When you think about decorating a room you should of course consider wall color, art, lighting, flooring, and so much more! Today I want to consider the fifth wall...your ceiling. I've pulled together some inspiration for you that covers ceilings that have architectural features, great lighting, fun paint treatments, and tactile textures.
Let's start with the most affordable treatment - paint.
Painting the ceiling black brings drama and a modern update to this dining room. It becomes a terrific backdrop to show off your lighting as well.
Great lighting will make everyone look up and can set the mood for your room.
Add warmth and movement to your space with a textured ceiling.
Architectural ceiling treatments make the biggest statement. When they include great lighting design you'll end up being the envy of all your friends.
I hope you enjoyed my brief look at the fifth wall. Be sure to consider all the possibilities on your next home project.
At some point in our lives you may acquire furnishings from your parents, grandparents, and others. If you are lucky, you know the stories about each piece and they bring you warm memories. As much as you love the pieces and the family members they came from, let's face it - the pieces are likely OLD and possibly not your current style. Even so, mixing and matching can bring character and interest to your space.
When you have little to no space for these treasures or really would prefer someone else enjoy them, don't feel guilty. Take pictures of Grandma's armoire or Aunt Judy's secretary desk and document anything you know about its age, style, and one or two good memories about it, then pass it on to another family member or sell it to someone who loves it. You can still pass on your family history with the pictures and notes you wrote about the item.
Here is a link to a journal that can be used just for this purpose.
If you absolutely want to keep your family heirloom, bringing an old piece into a more contemporary style can be tricky but well worth it. If you don't know how to incorporate it into your current style, here are some ideas to consider: restore, re-purpose, up-cycle.
You may find your furniture piece is in need of repair, refinishing, or reupholstering. I don't advise you take on these tasks unless you are particularly skillful in these areas. Professionals can ensure you end up with an item that will last for many more years. You don't want to end up with a blemish that you have to see for years to come if you make an attempt on a valuable antique for the first time and botch the job.
Once the piece is fully repaired, refinishing will give you the opportunity to change the color with stain or paint. Your choices here should be driven by your style and the proximity to other furnishings. If repairs where extensive, your only choice may be to paint it to cover up the repairs. Use light bright colors for a pop of excitement, dark jewel tones for a moody feel, or neutrals like white, black, gray, or blue. Yes, blue has become the latest neutral! If your room needs a shot of warmth, and the wood is in good shape, have it stained a shade that compliments your existing color scheme, but doesn't wash out with too much of a match to the flooring if you have wood floors.
I will say that upholstering or creating slip covers is expensive, so be sure the bones of your item are in very good shape and you really love the piece. A reputable upholsterer should be able to tell you if it is worth saving. And why is upholstering expensive? I made 2 slip covers for wing backed chairs I acquired and boy-oh-boy did it take me a long time to complete them! I chose to create cording around the cushions and main lines of the chair. I put in a zipper to ensure I could remove the covers easily. I added Velcro to the bottom to have a tight fit and eliminate movement of the cover while using the chair. My sewing machine (and needles) took a beating as I tried to sew together several layers of upholstery grade fabric. Material choice can make your project even more expensive if you want to use a patterned or pattern textured fabric. A good upholsterer will line up patterns so that you see the pattern featured, not create a new pattern on each corner or side of your furniture piece. That requires a LOT of fabric.
Mixing a furniture piece that has old style lines with a modern patterned fabric is a perfectly on-trend way to mix the old with the new. Choose a fabric with colors that work well with your existing color scheme and keep in mind how the piece is used to consider the properties of the fabric so it holds up to moisture, pets, kids, etc.
You may already have a piece of furniture in the type of space used by the 'new' family heirloom you acquired. That doesn't mean you can't use it. Let's take the example of a large armoire. There are some really beautiful antique armoires out there. They can add additional storage for a bedroom - that's obvious! They can also be placed in a large entry room for coat storage, or a sewing room for hanging fabric.
Do you have an old chest? Another great piece for storage! If it's flat on top, you could add a cushion and gain a seat for your entry way, the foot of the bed, or you could use it as a coffee table without the cushion. Keep it in your closet to store seasonal clothing or shoes and it may also help serve as a step up to reach those items on upper shelves.
No matter what the piece is, think about each room in your home and all the potential functions the piece could serve. Dressers can become bedside tables, game storage, entry way storage, and more.
This is my favorite topic when it comes to finding ways to mix old furnishing with new. If the piece is not worth saving due to extensive damage, again, don't feel guilty about tossing it out. If there is a portion of it that has some unique detail you may be able to salvage that part and up-cycle it. I'm planning to use the ornate front of an old upright piano as art. I've already created a clock from its keys!
