Monthly Archives: June 201527

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10 Ways to Conquer Your Home Design Creative Block

It is more than a little intimidating to begin decorating a home, no matter how big or small. Here we help get you started. Image Source: Wheeler Kearns

Got blank walls? Stuck in a decorating rut? We have all been there, listening to the echo thrum through empty halls, wondering, How on earth do I fill this space and where do I begin?

It is more than a little intimidating to begin decorating a home, no matter how big or small. We want to do it right and we have a budget that leaves little room for costly mistakes, so we need to do it right the first time, but how?

Here are ten ways to step up, jump in and conquer that home designer’s creative block head on:

den office wood floors

Here are ten ways to step up, jump in and conquer that home designer’s creative block head on. Image Source: Nance Construction

1) Go on Home Tours

What better way to learn what you like (and dislike) than to look at how others do it? With the summer season upon us, realtors are opening the doors of all their listings, welcoming everyone inside to take a peek.

Even if you are not in the market for a new home, consider walking through some open houses in neighborhoods you admire. Note the way the home is staged, the colors they choose and the way the furniture is placed. If there is something you admire, perhaps take a picture so that you can mimic it in your own home.

rustic wood floor vault ceiling

What better way to learn what you like (and dislike) than to look at how others do it? Image Source: Franklin Associates

2) Pin Till Your Fingers Hurt

Perhaps you feel uncomfortable walking through a bunch of open houses—especially if you aren’t in the market for a new home. Sites like Pinterest and Freshome are the next best solution.

Create boards on these sites and gather images of all the housewares and designs that catch your eye. Remember, you are in the learning stage. The purpose of all this browsing and pinning is to learn what your eye is drawn to. It is imperative you become acquainted with your own unique style before you begin to decorate.

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It is imperative you become acquainted with your own unique style before you begin to decorate. Image Source: Below Magid Construction

3) Window Shop and Browse, But Don’t Buy

Yes, more looking, but like we said, it is better to look and become acquainted with what you truly love before buying. Decorator showrooms are great sources for browsing high-end furnishings and housewares.

These showrooms are usually decked out in all the latest and greatest design trends, showing you a vast range of decor styles, allowing you to gravitate to the ones that speak to who you are. The things you like may surprise you. You may discover a style you never even knew you had. Stop yourself from buying at first sight because the next section below will tell you how to get these showroom designs at bargain prices.

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Decorator showrooms are great sources for browsing high-end furnishings and housewares. Image Source: Look 2 Home

4) Hire a Designer

There is a myth that only wealthy people can afford to hire an interior designer. This is untrue—anyone can hire a designer. No matter your budget, there is an interior designer or decorator out there who can meet your needs—even if it’s just an initial small job of choosing paint colors for your home. You just have to do your research first.

Here’s the other great advantage of hiring a designer: they can get you all those showroom pieces at a discount. Designer showrooms usually offer a designers discount of up to 40-50%.

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No matter your budget, there is an interior designer or decorator out there who can meet your needs. Image Source: Ron Blunt

5) Ask a Friend

Do you have a friend whose taste you admire? If there is someone you know who seems to have a natural knack for design, then ask them for advice. Perhaps ask them to accompany you on a shopping trip, but remember to get what you like, don’t buy something just because someone else pressures you to like it.

Maybe you have a room in your home that you want to overhaul, if so, ask your friend to come over and help you edit the room. Take out everything that doesn’t work within the room and assess what is left. Now ask yourself what the room is missing—color? pillows? a cool piece of art? dramatic curtains? This gives you an idea where to begin and what to look for when shopping or browsing.

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If there is someone you know who seems to have a natural knack for design, then ask them for advice. Image Source: Board and Vellum

6) Paint Swatches

Choosing paint is always a tricky undertaking that is seldom done right the first time. Of course, paint swatches help a lot, but there are ways to learn about color and how it works in your space without swathing your walls in blocks of random colors.

