Maximalism | What Is It? and How Do I Embrace It?

Maximalism used to be everywhere.  Before the recession, more was more (which is basically maximalism) so people went all out and overboard in their homes.  Pattern on pattern, texture on texture, bigger and bigger.  Then the recession hit and with money scarce and people being forced to cut back, minimalism took over.  Minimalism is clean lines, simplistic and the LESS is more theory.  Since the economy has come back some, experts are saying the maximalism will reemerge but there are conflicting beliefs about this.  The clean lines of minimalism seem classic and some say it's here to stay for good.   However, if you're liking the look of layers and, even though you don't consider yourself a maximalist, you'd like to incorporate a little more into your home, here are a  few ways you can do that without going overboard.

The beauty of minimalism is that there are less items or "things"  around to collect dust, so when introducing maximalism it's recommended to do it more with color and pattern than stuff.  For example, instead of so much white on white like the minimalist style suggests, add some of the more intense jewel tones.  These colors can be great when introduced through tile or art instead of paint because they become a pop of color instead of consuming the space. 

Many people think that the minimalist look means having your house look like a model home or un-lived in.  This is where maximalism can help!  A great way to mix the two styles is by incorporating pieces that are meaningful to you.  If you have a collection that you'd like to display, it would be acceptable to do this within the maximalist style.  Keeping it contained is best, so don't let it overtake your house, but don't be afraid to show it off either!  Your home should be a reflection of you!

Use big impact pieces with bold pattern and color like over-sized art or murals!  Instead of trying to fill each wall with art pieces or pictures, pick one main wall and cover it! Top to bottom, side to side.  That way you'll have a focal wall that brings enough color and pattern into the room for the entire space but it'll feel cohesive and simple instead of cluttery.

Finally, give us ALL the texture!  Texture is the key to any space, really.  Not just a minimalist or maximalist style.  Texture brings depth.  And it's a great way to add visual interest without confusing the eye with tons of color or distracting the flow with too many different objects.  Texture introduces the sense of touch to a space which can really impact the comfort level.  Your guests will thank you for fun texture so go for it!

Entertaining | The Guest List

We've all done it.  We've procrastinated on a number of house projects and 1 week before we're hosting a big party we decide we need to get them all done ASAP!  Needless to say, a party is one sure-fire way to stress your relationship out with all of your "honey do" lists but it's one quick way to get your house together!  That being said, you definitely need to prioritize.  There are things guests will notice and there are things people won't even care about so you can number that list based on order of importance!

Obviously flow matters in a space.  Flow is created by a number of things but one easy way to create flow is a good furniture layout and coordinating color scheme.  When each room is a different color, it makes the space feel choppy and leaves guests feeling like they're in a disjointed space.  A common neutral color throughout common areas will keep the eye flowing without lots of visual breaks.  Make sure the furniture is laid out in a way that guests can easily maneuver around and traffic patterns are obvious and they'll instinctively have a relaxing experience in your home.

Even if your guests aren't clean freaks, clutter is going to bother them.  When parties are happening, more people than normal are in a space so the more unnecessary items surrounding them, the harder it will be for them to interact with each other which will make the space much less comfortable.  Definitely minimize what you've got set out for decoration.  All those little tabletop figurines and collectibles should probably be put away.  Not only are they visually messy but they're more likely to get broken!

Art and photography is what your guests will immediately be drawn to in your home.  Whether it's family pictures or other interesting art pieces, those wall hangings immediately become conversation pieces.  Not to mention, it tells guests a little bit about their host which may be a good thing!  Make sure your art is hung at an appropriate level so guests can see it easily!

Of course, everyone knows that smells are a HUGE factor for guests.  When entering a new space, the first thing that truly registers before anything they can see is the smell of the space.  Whether it's fresh and light for a daytime event or something more earthy and cozy for an evening shindig, make sure the smell is inviting.  Take out your trash, vacuum your sofa and rug, and light a candle.  They'll remember that smell.  We promise!

Finally, the number one thing guests will notice in your home is the lighting.  Does your home feel dark and cave-like or is it bright and airy?  A dark space seems more private so guests may feel uncomfortable in that setting.  Natural light releases endorphins, though, so they will instantly feel at ease in a home with lots of windows.  Soft, diffused natural light is best.  It makes the transition from outdoors to inside the smoothest and guests won't feel the need to re-settle.

Notice that we didn't say you need to have the most well-decorated space in order for guests to feel comfortable in your home!  It's more about the functionality of the space with a little bit of nature.  Hopefully this will help you for your next holiday party!  There's nothing better than a comfortable home!

Passing It On | Great Design Tips from Other Experts

We recently found an article listing some timeless design advice that anybody can use or share.  It's great because it really simplifies certain aspects of what makes good design which can be super helpful for the regular homeowner.  There are definitely things about design that are complicated but not all of it has to be, so here are some very basic rules to follow that will keep your design inline.

Here's our summary and paraphrase of what the writer had to say!

Don't be afraid to express yourself in your design.  This is not supposed to be cheesy even though it's coming off like that.  It really means that you need to show your personality in your decor--that's what makes it unique and special rather than cookie-cutter.  It's your home, afterall, so it should look like you!  Part of expressing yourself is knowing your design style so that you CAN express it.  So be sure to pick a direction.  Even if you like a lot of different things, it's best to stay with one style--it helps you eliminate uncertainty in selections and will make your space more cohesive!

