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Color Trends for 2010

Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours have us spending more time indoors as fall creeps toward winter. Taking some time to refresh your home now will leave you yearning for those cozy days of December!

The colors to watch for in the upcoming year incorporate many of the tones and textures we have been seeing in fashion for the past several seasons. Believe or not, even the current economic climate has an effect on color trends! Look for four main color groupings in interior home fashion for 2010.

As the economy struggles, people look for a reminder of better times – nostalgia for the “way it was” The reuse of our existing furnishings and fixtures in new ways has been a popular trend. People like to recycle items instead of simply throwing them away. Decorating with flea market finds, and discovering treasures from days past have been common themes in recent months, and this trend will continue well into the new year. Several time-honored and time-worn colors reflect this theme perfectly; look for Smokey Blue, Caribbean Coral or Interactive Cream from paint company Sherwin Williams. These tones are mellow and aged, evoking a sense of a treasured heirloom.

Throughout the country, people are looking for ways to simplify their lives. From books on controlling clutter, to the explosion of yoga classes available today, we want to slow down, relax and create a sense of calm in our lives. Look for this trend to show itself through the continued move toward the gray palette. From warm, putty grays such as Sherwin Williams’ Enigma to cool, steely grays like Magnetic Gray from the same company. This trend does not leave gray to its own devices, however. Look for grays to be paired beautifully with warm tones, such as Butter Up, a gorgeous soft yellow from Sherwin Williams. The mix of warm and cool tones keep this palette interesting, soft and sophisticated, not loud or brash.

Our quest to simplify also leaves us longing to explore our roots. The simplicity of ancient tribes, such as Native American, African or Aboriginal cultures, is reflected in both the colors and the patterns of the upcoming year. Geometrics and tribal patterns will dominate fabrics, in hues reflecting the mystery and enduring qualities of these cultures. Look for Red Tomato, Oceanside and Rookwood Amber from Sherwin Williams to get a good feel for this trendy palette. These are rich, comfortable tones, reflecting the earthy qualities of these far-away places.

Anyone watching the news today longs for some good news. As the economy begins moving forward again, our spirits are lifted. This feeling of hope and optimism about the future is reflected in the last major color palette for 2010. Think of colors that make you happy; how about Fun Yellow, Summer Day, Verve Violet or Animated Coral from Sherwin Williams? These vibrant, fun tones will brighten your day, and make you feel like you are on a perpetual vacation when you incorporate them into your spaces. Just how do you make these trendy new hues work in your home? The key is in moderation.

When fixing your home up this fall, do not fall into the trap of thinking you cannot be trendy without spending your entire budget on a whole new decor. By simply adding a few punches of these hot new color tones to your space, your room will take on a whole new look. For example, that buttery yellow leather sofa you bought 5 years ago? Add some crisp, gray linen pillows and a faux mink throw, and your tired sofa of yesterday bursts into the new year with style. Or, the bedroom with safe beige walls? Bring in a new piece of art incorporating tropical tones or an antique side table in distressed green or blue hues. How about adding a rug to your wood floors, both to warm the space as temperatures fall, and to add texture, pattern and color to your room? Bring in a rug with rich reds and blues in an African or Native American motif to spice things up a bit. Paint the old armoire collecting dust in your attic, and bring it into your family room for extra storage. Add texture to your windows by installing woven wood shades and incorporating a colorful valance or drapery panels to add warm to your space. A new, eye-popping lampshade could be just the thing to add pizzazz to that tired corner in your living room. Mixing the old with the new is the key to bringing the latest trends to your home without spending a ton of money. And, you will get a one-of-a-kind look that no one else can match.

Check out the paint colors I mentioned at www.sherwinwilliams.com, as well as coordinating fabrics and trims at www.robertallendesign.com. A little paint and a yard of fabric can go a long way to creating that cozy winter getaway you desire – even on a budget.

Get the print version of this article in the October/November 2009 issue of Valley Women & Beyond magazine, a free publication found in the St. Croix and Mississippi River valleys of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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Beautiful Countertops on a Budget

Countertops are one of the easiest, and most common, changes that are made in kitchen update projects.  Clients are often interested in upgrading their current countertops to quartz, granite or another solid product.  (Check out my earlier post on the differences between granite and quartz countertops for details on those options.)  However, what if your budget does not allow for a complete upgrade to stone?  Well, you have a couple different options to consider.

