Inside Design


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Inside Staging

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM Comments comments (11)
The beginning of a new year: a time to remember the past, and look to the future with fresh eyes and renewed hope. It is a season of reflection, resolution, and renovation (the three R’s?), because if you’re selling (or buying) a home, this is also the time to get ready for the spring market.
Before anything else, contact a real estate representative to provide an appraisal of your home’s current value, and an assessment of your local market. If you wish to improve your home’s value, and also decrease the time it spends with a for-sale sign on the lawn, FLUFF IT!
Fluffing, or staging a home has been statistically proven to bring a higher return on your investment, and significantly improve the time it takes to sell it. The goal is to get the home into “move in” condition, an environment that makes little or no immediate demands on the new owners. So many of today’s families are pressed for time. Few want to buy a house that needs some work the minute they move in. Sure, there are people who just want a handyman’s special they can renovate themselves. However, most people don’t have the time.
Most buyers overestimate the time and trouble involved in even simple cosmetic changes, such as stripping wallpaper, and they will mentally subtract that amount from the asking price of the house. If there are too many repairs that will have to be done right away, they may lose interest in the house altogether.
There are many things you can do on your own to create a higher perceived value:
• Get rid of clutter
• Pop brighter bulbs into light fixtures
• Add window treatments that let in the light
• Wash windows inside and out
• Make any repairs
• Paint exterior doors and trim
• Add a front door mat
• Flip the sofa cushions
• Paint in neutral colours
• Refinish hardwood floors
• Add new linens and towels
• For the open house day, create a relaxed atmosphere with candles, music, and fresh flowers
If you feel overwhelmed by the tasks required to get your house in top shape, or simply don’t have the time to get things done, hire someone to organize it for you. It can be less costly than you think—generally $2,000 to $10,000 for an average-sized house—and will more than pay for itself in time saved and increased value.
For a flat fee, a home stager can provide you with a “to do” list that you can work on completing on your own, or for an additional hourly rate, he/she will hire and supervise tradespeople to do it for you, and usually much more quickly. The day before the first open house, there are last minute touch-ups, such as re-arranging furniture or hanging borrowed paintings.
Other strategies to increase interior:
• Pare back the house to its basic structure—rent a temporary storage space for clutter and excess furniture
• Restore original features such as hardwood floors
• Create a specific purpose or use for each room
• Consider the initial impact a room makes—move or cover up ugly furniture, objects or views and get ready to enjoy your new home!

Design in the Details

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 1:57 PM Comments comments (0)
In past articles we’ve talked about the big picture when it comes to designing a room, a house, an outdoor scape.  Form and function, organization, collecting and editing, staging and fluffing for re-sale, remodelling or renovating, extending to the outdoors, and decorating versus design.
While i am a strong proponent of an individual approach to each home, space, or person, there are some universal truths when it comes to decorating your home.  The importance of details cannot be overlooked in a well-thought-out and finished home.
When designing a space for a client, or for my own use, details such as colour, fabric, furniture selection and window coverings ideally come last, after the space has been designed around it’s function.  This of course is not always the case, or even possible in some circumstances.  Sometimes we design around existing pieces, or permanent fixtures and elements, such as flooring or moulding.  Sometimes we just want a face-lift or an injection of colour.
For most of us, there is no magic when it comes to the selection of a colour pallette for our home.  We can gain inspiration and ideas from websites and magazines, and there are many good sources for that.  However, armed with inspiriation from outside sources, we still have to find the colours and combinations that work for us.
Here are some websites to check out when searching for colour inspiration:
The first step in working with a new client for me, is always an interview.  Usually an hour or two, in the space to be worked on, is best.  There we find out what is important to the client, the furniture pieces, artwork, rugs or collections, and what their style and “must-haves” are.  Is it natural wood, natural light, industrial elements, traditional pieces, elegance or luxury, modern and tailored, fun and funky? 
Quite often, the things we keep or that “do” something for us, are a good place to start.  They give us colours, style, and a base from which to begin, and help us fill in the missing elements of the space.  A colour pallette is developed, and pieces specified to edify the style. 
Window coverings are one of the essential needs in completing a room, and one that many people know very little about.  The variety and function of all the choices available to us now can be daunting, but done well, can make all the difference in the world to any interior space. 
Do you need screen shades for UV protection, cellulars for privacy and light, horizontal fabric, wood, or aluminum for light control?  What about shutters, drapes or sliding panels?  Having a designer or consultant come to your home is often the best way to ensure you are getting the most appropriate product for your application.  These are usually free consultations, and take 1 to 2 hours depending on how many windows you have.
Most of the major window covering manufacturers have websites, and can direct you to local dealers and designers.  Here are some websites to check out when you’re in the market for window coverings:
Explore, enjoy, and develop your style!

