Things To Know | Wallpaper

That title may be a little deceiving...This isnt really a post about wallpaper info as much as it is about installing wallpaper.  Wallpaper is it's own animal.  It's major impact and we use it all the time but there is an art to being a wallpaper installer.  Wallpaper isn't just slapping up some paper and calling it a day.  There are many more steps to it and, to be honest, everyone could use a little bit of an education in wallpaper.  It's just good to know what an installer has to go through, pretty much for anything, because it helps you appreciate their work much more and understand the value of their job.

So here's the quick and dirty on wallpaper.  For starters, walls are not always just ready for wallpaper.   If walls have texture, they must be smoothed out or "skimmed" before wallpaper can be applied.  There are certain instances where wallpaper can be used with a liner paper underneath it but this is only if the wall has a light orange peel texture.  Any walls with heavy knock-down texture will need a separate drywall repairman to come in a skim the walls before wallpaper can be applied.  This is the little secret that can make wallpaper a little more complicated and expensive.  Drywall skimming is not cheap, so keep that in mind before you decide to install wallpaper.

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Even after walls are ready for wallpaper based on their texture, they still need to be primed.  So a wallpaper installer doesn't just come in and quickly throw wallpaper up.  He has to first prime the walls.  He does this so that the glue or adhesive being used for the wallpaper actually stays on top of the wall and doesn't get absorbed.  The primer creates a top coat that prevents adhesive from getting sucked into the drywall causing there to be a bad adherence and, ultimately, peeling wallpaper.  Which nobody wants!

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Once the walls are primed, a good wallpaper installer will use a good adhesive to adhere the wallpaper.  The purpose of a good adhesive is two fold.  One, a good adhesive will keep the wallpaper on the wall and prevent peeling which is a major deal!  And two, a good adhesive will come off easily when removed right.  The difficult thing about the way wallpaper used to be was the removal.  Removal was messy and damaging to the drywall which made for a much bigger expense than anyone wanted.  Good adhesives available now are water-based which means that a little steam should soften the adhesive and allow for the paper to be removed easily without much damage to the wall.

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We love wallpaper and, like we said before, we specify it all the time.  However, we do NOT attempt to install wallpaper.  We always higher a professional to install wallpaper and we actually recommend that you do too!  It IS possible to install wallpaper yourself and, I guess, if you're really handy, you could attempt that.  But we've also seen wallpaper installation go very wrong and we place a lot of value in the installers who do this for a living and do a great job!  They are worth every penny they charge!

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Kitchen Countertops | Reviewing Your Options

We were recently discussing countertops with a builder who asked us which type of material we would recommend.  When we emphatically responded, "quartz" he was shocked.  Is it really that great for the price? The answer is yes!  We love quartz.  It's got a huge variety of color options and styles, is highly durable, and is actually relatively competitively priced.  It also comes in multiple thicknesses so you don't have to pay for the thickest quartz and you can still get the functionality of it.

The truth is, though.  Even though we love quartz, there truly are a variety of countertop options out there so we figured we'd run through them with you.  Sometimes it's nice to get a refresher on what's out there because even us as designers can get into a rut of using the same thing over and over again even though there are so many great options out there.

The first and most common style of countertop is one that is either veined like a marble or flecked like a granite.  Quartz has look-a-likes for both marble and quartz so we're really referring more to the style and less to the material.    These styles work well in almost any home.  They are classic.  They can be nice in a traditional setting or warm up a more modern kitchen.  Either way, it's the most common style and for many designers, a go to.

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There is life outside of countertop with movement, though!  This particular style is actually our favorite and could be considered our go-to.  White.  Solid white.  Even though this style looks a little more contemporary, we think it blends well with a lot of different styles as well.  It goes a little more minimalist because it's clean and fresh but if we're being honest, pretty much anyone could benefit from all white countertops so we're not going to put it into a bubble.

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Something that's taking it's popularity back is the wood countertop.  When rustic and shabby chic were all the rage, wood was everywhere.  That style has since died but the wood portion has reinvented itself and is coming back for round 2.  The thing about wood countertops is that it's warm.  It makes a space, any space, feel comfortable and inviting and is usually received really well.  It's a good option to mix with different countertop materials in a kitchen and works well by itself on an island.  Definitely something to consider when re-modeling your kitchen!