Freshome offers many informative articles on color theory, helping you to choose the right color the first time. Here are just a few of our helpful articles. Read these before you go to the paint store to become a color-savvy design pro: Learn about color theory and the color wheel, 10 Things to Know Before you Paint, How Color Affects Your Mood. Or in place of paint, try wall paper (the same color theories apply to paper.)

traditional dining room wallpaper

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Distinctive Architecture Geometry Unfolding Towards Spectacular Views: Groveland House

Located in Vancouver, Canada, the Groveland House by Mcleod Bovell is a three level residence opening up to spectacular views. According to the architects, “a wide footprint and generous building area allows the central living portions of the house to expand into double-height spaces. These tall spaces interact with a large roof plane with a shaped underside. This roof acts to bind the house together and create diverse, deep covered exterior spaces at all levels.” Seen from the street side, the residence is perceived as a relatively closed compact house with a peculiar geometry. The opposite facade is mostly transparent glass, opening up towards the swimming pool and landscape beyond.
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The irregular terrain was creatively taken advantage of: “A gentle three-story sloping site offers significant connections to grade on all levels of the house: a green area on the upper floor, pool and entertainment on the middle level and more intimate views to natural bedrock at the lower level.” Colors and textures brighten up the rooms, which showcase a joyful, dynamic character. This is particularly noticeable in the open plan living room, where functional zones are well defined by using an array of different materials. [Photography by Ema Peter Photography and Mcleod Bovell]
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Modern River House in Lithuania Contrasting Natural Surroundings

Having a modern river house is like making peace with both nature and technology. This particular modern river house is located on the banks of the Neris River, in Lithuania’s Vilnius County. Spreading over 226 square meters, this house was imagined and built from the ground up by GYZA. Having the bedrooms and guest room on the ground floor made it easier to build the social spaces on higher ground to take in all the light. The living area was thus imagined as a social space where people meet the relaxing visual effect of nature.

Striped River House by GYZA (1)

In a coniferous forest, where a birch stump used to occupy the ground, a modern river house now rises to break the visual monotony of trees. Retaining the existing trees around the house and even commemorating the former birch through the design concept, architects imagined a home where you would feel outdoors in any space. Photographs by Antanas Minkevičius, Žilvinas Vasiliauskas and Bonnevier show us the house from different vantage points.

Striped River House by GYZA (2)

Horizontal design lines shaping the home’s facade contrast the vertical trees. Windows open the house towards the river and invite in natural light. The breeze undulates through the forest and guides guests parked on the carport towards the inviting indoors. Accessed from the mezzanine, the modern river house unfolds with a wonderful view of the treeline and river beyond generous two-story floor-to-ceiling windows. This mezzanine area is home to the kitchen and dining area, while the living room awaits for inhabitants and guests down a floating staircase. This environmentally friendly house was built into the slope of the land, taking the opportunity to frame views from the river.

Embedding the modern river house into the sloped surroundings made it easier to keep a constant temperature with such a great glass wall overlooking the panoramas. Geothermal heating and smart natural air supply systems optimize operation costs, while natural materials integrate the modern river house in its surroundings. How do you like the appearance and details of this modern river house in Lithuania? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and don’t forget to share if you like how modern Lithuanian architecture shapes the land!

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Original Scandinavian Loft with Skylights and Wood Burning Fireplace

Located in a beautiful area of Gothenburg, Sweden, this 59 square-meter apartment displays a modern and stylish character. Discovered by Freshome on Alvhem, the remarkable Scandinavian loft features tall ceilings, large skylights and a wood burning fireplace for chilly autumn evenings. As you enter the main hallway, you are thrown aback by the airy feel of this home, elegantly designed in a black&white color palette. Ample storage space is hidden behind sliding doors, for clothes, shoes and whatever one may need to cope with the harsh Swedish weather. From here you can reach both the kitchen and bathroom.
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The generous ceiling height, the chimney and the exposed wooden roof beams in the living room- all contribute to a perfect chill-out zone. This room is connected to the kitchen and offers plenty of space for the sofa, TV stand, armchair and dining table. Each cooking process is made better with a large six square-meter skylight on top, providing natural lighting and a joyful atmosphere even during short December days. A lovely spiral staircase leads the way up to the mezzanine working space and further to the rooftop, where the inhabitants can imagine their perfect urban garden.
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Bathroom Ideas – The Ultimate Design Resource Guide

Bathrooms are one of the most popular and commonly remodeled rooms in the home. And since they are a high-traffic space (and one where updates are noticeable), doing so can have a significant effect on resale value.

When starting a bathroom remodeling project think about utility as well as design. Bathrooms are often difficult jobs because multiple components must be arranged to fit–and function–in a small space. There’s also multiple water elements so doing the project correctly, from plumbing to ventilation, is imperative.

