Category Archives: Home and Garden

DIY Makeovers With Blogger

Chelsea Lipford Wolf is not only the host of the Checking In With Chelsea, and award-winning web series and blog, but a co-host and collaborator of the popular Today’s Homeowner syndicated tv series. Chelsea takes on more than just decorating, she uses her extensive DIY and home improvement talents to share easy-to-follow projects.

 

Checking In With Chelsea, a web series and blog is part of the national Today’s Homeowner brand, launched in July 2014 and earned two 2015 National Telly Awards which honor outstanding work in video and film productions. Whether she’s tackling a simple home repair or a more creative décor project, Chelsea enjoys transforming the everyday ordinary into extraordinary.

 

If you love practical, real-life, DIY home improvement projects, you’ll love these three simple DIY projects Chelsea is sharing with us. All three of these decorating projects prove that a little bit of paint and some inspiration can totally transform your home.

 

How to Hack a Simple Bookcase DIY

 

You probably have a bookcase or two in your home that needs some updating and TLC. Painting a bookcase is a quick way to update it, but you can also go a little further with a stylish DIY hack for a boring bookcase.

 

Chelsea started this bookcase DIY makeover by adding molding to give it architectural detail. Adding trim or molding to a plain piece of furniture gives it a more expensive look and a timeless quality. The secret to successfully adding architectural interest is to use paint to incorporate the new features. 

 

Any great furniture makeover starts with an inspiration and a piece of furniture that is worth making over. The bookcase that Chelsea chose to makeover was a hand-me-down with a faux wood finish that was perfect for a new look.

Chelsea: “This bookshelf was handed down to me from my grandparents when they were purging a lot from their house. It was originally brown with a faux wood look. Not my style. So I had caulked all of the joints and painted it white. Then I painted the back of it blue to coordinate with the blue guest room/office where it originally resided in my home.”

A Vintage or Vintage Inspired Kitchen

Charming checkerboard floors adorned vintage kitchens in homes ranging from modest to grand. A black-and-white checkerboard floor was the most common, but occasionally you’ll see old checkerboard floors featuring gray, red, or cobalt blue.

 

If your vintage kitchen still has a checkerboard floor, don’t replace it. If you don’t have one, get this vintage look with a reproduction tile that looks like old.

Long before paint manufacturer’s came up with washable kitchen paint, homeowners installed tile to protect kitchen walls from splashes and spills. The coverage varied; installation ranged from just the lower third to the entire wall surface. The contrasting borders frequently used were a decorative bonus.

 

Ceramic tile rarely survives being ripped out, so a stash of new old stock is your best bet for an authentic look if your walls aren’t already tiled. If you can’t find that, opt for new wall tile that’s designed to look old. Study old kitchen photos so you can duplicate the tile color, shape, and size.

Built-in china cabinets were fairly common in vintage kitchens — and not just in luxury homes. I’ve lived in three relatively modest 1920’s apartments that still had them. And, when the kitchen didn’t have them, sometimes the dining room or butler’s pantry did.

 

The built-in cabinetry in the photo is marvelously intact, but it’s a shame the door pulls were replaced. Though they’re covered in paint, at least the hinges are original.

 

Some built-in china cabinets undoubtedly went to the landfill when the homeowners remodeled. Fortunately, lots were salvaged as well. I’ve seen them at flea markets, reuse stores, and thrift shops. If you don’t find what you need at any of those, your best bet is an architectural salvage shop.

Installing an old drainboard sink — one that features built-in drainboards on one or both sides — in the kitchen is a wonderful way to give a new home a little vintage charm.

 

Drainboard sinks are bigger than most of today’s reproduction farmhouse sinks, but they do have the same exposed front aprons. They’re usually wall mounted, with or without decorative front legs. But, occasionally, you’ll see them installed on a cabinet base that shares the sink’s width.

