DESIGN 101: START AN ART COLLECTION

We’re back with Design 101 (we’ve missed you all!) and we’re kicking it off with Art! 

Many of the visitors to our room at the DC Design House have asked us how we developed the art collection for the room.  We also got a few art related questions last week during our Home Front chat with The Washington Post.  We’re thrilled that our readers are taking such an interest in art, so this month we’ll be covering everything you need to know about building your own art collection.

Up this week: ART - Where to Start

 Henry Taylor,  Untitled , 2011; Thomas Rome,  Long Island , 2005; Amy Sillman,  Psychology Today , 2006

Henry Taylor, Untitled, 2011; Thomas Rome, Long Island, 2005; Amy Sillman, Psychology Today, 2006

Step One:  Find your Style

Start by exposing yourself to as much art as you can.  Search online, visit galleries and museums, and read art books. When viewing art, trust your gut.  Art can bring back memories, evoke emotions, or be something you simply just like looking at. 

We suggest starting an art notebook by gathering images of things you like.  Don’t worry if you don’t always know who the artist is.  Chances are, you’ll notice patterns start to evolve that will help you determine your style preferences. 

You can also work with a professional to determine what kind of art you are drawn to. 

Step Two: Decorating vs Collecting

Designers approach art in different ways.  Many will develop a design concept, and then search for art that is complementary.  Years ago I bought a t-shirt that said, “good art won’t match your sofa”, which is a philosophy I have adopted towards art.  Art is individual, and can breath new life and personality into a space.  We often start with art first, so that we can develop a space around it.  For example, if you have a piece of art that you love, you can highlight it with lighting and a background paint color.

That said, if you’re stumped about what art will work with your space, it’s fine if it does match your couch.  As long as it’s a piece of art that you like!  Think about colors, patterns, and textures that you can live with, rather than selecting a piece of art you dislike just because it matches your décor. 

 Anna Magruder,  Coast , available on  Etsy ; Juan Chavarria, Jr.,  Artemis , available on  Mammoth and Company 

Anna Magruder, Coast, available on Etsy; Juan Chavarria, Jr., Artemis, available on Mammoth and Company 

Step Three:  Look Deeper

Art is a reflection of your personal style, so enhance your collection by knowing a bit more about the story behind it.  You can find information about most artists on his or her website that will help you understand the artist’s philosophy and history.  If you’ve found art while traveling, there’s probably a story behind it as well.  

Ultimately, art is open to interpretation.  So if you see a piece of art differently than what the artist intended, don’t fret.  Your interpretation only adds to the story!

Step Four: Determine your Art Budget

There’s that word again, budget!  Earlier in Design 101 we discussed developing a Decoration Budget. Art can be included in your decorative budget so you allow yourself room to add the finishing touches to your home. 

If you are hoping to make an investment in art, we suggest consulting a professional for guidance.  But art doesn’t have to be valuable.  We use plenty of cheap n’ chic art just because it makes us happy!

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Step Five: Dive In

As with furniture, don’t feel like you have to rush in and buy everything at once.  Take time to find art you truly love. If you’ve found a piece that stays with you long after you’ve seen it, chances are it’s something you’ll enjoy having in your home. 

If you’ve found a particular style you love, go for it and start collecting.  Trust yourself.  Not everyone is going to understand your art, so the most important thing is that it speaks to you personally.

Happy Collecting.

RB.

If you have questions about art collecting, installation, or anything else, please shoot us an email.  We love to hear from you!

Up Next Week: Working with an Art Consultant!

DESIGN 101: STYLING A SHOW HOUSE (PHASE THREE)

The making of the DC Design House continues!  Last week we shared some of our Furniture for the room.  With the larger pieces confirmed, we were able to add personality to the space through art and accessories. In the design world, we call this Styling.

Phase Three: Styling

Every teenager we know loves to collect.  They collect music, event tickets, things they find in their parent’s attic, sports gear, and general stuff.   You can tell a lot about a teenager by studying their collection.

Our first task was to figure out the personality of this teenage boy.  We immediately decided he was one cool kid, then dove into finding art and accessories that would tell us the story of who he is.   Below are some of our favorite  finds for the room.

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Limited Edition Print from Maggie O'Neill Fine Art Gallery

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Slide7

"Piet" and "Ludwig", from the Fowl Portrait series by photographer Paul Lange.

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Slide8

"City Cowboy" by photographer Francis Minien.

Original Screen Print by Cool "Disco" Dan.

See you at the DC Design House, April 14 – May 12.

Happy Styling.

RB.

Up Next: It’s time to pull this all together!  See how we work to install the room.  We’ll give you a hint: we’re not afraid to use a power drill. Stay tuned.

DESIGN 101: MAKING OF A SHOW HOUSE (PHASE TWO)

As you all know, we've taken a break from Design 101 this month to share The Making of a Show House.  We are participating in the 2013 DC Design House, which opens to the public April 14th.  Last week we shared our Conceptual Design.  The adventure continues - stay tuned to join us!

Phase Two: Design Development

This is the phase of the project where our vision becomes reality.  We have to figure out how to stay inline with our design concept, by using pieces that we can borrow or buy at a steal.  Sometimes this means that the pieces we were hoping to use in the room have to change...

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Slide01

A  blackened steel bed became a cozy upholstered headboard.  An extra bonus was the pop of color!

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Slide02

We found French industrial steel bedside tables from the 1930's that we couldn't resist.

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Slide03

Table and floor lamps became a masculine black iron chandelier with black silk shades.

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Slide04

As the design developed, we saw too much blue.  An Eames molded chair was traded in for another classic, the Bertoia.

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Slide05

We found this very cool vintage locker and decided we could give a facelift with some elbow grease, a set of antique iron wheels, and a coat of paint.  We don't want to give this one away as it's a special piece - you'll have to come to the DC Design House to see it in person!

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Slide06

A West Elm Parsons desk will go from blah to hip with the help of Furniture Rehab Guru Meaghan McNamara.

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You never know what you'll find in your parent's attic.  An antique steamer trunk with the need for a lot of TLC?  Meaghan to the rescue again!

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Slide08

Our wallpaper and paint are going up this week, thanks to Farrow & Ball and the very talented Michael DiGuiseppe (DC's top wallpaper master 202.731.2634).  Bold stripes and charcoals will add a cool edge to a room that we felt was a tad boring for an urban teenage boy.

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Slide09

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Holy moly, this is one large bathroom.  We're making it a bit more intimate with a moody dark (dark!) green.

If you are familiar with our designs, you know we can't resist a touch of whimsy.  Especially if we have the opportunity to add a pop of color to the closet.

 Small Bar

Small Bar

Happy Designing.

RB.

Next up: We've scoured Ebay, Etsy, local artists, and the rest of the planet for an amazing art collection.  Next week we're styling!

DESIGN 101: MAKING A SHOW HOUSE

If you have been following our Design 101 Series, you know that we have devoted it to sharing insider design tips and tricks to help you renovate and decorate your home. There are many, many more topics that we intend to cover.   But for the month of March, we need to take a slight detour.

We have been selected to participate in the 2013 DC Design House, which we are thrilled about.  The trouble is, all of this designing is taking up a lot of our blogging time.   Don’t fear, we’re not going away completely!

We came up with a great idea – why not share the show house design process with all of you?  This month, Design 101 will be devoted to The Making of a Show House.  Stay tuned and join us for the adventure!

Phase One: Conceptual Design

 DC_Design_House_1

DC_Design_House_1

 DC_Design_House_2

DC_Design_House_2

The above photos and floor plan were what we had to work with for our design concept for the house.  Luckily our recent experiences with EDesign helped us figure out the potential of the space without seeing it in person!

We threw ourselves back into design school mode with a couple of very late nights to develop our initial design concept: A Teenage Boy’s Bedroom!

 Regan_Billingsley_Concept2

Regan_Billingsley_Concept2

Why a Teenage Boy’s Bedroom?  We loved the idea of bringing history and the traditions of DC into a room that could easily be translated into a library, den, or family room. We also loved the idea of doing a younger persons room so that we could add a touch of whimsy to the design.  We have worked on many feminine rooms in the past, so this one is for the boys!

We set our creative thinking caps on creating a space that combined history and tradition with our fresh and fun style.

 Regan_Billingsley_Concept1

Regan_Billingsley_Concept1

We scoured the design center for fabrics that fit our vision.  We dug through our resources to find furniture and lighting that supported our concept.  We even went undercover at Urban Outfitters to see what the young kids were buying.   We needed to live inside the head of this Teenage Boy!  Once we put all of our ideas together, Kinkos came to the rescue to help us print a gorgeous presentation board for the committee review.

 Furniture_Plan copy

Furniture_Plan copy

After learning we were selected for the show house (Yay!), we got down to business.  As we talked about in Design 101, we needed to come up with a Decorating Plan.  First step was to see the house in person and take detailed measurements.  Sketches and photos became a neatly organized furniture plan.