Inside Out

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM Comments comments (3)
Presumably, as you read this, summer has already arrived, and you are outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  Summer in Canada, is a short and much-anticipated season (particularly this year!), and when it finally arrives, we need to make the most of it.
Not just going to the beach/cottage/trailer or whatever your escape might be on the weekends, but everyday, doing our best to bring the outside in, and spending our days outside as much as possible.  Consider running twinkle lights along fences, railings, or around windows, to extend your outside time into the evenings.  It’s surprising how much warm light those tiny little bulbs provide. We tend to forget how lovely it is to sit outside in the evening and enjoy the summer scents and warmth, until June or July comes around again.
If you have a yard, a deck, or a balcony, then you no doubt already have some kind of outdoor furniture allowing you to eat, entertain, or soak up the sun.  If you haven’t already, make the effort to clean out winter’s mess, dead leaves and old shovels, put them out  of sight, and winter out of your mind for as long as you can. 
Both metal and melamine furniture can be given a freshening with spray paint.  Just make sure to lightly sand or roughen (I use a metal brush) the surfaces, and prime before painting, to ensure a season or two of good looks.  Cushions should be stored in sheds or deck boxes, or covered up when not in use for more than a few days, to avoid additional clean-up and fading.
Disguise unpleasant views or features with trellis, umbrellas, or hanging pots for a quick fix.  If you own your home, consider investing in more permanent solutions.  It will not only add to your own enjoyment, but will certainly increase the value of your home. 
Take pictures of the outside of your home and yard during different stages of the season, and consider what is needed to enhance the “curb appeal”.  Is it fresh paint or hardware around the doors and windows, some added lighting around entryways or in the landscaping?  Maybe your walkways need new stones or pavers, or your fencing needs maintenance or added privacy.
If you are a gardener, like me, then you have already been digging, planting, and weeding for the past 3 months.  Take a look at your gardens and plantings over the summer as objectively as possible to see what areas may need altering.  Many plants outgrow their alloted space and need to be separated or moved to a more sunny or shady area. 
Visual interest such as statuary, fountains or water features can be added and highlighted to create focus or deal with a difficult spot.  Consider flowering trees or shrubs.  Not only beautiful to look at, breath in, and potentially eat berries or fruit, but a source of nectar to attract birds and butterflies.
I like to draw a plan of my house and yard, and plan the various areas for walkways, gardens, borders, play areas, storage etc., and then work towards my plan as time and money allows. 
If you are not the type to spend a lot of time working on your property, or need help visualizing and planning the space, there are many landscaping and gardening companies and professionals in the area that can assist you with anything from the full landscape package, to recommendations on plants or colours, and everything in between.

Whatever the activity or pastime that means summer to you is, get out there and dig it, float it, or tan it!  Live life outside while you can, and make some memories for the long cold months to come.