Put rollers on dresser drawers when the rest of the unit is not usable, then use the drawers as under bed storage. Add casters to a dresser and you have a work surface that can be moved almost anywhere. Add casters and long handles to each side of a baby changing table and a bar cart is born!
Paint side tables, add tile to the top from scraps you can get from a Habitat Re-store or your own past projects, and you will have one of a kind patio tables.
If you acquired a small dining table but don't need one, consider having the legs shortened and using it as a coffee table.
The ideas here are endless. Searching on your favorite internet sites will give you loads of ideas on what others have done with older furnishings either acquired or bought for the sheer fun of creating budget friendly useful items that can be mixed and matched with your current furnishings.
I have several areas of my life that could use an overhaul. I've attempted various diets only to drop them out of boredom or lack of planning. I've let areas of my home and garden go due to many reasons, among them an indecision on where to start or to make the most of my limited time. As an interior designer that bugs me to no end! I put my family and clients first, so I've not given me or my spaces some well deserved attention
I need a bit of motivation, some inspiration to get the ball rolling and to complete a project or two with compassion and understanding that it's okay to have bumps in the road or starts and stops when life's changes have to be prioritized above my needs. Does that mean that it's futile to look for inspiration if there is a chance you'll end up back at the starting point again? NO WAY! “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe (the first African American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon singles titles among other credits.) I like that quote.
So I started where I was - stuck at home with some added time in my day not having to commute to work on a daily basis. I enrolled in a class at Madison College called 'Fundamentals of Well-Being'. I wasn't exactly sure how it would help, but it was a free class for a limited time and I knew I needed to take some type of action. One small portion of the class was to set a goal for something. I decided to set one for going on a diet! NO, not really. I set a goal to stay on one. I wrote down all the obstacles I thought would get in my way and made a plan to remove or manage those obstacles.
What was on my side was working from home so that I could take time to make my food and learn about the type of diet I chose - The Ketogenic Diet. I also added the Carb Manager App to my phone. It's fantastic! It has meal plans and shopping lists and a daily log that is easy to use along with a host of charts to manage your progress. Using what I had - some extra time and a really great app - I lost 10 pounds in a bit over 2 months. I haven't added in any extra exercise so imagine what I can do with that! I have a way to go to get to my goal, but I've been amazed at how many sweets, breads, and other carbs I can easily pass up. I also gave myself a couple of full weekends to add wine, a dessert, and no carb counting on my wedding anniversary. This is what I call 'doing what you can'!
Soon I plan to use Arthur Ashe's quote to start a small project at home, using materials I have, and with my creativity and problem solving skills I can work a bit at a time to accomplish great things. And so can you! Set your goal, plan for obstacles, look for inspiration. (You might find something to get you started in my Transitions blog post.)
What is your inspiration? Words? Pictures? Actions of others? Please jot down your motivational techniques in the comments.
Do you have an abundance of socks, scarves, or seasonal accessories that crowd your closet or dresser space? Does your shower have inadequate storage for those large, more affordable shampoo and conditioner bottles you like to buy? Do you have collections of DVD's, craft items, or cans and boxes of food that are difficult to keep organized? We all have a trouble spot or two (or more!). Getting organized can be overwhelming, so let's start small.
Pick one spot or one category to tackle, such as a kitchen drawer or that large scarf collection. If you have some empty boxes or baskets, gather them up before you start. Designate a container (or a spot on a clean surface) for each of these categories - KEEP, TOSS, DONATE, RELOCATE. Set a timer. Give yourself 5 minutes. Pull everything out - and I mean EVERYTHING for the area you've chosen as your focus. If it doesn't belong in that spot, has no purpose anymore, or you don't love it, add it to the toss, donate, or relocate spot now. DO NOT RELOCATE IT NOW - you are on a timer and need to keep your focus on one area. If you are finding it difficult to make a decision, keep it. No guilt. Remember we are starting small and trying to make quick decisions.
Once done reset the timer to 5 minutes again. Take items that ended up in your keep pile and sort them into like items. Don't overthink it as this is meant to be done quickly. For example, separate baking utensils, from screw drivers! Or from frying utensils, or flipping or grasping, or cutting utensils...you get the idea? If you are working on those scarves (or hats, or head bands, or ties) separate by color or occasion or season. Use a concept for sorting that makes sense to YOU. If you're totally lost and end up with everything in one pile and still feel cluttered, drop me a line. I'd be glad to help
You've now spent 10 minutes and have a mess, right? You may have a mess, but hopefully it is an organized mess and you should be able to see the potential for placing things back in place in a way that makes those items accessible and usable. Take a good look at your organized piles of goodies you've decided to keep and measure the space those items take up as well as the space you have to store them.
This is the hard part - do you shove this stuff back into the same place it came from or do you purchase some storage solutions to keep things organized and accessible? You may be lucky enough in that your decluttering efforts will allow you to put your categorized items back in place without a new storage solution. If that's not the case and it looks like you will continue having problems keeping your items looking great, check out the links below for some practical and beautiful containers and inspiration to continue your organization efforts.