 Regan_Billingsley_Rendering

Regan_Billingsley_Rendering

With the furniture plan completed, and our design concept set, we were able to fabricate a rendering of the room.  This allowed us to illustrate our design intent for the room to those who may have a little difficulty envisioning how our design concept will look in reality.  We used the rendering, and our initial concept board, for the Bare Bones Tour.

What’s next?  Design Development!  This is the part where we run around town like crazy people to make our design dreams come true.  Stay tuned – we have some exciting updates for our room!

Happy Designing.

RB.

DESIGN 101: STRETCH YOUR DECORATING DOLLAR!

This month, Design 101 has been all about Decorative Budgets.  We’ve talked about how to write a budget, develop a decorating plan, and implement your plan. Before we wrap up the month, we wanted to share one crucial tip – How to Save Money!

 Trim

Trim

Stretch your Decorating Dollar

Wow Factor.  When thinking about where to spend money in a room, consider the room’s important features.  What will you notice first when you walk into the room?  Also consider the items you will use everyday, as you’ll want to make sure the quality stands up over time.

Home Value.  Consider the value of your home.  If you have a high-end home, it will be noticeable when you go to sell if you’ve used inexpensive materials and products.  On the other hand, you don’t want to overspend to ensure you get a return on your investment.  Think about what items will hold value over time or add value to your home.

 Creative

Creative

Add Details.  You can turn a blah sofa into a fantastic piece by adding details such as trim or festive throw pillows.  Same goes for window treatments, where you can add interest to a boring window shade with tassels, fringe, or decorative tape.

Accessorize.  You can stretch a budget and add a ton of personality to a space through accessories.  We love consignment stores or stores like West Elm, Mecox Gardens, Anthropologie, and Pearl River for inexpensive accessories to add punch to any room.  Another great money saving tip?  Frame kid’s art for the walls!

 DIY

DIY

Splurge vs Save.  If you are in love with a particular item, but it’s out of your budget, there may be a similar product out the that is similar at a lower cost.  For example, we love IKEA for their budget lighting because the designs remind us of some of our favorite fixtures from the 50'x and 60's.

Upcycle.  You may already have some great pieces that could be repurposed with a little TLC.  We recently posted a piece on Meaghan McNamara, who specializes in furniture rehab.  Meaghan has some terrific ideas for turning old into new!

DIYPinterest is filled with DIY ideas for decoration.  If you’re feeling crafty, think about ways you can creatively transform your space with a trip to the local art store.  You can also check into our Designer Weekends for some great DIY ideas!

Happy Saving.

RB.

DESIGN 101: IMPLEMENT YOUR DECORATING PLAN!

This month, Design 101 has been all about Decorative Budgets.  We’ve talked about how to write a budget and develop a decorating plan.  By now you might be wondering when the fun begins!  Good news – it’s time to implement your plan.

Implement Your Decorating Plan

 Living_room

Living_room

Tips to help your vision become a reality:

  1. Sell, donate, or move furniture and accessories that won’t fit into your new design vision.  It will feel refreshing to start decorating with a clean slate.
  2. Refer to your Decorating Timeline to decide where to start.  Remember that if you are refinishing walls, ceilings, or floors, you will want to address those areas before moving in new furniture.
  3. Update your Decorative Budget Spreadsheet. You can add additional columns for product description and delivery dates to keep tracks of orders.  In addition, update costs as you make purchases so you can stay on track with your budget.
  4. Start slowly.  We like to start with the larger pieces of furniture – seating, tables, beds, etc.  That way you can reevaluate your vision for accessories if necessary.
  5. Check return policies before purchasing.
  6. If you feel overwhelmed, consider reaching out for professional help.
  7. Remember that good design takes time!
 Damage

Damage

Troubleshooting:

  1. Even as experts in the field, we’ve never had a project where there weren’t a few surprises.  Below are tips to help you with unexpected situations.
  2. Things cost more than expected. Price increases on products are not unheard of.  It happens.  Or you may have predicted pricing incorrectly.  It’s ok, you can find other areas within your budget to cut costs to balance things out. You can also find an alternative option that fits within your budget.
  3. Manufacturing damage and defects. You don’t have to accept a damaged item or something that is made incorrectly.  Work with your salesperson or the company to find a solution to replace the item or receive a discount (a reason to shop at stores with great customer service!)
  4. Shipping damage.  These days furniture and accessories are shipped all over the world, leaving them susceptible to shipping damages. Try working with your salesperson or the company to find a solution for replacement on damaged items.
  5. Items are on Backorder and backordered again.  When this happens, keep in mind our rule about good design taking time.  If your furniture is backordered, it is usually worth the wait!
 Eames_IKEA

Eames_IKEA

Going over budget:

If you go over budget, you have a few options to get back on track.

  1. Put your design project on hold or break it up into phases.  As we mentioned last week, you don’t have to do everything at once.  Do what you can and then wait on the rest until you can afford it.
  2. Revisit your Decorating Plan to reevaluate priorities.
  3. Think about alternative options.  You may be in love with a certain piece of furniture, but it’s not worth breaking the bank over.  There is likely something else out there that you will love just as much.  You can also search for reproductions or used furniture (we love Ebay!) as alternatives to buying new.

Happy Decorating.

RB.

Next Up:  Where to spend and where to save!

DESIGN 101: DECORATING PLAN

Last week, for Design 101, we kicked off a month all about Decorative Budgets.  While we know budgets aren't the funnest part of decorating, we hope you're starting to get a sense of how important it is to make smart investments in your home.  The great news is that you've done the hard bit, which is putting together all of those tedious spreadsheets.  Now the fun is about to begin!  What we need is a decorating plan!

Make a Decorating Plan

 Dining_Room

Dining_Room

Step One: Ask for Help

We see a lot of clients who are overwhelmed by the idea of starting a decorating project.  Decorating is a lot of work, and without a plan it can seem like a daunting task.  You may or may know what you want, but you're unsure of how to turn your vision into a reality.  Consider asking for professional guidance!  At Regan Billingsley Interiors, we break down decorating into easy steps for our clients to help them understand and enjoy the process.  A simple plan consists of something like:

  1. Develop a Design Concept
  2. Create Furniture Plans
  3. Source, Purchase, and Install Furniture

Three steps sounds pretty easy, right?  That's because a good design professional has the expertise and sources to work through each step with you, making your  job a lot more enjoyable and stress-free.

If you're considering hiring an expert, but think it may not fit into your budget, you may want to reconsider.  It's very expensive to dive into decorating, realize you've made mistakes, and then try to fix them.  It's much more cost effective to hiring a professional from the beginning so you don't make mistakes.  Our policy, at Regan Billingsley Interiors, is to pass along our design discount to our clients, which can be anywhere from 10-40% off retail pricing.  This helps offset our design service fees!

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Step Two: Create a Timeline

Keep in mind that not everything needs to happen at once.  Rather than feeling pressured to finish your home immediately, step back and take time to do it right.

  1. Come up with a long term plan, and break the design up into phases as money becomes available.  This will help you achieve the space you want, within your budget.
  2. As you start shopping, don't be offput by lead-times or items that are on backorder.  It's likely something you want won't be available right away.  But we think if you love something, it will be worth the wait to have it in your home.
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Sofa_Pillows

Step Three: Set Some Rules

Below are some general rules to help you stay on budget.

  1. No Impulse Buying.  It's easy to get distracted when you're shopping.  There are so many amazing products out there?  Stay on track by carrying your Decorative Budget and Wish List with you.
  2. Don't get Sidetracked by Sales.  We love a discount as much as the next person, but be careful about buying something just because it's on sale.  Especially if it is final sale!  You don't want to take your new bed linens home, realize they don't work with the other items you've ordered, and then feel buyers regret because you can't return them.
  3. Be Honest with Yourself.  You may find yourself in love with a piece that is over your budget, but you've got to have it.  And you know you'll use it and love it.  Forever!  That's fine, you should love the pieces that make up your home.  But if you spend more on one thing, try saving on something else.  Otherwise, you will find yourself over budget.

Happy Planning.

RB.

Next Up:  If you found yourself with sticker shock, or frustrated with your budget constraints, don’t fret!  This month we’ll help you prioritize your project, implement your plan, and show you where to spend and where to save.

DESIGN 101: WRITE A BUDGET!

We’ve got an exciting topic for Design 101 this month: Decorative Budgets! OK, we admit it, budgets don’t sound that much fun.  But trust us, understanding how to invest wisely in your home is invaluable.  Our tips and tricks this month will help you figure out how much you can spend, how to prioritize spending, and help you come up with a plan to furnish your home.  If you’re thinking about redecorating a room or your entire house, the budget is the place to start.

How to Write a Decorative Budget

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Idea_Notebook

Step One: Start an Idea Notebook

We have shelves of binders, computer folders, and ## Pinterest boards full of design inspiration. You can do this too!  Start collecting photos of rooms, furniture, and artwork that you like.  You can also add paint colors, fabrics, and wallpapers that catch your eye.  Whether you’re putting together ideas in a binder or online, you’ll start to notice patterns in style and color schemes emerging.   These patterns set the tone for your decorative concept.