 

Look for vintage drainboard sinks at the same places you search for old cabinetry: thift shops, flea markets, and reuse stores. Also, check Craigslist and your local newspaper classifieds for drainboard sinks for sale, or for a salvage yard that deals in old fixtures. 

Blue Accessories for Any Style

A blue palette has a calming influence on any space, whether your home is a contemporary loft or a cottage near a lake.  Depending on the colors you pair it with, and the shades and patterns you choose, blue works beautifully in any style home.  From baby blue to navy blue, there’s sure to be a hue that’s right for you.

 

Blue in a Contemporary Room

 

Here, blue is paired with warm, natural textures and neutral colors, but it also looks great with black and white.  To keep the look clean and contemporary, choose bold pops of the same blue–such as this jewel-toned turquoise–and relegate the use of color to solids rather than patterns.  Here are some examples of blue accessories that would work in a contemporary room:

 

  • A large, sculptural vase in a glossy peacock-blue
  • A set of sapphire pillows on a white couch
  • Abstract wall art featuring electric blue swaths of color

Whereas solid blues make the difference in a contemporary room, this space relies on a variety of blue patterns for a formal look that feels fresh.  This mix of pattern–found on the striped chair, Greek key rug, Suzani pillows, and floral curtains–look cohesive because they share a palette of just two main colors: sky blue and royal blue.  Even though the feel of this room is on the traditional side, these particular blues keep the look light and airy and the pattern play keeps it from looking stuffy. 

 

Another way to achieve a formal look is to layer a deep, moody blue such as indigo with warm metallics like copper or gold.  This glamorous pairing feels like the inside of a velvet-lined jewelry box and is an elegant choice for a formal dining room or even a master bedroom.

Blue accessories for formal spaces might include:

  • An ottoman upholstered in steel blue velvet
  • Dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtain panels in a royal blue floral
  • A pair of large Ming-style vases flanking your fireplace mantel

Home Without Emptying Your Wallet

Decorating can be expensive, particularly if you have to do a whole room or a whole house all at once. A decorating budget will be your most important tool in making sure you don’t empty your wallet while filling your house.

 

Make a Wishlist

The first thing to do is to let your imagination run wild. Think about all the things you would love to have, whether you think it will fit within your decorating budget or not.

Collect inspiration photos and write down all the things that stick out to you. Are you in love with wallpaper? Do you love the look of wainscotting? Are you attracted to specific statement pieces? Having a list of items you want to include will help you when it comes time to make a decorating plan.

 

Determine Your Budget

Put your wishlist aside for the moment and create a budget for the room(s) you need to decorate. Be honest about your regular expenses and really figure out how much you have to spend on this project. No decor item is worth having if it’s going to make you feel guilty or compromise the rest of your lifestyle. So figure out what you have to spend – what exactly you spend it on will be decided later.

 

Make a Decorating Plan

A decorating plan includes everything from creating an overall look, determining the floor plan, and adding any extras like wallpaper, light fixtures and artwork.

This is pretty much everything that will go into the room. This is where you want to work from your wishlist. Take all the things you wrote down and figure out what you actually want to put in your room while keeping your budget in the back of your head.

 

Comparison Shop

Comparison shopping before you buy is very important.

You need to familiarize yourself with what things really cost. Remember to include things like labor costs for custom work, shipping and delivery, and any other extras that may not be on an item’s original price tag. And don’t let yourself get discouraged during this process. While the prices quickly add up there are often ways to get what you want for the price you can afford – you just need to be willing to compromise. It’s not as hard as it seems to decorate a room on a budget.

 

Narrow Things Down

Chances are that you can’t fit everything on your wishlist into your budget. Once you’ve done some comparison shopping you should have a good idea of what things cost. Now is the time to narrow things down. Cut out the things that aren’t practical for your budget, and make adjustments where you can. This may mean opting for pre-fab bookshelves instead of built-in cabinets, or store-bought curtains instead of custom window treatments. In some cases it’s a matter of making minor adjustments to still get the same look. For instance, if you fall in love with a $5,000 sofa look around for something in a similar shape but perhaps with a different type of filling. Chances are good that you can find something you like just as much for a smaller price.

