Our Thoughts on All Things Home

When We Say Modern...

What do we mean when we say our staging style is Modern? Clean lines, contemporary flair, strong colors, mixed metals and more.

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Designing a Business around a Marketplace

The current real estate climate in the Arlington/Somerville/Winchester/Lexington/Cambridge/Belmont area in which we generally work has really compelled us to expand our Home Staging offerings--based on repeated requests from realtors. 

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Working Within Creative Constraints

The principle of establishing creative constraints is fundamental to our success in giving clients functional, beautiful rooms. Before we begin any "creative" work, we figure out the boundaries of the project. We want to know every limit of the job and have learned over the years that the more there are, the more creative we can and must be.

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In Defense of Ceiling Fans

If you’ve watched any decorating television show in the last decade, often times the first thing the designer does is take down an existing ceiling fan and replace it with a light fixture. I am not one of those decorators, I totally embrace the ceiling fan.  Ceiling fans these days are not what they used to be, they are sleek, modern and attractive.  Add on a remote control and I am in love

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More on Colors!

We had the opportunity to provide a color consultation on several rooms in a townhouse west of Boston. The homeowner had moved into her unit that was already painted in neutrals, such as beige and yellow. While some of her color palette was in the earth tones, many of her furnishings and art had a modern feel and a citrus-bright color story. Here's what we decided to do...

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Field Report: Interior Decorating Consult

Recently we had a fun appointment with a client west of Boston. She brought us in to consult on a design plan for a library/den. In order to determine the best furnishings for the room, we spoke in depth about the room's functionality.

Our client had many great ideas for how the room could be used: reading, playing games, Web surfing, studying and relaxing. After looking around her house, we realized many of those activities were already taking place in other areas. Rather than try to design the library so that it could accomodate all these functions, we worked with her to enhance the usage of the spaces in the home that were already serving these needs.

For instance, there was already a computer at a desk in the kitchen. We interviewed all family members to see how that area might better meet each of their technology needs. One person wanted a more comfortable chair; another needed access to a printer; a third offered to add their laptop to the computing area. This great collaboration alleviated the need for a computer in the library.

Ideally, we would have the library be a cozy, intimate room for reading and relaxing. By incoporating everyone's voice into the process, it was a way to figure out how to achieve this, and how to rejuvenate the other spaces in the house for their originally envisioned function.


Post-holiday and look at the house!

If you are like us, all the wonder and excitement at decorating for the holidays drains away come early January and leaves a wake of work in its stead. The time comes to put away the decorations for another year.

In some houses, furniture gets moved back to its customary location and the standard objects like picture frames and knick-knacks regain their rightful place.

Why not mix it up a bit?!

We were talking just the other day about how both of us use this time to cast a fresh eye onto our living space. It's a fun time to do a little "spring clean" mid-winter. We also appraise if we like the way our furniture is arranged, and if we really want to keep all the little decorations in their same location.

A freshen-up inside can really boost the mood!

Organization with kids. Is the impossible...possible?

If your kids are in school, your family is probably blessed with a multitude of artwork and worksheets coming home daily. While many of these items are treasures to be displayed, others may not quite make the cut. Here are some solutions to help manage the plethora of paperwork.

Make an art gallery. One of the most gratifying ways for everyone in the family to admire and display works of kid art and artistry is on a gallery wall. We have frames in our playroom that are rotating art shows. If you have a child who is more of a sculptor than a print artist, consider adding some shadow boxes or wall shelves to the mix--they are perfect for displaying 3-dimensional creations.

Create a zone for each child. Give each child a bulletin board in the kitchen. On this board, they can hang any item they adore. When the bulletin board is filled, each child can place items that must come down off the board into a basket of artwork in his or her room. And when that is filled, you make one of two choices for the contents: into the recycle bin or into an heirloom box for the extra special pieces.

It must be saved! For those extra special treasures, we like this idea for creating an heirloom box for each child: have your children decorate their own large cardboard box from IKEA. In that box, we keep all of the really fabulous items that must be passed along in the future, such as first drawings, first report cards or anything that tugs at your heartstrings.

It must go! So, there are things that just don’t merit display or long-term storage. In our houses, it is usually the kids' worksheets or doodles. To manage the piles of paper, we have an "art basket" in our kitchen. All of this type of work goes into the kitchen art basket. The basket gets filled for two weeks, until recycle day. If the kids haven’t gone back to the item to look for it, then it leaves on the recycle truck. To minimize anxiety over a completely empty art basket, we always leave a few of the most recent items in the basket.

In short, we definitely believe that with a little effort and kid cooperation, your home can both support your kids’ love of creativity and be a place of adult sanity.

New house, old furniture. Can it work?

There's a common theme we encounter in both staging and interior decorating: how to use existing furniture in a new space. Usually, there's a frustrating problem with our clients' furniture: it wasn't bought for the house where it needs to live. Some design psychology: the problem is usually not the furniture. More often, it's the "move-in mindset." And it happens to everyone.

When taking furniture from an old house to a new house, the urge is to keep furniture, art and accessories in their previous groupings. By nature, we get locked into thinking about our furnishings "going together" in a certain way. Moving into a new space is an opportunity to mix things up--and, quite honestly, it's also a mandate to mix things up. Reality is that your current arrangement of furnishings likely will not continue to work in new rooms of different shape and geographic orientation.

Here are three simple steps to establishing a great look in your new place with all the same, old stuff:
1. For each room, determine it's optimal function for your family (ignore how the space was being used by the previous owners).
2. Look at each piece of your furniture, art and decorative accessory as a stand-alone item. Forget about how or where it was used in your previous space. Make no assumptions about how it should be used in your new space.
3. Clearly determined room functionality + innovative use of available furnishings=great new spaces. Combine your items to support your new ways of living in your new space.

One very important side-note: color scheme. In a previous post we talked about determining your color scheme. Starting off fresh in a new space is the perfect opportunity to assert your color scheme throughout all your rooms. Be selective about which of your art and decorative accessories you use. And never let the previous tenant's color choices determine your color scheme! Painting a room is relatively fast and inexpensive, so paint over wall colors that aren't perfect for you. Rather than "working around" existing carpets or wallpaper in the new space that don't support your color scheme, remove them. Although doing this work may mean spending some extra dollars during the move, using the previous tenant's choices of these key visual items can completely derail your decorating process and prevent your new space from feeling like the great new home you want it to be. And, remember: paint and elbow grease are much cheaper than buying new things!

Layering for the winter

As you add clothing layers to keep warm for the colder weather, why not do the same for your home? While we love a minimal look, we also love the idea of “layering”: adding upon what you already have to bring a sense of warmth and coziness to your home. It is during these months of spending much more time indoors that we need our home to truly be a place of comfort.

So, where to begin? Let’s start with your windows. We tend to use lighter, more breathable materials on our windows during the warmer months. Instead of taking them down, simply add a heavier panel onto the same rod, perhaps something in wool that will give your windows some more weight (and insulation).
For your coffee table, add some magazines, a bowl and a candle. Your couch can also reflect a layered look..adorn your seating with a throw and extra pillows.

Layering can even be achieved on the floor. One of our favorite ways of upping the design ante in a room is to layer rugs. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, don't hesitate to put an area rug down over it. The same principle applies for placing a small area rug atop a larger one. By doing this, you add new color and dimension to your room.