URBAN INTERIOR DESIGN TREND: SMART DESIGN CAPTURING THE LUXURY LIFESTYLE

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These days many people find themselves moving into urban areas to take advantage of amenities such as lively nightlife, easy access to culture & entertainment, etc. Urban interior design reflects the diverse backgrounds and interests of the people migrating to live there. It is characterized by striking colors, non-traditional materials & innovative style.

So, what are we talking about here?

1-   Function:

The central function of an urban design is to create space, sometimes in surprising ways. In older American inner cities such as Boston or New York where the combination live/work space has a longstanding tradition, an example of urban interior design might look like a concrete floor for large-scale artwork and an upper loft for a living space in a renovated warehouse. In more recent places, such as Miami, high-rise apartments, upscale condominiums and mixed-use buildings are innovations in urban living areas.

2-   Features:

Urban interiors usually show nontraditional home materials and design features. City dwellers use interiors of galvanized steel, concrete floors, exposed beams and unfinished surfaces to create a distinctly modern look. In upscale urban interiors however, the look is far more polished with designer fixtures, sophisticated finishes and innovative space solutions, such as open floor plans that allow for multifunctional rooms. 

3-   Effects:

The relative tightness in square footage on many urban interiors demands some innovative strategies. Furniture tends towards the low and modular with less ornamentation and accessories such as mirrors, lighting features, window treatments and textures are more utilitarian. Large paintings for example are often used as a focal point in an area that seeks the most entertaining.

4-   Benefits: Less clutter!!!

Tighter or nontraditional spaces force people to eliminate clutter and organize their belongings. Many city people like to praise their urban interiors for the conviviality they inspire.

Remember that trends in urban design are not suitable for everyone. Live/work spaces also pose unique challenges to people with young children because the easy access to everything, and the industrial materials used in construction makes the home more hazardous. 

 

Brigitte Beltran is a Professional Interior Designer and certified Feng Shui practitioner, founder of FS2D Design Group, Inc. Her consulting firm is located in Miami, Florida. She can be reached at 786.223.8476 or via email at brigitte@fs2ddesigngroup.com. www.fs2ddesigngroup.com

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DINING ROOM FUNCTION AND USE IN MODERN HOMES

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Last weekend, I attended a formal seated lunch for mother’s day where the hostess had created a beautiful table arrangement with fresh flowers for the occasion. That reminded me of my childhood Sunday lunches in France at my grandmother house where the entire family gathered.

I find it interesting how the dining room used to be the star of special occasions and a place to shine when friends and family came together. Nowadays, it is overlooked in favor of spacious eat-in-kitchens and casual dining.

Does that mean homeowners are giving up on their dining room in favor of big kitchens and extra elbowroom?

 Not quite yet, a survey from Centex Homes indicates that high-end buyers still like their formal dining spot. On the other end, first time homebuyers and those in the lower end of the home-price scale are opting out of the formal dining room floor plan. 

Regardless of what area you designate as your home dining room, here are some design ideas for thoughts:

 1.   CREATE FLOW AND CONSIDER FUNCTION:

For holidays, big meals and other large gatherings, you will be shuffling back and forth between the eating area and the kitchen – frequently with dishes in hand. Make sure that the flow between the two rooms is comfortable and spacious. It sounds simple, but also make sure the space can adequately accommodate the table and chairs. You don’t want dinner guests to fill squeezed.

 2.  CREATE VISUAL APPEAL:

Because the primary function of eating spaces in a home is well defined, designing comes as a secondary thought and dining rooms often get the short end of the design stick.

Paint the walls with an attractive color and design so people look at something while they chew. Personalize the room with favorite family photos, vase of fresh flowers and other decorations that mesh with your style. A livable dining room used on a daily basis is a place where the interior is beautiful but has a practical and comfortable approach by use of fabric and finishes and unusual decorative details.

3.   THINK ABOUT LIGHTING:

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of lighting in the dining room and throughout the home in general. But to go back to the eating space and appropriate lighting, you need to be able to see first and foremost what you are consuming. Consider using a dimmer in case you want to achieve romantic lighting or a certain level of ambience in the future. And, be sure to pick fixtures that are easy to clean. Having a cobweb-filled, dusty light fixture hanging above your plate is unappealing.

4.   MAKE YOUR DINING ROOM CONVENIENT:

Consider surfaces that are easy to clean and don’t stain, such as hardwood floors. Red wine spills and food spots are hard to remove from carpeting. If you want to soften the room, use throw rugs, and place them in areas that are less likely to spills.

