Tips

Home Design Mistakes : Downsizing

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The most common mistakes I see people make in their homes has to do with scale. I have seen countless clients downsizing and trying to bring their over-sized furniture with them, only to discover that none of it fits in their new home. When you downsize, you need to also downsize your furniture so that your space doesn't feel overwhelmed.

If you are considering downsizing make sure to measure your furniture and measure your new home before you start to move. There's nothing worse than carting an 11 foot sofa to your new home to find out it won't fit and it will have to sit outside until you can figure out what to do with it.

It might be worth the money to hire a designer to do this work for you as well. A designer should be able to measure your existing furniture and measure your new space and let you know what pieces you should take with you and what pieces you should sell or give away. 

Another rule of thumb is to only bring quality furniture with you. That table from IKEA should not come with you, there's no sense in keeping low quality furniture like this in your new home. When you downsize and move into a smaller home, the small details like the quality of furniture will become more apparent in your new home since there will be much more valuable real estate in a smaller floor-plan.       

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How to work with an Interior Designer Part 2

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Part 2: How Designers Charge

There are several ways that a designer might charge for their time, but there are generally two most common: by the hour, or by the project. This can get tricky because the hours a designer spends on your project will vary from project to project. I have seen some designers charge by the hour, but bill in "bundles".

For instance a designer might bill a client for 50 hours, and when these hours are around 40-45, the designer will let the client know how much time remains in their account. Should they want to purchase more time, they can buy an additional bundle.

Other designers might bill by the hour and send an invoice every week or every other week.

And then there are some designers who bill their clients based on the project. Most of the time, clients generally prefer this method so there are no "hidden" fees or questions about how many hours were spent on any particular part of a project. This method of billing is usually for the more seasoned designer as they will need to know how many hours they can allocate to the project, and must have a sense of what the client is expecting of them. 

Find out how your designer charges for their projects and see what is the best fit for you and your project. Be mindful of how long a project will take by asking a designer how much time they think your project will require. Also, be mindful of your own time. Do you want to spend 10 minutes talking with your designer on the phone about the exact shade of blue you want for your sofa? Or could that conversation wait and be combined with your other burning questions in a 30 minute meeting? 

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How to Work with an Interior Designer (when you have never worked with one before)

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PART 1

What you will need in advance:

- idea of what you want to accomplish. For instance, is your goal to have more seating for those family get togethers? Or is your goal to have a tranquil place for you to relax and do yoga? Or maybe you want a space that just feels tied together. Whatever your goal is, know what you want to accomplish. 

- know what your budget is, or at least what you would feel comfortable spending. Is $15,000 too much for a sofa? Is $5,000? If you don't know what your budget is, your designer should be able to help you define that, but be prepared to have a conversation about budget and what you feel comfortable spending. 

- have an idea of what you are attracted to. Make a pinterest or houzz board and be prepared to share these boards with your designer. This will not only help your designer narrow down your options for you, but it will also help you get a better idea of what your personal style is, and what you are or are not attracted to.   

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Do You Need an Interior Designer?

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So you have a home project, and you are considering hiring an Interior Designer, but do you really need one? It will all depend on what your goals are for your home. Interior Designers Usually Offer the following services:

  • Site assessments & design programming
  • Space planning
  • Product & material research
  • Product & material selections
  • Appliance & equipment selections
  • Plumbing fixture selections
  • Project administration
  • Order management
  • Delivery & scheduling
  • White-glove installation
  • Coordination with Allied Professionals & Consultants
  • Exterior residential designs
  • Site plans (based off existing survey)
  • Permit plans (Existing & Proposed)
  • Partition & furniture plans
  • Detailed kitchen & bath plans
  • Construction & demolition plans
  • Power & communication plans
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Interior elevations
  • Detail & section plans
  • 3D perspectives in colour renditions
  • In-house shop drawings (a specialty)
  • Specifications

And often times designer will even offer smaller services like paint selection, etc. for a small fee. Each person has a different goal for their home, some people don't like making decisions like these, so they hire a designer to cover all aspects of their project.

Other people would like to be involved through the entire process and would even like some DIY projects. You will want to know at least how much you would like to be involved in the process prior to hiring a designer. Based on your desire to be involved will affect how much you need a designer. 

