Nov 20, 2013

Let There Be Light: A No Nonsense Guide to Kitchen Lighting (a guest post)

Lighting these days is an art form. Sure it is there to serve a functional purpose as well. But more and more people are beginning to realise the aesthetic impact they can make on their kitchens through a basic knowledge of lighting techniques. With the application of just a few simple rules, you and your friends can totally transform the look, feel, texture and mood of your home. 

Keep it Natural

Of course, there is no substitute for the real thing. And natural light should without doubt be the foundation from which you create your kitchen lighting scheme. To really make the most of it, you will most likely have to cheat a bit. This could mean installing roof lights or patio doors that fold out to allow more light in. You may even want to consider trimming any plants which hinder the flow of light into the kitchen. 

Ambient for Atmosphere

Having a central hanging pendant light or row of lights in your kitchen and over the dining table will provide a decent amount of illumination and will serve as an attractive focal feature. Be sure to install lights which are dimmable. This will allow you to control the mood depending on the occasion. Also, be aware that ambient light alone will probably not suffice, and that thoughtful and practical task lighting will be necessary to really give purpose and depth to your kitchen lighting scheme.     

Be Smart with Task Lighting

The kitchen can be a busy place and there are plenty of opportunities for aesthetically pleasing and functional task lights. You will definitely want to install some task lighting over the cooker and over the food preparation surfaces. A row of spotlights will allow you to see easily into your pans as you prepare dinner. And if you take your culinary pursuits seriously, you may even like to place some lighting inside some of the dry food storage units, in order to make your ingredients that tiny bit more accessible. 

A Flourish of Features

This is where kitchen lighting really becomes a visual art form. Feature lighting involves working with the architecture of your kitchen in order to organically interweave beautiful lighting installations into the natural structure of your home. The results can be breathtaking, but you will almost definitely need to seek professional specialist lighting advice.  

Changes You'll Notice

The above techniques are by no means complex or beyond the grasp of anyone with a little will and perseverance. And if all these changes sound like they'll cost you a lot of money, they won't. In fact,  you can get good quality kitchen lights from BrightLightz for next to nothing.  

Nov 18, 2013

design plan-beach villa bedroom (budget friendly!)

oh, i know. it's the holiday season, and very few of us are thinking about the beach. but these clients have recently purchased a beach villa and needed a design plan for their master bedroom that was chic and affordable, and easy to pull together in the next few months before the rental season goes into full swing.

not a SINGLE piece on this board costs more than $300. pretty incredible, right?

interested in working together to create a more beautiful and functional space? i still have a few openings for december! email me today at to set up a consultation!

Nov 16, 2013

DIY Master-class – Essential Tools (a guest post)

Interior design isn’t all window treatments and wall coverings. Choosing the right colours and textures for your room is extremely important, but the skill to carry out your designs is vital, especially if you don’t have the money to hire a professional. The array of tools and equipment in the average hardware store is overwhelming but with a little background information you can make sure you have the right kit for any design job.

The Mitre Saw – For furniture making projects, shelf installation and anything else where you need accurate straight line cutting in large volumes, a mitre saw is your best friend. Automatic saws are faster and far more accurate than the manual version; blades are less likely to flex and bend, and you don’t have the problem of changing pressure and angle as your arm gets tired. A mitre saw is probably the most expensive tool in the DIY tool kit, but it is well worth the investment. Make sure you do go for a quality tool such as this Dewalt, available online at Elcocks – this is not the area to economize.

The Electric Drill – It goes without saying that an electric drill is superior to a manual one, but not all drills are made equal. Small, lightweight drills are great for craft working, but for serious DIY projects you need a decent quality drill. Opt for one that comes with a full range of drill bits, and if possible one that doubles as an electric screwdriver. Make sure you don’t buy one without checking the weight; if it is too heavy for you to hold up then it is useless to you. If it takes two hand, you don’t want to buy it – you need a hand spare for steadying and holding. In the case of a drill, it is the quality of the drill bits themselves where you don’t want to economise; you can afford to pay a little less for the drill itself. 

