What A Tool ....
Hi everyone. With Smartphones taking over, I thought this post I’d give you my top three picks for apps that can help you with Interior Design. Whether you’re a professional or enthusiast there are lots of cool apps you can download to your phone that can really help you in designing your space. Here are my three favourites
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my blog posts about the digital rooms I create to illustrate my Design Tips from both readers and other Designers. I use a great free app called Homestyler. It has a huge catalogue of furniture/materials/finishes, etc you can superimpose on pics of rooms provided or your own. For the professional, you can do fast images to give a Client an idea of your project plans. You can even log on to their website and create advanced floor plans with items from their catalogue or ones you’ve downloaded which can then switch to 3D images you can take your Clients through. If you’re an enthusiast, that’s likely more than you’ll need but you can use the app to see how to restyle your rooms. For example, let’s say you’re considering buying a new sofa for your neutral room in red and fear it’s a mistake. You can snap a pic of your room, choose a red sofa from their catalogue and drag it on top of your existing one to see how it’ll look without having to buy. There’s even an online community you can share your designs and see others for inspiration. I’m happy to say, I’m very popular on it. You can also just play around to try colour schemes or looks that can eventually inspire your real space. Here’s an example of a room I designed where I simply wanted to explore decorating with teal:
I liked the end result and didn’t have to lift a paint roller or piece of furniture. I used this app when I was in Design School and still use it today for renderings of Client projects. It takes way less time than hand drawn, coloured perspective renderings which saves my Clients money on billable hours.
The wonderful paint company Sherwin-Williams has a fantastic app for the colour lover called ColorSnap. Ever thought about changing your wall colour but just couldn’t decide? You can snap a pic of your room, choose any colour from their 100s of choices and it will photoshop the colour onto your walls in a snap. It can also colour match images you use from your camera roll or Pinterest. So if you saw a room you’d love to recreate, snap a pic and it will find the hue in its roster that matches. It can also select several hues from a picture and create a palette for you. Here’s an example using the Homestyler image used above:
You’ll noticed it picked the teal wall colour and matched it perfectly. You can also do this with something as simple as a throw cushion. It’ll pull colours from the fabric you can then use in paint, upholstered goods, draperies, etc. You can also pick a colour and it will show you what it will look like in a neutral furnished room (as seen in my earlier blog “Orange Is The New Black”) both during the day and at night. This is important because colour changes depending on the amount of natural daylight or lumens reflecting it. Also if you’re mostly home at night, you want the wall colour to be one you love then, not during daylight hours when you’re not around to see it. Plus it will give you a coordinating palette to go with the colour you’re considering. It’s easy, super helpful and free!!
Ok so this isn’t quite a design app but it is an amazing tool for both the Design Professional and the homeowner. In a nutshell, Jiffy is to handymen what Uber is to drivers. If you live in Toronto, Ottawa or Boston you download the app and create a profile putting a credit card on file. If you need a licensed insured tradesperson to fix something, you make a request, pick three time slots that best suit you and they arrive to do the job. They bill Jiffy who bills your credit card and then they pay the service provider. You don’t even need to have cash on hand.
You can literally order a licenced tradesperson to come to you like a pizza. You can even rate them like an Uber driver. It’s a super easy way to get little projects done without worrying about who’s doing the work.
So those are my three favourite smartphone tools that anyone can use to help achieve the Well Designed Life I am always talking about. Of course, nothing beats hiring a Professional so don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a little extra help with your space. Until next time, thanks for reading
The Single Guy .....
After last week’s post about how your space reflects yourself and that improving it can improve your life, I’d like to focus on a group that really needs to learn it : Single Guys. I don’t know what is up with that group but, gay or straight, you’d be hard pressed to find me a Horror movie scarier than a bachelor’s apartment. It used to be guys lived like Donald on ‘That Girl’ in a clean lined, tailored space with a kitchenette and fully stocked bar. Now they live like Jodie Foster in ‘Nell’. And I know because I’ve been in many of them. From a Nautilus machine instead of a dining table to garbage bags taped up on the bedroom window in lieu of curtains, I have seen some nonsense. So as a Designer and bachelor myself, I thought I’d give my Top Twelve Tips for creating a stylish guy’s apartment.
The Floor Plan
So this is a typical apartment or condo you’d find in an urban centre. About 450sq ft with a Living/Dining/One Wall Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom, some closets and windows on one side. It’s small but with big potential. Let’s look at the Designs for the Main Living Space and Bedroom.
Just the Tips:
A great colour palette for men is camel and grey (see my earlier blog “The Neutral Zone” for more). Your ceilings, trims and doors are likely white so leave them and paint the main space a mid tone grey or beige and a darker shade of that colour in the bedroom. It’s nice and harmonious and during the day will look bright and at night darker and moodier. Once painting is done you can move on to furniture (that doesn’t all come from one store). This means spending money on more than just a big ass TV/Entertainment Unit. I hate to break it to you but you need a place to sit down more than you need a television the size of a Drive-In Movie screen.