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How To Tell Your Interior Decorator or Designer NO

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The one question that I heard from so many people looking for an interior designer or decorator, is that they are afraid to hire a designer because they are afraid that a designer will take over their home and they won't know how to tell them no. I have one very simple answer, simply tell them how you feel.

If you feel a designer or decorator is taking over your home, and it no longer says "you", simply tell them that you feel they are not considering your needs and desires, and that your home no longer has your personality in it. A good designer will take this into account and adjust their approach. A not-so-good designer may not take this into account, in which case, feel free to fire them. Seriously- it may seem harsh, but there are plenty of other designers and decorators in the world, and your area that you can connect with. 

Working with a designer is like being in a relationship, when it's working, its great, but when it's not working, it's time to just cut the ties and let them go. So be sure to check in with yourself, and ask if the relationship you have with your designer or decorator is good for you. Becuase at the end of the day, YOU are the one who will have to live in your home, the designer simply gets to walk away from the project and move onto the next.     

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What to do with an extra closet

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Got an extra closet that you don't know what to do with?

Try these ideas:

Convert you closet into an office nook with a desk and chair. 

Closet by the entry door? Try a bench with a couple pillows and some storage including coat hangers on the wall. 

Guest Bedroom Closets can also make a great headboard nook. Try something that will wow your guest like a pop of color on the wall or wallpaper.

Turn it into a reading nook with a chair, side table and bookcase. 

 

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How to Organize and De-clutter Your Home Part 5

How to Organize Your Home:

You should have a designated space to keep Emergency Information as well as Personal Information. If something were to happen to you, and your family needed access to these types of documents, you don’t want them to have to dig around through your desk, spending hours of precious time looking for what they need. Here are some of the items I suggest you keep in a safe place:

 

  • Marriage Certificate

  • Birth Certificate

  • Adoption Papers

  • Citizenship Records

  • Divorce Papers

  • House Deed

  • Mortgage Papers

  • Death Certificate

  • Automobile Titles

  • Service Papers

  • Leases /Contracts

  • Will

  • Patents and Copyrights  

  • Passports

  • Life Insurance Policy

  • Health Insurance Card (s)

  • Copy of your License

  • Medical Directives (should you not be able to speak on your own behalf, a medical directive will ensure your decisions are followed)

  • Emergency Medical Contacts (primary physician’s phone number, etc)

  • Medical Information (blood type, allergies, etc)

  • Up to date photo of everyone in your family, including your pets (in case someone goes missing)

  • Finger Prints

  • Pet Insurance

If security is a concern of yours, then store these documents in a safe, locked drawer, or in a safety deposit box. Here are the items I suggest you store in a secured space.

That wraps up our 5 part series of how to Organize and Declutter Your Home! Now is the time to buy my e-book on Amazon for a copy of your own list of items to consider when trying to organize and declutter your home. 

 

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    How to Organize and De-clutter Your Home Part 4

    Here is a Declutter Checklist for your entire home:

    Kitchen

    • Create Space for Every Item

    • Donate Mismatched Items (Dishes, Cups, etc)

    • Toss Old Coffee Mugs and any dishware with a stain

    • Limit Water Bottles

    • Add Drawer Dividers

    • Toss Stained, Mismatched or Broken Food Containers

    • Throw out all old Spices and Expired Foods

    Bathroom

    • Toss Old Shampoo/Body Lotion, etc. Bottles

    • Limit yourself to 2 shampoos/conditioner, lotions, etc.  

    • Limit hairstylers, and store them in a basket or under your sink- out of sight.

    • If it hasn’t been used in three months, toss it.

     

    Linen Closet:

    • Toss old towels and sheets that are stained or frayed

    • Toss towels and sheets that don’t match

     

    Office:

    • Tackle one drawer at a time.

    • Bundle like items together (Pens & Pencils, Envelopes, etc)

    • Shred Papers that are not needed

      • After 1 Month: Receipts, Deposit/ ATM slips, Reconciled Bank Statements

      • 1-3 Years: Paycheck Stubs, Mortgage Statements, Expired Insurance Records, Charity Donation Receipts

      • 7 Years: Tax Returns, W-2 & 1099, Medical Statements, Real Estate Tax Forms

    Your Closet:

    • Have you worn it in the last 6 months?