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Playroom copy

Step Two: Make a Wish List

Think about what kind of furniture you would like for each room that you are decorating.  Which items from your Idea Notebook would you like to include in your new décor? Try to be specific so that you can use this list to set priorities.  For example:

Example 1: Playroom

  • Freestanding Bookcase for Book and Toy Storage
  • Art Table with Chairs
  • Bean Bags or Soft Seating
  • Chalk Board Easel
  • Etc.

Example 2: Master Bedroom

  • King Sized Canopy Bed
  • Bedside Tables with Drawers
  • Hardwired Bedside Sconces
  • Freestanding Armoire
  • Etc.
 Audi

Audi

Step Three: Write a Household Budget

Don’t jump into decorating by maxing out your credit cards!  We suggest starting any decoration project by putting together an overall household budget.  There are several online sources to help you create a budget if you need a little help.  Be brutally honest with yourself by reviewing your inflows and outflows, as well as any money you’ve set aside for a rainy day.  This will give you an idea of how much you can spend on decoration.  If you find that the money isn’t there, you might be able to make your project more affordable by breaking it up into phases.  If money isn’t an issue, you still want to be able to come up with a number that you’re happy spending without suffering from buyer’s remorse.

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Dining_Room

Step Four: Create a Furniture Layout

Last month, we discussed Furniture Layouts for every room of your house.  Its time to put your furniture plans to use!  Start by placing any existing furniture you want to reuse.  Next, refer to your Idea Notebook and Wish List to see what additional pieces will fit into your space.  You might find that there are things that you love in your Idea Notebook that just will not fit into your space.  It happens.   You might also find that there are things on your Wish List that you want to include in your space, but buying them will blow your Household Budget.  That happens too.  The key is to prioritize your special needs with your Wish List and Budget.

 Ikea

Ikea

Step Five: Shop

Sorry, that was a cruel trick.  We’re not quite ready to shop.  But we wanted to keep your interest!  We’re almost there!  After you decide what items you want for your space, you’ll want to research prices.  Start with the items from your Idea Notebook.  If you’re unsure how much furniture costs, surf the Internet or visit local stores. Jot down pricing of items on the furniture sheets in your Idea Notebook or start an itemized list.  Many stores will also give you furniture specification sheets that include pricing.  Without this essential step, it’s hard to know exactly what you’ll spend on any particular item.

When pricing furniture, don’t forget:

  • Sales Tax, depending on the state you live in and the state the item will ship from
  • Delivery charges (we typically estimate 10% of the cost of the item)
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Budget

Step Six: Create a Decorative Budget Spreadsheet

We like to fabricate decorative budgets in Excel, but you can use other programs or handwrite one as well.  Find a method that works to help you stay organized as you start the design process.

Essential items to include:

  • Item
  • Quantity
  • Cost
  • Estimated Tax
  • Estimated Shipping
  • Labor, if applicable (Will you need an electrician?  A wallpaper hanger?)

Happy Spending and Saving.

RB.

Next Up:  If you found yourself with sticker shock, or frustrated with your budget constraints, don’t fret!  This month we’ll help you prioritize your project, implement your plan, and show you where to spend and where to save.

READERS: Do you have a budget dilemma?  Looking for a creative solution? Let us know sometime this month and we might feature your project next (and give you a free design tip)!  We love to hear from you.

DESIGN 101: FURNITURE LAYOUTS - BEDROOMS!

This month, Design 101  is all about furniture layouts!  Last week we talked about master bedroom layouts.  We’re making our way around your home, offering you tips and tricks to furnish each space.  Next on our list is kid's rooms and guest bedrooms:

Bedroom Layouts: Kids and Guest Rooms

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Guest_Bedroom

Photos from Pinterest

Step One: Find a Focal Point

Like in the master bedroom, the main piece of furniture in any of your other bedrooms is the bed.  Therefore, it is the natural focal point.  Additional furniture will be placed around the bed, so you want to ensure you place the bed, or beds, in a location that works.  For tips on finding additional focal points in kid's rooms and guest bedrooms, refer to our guides for finding the focal point in master bedrooms.

 Room_And_Board

Room_And_Board

Furniture available at Room & Board

Step Two: Refer to your Furniture List

Each week we have discussed making a list of essential items for each room of your home.  In your secondary bedrooms, essential items could be things like beds, dressers, end tables, and accessories (rugs) or accents (art and lighting).  You may also want to add a reading chair or desk. Remember that if you own pieces that aren’t essential for the bedrooms, it could be that they work in another part of your home.

 Guest_Room

Guest_Room

Furniture available at Room & Board

Step Three: Arrange Furniture, Art, and Accessories

  1. Start by placing beds.  You will want at least 24″ on either side of a bed, between it and any walls,  for space to walk around.  This also allows you to make the bed easily!  Also allow for 36″ between your bed and any doors. Twin beds should be spaced at least 20" apart.  Cribs should be kept away from windows and window shade cords.  If you are using bunk beds, you'll want to ensure they have sturdy ladders, handrails, and safety rails.
  2. If you are tight on space, try a bed without a foot-board.  This will make the room seem larger.  For guest bedrooms, you could also try a space-saving daybed or sofa bed that will sit against a wall.
  3. The easiest way to increase your square footage is to add a mirror to the room.  Mirrors reflect light, making rooms feel more open and spacious.
  4. Reading chairs are particularly nice in kid's rooms and guest bedrooms.  In kid's rooms, they give  your children a place to curl up and enjoy a nice book.  In guest rooms, they can provide a relaxing area for down time.
  5. If you have space, placing a desk in a guest room is a nice benefit.  It allows guests to catch up on emails, the news, or go the old fashioned route of writing a postcard.
  6. If you have young children, consider flexible furniture.  There are a lot of options out there for cribs that can be turned into larger beds, or changing tables that can later become dressers.  When choosing a crib, there are federal safety standards to adhere too.  Slats, spindles, and corner posts should be spaced no more than 2 3/8" apart.  Also, you will want to look at furniture that can't be tipped over.  Especially if you have climbers!  Fastening large pieces of furniture to the wall can provide an additional safety precaution.
  7. You can maximize storage by placing bedside tables as big as your space will allow.  We find shelves and drawers offer helpful storage.  We like to place bedside tables that are the same height, or slightly lower, than the top of the mattress.
  8. You should leave a clearance of 36″ in front of closets, dressers, and armoires so that you can open doors and drawers
  9. Think about whether or not you want a rug in the space.  Rugs will help reduce noise in your bedroom.  In kid's rooms, or if you have elderly or disabled guests, you will want to avoid small area rugs that could slip easily.  If you would like to place an area rug, we suggest placing a larger scaled rug under the bed area.  That way it provides something soft to step out of bed onto, but avoids ruining any weekends by having your guests lose their footing!
  10. Consider additional lighting in your room.  Do you want to give your kids or guests the ability to read in bed?  In November, we discussed various types of lighting that could enhance bedrooms.
  11. While thinking about how to light your room, also consider how to block light.  We typically install some kind of blackout window treatment in bedrooms to block light in the morning and provide privacy at night.  In October, we devoted the entire month to window treatments.  In kid's rooms, you will want to ensure you eliminate any dangling cords on window treatments as these can be choking hazards.

Happy Sleeping.

RB.

Next Up: We kick off a new month of Design 101 all about Budgets!

READERS: Do you have a room that is impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month and give you free advice.

DESIGN 101: FURNITURE LAYOUTS - MASTER BEDROOM!

This month, Design 101 is all about furniture layouts!  Last week we talked about dining room layouts.  We’re making our way around your home, offering you tips and tricks to furnish each space.  Next on our list is the Master Bedroom:

Master Bedroom Furniture Layout

 Katie_Ridder

Katie_Ridder

Images courtesy of Katie Ridder

Step One: Find a Focal Point

  1. The main piece of furniture in your bedroom is the bed, so naturally it becomes the focal point.  Additional furniture will be placed around the bed, so you'll want to ensure you install your bed in a location that works.
  2. Traditionally, a bed will be placed centered on the wall opposite the main door to the room.  Take a step back and look around your room.  Does centering your bed on the wall opposite the door make sense?  If not, is there another wall that makes more sense?
  3. What if there is a window on what should be the bed wall?  Typically, a bed won't be placed in front of a window if the window will be opened and closed on a regular basis as it's difficult to reach over your bed to access the window.  That said, we have broken this rule.  Check out the room we designed for the VIA Show House where we used the window as a headboard.
  4. Do you have a nice view from your bedroom?  If so, you will want to take advantage of it by placing furniture around the window.  There's nothing like waking up in a beach side hotel and seeing the ocean first thing in the morning!
 Mitchell_Gold

Mitchell_Gold

All furniture available from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Step Two: Refer to your Furniture List

The other week we talked about making a list of essential items for each room of your home.  In your master bedroom, essential items could be things like a bed, dresser, end tables, and accessories (rugs) or accents (art and lighting). Remember that if you own pieces that aren’t essential for the master bedroom, it could be that they work in another part of your home.

