Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Trouble with Paint

Do you have trouble selecting a paint color for the interior or exterior of your home?  You’re not alone!  I do dozens of paint color consultations every year.  Many of my clients just want help to make sure they select a color they can live with.  They don’t even need a painter, as they plan to paint their home themselves.  They just need HELP!  Of course, I’m happy to help anyone select a paint color – just give me a call.  However, if you want to do a little pre-consultation shopping, or you want to take a crack at making your own paint selection, here are some resources that may help you out.

Sherwin Williams has a Color Vizualizer on their site; this great tool allows you to select from 1500 colors, select a room or exterior photo, and see what the color looks like on that photo!  While this experience isn’t fool proof, due to computer monitor differences and the fact you aren’t viewing the color in your own home, it should get you started in the right direction.  See it here:  http://www.sherwin-williams.com/do_it_yourself/paint_colors/visualizer/.

Benjamin Moore takes this concept one step further by allowing you to upload your own digital photos, and paint your OWN room!  See the Personal Color Viewer here:  http://tinyurl.com/5jr35b.  Again, this isn’t  fool-proof process, but it can get you started in the right direction.

If you have a favorite color-selecting tool, please post it in the comments section – I’m always looking for fun new tools!  Have fun selecting your new paint color.  And, call me if you need me!  🙂

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A Little Recognition…

…goes a long way!  Check out the main page at http://www.avaliving.com.  They are featuring one of my designs only through Sunday!  Full disclosure:  I did NOT design this kitchen on my own.  A full team worked on it.  Still, it’s exciting to have one of your own projects featured on an interior design website!  Let me know what you think of it…

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Countertop Upgrades

So, you want to upgrade your countertops.  What to choose:  granite or quartz?  I find that clients tend to gravitate toward one product or the other – with few people willing to go either way!  What are the differences between these products?

Granite, as most people are aware, is mined from the earth.  Granite consists mostly of quartz, which is the second-hardest mineral on earth – second only to diamonds.  The fact that granite is a “found” product means that no two pieces of granite are the same.  It also means that you may find wild variations in color, grain, and pattern, depending on when your particular piece was pulled from the quarry. 

To someone who wants his/her home to be especially unique, these wild variations are what draws them to granite!  They like knowing that no one else in the world has the exact same piece of stone that they have.  They like the random swirls and dips that make up their particular granite color – some of them get pretty crazy!

Granite does require some maintenance, however.  Because granite is a natural stone, it does have pores.  These pores will suck in moisture – whether that moisture is in the form of water, red wine or electric blue soft drinks.  Because of this feature, granite has the possibility to stain; stains can often be removed, but it does take some work to do so.  If you have granite countertops and keep them wiped up on a regular basis, you will more than likely be fine; don’t leave spaghetti sauce sitting on the counter for three days, or you may have a staining problem!  Granite can be sealed to prevent staining, and this sealer should be reapplied every year or so.  Some granites are now even claiming to be “stain-free”, since they have been impregnated with a permanent sealer.  I have no experience with these products, but I am always a little skeptical when someone claims stone is stain-free.

Quartz products, on the other hand, are very different from granite.  Products such as Silestone, Cambria and Zodiac, are made from 93% quartz – the basic component of granite.  However, because of the chemical make-up of the quartz products, they tend to be even stronger than granite.  Granite has naturally-occuring fissures, which can be weak points in the stone.

The very best feature of the quartz countertops is that they are maintenance-free!  They are non-porous, so they are impervious to staining.  No sealing is required – just install and live with it!  For this reason alone, we do install a lot of quartz countertops.

Style is another reason some clients prefer quartz over granite.  Some clients are scared of what granite offers – that one-of-a-kind nature of natural stone brings with it the unknowns of exactly what their piece will look like.  They like the control of knowing that the color sample they saw at the showroom will be very close to their actual countertop.  Color can also be a significant selling point.  Nature simply doesn’t produce every color combination in granite; if a client is looking for something in particular, quartz may have a better color option for them.

Quartz countertops have their benefits; however, they will never achieve the same look that nature provides with granite.  My clients tend to have a clear inclination toward one choice over the other.  The key is to educate yourself on the benefits and negatives of each product, so you can make the best choice for your home and lifestyle.

For more information on granite and other stone countertops, check out http://www.marble-institute.com/.

For more information on quartz products, visit http://www.silestoneusa.com or http://www.cambriausa.com.

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Home Staging 101

Are you trying to sell your home?  As everyone is aware, this is not the best time in history to sell a home.  Now, more than ever, you need to make your home stand out as the best value for the dollar.  Buyers are more saavy, and with increased home inventory on the market, they have so many homes to choose from.  Following are some tips for making your home stand out above the rest.

First, and most importantly, you need to de-clutter and de-personalize your home.  This is not the time to be emotionally attached to your home.  Realize that you are selling it, and a new family will enjoy it for years to come.  Detatching yourself from your home will allow you to pack up some of those family photos, your child’s artwork and other personal items.  Pack nearly every knick-knack into boxes, as clutter makes a potential buyer feel your space is smaller than it is.  Leave only a few choice accessories on tables and shelves.

You may need to rid your home of furniture, while you are at it.  Too much furniture in a room decreases the square footage of your home, visually.  You want your home to look spacious, open and warm – not crowded, busy and full!  Even though you may need 2 dressers in your master bedroom, consider moving one out.  Although your family of 5 may need 2 sofas for adequate seating in the family room, move one out for better visual effect.

