances over the windows.  The most offending design elements in my mind were the solid red formica countertops on the bar.  (Actually, I should clarify by saying, the most offending design elements in that room.  In the kitchen, the entire base of the island was covered with a hand-painted mural of a moccasin being thrown at a cat, with flowers and tall grasses all around.  But that’s a story for another day. . . .)

Now I think there are some perfectly lovely red, white and blue rooms.  Here are a couple of photos to show you ones I think look wonderful:




But, as well done as these rooms are, they don’t fit in with my “think-long-term” decorating idea.  When I think red, white and blue, I think country home, summer home, or boys’ room.  As much as I like these rooms, I just wouldn’t normally consider this color scheme.

But now I’m thinking, maybe I was wrong!  I’ve stumbled across a number of rooms using these patriotic colors, and I’d really be happy to have any one of them in my home.  The following are some rooms that really gave me reason to re-think:

(Isn’t the door treatment awesome?)

The navy walls contrasted with all of the white molding is really quite special.  Great room!

Source:  Elle Décor
(So crisp.)

(I think this room looks simple but sophisticated.)

(Love this!  Looks like this includes both coral and red.)

(Love the chain-link rug!)

So I guess I’ve learned I need to keep an open mind.  What do “they” say?  Never say never!  I hope you all enjoy the upcoming 4th of July holiday and the rest of your summer.

– Karen


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (or the floor, or the tabletop, or on a shelf)

Mirrors can be such an easy way to add a wow factor to just about any room.  We all know they will visually expand any space.  They can make your room seem much brighter, as they will reflect brightness from any windows or lighting sources.  They can add sparkle, drama, and just plain fun.

It used to be that mirrors were mostly used singly, in such places as over a fireplace, in a foyer, over a dresser, and of course over the bathroom sink.  Such usages were mostly functional – of course you needed to be able to see yourself to get that eyeliner on just right, didn’t you?  But now it’s time to stretch yourself and think way outside the box.  You’ll be happy you did.

And consider doubling or tripling your mirrors, either using identical mirrors, or mixing up different size and shape mirrors.  Here are some great examples:

Aren’t these great?  The grid of the mirrors is repeated in the cushion fabric choices.  Loads of personality here!

Here three fairly simple identical mirrors make quite a statement in this room.  The thick frame and dark color are a great choice.

The mirrors used here are probably some of the most important elements in this vignette.  The smooth and glittery surface of the mirrors bounce the light from the windows and provides great contrast to the rough texture of the brick wall.

Lots of small and medium size mirrors lined up along shelves.

Love these two large leaners.  Here you can see how much larger they make the room appear. 


Tip:  Especially when using very large mirrors, be sure to take into consideration what will show in their reflection.

And while mirrors can still provide a necessary function, sometimes they can be used purely as art.

Sunburst mirrors are so popular now and are readily available.   Look at the drama here.

And of course, using mirrors in your foyer can still be a good idea.  But this foyer is far from ordinary!  Mirrored cabinet fronts, metallic paint and modern round mirror make this foyer way beyond just functional.

So, go ahead!  I bet there are lots of ways you can add a mirror or two (or five!) into one of your spaces.  The sky is the limit!

By Guest Blogger- Karen Dunlap

Let Out Your Inner Animal

There’s something so chic about animal print. Whether it’s part of somebody’s outfit or in their home, when I see animal prints, I automatically think the person 1) has a personality 2) should be my friend and 3) understands sex appeal.

Sex appeal? In my house? Yep! (Mom, don’t look!) A lot of people feel like they need to be conservative and go the “safe” route when they’re decorating. Can you say boring?! Add some fun, some personality and yes, sex appeal. Please and thank you. :)

The key to rocking animal prints in your place is to remember that a little goes a long way. Animal print is powerful and in most cases, one piece is enough (Or at least the same piece used throughout the room). I’m not going to say that you should never use more than one animal print in a room, but be very selective if you do. This is supposed to be your house, not the zoo. ;) Some animal prints can be, well… tacky. Think sophisticated.

Some examples that I think nail the look:

Have fun. Think BIG. Be nice to people.


DIY- Molding It

Every time I go to a house with a lot of architectural detail, I get jealous. There’s something so interesting about old city houses, with their arched hallways, stained-glass windows and moldings on the wall. Most newer houses don’t have the luxury of these features.

The good news is that adding molding to your walls or ceilings is a lot easier than you may think. Most local hardware stores offer a lot of options. They have simple options or detailed ones, various widths and can come pre-painted white or unfinished.

I really like the crisp, modern look of white molding, but how fun would it be to paint the molding a bright, contrasting color to really up the cool-factor?

Once you’ve picked out the molding that you would like, head over to the “tools” section of your hardware store. Pick up a saw and miter box. I bought mine for under $20 and they came as a set.

When you get home, measure the molding to your desired length and cut it at a 45 degree angle. By using the miter box for this, it will make your corners match evenly.

Once you have cut all of your pieces to the appropriate lengths, if you plan on painting or staining your molding, it’s time to make it happen.

Wait until they are completely dry and then it’s time to attach them to the wall or ceiling. You can do this several ways. The easiest way would be to use a nail gun, but I’m guessing that most of you don’t have one handy and they are fairly pricey. You can simply take standard finish nails and hammer them in. Or, if you’re renting or don’t want to make them permanent, I have used heavy-duty, double-sided, removable tape and it actually worked.

If you use finish nails, you will likely need to use touch up paint for the head of the nail. If you use double-sided tape, make sure that it is heavy-duty and that you run it the length of your molding.