Whether vintage or a modern reproduction, mid century modern furniture is clean, contemporary and manly in feel. Spurred on by the success of “Mad Men” you’ll have no trouble finding something. From Ikea to Kare to Elte, it’s everywhere. I’d recommend a couch in this style.
Something in leather is also great for a guy. I recommend using it on the couch, an armchair or upholstered bed frame or headboard. It’s great to the touch and durable against wear and spills and stains.
You can’t just eat off the coffee table (which should be an actual piece of furniture and not a cardboard box turned upside down or milk crates). In my design above, I’ve floated it between the kitchen and living room. This gives you double duty as the table can be used as another work space for cooking or a desk if you have to bring some work home.
A credenza or other closed storage unit is your best friend. You can put your tv and components on it while hiding your DVDs inside. In the dining area, you can store extra dishes inside and set up a bar on top for when you have people over.
Light The Way
Those boring ceiling lights aren’t enough. You need to have lamps with bulbs at different heights. This gives the lighting a layered look and creates mood.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
Keep your patterns and accessories to a minimum. Two square and one horizontal throw pillows on your couch and bed are perfect. Keep them in your neutral palette with simple patterns : solids, stripes, geometrics, overall patterns. Get some decent art too. It can be as easy as taking some pics of architecture or nature, changing them to black and white or sepia and having them printed up and framed.
Whether real or impressive faux-tanical, having a plant or some flowers shows you’re totally adulting.
Reduce the look of clutter by putting or grouping things in containers or on a tray. A nice lidded box on your coffee table can hide your remote when not in use and putting kitchen utensils in a container or items on a tray keeps them tidier.
Throw Some Shade
Flags and garbage bags are not curtains! You can buy curtain panels and a rod or roller blinds in lots of places for next to nothing. When closed, curtains should not look like bedsheets on a line. If you’re buying a pair of pre-made panels buy two sets and hang one set per side so they still look full when pulled over.
Iconic film director John Waters once said “If you go home with someone, and they don’t have any books, don’t f*ck them”. I really can’t add to that other than they also make great styling accessories or can be stacked under a too short lamp to change its height. Have some.
Have a decent coffeemaker. When I graduated from Design School I gifted myself with a very sassy cappuccino machine. If you’re tight on counter space, get a French Press and an inexpensive grinder that can be stored in a cupboard. You’ll thank me every morning especially if last night’s dinner date turns into this morning’s breakfast companion.
Keep It CLEAN
A study in 2011, reported by NBC News, found that the average bachelor pad has fifteen times more germs and bacteria than the average bachelorette. 70% of guy’s coffee tables contained traces of animal feces - likely from putting their feet up while wearing shoes. This is just gross. You need to have a regular cleaning schedule in addition to your day to day tidying up of sweeping the kitchen floor and washing the dishes. The night before your weekend is prime time to do this. Clean your kitchen, bathroom, dust and vacuum. If you’re generally tidy, this will only take an hour to an hour and a half and then you’ll have a clean place for the weekend and your weekend time free to do what you like. Also, remember there are two types of people: those who make their bed every day - and monsters.
Now let’s look at all twelve tips being used in the design:
So there you have it. Twelve super easy tips that any guy can handle to go from slob to sophisticated. Of course, these are only a few of the many tips Designers have to create a stylish home for any Singleton. Personally I love doing men’s apartments because I know from my own how great it is to live in a slick bachelor pad. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like help designing yours or you’d want to hire us for a consultation to improve your space.
Until next time, thanks for reading and striving to live the Well Designed Life.
The House Whisperer
So in my last post I talked about affordable upgrades to your rental and touched on my mantra of ‘The Well Designed Life’. I thought this post I’d expand a bit more on what I mean by that and why I, and other Designers, sell it and want you to have it.
When I talk about The Well Designed Life I basically mean, for lack of a better phrase, “The Subtle Art Of Giving A Sh!t”. As a Designer I believe that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful and functional space. Ideally one they paid me to give to them (I know I can be frank with you as we’re old friends). But a beautiful space goes deeper than just aesthetics. Your home is a reflection of who you are. In dream interpretation, homes actually represent your self. And yours gives all the dirt on you, your emotional state and how you view yourself in the world better than any gossipy High School Mean Girl. I have yet to meet anyone, be they Client or other, whose pad didn’t tell me all their secrets. I’m like the House Whisperer (I know because my friends fall into 2 camps: the “No Way Are We Letting You See This” camp and the “Come Over And Bring Your Paint Fandeck With You” camp). From the crammed closets to the past-their-prime furnishings to the books on your shelf, I’ve heard all about you and I heard it from the chatty roommate you call your home.