    • Will you wear it in the next two weeks?

    • If it is Broken/ Has any holes, will you get them fixed?

    • Does it fit well?

    • Would you buy it now?


    If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then keep it, however if you answered “no” to any of these, then you should probably toss it.

     

    Check out the entire series on my e-book on Amazon Here:

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    Why Interior Designers Need Architects

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    This might seem like an obvious topic, but Interior Designers need Architects just as much as Architects need Interior Designers. Architects and Designers should function like two halves of one brain. The Architect plans out the structure of the building, consulting other professionals (Electrical Engineers, Structural Engineers, Plumbing Engineers, etc.) to make sure their designs will be structurally sound, while Designers make sure the space will function properly. Together Architects and Designer's can accomplish great things, but apart, they can often times over look certain areas outside of their expertise. This is why it is best to hire an Architect to create your structure and Construction Documents to build from, but also to consult a Designer to make sure the layout will function just as well inside as it will outside. 

    If you have never worked with an Architect or Designer before, think of the Architect as the person who is responsible for building the exterior of your home, making sure it will stand up and remain standing, and making sure your HVAC (Heating/Cooling), Plumbing, and Electricity are placed properly and will work their best. They are also responsible for making sure your home meets all required codes, and that the energy your home will use will have a minimal impact on your community (and your wallet). Designers are responsible for making sure the inside of your home will function to the best of its ability. For instance, you don't want your kitchen placed too far away from your garage because when you bring groceries home, you don't want to be dragging your grocery bags across your entire house or upstairs, etc. You also don't want to walk into a room that has all the light switches placed at the opposite side of the room. 

    So when you are starting your next big home project, be sure to consult both an Architect and a Designer to make sure your home is the best it can be.   

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    Why Architects Need Interior Designers

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    I decided to write this blog post because I strongly believe that more Interior Designers need to work with Architects, and more Architects need to work with Interior Designers. 

    This blog concept started when I began a new project of an existing penthouse suite and noticed that the Architecture in this unit was very abnormal. Once I began to place standard sized furniture into this floorplan, I noticed that the Architecture clearly had not been thought all the way through to the function of the space.    

    1.  I circled this area because in a Master Bedroom such as this, you generally want the furniture centered on each wall. For instance in this room the King Bed is placed on the center of one wall, and the dresser, with a TV is mounted on the opposite wall. This wall seems like a load bearing wall, so it is structural and can not be moved, however, it should have been framed flush with the structural beam so that the wall was flat and the dresser could be place on center with the bed. After all, if you were watching TV in bed, you don't want your head to be turned the entire time, that would be uncomfortable.     2. This is a junction box which is where the dining room lighting was intended to be. But based on the shape of the room, and the location of the cable for the TV, the layout as you see it here is the only way this room will function with the furniture provided. So why is this junction box so far away from where the dining room table is placed? An Architect clearly should have at least asked a designer to place some furniture in the floor plan before building this unit so that these details would have been thought out more.    3. This is another structural column, and though there is not much you can do about this, if this client wanted drapery, there would not be enough space for the drapes to pass between the column and the windows, which would create a light gap, and no one wants that. The only solution here is to do a shade. And I would highly suggest a motorized shade so that the client doesn't have to reach around this column to control the shade.    4. Why so many doors? Why not just one door for the bathroom and one for the bedroom? And how ugly this must look from outside the building, to see a pocket door that doesn't line up with the mullions of the window. Who wants to see the edge of a door frame? No one. Unfortunately this is another example of this design not being thought all the way through from concept to functional completion.   5. This room is a secondary master (usually intended for vacation homes shared by more than 1 family or multi-generational families) and while this room is intended for two adults to stay in this space, the room is a little too small. As you can see the closet doors are running into the nightstand, making this door unusable. Although we could remove the nightstand all together, and the room might function better, it is best to have balance (and equality) in a room meant for two people. Most nightstands are 24"-30" wide, while these are only 20" wide, the space is already pretty tight. Nightstands are usually 24"-30" because they are designed to have a table lamp on top to provide task lighting (for those late nights with your laptop or book), and most table lamps have a base 8"-24" in diameter. Another solution could have been to move the bed to the opposite wall, however it is bad feng-shui to have to turn your head to see who is coming into the room. The cable is also on the wall where the dresser is currently located which would be costly to move the cable to the opposing wall. This is another example of a room that wasn't clearly thought out. It should have been a little larger to allow for all the needed furniture.  