The first point flows into our second point---pick art because you love it!  Art is ART--it's special, it's unique, it doesn't always have to match.  It's a conversation piece, a focal point and can stand alone.  Without being concerned about being super deep, consider how the art affects you.  You want to be excited about looking at something hanging on your walls, so don't put something up that just matches or else it will quickly be a disappointment.

Mix high and low.  As designers, we have to do this all. the. time.  There are certain pieces that are worth the money and there are certain pieces that aren't.  It's also ok for you to have pieces of different price points in the same room.  Don't feel like one expensive piece will dictate the entire direction of the room.   When in doubt, too, revert to our rule on art--don't buy it if you don't like it.  Make sure you're picking pieces that you want to use and look at!

Measure.  Double measure.  And then check again.  Size and scale are super important for the flow of a if you're ordering an item online and haven't actually seen it in person, get a visual on the measurements in the space.  Use a tape measure or painters tape or something!  If you get an item that's off in scale for a great deal, you automatically lost avoid that with this simple solution.

Don't jump into a paint color.  Paint on a little swatch is MUCH different than paint on an entire wall.  For designers, we can visualize so it's not as hard for us to pick a color quickly, but if you struggle with color, don't hesitate to hesitate!  Paint a little area on the wall, look at it at different times of day and in different lights, see if it catches your eye or ends up being a color you hate.  Once you're sure you love it, then go with it.  You'll be happy with your decision.

In the end, if you're still struggling with how to make a room come together, just call us!  We can always help. :)


Floor Planning | Creating Two Spaces Out of One

Since open plans are becoming more and more popular, it's not uncommon for us to have very large spaces to work with for floor planning.  On one hand, it's nice because space is great but on the other hand it can create a design dilemma because we have to figure out how to separate the spaces using furniture rather than walls.  And even then, you may want to separate the space but you don't necessarily want it to feel disconnected.  Do you see why people hire us?

Today we're going to give you some tips for furnishing larger rooms and making them into two functional spaces without actually building walls.  It allows for a great party space and also gives you tons of seating but may take a little more planning than you like.

First of all, it's always important to ground the space.  If your room has wood or tile, you absolutely need a rug...or rugs.  This can be one large rug that visually ties the entire space together even if it's being used as two separate rooms, or it can be 2 smaller rugs to create the two separate spaces.  It can be nice to have one larger rug instead of two because it makes the space feel like it flows, even if it can be used for different purposes.

The trick with bringing in different kinds of furniture is that it all needs to flow.  If you're making a great room into a seating area and dining area, it needs to make sense when it's all seen together even if it's not always going to be used together.   Bring in lighter pieces that don't feel too heavy.  Since it's a lot of furniture, you don't want the eye to get overwhelmed with so many different pieces.

Even if your colors are light, bring in lots of texture to create depth.  Since the room is already a vast expanse, it needs something to give it variety.  Play with textures in fabrics, rugs, pillows, and art to help broaden to overall feel.

Be sure to use your lighting to help further define the space.  Hang a statement chandelier over the dining table and a fun flush mount in the seating area.  Bring in the ambient lighting as well for more layering.  Lighting matters!

Finally, don't forget to treat your windows.  Regardless of whether or not you have a small window or a window that runs the entire length of the room, don't forget to bring the softgoods up!  The walls and windows needs to be treated as well!

On Display | Kids Artwork

I've always been a lover of art but I've also been very selective about what gets put on display.  Too much art can feel very cluttery and busy if it's not displayed well and then it looses all impact it might have had.  However, when my son started his toddler class, and I was getting multiple art projects sent home each week, I realized that I might not be able to be as selective about what was displayed.  However, still not willing to sacrifice my walls to a cluttery mess, I've held on to his art waiting until I could figure out the best way to display it.  This post is a re-cap of a great article on Houzz that discusses some great ways to display your children's art in your home.  There are options for single, big-impact pieces as well as gallery-type displays for multiple pieces!  So pick which works best for the type and amount of art you have and run with it!

In the beginning it's hard because you want to keep every little piece of art they make since it's all so new.  It's still a novelty and you appreciate how each piece shows them learning and developing more in their skills.  However, as they get older, it can become burdensome because you're past the novelty phase but your child has some lofty expectations of what should be done with each piece they bring home (no matter how many).  So how do you meet their expectations for praise and save your walls?!  Try a rotating display where multiple pieces are "featured" until the new ones replace them---almost like a gallery.  This will allow your kids to feel like you're proud of their artwork and then about when they've forgotten about it, you can swap out the old for the new!

Go for the old staple--the wire and clip display.  This easy, inexpensive method using Ikea's Dignitet Wire Curtain Rod has been a go-to for moms for years.  Why?  Because it works!  It's clean and nondescript and does the job.  The wires come in multiple lengths so you can customize your display based on where it's going in your home.

Tie up the pieces by getting them bound...literally.  Instead of trying to find wall space for each piece (especially if you have multiple kids), consider having the artwork bound into a book.  Both a little flip book or a coffee table book could make fun additions to your home and are great conversation starters for guests.  It doesn't hurt that this method is also WAY more condensed.

If you don't have a lot of artwork from your kids but would like more to display, put your kids to work!  It's so fun to see how each child has a different process for creating artwork and of course the outcome is always very different too.  So commission them to create something you can display.  Whether you get a big blank canvas they can splatter paint all over or some white art paper that can be used as wrapping paper or a book cover, make the art functional so it works for you!