Summer 2013

Inside Again

Posted on October 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM Comments comments (3)
Once more, we find ourselves at the end of another fleeting and fabulous summer season, and looking forward to all the pleasures and pastimes of fall.  Quite often, this is the part of the year when we go back inside, and invest some time and money in the improvement of inner spaces.
Most of us have had some experience, good or bad, in decorating, renovating or constructing a home.  I’d like to talk about Interior Design, often confused with or assumed to be the same as Interior Decorating, what a Designer does, when you might need one, and some basics of the design process.
When we talk about Interior Decorating, what comes to mind?  Things like furniture, drapery, artwork, accessories, colour and arrangement are all aspects of decoration, and fall under the category we refer to as F.F. & A., or furniture, finishes and accessories.
There are as many ways to decorate as there are homes and people to decorate for.  Your interior should be as individual as you are and reflect your tastes, interests and pastimes.  A good Decorator or Designer will work with you, using your space and your favourite things, and create a look that works for your family’s lifestyle.
Interior Design follows more stringent rules.  While still a very creative process, designers look at the overall picture, define wants and needs, and create a vision of your space along with a path to get there.  They will use existing elements, building code, design standards and industry resources to accomplish the end result.
A design is created to meet a need, or solve a problem – rooms too small, dark, colourless – not enough storage, closets, bathrooms – the changing needs of our families as they grow or shrink.
To begin the process, we look at Form and Function.  Things like colour, style, shape, dimension, scale, and decorative finish make up the “form” or appearance of an interior.  To determine the “function” of a space, we ask questions:  Who, What, Where and How (and sometimes When!).
Who will use this space?  If we’re looking at a kitchen, will it be just one person preparing the meals, or does the whole family get involved?  How tall are they?  How old?  Do they have any special needs, i.e.:  left-handed, kosher, physically challenged, etc.?
How is the space used?  What is in the space, what is needed or missing?  What goes in the Food prep zone and the Cleaning zone?  How do they interact and how much space needs to be allotted for each?
How big is it, can it and should it be expanded or re-organized, or moved to another, more convenient area?  What finishes are the most practical and well-suited to the tasks required?
Where in the house is it located – next to the dining room, overlooking a yard, east, west, north or south facing?  How much light is required, what kind, and where should it go?
Does it require an eating or sitting area?  Is their space for a meal-planning or telephone area?
Once all of our needs and wants define the Function of our space, we can work on a design to meet them using Design Principles and Standards, and all the attributes of Form.
There is an expression in the industry which you may have heard – “Form follows Function”.  This means that the actual function of an object, the need it’s designed to meet, dictates its shape or form.
There is however, another expression – “guess he chose Form over Function”.  This is used to describe something that may be impractical, like a car covered in grass instead of paint, or something more artistic, or fanciful, than useful.

So back in we go, enjoy those cool nights and cozy interiors, and dream and plan in colour!

Fall 2013

Collection vs Clutter

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM Comments comments (6)
Spring has sprung, and you all know what that means.  Yard Sales!  Oh yeah, and cleaning.  But seriously, one of the things i’d like to address this issue, is clutter, and collecting.  One does not necessarily result in the other, and with careful editing, and maintaining a plan, we can keep our stuff from overwhelming our lives. 

The first step of course, and often a very satisfying one, is going through our existing paraphernalia, and chucking what we no longer need or want.  Also things that are broken, or projects that after 10 years, are probably never going to see the light of day.  Be ruthless.  It may be difficult or even a little painful at first, but as you get into the rhythm of it, you may find it quite freeing.  

Antiques and collectibles may be worth something to others, so try listing on Kijiji ( or another free website to sell your stuff.  There are also several auction houses in the area which will gladly accept your stuff.  Be aware however, that they will sell to the highest bidder, and unless you attach a reserve bid to your items, that may not be as high as you might think. 

Having a yard sale of your own is another option, but only do this if you can keep in mind that the goal is just to get rid of stuff.  Donations of whatever is left are welcome at the Salvation Army, Value Village, or the St. Vincent de Paul Society.  There are also schools, women’s shelters, children’s hospitals, and many deserving charities that would appreciate good quality second hand items. 

After the cleansing is completed, you will be left, ideally, only with the things that are most important to you.  Now they need to be organized.  What will be stored, what will be displayed, and what will be used often.  Do your storage spaces need to be upgraded or made more accessible?  You may need closet organizers, under-bed storage containers, or shelving built in the basement, garage or attic.  And there are professionals to help with this if you need it. 