Prioritizing your purchases is important because no matter what your budget is you might not be able to pay for everything all at once, so you need to decide what you need first. For instance, in many cases a sofa will be a priority before accessories like artwork and mirrors. Or you may want to get things like rugs and wallpaper in place before you bring in furniture. This is unique to every person and every home so it’s up to you to decide what to do first.

 

Stick to Your Decorating Budget

The hardest part of this whole process is actually sticking to the budget once you’ve made it. It’s very easy to lose track so make it a priority to stay organized and write down each and every thing you pay for during the decorating process. And remember that if you over spend in one area you’ll have to make up for it in another.

The Details Makes All the Difference

Preparing for and hosting house guests can be a very enjoyable experience. There’s something satisfying about helping your visitors feel especially welcome and comfortable.

When you start to plan your guest room, think about what you’d expect to find in a 5-diamond hotel and try to make your room measure up to that standard. Your budget may not have enough in it to let you create a getaway oasis, but you can clear the decks, arrange what’s necessary, and provide a quiet place to relax.

 

  • The Best Bed Your Money Can BuyDon’t give your guest the oldest, most saggy mattress you have. If you can’t afford a new or good used bed, think about getting a quality air mattress. They’re really quite comfortable and can be placed on top of a box spring, over a sofa bed mattress, or on the floor.
  • Bedding UpgradesBeyond clean bedding, think about adding wonderful bed linens and comfort items often supplied by fine B&B’s: a featherbed mattress topper, a choice of pillows, a cozy down comforter, extra blankets, and freshly ironed pillowcases.
  • Fresh LinensAlways have an extra set of bed and bath linens available for your guests. Accidents do happen! Or you may have one of those wonderful guests who insists on changing the sheets when they leave. Let them do it, and thank them profusely!
  • A Place to Set Down a SuitcaseClear a space to put a luggage rack or a small table or bench to set down a suitcase. No one likes to have to stoop over to the floor to pull out a clean pair of socks. Even a chair is better than nothing.
  • Clear the DecksResist the temptation to put your beautiful collection of dolls on the dresser or fill the closet with out-of-season clothes. In a guest room, less is more — more space, more comfortable, and more welcoming. Get rid of anything that you would not find in the room of a fine hotel. Keep only the most useful items in the room, like a clock and calendar.
  • A Comfy Place to SitSome people do not feel comfortable sitting on a bed, and your guests shouldn’t have to. Place an upholstered armchair or side chair in the room with a table and lamp close by.
  • Good LightingOne of the biggest hotel decor missteps is walking into an otherwise nice hotel room and there’s no light to read by. It’s always nice to have a light control near the bed, so your guest won’t have to stumble around in the dark, just to turn a light on. If nothing else, provide a good reading light near a chair or over the bed. Another fixture or lamp near the desk would be great. A small night light is helpful, and a lighted magnifying make-up mirror is a real luxury.
  • Hanging Clothes StorageIf your guest room shares space with a home office, clear at least a foot or two of pole space in the closet. Or purchase an inexpensive over-the-door hook that can accommodate some hanging clothes. Don’t forget a supply of 6 or 8 hangers. A simple hook on the wall or behind a closet door can hold a robe, coat, or a purse.

Modern Home Failures

The current popularity of the mid-century modern style is usually attributed to the TV series Mad Men. But the show is just a mouthpiece–a messaging system–for the zeitgeist that’s already there.

 

The source of heat lies deep in the cerebral cortex of a generation of 40-plus year-olds. These are the environs where we, as kids, accompanied our parents to the super-sleek savings and loan and marveled at concrete beams impossibly arching over vast floor spaces. Or where we visited Mom’s rich sister who had a low, flat home designed by an actual architect–not a tract home stamped from a cookie presser–dominated by a massive fireplace. Or where countless TV sitcom families lived among acres of glass and indoor rockery.