Due to frequent use and the resulting wear and tear, bathrooms tend to start breaking down after about 20 years, whether that’s a perpetually leaky faucet or crumbling grout or chipping tiles (or all three). On average, bathroom remodels cost $16,724, so your design should be both intentional and strategic in order to secure a high return on investment, as well as to create a functional space. That said, bathrooms are typically small, enclosed rooms so they are also a place in your home where you can play around a little bit with color and texture.

Some of the most important things to keep in mind when considering different bathroom remodeling ideas are choosing materials that are easy to maintain, maximizing energy efficiency and focusing on brightness wherever possible.

If you’re doing the project yourself make sure you’re aware of permits and building codes and look over these 10 things not to do when tackling a home improvement project. And before getting started, consult our 15 point checklist that will walk you through everything from taking proper measurements and creating a renovation timeline to what part of the job to start with. If you elect not to go the DIY route, look over our seven essential tips for hiring a contractor.

Either way, determine how to make the most of your space. We’ve covered everything from small bathroom ideas that focus on function to making the most of your budget by changing small things like paint color or upgrading in phases.

Whether you’re looking for master bathroom ideas or guest bathroom ideas, we’ve assembled our top bathroom design tips and advice to help you create your dream room on any budget.

Walls

Tile is frequently used in bathrooms for many reasons. It’s aesthetically pleasing, it reflects light, it’s durable, it’s easy to clean and it’s a simple way to freshen up the space. And options abound for bathroom tile ideas, from material to implementation. Tile halfway up the wall to create wainscoting, use classic white subway tile, tile the entire wall, create a 4-6 inch border or combine multiple style elements using whichever material you like. Using tile is more expensive than painting, however, so if you’re on a budget either choose an iteration that doesn’t use a lot of it or just use paint. Make sure the proper additive is mixed in with your paint color in order to keep it from getting mildewy and if you’re using tile, look for stain-resistant grout (more expensive but worth the extra cost). White and off-white are the most popular bathroom color ideas and neutral colors also help make the space feel calm and fresh. Choosing a monochromatic color palette, where you base the whole color scheme off of one main color, is another popular option and will make the space feel bigger.

Lighting

large bathroom with modern tub

Selecting the proper lighting in your bathroom is important because a light, bright room will feel bigger. Good lighting can transform the space and make all other design elements pop. Unless you’re particularly savvy with electrical work, leave electrical projects to professionals unless you’re just swapping out a fixture. In terms of efficiency, install LED lights. They use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting (and won’t heat up the room).

Flooring

patterned tile floor with marble walls

There are many options for bathroom flooring so first consider our tips for selecting a material for your floors, which will help you choose what works best for your space. In general, larger floor tiles and patterns are subtle and better for small bathrooms. If you put ceramic tile on the floor look for a grade of 1 or 2, a water absorption rating of less than 7% and a coefficient of friction above .60, which are slip resistant and stand up to water. You’ll also want a more impervious tile for the floor because of exposure to water. Vinyl feels better on bare feet than ceramic tile and it’s one of the more popular flooring choices due to it being inexpensive and practical (safe, easy to install and maintain). One feature that buyers are looking for in today’s market is radiant heated flooring, which not only ensures warm feet in the colder months but also makes the floor dry faster, reducing the chance of slips or falls. It’s also energy efficient.

Fixtures and Finishes

pale colored vanity with stone backsplash

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, bathroom fixtures take up 20% of the renovation budget on average so when choosing fixtures and finishes consider who is using the space and how heavily it will be used. Is it a kid’s bathroom? Then plastic laminate flooring and countertops are a good option because they’re both durable and inexpensive (and high-end material is of less importance to children). You’ll thank yourself later for using finishes that are low maintenance and easy to keep clean. In that regard, choose quartz instead of marble and make sure glass shower doors are treated with anti-spotting agents. In terms of fixtures, you’ll want high-quality construction like all-brass parts and a PVD finish that will resist scratches. Basic chrome is cheaper than materials like nickel or bronze. Low budget, high impact swaps include replacing specific features; here’s our guide on how to pick out the best bathroom vanity. When making any changes consider where you can creatively hide storage in the room and …read more      

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Steeply Arched Copper-Clad Chapel Design in Finland

Under an arched framework, this astonishing chapel design in Finland finds new ways of expressing old, powerful feelings like faith. Designed by Helsinki-based Sanaksenaho Architects, the steeply arching chapel design surprises with a curious mix of building materials. The exterior is clad in shiny copper, while the interior was lined with the warmth of wood, which will become reddish with time.

St. Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel is more than a place of contemplation for patients and visitors of a neighboring cancer-care center under the supervision of the non-profit St Henry’s church organisation. This chapel in Finland is a step in the right direction, a walk down the path of using beauty to improve function for a meaningful collection of moments.

St Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel in Finland by Sanaksenaho Architects (1)

Curving pine ribs define the alluring architecture. These are easily reminiscent of boats and the dynamic design they need in order to sail harsh seas. The St Henry’s Ecumenical Art Chapel in Finland took years to build as it was first imagined back in 1995 when architects won an architectural competition for the ecumenical chapel’s design. But as all journeys, this chapel’s story just began: “During the past year it has served numerous times as a place for baptisms, weddings and funeral services as well as concerts and art exhibitions.”

St Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel in Finland by Sanaksenaho Architects (2)

The chapel grows from its site, which is a hillock surrounded by pines. It rises from the landscape as a traditional sacral building. It has the appearance of an upturned ship – or a form of the fish. The design speaks with contrasts of shadow and light, copper and wood. The copper cladding will be weathered green with time, so it will blend with the surrounding trees and nature.

There was the idea to integrate art with the religious space already in the competition program. The chapel offers good acoustics for concerts and the back space of the nave can be transformed into an art gallery by removing the benches. In the high altar windows artworks by artist Hannu Konola filter the light onto the altar wall. The most important building material besides wood and copper is natural light. It gets the forms, spaces and surfaces live all day long. The idea is to walk through shadowy spaces towards altar and the light, the source of which is hidden.”

Photographed by Jussi Tiainen, the contemporary chapel design spreading over 300 square meters should leave a mark on you. We would love to know your thoughts about this modern chapel design, so share them in the comments below. Spread the love!

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Asymmetrical Pitched Roof Defining Minimalist Family Home near Munich

Displaying a minimalist design character, this family home on the outskirts of Munich, Germany is a contemporary approach to the dwellings one can find in the neighborhood: ” The building follows line of the houses in the street and thus continues the urban edge along the link road. The front garden area next to the street is thereby supported and the roof orientation of the surrounding buildings continued. The typical picture of a gabled roof house characteristic of the area is taken up, but is enhanced by the perforated facade and interpreted contemporarily.” Planned and implemented by Format Elf Architects, the residence partially closes to the street side in order to prevent noise polluting in the interiors and opens up towards the garden through large windows.
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Simplicity was key to designing an elegant, spacious and airy home on a relatively small plot: “The predominant colours and materials used on the building are reflected in the interior design. The living room is separated from the circulation area by two black furniture boxes. The white floor gives the room brightness and depth. The timber of the Brettstapel ceiling remains visible and is repeated in the furniture, stairs and doors.” Offering all the modern life benefits a small family needs, this home in Munich is a fresh dose of inspiration. How do you find it? [Photography by Cordula De Bloeme]
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Stylish Pillows as Comfy Additions to Bed Headboard: Comoditi by Formabilio

Comoditi is a modular bed headboard made up of differently-size pillows and customizable depending on the user’s needs. Envisioned by Italian designer Daniele De Santis and produced by Formabilio, this is a project that combines aesthetics, creativity and ergonomics. According to the designer’s description, “the colors and the softness of the elements are an invitation to sit back and forget about the stressful day by reading a book, watching a movie or listening to good music before falling into the arms of Morpheus”.
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The structure, made of MDF lacquered with water-based paints, has a shelf that serves as bedside table or terminal element. The pillows of different sizes, upholstered with eco-friedly cotton fabric, are removable and machine washable, placed on the wall-fitted structure and attached with Velcro bands. Available for both single or king-size bed, Comoditi is an original element that gives character not only to your bed but to the entire room. A while back, Freshome published a post featuring 35 cool headboard ideas; if you require further inspiration, be sure to check it out! [Photos and information provided via e-mail by designer Daniele De Santis]
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Pops of Color Reenacting Joyful Memories in Taipei Home: The Chorus Apartment