First, you could use stone on an accent area only, with a lower-priced counterpart on the remaining portions of the kitchen.  For example, put granite on your island, as that area is most easily seen by guests, and most often used by the homeowners for tasks such as meal prep, homework and conversation.  Likewise, quartz could be installed only on the raised portion of the kitchen island or peninsula – your “snack bar” area.  Again, this offers a punch of color, pattern and “upgrade” without requiring the budget for installing a stone product throughout your entire kitchen.  Generally, I try to find a coordinating laminate that is different from the stone; trying to match a real stone with a laminate is not a great idea – the imposter will always be detected when put up against the real thing.

A second option is to use plastic laminate on all your countertops.  Laminate is beautiful in its own right, with thousands of patterns available.  New finishes now make it look even more like real stone, but without the “cool” feel and the extra-hard surface that stone offers.  Again, with the amazing laminate patterns out there, I don’t often feel the need to use laminate to replicate real stone; let laminate be laminate, I always say.

I just found a new laminate, however, with an amazing look!  Formica just came out with a new laminate option called 180fx.  With a HUGE pattern repeat, and the swirls of real granite, this is a fantastic option for a kitchen upgrade on a budget!  If you select the right edge profile detail, I think the average person would be hard-pressed to determine whether this is laminate or real granite.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Upgrades and updates can be made on any budget, with the right products!

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Summer Bedrooms

Summer is most certainly on everyone’s minds at this time of year. With longer daylight hours, warmer weather and outdoor activities, we tend to get that itch to freshen up our homes. We long to shed the same-old style and heavy fabrics which have surrounded us all winter long. The long hibernation is over; let’s heat things up! A great place to start is the master bedroom – a place often neglected as homeowners tend to other redecorating projects deemed more important. You, however, are the master of your home; don’t let your personal domain languish in oblivion! Consider some of the following ways you can give your bedroom that warm, breezy, breath of fresh air.

One easy way to freshen up any room is to change the paint color. This can be accomplished in such a short time, and at very little cost. When selecting a new color, consider the mood you wish to achieve in your bedroom. Do you prefer a quiet, soothing, spa-like feel? If so, think about using soft shades of blue, green or lavender. Or, would you rather add some excitement and heat to your space? These moods are evoked through the use of spicy colors, such as reds, oranges and yellows. Be aware, however, that over-using these warm colors can create a feeling of agitation. Excitement and heat in your bedroom: yes. Agitation and stress: not exactly a mood-enhancer. Choose your color wisely!

Next, consider your bed, which should be the focal point of the room. While a down comforter can be used for year-round comfort, the duvet cover may need a little freshening up. Remove that heavy, dark duvet cover, quilt or bedspread, and exchange it for a lightweight quilt or coverlet. The sense of touch is so important in a bedroom. What about bringing in high thread-count cotton sheets for luxurious comfort? Or, silky satin sheets for that special evening with your honey? The pattern of your bedding isn’t important; flowers or stripes can both be wonderful choices. Just make sure that both you and your partner are comfortable in the room. A man floundering in a sea of roses may not feel fully at home! A contrast in textures makes the bed visually appealing and will add interest to the room. Why not try a faux fur throw or pillow, mixed with a sheer bed throw and a variety of embroidered decorative pillows? If you have been to your local home decorating store recently, you know that pillows are everywhere, and very well-priced. I have found pillows encrusted with slices of bamboo, made from woven grass cloth, bejeweled with rhinestones in all colors and appliqued with an array of summery motifs. Find several in colors to coordinate with your quilt or coverlet, and enjoy the blend of textures and colors. If you use a bedskirt, exchange it for a lighter color or lighter-weight fabric. Or, if the style of your bed allows it, remove it altogether for a clean, crisp look. You may, however, need to temporarily find a new home for that box of gift wrap you store under your bed! For even more drama, adding a sheer mosquito net or canopy near the head of the bed will bring you the ultimate in luxury and will help set the mood for romance.

The wrong window treatment will weigh your room down. Heavy, velvet drapes are cozy in January, but can become over-bearing in June. Remove those heavy panels and replace them with sheer, gauzy panels in a color that will contrast your walls. Your hardware can remain in place; simpy remove your existing panels and replace with the new panels. Voila! An inexpensive seasonal change, which can make a big difference in your bedroom.