Which leads me to my next point – clean, clean and clean again!  During a tour of your home, a potential buyer will be less-than-impressed with the layer of dust coating every surface.  A sparkling bathroom and shining kitchen will go a long way to closing the sale.  Before you leave for the day, make all the beds, straighten your closets and make sure your home is ready for an impromptu showing.

If you enjoy color, you may have wall colors that are less-than-desirable to potential buyers.  That eggplant wall in your living room may excite you, but annoy someone else to the point of losing the sale.  Yes, I realize this is an easy thing for a buyer to remedy, but many people cannot see past a paint color – good or bad!  So, to make the very best impression, consider neutralizing your paint colors.  Beige, taupe or buttery yellow are nice, warm tones to consider.

If you are willing to spend a little money to ready your home for a sale, there are a few key areas in which you should spend it.  Kitchens and bathrooms offer the most bang-for-the-buck when spending money on upgrades.  Consider new countertops in your kitchen (granite or quartz are popular upgrades) or a new tile backsplash.  New hardware on your cabinets can provide an updated look on a tight budget.  In the bathroom, countertops can also be upgraded, and consider a new faucet and/or light fixture to update the room.  Don’t spend too much on upgrades, however – you may price your home out of the market!

To get a good idea of what a well-staged home looks like, tour model homes in your area.  Think of what makes a model home look so good – no clutter, minimal furniture, just a few accessories and bright, open spaces.  Take cues from what those designers have done, and apply them to your home, as well.

If all else fails, or you feel overwhelmed with where to start, call an interior designer!  A designer can help you decide what to keep and what to pack away, what paint colors will work best in your spaces, how to arrange your furniture for best effect and what upgrades may be necessary to get the most money for your home.  I have been staging model homes for sale for over 8 years, and I would love to help you get your home ready to sell.  Or, leave your questions in the comments section below, and I would be happy to answer what I can!

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Wallpaper – a Touch of Luxury

I LOVE wallpaper!  What, you say?!  Are you scared to touch the stuff?  If so, you probably had to remove it in quarter-sized pieces at some point in your life.  Rest assured, this is NOT your grandmother’s wallpaper!

Photo courtesy Thibaut Design

Photo courtesy Thibaut Design

I, too, have tackled the task of  removing old wallpaper, and it was not something I would like to repeat.  In fact, I have a bathroom wallpaper-removal project to begin soon!  However, the new wallpapers available are so luscious that they are hard to resist!  Flocking is back, and the colors are amazing – from lime green to fuschia to rich, chocolate espresso.  New materials are also available, incorporating glass beads, textiles or sand into the pattern.

Wallpaper does have its place.  If your home is of the older variety, your walls may not be in the best condition.  Wallpaper is a great coverer-of-sins, and will hide imperfections in your walls.  Also, many historic homes just CRY for wallcovering – Victorian homes, for example, just need that extra bit of pattern and color to make them sing.  And, many contemporary spaces need warmth and interest – wallpaper can offer just the thing.  And, if you use a vinyl wallcovering, you can’t beat the durability and cleanability, making it ideal for use in high-traffic areas like stairways, mudrooms and hallways.

Photo courtesy DL Couch

Photo courtesy DL Couch

Remember, wallpaper does not need to cover every wall of a room to be useful.  Consider using wallpaper on only one wall, as an accent.  Recently, I put wallpaper on the bed wall in a client’s master bedroom.  The rest of the walls remained painted, nearly the color of the background of the wallpaper.  This technique added just the right touch to this 40’s style bedroom – a little elegance and pattern was just what it needed.

Newer wallcoverings are easier to remove than their ancestors; in fact, some papers are made specifically for easy removal, making them easy to change on a whim.  Proper preparation of the walls prior to installation will also make future removal easier.  And, if all else fails, hire a good contractor to take care of it for you!  For a few hundred dollars, you can skip the whole mess.

For some fantastic wallpapers, both contemporary and traditional, check out http://www.dlcouch.com and http://www.thibautdesign.com.  DL Couch offers commercial wallcoverings, with patterns and colors that can be hard to find in the residential market.  And, with most wallcoverings coming in at 54″ wide, there are fewer seams to contend with!

If you have any questions about wallpaper, and its use in your home or business, please leave a comment or email me directly.  I’d be happy to help in any way I can!  I can also 0ffer pricing on any product you are interested in.  Enjoy –

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What is Your Biggest Design Dilemma?

I want to hear from YOU!  What is your biggest headache when it comes to your home or place of business?  Is it clutter?  Or paint colors?  Or trying to accessorize?  If money were no object, what project would you hire a designer to help you tackle?  Post your comments here; I’d love to hear from you!

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A New Home for Old Furniture

Has your basement become something of a furniture graveyard?  Have you inherited more furniture than you can fit into your house?  Did you recently purchase new furniture?  I am often asked where my clients can donate their pre-loved furniture.  Thankfully, there is a local non-profit called We Do Feet!  They are a ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hudson, WI, and they have a warehouse to store and distribute used furniture to people in need within the St. Croix River Valley area.  Furniture is needed by people just coming out of shelters, abuse victims setting up a new home or apartment and current or new area residents in need.  As you can imagine, the need is even greater in these ecomonic times!  If you have a piece of gently used furniture taking up space in your home, please contact Trinity Lutheran Church at 715/386.9313.  They will put you in touch with We Do Feet, and they will arrange for pick-up or drop-off of your donated pieces.  They are willing to take on just about any type of furniture in usable condition – the only things they cannot accept are king-sized mattresses, sleeper sofas or appliances.  Especially needed are mattresses and sofas.  Give that old furniture a new home – there are many in the St. Croix River valley who will thank you!

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