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Also making a come-back are the dark countertops.  Again, black granite used to be the big "modern look" in kitchens but that's not what's coming back.  Dark countertop has reinvented itself in the form of slate or charcoal grey counters.  These are often juxtaposed with white or light wood cabinets  but they bring a certain elegance to any space.  With the evolution of quartz color options you have a ton of varieties of grey to pick from and can make sure it's just the right shade!

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Overall, countertops have really evolved!  Where we used to just have the option of granite vs. laminate, we now have all sorts of quartz options in color and pattern along with the expanding granite and marble options we have.  There's just so much available to make your kitchen beautiful AND functional that you really don't have an excuse if it's ugly! :)

 

Kitchen Secrets II | Storage Opportunities for the End of the Island

We found this article on Houzz and wanted to share it.  Storage is just always a big deal and optimizing it is key for functionality and livability.  It's also nice to have different ways to display things in your kitchen. Changing it up between glass doors and solid doors or exposed shelves is kindof the extent of display in a kitchen because it is so functional.  However, these options in this article put a new little twist on kitchen display.

All of the storage ideas are for the end of the island which is usually just a flat end panel.  It's pretty and finished but not always decorative and oftentimes completely wasted space.  Instead of just letting that area go un-used, consider adding a mini under-the-counter fridge.  This is the perfect location for drinks and is a much more preferred location to get them during a party--it keeps guests out of the main fridge which is probably stuffed full of party food and platters.  One thing to consider, though, if you have a small child like I do, is locking it!  These little under-cabinet mini refrigerators are just their size and wouldn't they just love having access to all the drinks!

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If you don't have a lot of extra depth on the end of your island, consider some shallow shelves that could be used for cook books (or any other kind of book!).  They may have to be leaning instead of stacked, but 3 shallow shelves on counter-height island will probably be just about all the storage you need for books in this era of ipads and tablets.

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If you do have a little more room, extra standard shelving is also another option.  This could be used for decorative items like plants or pretty serveware or it could be used for everyday plates and bowls giving easy access to the kiddos.  It's up to you how you use it but even though this type of storage isn't anything "new" for a kitchen, a little extra never hurts!

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This last option is one of our favorite.  It sort of combines the idea of extra drawer space with more display. The nice thing is, it can be used for anything from magazines to produce.  Just keep in mind, it's on display so you'll want it to look pretty.  This type of pull down drawer display doesn't require a lot of extra depth at the end of your cabinet either.  It may be a little more expensive option that the book shelves but also gives a more finished look.

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If you haven't noticed, we do have a thing for organization!  Tell us more about what you like, though!  If you're interested in kitchen storage or bathroom storage info, help us out and leave a comment so we can give you want you want!  Or, if you'd prefer to read about what's trending in design, we can do that too!  Just let us know!

 

The Rustic Look | How It's Re-surfacing

Even though Joanna Gaines and her brand Magnolia Home have managed to capitalize on the rustic look and keep it alive much longer than we expected, every style has it's trend time and rustic is no exception.  That shabby chic, rustic-y look was big a few years ago but has since gone to the back burner with the popularity of minimalism.  Design went more streamlined and cleaner and there wasn't so much of a need for all heavy wood that shabby chic boasted.  However, one thing has survived and has managed to work it's way into almost every style and that's texture.  Texture will always survive because texture is what gives rooms depth and makes them feel comfortable.

The way texture is being represented is coming back in the weather woods and organic grasses.  So much so that it's feeling a little rustic, although not to the extent that shabby chic was rustic.  Instead, weathered wood textures are blending with minimalism creating a rustic-modern motif that we're all loving.  It really appeals to the masses because it ultimately creates a comfortable look that either be dressed up or dressed down for the more glam home owner or the person who prefers more casual-living.

Here's how that modern rustic look is being accomplished in design...Forget the industrial modern that had rustic influences and lots of dark accents, we're eliminating the edison bulbs and talking warm wood textures.

A big distressed farmhouse table is still a big yes! in our book.  We much prefer something with a little visual interest and maybe even a story to a shinny, polished dark wood table that you're afraid to put your drink on. The great thing about a farmhouse table is that it can be mixed with upholstered chairs, or even molded plastic making it such a versatile piece.  It's not so fancy that you're scared to eat at it but it also provides a huge presence in any space, making it a great focal point!

