Clients and Friends:
Time to say Hello! A fast paced summer has turned into glorious
pre-fall days – now it’s time to welcome the cooler seasons. For
interior designers, the darker months create a different set of
challenges when we work with our clients’ homes. Spending more time
indoors calls for warmer colors, well-lit reading spaces, and
perhaps a touch of seasonal decorating: different color lampshades,
a fur throw, textured slip covers, adding a fall or winter flower
arrangement, etc. Try it out – you’ll be amazed how easily you can
transform any room in your house!
Our Topics are:
Staging in a Changing Real Estate Market
Decorating Kids’ Rooms that Last
maximum mileage from working with your Interior Designer
It’s never too Early for Holiday Decorating!
Staging is no longer “The Secret Weapon”
in Promoting your Property
Home sales decreased 30.1 percent in August in
California compared with the same period a year ago – the
greatest year-to-year decline since August 1982! – and in
the San Francisco Bay Area sales declined by 23%. Just as
the rates seem to level out, statistics about a considerable
slowdown of the real estate market are published each and
California Association of Realtors’ President Vince Malta
says “This is another indication that we’re in the initial
stages of a long-anticipated adjustment in the market.
Buyers today have a much greater selection of properties
from which to choose, while some sellers are still clinging
to price expectations that are no longer valid in today’s
Staging can be fun and inexpensive. Experienced stagers find
tremendous gratification in working with eclectic and
individual accessories their clients already own, and
working a theme such as travel, music, or basket collection
into the mix makes it just personal enough not to be boring.
And if attractive “staple” furniture can be worked with, it
saves sellers thousands!
Some trivia: Reality TV comes to the real estate market –
recently in New York, some model homes were not only staged
but the sellers hired real live actors to “live” in the
interiors for the Open House tours! Hopefully, this is not a
trend but a short-lived attempt to appeal to our obsession
Here are snapshots and feedback from recent Residence
Redesigns staging campaigns:
“I saw the staged pictures of my home today. It's really
wonderful! Thank you very much for this great job”.
“The place looks great. Thanks for doing such a terrific
job both on the unit
and making my seller feel right about it”.
“Your advice was invaluable in making our house look
great. Thank you very
are all actual quotes, but in order to protect our clients’
privacy, no names and places are attached to them.
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Decorating Kids’ Rooms that Last
“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is
tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “The Little Prince”, 1943)
When did you last redecorate your kids’ rooms, and did you listen to
their input? Do your school kids still live with baby designs on
walls and fabrics? If you are planning to update your kids’ digs,
you might find these considerations helpful:
1. Age appropriateness:
Our kids seem to grow up faster and faster. There are 4 phases
that call for an update in design: baby-bliss, toddler/young
kids, “tweens”, and teens. A high-contrast wall color may be
developmentally appropriate for babies and toddlers, but a cool
“tween” needs a more sophisticated palette. As tween and teen
years merge, 12 is the new 15! A very independent age group
wants their own visions and imaginations on walls, bedding, and
accessories, and flexibility is key (on both room layout and
2. Special themes and hobbies:
today, you have endless
options of creating a themed room. Inspiring tools such as
murals, chalkboard paint, glow in the dark stickies, borders,
and graffiti are at your fingertips. Combined with color, right
sized furniture, props, and fabric they can build an environment
in which your child loves to spend their most colorful and
carefree years. Fabrics have moved beyond Laura Ashley’s
ginghams, or IKEA’s zoo animals, and lines made by Duralee and
other manufacturers provide beautiful prints, whether for baby,
small kid or high schoolers. If you go with good quality,
neutral furniture, you can achieve any look – and easily update
for a change in taste by paint or pillows.
3. Storage: Are you constantly tripping over books,
clothes, cables, electronics and other paraphernalia? Does
everything get shoved under the bed? Storage challenges could be
met by door holders, under-bed containers, nets hung from the
ceiling, or ropes strung across a wall. A whole industry caters
to our need for organization and attractive but functional
storage of wardrobe, school supplies, toys, and hobbies. The
solution is out there, you just have to customize it to your own
For my own children, instead of a
baby look that would become “too young” within 2 years, I went for
colors and fabrics that have lasted us many years. The patterns
still work with a more mature look and lend themselves to
introducing new, more exciting décor: polka dots on my daughter’s
walls, a blue wall in my son’s room. My own kids are getting the
“design bug”, and their furniture is very flexible, so they
rearrange their rooms frequently!
I read an interesting essay about desks in kids’ rooms. It said that
no kid likes to be cooped up in their rooms to do homework, and I
agree with it – at most households, the kitchen table or the family
computer are ‘homework headquarters’. We all feel that protection
from certain Internet dangers are difficult to control when our
children do online research etc. in their rooms. So why not minimize
the desk size in favor of storage or seating?
