Early Fall 2006

Heike Shelton

Dear 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!

Heike Shelton
  Residence Redesigns

Our Topics are:
Staging in a Changing Real Estate Market
Decorating Kids’ Rooms that Last
Color Update
Get 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 every week.

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selection of properties from which to choose, while some sellers are still clinging to price expectations that are no longer valid in today’s market.”

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 with perfectionism.

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

PS: These 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 them”
(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 parents’ tolerance!)

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 clutter!

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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Color Update

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 walls.

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 Contractor

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 designer.

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 across:

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 Television!

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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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Residence Redesigns
PO Box 4455
Foster City CA 94404

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