The good news is, you’re one of the ones who gives a sh!t. I know because you’re here reading this so you’re interested in improving your space because you give a sh!t. Wanting to improve your space means you’re growing and changing as a person (as you should be) and your space is part of that new mindset. Reading my Design Tips on these blogs is a great way to get ideas to upgrade your surroundings. Hiring a Designer to help with your space, even if only a consultation is all you can afford is even better because as you’re changing, your tastes are changing too and that can feel overwhelming. The cold, hard truth is you’re in a relationship with your home. If you were dating someone who wasn’t meeting your needs or just plain wasn’t that great to you, you’d (hopefully) do something about it. Your home is the same. If it isn't treating you right, you need to make some changes and you might need a little professional help. I realize I’m encouraging you to get some professional help because I’m a professional who gets paid to help and I like being employed but it’s more than that. Improving your space really improves your life. Like that time you dumped that loser and changed your hair colour to show them you were not going back, changing up your space opens you up to a whole new way of living. Cooking meals in a kitchen that’s well planned out makes your cooking better and easier. Before you know it, you’re trying new recipes or taking a fancy cake baking class or just eating healthier. See? Your life got an upgrade. Working long hours is draining but coming home to a sweet abode brightens your mood. Upgrade. Having a nice place makes you wanna have people over for brunches and Holiday fetes and Games Nights and will make your disapproving Mother-In-Law just a weeeee bit jealous like you secretly want her to feel as payback for that time she critiqued your roast. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. You get the picture. This is the “Well Designed Life” of which I speak. Improving your surroundings improves your vibe and your vibe attracts your tribe. When you upgrade your space your vibe vibes faster so everything raises to meet that. Suddenly you’re eating better, dressing nicer, socializing, trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, ditching that toxic friend or dumping that idiot who just plain isn’t good enough for you because you now know you’ll be better off without them and don’t want them to be part of your E! True Hollywood Story. You know, generally giving a sh!t about things - or at least a bigger sh!t than you ever gave about those things before. While I don’t suffer from depression, like everyone my life has its ups and downs. I always know when I’m in a little rut because my place tells me with the piling up of laundry and dust bunnies. This may seem trite but when faced with that, I break the blues by cleaning up and/or rearranging things. When everything is shiny, wrinkle free and the bathroom smells like a swimming pool in a hospital, I start to snap out of it. When I look around at my fabulous Designer digs I’m reminded of how good I generally have it. I feel lucky. Then I feel grateful to be so lucky and gratitude is a gateway drug that takes me straight outta Funkytown. The Well Designed Life isn’t just pretty to look at, it’s good for the Soul.
So I hope reading this gives you some insight on the value Designers have in this world. We’re part Decorator, part Psychologist and part Magician because we don’t just deal with how your space looks, but also how it makes you feel. Thanks for reading, keep striving to live The Well Designed Life and don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to upgrade your space - and your life! Remember, everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home. So do you.
Upgrade Your Rental .....
A few days ago I bumped into a talented actress friend who lives in my hood. We were both out running errands and passed each other at the intersection. I was wearing a dapper little outfit carrying my reusable grocery bag with kale poking out and she was wearing yoga pants and toque as she flitted from ballet class to the subway. As we passed she flashed a big smile and said “you don’t even own a pair of sweat pants, do you?” . Well, she was right and hardly the first to say this to me.
The reason for my general fabulosity is my company Design Mantra I bring up in every blog post: Keep Striving to Live the Well Designed Life. It’s important that I walk the walk. How can I tell a Client they simply must have $5000 of custom draperies if I live in a hovel dressed like a professional skateboarder who can’t get a sponsor? It got me thinking about what the Well Designed Life means to me and what I want for Clients and readers. It’s my belief that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home that reflects them, even people who (think) they can’t afford it. When I first moved out on my own, I was always gussying up apartments into showrooms. It’s the start of how I got here. So I thought this post I’d give some budget savvy advice to all you renters or cash strapped owners who want to improve their home without going neck deep into debt. Here are a few of my top tips to improve your space on a budget.
If you’ve got a kitchen or bathroom with an ugly, or no, backsplash one of the best things for you is Smart Tiles. Smart Tiles are peel and stick sheets of gel filled 3D Tiles you can cut with scissors and stick on your wall or on top of existing tiles. Super fast. Super easy. And adhere until you remove them with the heat of a hairdryer. They can even go behind a stove (but not in a shower as the steam dissolves the glue). I’ve used these myself. They look amazing, took little effort or time to install and you can’t tell they’re not the real thing. You can easily do a backsplash in a kitchen for about $150 installed in about an hour and they have very updated, on trend patterns like subway tile, herringbone, circles, etc. Available on their website or at many hardware stores.
Paint is without a doubt the best tool in anyone’s decorating arsenal. It’s really inexpensive and has the most impact for your dollar. Not only can you paint your walls but you can update an old piece of furniture or even your crappy kitchen cupboards (check with your landlord first if you rent). Be sure to speak to your paint professional before you start. 80% of a great paint job is proper prep work be it taping, sanding, cleaning. The staff at your favourite paint store can advise you on all of that and what paints will work best for your job.
So I hope that gives you some inspiration to create the home you deserve no matter what stage of ownership you’re in. These are just a few of the creative solutions Designers have, so don’t be afraid to contact us if you need a little help. Thanks for reading and check back for more blog posts. Until then, keep striving to live the Well Designed Life.