The Rustic Look | How It's Re-surfacing

Even though Joanna Gaines and her brand Magnolia Home have managed to capitalize on the rustic look and keep it alive much longer than we expected, every style has it's trend time and rustic is no exception.  That shabby chic, rustic-y look was big a few years ago but has since gone to the back burner with the popularity of minimalism.  Design went more streamlined and cleaner and there wasn't so much of a need for all heavy wood that shabby chic boasted.  However, one thing has survived and has managed to work it's way into almost every style and that's texture.  Texture will always survive because texture is what gives rooms depth and makes them feel comfortable.

The way texture is being represented is coming back in the weather woods and organic grasses.  So much so that it's feeling a little rustic, although not to the extent that shabby chic was rustic.  Instead, weathered wood textures are blending with minimalism creating a rustic-modern motif that we're all loving.  It really appeals to the masses because it ultimately creates a comfortable look that either be dressed up or dressed down for the more glam home owner or the person who prefers more casual-living.

Here's how that modern rustic look is being accomplished in design...Forget the industrial modern that had rustic influences and lots of dark accents, we're eliminating the edison bulbs and talking warm wood textures.

A big distressed farmhouse table is still a big yes! in our book.  We much prefer something with a little visual interest and maybe even a story to a shinny, polished dark wood table that you're afraid to put your drink on. The great thing about a farmhouse table is that it can be mixed with upholstered chairs, or even molded plastic making it such a versatile piece.  It's not so fancy that you're scared to eat at it but it also provides a huge presence in any space, making it a great focal point!

Whether or not you have a farmhouse table or farmhouse feeling kitchen, you can mix a little rustic in with your lighting and still make it interesting.  Large white or black factory lights are casual and sculptural and can be fun in a super modern or rustic casual space.  At this point, they're just sortof a vintage accent instead of forcing the kitchen in a farmhouse direction.

Seagrass and jute aren't going anywhere.  The jute rug is another one of those things that has survived the test of time and just morphed into a more updated version of itself.  But, in addition to rugs, grasses have made huge comeback in lighting.  Woven rattan and seagrass pendants are a sure-fire way to warm up any space and create a feeling of bringing the outside in.  They're warm and inviting which is good for any design!

Aside from a farmhouse dining table, any kind of reclaimed wood is a plus right now.  Reclaimed wood looks expensive and in something like a cocktail table or smaller piece of furniture, it adds a lot of movement and quickly becomes the focal point in the room.  Reclaimed wood shelves are another great way to add a rustic feel without overwhelming the space.  They create an interesting architectural detail and make visible storage interesting, especially when backed with a white wall.

Finally, black and brass accents are surviving even into the minimalist era.  They are reminders of the rustic style but, when used in more streamlined styles, create an interesting accent against distressed woods.

Color Palette on Point | Making Neutral Work

I just bought a house...like everyone else you know, right?!  I love it (although I hated the moving process) but it needed a little work.  The number one item that had to change fast was the the wall color.  There was a big dark navy all, a bright orange bedroom, lots of dated, peeling wallpaper, and a two-tone "Green Bay Packers" bedroom that had to go.  Before we painted, people would ask me what color I was planning to paint.  I'd decided long before we moved that I was painting everything white but the reactions I got at this suggestion were the best.  It was either shock with a comment like "white?!  all white?  Every room?" or people would acceptingly shake their heads and say, "Oh, you mean, until you figure out what color you want to paint."  Nope.  White is the color I want to paint, I would say.  It'll be permanent, not temporary. :)  But for me, a designer, white didn't scare me because it's clean and neutral.  It's pretty by itself but it also create a big clean slate for me to work with.  I can add pops of color where ever I want, change "color scheme" without having to re-paint, and pretty much have a guarantee that my wall color will work with whatever I decided to do in my house.

So today, in honor of that, we're talking about the neutral color scheme and how to make it work.  It's funny because people are so often scared of color but they're also scared of the absence of color.  So I'm going to give you some tips today on how to make a neutral color scheme work.  Hopefully by the end of it, you'll realize that there's more to a good design than the paint color on the wall!

The one thing I love about neutrals and layering them is that it instantly makes the whole house flow.  Flow can be difficult to achieve but when it is accomplished, make everything all of the sudden click together. 

You do need a focal point, though.  So rather than painting a wall some bright color, choose a great light fixture to draw the eye up.  This will make the ceiling feel taller because it will accentuate the height but it also gives the room a focus that doesn't make it feel choppy.

