We’ve all heard about staging a home to prepare it for a faster and higher priced sale by transforming the home into a more welcoming, attractive and visually appealing offering that anyone might want. Traditionally you would either declutter your home and rearrange your furniture to the best of your ability, or you would hire a professional staging company to sort everything out and truck in other furniture, art, lights, carpets and greenery to make your home more photogenic. There’s lots of online information about how to go about staging a home. For example, here’s a great article from Herd: The Houlihan Lawrence Blog entitled “21 Home Staging Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Home Fast”:
But its 2019, so technology has now started to edge its way in to the home staging business with “Virtual Home Staging”. After all, why spend time and effort decluttering knick knacks, repainting walls and rearranging furniture when you can do it all digitally? The photo editing technology has gotten so good that you can start with an empty room and fill it with whatever furniture you desire. You can show how a room would look if it was repainted or remodeled. You can even make the grass greener, the sky bluer and the time of day sunset. It’s easy; all you need to get started is to take a photo and upload it so that it can be edited.
If you really want to see the state of the technology, and what can currently be done with today’s software, here are the websites for the 12 market leaders in Virtual Home Staging:
I can see how virtual staging can be a very cost effective and useful tool for realtors and home sellers – but like most technology it can be abused. Here’s a great Wall Street Journal article that highlights the disappointment some buyers are having when they finally visit the properties that have been virtually staged – only to find out that the photoshopped images don’t match the actual home - “Buyer Beware: Hollywood Special Effects Now Permeate Property Listings”:
So, if you’re looking to sell your home, you might want to look into virtual home staging as an option to help speed up your sale and increase your price. Just remember that real buyers are actually going to eventually visit your home so the difference between the online photos and the reality can’t be so far apart that the buyers think they are visiting a totally different property – so perhaps what you really need is an Interior Designer to assist you (hint, hint….).
Every day we use the stools in our kitchens and family rooms. And every day we walk on the carpet runners that we have throughout our houses to protect our floors and give our hallways a splash of color. But when’s the last time that you really looked at your stools and runners? Take a close look. Are they looking a little worn and dated? This happens to all of us since they're hiding in plain sight. So what to do……..
Custom cushions are great way to add color, texture, and seating comfort to your home. Whether on banquettes, window seats, stools, chairs, or other hide-away niches in your home - a custom cushion can truly make your seating look first class. I love to do cushions, and have literally dozens of cushions in my studio right now to attend to. Take a good look at the cushions in your home and determine if a refresh might be in order. While you’re at it – you might want to take a hard look at your runners too.
Here’s a Serena and Lily stool I recently ordered for my client’s new kitchen renovation, with one of my custom cushions on top. We also ordered new wool floor carpet runners from Surya (I’m a Surya dealer – in case you didn’t know), so the whole kitchen color scheme of blue, white, and neutrals came together with a flourish.
Cushions and rugs are definitely high-wear and high-traffic essential décor items for your home. Take a look - perhaps you could use an update? Call me, and I'll show you all the exciting new durable and kid-friendly fabrics and rugs.
Last week I attended a really fun (and snowy) afternoon at the Boston Design Center (BDC) where LuAnn Nigara, of the “A Well Designed Business” podcast fame hosted a panel discussion on “The Next Generation of Design.” LuAnn, a charismatic, entertaining, and insightful host interviewed Kyle Hoepner (Editor-in-chief of New England Home), Tori Mellott (Style Director for the Creative Services of F Schumacher & Co) and Rachel Reider (of Rachel Reider Interiors) about how the design industry has changed in recent years and how we, as designers, can best serve the needs of younger clients today.
The BDC description of the event was:
The panel specifically discussed how millennial clients, in the 20 to 40 age range, have a radically different value proposition for interior design services and a different mindset on how to acquire furnishings for their homes. The panel was unanimous in their conclusion that the younger client today is seeking the design process to be “an experience,” an opinion that I heartily share and have showcased on my website in the “Client Journey”.
