Design Solutions | Make Low Ceiling Feel Taller

If you have an older house, you may have low ceilings.  Or, if you have a house with a gable roof or different pitches that creates shorter, slopped ceilings in places, you have to deal with the low ceiling issue as well.  Low ceilings can be frustrating--they make everything feel off and can quickly throw off the balance of a space.  So today we're going to discuss some solutions that you have for these design dilemmas.

The first thing we recommend that you do in a room with low ceilings is edit.  Edit, edit, edit.  Too much stuff (aka, clutter!) immediately makes a room feel small just because it appears crowded, so if you're already dealing with low ceilings which makes a room feel crowded, you don't want to add it the problem by bringing in tchochkies.  If the room is used for sleeping, go for a simple low-profile bed a couple of sleek night stands, and some skinny lamps and call it a day.  Basically, just keep the basics and get rid of the rest.  If the room feels bare or boring, you can always add a cool area rug or install a bold flooring that doesn't take up space.

Of course, this is always our go-to solution, white walls wills always make a room feel bigger.  So if you're dealing with the top closing in on you, go light and bright and paint the walls white!  You can also option for all light/white furniture too.  Avoiding anything dark and heavy will keep the room feeling open and draw the focus away from the low ceilings.

Lighting is always your friend when it comes to design dilemmas.  It can be your enemy too, if you get it wrong, but we're here to help you get it right!  For low ceilings, you have the option of masking them with little puck or cove lights.  Small recessed lights that are spread out on the ceiling will give off a glow that makes the hard line where the wall and ceiling meet and little less obvious which will mask that low ceiling! It also gives the illusion that the space up there is more open because it's brighter, which also helps avoid the crowded/cramped feeling.

You can also always make your furniture fit your space but using low furniture in spaces with low ceilings.  By doing this, you're basically maximizing the space between the furniture and the ceiling instead of shortening it.  You have to be careful with this option, though, because you don't want to add to the squatty look of a room by having all squatty furniture.  You still need SOME varied height, just not the big pieces.

And finally, anything linear on the wall the draws the eye up, creating the illusion of height is helpful in short spaces.  This can be art or even some sort of wall application.  Don't go overboard, though.  You don't want to add to the crowded-look.  You just want to give the eye something to rest on long enough to make it feel tall.

Interior Advice | Adding Style to a Narrow Space

Last week we talked about dealing with small spaces.  This week we're going to discuss another design challenge: narrow spaces!  Narrow spaces could be anything from a small bathroom to a side yard.  This skinny areas can be found all over and can oftentimes be difficult to work with.  So today we're going over some different ways that you can make narrow spaces look a little less awkward and a lot more functional.

If we had to sum up the overall method we suggest you take when decorating a narrow space, it would be to follow the same rules of form and function that you would with any other space--however, you may have to pick and choose which of these are best to focus on in your narrow space.

For instance, you'll want a main focal point.  This is not any different from decorating any other space, but in a narrow space, you'll want to be careful to consider where that focal point is and how it makes the rest of the space feel--smaller or larger?

You'll also want to consider color and determine how the color effects the way the space feels.  In a narrow space, you'll likely want to select a color that opens the space up instead of making it feel more cozy.

Create a little bit of a distraction--this can be done in different ways but the main goal is to make people look at the room as a whole instead of focusing on how narrow it is.  Make sure the space has the layers and style necessary to hold it's own rather than just turning into a junk corner.  Odd-shaped spaces can have style too!

Don't highlight hard edges in a narrow space!  Make the room feel soft and open instead of harsh and square.  Go with more organic shapes when decorating instead of square objects.  This goes for art too--since what's on the walls affects the overall emotion associated with the space.  Pick something that appeals to the softer side of your senses.

Focus on the height of the furniture you bring in to a narrow space.  If you select furniture that is low and streamlined, you could be contributing to something called the "corridor effect" where a narrow space begins looking and feeling like a corridor because the furniture is too low.  Bring in taller pieces and vary the heights so that the eye is distracted from focusing on the shape of the room because it's moving over the varying levels of furniture!

And, of course, pay attention to lighting!  Consider the type of light you're bringing into a narrow space (LED, incandescent, fluorescent, etc)  and the location.  You may struggle with where to place lamps if there isn't a lot of room for tables, so narrow spaces often have hanging lights or wall scones.  Even though you may be forced to incorporate this type of lighting, it adds a little extra style and detail that will go a long way in the overall look of the space.  

There ya go!  Hopefully those tips help when you come upon that frustrating narrow little corner of your home that you just can't figure out what to do with.