Whether or not you have a farmhouse table or farmhouse feeling kitchen, you can mix a little rustic in with your lighting and still make it interesting.  Large white or black factory lights are casual and sculptural and can be fun in a super modern or rustic casual space.  At this point, they're just sortof a vintage accent instead of forcing the kitchen in a farmhouse direction.

Seagrass and jute aren't going anywhere.  The jute rug is another one of those things that has survived the test of time and just morphed into a more updated version of itself.  But, in addition to rugs, grasses have made huge comeback in lighting.  Woven rattan and seagrass pendants are a sure-fire way to warm up any space and create a feeling of bringing the outside in.  They're warm and inviting which is good for any design!

Aside from a farmhouse dining table, any kind of reclaimed wood is a plus right now.  Reclaimed wood looks expensive and in something like a cocktail table or smaller piece of furniture, it adds a lot of movement and quickly becomes the focal point in the room.  Reclaimed wood shelves are another great way to add a rustic feel without overwhelming the space.  They create an interesting architectural detail and make visible storage interesting, especially when backed with a white wall.

Finally, black and brass accents are surviving even into the minimalist era.  They are reminders of the rustic style but, when used in more streamlined styles, create an interesting accent against distressed woods.

Color Palette on Point | Making Neutral Work

I just bought a house...like everyone else you know, right?!  I love it (although I hated the moving process) but it needed a little work.  The number one item that had to change fast was the the wall color.  There was a big dark navy all, a bright orange bedroom, lots of dated, peeling wallpaper, and a two-tone "Green Bay Packers" bedroom that had to go.  Before we painted, people would ask me what color I was planning to paint.  I'd decided long before we moved that I was painting everything white but the reactions I got at this suggestion were the best.  It was either shock with a comment like "white?!  all white?  Every room?" or people would acceptingly shake their heads and say, "Oh, you mean, until you figure out what color you want to paint."  Nope.  White is the color I want to paint, I would say.  It'll be permanent, not temporary. :)  But for me, a designer, white didn't scare me because it's clean and neutral.  It's pretty by itself but it also create a big clean slate for me to work with.  I can add pops of color where ever I want, change "color scheme" without having to re-paint, and pretty much have a guarantee that my wall color will work with whatever I decided to do in my house.

So today, in honor of that, we're talking about the neutral color scheme and how to make it work.  It's funny because people are so often scared of color but they're also scared of the absence of color.  So I'm going to give you some tips today on how to make a neutral color scheme work.  Hopefully by the end of it, you'll realize that there's more to a good design than the paint color on the wall!

The one thing I love about neutrals and layering them is that it instantly makes the whole house flow.  Flow can be difficult to achieve but when it is accomplished, make everything all of the sudden click together. 

You do need a focal point, though.  So rather than painting a wall some bright color, choose a great light fixture to draw the eye up.  This will make the ceiling feel taller because it will accentuate the height but it also gives the room a focus that doesn't make it feel choppy.

Layer in texture and subtle pattern to give a neutral space some life.  Just because you don't have lots of color in a neutral space doesn't mean everything looks exactly the same.  Whites and tans and beiges and greys all come in varying shades and patterns.  Mixing in a little of those won't detract from the neutral feel, it'll actually give it some subtle depth that will bring it to life.

Add color and pattern to your walls with art.  Art has line and pattern in it as well which adds to the space.  Consider this when selecting and hanging your art.  Even if you've got a big neutral palette, the layers your adding with the wall decor will instantly add texture.  Different displays like gallery walls or large mirror installations can be THE thing that brings a room to life so don't forget about those aspects of the room either!

Greenery, greenery, greenery.  We can't stress enough how you need greenery.  Even if the plants aren't real.  If they're green they add an organic element that is an instant game-changer.  We know that not everyone has a green thumb but silk florals have come a long way and we suggest that you use it to your advantage!  The amount of impact a little pop of green can make on a room is uncanny.   Don't forget the green!

Aside from fabrics, bring in texture with other accent pieces to bring a neutral room to life.  Woven rugs, baskets, even furniture with rattan or seagrass always complements a neutral space well.  It's a good alternative to a lot of dark wood and keeps the space feeling light and airy.

What do you think?!  Still scared of the abscence of color?