Try to keep your master bedroom simple so that it feels restful and comfortable.  If you have furniture that is cluttering your room, consider moving it to a closet to free up floor space.

 Bedroom_Plan

Bedroom_Plan

Step Three: Arrange Furniture, Art, and Accessories

  1. Start by placing your bed.  You will want at least 24" on either side of it, between the bed and any walls,  for space to walk around.  This also allows you to make your bed easily! Also  allow for 36" between your bed and any doors.
  2. If you are tight on space, consider eliminating a foot-board on your bed.  This will help make your room seem larger.
  3. The easiest way to increase your square footage is to add a mirror to the room.  Mirrors reflect light, making rooms feel more open and spacious.
  4. If you have a large bedroom, consider dividing it into separate spaces.  You could create a cozy sleeping space in the bed area and set aside the other half of the room for a seating area for reading, relaxing, or watching TV.  Like your very own hotel suite!
  5. If you don't have space for a seating area, consider adding at least one comfortable chair. Chairs provide a great place to put on your shoes, or to relax on a sick day.
  6. You can maximize storage by placing bedside tables as big as your space will allow.  We find shelves and drawers offer helpful storage.  We like to place bedside tables that are the same height, or slightly lower, than the top of the mattress.  This offers a nice visual continuity and makes smacking the alarm clock easy!
  7. You should leave a clearance of 36" in front of closets, dressers, and armoires so that you can open doors and drawers.
  8. Think about whether or not you want a rug in the space.  Rugs will help reduce noise in your bedroom.
  9. Consider additional lighting in your room.  Do you read in bed?  In November, we discussed various types of lighting that could enhance your bedroom.
  10. While thinking about how to light your room, also consider how to block light.  We typically install some kind of blackout window treatment in bedrooms to block light in the morning and provide privacy at night.  In October, we devoted the entire month to window treatments.
 Small Bar

Small Bar

Happy Planning.

RB.

Next Up: Kid’s Bedrooms and Guest Bedrooms. Stay in the know by signing up for our newsletter!

READERS: Do you have a room that is impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month and give you free advice.

DESIGN 101: FURNITURE LAYOUTS - DINING ROOM!

This month, Design 101 is all about furniture layouts!  Last week we talked about living room and family room furniture layouts.  We’re making our way around your home, offering you tips and tricks to furnish each space.  Next on our list is the Dining Room:  

Dining Room Furniture Layouts

 Jayson_Home

Jayson_Home

Furniture and accessories from Jayson Home

Step One: Refer to your Furniture List

The other week we talked about making a list of essential items for each room of your home.  In your dining room, essential items could be things like a dining table, seating, side furniture (hutch or buffet), and accessories (rugs) or accents (art and lighting).  Remember that if you own pieces that aren’t essential for the dining room, it could be that they work in another part of your home.

 Dining_Room

Dining_Room

Image courtesy of My Favorite and Best

Step Two: Place Arrange Furniture, Art, and Accessories

  1. Start by placing your dining table.  Your table should be centered on your chandelier or ceiling pendant, if you have one.   Seems easy enough, right?   Well, not necessarily.  If you have a light fixture that is placed dead center in the room, and you center your table on it, you may be forced to squeeze in your china cabinet so that it infringes on the area needed to walk around your dining table.  If you find yourself with this dilemma, try moving your chandelier so that you can place your table in a position to offer adequate walking space around the table.
  2. Consider the size of your room.  You will want to maintain at least a 36” clear area around the table for guests to sit comfortably.  This allows for a chair depth of 20”, plus 16” to pull the chair back from the table.
  3. You will want space between your table and any walls or other pieces of furniture so that guests can easily walk around the room.  If you plan to serve your guests, ideally you will want between 42-46” between the dining table and all walls.
  4. When determining what size dining table you need, consider how many guests you’ll want to seat at once.  Typically, 24” per person will allow guests to sit comfortably without knocking elbows.  But you can always give a little more space for heated debates with lots of gesturing!  CHEAT SHEETS.
  5. Consider breaking rules 3, 4, and 5.  Sometimes.  If you’re concerned about finding a table that is small enough to work everyday, but large enough to seat a family dinner, you could use a smaller table on a regular basis and add leaves when needed for larger groups.  Squeezing in for a dinner party can be fun!
  6. Make sure you leave room to open doors, drawers, and cabinets.
  7. Consider additional lighting in your room.  In November, we discussed various types of lighting that could enhance the dining experience.
  8. Think about whether or not you want a rug in the space. A rug should be large enough that your dining chairs can be moved in and out without catching the edge of the rug.

Happy Planning.

RB.

Next Up: Furniture Layouts for Bedrooms. Stay in the know by signing up for our newsletter!

READERS: Do you have a room that is impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month and give you free advice

DESIGN 101: FURNITURE LAYOUTS - LIVING ROOM AND FAMILY ROOM!

This month, Design 101 is all about furniture layouts!  Last week we talked about the basics of measuring your space and making furniture plans.    Now we're getting to the fun part: furniture layouts for each room in your home!  Starting with your Living Room and Family Room:

Living Room & Family Room Furniture Layouts

 Chesneys

Chesneys

Fireplace from Chesney's

Step One: Find a Focal Point

Finding the focal point of your room is an important step, especially in a living room or family room, as it will give you something to plan the room around.  Once you determine the focal point, you can begin to place furniture, art, and accessories surrounding it.  Below are tips to help you find the focal point of your room:

  1. The focal point may come naturally if you step back and take a look around the room. It's typically the first thing you notice when you look at a room.
  2. Perhaps your room has some unique architectural feature such as a fireplace, a picture window, or a built-in that houses your TV.
  3. If your room doesn't seem to have any architectural features that could be the focal point, as mentioned above, think about something you could add to the room to act as the focal point such as a special piece of furniture or a piece of art.
  4. Remember that the furniture will be arranged around the focal point, so make sure it is something that you enjoy looking at.
 Pottery_Barn

Pottery_Barn

Furniture from Pottery Barn

Step Two: Refer to your Furniture List

Last week we talked about making a list of essential items for each room of your home.  In your living room and family room, essential items could be things like seating (sofa, love seat, chairs), side furniture (coffee tables, side chairs, bookcases),  and accessories (TV, sound system, rugs) or accents (books, art, lighting).  Remember that if you own pieces that aren't essential for the living room or family room, it could be that they work in another part of your home.

 Living_Room_Layouts

Living_Room_Layouts

Step Three: Arrange Furniture, Art, and Accessories

Now the fun begins!  Whether you plan to use your room for relaxing, lounging in front of the TV, or for entertaining, the furniture arrangement will set the tone for how you'll live in the space.  Below are tips on tackling your furniture placement:

  1. Think about the focal point of the room.  Start by orienting large pieces of furniture (such as your sofa, lounge chairs, and coffee table) around the focal point.  Then fill in the space with secondary pieces (such as side tables, lighting, and side chairs).
  2. If you have a large room, consider dividing it with furniture.  That way, you can make the room seem more intimate by creating smaller conversational groupings.  Just remember to leave a path around the furniture so you can walk around with ease.
  3. When creating conversational groupings, the primary seats (such as lounge chairs or sofas) should face each other.   There should be some kind of table, such as a coffee table, between seats as it creates natural spacing for conversation.  This also comes in handy for putting drinks down!  For additional seating, you can add chairs to the side of the main grouping or to other areas of the room.  We prefer chairs that can easily be moved around so that you can increase the size of the conversation area when needed.
  4. For a twist on the traditional, consider placing furniture on the diagonal.  Start by placing your sofa and coffee table to see if this works in your room.
  5. If the focal point is your TV, consider a sectional.  Sectionals come with many different features such as chaises, ottomans, and corner seats, offering flexibility to sit, kick up your feet, or lay down.  They can also create a natural "L" shape that is good for group conversation.
  6. Whether your furniture layout is broken into conversational groupings, on the diagonal, or something more typical, you can anchor the space with an area rug.  Typically we align rugs with the architecture of the room, or align them with the fireplace wall.  That said, we have broken this rule many times, so go with what feels right.
  7. When placing furniture, keep scale and balance in the back of your mind.  While you can incorporate an eclectic mix into your space by using furniture that varies in size or style, you want to make sure there is an underlying language in the room.  Scale is created by using furniture pieces that relate in size to one another.  If your furniture is similar in scale, it creates a sense of calmness and serenity.  Balance is created by using furniture pieces that are symmetrical to one another.  If your furniture is balanced, it creates a sense of order in the room.  Balance can be achieved by using pairs, such as matching sofas or side tables.  We also like to place table lamps at the same height if they're flanking a sofa or pair of lounge chairs.
  8. Furniture pieces in conversational groupings should have 16 - 20" in front of them (especially coffee tables!) so that you can easily pass through the seating area.  For the areas of the room that will be main pathways, we like to leave at least 36" to comfortably walk around without banging into anything.
  9. Don't forget doors, windows, and drawers!  You'll want to make sure these things are kept accessible.
  10. If you're placing furniture against a wall, we recommend allowing 2" of space between the wall and the back of the piece of furniture.  Give pieces some breathing room!
  11. Consider the lighting of your room.  We like to offer a light source for as many of the seats as possible.  Floor lamps and table lamps work great in living rooms and family rooms.  You could also add lighting to the room to enhance your focal point.   In November, we talked about ways to light your living room and dining room.  Check out our post for more lighting help.
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Happy Planning.