Moving forward, we need to keep our homes and our lives from getting back into the patterns that created the chaos.  This means a plan.  Not everything we admire or desire deserves a place in our living room.  We need an overall design, colour scheme, or style, which will help us in establishing the criteria required for each of the items and pieces we choose for our homes. Our own talents, skills, hobbies, trades and careers can help define these criteria.  Who we are, and how we live, should be at the centre of any design for our homes.  

You may see a home or room in a magazine or on one of the popular decorating shows that appeals to you.  These can be a great source of inspiration, however, trying to impose a vision meant for something or someone else on your own home, doesn’t usually work. Usually, a good design, and the best interiors, begin with designing around the people who live in or use the space and what they do there, and when you bring in your own personality.   This helps define the  “function” of a space.  

You may have heard this word teamed with “form”.  Together, they are the tenets around which we create all things made by man. There is, of course, more to it than that.  Colour and style also play a part, and those that appeal to us are as individual as we are.  One place to start is in your wardrobe.  What colours look good on you?  What cut and style of clothing makes you feel happy when you wear it?  Bringing some of these elements into our interiors can be a very good thing.  Coupled with a good basic design based on what we need to do in the space, and consideration of the limitations and advantages of the space itself, we have all the clues we need to create a comfortable and welcoming home, inside and out. 

Now go play outside!

Post Holiday greens - Artisans Bay Magazine - Winter 2013

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 2:07 PM Comments comments (44)
If you’re like me at this time of year, your thoughts turn to spring and the longing for sunshine and warm weather.  We go from visions of sugar plums, to anticipating the intoxicating smells of fresh greenery, spring flowers, and... paint! 

Spring is the season when we all start thinking about new projects, but as any seasoned gardener or renovator knows, the time to start planning your spring project is now.  Maybe it’s finally time to give the kitchen a facelift, update the bathroom, create a walk-in closet or a basement family room.  If you already have some idea of what you want to do, start contacting contractors, trades, or professionals.  This is the time to get quotes, contracts, bookings and ordering materials.  If you wait until you are ready to start tearing down the walls,  your spring project may just become a fall or winter one! 

Ask friends, neighbors, and relatives for recommendations and referrals for contractors they have been happy with – not everyone is equally proficient at every type of job, and the old adage, “you get what you pay for”, as i have found over the years, is usually fairly accurate.  

The lowest price is not necessarily the most important feature of a quote.  There is also considerable value in having a job done in the timeframe predicted, and for the amount specified.  I have also found that certain contractors will work to your schedule, i.e., not paint your kitchen while you try to make dinner, or start hammering something before you’ve had your coffee.  

Keeping a tidy worksite, consistent hours, and care and concern for your home such as taping off areas being worked on (avoiding collateral damage and mess) are also highly valued traits of residential contracting.  Before you hire a contractor, make sure to ask about these kinds of things, and anything else that might be important to you, such as insurance, qualifications, and accreditation.  Any professional tradesperson that does work on your home is now also required to have a valid BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) under most circumstances.  

If you are doing your own remodelling or renovation and  need inspiration, consider visiting some of the upcoming homeshows in the area.  The Quinte Home Builder’s Association puts on the fabulous “Quinte Home and Renovation” show the first weekend in April this year, at the new Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre.  Check out their website at for current information and a list of member businesses and contractors. 

Two weeks later, on the weekend of April  19 – 21, you’ll find the Quinte West Home show, at Duncan McDonald Memorial Community Gardens in Trenton.  Have a look at their website for further details: If you need help in planning, pricing, or managing your project, contact a professional.  There are many decorators, designers, architects and project managers in the area that would be happy to assist you in realizing the home of your dreams. 

You can find them in the yellow pages, the above-mentioned websites, at professional websites such as ARIDO (Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario), IDO or IDC, or just by googling the type of pro you need along with your location. 

Pick up a copy of the latest decorating magazines, or surf the web.  Get inspired by fresh colour schemes, innovations in building or products, or some of the great interiors you’ll find.  Some websites such as IKEA, Home Depot, and Hunter Douglas have design centres where you can “try on” colours, styles, and window treatments. 

Dream it, plan it, then make it happen!