What a terrific event, thanks BDC for inviting me to attend! I was joined at this event by many of my Boston area colleagues, and after the panel discussion, I had the pleasure of having lunch with LuAnn and my friends from the Massachusetts Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) Chapter. In the photo below, you’ll see - from left to right - Renee Rucci, Julie Wood (past president of the National WCAA Organization), me (Barbara), Julie Gould, LuAnn Nigara, and Linda Woodard. It was great fun to get all of us drapery people together for an interesting afternoon full of lively discussion. LuAnn, along with her husband Vince and business partner Billy, owns WindowWorks in Livingston, New Jersey – so she had lots of great insights specifically applicable to the window coverings business.
One of the reasons that I really loved the afternoon was that I’ve spent a lot of time listening to LuAnn’s podcasts (especially as I drive to client appointments all over the Boston area). LuAnn interviews top designers and professionals in marketing, law, and other fields that participate in the design industry. Her podcasts are really interesting since the business of design is far more than just the beautiful décor we deliver to our clients. Like any industry, the business side is just as important as the creative side, and that’s why some businesses, like my own, have been around for 18 years, and others don’t last. Thanks, LuAnn, for your dedication to the podcasts and for always finding interesting people to interview -- I learn something new from every one of your podcasts. You can listen to them here:
To cap off the afternoon event at the BDC, Waterworks hosted a reception at their new 1st floor showroom, a gorgeous kitchen and bath showroom you will certainly want to see for yourself. Below are photos of some of the new offerings from Waterworks; first-class designs that will meet the test of time…what I strive for in my designs with my valued clients.
The whole day was so great that I was very glad that the "real" snow held off until we were all out of the BDC and driving home in that wonderful Boston traffic. As always, if you want to tour the Boston Design Center for a project of yours let me know and we can make the trip together.
Extra wide roller shades are always tricky for 3 main reasons: (1) most vendors don’t carry fabrics wider than 106” - so you have to split up the window with multiple shades, (2) the fascias (or headrails) are usually open at the bottom so you end up looking at the less appealing underside of the roller mechanism, and (3) freight charges now apply to anything over 60” in length, so it is outrageously expensive to get an extra wide shade shipped; the shipping cost alone on a long shade can routinely cost over $120.
But, since most people want to let the light in and savor their view of the outdoors, a number of my clients have needed really wide shades (over 108” – or 9 feet wide) so I’ve looked for a good quality vendor that can meet this need with a single shade. After tapping my network, a colleague of mine in the Massachusetts Chapter of the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) introduced me to Porter Preston, a shade and drapery hardware vendor in Waterbury, CT. Last week I had the opportunity to visit Porter Preston in person. The people there were great as they showed me around, and I was very impressed with their shade offerings.
I am happy to say that Porter Preston solves the three problems listed above both stylishly and cost-effectively for my clients. Their selection of extra wide fabrics makes the “problem window” no problem at all. They’re even close enough to Massachusetts to enable me to pick up the shades (and drapery hardware) for quick-turn projects if needed. Plus, they’re happy to support New England small businesses, just like us. I’m glad to be able to add them to my stable of vendors.
Pictured below are some of the manual and motorized shade options available from Porter Preston. Note the fascia (headrail) and how it wraps underneath so that the working parts of the roller are not visible. This would look great in any setting in your home with wide windows or French doors, so that the view is the star of the show, not the window treatment. I had a project last Summer with a modern living room overlooking the pool. These shades would have been perfect and would have provided an additional solution for my client to choose from.
To better meet my clients decorating and window treatment needs I’m always on the lookout for new vendors that solve the latest design problems. Porter Preston is yet another way for me to do that. Here's the link to their website if you want to read more about them: http://www.porterpreston.com/
Thanks for welcoming me so warmly, Porter Preston! (…..and the chocolates in your welcome package were divine – my daughter loved them…..)
I’ve always been an advocate of using the latest technology to help my Interior Design clients get a better idea of what their design choices are – before they have to commit to painting the room, purchasing furniture, selecting fabrics or having me fabricate custom window coverings. In fact, one of the mainstays of my design process is to prepare computer design renderings of what the room would look like in different configurations and with different styles or treatments using the “Dream Draper” software. You can read all about how I go about this on my website’s “Design Renderings” page here.
I’ve also integrated the Color Muse device that helps determine, match and select colors of any object (paint, fabric, furniture, accessories, etc.,) into my business. Here’s the blog from 23 July 2017 on that.