Layer in texture and subtle pattern to give a neutral space some life.  Just because you don't have lots of color in a neutral space doesn't mean everything looks exactly the same.  Whites and tans and beiges and greys all come in varying shades and patterns.  Mixing in a little of those won't detract from the neutral feel, it'll actually give it some subtle depth that will bring it to life.

Add color and pattern to your walls with art.  Art has line and pattern in it as well which adds to the space.  Consider this when selecting and hanging your art.  Even if you've got a big neutral palette, the layers your adding with the wall decor will instantly add texture.  Different displays like gallery walls or large mirror installations can be THE thing that brings a room to life so don't forget about those aspects of the room either!

Greenery, greenery, greenery.  We can't stress enough how you need greenery.  Even if the plants aren't real.  If they're green they add an organic element that is an instant game-changer.  We know that not everyone has a green thumb but silk florals have come a long way and we suggest that you use it to your advantage!  The amount of impact a little pop of green can make on a room is uncanny.   Don't forget the green!

Aside from fabrics, bring in texture with other accent pieces to bring a neutral room to life.  Woven rugs, baskets, even furniture with rattan or seagrass always complements a neutral space well.  It's a good alternative to a lot of dark wood and keeps the space feeling light and airy.

What do you think?!  Still scared of the abscence of color?

Kitchen Secrets | Cool Solutions and Finds

Even if you don't cook a ton, if you use your kitchen a little bit, you understand the sheer joy that comes with a great storage solution or simplified way of completing a task.  We've seen a bunch of stuff out there about "cool kitchen gadgets" and "great storage solutions" and what not, but this list really seemed to have some interesting items...things that we actually hadn't seen before (what?!)...so we wanted to pass it along.  Some of them are decorative while others are pretty sweet storage solutions so just pick and choose what you can use!

For starters, this crumb catcher is pretty much the whole she-bang!  I don't know about you but i HATE crumbs!  It doesn't matter where they are in my kitchen, they drive me insane.  If you've got granite counters you have a catch 22 because the granite often hides the crumbs visibly but then you don't think to clean them up and, before you know it, you've got crumbs everywhere!  If you've got a more solid surface countertop like quartz or corian, you see every little crumb so you're in constant clean-up mode...but at least you know where to clean up and they can't sneak away from you.

Aside from that, you also have the option of customizing your recycling drawer.  This cool set-up allows you to determine what kind of storage works best for your recycling needs instead of just having two trash cans.

As far as some fun design ideas for kitchens, check out this copper backsplash!  We looooove copper and are excited about the impact it's making on design.  So to have this kind of option is pretty sweet! The nice thing about a copper backsplash is that if it gets wet or discolored, it's ok!  The natural petina copper achieves over time just adds to the visual interest it provides!

Other than that, we are loving the idea of adding additional legs to your kitchen island.  It's just a new approach to the kitchen that has been constantly evolving.  Kitchens are meeting places, they're communal areas for families and friends to gather over food and drink, so be sure it's a comfortable space.  This idea just gives that island another little nudge in the i'm-furniture-but-also-functional direction.

Finally, these hidden shelves pretty much make our life when it comes to kitchen design.  Not only do they add gobs of storage but they are sleek and hidden and don't take away from the overall look of the design.  They're like the perfect mix of function and style in a room like the kitchen!

Did we give you some ideas for your next kitchen remodel?  We hope so!  Kitchens are the rooms to spend money on!

Tile | All About The Terminology

Tile is a tricky business.  There are a ton of different kinds of tile out there which means different applications, different product to go with it, and different terminology.  As a homeowner, you may have a little knowledge of tile from your own home projects or maybe even just reading up on things, but there's a whole lot of secondary terms that can be associated with tile and tile installation...just talk to a tile installer.  Once they get into a space and start pulling the tile out and have a better idea of what's behind the walls, all sorts of things start coming up.  So today, we're here to inform.  We found this great article on Houzz that breaks down a number of different tile terms (along with their definitions) and we think it's pretty much genius so we're sharing.

Common types of tile include ceramic or porcelain and natural stone

Ceramic Tile is "classified as nonporcelain and porcelain. Nonporcelain, usually with a decorative glaze, is softer and less durable than porcelain, which has a slightly different composition and was fired at higher temperatures. For the tile shopper, “ceramic” usually refers to nonporcelain ceramic. It’s suited to walls and floors and lighter wear than porcelain" according to Houzz.