    1.  I circled this area because in a Master Bedroom such as this, you generally want the furniture centered on each wall. For instance in this room the King Bed is placed on the center of one wall, and the dresser, with a TV is mounted on the opposite wall. This wall seems like a load bearing wall, so it is structural and can not be moved, however, it should have been framed flush with the structural beam so that the wall was flat and the dresser could be place on center with the bed. After all, if you were watching TV in bed, you don't want your head to be turned the entire time, that would be uncomfortable.   

    2. This is a junction box which is where the dining room lighting was intended to be. But based on the shape of the room, and the location of the cable for the TV, the layout as you see it here is the only way this room will function with the furniture provided. So why is this junction box so far away from where the dining room table is placed? An Architect clearly should have at least asked a designer to place some furniture in the floor plan before building this unit so that these details would have been thought out more.  

    3. This is another structural column, and though there is not much you can do about this, if this client wanted drapery, there would not be enough space for the drapes to pass between the column and the windows, which would create a light gap, and no one wants that. The only solution here is to do a shade. And I would highly suggest a motorized shade so that the client doesn't have to reach around this column to control the shade.  

    4. Why so many doors? Why not just one door for the bathroom and one for the bedroom? And how ugly this must look from outside the building, to see a pocket door that doesn't line up with the mullions of the window. Who wants to see the edge of a door frame? No one. Unfortunately this is another example of this design not being thought all the way through from concept to functional completion. 

    5. This room is a secondary master (usually intended for vacation homes shared by more than 1 family or multi-generational families) and while this room is intended for two adults to stay in this space, the room is a little too small. As you can see the closet doors are running into the nightstand, making this door unusable. Although we could remove the nightstand all together, and the room might function better, it is best to have balance (and equality) in a room meant for two people. Most nightstands are 24"-30" wide, while these are only 20" wide, the space is already pretty tight. Nightstands are usually 24"-30" because they are designed to have a table lamp on top to provide task lighting (for those late nights with your laptop or book), and most table lamps have a base 8"-24" in diameter. Another solution could have been to move the bed to the opposite wall, however it is bad feng-shui to have to turn your head to see who is coming into the room. The cable is also on the wall where the dresser is currently located which would be costly to move the cable to the opposing wall. This is another example of a room that wasn't clearly thought out. It should have been a little larger to allow for all the needed furniture.  

    It is because of errors like this that Interior Designers are so crucial when building new homes, or remodels. No one wants to be surprised when their furniture can not fit in the room. After all, most people live in their homes for about 10 years (on average) before moving to another location, and they usually bring their existing furniture with them into their new space. So to all those who are considering moving or buying a new home, measure your furniture and make sure it fits in your home prior to purchasing!    

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    The Best Material For Your Kitchen Countertop

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    There are many options when it comes to countertop material options including some of my favorites:

     

    • Granite

    • Marble

    • Travertine

    • Terrazzo

    • Quartzite

    • Limestone

    • Onyx

     

    Most countertop materials are made of a natural stone, however there are some Quartz (composite materials) that are made to look like the real stone but hold up to wear and tear much better than a natural stone. For example:

    • ColorQuartz

    • Caesarstone

    • Cambria

    • Silestone

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    The Best Dimensions for Your Kitchen

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    To ensure your kitchen  is functional, comfortable, and safe, use the following dimensions - all of which are suggested minimums unless otherwise noted.

    Countertops: 36" Height, 25" Depth

    Drawers: 4+" Height, 22" Depth

    Vanity Base: 32-34.5" Height, 18-21" Depth

    Medicine Cabinet: 30" Height, 4" Depth

    Lower Cabinets (kitchen): 34.5" Height, 24" Depth

    Upper Cabinets: 30-42" Height, 12" Depth

    Space Between Countertop and Upper Cabinets: 18"


    You may have heard of the “perfect triangle” in a kitchen, where your appliances are located at each point of a triangle within your kitchen. For instance, look at the diagram on the right. Each space should be approximately 4-9 feet.

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    Interior Trim Tips from a Professional Interior Designer

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    • The best baseboard size is usually 6” tall, but can range from 4”-8”.