Thursday Thoughts | Easy Ways to Update a Traditional Home

Have you ever looked at your house and thought--this is so traditional!!  You want to make it current and updated but you feel stuck by the architecture and style of the home.  These thoughts are not uncommon.  Many people feel confined in their design style because of the architecture of their home.  In a world where old is new and well-styled spaces can be an eclectic mix, don't let these architectural features define your spaces.  Today we're going to share a few easy ways to make a traditional home look a little more updated and current without ripping out all of the architecture.

One of the easiest things to swap out that makes a huge difference is lighting.  If you have a really traditional light fixture in your foyer, dining room, or family room, re-select something more contemporary and swap it out!  We recommend starting from the top-down, anyway, so this change is a good first step!

Do a pattern check.  What kinds of patterns do you have in your softgoods--paiselys and plaids or large-scale geometrics and florals.  Layering in the updated fabrics can also create big strides in the "update of your home".  A large scale rug and some toss pillows makes more difference than you know!

Simplify the look of your windows.  If you're living in a  traditional style home, you may have lots of detail in the molding and trim around your windows.  This architectural element on top of a large, drapey curtain and heavy hardware can really make a room feel over-done.  The whole look and feel of a modern home is clean lines and simplified style.  In your case, let the architecture do the work.  Forget all the extra fabric and draping, try painting your trim and letting the contrasting color speak for itself.

Paint.  If you're up for it.  The color on your walls can date a room, so this is something to consider, but it's not absolutely necessary.  However, if it's something you're planning to do, go with a neutral tone.  The thing with contemporary style is that the color and accents is brought in with accessories.  Gone are the days of ornate pieces of furniture towering over everything in a room and covered with stuff.  With the recession, design has simplified itself and turned a little more utilitarian--pieces need to have a purpose and these purposes might change and need to be swapped out, so don't get too tied to any one piece.

Art.  Do it right and go big.  We love a large piece of art that makes a statement in the room.  One. Large. Piece.  Not a thousand smaller pieces.  Smaller wall hangings add to the clutter.  Find that spot on your wall and pick a piece of art that fills it and is worthy of being the focal point.  This type of decorating will take the focus away from the unnecessary details and draw your eye to one main thing.  It's a way to distract from things you'd prefer people didn't see and focus their attention on something you do.

Do you have a traditional style home that you're wanting to update?!  If so, let us help!  If you choose to do it on your own, we'd love to see how you updated it too!

Design Solutions | Large Furniture. Small Spaces.

The battle between schools of thought when it comes to what makes rooms feel bigger or smaller is still raging.  For years we were told that dark colors make rooms feel smaller, but that's not always the case.  Now, we're discussing furniture scale and how that can affect the way a room feels in size.  Smaller, more minimalist living has become increasingly popular when it comes to the size of homes but furniture hasn't necessarily decreased in size to accommodate smaller living space.  Beyond that, it's kindof nice to have some bigger furniture pieces to mix things up.  So, if you're like us, and you have a mix of furniture sizes, here are some ways you can make larger scale furniture work in a smaller space.

Go big or go home should NOT be your motto.  While incorporating SOME larger scale furniture is good, it shouldn't all be big.  So be selective.  Choose a few impact pieces.  These may be visually interesting or they may just be really comfortable.  Whatever your reason for selecting them, be sure that you're ok with them being a focal point in the room.  Also, when selecting your impact pieces, consider the shape and pattern.  It's better to have larger scale pieces that are solid colors with cleaner lines because the movement and pattern can quickly create visual "noise" that can make a room feel busy.

Use all of your space.  Don't just place the furniture in the room, try to incorporate all usable space--walls and ceiling included!  The same rule stands for wall treatments that it does for your furniture, though.  You can go big, but don't go busy.  Since the furniture, or at least one piece of furniture, is going to be the focal point, you don't want to confuse the eye by putting something in a room that competes with it for attention.  If you do a wall treatment or shelving, it can be large, but make it neutral so it simply adds function without creating a distractions. 

Follow the basic rules of form and function and vary the heights of the items in the space.  You don't want everything to be at one height because it makes the room feel bottom heavy.  Incorporate some taller pieces so the room flows and the wall space is used.

Fill it up and dress it up.  If you have an odd shaped small corner or some little nook or cranny you want to use, get a piece of furniture that fills the space so it looks like it was made for it.  Make use of the entire space.  Then, build it up to create a vignette.  No one will pay attention to the small space, rather they'll see the good use of space and will want to put it to use right away!

Finally, if you have a smaller home, one simple way to make it feel larger is by using few pieces of large art rather than a lot of little pieces of art.  A lot of small items can make any space feel choppy and detached.  Pick something that you like and make it big.  It's not only better for your living space but it cuts down on the number of decisions you have to make!  Win-win!