 

So it comes as no surprise that this generation, now adults, now parents, and now monied, would want to buy or remodel their homes to mid-century modern perfection.

Mid-century modern represented freedom–freedom from the bonds of gravity (cantilevers), from the restrictions of energy-saving (those acres of glass), from skimping on land (spread out the house on one level; no two stories allowed here).

And who doesn’t love freedom?

But if you’re considering renovating sections of your home, or your entire home, into the mid-century style, at least be aware of several beliefs of that age that later came to naught.

The first thing you notice with mid-century modern houses is that they appear to be built wholly of glass.

 

The Fail

 

Glass is a terrible insulator. The more layers and thickness you have, the better insulator you have. It also helps to have materials suited for insulation, such as fiberglass and gypsum. Even though mid-century modern homes employed thick tempered glass for its transparent walls and oversized windows, there are far better ways to insulate a home than this.

Francisco Penthouse With A View

Too often we underestimate the importance of design, reducing it to colors and patterns, pretty pictures and fantasy homes. But there’s more to it; and every so often we get reminded of the other side of things. The part where beautiful interiors become homes for real people. Where the right colors can change someone’s day, and where patterns can represent the heritage and history of the people who live there.

 

Jodi Querbach lives in the Bedford-Styuvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, along with her husband Kemis and their five children. Their historic, 19th century brownstone was selected for a redesign by LOWE’S as part of their fall makeover program. The home was designed by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason of AphroChic with furniture from LOWE’S.

To create the perfect backdrop the designers repainted the entire space in a special shade of gray with hints of lilac. As sunlight moves through the room throughout the day the wall color changes slightly from gray to purple, and even a slight shade of blue. The neutral tone creates a cool and calm interior that readily displays the colorful highlights placed throughout the room.

The living room plan is open yet cozy, designed for time with a large family. A gray modular sofa is set across from a pair of matching petal side chairs to provide ample seating for all seven members of the family. The Moroccan Beni Ourain rugon the floor mirrors the neutral shade of the walls, while the natural tone of the chairs brings a touch of warmth to the cool interior. Plants on the table and floor pop with bright greens and bring a fresh, natural feel to the space. To give the historic home a touch of it’s original splendor, AphroChic worked with contractor Will Johnson to design and create a brand new mantle. The visual center of the room, the mantle was painted black to match the color of the home’s other original details. 

The dining room is a study in contrasts between the cool, industrial color of the walls and the warm, natural tones of the furniture. A long wooden dining table is attended by eight stylish dining chairs to ensure that there’s room for everyone around the table. The painting, an original from Brooklyn-based artist Valincy-Jean Patelli adds a beautiful metallic shade to the open space that is echoed in the brass side tables of the living room.

One of only two original pieces from the older design of the house, this classic hutch adds texture and depth to the dining room. The lamp and the potted plant that top the piece both echo elements from the dining table and the living room to create a cohesive look that flows along the entirety of the space.

Modern Living Rooms

In some corners of the decorating world “modern” is considered a dirty word. There’s a belief that modern rooms are cold and lack personality. But nothing could be further from the truth. Modern living rooms can be warm, inviting, and sometimes even downright cozy. While modern living rooms may lack some of the frills of their more embellished counterparts, they make up for it in their sleek sense of style.

What’s not to love about a room with comfortable furniture, a soothing palette, and a take notice focal point? This modern living room from Raven Inside Interior Designhas them all. The sleek lines and no-frills approach to decorating is both modern and minimal, yet there’s nothing cold or impersonal about it. The warm finishes and soft furnishings make this a great room for spending a cozy night in.

