Living in Our Pet’s Home

For those of you who know me, you know my softest spot is for animals.  Without them, life just wouldn’t be the same.  We develop a relationship with them that isn’t defined by language, age, race, or gender.  We communicate with them as members of our own family because they are.  And although their time here seems limited, the love and memories they give us stay with us forever.

So while other people are writing about how to make your home pet-friendly, I think it’s more appropriate to think that pets have made their home more people-friendly.  They open our minds to the world through their eyes.  They allow us in their home, to share their days and nights, to play with us when we are happy and to be there for us when we are sad.  They hold a gift that can only be opened by letting them into our lives.  One look at their faces and we’re butter.

"Sam"
“Sam”

Sadly, friends of mine lost their Sam this week after 15 ½ years…a heartbreaking day that will take time to pass before their memories are filled with all the love and good times they shared together.  Unfortunately, most of us have shared a similar day.   In Sammy’s honor, I’d like to take a look at some other pets who have shared their homes with us.  This is a collection of pictures I’ve collected privately over time out of my love for animals.  They show us just who the king (or sometimes queen) of the house is.  Some of them come from some amazing websites which, if you hover over the image, you will be able to visit. My favorite sites are Interior Design Sense and Desire to Inspire which has a weekly posting every Monday about pets on furniture.  Others are my own pets or those of friends.  Notice how comfortable they seem lounging on their furniture. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Closet Worth Staying In

America is obsessed with being organized.  We want a place for everything and everything in its place.  So it’s no wonder that closet design has become a huge factor to new home buyers and those looking to renovate.

Gone are the days of those wire shelving components.  You know, the ones that eventually turn into virtual glue sticks that are impossible to clean.  And the idea of a single rod with a storage shelf above is about as current as an avocado refrigerator.

Most people are now familiar with closet systems and how to get the most use of their space.  Double hanging rods, shoe shelves,  tie racks, built-in valet bars, belt racks, laundry bins, dressing islands,  etc. have all become part of the expected closet.

Laminates are clearly the most popular choice primarily due to the cost savings.  Although somewhat limited in colors and styles, the laminate units provide a sturdy, easy to clean product that appeals to a wide variety of clients at different price points.

So where does it go from here?  Well, if the budget exists, new closets are taking it to a different level.  Custom closets start out with real wood products which give the consumer endless choices of finishes, styles and hardware.  What used to be simple square boxes has become high quality furniture.  Clothing, which used to be exposed, is being stored behind doors as a protection against dust.  And every article of clothing is given its own designated space.  From shoes to sweaters to handbags, organizing a closet makes it easy to see what you have and keeps everything in mint condition.  And the gadgets, well they just keep getting better.

Some of the newer gadgets you might find can include hidden compartments accessible only by rubbing a key across an invisible lock mechanism, hidden safes for organizing valuables and jewelry, breakfast bars (for the early morning coffee without leaving your room), automated lighting systems that turn on and off with the opening of doors, flat panel televisions, and the list goes on.

Sometimes a closet just isn’t big enough no matter what you do.  As they say, go big or go home. In some cases, clients have turned entire guest bedrooms into luxury custom closets making them a room unto themselves.

Closets have come of design age, requiring as much thought and planning as a modern day kitchen.  No longer considered just an necessity, it’s become a coveted design element of the home.

 

 

“Made In America” Means Something

Sure, it’s easy to find an item cheaper every time we want to buy something but if you’re like most, sometimes it’s that one purchase we had to pay full price for that ends up being one of our favorite items.  Why is that?  Is it some form of self-justification for paying the price or was it the act of the splurge that gives us the satisfaction…the thought of treating ourselves to something we had come to deserve?

The truth may be the hardest thing to swallow.  Could it be that after owning it a little while, we actually realized it was more than worth the price we paid for it?  While foreign markets are loading the shelves with lower priced items, they are also lowering our standards of quality.  It’s like a tsunami and the rippling effects are costing us more than the dollars we are saving.

The furniture industry is no stranger to out-sourcing production to countries where employees are paid only a few dollars a day, where there are no insurance or retirement plans, there are no unions, and for the most part, there is little concern for the materials or safety used to get the job done.  And if you need customer service, well…it’s non-existent.  As a result, some of these manufacturers have grown by leaps and bounds while terminating most of their employees and abandoning their American factories.  How would you feel if you found out that your retirement fund owned stock in an American company who eliminated any chance of retirement for hundreds, if not thousands of American families?

Make no mistake.  American-made quality is like no other.  And there’s nothing better than treating ourselves to that quality whenever possible.  Thankfully, some American furniture manufacturers have taken a strong position in preserving this quality for those who can appreciate it and understand it.

One of the foremost furniture manufacturers that comes to mind is EJVictor.  Based in Morganton, North Carolina, they represent a tradition of very high quality, hand-made casegoods and upholstery items.  After doing business with them over the past 18 years, I can honestly say that no details or materials are spared to ensure that their product is second to none.  And their customer service is not just a department…it’s their method of business.   While others are pumping out stamped carvings or turnings, EJVictor is painstakingly producing theirs the old fashioned way…one piece at a time…using the talents of many second or third  generation furniture builders who are still practicing the art of craftsmanship.  One look and feel is enough to convince you of the difference.