 Does your family enjoy buffet-style dining? If so, consider having a purposefully placed sidebar or serving table. Think about left-handed diners, and be sure there are seats at the table to guarantee they won’t be constantly be bumping elbows with their neighbor.

 Be conscious about the layout, design and decoration of your dining room. After all, you will be building memories around the table, no matter where in the home it is located.

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Outdoor kitchen design for fun and entertainment

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How do you cook inside? Outside? Do you do your own cooking at parties or do you hire a chef? How many people and how often do you entertain?

Those are some of the basic questions I ask my clients when meeting at first and before designing. It is important to understand how people live and what their needs are for both indoor and outdoor living areas. Outdoor kitchen are a hot segment in many parts of the country but need to be designed correctly to create the best experience for yourself, family and guests.

1-   Apply good design principles for function:

Good kitchen design principles include an understanding of where to place cold areas (refrigeration), hot areas (grills & cook tops), wet areas (sinks), and dry areas (preparation counters and storage). They must all work together efficiently in proper proximity, each with enough allocated space. A good designer can help you with this.

2-   Indoor and outdoor kitchens similar approach:

A few differences with the indoor kitchen include exposure to the elements and more difficulty in running utilities such as water.  Since there are no outdoor walls, the kitchen equipment usually defines the room boundaries and it is important to consider the relationship between the indoor and outdoor versions.

3-   Select low-maintenance materials:

You want to select equipment designed to withstand the rigors of an outdoor kitchen. The easier the kitchen is to clean and maintain, the more you will use and enjoy it. High quality stainless steel provides a sanitary surface that’s easily cleaned and corrosion-resistant. Counter and patio or deck materials should be highly resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures.

4-   Plan for utilities:

When planning layouts, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply.

5-   Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan:

Dining, cooking areas and pool areas often coexist. Think of these as outdoor rooms and consider the flow of traffic as part of the design. Don’t isolate the cook from the party.

6-   Incorporate music and other entertainment:

You want to make sure you do not face the design challenge of adding music and entertainment later. Remember, TVs need to deliver good picture in bright sunlight.

Finally, provide adequate task lighting as well as an ambient lighting to accommodate after-dark cooking and entertaining.  After all, it is all about having fun!

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Furniture arrangement: Set the tone for how you live!

ImageI recently visited a high-end condo with a friend who was looking to purchase it and was surprised to notice how the placement of the furniture unfortunately diminished the beauty of the space.

 Most of the furniture in the living room was oversized and the room looked stuffed, with very little space for circulation.

That being said, the placement of your furniture in a room sets the tone for how you live in the space. Here are a few must-know tips for arranging spaces, whether you are relaxing, watching TV or chatting with friends:

1.   GET OUT THE TAPE MEASURER:

The first step in arranging a space is determining its size. Use a tape measurer to get the dimensions of a room. Make sure to also check the dimensions of the hallway, stairs and doors leading to the room so the entrance and egress of the room are large enough for potential purchase.

 2.  MIX FURNISHINGS OF VARIOUS STYLES:

Every object has a height, depth and width. To add visual interest to any space, incorporate a variety of furniture with different characteristics. For example, if you are going for a serene, unchallenging area for rest or recovery, keep the furnishing volumes of the room similar.

 3.   USE SCALED PIECES TO CREATE BALANCE:

The size of the pieces relative to one another and the size of the space is their scale. Similarly scaled pieces are more serene when used together, but a nice balance of pieces creates a harmonious atmosphere, utilizing the physical qualities of height, depth and width throughout the room.  When furnishings are out of scale, you will notice that it just won’t feel comfortable or right.

 4.   FORM A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP:

The relationship of items to one another to form a pleasing whole is called balance. There are two forms of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetry is like the human body and refers to two of everything. Asymmetry refers to an imbalance, such as two candles of slightly different sizes next to each other. Symmetry is very restful, while asymmetry is used to add visual excitement.

 If you struggle putting these recommendations into practice, remember a good design professional to depend on and trust is always the best solution to make your design exciting and fun! 

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Payback for kitchen & bath remodeling

In the current economic climate, many homeowners looking to upgrade their living accommodations are opting to stay put and renovate their current homes. Although this decision is often driven by the desire to save money and avoid the hassle of moving, even subtle home makeovers can still be quite expensive.

That is why it is important to know which remodeling projects add the most value to your home now and will help you recoup your costs later when you decide to sell.

Based on the latest remodeling 2009-2010 costs versus value report, Remodeling Magazine, kitchen and bathroom midrange remodeling costs will respectively recoup 78.3% and 71%. 