Natural stone tile is something made of, just that, natural stone.  It may be travertine which is very common, marble, or granite.  Travertine and marble are two of the most common.  Natural stone tiles are often very porous and require additional sealant.

To install tile, there are a number of different products that can be used: epoxy grout and cement grout are options to finish the tile once it's laid.  Mud and thinset are the two products used to adhere the tile to the floor.

According to Houzz, epoxy grout is "a durable, stain- and chemical-proof, resin-based grout. It’s costly, has a plastic-like look and requires extensive cleanup of residue, but it sets faster than regular grout and means no more scrubbing."

Cement grout, however, is made from a cementitious powder mix.  It is not waterproof however it is easier to work with than epoxy grout.  It also looks somewhat plastic-y so it could look odd when used with a natural stone tile.

Mud-set is a term derived from setting tile in a mud-bed.  Instead of using a thin layer of setting material when laying the tile, the installer will create a thick bed of setting material.  This adds water resistance to the tile base and stability to the floors since they are on a much thicker layer of mud that separates them from the sub floor.  This type of setting helps prevent tiles from cracking.  Mud-setting tile is still recommended for certain types of tiles but is very labor intensive so it isn't done as often anymore.

Thin-set is a tile installation method where the setting material is laid very thin.  In this scenario, the installation is much less labor intensive.  It is a commonly used method of installation because there are so many improvements in tile products to help prevent water damage and cracking that the setting method isn't the only way to prevent that.

Mosaic tile is a small version of the tile (often 1/2"-2") that comes on a sheet and is sold by the square foot. A pencil tile is a 12" long, thin (usually 1" thick) piece of tile that can be a finishing piece for the tile edge.  Subway tile is a rectangular tile that is usually laid in a brick pattern.

Tiles can come honed or polished.  Honed tile is less slippery than polished tile because it does not have the full polish applied.  It often has a smoother, softer look and is appropriate for high-traffic areas where someone might be at a higher risk of slipping.

Tile is complicated.  There's a lot to know and subsequently, a lot that can be accomplished!  Get to know tile.  It can definitely work for you!

Rugs | Why We Love Them

One of the hardest things for clients to stomach is an expensive rug.  In a lot of people's minds, rugs are just something you walk on and if they're literally going to be under your feet, why would you put a lot of money into something that's just going to get walked on.  Here's the thing with rugs--they're so much more than just something to walk on.  Rugs are MAJOR players in your room game.  Even if they're not the obvious MVP in a room, they're the real MVP because they pretty much make every other major piece of furniture work.  Here's how....

Visually, rugs fill up a lot of space.  Yes, they don't completely fill a room all by themselves, but they do make a space feel pulled together and finished.  That sofa and chairs is basically just floating their if it doesn't have a rug to ground it.  A rug basically defines the space.  Even if the furniture IS the space, it doesn't look like the space is complete unless there's a rug to group everything together.

Rugs are one of your main color providers.  Way too many people think that the walls should have all of the color.  False!  Walls are really just the background.  Walls should't be the focal point, they should be something to build off of.  A rug, however, can have a lot of color and pattern without making the room feel smaller (like colorful walls tend to do).  A rug can be all of the pattern in the space and be all the pattern one rooms needs.  If you feel safer purchasing neutral furniture, don't be afraid to get a rug with pattern, it'll bring those beige sofas to life!

Aside from defining spaces and adding pattern, rugs can actually make rooms feel bigger if they are the right size and are laid the right way.  On the other hand, one way to instantly make a room feel smaller is by purchasing a rug that's too small for the space.  A larger rug accentuates the open space and draws the eye out from the center.   We understand that the price of rugs jump with the sizes, however, you're basically wasting your money by purchasing a rug that only fits under the coffee table--you can't walk on it or put your feet on it so it's not functional.  It may add a little color but it's making your space feel smaller so it's probably doing the opposite of what you want it to.  Buying the right size rug will be worth it!

Finally, rugs help with acoustics.  Ever walked into a big empty space and heard the echo?  A rug will help eliminate that.  Because rugs add a thick padding to the floor, they help absorb any extra echo.  The more padding, the better the sound absorption. :)   

Bottom line is that rugs are important!  Even if you can't afford a big thick rug, at least try to get the big thin rug.  The visual finishing an appropriately sized rug accomplishes is worth the money!