    • Windows that have casing often frame a window nicely, especially if you don’t have window treatments. So if you have the option to trim your windows, I suggest that you do.

    • When picking your door casing I suggest to use the same casing as the window if possible so that you have consistency.

    • Adding crown moulding can make a room feel more elegant, but keep in mind if you are on a budget, it can be very costly.  

    Want to learn more? CLICK HERE and sign up for my e-course "Everything You Need to Know about Interior Design". 

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    How to Choose the Best Wood Flooring for Your Home

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    There are many types of wood flooring options that come in many different sizes, shapes, and variations. Wood is durable, and can help absorb sound.

    Hardwood comes in many different types of species, board widths, colors, textures, hardness, finish. Hardwood typically costs $3- $10 a square foot. The following are some of the most common wood floor species:

    • Ash

    • Beech

    • Birch

    • Cherry

    • Maple

    • Walnut

    • Teak

    • Oak

    • Pine

    • Cork

    • Bamboo (is actually a grass, not wood, but is often categorized as wood flooring).


    You can paint wood floors using traditional oil-based enamel wood paint, or latex enamel wood paint. Try get a paint that contains polyurethane. This chemical adds strength and is great for slightly humid environments. If you can’t find one, you can always apply a coat of polyurethane afterwards so don’t worry about it. There are four levels of sheen for wood paint and each has a different reflective quality defined by the percentages below. Starting from the shiniest, they are glossy (75%), semi-gloss (55%), satin (40%) and matte (20%).

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    The 10 Best Websites to Buy Art

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    Some of my favorite places to buy art online are the following:

    1. etsy.com. Etsy is one of my favorite websites for art, accessories, and even furniture! Its a great site that puts you in direct contact with small business owners. 

    2. art.com has some of the biggest selection of artwork and at good prices. 

    3. society6.com. Society 6 is a community of great artists who sell originals and prints, perfect for any home looking for unique pieces! 

    4. minted.com is alot like art.com and society6.com where there is an artist community selling a wide variety of work.  

    5. 20x200.com which has a wide variety of art at an affordable price.

    6. EyesonWalls.com which hosts a great range of limited artworks.  

    7. Artfullywalls.com has some great affordable pieces of artwork. 

    8. Purephoto.com has some amazing photography. 

    9. ugallery.com is great if you are in the market for a custom piece of artwork.

    Bonus: One of my personal favorites to shop at is urbanoutfitters.com (and sister company anthropologie.com). Both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie might be better know for their clothing, but they have developed a really great apartment home section and it has some really great and unique art finds there! As well as some of my favorite artists works. I also love Restoration Hardwares baby & child department for their adorable watercolors and animal artwork for nurseries.  

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    The 5 Best Ways to Display Art In Your Home

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    Below is a list of the 5 best ways to display art in your home.   

    Art Wall Display’s are one of the easiest ways to display multiple artworks together on one wall. I suggest starting an art wall display on your largest wall. This could be in your living room or dining room. You could put it in your bedroom, but usually art walls are meant to be shown and are best in more public spaces.     When you start to layout your art wall start with the largest piece that you have and place it in the center around your eye’s view (usually this is about 5’-5” above the floor) and layout your frames so the space between each frame is approximately the same distance.     Try to keep the vertical and horizontal edges of these frames lined up as best you can.  

    Art Wall Display’s are one of the easiest ways to display multiple artworks together on one wall. I suggest starting an art wall display on your largest wall. This could be in your living room or dining room. You could put it in your bedroom, but usually art walls are meant to be shown and are best in more public spaces.

    When you start to layout your art wall start with the largest piece that you have and place it in the center around your eye’s view (usually this is about 5’-5” above the floor) and layout your frames so the space between each frame is approximately the same distance.

    Try to keep the vertical and horizontal edges of these frames lined up as best you can.  

    Displaying three large photos together, called a triptych, is a great way to create rhythm and repetition. It also can create a great focal point.     This display often looks great above a sofa or bed, or even in a hallway or entry way.        Sometimes these three images are different images that relate to one another, or sometimes these three images are three sections of one larger image.

    Displaying three large photos together, called a triptych, is a great way to create rhythm and repetition. It also can create a great focal point.

