Interior Design Faux-Pas!

We all have opinions that govern our style and interior-desing-faux-pasapproach to life and culture. Our unique perspectives are what give the design world its dimension and excitement.

I will argue, however, that there are also some objective truths concerning interior decorating and design. For example, if you live in a small space and your goal is to make it look bigger than it actually is, then using small decorations, dark colors or heavy drapery is going to work against that goal. Paying attention to these basic design principles will help you tremendously, after all, the amount of thought you put into designing your space should be reflected in the end result. If you want to get the most out of your space, avoid the following interior design faux-pas!

Over-doing a theme. Ok, you’ve thought about it and you’ve chosen a source of inspiration for your home, or maybe
just a single room, lets say its birds. Suddenly birds are everywhere, they are on everything from ceilings to chachkies, and while there is a clear theme here, it lacks delicacy and intrigue. Using a theme to decorate your space can be a great way to brainstorm, but the key to using a theme without going over board is to 1. Take into account sub themes (trees, eggs, nests, ect..) 2. Don’t forget about color (too much or too little) 3. Space is key (provide breathing room between theme elements).

Impulse Purchases. Shopping is fun, but leave the impulse buys for cosmetics and clothing! Scale and proportion are almost always ignored when you buy home décor on the fly, and the item you purchase will most likely do just as much harm to your ambiance as good. If you know that this will be impossible for your buying habits, at least take a measuring tape with you on those random shopping excursions and keep photos of your rooms on your camera roll for reference.

Check back for more tips on avoiding interior design faux pas and plenty of other fun facts!

Frank Lloyd Wright, What is History and What is Contemporary

Last week I talked about Craftsman architecture, specifically, the characteristics of Prairie style. I figure, since I’m on a role, I should write a little about Frank Lloyd Wright. He was, after all, integral to the movement and the overall establishment of the aesthetic.

A masterful architectural designer, Wright developed a unique vocabulary of space, form, and patternhollyhockhouse-wright that represented a dramatic shift in design from the traditional houses of the day. Characterized by dramatic horizontal lines and masses, the Prairie buildings that emerged in the first decade of the twentieth century evoke the expansive Midwestern landscape. The buildings reflect an all-encompassing philosophy that Wright termed “Organic Architecture.” By this Wright meant that architecture should be suited to its environment and be a product of its place, purpose and time. First developed in 1894, when Wright was establishing his practice in Chicago, this philosophy of design would inform his entire career.

Today, Wright’s name is heavily associated with the movement away from ornate European styles and has become symbolic of classic American architecture. Most recently, Wright’s Holly Hock house, located on a majestic hilltop in Los Feliz, CA, was re-opened after undergoing nearly five years of restoration and repairs. You can go check it out for yourself or take an online tour of its stunning interiors!

Expecting company for the holidays? 10 No-Cost Tips for Sprucing up your home

If you don’t have money to spare after buying your gifts this year, redecorate for friends and family by making your space feel warm and inviting with these tips for improving ambiance without breaking the bank!

  1. holidaysKeep your front porch clean and well maintained.
  2. Greet guests by opening the door for them promptly, invite them in with a smile!
  3. Offer your guests a cold drink on a hot day or a hot drink on a cold day.
  4. Spend 5 minutes a day putting away clutter.
  5. Spend 10 minutes every day cleaning something. Day one: vacuum one room, day two: dust and clean surfaces, day three: clean the kitchen counters. 
  6. Open drapes and blinds during the day to let in natural light.
  7. Experiment with different combinations of lighting in your home to find one that suits you. For entertaining, the lighting should be even and not too bright.
  8. Open doors and windows to let fresh air in.
  9. Make sure that your guest bathroom is properly stocked: At least 2 rolls of TP within reach, and a hand towel by the sink.
  10. Turn off the TV and silence devices, instead put on some music that suits the mood!

If your lucky enough to be invited to someone else’s home for the holidays this year, feel free to share these simple pointers with your host!

Home on the… Prairie? American Architecture at its Finest.