Some websites you can browse for ideas and motivation:
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Benjamin Moore offers thousands of
different paint colors. Although most designers specify Benjamin
Moore or Pratt & Lambert, painters like to work with the Kelly Moore
brand – put Ralph Lauren, Home Depot and other brand colors into the
mix, and you have the perfect reason to be confused about what color
to select for your walls. Each manufacturer mixes a different amount
of tints to achieve a hue, but beware – what may appear the same on
small samples might well end up looking quite different on your
If you don’t want to complicate matters by too much variety, some
new tools could make the choice easier:
Beginning this fall, 24 to 28 Benjamin Moore colors are chosen for
each season to offer consumers innovative ideas on color inspiration
and seasonal palette options throughout the year. You can find the
Benjamin Moore brand featured throughout Pottery Barn’s retail
stores, in their catalogs, and on Pottery Barn’s website in their Stylehouse section. In select Pottery Barn retail stores, colors of
the season will be featured on the wall behind the cash register and
on lifestyle walls. Decals identifying the specific paint colors
will be marked on each painted wall. And of course, you can get your
2 oz. samples at the local Gray’s Paints & Wallpapers.
Also, Restoration Hardware now offers a color fan with paint
collection colors for interior or kitchen/bath colors. I was assured
by sales staff that their catalogs specify which ones are being
used. The color deck costs $7.50, and you can purchase a small size
paint sample for $3.95.
You likely still want to involve your designer to help with the
process. Catalog photo shoots are done with the perfect lighting,
and naturally, all the décor completes the color scheme. The paper
they’re printed on is nothing like your walls. Stores are a
completely different scale than your living room.
“Confederate Red” may not be right for your house!
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“For Best Results….” – Get maximum
mileage from working with your Interior Designer or
So you want that new look for your living room, kitchen,
master bedroom, baths – or possibly the entire house. Few of
us decide on a whim to blow thousands of dollars on a
remodel. The impulse to change styles, colors, and
furnishings has likely come from a visit to a friend’s house
we haven’t seen in a while, or the visit of a furniture
store (and I don’t mean Levitz!!), or browsing magazines in
a waiting room.
Suddenly you feel the inclination for a different look – but
where do you start?
Begin by asking friends and family for referrals on
contractors, designers, architects, etc. Most everybody has
either a horror story or a success story to relay! Take
feedback to heart and heed warnings. However, every remodel
scenario is different, and with thorough preparation you can
make yours a breeze!
Put together a list of wants and needs, and have it ready
for the consultation. The major difference between a
consultation with a contractor vs. an interior designer is
that design time is charged by the hour whereas the
contractor gathers information to provide a quote – for
free… Then, why do you need your designer there? Unless you
are very prepared and knowledgeable, the contractor will ask
questions or make suggestions that might need translation.
Your designer will help evaluate whether ideas and specific
construction options fit the overall plan, or if certain
improvements can be addressed without major modifications.
Collect pictures of anything and everything you like – keep
pages from catalogs, magazines, print photos off websites,
or save flyers from Open Houses you have visited. Even if
the remodel isn’t imminent, this folder or scrapbook becomes
your most valuable tool, and as pictures speak louder than
words, your best “briefing material” for your interior
Most designers meet you as a short ‘getting to know each
other’, but not necessarily at your house. Take your idea
folder and get together at the local coffee shop to explore
whether you can work together. Once you find that he or she
meets your expectations, it is very common for designers to
have you sign a retainer agreement. This should be
absolutely clearly worded, state hourly fee, any mark-up
percentage, or other costs you will be charged for.
It is unreasonable to expect a budget estimate at this
point. Too many variables: your ability and speed to make
decisions, range of low end to high end furnishings, hidden
costs on what looks like a ‘quick and easy’ project
(plumbing, electrical, structural engineering, etc.), just
to mention a few.
Be aware that however small a project you start – things may
snowball. But beware, change orders are costly and annoying.
It’s one thing to paint an extra wall, but quite another to
discover you should have installed recessed or wall lighting
after sheetrock and paintwork has been completed. The more
complete of a plan you have, the better. If you replace
appliances along the way, select those before you start any
demolition. Fell in love with Italian marble, or European
bath furniture? Long deliveries may mess up the best plan!
Last but not least, what do all those letters mean?? As in
every profession, the initials of associations, degrees, and
certification is baffling but here are a few you’ll come
ASID – American Society of Interior Designers
CKD – Certified Kitchen Designer
IDS – Interior Design Society
IRIS – Interior Redesign Industry Specialists
NKBA – National Kitchen and Bath Association
NARI – National Association of the Remodeling Industry
NHFA – National Home Furnishings Association
… and of course, everyone knows HGTV! They make every
project look easy and straight forward. Remember it’s
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Need Holiday Decorating?
Holidays – whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Christmas, or
Hanukah – are a happy time! Don’t make the decorating part a
chore! Time between Back to School and year end celebrations
moves extra fast. Starting too late is almost a guarantee
for stress, and a major reason why so many of our clients
leave two thirds of their stuff packed instead of enjoying
to work with it.
Call us if you need a Holiday helper for shopping, party
planning, decorating, or gift wrapping.
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