    This display often looks great above a sofa or bed, or even in a hallway or entry way.    

    Sometimes these three images are different images that relate to one another, or sometimes these three images are three sections of one larger image.

    Art Wall Display’s are often used with staircases one of the easiest ways to display multiple artworks together on one wall.     When you start to layout your art wall start with the largest piece that you have and place it in the center of your staircase (stand on this middle stair and place the artwork at eye sight on the wall) and continue to layout your frames as you walk up your stairs.     Try to allow for equal space between each frame.     Try to keep the vertical edges of these frames lined up as best you can.    

    Art Wall Display’s are often used with staircases one of the easiest ways to display multiple artworks together on one wall.

    When you start to layout your art wall start with the largest piece that you have and place it in the center of your staircase (stand on this middle stair and place the artwork at eye sight on the wall) and continue to layout your frames as you walk up your stairs.

    Try to allow for equal space between each frame.

    Try to keep the vertical edges of these frames lined up as best you can.    

    Floating art shelves are also a great way to display multiple pieces of art together, This is one of my favorite displays since you can change out the art easily depending on the season. I suggest displaying 5 frames per shelf varying in size for the best balance.     Your shelves also don’t have to be stacked, they could be offset, but make sure your shelves overlap by at least one third.  

    Floating art shelves are also a great way to display multiple pieces of art together, This is one of my favorite displays since you can change out the art easily depending on the season. I suggest displaying 5 frames per shelf varying in size for the best balance.

    Your shelves also don’t have to be stacked, they could be offset, but make sure your shelves overlap by at least one third.  

    Displaying six art pieces of the same size on one wall is also a great way to cover a hall or an entry, or even behind a large sofa. These pictures could all be different, or perhaps they are all the same subject, color, medium, etc. this will create repetition and balance.     I suggest that you purchase all the same picture frames from one location and if the frame comes with a matte as well, decide if you will use it.    

    Displaying six art pieces of the same size on one wall is also a great way to cover a hall or an entry, or even behind a large sofa. These pictures could all be different, or perhaps they are all the same subject, color, medium, etc. this will create repetition and balance.

    I suggest that you purchase all the same picture frames from one location and if the frame comes with a matte as well, decide if you will use it.    

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    The Best Size Pillows for Your Home

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    The best pillow arrangement for your Livingroom sofa will all depend on how large your sofa is.

    If you have a settee try an 18x18 and a 12x20 pillow at one end of the sofa.

    If you have a sectional try three pillows at the corner unit in a range of sizes: 22"x22", 20"x20", and 18"x18". At each end of the section try one 22"x22" and one 20"x20".

    If you have a sofa try one 22"x22" and one 20"x20" at each end of your sofa.

    If you have a club chair, try a 12"x20" lumbar pillow.    

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    The Two Types of Shower Systems To Consider in Your Bathroom

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    There are two types of Shower systems: Electric and Thermostatic Mixers.

    Electric Showers take water from the main cold water line and heats the water. This option is best for households with families or where there is a limited hot water supply.

    Thermostatic Mixer Showers require no pump and have a faster flow of water and provides the safest shower system.

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    The Best Height to Hang Window Drapes in Your Home

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    You want to mount your drapery rod as high on the wall as you can, but under neath any crown moulding. If your ceilings are taller than 10 feet, you will most likely need custom drapery since most sizes available only reach up to 10 feet in length. You want the bottom of your drapes to gently graze your flooring, so if you are going to change your flooring, be sure to do this before installing your drapery.   

    Designer Tip: My personal go-to style is a full tab back panel linen or sheer drapery depending on how much privacy is needed. 

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    9 Interior Carpentry Ideas to Consider for Your Home

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    A fun (and cheap) way to dress up your walls is to treat them with a carpentry finish.

    There are a lot of carpentry wall treatment options including the following:

    • Shiplap

    • Tongue and Groove

    • Rustic Channel

    • Rustic Vee

    • Board and Battan (pictured)

    • Plywood

    • Bevel

    • Dolly Varden

    • Clapboard

     

    And there are a variety of ways you can use these treatments in your home. One of the most common ways to use this treatment is to create a wainscot around the room, which means that the carpentry is applied to the walls usually around eye sight height (roughly 4 ½ -5 ½ feet) from the floor.  

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