In one of my first posts I talked about the origins of Craftsman architecture and given that Craftsman homes are currently going through a resurgence in popularity, I thought I would discuss a specific offshoot of the style: Prairie architecture.

prairie-1248I often times refer to my home as a Craftsman, simply because its the most approachable term to use, but I’d like to illustrate for you what artful history my home owes its origins to. This home, built in 1910, and designed by Clyde J. Powers is technically a Prairie style home, which has a lot in common with Craftsman architecture. Both use their environment as their core inspiration, but Prairie style sources that inspiration specifically from the vast horizontal expanses of America’s mid-western fields, endless roads and highways and never-ending telephone wires. The key element is thus horizontality and line. Prairie style is a purely American style of architecture, highlighting the minimal and essential attributes its creators thought homes should be celebrated for. I too share this design philosophy, and enjoy being apart of this home’s history.

 

 

Preserving Your Historic Windows

IMG_1827We see ourselves as extremely fortunate to own a home over 100 years old that contains nearly all of its original windows, some of which are intricate stained glass. They have, however, turned into one of the major projects on our restoration list. Little to no maintenance has been done on them over the years resulting in faulty pulley systems, cracks, scratches and broken hinges.

If you have  double hung windows with pulley rope you’re looking at anywhere from $100 to $200 per window in order to fix it. Guess what.. we have 40 windows in all!  The alternative would be to replace all of the windows with new windows, which would cost about the same, but I’m too attached to the beauty of the originals and there are some major advantages to keeping older windows. If you are making a similar decision, here are some great arguments for maintaining  rather than replacing:

1. The design of your windows should fit your home: An architect or designer took great care when your home was built to choose the right windows for your home. Don’t take a chance on throwing off its proportions with new windows. 2. Craftsmanship: The construction of old windows (often done by hand) is extremely durable, and as it ages it is easy to repair.

3. Materials: Old windows were generally made from old growth woods which are no longer available. Newer wood windows are made from fast growing and harvested woods that are more susceptible to invasions and rot.

4. Glass: Historic hand blown glass has a wavy texture that is very expensive to duplicate. The old leaded glass is strong and very clear.

5. Windows should last a long time: The warranty on most new windows is 20 to 30 years, and then they must be replaced. Historic windows can last at least 50 years between repairs.

6. PVC is bad for you: New windows are sometimes made of vinyl, which is PVC based, and other windows, such as aluminum or even wood have PVC parts. PVC is an environmental hazard as its produced, and as a product that off gasses in your home. It releases deadly toxins if it catches fire.

7. Sunlight!: New windows have to be fit into the existing frame, and the newer frames are often thicker, so you can lose up to 10% of the glass area, losing sunlight and views.

8. Old fashioned technology: Historic windows use solid brass hardware which operates smoothly and is averse to rusting. Historic single and double hung windows use pulleys and counter weights, which are far superior to friction alone.

9. The environment: By keeping your historic windows you can keep them out of landfills, and by not buying new ones you’re cutting down on manufacturing, wasted materials, and shipping costs.

10. Your fellow man: By restoring old windows you might be taking away low paying manufacturing jobs, but instead you are employing higher paid craftspeople who specialize in a field.

What is Feng Shui Anyway?

feng shuiAccording to Google Feng Shui is “a [Chinese] system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi), and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.” Color, orientation, material and cleanliness are among the main elements considered when designing either exterior or interior environemnts with Feng Shui, the ultimate goal being to achieve balance and prosperity.

A little warning here: to most Westerners feng shui will seem superstitious, and perhaps it is, but there are a lot of Western superstitions that we take seriously too; a black cat crossing your path, walking under a ladder, or even today (Friday the 13th) as causing bad luck. The Chinese believe that the practice of Feng shui enables the  manifestation of your own prosperity, so today, instead of indulging the bad luck that could be around every corner, try transferring your energy into one of these principles.  

How you might ask? Use a bagua map! The bagua map divides your home into a nine-by-nine grid containing equal parts. Lay the map over your home’s floor-plan with the wall that has your front door at the bottom of the map. Each part of the map relates to a different area of one’s life (wealth, children, travel, ect..). To enhance or improve one of these areas focus on the elements or colors that relate to that area (see map for reference). There may also be features in your home that can be detrimental to these areas, but each one can be fixed relatively easily.

Shift today’s luck, focus on harmonizing your environment with your goals for family, friends, romance, wealth and the like. Happy Friday the 13th!