Monday, January 19, 2009

Jungle Fever

The furniture and accessory markets have been going on this week-end at the Dallas World Trade Center and Dallas Design showrooms. Store owners, buyers, and design trade professionals are pouring in from all over to purchase the newest merchandise for their stores and to get in step with what’s happening next in decorating style. I will be giving you previews from market of the new furnishings that will be in your stores in the coming months, just to get you excited and ready to update your interiors. This is one look that is leaving its mark—animal prints, either being used in bold statement pieces or in small doses on traditional items and in combination with classic elements. As you can see here, you don’t have to go all out and create a whole safari themed d├ęcor to key into this trend. Just bringing in touches of exotic animal patterns such as this hair-on-hide zebra and mixing them with more traditional fabrics like these chenille patterns and leather like you see on this sofa, will give an exotic flavor to your room without screaming Tarzan lives here.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kids' Study Spaces

Competition to get into private school, the need to make good grades to get into a decent college and parental pressure to keep grades up, make it vital for students to have a good place to study.

There are five points to consider when creating a functional study space:

1. Start with a desk that has plenty of space to spread out papers. Make sure you include an ergonomic desk chair. A dining room or kitchen chair does not provide the right support and flexibility.

2. Set up the desk in a room or a part of the house that isn’t isolated from everyone, yet isn’t in the main flow of traffic. As you can see here, a storage closet can be converted for a compact study nook, that can be out of sight when not in use.

3. Equip the study space with a computer, printer and school supplies. Keep extra printer cartridges available at all times…rather than dealing with running out at midnight to find a replacement cartridge. Kinko’s and CVS pharmacy carry a wide range of cartridges. I learned that the hard way.

4. Make sure the area is well lit. Tasking lighting is very important.

5. Avoid having a television in the room or at least make sure it’s not on during homework time.

Creating a study space for your child won’t guarantee a spot at Harvard, but it’s a good start.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What's In A Frame?

Putting the right frame on artwork can completely changes it’s identity and elevate it to the look of fine art. This small watercolor was done by my late mother-in-law, and for years my husband had it with a dark khaki matte and a basic thin frame, leaving it to sit in his office looking insignificant and very 80's. Recently, I needed a small piece of art for a tablescape and decided to give this little work a face lift. I re-matted it in a neutral off-white with a gold outline to allow the colors in the artwork to take center stage. Then I chose a heavy, carved frame that had a pattern of graceful strokes that repeated the line detail of the artwork itself, for emphasis. Choosing these new materials gave this simple botanical an updated look and a much greater sense of importance.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Eyesore or Asset--Selling Your Parents' Home

Despite the popularity of “extreme makeover” shows, this term takes on a new meaning when baby-boomers are faced with selling their parents’ homes. It is a daunting task that most of us will inevitably face. I’ve not only been through it with my own family, but also with my husband, my friends, and several of my clients. What I’ve learned is that at a time when sons and daughters are grieving the death or debilitation of their parent, often completely overwhelmed and exhausted, they have to take on the responsibility of having to sell their parents’ homes. For most it means culling through thirty to forty years of emotionally-charged accumulation, where cherished family photos or important papers are found amidst dusty piles of magazines, and every object holds a memory. It also means coming to grips with the reality that their once competent parent has been slowly declining for years, lacking the energy, means, or mobility to care for their home, so the house is in need of a major overhaul before being put on the market.

The problems I see are fairly consistent from one house to the next, beginning with years of neglect of the basics such as cleaning and household repairs. Next, the once beautifully decorated homes have interiors that not only show years of wear, but are out-of-date, usually accompanied by furniture and accessories being arranged and displayed in an old-fashioned manner. This can send a subliminal message to a potential buyer that the home’s maintenance is also seriously out-of-date. Further complicating the situation is the over-accumulation of “stuff” that has not been sorted, organized, or discarded in years. Often, this is the family home where the adult child grew up, so their familiarity makes them unable to see the gradual deterioration of the home until they need to put it on the market. Unfortunately, heirs can first face these realities when grief and sentiment cloud their judgement, and pressure from finances or other considerations compel them to make decisions quickly.

In my experience, there are things that can be done in advance that would make this transition in life easier for everyone including the elderly parents. I would suggest stepping in earlier and helping your parents manage their home. Assess the condition of the home, now. Make sure the house is clean even if it means hiring a maid to come in. See that repairs are done. Take over the hiring of contractors and repairmen yourself. Often, seniors are too trusting and overpay for shoddy work. Accept that these are things your parents can no longer handle.

Start pre-organizing by locating important documents and files while eliminating junk. Removing excess furnishings and rearranging others can improve your parent’s mobility and prevent falls. These improvements will not only enhance the quality of life your parents, but when the time comes, the house will be closer to being ready to show. This is the time to decide the eventual disposition of the home.

Reverse mortgages have grown in popularity with seniors, but they can represent a problem for heirs if there is a substantial amount to be paid back on the house. Because interest continues to accrue, the time it takes to sell the house becomes a major factor. The longer it takes to get the house into marketable condition and sold, the more money is wasted in interest.

I highly recommend using the services of a good realtor, even consulting with them before the need arises, to have a plan successfully in place to keep the property in line with the market. They can tell you the value of the property based on the current market and the surrounding neighborhood conditions, and help you set a realistic sales price. Get a referral for someone who has been successful selling the properties in that neighborhood. Using all the good, professional resources that are available to you such as licensed contractors, packing and hauling services, and real estate stagers, etc. will minimize the burden on you, shorten the home’s time on the market, and maximize the financial success of your project.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Once Is Not Enough

“REPETITION” is one of the a principles of design, and this kitchen demonstrates the principle so well and how it can be used to create a dramatic interior. The cabinet door style is a series of rectangles. The artwork on the back wall is framed to repeat the framed style of the cabinetry. Then, the rectangular shape of the barstools continues the pattern. The backsplash features an inset tile mosaic listel of rectangular shaped natural stone. Even the cylindrical pendant light fixtures over the bar appear to be rectangular, and their shape and material repeat the look of the stainless steel venthood.

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