Classy under bed storage.
Versatile medium sized bins
Awesome, adjustable shower storage
See through storage for DVD's, games, craft items, canned/boxed food
Personalized canisters - great sharing the gift of organization!
HOUZZ - Kitchen Essentials (Affiliate Link)
For now, if you don't have a temporary practical solution for keeping your items separated until your storage solutions arrive, take 5 more minutes to make a list of each item within each category. I encourage you to do this on paper or index cards so you can keep the lists with the items. Put your items back in place or in a temporary space for now along with each list. Have fun shopping for the right solution and once it arrives, take pleasure in knowing you can quickly store those items in an organized and useful way.
All in, if this exercise takes more than 20-30 minutes for one focus area, don't fret. It can take time to learn how to make quick decisions on items you've owned for a long time. Try doing this with a friend who can help you stick to following a timer. Try a smaller target area next time. Plan a reward for yourself after 4 attempts. Have a tasty treat, your favorite beverage, watch a movie, have a long soak with your favorite scented candles, your choice, You deserve it!
We've been inside long enough! The virtual graduation ceremonies are nearing an end. Gather up your family and spend some time with them outside before the kids go off to college. I truly hope you will find some real tangible places to visit during this tough time in our lives, but in the meantime (and maybe for inspiration) I put together a short list of fun links to explore virtually.
To ground our trip I've added pictures taken by a local artist, Karen Watson-Newlin. They are a beautiful outcome of a terrible situation - just a sampling of how artists are getting the word out that Black Lives Matter with 'graffiti' on the boarded up store fronts of downtown Madison, WI.
Note that several of the virtual tours are made possible by Google's Street View feature.
Let's get going on our trip. This one is just for fun - Let's start our trip at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and use google maps to explore the terminals!
Where are we heading? It's up to your imagination. Maybe we can start with a couple of tours through some college campuses. Here's a link that takes you to 100 campuses virtually thanks to David Wu.
Now for some culture - Let's visit some famous galleries all over the world without the back aches and sore feet in the end! (Remember to rest your eyes by looking away from your virtual tour now and again.)
Did you know that when done correctly, scuba diving can provide pain relief and an escape from chronic back pain? This next tour is brought to you by National Marine Sanctuaries. Take your time and turn up the sound to hear the commentary with each video.
I want to end our trip by saying that I know everyone is affected by our current situation in many different ways. I hope we all find the words and actions that help us get through it all in a helpful, peaceful way. This last part of our tour shows how art helps many express what words can't say.
5/31/2020 - Thanks to everyone who voted! My design placed 12th among 74 entries. I didn't make the final 5, but I was happy to participate and appreciate all the kind comments.
This is just a quick departure from my usual blogs. I hope you will support me. I entered a design into a contest put on by Studio Van Den Akker, a luxury, customized furniture provider. Voting ends 5/25/2020. Please consider voting for design #29 using this link: http://studiovandenakker.com/2020-contest-entries/
It is designed to be quite versatile. Small when completely closed, wider when the top rounds are extended and it has 2 removable trays in the bottom rounds. The 'slices' can be customized with 3 types of materials. Depending on your choices, this table will fit into any decorating scheme.
I've been taking an online course through Madison College called 'Fundamentals of Well-being'. It has given me reason to reflect on my life and that reflection has made it to this blog with the hopes that my readers might find some new ideas, share some of their thoughts in the comments section of this blog, and overall know that by taking an active part in your life means we all have the ability to be happy and help each other be happy as well.
Reading further you will encounter affiliate links.
Yes, indeed. We've all read and heard that it is time to take a pause during these unprecedented times. Spend more time with family at home, Stop the fast pace of running all over shopping and driving the kids to soccer practice, gymnastic classes, swim classes, where ever. I'm not saying anything new! So what's a gal in love with interior design to do?
I'd like you to take a different kind of pause. The one that involves finding moments in our home decor that let your eye take a rest/pause. How beautiful it is to realize there is one treasured photo on a table, rather than a collection.
Providing an over sized piece of art all alone at the end of a hallway can make one stop to admire or look at the intricacies within that the artist wanted to share.
Add a textural element to allow guests or you to take time to tactically enjoy a moment, whether it is a deliciously soft throw, cool sheets with a ridiculously high thread count, or some silly squishy toy with a sign that says hug me!
Finally, let's not forget the best teacher for showing that pausing can refresh, revitalize, and provide peace - NATURE.
Have a very safe, peaceful, happy Easter!
Are you an empty nester or soon to be? This can either be a difficult time or one for celebration (or both!). The bottom line is you have space in your home that can be re-purposed, needs a refresh, or it's time to down size.