Pieces of furniture that are made this way are the treasures of tomorrow.   They are the pieces that last a lifetime, and then some.   And yes, they cost a little more.  But they are also better designed, of higher quality, have finer finishes, offer more flexibility and will no doubt become one of those of favorite pieces that you made a splurge on.  And yes, you probably deserve it.

You’ll also have the added pleasure of knowing every dollar you spend on it, from the manufacturer, to the trucking company to the retail dealer, will be kept here at home to benefit all of us as a whole.

It’s just one more way you can make a difference in helping our country get back on its feet and own a piece of American quality.

 

Visit EJVictor’s site by clicking here

First Impact-Making The Right Impression For Whom?

It’s not really something you learn in school, nor is it the kind of thing most clients would be willing to admit when furnishing their home.  But believe it or not, other people make their first impression of your home within 10 seconds of entering it.  And sometimes that impression is difficult to change   So the question is…should we be concerned with what they think?  To answer the question, we have to look beyond purely our own ego.

Drawing on my previous years of doing some high-end model homes for a couple of Florida’s leading builders, one of the key elements in home sales was the point of impact.  What does the potential buyer see as soon as they open their door?   This created one of the contributing factors to what has become a standard in home design…the open floor plan.

The open floor plan can easily make a home feel larger and customers can immediately envision a family-gathering lifestyle.  The cooking/eating area exposed to the entertainment area speaks of family meals and movies, weekend BBQ’s, birthday and holiday parties, and a place where the world is safe.  These are powerful mental images that turn lookers into buyers.

Keeping that in mind, it’s important to plan your furniture layout not to obstruct the view, especially if your pool or view lies in the background.   Furniture with it’s back facing the entry should be the smaller, lighter pieces such as chairs, and not your sofa.   Brighter homes give a sense of good health and well-being.  Colors, textures and styles all play an important role.  And don’t forget to dress the windows.  They are the frames for your picture.

So, first impact has an affect on sale/resale.  It also has an affect on value.  A home that has been well designed and furnished, more often than not will sell faster and for a higher price.  When people are buying a new home, they are not looking for the added expense of renovations or trying to figure out how to use the space.  It’s more than just a kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms to them.  It’s how they imagine living in it.  Or what it will be like to wake up to it on the weekends.  And trust me, the more beautiful and interesting it is, the more desirable it becomes.   So while you may think it’s not important to you what other people think, the day will probably come when you may want to rethink your position.

With the price of homes being what they are, who wouldn’t want their investment to look like more than they paid for it?

So it’s not really caring what other people think about your home but rather how they will subconsciously respond to it.  And if they can feel it, trust me, you can feel it.  And if there’s one person you should care about how your home makes them feel, it’s you.

 

 

Interior Design Begins On The Exterior

So you’re taking advantage of the real estate market’s demise and you’ve just purchased a new home.  One of the first things you’re probably thinking about is what style you want to create for the interior.

My first suggestion is if you liked the style of the home, stick with that same style on the inside.   It always feels a little strange to me when someone buys a colonial house and furnishes it with contemporary,  minimalistic pieces.   It just comes off as a big disconnect.   Likewise, if you buy a contemporary home, keep the pieces clean and avoid all the clutter and embellishments.

When you’re designing a home, you’re creating a package.  The exterior should give the visitor a glimpse of what to expect and the interior should finish the job.  I’ve seen some of the oddest combinations over the years and often,  the only way to remedy the situation is to start over on the interior or find a new house that will more appropriately reflect your interior style.

Granted, most people have some possessions that they want to incorporate into their home from their previous home.  This can be done if you understand that some items will need to be repurposed, separated from their original location and possibly undergo refinishing or reupholstering.   If you find yourself in this category, I’d strongly suggest you seek the assistance of an interior designer to give you an objective opinion.

Every style offers a few variations so don’t feel you have to make it a “theme” house.  A casual bungalow, for example could easily be transformed into either a coastal cottage home or embrace a mission style.  A common misconception is to over-decorate a simple home, thereby dismissing the original architecture and displaying an obsessive vulgarity or overruling ambition, as Frank Lloyd Wright would call “grandomania.”

In the same thought, an elegant luxury home also needs to continue the thought.  Buying an impressive home only makes sense if you have the means and intent to complete the picture.  A good rule of thumb that I use is to budget about 25% of the home to complete the interior.   Nothing feels more awkward than enjoying a million dollar view from a $400 sofa.  Not to sound like a snob, but come on.

The same hold true for your color scheme.  The outside and inside colors need to complement each other and appear to be part of the plan…including the fabrics on the patio.   And while those painted Adirondack chairs look great on the porch of your beach house, they will look like a flea market find on the patio of your golf course estate home.  It’s like wearing a sweatshirt to a wedding.

The bottom line is to be true to your style.  Find a home that represents the style you want to create and live in and then complete the interior as part of the same design thought.  When you are done, you will have created an oasis, a place that represents who you really are and one that makes you comfortable.