The Jigsaw– The fact is, sawing is not always about the straight line, especially when it comes to interior design as opposed to simple DIY. The ability to cut wood and plastic into specific shapes can transform a simple piece of furniture into a style statement. Because it is such a popular tool (and often used by people in place of a mitre saw, though this is not recommendable if you want a truly accurate straight edge) choosing one of good quality requires a more detailed guide. That said, it is an essential tool for anyone serious about DIY.

Nov 13, 2013

sneaky shallow storage

no matter how big or small your home is, clever, functional storage is always appreciated. 
in our house, i took full advantage of the space behind the doors of the master bedroom closets:

in my husbands closet, we used the space to store his ties!
it is amazing how many ties can be stored in a space that is normally "lost".

this solution literally only takes 3" of projected space from the wall. you could also use this space to install hooks for coats, robes or belts.

for this project, we used the most inexpensive walmart towel bar we could find.

we did the same thing behind the door of my closet---
(but used a different rod--sorry for the lame pictures here. 
the above pictures were taken by a pro...these were taken by me.)

and in my youngest daughters walk in closet!

we finally installed the closets in my kids rooms this past weekend.  my kids have never been so happy to hang their clothes up! it's pretty amazing how having the right kind of storage can make life SO much tidier and easier. it was a happy, happy weekend at the clemon's house!

Nov 11, 2013

design plans: 2 budget friendly toddler room schemes (and some tips on how to save money decorating)

here are two schemes that i came up with for a client that was looking for a budget friendly way to redecorate her young daughters room. 

lavender + citrine:

red + mint:

nearly all items on the boards come from sources like target, ikea, kirklands, and etsy....
because often it's not a matter of HOW much money you spend, but WHERE and HOW.

if you are getting ready to redecorate a room in your house, and will be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, it is worth the investment to do some homework:

*look at sites like houzz and pinterest to get a better vision of what you like and want. it is a good idea to have a sense of your style before you begin any redecorating project.

*blogs (like mine!) or copy cat chic can give you ideas for less expensive look-alike alternatives for everything from lighting to sofas. be sure and check them out to see if something that you have your eye on is available somewhere else for less! i have a board on pinterest called "affordable finds" that you may want to take a peek at!

*get familiar with what is available online at big box stores like target, overstock, jcpenny and even walmart. there can be treasures "hidden"in all that STUFF.

*do some preliminary budgeting so that you know what you could end up paying for things.

if all else fails, and you feel overwhelmed, hire a DESIGNER! they can end up saving you a lot of money by coming up with options that fit your budget and can open your eyes to other ways to improve your space!

interested in working together on a space in YOUR house?
contact me at to schedule a consultation.

Nov 10, 2013

Tips for Economical Commercial Property Development (a guest post)

Statistics can be misleading, and are often manipulated to present the most favorable side of a particular argument or dispute. Take the facts and figures surrounding the current UK economy, which according to international news agency Reuters grew at its fastest rate since 2007 throughout 2013. This is at odds with the experience of many citizens, however, who are struggling to sustain the existence without incurring long-term debt. Despite this, however, growth in the buy-to-let and commercial property markets remains considerably strong, meaning that those with enough disposable income can invest in lucrative real estate.

Top Tips for Commercial Property Development

With this in mind, new-comers to the commercial property market have a unique chance to achieve considerable returns. This is so long as they develop their portfolio carefully, however, and pay attention to the following: - 

Regional Growth and Regeneration

As the nation has evolved and regeneration has taken hold, the entire landscape of the UK has changed beyond all recognition. Once affluent areas have become poor, for example, while working-class, industrial cities such as Liverpool and Manchester have become central hubs for entertainment and culture. You must therefore pay careful attention to the area in which you intend to purchase commercial property, as any future growth plans or development projects will have a direct impact on your earning potential over time.
Furnish your Property in a Sleek but Affordable Manner
If you are looking to provide tenants with appealing and functional commercial spaces, it is crucial that you are able to deliver furnished offices. This requires a significant upfront investment, despite the fact that you have no guarantee that your project will be successful or profitable. This means that you must look to minimise your investment as much as possible, without compromising on the look, presentation or functionality of your property. To achieve this, you should consider kitting your property out with contract furniture solutions from suppliers such as Peel Mount.

