This is actually my first blog post for Fresh Abodes. I am a licensed real estate agent as well as an interior designer. Included with this is fact I am also a writer of all the blog posts on both sites as well as the newsletter about “Inspired Home Living”, “The Santa Rosa Charm“, which began during the pandemic to leave on people’s doorsteps.
So the first thing I want to share is that design has always been my passion. My love for this started when I was young and I have been doing this for myself, as well as family and friends and clients for years. From luxury homes all the way to apartments, I have engaged in the transforming many spaces. My passion and love for design and wanting to share this gift, is why I created Fresh Abodes.
It’s that thing that lights me up.
With that said and my passion behind the “straight shooting” writing I do, here are some simple design tips in this first one blog post.
The first rule of thumb is to organize your surroundings! Whether you believe or not, everything that is around and that includes people too, have an impact on you and your well being. It also has an impact on your thought process and the ability to move forward in your life.
Having organization around you in your home creates the foundation for your life. That is why I start with this topic. How you dwell is the story that tells.
The basics of home organization is going through what you truly need and what makes you feel good and removing everything that no longer serves you. The impact of making these changes can be profound as your surroundings are a type of energy. Clutter creates chaos. Simplicity cultivates creation.
Our homes are our sanctuaries and should be created to be as such. Having an organized home without clutter releases you to from the past and allows beautiful movement forward.
Invest In Your Bedroom
This tip which will actually be an entire blog post later, is by far one of the most important to me as well as to my clients. YOUR bedroom, is the biggest sanctuary in your home.
This is where you rest, sleep, dream and love.
Having a bedroom that feels good to walk into is the first start. It is about balance and light and making it a peaceful part of your home. I prefer white in the bedroom, especially if walls are darker. Having the color white gives the bedroom a fresh and clean feel. For color or patterns, you can bring in throw pillows and shams. I prefer Pottery Barn for my duvets and shams and actually Target for their Threshold sheets, which are not only priced well, but are very comfortable and last.
Here is my confession, I press all of my sheet sets. I also have a fancy iron, a Rowenta, which was a gift when my last one broke. Maybe this came from time at fancy hotels, but I got used to how good bedding could feel and figured there was no reason I couldn’t create this myself. It became an obsession for me. Pressed bedding is key for it truly makes a difference in how your bedding feels.
Also, its a must to have more than one sheet set.
Last note, I highly recommend keeping your decor balanced. Have matching nightstands and lamps. The bedroom does not need a lot of art, as it can be a distraction, This is a room to soothe, so remember balance and light and a room that is inviting to you!
Bedroom design by Fresh Abodes
The Grounding of Area Rugs
Area rugs can be game changers. They not only ground the space they are placed in, as well the furnishings that are placed on it, It can also lighten and brighten the entire area.
Here are a few tips for area rugs:
For bedrooms, use an area rug that goes out at least 2-3 feet on either side of the bed as well as the front of the bed. They do not need to go under the nightstands if the size you choose isn’t big enough.
For living rooms and other areas, the area rug should go under couches by at least 5-7 inches. They should not be placed in front of the couch as it doesn’t look right and it also doesn’t connect the space.
Having an area rug under your dining room table softens that area and pulls that space together.
If you have a patterned couch (which some do), do not conflict the space with a patterned rug. Go solid.
Don’t be afraid of white or ivory rugs as they do the best to brighten an area. Tip: Just go barefoot.
Area rugs are not just for hard flooring. They can also be used over carpeted areas as well. I have used a white rug for years in my living room to brighten the space. Home Depot has one for $150, which I buy new every 12 -18 months to freshen my space. It’s worth the money! Below are pictures of a redesign I did in Southern California using a white rug and pillows to brighten the area. These simple changes made a huge difference!
Redesign of Huntington Beach home – Fresh Abodes
Designing Wall Spaces
When it comes to hanging pictures or mirrors, there is a way to utilize these pieces to really capture the best of what they have to offer as well as add to the space.
First I will talk about mirrors, which I absolutely love. Placing them strategically can open up an area and actually add light to the space. They can also compliment the surrounding decor and furnishings if placed well. The pictures below show the before and after change to this particular space after the design was completed.
Mirrors can also be placed above nightstands in bedrooms, (see under bedding paragraph),which adds depth to the room by almost giving the feel of a window. That is the beauty of using mirrors.
Interior design of Irvine home – Fresh Abodes
How To Design Wall Spaces
When it comes to art, each piece should be a statement on the wall it is placed. If you place too many in the same area, you may take away the impact of each. With overall design, remember less is more.
Gallery walls however are usually working with an overall theme. It could be pictures that are special to you, or it could be a collection of photos. My thoughts on gallery walls is to keep it within range. I have seen some that cover an entire wall, which is design specific to that person, but I also think it can deplete the impact by having too much visually to look at.
I actually created a gallery wall in my home office made up 9 8×10 black and white photos in matted frames, which actually turned out beautiful and filled up a large blank wall space.
I think a gallery wall that makes the biggest impact has a similar flow to it and is contained in itself. For more tips on hanging a gallery wall, visit cknanani.com
I learned early about windows, i.e. curtains, drapes, panels etc., from my dad, who early in his career was a drapery installer. He installed this window art in the homes of of many people, including these famous individuals, Paul Newman, James Garner and Greg Rollie from Journey. Actually, my first job at 15 was working in a drapery shop pressing the hems for the drapes that were being made, that my dad would eventually hang.