During the summer months, you may also wish to remove any area rugs in the room. They become less necessary, because your floors are much warmer. Summer is about simplicity! Your other accessories and artwork may also rotate during the warmer months. Look at what you have with new eyes; perhaps the pieces currently in your bedroom would be a welcome change in your den. Bring into your bedroom only those pieces which enhance your new, lighter look for summer. Paintings with snow are not welcome here.
Lighting is very important in any bedroom, and even more so in the master bedroom. Be sure to incorporate different types of lighting into the room: ambient lighting for general light, reading lights and accent lighting. Install a dimmer on your overhead lighting, to allow for just the light level you need. When using bedside lamps, change the bulbs to an amber or rose color; this will create a flattering light in a lower level. You will definitely set the mood! Bring in accent lighting, as well, in the form of candles. The glow of candlelight will take an ordinary evening and make it extraordinary.

Clutter and chaos do not bring a peaceful feel to any room, especially the bedroom. Purge those closets, so everything in your room has a home. Do not allow your bedroom to become a dumping ground for random homeless items from other rooms. A clean, serene room is a decluttered room; and the organization it will bring to your life will allow you time to focus on what really matters.

We have heard it a million times, but I do have one more tip for enhancing those summer nights in your bedroom – hide away the TV! A television in the bedroom is NOT the way to a woman’s heart, and merely serves as a distraction to more important matters. Instead, think of soothing sounds, such as classical music or the calming sounds of the ocean. Summer is about warmth, sunshine, simplicity and fun. Enjoy it!

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How Removing Wallpaper is Saving My Sanity

I have taken on a new project – removing the wallpaper in my main bathroom.  It is a beastly job.  My fingernails hurt.  The walls are going to need sanding and touch-up before I can even THINK about painting them.  My neck hurts from looking up for too long.  My arms ache.  My bathroom is a disaster filled with tiny strips of peach and blue country striped wallpaper.  I can smell the faint odor of vinegar, as that is the best way to remove wallpaper, in my estimation.   If I could afford to hire this job out, I would do it in a heartbeat.  So, how is it saving my sanity?  For the answer, I need to back up a couple of months.

After nearly 8 years with my last employer, I was awaiting word of a lay-off in May.  Panic set in – how would we pay our bills?  Could I find another job in this economy?  It’s not a great time to be an interior designer, as people cut back on non-essential spending.  A million thoughts and scenarios rolled through my mind like the credits at the end of a movie.  My husband and I put the brakes on everything, spending money only on groceries and necessities.  Certainly, any home improvement projects we had in mind would need to wait.  After all, we have children to feed, cars that need repairs and bills to be paid.  And, according to the news, this recession is the worst since the Great Depression, and no one is spending money on anything!  Yikes!

I have been looking at peach and blue country-style striped wallpaper in my 1920’s home for the past 7 years.  This was my year!  After painting nearly every other room in the house, removing wallpaper in bedrooms, replacing window treatments and ripping out carpet in favor of the original wood floors beneath it, it was FINALLY time to tackle the dreaded wallpaper-removal project in the bathroom.  Believe me, the bathroom needs more than a new coat of paint to be my dream space.  However, since the sky is falling, and we are all in economic hell, those improvements would have to wait.  Wouldn’t they?

My "before" shot.

My "before" shot. Most of this is original to our purchase of the home - and definitely not my style!

As spring turned into summer, and I began my lay-off, I started my own design business.  My wallpaper project was put on the back burner once again – I didn’t have the time and I didn’t want to spend money on paint.  My family has saved every penny possible – no vacations or extras this year.  But, the more I looked at my peach bathroom wallpaper, the more I realized how much I NEEDED this project.  I decided I could, indeed, spend money on a bucket or 2 of paint, and spend some time scraping wallpaper off my walls.  I needed this project to feel like life is moving forward; I have been smothered by bad economic news, worry about my new business, stress and the feeling that we have a long time to wait before things improve.  When I took hold of that loose piece of wallpaper that has been taunting me for 7 years, and tore it loose from the wall, I felt hope!  Hope that we could survive, and even succeed, in this economic time.  Hope that I am improving my surroundings, so I can enjoy my home even more, and add to the value of my home.  Hope that others will want to do the same, and will hire a professional to help them achieve their goals.

The sky is not falling.  In fact, there are signs that the economy is starting to recover.  All I know, is I NEED to move forward.  I am excited that I am the owner of my own design company, and I am confident that I can succeed.  I need to keep my eyes forward, and not worry about the latest economic predictors and worries.  I can afford a bucket of paint.  That bucket of paint will update my bathroom.  It’s not the only thing my bathroom needs, but it’s a start.  And it keeps me moving forward.  That’s what I need right now, and I know that is what you all need, too.  What is the project that will move you forward?  And, how can I help you get there?

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