Thursday, September 02, 2004

More design toys to play with

I found another really neat tool that will make your life easier when matching colors. It's provided by Behr Paint at their website:

Behr features an interactive paint matching system. It allows you to select different types of rooms and applies the colors you select directly to the picture. You can start with one color, and the system will suggest trim, ceiling and accent colors. Even better, you can tweak the lightness and intensity of the color.

It's really simple to use, but if you're on dialup internet connection, it does take a while to load. Once you're in and with a practice run or two, you can try different "what if" scenarios. The picture below took about 45 seconds to create:

This is fun and can save you time, but here are a couple of things for you to consider:

-It's easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees. When you're testing different color combinations, remember to keep your overall design goals in your mind. If you don't know what you're trying to accomplish, you can spend a lot of time and still come up short! I think the best use for this kind of gadget is to try different colors quickly to decide what's best for your personal taste and style.

-When you look at the "Inspiration" section, remember that the architectural style of the room will affect the overall look. What I mean is if you see something you like in a picture of a room with vaulted ceilings and you live in a ranch home with 8 foot ceilings, you will probably not get the same effect as the picture. This applies to any decorating magazine, too-- theory and application often end up in different places.

-It's so easy to become enamored with a certain color that it becomes difficult to move it throughout your home. If you're not careful, you'll end up with a home that has a chopped-up, "themey" feel, instead of one where your colors flow together. I'm not saying all your colors have to match exactly, but having a harmonious consistent look makes everything work together instead of competing.

Would you like more information on mixing and matching colors? Please download my free ebook chapter on Color Flow-- making colors work together from room to room. If you're life is hectic and stress-filled, I promise this chapter will bring you some peace of mind! Click on the link below to download your ebook chapter.

You'll also recieve, if you wish 21, days of decorating tips via email. Just make sure to confirm your subscription on the followup email!

Armed with this tool and with my knowledge, you're on your way to creating interesting and exciting color combinations-- whether you're doing your whole house OR a room at a time!

Happy Decorating!

Mary Cynthia

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A fun design website!

I just stumbled on a website filled with neat little toys you can use to help with your design projects, especially if you're the type of person who needs to see it first (and who doesn't?).

Here's the link: go to the paint resources section, fourth link down...

interior paint design Resources
>: "Welcome to SeeMyDesign. Your source for interior design with the best SeeMyDesign features free, interactive tools for interior design visualization and related theory and resources. Use SeeMyDesign Room Preview, Layout, and Planner to start your next ... " will allow you to play with color combinations, floor planning and resources to find what you need. The color layout tool was pretty basic with limited options of design elements, but it was a snap to use. I created this picture in about 30 seconds:

Not sure you like that coffee table with that color scheme? No problem! It's easy to go back in and change the different design elements.

The floor planning tool was useful, and loaded quickly; I changed the size of a table, for example and it showed up right away. This little tool is worth a trip to the site alone. I always use graph paper and furniture templates, so this was a nice "hi tech" change of pace for me!

Furniture placement can be difficult for some, but just remember: pick your focal point (center of attention) before you start moving furniture around. If you have two focal points (like a TV and a fireplace), try to get them next to each other-- you'll get double the design effect that way.

Mary Cynthia

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Window treatments

Here's a fun article on window treatments. They author says they can "make or break" a room but why? Eye level! The eye is drawn not only to the source of light in a room, but also what's directly in front of it. So, window treatments can make a big difference in the first impression a room gets.

I generally use a big pattern or strong colors on a window treatment-- at least bigger than what's on a chair or pillow for example. You can get a lot more bang for your buck at eye level than anywhere else.

As for types of window treatments, valances are real trendy right now. A valance is similar to a cornice in that it covers the top of a window. I use it a lot to cover the tops of shutters, blinds, verticals, or venetian blinds-it hides the headrail well.

Valances are usually soft treatments, sometimes shaped. It's a more casual look. A lot of them I see in magazines or showcase houses are not very well done.

When I say that I mean that they tend to look too top-heavy or too skimpy. It's important to get the scale right. The rule of thumb is about 2 inches of valance height for every foot of wall height. So, for 8-foot ceilings, make your valances 14-16 inches tall. For 9-foot, 16-18" and so on.

I've seen too many valances that sit on a window that look like a 10 gallon hat on a midget-- way too heavy and tall! Now you don't have to worry about that.

Mary Cynthia

Go to 2nd article down under interior design news:

Interior Design Ideas from Lifestyles Consulting : "Windows deserve special attention (Oakland Tribune) I STARTED in this business 20 years ago designing and manufacturing window treatments. Even though I have worked in this industry far longer than that, my favorite part of interior design continues to be window treatments. They are so important, they really do make or break a room's potential."

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

My fickle friend...

The summer wind... ah yes....

Here's an interesting article if you're looking to hold on to that sunny feeling a little later in the year. Scroll down to "Recent news", third article down:

design interior room small Resources
"10 ideas to make summer decorating last (Groton Landmark)
Long after the season has ended and vacations are over, wouldn't it be nice to have a place where you could go to recapture the languorous mood of warm weather retreats? Take the time now, with your own home, to create a summer place that will give you pleasure every day of the year."

A couple of observations

Color-- it's hard to say what a "lively" pallette is. If you're already getting a lot of sun when you use the room, you may want to stay away from reds and yellows; stick with blues and greens. If you're a "blue" person, you may have had trouble finding much variety the last few years. Blue is coming back in a big way.