RB.

Next Up: Furniture Layouts for Dining Rooms. Stay in the know by signing up for our newsletter!

READERS: Do you have a room that is impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month and give you free advice.

DESIGN 101: FURNITURE PLACEMENT - THE BASICS

Happy New Year! We're excited to kick off a new year of Design 101 with a topic we get a lot of questions about - furniture placement!  It can be a challenge to figure out how to fit furniture into your home in a way that is both functional and appealing.  We have walked into a lot of homes where our clients have said, "something just isn't right".   If you find  yourself saying the same thing, you're not alone!  This month we'll give you tips and tricks to use furniture in a way that makes sense.

Although it may not be the most fun aspect of redesigning your space, figuring out the basics of furniture placement is an essential step!  Later this month we'll discuss furniture layout ideas for every room of your home.  But first, you'll need to understand your space!  Below are easy to follow steps to help you get started.

 Clutter

Clutter

Step One: Clean

One of your new year's resolutions must have been to organize, right? Lets get started! It's always easier to plan a space when you have an empty canvas to work with.  If that's impossible, at least try to remove anything you no longer need or use.  Getting rid of clutter can help you look at your space with a new perspective.  Especially if you're going to start moving around heavy pieces of furniture like your sofa or dining room table!

 Measure

Measure

Step Two: Measure your Room

As industry professionals we have software that allows us to interpret the dimensions of your space.  But that can be expensive for those of you who are DIY types!  If you're software savvy, there are also websites that will help you measure your space and drop in furniture ideas.  But we often prefer to do it the good old fashioned way - with a measuring tape and some graph paper!  Follow these simple steps to measure your room:

  1. With a measuring tape, measure each wall of your room, the windows, and the doors.  Take not of whether the doors open in or out.
  2. Living_room
  3. Draw the room on graph paper.  Each 1/4 inch square should equal 1 foot. This will create your floor plan.

Step Three: Furniture List

Whether you're using your existing furniture or buying new furniture, you'll need to decide on the essential pieces for each room.  For example, a living room is completed by using seating (sofa, love seat, chairs) with side furniture (coffee tables, side tables, shelving units).  Perhaps you also have additional accessories for your living room (TV, sound system) or accents (art, books, lighting).  Also think about the flooring - do you have a rug in mind?

If you own pieces that don't fit within the essential list of furniture for each room, keep them on a side list for now.  Ultimately, if they don't work in the room you are planning now, they might work in another part of your home!

 Furniture

Furniture

Step Four: Measure and Arrange Furniture

Before making purchases or placing anything, you want to make sure pieces will fit in a way that makes sense.

  1. Measure your furniture.  On a separate piece of graph paper, make a template for each piece of furniture using the same 1/4" = 1'-0" ratio.
  2. Rearrange the furniture templates on the floor plan to see what you like best!
  3. If you want to take additional precaution before ordering or placing furniture, or if the idea of drawing a floor plan overwhelms you, fear not!  You can mark each piece of furniture in your actual space with masking tape or painters tape to get an idea of how the furniture placement will work.  In lieu of tape, you can also lay down newspaper to mark out where each piece will go. Trust us, even the experts do this!

Additional Tips:

If you want to go the extra mile with your floor plan, you could cut small pieces of your furniture fabric and glue them to each furniture template.  This will help give you a sense of how the room will come together aesthetically.  If you don't have fabric snippets available, markers will do!

 Basics copy

Basics copy

READERS: Do you have a furniture layout dilemma in your home?  A room that is shaped in a way that makes it impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month by giving you free design advice!

Happy Measuring.

RB.

Up Next Week in Design 101: Living Room and Family Room Furniture Layouts! Stay Tuned!

DESIGN 101: SOFA CARE AND MAINTENANCE

Throughout December, Design 101 has been all about sofas!  Buying a sofa can be a big expense, so learning how to care for one can help you make the most out of your investment.  Below are our tips and tricks for keeping your sofa comfy and looking great!

 Garbage_Sofa

Garbage_Sofa

Life Expectancy

Earlier this month we discussed sofa construction and fabric, both of which are are factors in the life expectancy of your sofa.  The average lifespan of a sofa is typically 10-15 years.  If you have purchased a sofa with a high quality frame and spring system, your sofa may last longer even if the fabric looks a little worse for wear.  If you notice the fabric is wearing out, but the frame is still in good condition, it might make sense economically to add new life to the sofa by having it reupholstered. However, if the frame or springs are shot, repairing the sofa may be more expensive than replacing it.

 Dog_Sofa

Dog_Sofa

Stain Resistance

It's inevitable - you will spill pinot noir on your sofa, you'll find cereal smashed under the seat cushions, and your dog will jump up for an afternoon snooze.  A great way to keep your sofa looking it's best is to apply a stain resistance finish.  We get a lot of questions about whether or not applying a stain resistant finish will change the quality of fabric.   As long as you select a reputable product, your sofa fabric will maintain it's look and feel.  We like Guardsman Fabric and Leather Protectors or Scotch Guard, as they're easy to apply and work on a variety of materials.

If you're still skeptical about applying a stain resistant finish, you may want to consider fabrics that are inheritly stain resistant.  When we discussed fabric options for your sofa, we talked about textiles such as mohair, microsuede, and outdoor acrylics.

 Clean_Sofa

Clean_Sofa

Spot Cleaning

Suddenly you find a mystery stain on your sofa.  We've all been there.  There are a few simple ways you can rid your sofa of stains through spot cleaning:

  • When you're vacuuming your rug, don't be afraid to turn the nozzle towards your sofa.  Regular vacuuming will prevent dust buildup, which can attract other grime.
  • Clean stains with a damp cloth first.  It could be that you just need a bit of water!
  • For more persistent stains, try an oxy cleaner that is labeled fabric safe.   Before applying a cleanser to the stain, test it on the bottom of the sofa to make sure it doesn't discolor your fabric or leave any residue.
  • Wine stains can often be lifted by applying white wine vinegar to the stain before cleaning with water or cleanser.
  • If you have a white sofa, try keeping a Clorox bleach pen handy.  It works!
  • Leather sofas respond well to cleaning with gentle soap and water. You can also apply a leather protector to keep the hide in good condition.
  • Microsuede is stain repellant, so its important to dab stains quickly with soap and water before they have a chance to settle into the fabric.
 Jump_Sofa

Jump_Sofa

Image courtesy of Spearmint Baby

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Heavy Cleaning

If you find yourself with a sofa stain that won't respond to any spot cleaning, we recommend taking your cushion covers to a local dry cleaner. They can typically remove stains on textiles such as cotton and linen without shrinking or damaging the fabric.

For more luxurious fabrics such as silk or wool, we recommend hiring a local professional to give your sofa a more thorough cleaning.  They can also apply a stain resistant finish to prevent future staining.

Leather and microsuede sofas often come with cleaning instructions.  These will include the type of products that can be used on the material.  Typical fabric cleaning symbols include:

 symbol_key

symbol_key

If in doubt,  reach out to the shop where you bought your sofa.  Stores will often keep instructions handy, as well as contact information for local cleaning professionals.

 Sofa_Cushions

Sofa_Cushions

Cushion Care

Believe it or not, turning and plumping your cushions can add to the life of your sofa.  The feathers in your cushions will eventually settle, so a little fluffing can help redistribute the stuffing evenly.  This doesn't mean you have to walk around karate chopping your pillows - a simple turn and pat will do.

If your cushions are starting to look sad, you may want to consider asking a local upholstery workroom to refill them.  New stuffing can add new life to your sofa and make it a lot more comfortable.

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Happy Cleaning.

RB.

Up next month: Furniture Layouts! Be in the know, sign up for our newsletter!

DESIGN 101: SOFA FABRIC!

We're into our third week of Design 101 this month and it's all about sofas!  We've discussed sofa dimensions, styles, and construction.  You're almost set to pick out the perfect sofa for your home - we just need to add the fabric!  Below are our tips and tricks for figuring out the right sofa fabric.

 Worn Sofa

Worn Sofa

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Durability

Life happens.  Red wine will get spilled, dogs will sleep on your sofa, and kids will drop goldfish between the cushions.  When thinking about your sofa fabric, consider who will use the sofa and the importance of fabric durability.

Fabrics that are woven patterns tend to hold up longer than patterns that are printed onto fabrics.  Also important is the thread count of the fabric, meaning the number of threads per square inch of fabric.  A densely woven fabric will last longer.  A thread count of 150 is average, and up to a thread count of 400 for upholstery fabric will help with the longevity of your sofa.