Remember back to just before the delivery of your first child. Some of us had the 'nesting' urge or urged our partners to get that nesting done before the baby comes or else! Among the many emotions of watching your children go off on their own (sadness, worry, freedom, loneliness, etc) you might find the feeling of re-nesting. This time it's just for you or perhaps to accommodate aging parents; not for children with the many toys, strollers, bottles and more that they come with. For this reason, after, or while, you sort out your emotions, the first stage might be decluttering. (Sorry if I just swore!)
There are many, many books out there on how to declutter. It's not just a task for organizing (keep, toss, donate). It can be just as emotional as letting your children go. Your belongings collected over the years mean something to you. If you find that is no longer the case, then FANTASTIC. You are on your way to finding space to be repurposed. If you feel you don't know where in the world to start, I recommend hiring a professional. I can recommend a couple of very talented professionals if you live within the Dane County Wisconsin area. Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now what! You have a clean home, but that means it is even emptier than before. You will have to decide how to use all that reclaimed space. Do you need a guest bedroom, a hobby room, an exercise area? Do you just want to make your living room luxurious yet live-able and ready to entertain your friends, host a book club, watch movies on the screen of your dreams? Is it time to move to a smaller home or a home with less upkeep? Only you can decide, but once decided you might want to enlist an interior designer to help you find the best place within your home to create your very own vision.
Once you decide what you want, whether you plan to move or reuse a space within your current home, you'll want to plan out what you need for the purpose of the room and get to work on collecting your inspiration items. See this blog post for tips on finding your style/feel for your room.
Should you consider 'Aging in place'? If you live in your 'forever' home, staying there safely is imperative. You can still have a beautiful home with minor changes that can help ensure you get to stay there. This website has some tips for home modifications.
What about those of us that have tiny homes or just not enough rooms for dedicated space for your dream room? What if one of you wants a sewing room and the other wants a wine tasting room but you only have one room to remodel. You just might have to set up a multi-purpose room or use multi-purpose furnishings to make this happen. (And keep the wine away from the fabric!) This is the kind of challenge that I personally like! It takes creativity to find the needed storage and functional furnishings to keep your hobbies fun and accessible, while ensuring you have a guest room for an occasional visitor or room for different hobbies. Let me close with a few fun ideas I found while googling about!
What do you want to see done in your home? Are you an empty nester? Any great organizing tips? Comment below, please.
What is the first thing you think of when you want to change up your room?
I recommend considering decluttering or completely removing all furnishings and décor if you can. Now you have a blank slate and possibly a blank mind! What to do?
There are numerous tests you can take online to find out your style. They can be a fun start, but keep in mind they have been programmed for the masses. If you google images of a particular style like farm house, industrial, or contemporary, you WILL find pictures that incorporate elements of those styles. Do you ALWAYS like ALL the elements? Chances are the answer is 'No'.
"So now what, Brenda?", you ask. Let's talk 'Feel' or 'Mood'. What do you want the room to feel like? What mood do you want it to take on? Here are three mood boards I designed to start envisioning what I wanted in three different spaces...
Of course, these are just images like those you find when you google a style. You may not like all the items on the mood board your designer presents to you. That's okay. It is a communication tool. Your interior designer will ask you a ton of questions about what you like and don't like. Even then, she will not run out and order the exact item you approve (unless you can't live without it!). The skills a professional designer brings to you is knowing how to translate the elements that make up the mood into furnishing and accessorizing your space.
I encourage you to start a collection of your own images using whatever you are used to - pictures on your phone, Pinterest boards, Houzz idea boards, etc. Get some old magazines from a thrift store and tear out pictures. Don't just collect pictures of furnishings you like. Collect images of ANYTHING that invokes the feeling you want your space to have. That might be a flame, a feather, a rock, a book, a color, whatever. The sky is the limit.
Gather your pictures into one place and try to analyze what is common about the pictures. Toss out or move aside pictures that take away from the feel you want to end up with. Take a picture or paste those magazine pics onto a large sheet of paper in a way that tells your story. That story will go miles in helping your designer know the direction to take toward providing you with a space that will give you joy for years to come. If you take the DIY route, be sure to take your mood board with you when shopping and don't be afraid to show it when asking a salesperson for help in picking out items for your room. Although there are many other design considerations to making your space look cohesive and getting every piece to work together, this method is tried and true for getting inspired and leading you in the right direction.
It's your turn, now! I invite you to comment on your method for collecting inspiration for decorating a space.
I, Brenda Szarek, am the founder of Autumn Light Interiors. I have immersed myself in home design and problem solving for years and have creative solutions for all kinds of interior design dilemmas. I hope you enjoy my tips, tricks, trends, and inspiration to help you find your way to a well-designed, comfortable, and functional home you can be excited to live in and welcome others within.