Set a Fair and Reasonable Rental Price

Leasing commercial property is difficult to the typical terms of buy-to-let agreements, so it is crucial that you understand this prior to entering into a contract. Not only are commercial property leases far longer than the standard residential tenancy agreements, but the rental cost can also be paid annually as opposed to monthly. Taking these factors into careful consideration, your task is to set a fair and reasonable price that reflects the precise terms of the lease and the needs of your tenants. You will also need to consider the area in which the property is based, as the presence of more affordable commercial property space could serious undermine your chances of success.

Nov 8, 2013

a halloween-ish birthday party

my daughter, charlotte's birthday is the day after halloween. in the past, she has had a chinese themed birthday party (click here and here), and a pajamas+ pancakes + pedicures party (click here). this year, we decided to embrace the season and opted for a loose halloween theme---black, gold, and lots of natural textures with a splash of orange.

(photography by sara boulter.)

 the idea for the tree theme started when we selected the invitations:

they are available from this etsy shop.
i added the lining to the envelope, as well as the zig zag band, stamped tag and twine.

for the cake, i had a simple two tier cake custom made and decorated with white icing in a rough pattern that is reminiscent of the grain in wood. the inside of the cake actually has three layers--similar to candy corn!

the tree topper is a $3 halloween decoration from michaels. i added the garland.

the gifts bags:
(available here)

*homemade pumpkin spice bath salts (made with kosher salt and some scented oil)
*hand made pumpkin soap made by this etsy seller
*a tree necklace (not pictured. oops. available here)

you can see the pinterest board i made when gathering ideas for the party here.

here are a few more pictures that i (obviously!) took: 

chocolate covered strawberry ghosts

chocolate mousse cups with chocolate shards.

apples with fruit dip

gold + black lanterns with polka dot balloons.

the birthday girl!

the cake--vanilla, sweet potato and chocolate layers. it was delicious!!

too bad i count afford to hire sara to stay the full three hours of the party, huh?
sara recently shot the interiors for the book room recipes---a REALLY great book that you should add to your design book library!
(i was actually designing a room for this book, but literally EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong, went wrong, and the project wasn't ready in time for print)

a few of the  rooms in her home were showcased, and they are GORGEOUS!
click here to check out her blog.

happy friday everyone!

Nov 6, 2013

pass the mustard

as you know, my house is white.

when we first moved in, i was pretty certain i wanted medium to dark gray shutters, and a very dark door. after living here a while, and looking at pictures of white houses, i realized how often i gravitate to CLASSIC white houses with black shutters. i mean, i could practically rename my "architecture" board on pinterest "i LOVE white houses with black shutters"...cuz that is a majority of what is there!

anyway, i have decided that i want the shutters (when we add them) to be black.
so, that leaves the front door....
black is a classic look:

and so is red:

i am not really a "red" girl though---i tend to be drawn to darker, more subdued tones like peacock blue and pumpkin and mustard yellow. i started looking at white houses with yellow doors, and something inside of me KNEW this was the answer!

ahhhh! now, to find the RIGHT shade of mustard...

i held up my paint deck to the door and came up with 3 options:

"leap of faith"..."stuart gold" and "autumn gold"

now, i have a kinda weird system that i occasionally use when selecting colors for my own house. first, i will pick out 2-3 colors from the benjamin moore deck...then, when i go to lowes or home depot to mix up my samples, i will choose 1-2 "wild card" options from whatever line that they carry. these are colors that i *think might be similar to the colors i have already chosen, but different enough that i get some variety.

here are the final colors i sampled:

(it was pretty clear that my "wild card" valspar colors (the colors in the middle row)were too orange and dark for what i wanted.)

a look at the color standing out farther...i think this is a better representation of what the colors really look like:

and the winner?
what do you think??
please leave a comment!