The Chorus project by Ganna Design is an original contemporary apartment spiced up with color additions in Taipei City, Taiwan. This thirty-year old house with mezzanine was the place where one of the inhabitants enjoyed beautiful years of childhood, so it was important to preserve these memories, but conduct a functional process of upgrading as well. And what other symbol of childhood to take advantage of than a complex color palette, popping up in various corners of the house?
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A long dining table surrounded by colorful chairs divides the kitchen from the relaxation area. According to the description provided by the project developers, “the main wall in the dining room is cement finish plus dyed veneer and painted glass, creating a multi-layer color change. The upper level is used as private areas, the master bedroom and the kids room. Lotus color is the main color is the master’s bedroom and pink is the main color in the kids bedroom. The color adoption clear presents the characteristics of different users.” The new residence is described as a familiar space, full of memories, yet with a happy new look. [Photos by Siew Shien Sam / MWphotoinc]
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15 Smart Patio Ideas To Rejuvenate Your Exterior

It’s impossible to deny that what we consider to be “smart patio ideas” has changed over the last few years. In the past, outdoor spaces used to be almost seen as an afterthought. Rather than going for a particular style, most homeowners were content to let these areas become a hodgepodge of different pieces that were mostly geared towards function.

Now, however, that focus has shifted slightly. In addition to being fully functional spaces our exteriors are looking more put together. In fact, it is not uncommon for these areas to look like – and be thought of as – extensions to the square footage of the home.

If you’re a little confused about how to bring your exteriors around to this new way of thinking, we’ve got a few easy patio ideas that will help breathe a sense of new life into your space. By implementing some of these ideas, you might find yourself wanting to spend more time.

Invest In The Right Furniture

Every patio needs to have at least one sitting area where visitors wish to sit down and relax for hours. In recent years the options for outdoor furniture have increased dramatically in aesthetics as well as price. The key is to make sure you pick a material that works for your family. There are four main options:

  • Plastic: The most affordable option, but often not as aesthetically pleasing.
  • Wicker: Classic look, but requires more active care.
  • Composite: Middle of the road price, made of synthetic material, but often has a wicker-like look.
  • Iron: A durable and heavy option, but expensive.

Whichever material you choose, proper care will undoubtedly expand its lifespan. Ask the retailer for specific care instructions and always be sure to store it away from the elements during poor weather.

Provide Enough Lighting

When talking about patio ideas that will make your outdoor space feel like an extension of your interiors, it’s critical to mention proper lighting. After all, no one wants the party to stop once the sun goes down. By making sure light comes from multiple light sources, you’ll be able to enjoy the space well into the night.

When it comes to outdoor lighting, variety is key. If your patio is covered, try to install a few overhead lamps for intense brightness. Lanterns or candles make great additions to tables. Depending on your aesthetic, you could string lights through the surrounding trees or light a few tiki touches to help set the ambiance.

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Add A Heat Source

It goes without saying that nights spent out on your patio may get a little chilly from time to time. Rather than moving any socialization inside, you can add a heat source to give yourself the option of warming up. This is also a great way to extend the use of your space into multiple seasons, if you live in an area that experiences a lot of temperature fluctuations.

Consider which type of heat source will work best for your family. Heat lamps are generally seen as the easiest since they turn on with the flick of a switch, but they can get pricy. Full fireplaces make a big statement, but often require regular maintenance. Smaller fire pits are less work, but unfortunately don’t throw as much concentrated heat.

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Consider Floor Coverings For Your Patio

We know it may sound strange to think about bringing floor coverings into the great outdoors, but in terms of what you can do to make your patio feel like an extension of your interior space, this is one of the options that will give you the biggest return. Since a rug will draw the eye, place it under a seating area or dining table to help anchor the focal point of your space.

Rugs that are going to be used largely outdoors do have a few unique considerations. You’ll want to choose on that’s made up of a heavier, more durable fabric and consider using a darker color to camouflage any stains.

striped-rug

Open Up To Outdoor Kitchens

Rarely do we consider having an outdoor space without at least a grill for al fresco dining and backyard barbecues. But, it may make sense to go one step further and invest in an outdoor kitchen.

Since outdoor kitchens often boast multiple appliances like an oven, refrigerator, and prep sink, you’ll be able to prepare the whole meal from their rather than just the protein. Not only will it save on time spent running back and forth to the kitchen, those who love to entertain will be able to get a meal on the table while still socializing with their guests.

dark wood outdoor kitchen

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