Who says modern can’t be fun? Cleary not the team from Michelle Lewis Interior Design, the  masterminds behind this room. Abstract art, a unique light fixture, and an array of colors and finishes come together to create a space that looks great and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

What many people don’t appreciated about modern design is how easily it can be combined with other styles. This room for instance has some traditional architectural bones (courtesy of Murphy & Co Architects) yet the furniture and art skew modern. Together they form an almost transitional style which can be appealing to a wide variety of people.

Make a small modern space appear larger with a white color palette and see through furnishings. This modern condo designed by Lori Pedersen Staging & Stylinghas a small footprint but thanks to the use of negative space (mainly around the acrylic coffee table) it appears larger than it really is.

The fireplace is almost always the focal point of a room, so why not beef it up to create an entire focal wall? In this modern living room the focal wall (designed by Beinfield Architecture) is not particularly flashy, but it has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the space. The metal panels add texture which provides more depth than something flat like paint would. It’s minimal, yet the results are huge.

Dreamy Home Ideas

There are some interiors that push the envelope. Some that go beyond the typical homes you see while idly spending time on Pinterest. And this home by interior designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25, definitely pushes the envelope in some truly exciting ways. Fenimore, who is based in Dallas, is recognized as one of the city’s top designers. So, it is no surprise that she is the designer behind this Dallas dream home where color, pattern, and a sophisticated mix of the two truly shines.

No stone was left unturned in the design of this two-bedroom home. Stepping into each room, you can see that Fenimore thought about each and every detail that would contribute to her bold vision for the interior. In the home’s guest bedroom, Kelly Wearstler’s Channels Wallpaper makes quite an impression. The backdrop creates a striking statement wall, where Wearstler’s edgy brush strokes are featured.

To keep things cozy in the guest bedroom, a reading nook was designed. For seating, Fenimore went with custom upholstery. An oversized foliage print is extremely modern and the shade of emerald green is a nice contrast to the cream and white design on the walls. The addition of a gold side table becomes the perfect moment of warmth, echoing the metallic frame of the room’s canopy bed.

Living in Dallas, a city with a well-known design scene, Fenimore was able to work with local designers. The bed is from Scout Design Studio Dallas. And bedding is from Peacock Alley, which also has a home in Dallas. A shop-owner herself, some of the pieces in the interior are from Abbe’s online boutique, Shop Ten 25, that offers a range of decorative elements including furniture, lighting and pillows.

There are those moments where a designer takes some risks and here it really pays off. The mix of pattern in an interior can be complicated, but Fenimore embraced it. In this bedroom the bookshelf has been wallpapered in a spotted print. And while it’s directly across from the Channels Wallpaper that offers a strikingly different design, here it all works together harmoniously.

Beautiful Beach House Living Rooms

Can’t afford a beach vacation this year? Don’t worry. With easy breezy beach style decorating you can get all the ambiance of a day at the beach without setting foot outside the house. And the best news of all? It’s an easy and versatile style that can be modified to suit any style of home.

A sandy color palette with touches of blue is perfectly reminiscent of the sea and surf in this home by Butler Armsden Architects. To make the most of this type of palette try to stick with an open layout and limit the use of furniture and accessories. The idea here is to create an open, airy atmosphere, similar to what’s happening just outside.

A basic beach house living room is easy to achieve if you use the right combination of color and materials, like designer Sabrina Alfin did here. Soft blue paint, sand and stone colored fabrics and driftwood accents combine seamlessly to make an afternoon in this living room feel like a day at the beach.

One of the best ways to get a beachy or coastal look is with shiplap, as seen here in this living room courtesy of Indian River Furniture. While some liken it more with farmhouse style, it’s been historically more associated with nautical or “cape cod” style. The wide, horizontal planks evoke a sense of casual simplicity, and isn’t that what beach style is all about?

To make the connection from the outdoors to the indoors virtually seamless, consider a largely white color scheme with slim, streamlined furniture, like this beach house from Lissett Homes. In this beach house living room there’s a sense of openness thanks to the large window and minimalist interior. Pops of sea blue help to maintain the beachy personality amidst all the white.