So, what to look for in both rooms if resale is your top priority? Go for broad appeal!

1-   Kitchen:

–       When replacing or adding cabinets, use lighter wood and nothing too contemporary

–       Stick with features and finishes common to your neighborhood and the kind of house it is. For example, don’t put granite countertops in a starter home.

–       Select up-to-date appliances

 

2-   Bathroom:

Whether you decide to engage into a midrange bathroom remodel or a major redo with new flooring, pedestal sinks, designer tubs, and showers with multiple showerheads, upgrading a bathroom rewards on resale. 

A few quick updates include:

–       Resurface your cabinet doors and update the hardware

–       Add stylish new faucets

–       Reglaze worn tub & tiles

–       Replace older fluorescent lighting fixtures. Lighting can make a big difference in buyer’s reactions.

 

Bottom line, people want to envision living in your home. If you let things go and get out of date, the impression will be that you’ve left other things.Image

However, before spending loads of money on upgrades, consider whether your home is in a declining market. If so, it is less likely that you will be able to recoup your costs.

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Design strategies for Art lovers

On a recent art galleries tour in Wynwood, the Miami Art district, I had an interesting conversation with an artist. He felt art should stand on its own and be purchased first without design consideration as it has nothing to do with the décor.

Although I understand this point of view, here is a simple fact: Your art will always look better and have greater impact in the space when the design supports it.

 Check a few techniques below I recommend for you to use in your design to support and enhance your art:

1.   USE REPETITION OF COLORS AND LINES:

Repeating colors from the art increases its impact in the room. As an example, if your piece of art has some green in it, place green pillows on your sofa to echo the color (granted it matches the overall color scheme). It visually strengthens the art.

There are also many ways to repeat the lines from an artwork to a design. If your art has curved lines, you may emulate them by placing furniture with curves next to it.

 

 2.  USE MULTIPLE WORKS OF ART:

Combining multiple works of art by the same artist or others that have a very similar style creates greater impact. Together, they create a stronger look than each would by itself.

 3.    USE LIGHTING:

Putting a spotlight on your art will highlight it and make it stand out.

Casting a shadow on your painting is also another way to increase its impact.

 

ImageA piece of artwork is not only a way of giving an interior the wow factor but also something that reflects someone’s personality and individuality. It can be a statement or can blend sympathetically with a room’s design. As for selecting the right piece of art for your interiors, go with you heart! Your artwork should uplift and inspire you. 

 

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Restoring peace to the family bathroom

The family bathroom is usually the place where everyone trips on one another to get quickly ready before leaving home in the morning.  One way to solve this might be to post a “take a number” sign at the door or more realistically to look at remodeling the family bath. 

So, where do you start?

 1-   Define a style:

Most family bathrooms are designed to stand up to heavy uses and do not resemble the luxurious spa like bathrooms featured in magazines. That doesn’t mean a family bath should lack style. Take the time to browse through bath remodeling magazine to define your style and visit bath and plumbing showrooms. Remember also that a lot of what makes a bathroom green has to do with water savings.  So make sure to research high efficiency toilet, showerhead and faucets to save water and money.

2-   Organize a layout:

Make a list of everything that is wrong with your current bathroom. Does it feel cramped? Is there enough storage? Is the counter space limited? The family bath should meet the needs of its users and everyone should have their input to your list. It will come handy when meeting with a professional designer.

3-   Select materials:

When it comes to family bath, materials should be selected for durability and ease of cleaning.

Before you sacrifice style however, consider similar looking alternatives to more maintenance intensive materials. As an example, if you love the look of concrete countertops and wood floors but not the upkeep, consider composite granite countertops. You won’t have to worry about scratching or staining them and they will look good for a long time.

4-   Be creative with storage:

Adequate storage is key to a successful family bathroom remodel. Plan enough cabinets and drawers for toiletries, bulk items and plenty of towels. Don’t forget to include a space for a hamper, which will provide a convenient place, other than the floor, to stash wet towels and dirty laundry.Image

5-   Accessories:

Although a family bath’s focus is function, a few carefully selected decorative accessories that do not double duty can complete a remodel.

For example, interesting jars add panache to the counter while holding essentials like cotton balls and swabs. Fluffy towels displayed on a shelf and easily accessible to bathers will help to absorb some of the sound in the space filled with hard surfaces.

 

With good planning, smart storage, harsh working yet stylish and eco-friendly materials, your family can keep the peace for a long time to come. 

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HOW TO SAVE MONEY AND TIME ON YOUR NEXT INTERIOR DESIGN PROJECT

In the current economic climate, I am having a lot of requests to keep things as cost effective as possible, which is something I do with every project anyway.

