Tips For Making Smart Purchases For Your Home

Island City Traders (showroom display)

Probably one of the biggest fears that clients bring to the table is that their design project is going to cost a lot more than they are willing to spend.  As result, many who are not familiar with how interior designers work, tend to tackle the project on their own admitting they are willing to settle for less of a result if it means being more comfortable with the end price.

This whole concept opens the door for some good conversation.  While there may be some unscrupulous interior designers out there, for the most part, they are only there to help you get the end result that you are looking for at a price you can afford.  Their relationships with different showrooms and tradesmen usually offset the cost of their fees so in the end, the price is about the same as if you did it yourself.

However, if you’ve chosen to tackle your design project on your own, there are a few helpful tips for making smart purchases that you will be happy with for years to come.

Island City Traders (showroom display)

First, you need to have some idea of the design direction.  Without this, you’re likely to end up with a collection of unrelated items hoping that when they come together you will have created your own style.  More likely, you’ll have created your own mess.

Look through different magazines and find homes that appeal to you.  Clip them out and keep them in a folder.  It’s best to do this over a period of time rather than all at once so that you don’t fall into the trap of falling in love with a design “theme.”  A good example was the Tommy Bahama style that came on strong a few years ago and then vanished overnight.  Being stuck with a house full of this style now would represent an investment that did not pay off.   You need a style that will last the test of time.

Next, look at your home in terms of space.  The layout is extremely important and has a huge impact on the finished product.  Ignore your current layout and furnishings and treat it as a blank canvas.  Now look at the features the room may offer.  Consider the light source, length of walls, location of windows, doorways, etc.   Then think how to make the most use of them.   Remember to keep things in balance but that doesn’t mean everything has to be symmetrical.   Just be sure not to make the room too heavy in one area.

It’s easier for some people to draw it out on paper in order to move things around and experiment.  Designers do this with every project.  To do this, convert your measurements to ¼” scale, meaning every foot of the room equals ¼” on paper.  There is graph paper available to help you do this.

Retro Interiors (showroom display)

Move the layout around until you find the plan that works best for your lifestyle.  Consider different options such as a sectional instead of a sofa and loveseat.   Think about adding some interesting pieces that have multiple functions such as a buffet as your media console or a breakfront as a library.

The next step before you finish your layout is your lighting plan.  Lighting can make or break a room.  Lighting should come from multiple sources in different areas.   A combination of table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers, etc., can make the room much more interesting at night.  Think about where you place the lighting to accent the furnishings and accessories as well as provide usefulness when using the room.

Once you’ve laid out your room, you should have a list of exactly what you are looking for and a good idea of the sizes that will work.  The best advice here is stick to your list and don’t make any impulse changes once you go shopping.  If you buy a sofa that is a foot longer, it’s going to throw your entire plan off.

When you start making your choices, there are a couple of tricks that will ensure you will probably be happier with your purchases for a longer time.  Keep the main items such as upholstery and window treatments in solid colors.  It’s best to pick out the main items at about the same time rather than having one item delivered to your home before you pick the next.  Just imagine trying to haul that sofa back to the store when you want to find a chair that will go with it.  If you want a punch of color, do it with accents such as pillows, artwork, area rugs, etc.  This is will help keep your cost down in the future should you decide you want to change the look.

Island City Traders (showroom display)

Lastly, have a budget.  After you do a little initial furniture shopping, sit down with your plan and put a dollar amount on each item that you are willing to spend.   When you start to make purchases, refer to your budget, realizing that if you go over in one area, you need to make up for it in another.  That way when the project is done, you won’t have to go on food stamps.

And remember, while designers might be able to put together a design in a week or so, it’s not uncommon for a homeowner to take much longer.  Take your time.  Stick to your plan and budget.  And, plan on making purchases that you can live with for a long time.

Redroom Redroom

Nothing says life like the color red.  It’s everywhere around us on a daily basis.  But for some people, it represents a dangerous zone that they’re not really sure they would be comfortable living with.  We’ve been programmed to think red is hot, flashy and cheap.  I tend to disagree.

Red is actually a great color, when it’s not overdone.  Being a strong color, it makes a bold statement and you have to be very careful to know what statement you want to make.  While it’s probably not a good choice for a master bedroom or a little girl’s room, it can add a lot of warmth and depth to living rooms, family rooms, dens, home offices, etc.

Like any other color, reds come in different shades.  In order to make a room feel more cohesive, it’s best noted to stick with the same shade of red within an entire home.  Brighter reds work better for contemporary while black reds and rusty reds work better for traditional interiors.   Here are some samples images where I think the designers have shown good taste in using the color wisely.   If you want to spice up your interior, think about adding some red accents to your room.  But the back of your bedroom door probably isn’t the best choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red, white and some blue ocean.  Summer is here.  Adding vintage, retro-styled barstools brings informality and a sense of fun.

 

 

 

With an entirely red sofa, complete with sculpted camel back, there’s little reason to add more red into this room.  The contemporary pillows make a nice contrast in style and the white walls and chair help accentuate the sofa without competing with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red always makes a contemporary room feel like a party.  Notice the small amounts and the effect it has.  It always feels like more than it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classical lines and a dappling of red mix well.  Here, the feeling is somewhat European and eclectic.  Easy to live with.  Easy to change with the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding red to the canopy makes the whole bed feel much more dramatic than if they had played it safe.  And just a couple small repeats of color in the rug and the lamps make the room complete.  A bold statement with little expense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The relief of the lacquered white floors and white lamps make this room red hot!  Less is more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mix of darker reds, patterns, and the layering of textiles and objects make this room feel like someplace you could spend hours.  It’s interesting and informal but speaks of quality.