That probably led to my ironing obsession.
Drapes, like my dad used to hang are not quite the design choice for every home and can look quite dated, except in luxury hotels. The same could be said for curtains and valances. Both of these lost their reign of popularity in most homes, back in the 80’s and 90’s. To use of either of these now, they need to be carefully incorporated into the overall and specific design, as to not look dated.
Just like hair perms were once all the rage, I have not seen one in 35 years…c’est la vie…
So for today’s trends, here are my suggestions:
Panels are supposed to frame a window. Period. When hanging a rod, it needs to go outside the window frame by at least by 8 inches on either side and anywhere from 4-8 inches above, for the panels to sit correctly. Otherwise, you will hang the panel too closely inset into the window and block light. You will also make me jump on my ladder with my drill and fix it.
When it comes to choosing panels, start with lighter fabrics and solid colors. Patterns CAN be used, but it needs to flow with decor in the room. Lighter fabrics will hang and flow more easily, and not triangle out at the bottom the way heavier fabrics can do.
It’s OK to use double rods. I have this in my own home, where I have panels that frame on the outer rod and sheers that can be pulled closed in the evening. My recent design work in an AirBnb, the owner did the same thing which worked beautifully.
Sometimes one panel is all you need. Back to the AirBNB, the living and dining room space had two windows on the left interior wall. I hung her Pottery Barn panels, which were thicker, on both sides of each window. When I stepped back to view (This method I do), right away the heaviness could be felt. I removed both inner panels so the ones left actually formed the outer sides of each window and it was beautifully fixed!
I will start with this story of where I put my foot in my mouth. I was recently visiting a friend and his wife who had just moved into their new home. They were showing me the home and talking about changes they wanted to make and painting, as it is an older home. I said that it is best to use neutrals on the walls instead of several different bold colors, like a box of crayons. My friend’s wife looked at me and told me that was exactly what she wanted to do. The box of crayons.
The point of this story is this: 1) every person has a different idea of they think they will like. 2) Keep my mouth shut unless I am asked
So off to paint and colors. I have used many colors in my homes and recently painted 2 areas with Benjamin Moore’s “Sparrow”, which is darker chocolate with olive undertones. It dramatically changed the area in a beautiful way, which was my goal. This area which hosts two water features now has a very”zen” feeling to the space.
I have also made plenty of mistakes. But in the process have had some incredible transformations with the paint choices I have made. I do a lot of searching, studying and swatching. The two paint brands I highly recommend are Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams.
Here are my tips for paint color choices
Color in itself, creates an emotion, which is good to remember. For example, some shades of blue can actually be depressing depending on where they are place. Having too much red can create agitation. This why many designs have a neutral as an underlying base from which to work from. Colors can be added as accents, which many times works even better. Bottom line, colors and the feelings they can evoke is good to thing to understand.
Starting with a neutral palette is the easiest way to begin with most home spaces. There are many shades of neutrals to choose. Using neutrals will allow you to bring in the bolder colors you desire without overtaking the flow throughout the home. Think of the models homes we go into that we all love. They have a specific color palette from where they create their interiors and it all flows.
Darker colors actually work great in rooms that don’t get much light. I am in love with darker colors. They can bring warmth to a an area that is sterile white like adding red lipstick to a woman’s face. Complete change and wow!
Accent walls, which I have written about is the best place for the bolder colors, if they blend with the palette. For example, you could use Benjamin Moore’s “Muslin” which is soft, but rich beige and create an accent wall with a complimentary color, such as “Sherwin Williams, “Urbane Bronze” which is a dark and rich brown chocolate. These two colors compliment each other without disrupting the over design theme.
All paint colors have an undertone, which is why when you select a color or two, be sure to paint swatches on the wall in different lighting. This will show you right away if a gray almost looks lavender or if a beige appears to look pink. I always paint swatches.
Benjamin Moore’s “Muslin” – Photo courtesy of JC Licht
Sherwin Williams – Urbane Bronze / Photo courtesy of Sherwin Williams
Have Fun With The Process
As I close out this blog, which I have been working on for a few hours, I want to leave you with few additional tips. First, don’t be afraid to try things. Be creative. Many people like to follow what is already being done as it is easier than trying some new. It’s safer. I am not quite like that. I am always thinking outside the box or at best taking something that works and make it even better.
At the base of pure creativity is a fearlessness to try new things. That’s how things evolve. This is how interiors change in our homes ultimately changing the interiors in ourselves.
At the base of any design that really works, you will feel it the moment you walk in the room. The same goes for when things are out of balance. Here’s what I do. With paint, I will swatch up to 9 colors until I find the right color. With redesign of any room, as I am putting things together the flow begins. If I have placed items a certain way, I walk entirely out of the room and try and walk in fresh. What happens when I do this, I will immediately notice if anything isn’t working and can change it until it does. May be that is just my quirky method, but it actually works.
The way I started this first post was the theme of “Light It Up”, which really means to venture out and try new things in your home. As you move through this process, let go and have fun, it’s not a competition. It’s your home, your space and allow yourself to “feel” your way through what you are creating. It will begin to resonate with you.
You will know when your choices fall right into place as everything will and your space will feel “lit up”!