 The fact of the matter is there is a lot that can be done on the client end, and knowing those things ahead of time puts you in a lot more control of how much you will spend.

Here are some areas where you can control your costs:

1.   RESEARCH YOUR PROJECT COSTS:

Whether you are likely to design a living room or fully remodel your kitchen, you need to do some homework to determine a reasonable budget. One helpful resource is Remodeling Magazine’s annual “cost versus value” report on some of the most popular remodeling projects. The most recent report is accessible on the magazine web site. A knowledgeable Interior Designer should also be able to advise you on costs from mid-range to high-end projects.

 2.  INVEST IN THE BEST THE FIRST TIME:

It is easy when you are doing it yourself to buy gap pieces. You know when you don’t have time to find the right piece, so you just put any piece in place with the idea that you’ll eventually replace it. This is expensive in the long run because you will end up spending twice or more as much as you would have if you chose the best piece in the first place.

I worked with a client who had a dining room table without chairs for a year before he hired me, because he couldn’t decide what chairs to buy. During that year, he didn’t invite a date to his apartment because he was embarrassed not having chairs to sit on!!

 So, before you do anything hire a professional to help you and get the right and best pieces the first time. There are also many technical considerations to take into account aside from creating a beautiful unified look. From creating a concept to drafting plans and selecting proper materials and furnishes, design professionals know the best resources and have access to sources that aren’t available to the general public. Designers are also entitled to a discount that consumers are not privy to and that will save you money on your furniture.

 3.    FIND THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR:

Construction costs can be expensive and costly if the project is not handled correctly. When selecting a contractor, make sure he is a licensed and insured professional. Your designer can save you time and money by recommending professionals with integrity who will provide services for a reasonable price and deliver the project on time within budget.

 As always, I hope these recommendations will inspire you. Just be creative, enjoy the process and have fun with it!

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Master Bedroom design & trends for relationships

Commonly known as the Master Bedroom, the bedroom where we sleep is the place where we spend approximately one third or more of our lives. That being said, you really want it to be comfortable and convenient.

The design of this personal sanctuary requires first to assess your needs and wants for the use of your master bedroom so that all elements of rest and relaxation can be achieved.  Whether you are seeking a personal relationship or looking to improve one, you will want to make sure this room also incorporates the symbolism of two everywhere, from matching side tables, and lamps, to artworks representing couples.

 Consider the following ideas and trends about how to put it together:

 1-   Separate spaces:

A popular trend for master bedrooms is to create one common space and divide most of the spaces to accommodate the needs and style of each person. Bathroom and/or closets are usually the first to be separated.

2-   Furniture:

Many homeowners are now looking for a more personalized and eclectic look by mismatching pieces. This trend allows you to cater each piece to your lifestyle. When mixing furniture, try picking pieces that have some common elements, like the type of wood, accents or finish.

Think also about the positioning of furniture in the room, and particularly your bed. It should be placed against a wall, with no window above or behind, and NOT be in direct alignment with any doorway. There is too much energy coming at us through doorways, which can be harmful over a period of time.

3-   Lighting:

Lighting in the bedroom is very important for function and aesthetics. Soft and warm lighting encourages relaxation as well as mimics the sun during the winter months. Overhead lights and task lighting are very important for bedside tables (so one person can read while the other sleeps), and for walk-in closets.

As for natural light, consider covering your windows with heavy curtains or shutters if your bedroom receives too much sunlight in the early morning.

4-   Color:

Different color schemes are appropriate for the mood you wish to inspire. A cool color scheme (such as blues, greens, etc.) is encouraged to bring a sense of tranquility but if you prefer warm tones (such as yellows, oranges, etc), be cautious about selecting colors that are not too bright since they can be too energizing.

5-   Style:

The style of your master bedroom should not compete with the architectural elements and other styles within the home. If your master bedroom style does not match the rest of the home, balance it by incorporating different elements from the style of the other rooms.

 Before planning out your new master bedroom design, look at a few different bedrooms that inspire you and try to incorporate the “best of” ideas into your room.

 ImageIf you struggle after you did your research, it is not a bad idea to hire an Interior Designer to put it all together. Just remember, it is your personal room, so you don’t have to please anyone but yourself!

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FS2D Design tip for the living room

ImagePosition major pieces of furniture facing the entrance and in the power position.

Why? Because it is not conductive to good circulation and energy flow to first see the back of the sofa when entering the room. If your sofa needs to be facing away from the entrance, then place a console table behind it.

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