 

 

 

Home Automation-Creating A Smart House

So you’ve just built a new home and you’re ready to drop the veil of secrecy and show it off.  Unfortunately, you weren’t planning on it being tonight and, as luck would have it, you’re not alone in the car as you head towards home.  You begin to imagine having your guests wait outside while you go in and turn on the lights, music and AC to make sure it gives the  perfect impressions when they enter.  Then you remember that you installed a home automation system and dig out your iphone while you’re driving.

A push of the button and everything is set.  The shades are raised, the lights are all turned on to your favorite setting in all the different rooms, the music is playing your favorite tunes, the AC is cooling down the interior and the landscape and house are illuminated worthy of a magazine cover.   Suddenly your anxiety turns to pride as you pull in the driveway.

This scenario could play out in many different ways.  Like waiting at the airport wondering if you set your alarm, or lying in bed at night wondering if you shut off all the lights downstairs, etc.   For those who like having more order and control in their daily lives while being environmentally conscious, conveniences like a smart home make a lot of sense.

What was once only a techno-fantasy has made its way to the mainstream homeowner.  But a smart home system is no small feat of engineering.  It’s a very sophisticated, highly computerized home automation system.  In order to customize a home to connect to the system, each component must be directly connected to the main interface.  This includes outlets, phone, cable, sound system, security system, air conditioner/heating systems, window shades, landscape lighting,  ceiling fans, etc.  While it’s possible to remodel a home to accommodate a home automation system, it can be a costly venture.  For this reason, some companies now offer infrared remotes for some household items but they have limited flexibility.  For most customers, it makes more sense to install a smart home system while a home is under construction so the wiring can be done before the walls are finished.

There are many different types of systems on the market that will achieve similar effects.  My favorite system is the Lutron HomeWorks system which is available at different option levels.  They also offer an advanced HomeWorks QS system adding energy control and efficiency to your home with things like sensor controls to turn lights on and off at doorways, power grid monitoring, and more.  It’s another option for decreasing your carbon footprint, saving money and supporting a “green” home concept.

Controls are easy to use and as with most systems, it can be accessed by your iphone or ipad from anywhere outside of the home.  There are also hard-wired wall mount controls for use upon entry or while in the home.  Each setting can be completely customized to your taste for different daytime or evening themes.

Smart Home system pricing is coming down with every passing year.  The iphone and ipad have reduced the need for costly controls and have brought smart home systems within everyone’s reach.  Consumers have been accustomed to using electronics in every phase of their life and now that flows through to the management of their homes.  We can expect these types of systems to become an industry standard in luxury homes.

So if you feel your house is a bit of a dimwit and a little dim lit, maybe it’s time to opt for a little education in the form of the addition of a smart home system.  Just keep your wits about you when you do your homework.  A top of the line luxury system could easily set you back the cost of a small college degree.

 

High Point Market Is Here!

There are a few different furniture markets during the year that everyone in the business attends to find the latest and greatest but I still prefer the High Point Market.   It’s the original furniture market, primarily because of its geographic location to where most of the furniture in the United States used to be made.  Even though a lot of our goods are now imported, the big companies still maintain their major presence at this market.

High Point market begins in one week.  I’ll be there scouring the showrooms for some of the best design finds and values.  In my next blog I’ll bring you some of my favorite purchases but I thought I’d give you a little background on the market before I go.

During market week, any manufacturer who has the means puts out their best displays and products to lure buyers and designers into their spaces.  It’s a fast paced week and to explain it as “sensory overload” is a huge understatement.  It covers 180 buildings and 10 million square feet of display.  It represents over 2000 manufacturers from 106 countries.   Attendance is usually in the area of about 800,000 plus buyers.

Buses, transports, taxis, rental cars, shuttles, and streets filled wall to wall with people rushing from one space to another, make for long days.  Food is fairly scarce except for light snacks and possibly a sandwich stand.  No one is eating much or enjoying the beautiful scenery outside.  Everyone is fighting the clock and trying to cover as much territory as their feet will allow.

So why do we put ourselves through this torture?  Because hidden away in a remote new showroom, lays the promise of an amazing new discovery.  And that one item can lead to an entire market trend over the next few years.   It also gives us a chance to see the new products that everyone is introducing and gives us a chance to put in our orders and become the first showrooms to have the products for sale.

In High Point you see everything.  From Indonesian imports to Christmas trees, from loungers with built-in sound systems to tables made from petrified wood.  There is no shortage of originality and it all depends on the buyer’s taste if it’s the right thing for them.

The market is only open to the trade and if you think you want to try to sneak in, you better have some pretty impressive credentials.  Most people are pre-qualified with entry passes before the week starts.  Security is everywhere and people are turned away all day long.  And if that isn’t enough, most quality showroom spaces have added another layer of security at their front doors to screen buyer’s qualifications.  Yes, there is that much business.

High Point is only open two weeks a year.  Buyers from every store in the country need to make their purchases for the next 6-12 months during that single week and the results can often determine the future of a manufacturer.   Everyone is under pressure and it’s sort of like Wall Street at 8AM on a Monday morning.  Every elevator is packed 100% of the time.  Hotels are booked up to 30 miles away and everyone is getting a premium for everything from rental cars to food.   Advertising is everywhere…the sides of buildings, buses, windows, street poles, shirts, you name it.  Companies are determined to get your attention and your dollars.  Basically, it’s insane.

Every market is a little different.  But each one brings styles, new products, and new trends.  Some people find what they’re hoping to find, some go home disappointed.  And even though everyone leaves with  really sore, aching feet, there’s that feeling of satisfaction knowing that once again you’ve conquered the beast and you’re heading home.