If you live on your sofa (Sunday football, anyone?), you might want to stay away from fabrics that are heavily textured.  A raised, textural pattern can wear down in the spots where you sit regularly, making your sofa look worn and dated.  (Hint: clumpy cushions can also make your sofa look dated - find out how to choose the right cushion for you on last week's blog!)

Is your sofa sitting in the sun?  When we discussed drapery fabric, we talked about fabric's ability to withstand direct sunlight.  You want to make sure your sofa doesn't fade so choose a fade resistant fabric or move your sofa so that it sits in the shade.

 Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler

Kirby Slipper Chair from Jonathan Adler

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Style

Earlier in the month, we discussed sofa styles.  When considering fabrics, you'll want to ensure the style of the fabric coordinates with the style of the sofa.

Pattern: A very traditional fabric such as a damask would look better on a traditional sofa such as Camelback or English sofa.

Content: Some fabrics, like silk, tend to appear more formal while other fabrics, such as linen, tend to look more casual.

Scale: Consider the scale of a patterned fabric.  Typically, the scale of the pattern relates directly to the piece it will be applied to as well as the scale of the room.  You want to make sure the pattern isn't cut off at odd angles and that it doesn't overtake the piece or the room.  As a rule of thumb, a large scaled pattern looks best on a large piece or in a large room.

 CB2 Sofa

CB2 Sofa

Movie Pool Sofa from CB2

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Color

It's easy to get swept up in color trends - just walk through any shopping area and you'll start to recognize the hot color of the season.  When buying a sofa, think about colors you can live with.  A sofa is a big investment, so make sure you choose a color that you will love for years to come!

When we discussed how to pick a paint color, we talked about selecting colors that appear as accents in the room's rug, art, or other item that you love.  We also talked about the differences between warm and cool colors, and how each affects the mood of the room.  The same rule can be applied when picking the color of the sofa.  Think about the mood you want to create for the room and choose a color that will coordinate with the pieces around it.

If you suspect your sofa will be the victim of heavy staining, consider a dark color to camouflage the stains or a fabric that is stain resistent.  (Spoil alert: If you're set on a white sofa, tune in next week and we'll give you tips and tricks for cleaning them!)

When selecting a color, think about the scale of the sofa in proportion to the room.  If you have a large room, you could choose a bold or bright color for the sofa and balance the color accent out with other pieces.  However, if you have a small room, a bold color might overpower the room (and your eyes!) so you may want to consider a more neutral colored sofa and save the bold accents for throw pillows.

 Fabric

Fabric

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Content

Do you want a synthetic fabric or a natural fiber?  Or some kind of blend of the two?  There are a lot of options to choose from, but not all are suitable for upholstery.  Below are some tips to help you choose the best fabric content for your sofa.

Microfiber: Microfiber has become a popular choice for sofas because of its durability and stain resistance, both a characteristic of it's densely woven fibers.  A range of microfibers are available, some softer than others, so if you think this is an option for you make sure you see and touch a fabric sample.

Leather: Leather works with many sofa styles, and can take on a modern or traditional feel.  You may think of leather as a fragile material, but it's actually rather durable and easy to clean.  Leathers come in various grades, from supple and soft to tough and stiff.  A soft leather will "break-in" faster, giving your sofa a cozy feel.  Take caution using leather if you have pets that will jump up on or scratch your sofa.  Unless a scratched up look is what you're going for!

Chenille: Chenille can look gorgeous on a sofa, and is also durable in comparison to other fabrics.  We like to use it in rooms that are used often, such as a TV room, where you want a sofa that is soft, cozy, and luxurious.

Acrylic:  Acrylic is often blended with other fibers such as linen or wool to keep the fabric cost down.  It is incredibly durable, and resists wrinkles, stains, and fading.  Acrylic is also soft, like wool.

Rayon:  Rayon is typically blended with other fibers such as cotton, linen, or wool.  It adds a level of durability and softness.  The advantage of rayon is that it is mildew resistant, however, it's not an ideal fabric for sofas that will need to stand up to a lot of wear and tear as rayon is more fragile than other fibers.

Cotton and Linen:  Cotton and linen are the most popular materials we use on sofas. Wether in a velvet, knit, or woven form,  we love natural fibers, and the soft and cozy feel they provide on upholstery. It's important to choose a cotton or linen fabric that is upholstery weight to avoid sagging in the material.  Cotton and linen are more difficult to clean than other materials, so they may not be the best option if you can expect your sofa to receive a lot of stains.

Mohair:  Did you know that mohair is used on trains and in movie theaters?  Mohair is typically expensive, but it is incredibly durable and stain resistant.  It can feel a bit scratchy, like some wools, but can also take on a velvet feel.  Mohair also takes on color really well, so it is available in a variety of vibrant hues.

Silk: We have used silk on sofas, but we don't typically recommend it.  Silk is difficult to clean, expensive,  and it will not stand up to direct sunlight.  It is also expensive.   All that said, silk is luxurious and elegant, so it can work for a sofa that isn't used often.  We also like silk on pillows, which can more easily be taken to the dry cleaner!

 Sofa

Sofa

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General Tips

  • If you or someone in your household has allergies, consider fabrics that do not attract dust such as microfiber.  You may also want to consider hypoallergenic cushion fill in place of down and feather.
  • If you live in Southern Florida, the MidAtlantic in August, or anywhere else that has a humid climate, you may want to consider fabrics (and cushion filling) that are mildew resistant.
  • If you have kids or pets, don't be afraid to try an outdoor fabric on your indoor sofa.  Outdoor fabrics have come a long way, and some of them are so soft and cozy that you'd never know they were intended for outside!
  • For built-in sofas, such as in breakfast rooms and kitchens, we often use vinyl or faux-leather.  You can wipe it down with a sponge!
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Happy Sitting.

RB.

Next Up: Sofa Care & Maintenance!  Sign up for our newsletter to be in the know!

DESIGN 101: SOFAS - SIZE AND STYLE

In our Design 101 series, we’ve covered topics such as paint colors, window treatments, and lighting.  But what about furnishing your home?  When we approach furniture selection, we usually start with the most used piece in the house: the sofa.  There are a lot of options when it comes to shopping for a sofa, and it can be an investment to find the right one for your home. So we decided to devote an entire month to sofas!  If you’re in the market for a new sofa, make sure to follow our blog to learn more about finding the perfect one for you!

 Pottery_Barn

Pottery_Barn

What Size?

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When thinking about how large your sofa should be, consider the size of your room first.  There is nothing that will make a small room feel even smaller than using a sofa that is too large.  In a large room, you could also consider using more than one sofa to create a formal sitting area.

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You will also want to consider who will be sitting in the sofa.  If everyone in your family is tall, you may want to consider a deeper sofa that will be more comfortable for long legs.  If someone in your family has bad knees, shallow seating with a tight back will make the sofa easier to get in and out of.

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When you visit the store, bring a measuring tape with you.  You’ll want to measure the length, depth, and height of the sofas you are considering.  You can use the measurements to mark out the sofa options in your room by using painter’s tape or newspaper.

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Once you have the tape or newspaper in place, try walking around your room to get an idea of how you will use the space and how much space is available for a sofa.  You’ll want to make sure you have enough room to sit comfortably and walk around the sofa.  You can mock up a coffee table with tape or newspaper as well to give you an idea of legroom.

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Typical sofa sizes are as follows:

Loveseats: 60-78”

Regular Sofas: 79 – 84”

Oversize Sofas:  84”+

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 Living_Room

Living_Room

What Style?

When it comes to sofa style, there are endless variations.  We have sourced all different types of sofas, and even created some styles of our own.  To get you started, below is a list of traditional sofa styles to help you figure out which is right for you.

 Camelback

Camelback

Camelback sofas are very traditional. They are easily recognizable by their curved back and high rolled arms.  Camelback sofas nearly always have a tight back, and it is often tufted.

 Chesterfield

Chesterfield

Chesterfield sofas are highly styled with high rolled arms and a rolled back.  The tight back is tufted, as is the seat.  Chesterfield sofas are typically on turned legs.

 English

English

An English (or Club) sofa has a rounded arm that is set back slightly from the front of the seat. They will often have tight backs, loose seat cushions, and turned legs on castors.

 Bridgewater

Bridgewater

Similar to the English sofa, a Bridgewater sofa has low, shaped arms that are set back slightly from the front of the seat.  However, Bridgewater sofas commonly have loose backs and seat cushions, allowing you to adjust the firmness of both.  Bridgewater sofas can have exposed legs or skirts.

 Tuxedo

Tuxedo

A Tuxedo sofa has  arms that are the same height as the back of the sofa.  Tuxedo sofas have modern clean lines, with arms that are either straight up and down or at a slight angle.

 Knole

Knole

A Tuxedo sofa is not to be confused with a Knole sofa, which is more traditional.  The Knole sofa also has a straight high back, but the arms are adjustable so that they can be raised or lowered.  The arms are held in place by cords wrapped around finials.