Get creative with the design and placement of your molding. In some cases, it can eliminate the need for artwork.

Some inspiration:

This one was just featured on Design Star’s first episode. Designed by Danielle.

Have fun. Think BIG. Be nice to people.


Pump Up the Glam

This one is for all you girly-girls out there…

I don’t know about you, but I instantly fall in love with all things glam. There’s something so fun, sophisticated and lady-like about it. As a designer, I’m often working with clients that live with other people and styles have to compromise. Because of this, what I will deem as “Glamour Chic” is not the most requested look.

A year and a half ago I was going through the audition process of an Interior Design TV show. One of the things that the show wanted me to do was to create a video showing my home and more of my design work. I decided to challenge myself by re-designing my Dining Room in 5 days on a $1,000 budget. I thought it would be a great way to really show them that I can be thrifty, my creativity and most importantly my design style.

I immediately knew that I wanted to make it very glamorous. Some of the things that I did to achieve the style I was going for:

– Got a piece of mirror cut and beveled to place on top of my existing glass table top

– Added 2 zebra chairs that can cap the DR table for additional seating

– Bought 2 crystal lamps for the console table

– Painted the focal wall a tiffany blue

– Made a DIY chandelier

– Bought salad plates with “lace-like” edges

– Bought dark red ruffled pillows for the zebra chair

– Hung decorative mirrors on the wall for art

The finished project:

Ways to incorporate “Glam” into your house:

– Think crystal, mirrors and lace.

– Black, white and red color schemes. Metallics, too.

– Glass vases, fo sho!

– Satins and silks are always elegant

– Embellish curtains, pillows, sheets, etc. with ruffle or lace trim

– Chandeliers=instant glamour

Glam done right:

Have fun. Think BIG. Be nice to people.


Make Room for More

1) I want to thank the people who regularly read my blog and also thank those that are first-time visitors. I appreciate you more than you know

2) I’m excited to introduce to you a guest blogger. Not only do I think she’s an incredibly talented designer and writer, but I get to call her my mom. Without further ado, the following is from Karen Dunlap aka Momma Bear. – Stephanie

You  know one design element that I think is really clever?  It’s the banquette.  To me, just having a banquette ups the cool factor, raising the uniqueness level of any potential home.  I mean, how many people do you know that actually have one?  I thought so.  I don’t know many people either.

You know what a banquette is, right? It’s like a bench, usually upholstered, which is attached right to the wall and/or floor.  It is used instead of traditional, alternative seating, such as chairs.  Usually banquettes are thought of as being used in a kitchen or a breakfast area, or sometimes, if you’re lucky, in a dining room.  But there’s no need to stop there.  You could even use one in a living room or lower level family room.   You could have one in a kid’s playroom.  You can even have storage built right into your banquette, underneath the seat.  Extra points!  They can be traditional or contemporary.  They can even give off a retro vibe – think of a black and white checkered floor and a table with chrome legs.  I love them all!

Besides being just so darned cute, banquettes are actually a great way to increase your seating (there’s a reason you sometimes see banquettes in restaurants).  Because the “back” of the banquette is actually the wall itself, you gain the space you would have needed between the back of a traditional chair and the wall.  Also, individual chairs necessarily define how many bodies can fit at the table, but with a banquette, you can just slide on down and often add to the number of family or friends you can entertain.

I really was hoping when we recently moved that I could utilize a banquette in my kitchen.  For just a minute I thought I’d get my wish.  I already had fabric picked out in my head.  But, darn it, it just didn’t work out in my particular space.   (Hmm, maybe downstairs??)

One thing I would be sure of if I were building a banquette, would be that the “back” of the banquette provides a comfortable backrest.  If you could upholster the wall, all the way to the ceiling, that would be awesome.  If not, at least consider filling up the bench with a variety of comfy pillows.  Oh, I just remembered.  That’s another thing I like about banquettes.  A lot of times in kitchens you don’t have a lot of opportunity to use fabric.  And I love fabrics.  I think they add such warmth to a kitchen.  But with banquettes, you can use as many fabrics as you want in your pillows.

Anyway, here are a few examples that I particularly love.

Love the black & white – with green!

Could you even imagine having this room? The tufting is so gorgeous. It screams for a crystal chandelier over the center of the table.

Unusually shaped, curved banquette.

Cozy and by the fireplace.

Family Room/Basement banquette.

*All photos used are from Pinterest.

Use What You Love

Want to decorate your house, but have no idea where to start? Find one thing that you love and build around that. Look around your house. Is there anything, whether it be a pillow, artwork, chair, etc. that gets your heart pumping when you look at it? A lot of people buy things that love, bring them home and let it sit in the basement.

If you don’t have anything at your house, go to your favorite home furnishings store and buy something that you can’t live without. By using this as a starting point, it will make your room much more personal and exciting to you. If you don’t love it, there’s something better for you. Too often, people go to the store and buy things that are ok or that they kinda like. This is unacceptable behavior. :)

This is YOUR house. Not a display room. You GET to make it as awesome as you are.

So, start with that one piece, whatever it may be, and work with it. Find other pieces that go with it(not that match it). Think about mixing different colors and textures around that piece. If it’s a wooden coffee table, consider a glass end table. This keeps it interesting. If it’s a fun pillow, add a few more that contrast in color, texture and shape.

Make it uniquely you. You deserve a house that you love.

^^^ What people will say about your house. And you. :)

Have fun. Think BIG. Be nice to people.


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