Floral patterns-- If you like florals and you're in a position to re-do an entire room, try a one pattern room: window and bed treatments, pillows, upholstered headboard, even co-ordinating wallpaper. It's one of the most effective types of design, especially for small guest bedroom; you're not contrasting or cutting up the room, so you'll actually make it look bigger. Be careful about the size of the flowers, though. With small, "Laura Ashley"-type patterns, it can be hard to get a good design effect without using it everywhere, which can get expensive. Big patterns will give you more mileage.

Iron furniture-- always a great idea in my book. The good news is there's all kinds of choice on the market today. Koch Furniture makes a great line of value-priced iron pieces, from dining tables to baker's racks, with great attention to detail for a reasonable price.

Happy Decorating,

Mary Cynthia

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Home Accents on a Shoe "String"

This article is actually a pretty good idea if you're accessorizing a table top. You can also apply the general principles to a bookcase. I like it because it will shift you into a new perspective. I find many people can be a little rigid about accessorizing; for example many people buy the same size accessory. To create interest and excitement, mix it up and buy small, medium and large.

To create interest on your walls, go for the "wave"-- vary the heighth of your pictures, lamps and furniture rather than making sure everything is even.

Anyway, here is the article, fifth one down under interior design news.

Interior Design Ideas from Lifestyles Consulting
"Just a long piece of string leads to design success (The Arizona Republic)Sometimes it just takes an unusual visual prompt to help us understand the art of accessorizing. Is a piece of string memorable enough..."

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Interior design course online

If you want to learn more about the interior design profession, I can teach you the simple tricks and tips of our interior design firm.

If you're in the business, I can show you simple ways to explain your ideas to your clients and show you lots of time "shortcuts" to get the design effect you're looking for.

If you just want to create a home that expresses who you are, I'll teach you the decorating principles my design firm has used for over fifty years in over 5,000 homes.

To create the best possible online course, please take three minutes to fill out my online survey. Just click on the link below:

Take the survey.

If you have any comments, please leave them in "comments"section below.

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Distinctive Decor: Interior designer strives to create a home that can be lived in

Let's talk some more about the decorating article. Click on the link below-- a new window will open, then click on the top picture.

Distinctive Decor: Interior designer strives to create a home that can be lived in
"Distinctive Decor: Interior designer strives to create a home that can be lived in"

Here's a quote from the article:

"Truthfully, one of the requirements was that the palette and design be calm," says the owner. "We have enough chaos with four boys."

Let's talk about the color scheme. Do you like it? Is it calm? I think so, but can you spot how they could have improved the room?

Look at the rug. The colors in the rug have no relationship to anything else in the room. They might have "cherry-picked" a color out of the design, but it would have been soooo much better to use the background color of the rug. This is a red-based beige, where the wall colors are a yellow-based beige. They clash! Rather than producing a calming effect, to me it actually produces a jarring effect.

So, if you're decorating with an Oriental rug in the room, start with the colors in the rug. You'll end up with a much more coherent design effect and harmonious look.

Talk to you soon,

Mary Cynthia

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Balance can be tough-- even for the initiated

Many of my design class students come to my class because they've tried to copy something out of a decorating article and failed to recreate the look.

Over the next couple of days, I'd like to take an article and give you a couple of examples of why that might happen.

Click on the link below to go to the article-- first one under Interior design news.

Interior Design Ideas from Lifestyles Consulting
"Distinctive Decor: Interior designer strives to create a home that can be lived in (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Balance is a beautiful thing. Seeing it in nature is proof of a higher power, but finding it in the home is evidence of great interior design. The comfortable coupling of gloss and matte, old and new, stylish and staid can be an Olympian feat for the uninitiated."

When you get to the article, click on the first picture and let's look at it. What do you think of the design?

First of all let me say I am not judging the taste of the designer or her clients. I'm trying to point out a couple of things that may be an obstacle for you if you like this style. If you don't, that's OK, because you can take these comments and still apply them when you find something you do like.

Now, the individual design elements in this room are exquisite: the furniture, the window treatments, the chandelier, the rug. The room is a showcase to display them.

So, if you're decorating on a budget, this look may be hard to duplicate unless you already own exquisite things.

This happens a lot in decorating magazines. The majority of magazines on the market will not even show you fabrics under $90 a yard. If you see a decorating-windows-with-sheets how-to articles, the photo will probably show the window next to a $600 lamp or a $1500 headboard. Again, unless you own a $600 lamp, your sheets probably will not look as good as the photo you're trying to copy.

I'll let you in on a little secret: decorating with a large budget is a piece of cake! If you're not in that position, join the rest of us. If you like this look, there's no reason you have to have two of everything exactly the same (the sofas, the wing chairs, the lamps on the mantel). Mix it up and make it interesting!

Next time, I'll talk about color and how you can use it to your advantage.

Mary Cynthia

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Window treatments for your style

When I'm trying to get some decorating impact for my clients, I almost always start at eye-level. Why? Because it's the first thing you see when you walk into a room.

One of the main things at eye level are window treatments. They can make a great first impression-- and they don't have to grab the throat or be over the top to do it, either.

Click below to see the answer to this question:

Home Decorating Ideas from Lifestyles Consulting
"Q: What kind of window treatments give a cozy feel? Should they go to the floor, even though my sofa's in front of them? "

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