 Cabriole

Cabriole

A Cabriole sofa dates back to the 18

th

 century, in the style of Louis XV, but can also be used as a more modern option.  The arms curve around to the back of the sofa in a continuous line. A Cabriole sofa often has wood trim to emphasize the shape, along with wood legs.

 Lawson

Lawson

Lawson sofas have squared backs, with arms that sit at a lower height.  The back and cushions of the sofa are often loose, allowing you to adjust the firmness.  Lawson sofas are often on squared feet, but can also have a skirt.

 Midcentury_Modern

Midcentury_Modern

Midcentury modern sofas are minimalist with straight, clean lines.  The overall height of the sofa is often lower than other sofas, and the legs can be found in materials such as aluminum or steel.

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General Tips

  • Before investing in a sofa, you’ll want to consider how you will use it.  Will the sofa be somewhere you sit, relax, and read a book or watch TV?  Or will the sofa be used mostly for entertaining?
  • Consider how the style of your sofa fits into your overall design theme.  Are you modern or traditional or somewhere in between?
  • There’s no rule that your sofa has to sit against a wall.  Try pulling them off the walls to divide spaces or to put a sofa table behind.
  • In a TV room, you can get an extra seat or two by adding a chaise to the end of the sofa or using a L shaped sectional.
  • Buying a sofa with legs can give an illusion of more open space in a small room.
  • Ideally, you want to maintain 16-18” between your sofa and your coffee table.

Next Up: Upholstery Construction!

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Happy Sitting.

RB.

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Sofa Images and Descriptions courtesy of

My Home Ideas

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DESIGN 101: LIGHTING - CARE & MAINTENANCE!

This month, Design 101 has been all about lighting.  Now that you've found the right light fixtures for your home, let's talk about making them last!  Below are some tips and tricks to help you care for your lighting investment.

 Z_Gallerie_Chandelier

Z_Gallerie_Chandelier

Chandelier from Z Gallerie

General Cleaning Tips

Believe it or not, light fixtures can get damaged inside your home if they are not properly cleaned and cared for.  To keep you fixtures looking their best, follow these steps:

  • Give fixtures a light weekly dusting
  • Know you're finishes.  Polished brass tends to weather more easily than other finishes such as chrome or nickel.  Make sure to use gentle cleansers that won't corrode, strip, or damage your fixture's finish.
  • Glass globes can be cleaned with a damp cloth.  For stubborn stains, you can use a cleaning product such as Windex.  Just make sure to remove the glass from the fixture so you don't get any of the cleaning product on the fixture itself.  Please be careful when removing glass globes.  They can be fragile and break easily, so we suggest holding them securely with one hand while using the other hand to remove screws and finials.
  • Fabric shades can be lightly dusted.  For a thorough cleaning, you can use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum to suck away dirt or dust.
  • Crystal chandeliers can last for generations if cared for properly.  For general cleaning, try a soft damp cloth to clean the crystals and frame.  If heavier cleaning is needed, consider a non-abrasive crystal cleaner.   We recommend wearing gloves while you clean your crystal chandelier to avoid adding new smudges and fingerprints.
 Bulb Shapes

Bulb Shapes

Life Expectancy of Light Bulbs

The other week, we discussed how to choose a light bulb.  Before you decide to hang a 12-arm incandescent chandelier on your 20 foot high ceiling, you may want to consider how many times you'll have to step onto a ladder to change the light bulbs!  Below are average life spans of light bulbs (according to eHow):

  • Incandescent =  1,000 - 2,000  hours
  • Halogen = 4,000 - 8,000 hours
  • Compact Fluorescent (CFL) - 10,000 hours
  • LED = 30,000 - 50,000

If you find that your light bulbs are dimming very quickly, first try reducing your energy consumption.  Turning off lights when you leave a room can help you save energy and money.  Also, adding dimmer switches to your light fixtures can help extend the life of the bulbs.  If neither solution works, you may want to call a local electrician to ensure your fixtures are wired correctly.

 Recycle_Bulb

Recycle_Bulb

Image from Homesessive

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How to Dispose of Light Bulbs

When throwing away burnt out bulbs, you should consider the type of bulb you are disposing of.  Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs contain mercury, which is a hazardous material that can be harmful if emitted.  Your state may have regulations on recycling light bulbs, so before throwing anything away please check your local guidelines.  Earth 911 offers helpful information on recycling light bulbs and more.  When disposing of any light bulb, we suggest first putting the bulb into some kind of protective covering, such as the original box it came in, to prevent shattered glass from scattering.

Do you have any light fixtures that you brought back to life?  Tell us your story - we love to hear from you!

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Happy Lighting.

RB.

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DESIGN 101: LIGHTING A ROOM!

In September, we talked about how painting a room is one of the most inexpensive and successful ways to freshen up a room.  The same can be said for lighting! A thought out lighting plan can enhance the design of your room, add ambience, and help you utilize it effectively.  See below for some tips and tricks on layering types of lighting!

 Pottery_Barn_Entry

Pottery_Barn_Entry

Entry, Stairs, and Hallways

Your entry lighting sets the tone to your house and can make your home feel welcoming.  In an entry, we like to center a chandelier or pendant to add ambient light.  Putting the fixture on a dimmer will help you control the mood.  An important factor to consider when choosing your entry fixture is size.  If you have a large space, you’ll need a larger fixture as the space might swallow up something small.

To safely light stairs and hallways, try adding multiple fixtures every 8 – 10 feet.  You can tie all of the fixtures onto the same switch so you light the entire space at once.  If you are concerned about over lighting hallways at night, the fixtures could all be put on a dimmer so that they can act like a night-light.

A great way to add another layer ambient lighting to entries, stairs, and hallways, is sconces.  Sconces should be centered at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.  You could also consider accent lights to highlight a piece of art or an architectural feature.  We also like to add a lamp or two on an entry table.  This is a great way to keep a small amount of light on throughout the night when you’ll want to switch your main lights off.

You may have noticed a lot of entries have mirrors on the walls.  Not only do mirrors give you the opportunity to check yourself out before you step out the front door, but they are a fantastic way to maximize lighting in an entry, as they bounce light into dark corners.

 Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Pottery_Barn_Living_Room

Living Room and Family Room

In your living room or family room, there are two key words to consider when lighting the space: balance and flexibility.  You’ll want to make sure your light fixtures work together and that you’re able to focus lighting on the areas where you’ll need it.

We typically start with a decorative overhead fixture on a dimmer, so that we can provide overall ambience to the room.  Next we consider sconce placement.  Perhaps you have a fireplace that will allow sconce placement to add another layer of ambient light to the perimeter of the room.   When considering sconces, you might also want to think about opportunities for accent light.  If you have a favorite piece of art, adding recessed lighting can highlight the piece without drawing attention to the light fixture itself.

Table lamps are an enhancing feature to add to end tables, and they provide a nice source of light at eye level.  When picking out lamps for your living room, think about how you could add a decorative detail by choosing a unique lampshade.

 Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Pottery_Barn_Dining_Room

Dining Room

Last Friday, we posted tips for lighting the dining table.  In the dining room, almost all of the action happens around the table, so ceiling pendants or a chandelier will effectively light the space.  We typically connect center fixtures to dimmers so that we can control the mood of the room.  Ceiling fixtures should be installed so that they are 30-36” above the dining table.  If you’re going with a sprawling fixture, you’ll want to make sure the fixture sits within 12” of the perimeter of your table so you’re not lighting the tops of your guest’s heads.

If you have a sideboard, you have the opportunity to add a decorative lamp for another layer of ambient light.  This will also offer effective lighting if you intend to use the sideboard as a buffet.

Like in the living room, the dining room can also be a great space to highlight a favorite piece of art with recessed lighting.  Discreet lighting can add a cozy feeling to the room while also keeping the focus on the dining table.

For more information on how to set the table with candles, see our blog about lighting the dining table.

 Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Pottery_Barn_Kitchen

Kitchen

It’s likely your kitchen serves many different uses, which can make it a tricky room to light.  We like to start by focusing on task lighting, as the room’s first priority is meal prep.  Recessed lighting or mono-points are an effective way to light countertops, cabinets, and sinks.  They should align with the front edge of your countertop and can be spaced 6-8 feet apart to add overall even lighting.

If you have an island in your kitchen, you have a terrific opportunity to add pendant lights.  Pendant lights will provide the task lighting you’ll need for meal prep, but can also add ambient lighting for times when friends and family gather around to chat or eat.  Pendant lights can also add a nice decorative detail to give your kitchen a bit of personalization.  Pendants should be evenly spaced across your island, and are typically installed 30-40” above the countertop.

To add even more lighting to your countertop, try under-cabinet lighting.  Under-cabinet lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be fluorescent, offering an energy efficient light source.

If you have a dining table in your kitchen, the same rules apply as in the dining room.  A central chandelier or pendant can be a great way to highlight the table while also offering a cozy space to gather for meals.

 Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Pottery_Barn_Bedroom

Bedroom

After a long day, it’s nice to settle in to a warm and restful bedroom.  You can achieve a flattering and relaxing mood in your bedroom by adding ambient fixtures on dimmers.  Try starting with an overhead light for general ambience.  If you are opting for an overhead fan, try one with a built-in light fixture.  Next, consider if you have space for ambient wall sconces.  Sconces can add light to dark spots along the perimeter of the room.

If you like to read in bed, you’ll likely appreciate bedside task lighting.  You can use a reading light to direct light onto the page of your book, or find a bright table lamp to do the trick.  Bedside lights can be wall mounted, or sit on your bedside table, depending on how much table space you have.

 Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Pottery_Barn_Bathroom

Bathroom

When we discussed lighting the dining table, we mentioned that lighting face-on is the most flattering.  This rule also applies to vanity mirrors. For ideal vanity lighting, you’ll want to install fixtures above and beside the vanity to offer even illumination and avoid shadows.  Sconces should be installed at eye level, or approximately 66” from the floor.

If you have a small bathroom, often vanity lighting will be enough to light the entire space. However, a bathroom can feel more welcoming and relaxing if you add additional layers such as an overhead light on a dimmer.  A soft glow from an overhead light can also be a bit easier on the eyes first thing in the morning.

Task lighting in the bath or shower can be beneficial as well.  There are some good options available for recessed light fixtures.  It is important to ensure that shower and bath lighting is approved for wet locations to maintain safe lighting in your bathroom.

 Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

Pottery_Barn_Media_Room

General Lighting Tips

  • If you have a TV in your room, consider placing light fixtures on dimmers to reduce reflection and create an ideal glow for viewing.  You don’t want any fixtures pointing directly at the TV screen or you will find yourself with an annoying glare.
  • When purchasing light fixtures, you’ll want to consider what kind of bulbs the fixture takes.   You can read our blog about how to pick a light bulb to learn more.
  • If developing a lighting plan for your entire home seems like a daunting task, try breaking the project down by room.  Think about how you need each room to function as a space for work, relaxation, and entertaining.
  • In nurseries and kid’s rooms, remember night lighting or other dim lighting.  Not only will night lighting help kid’s from being scared, but it will help all of you find your way through a dark room to say goodnight or change a diaper.
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All Images and Fixtures from Pottery Barn.

Happy Lighting.

RB.

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DESIGN 101: LIGHTING - HOW TO BUY A LIGHT BULB!

Last week we kicked off a month all about interior lighting with an article about Lighting Types. This week's topic?  How to buy a light bulb!  Trust us, we were as confused as you were when we first realized all of the options available - LED, Compact Fluorescent, the sudden disappearance of 100W Incandescent bulbs.  Huh?!?  We put together a few tips to help you find your way at your local hardware store:

 Incandescent

Incandescent

Incandescent Bulbs

You've most likely been using incandescent bulbs in your house for years.  It is the light bulb most used for residential design fixtures because it casts a warm, soft, even light that most resembles sunlight. Recently, you may have noticed some changes when you've gone out to buy an incandescent light bulb.  100 watt bulbs are being phased out in favor of bulbs that are more energy efficient.  You can still find them, but new federal law guidelines require that they use 30% less energy.  If you are interested in keeping a green home, incandescent bulbs are not for you.  We try to use them sparingly in areas where a warm, soft glow is really appreciated so that we can balance out our total energy consumption.  Table lamps in a living room, a dining room chandelier, or other lights that are not used on a regular basis, are typical examples of where we use incandescent bulbs.  Also, if you have a fixture where the bulbs are visible, such as an armed chandelier shown above, you may want to consider incandescent bulbs to maintain visual continuity.

 CFL

CFL

Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL's)

CFL's are all the rage now and with good reason.  They are better for the environment as they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.  And don't be fooled by the more expensive price tag because your wallet will thank you in the long run given they last  7-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.  If the word fluorescent makes you think of  your office lights that are slow to turn on and are accompanied by a buzzing sound, be assured that residential CFL's do not have these issues.  All sounds great, right?  Well, not exactly.  There are a few downsides to CFL's.  A major one is that you can't put them on dimmers.  They also contain mercury, which is released if the glass of the light bulb is broken. CFL's are available in a variety of options that give off cool, neutral, or warm light.  For residential fixtures, we prefer the warmer options. Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and other areas of your home that get frequent use are typical examples of where we use compact fluorescent bulbs.

 Halogen

Halogen

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen light bulbs are essentially incandescent bulbs, but they use less energy.  So they still give off a warm, natural light.  They are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but use 20% less energy and will last longer (although not as long as CFL's).  Halogen bulbs are filled with a gas that isn't harmful if the bulb is broken.  However, be very careful when installing a halogen bulb because if you touch it the oils deposited from your hand will cause the bulb to immediately blow out.  We install ours using a thin, soft cloth.  Temperature -wise, halogen bulbs are significantly hotter than other light bulbs, so we don't recommend putting them in fixtures that are heavily used.  Otherwise,  you may find that your air conditioning bill has increased in order to keep your room cool.  Art lights, reading lights,  or any fixture where we want a direct bright light are typical examples of where we use halogen bulbs.

 LED

LED

Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LED's)

You've probably heard a lot recently about LED's.  We'll be hearing about them for generations to come as well, given that LED's can last for well over 40 years (depending on use).  LED's come in a wide range of colors, which is why you see them in everything from outdoor lights to TV's.  They also work on dimmers, making them a good option for residential design.  The draw back of LED bulbs is that they cast light in one direction.  They can also be a bit colder than the other bulb options.  For these reasons, LED's have not yet become a mainstream option in the residential light fixture community.  But we predict that will change!  Outdoor sidewalk lighting, kitchen under-counter fixtures,  and other areas where you want focused light are typical examples of where we use LED bulbs.

 Wattage

Wattage

Wattage

Here's where lighting can get confusing.  A common mistake is to think a bulb's wattage is an indication of how bright a light will be.  This is not the case.  Wattage actually tells you how much energy the bulb uses.  So, if you're considering replacing your 60 watt incandescent bulbs with CFL's, you'll want to look at a CFL that has is somewhere between 13-18 watts. That's because a low wattage CFL produces more light, with less energy, than an incandescent.

 Lumens

Lumens

Lumens

Lumens are another tricky number when considering light bulbs.  Lumens are the total amount of visible light emitted by a source, meaning they are a the amount of light a bulb gives off.  A typical 100 watt incandescent bulb will produce 1690 lumens, which is a very bright light.  You can find nearly the same brightness with a 23 watt CFL bulb as it will  produce up to 1500 lumens.  The difference is that the CFL uses far less energy to produce nearly the same amount of light.

 Kelvin

Kelvin

Kelvin

Now we're really getting into some deep lighting conversation!  Kelvin is the measurement used to rate the color temperature a light emits.  Essentially, the Kelvin measurement of a bulb indicates whether it is white (such as an LED), blue (such as some CFL's), or yellow (such as halogen or incandescent).  The lower the Kelvin rating (2700-3000), the more yellow the light.  The higher the Kelvin rating (5500-6500), the more blue the light.  White lights fall somewhere in the middle at around 3500-4100K.  Recently, light bulb manufacturers were required to include Kelvin on their packaging.  So now we can all understand whether we're buying a cold, blue light or a warm, yellow one!  Whether you are using incandescent, halogen, CFL, or halogen bulbs, we typically prefer warmer, yellow lights so that we can get as close as possible to natural sunlight.

 Bulb Shapes

Bulb Shapes

Shapes

Light fixtures come in various shapes and sizes, each with their own sized base (or the part that screws into the fixture).  For example, many sconces and chandeliers use a light bulb with a candelabra base while a table lamp will often require a light bulb with an Edison base.  The first thing to consider is what bulb base your fixture requires.  Next, think about the shape and size of the light fixture shade.  How often have you seen glass bathroom sconces with light bulbs sticking out the top?  Bulbs.com offers a fantastic chart to help you find the perfect bulb to fit your fixture: Reference Chart.

 Lanterns

Lanterns

General Tips

  • Light fixtures typically have stickers indicating the wattage they allow for as it's important that you don't try to use a light bulb with a higher wattage than your fixture allows.  This can get tricky when you're trying to decide between incandescent or CFL, so if you have any questions ask the vendor.
  • If you have purchased an outdoor light fixture, make sure your bulbs are also rated for outdoor use before it rains or snows!
  • Different states have rules and regulations on the type of lighting you are allowed to use in your home.  Before making your lighting choices, please research your local energy consumption guidelines!
  • We LOVE the "Shop by light bulb Technology" feature on Home Depot's website.  They will help you find the best fit for every fixture in your home!

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Up Next Week: Find the Right Lighting for every Room!

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We’re also looking for some reader feedback.  Send us your lighting dilemmas and we’ll randomly pick one lucky reader to receive free lighting design!  Email us at Regan@RBHomeDesign.com.  Friday, November 16th is the deadline.

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Happy lighting.

RB.

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