I’ve even got some apps to allow me to take better photos on my iPhone and to edit out unwanted items in the photos before I load them into Dream Draper so that I can start with a blank canvas. Here’s the blog from 26 March 2018 on that.
But these days the technology moves so fast that now “Augmented Reality” (AR) is starting to make waves. What’s “Augmented Reality” - it’s a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. Since smartphones and computers are becoming ever more powerful this technology is getting ready to explode – and not just for video games. Here’s a great example that I recently ran across: the Dulux Visualizer App.
“The easy to use app lets you pick a colour from anywhere, and, with augmented reality technology, allows you to see the colours live in your living space. You can save as a video or photo; which you can also share with your family and friends if you’re finding it difficult to narrow down your colour choice."
Here’s a link to their website if you want to see even more detail:
Ikea has even launched their new “Ikea Place” app:
“Available on the App Store, IKEA Place lets you virtually ‘place’ furnishings in your space. From sofas and lamps, to rugs and tables, all of the products in IKEA Place are 3D and true to scale so you can make sure it’s just the right size, design and functionality for your room."
I’m not sure where all this technology will end up – but these tools sure help with the upfront planning – and I’m sure that the emerging AR technology will make things even better. So, if you run across any great technology that you think would be useful in Interior Design drop me a note.
So, we’re just a couple of days away from 2019 and you’re thinking about doing wallpaper this year? What a lovely idea to freshen up any nook or room in your home. But, like fabric shopping, there is just so much out there and it’s hard to know where to begin to find the wallpaper of your dreams.
For starters, take a look at this beautiful bedroom from Serena and Lily, which is both classic and updated at the same time. Looking closer at the wallpaper (Wentworth in color blue), it’s a lovely tile-inspired pattern that works well to soften the white architectural elements in the room. I just love a blue bedroom (I have one myself) and this one just makes me smile.
Here’s another example, in this case a beautiful mural wallpaper displayed at the Schumacher Showroom at the Boston Design Center (BDC). It’s a perfect example of how wallpaper can make a stunning statement in your home. It’s so fresh and inspirational, perfect for your more formal living room, dining room, or master suite. Can’t you envision this paper adorning your home and totally transforming your look (and outlook)?
As you can see in the photo below from the Lee Jofa/Brunschwig and Fils showroom at the BDC, the Chinoiserie motif and a blue/white color palette pair wonderfully for an elegant current look.
My super savvy and stylish executive client Alison recently completed a full-gut renovation of her kitchen and dining room, and I was privileged to help her with the lighting, wallpaper, furniture, and window treatments. We selected a fun Serena & Lily wallpaper (Luna Stripe in Color Ocean) to introduce a bold and happy blue to her dream kitchen. Below is a sneak peek at the dining room side with the wallpaper and the new window treatments that I fabricated and installed just before Christmas. As you can see, the space is still coming together, and we are expecting the chairs and accessories this week. I’ll be sure to update you with more photos once it’s all finished - wait until you see the kitchen side of the space! But the main point is that the wallpaper is the star of the dining room for sure. I just love the offerings that Serena & Lily has in blue and white.
While on a November 2018 visit to the Phillip Jeffries showroom at the BDC, I was intrigued by this gorgeous handcrafted wallcovering with real wood called “Against the Grain”. I have a sample of this wallcovering in my Phillip Jeffries sample books, but the small sample doesn’t do the paper justice. Can’t you envision this in a home office, den, or basement teen and man cave? Talk about a statement. And isn’t that just what wallpaper is supposed to do for a space -- make a statement unlike any paint can?
Ditto on the “make a statement” remark for the beautiful Thibaut paper shown below, also seen in large format at the Thibaut showroom BDC. It combines several elements which I love -- grasscloth background, a medallion pattern for interest and harmony, and a metallic touch, which I’m afraid you cannot truly judge just from the photo. We’ll just have to see it in person together.
Finally, here’s a photo of another Thibaut paper (Ming Trail) that a client and I are currently considering for a nook in her master suite. She's a landscape architect and this inspiring bold pattern would certainly conjure the essence of her craft all year long.
Shopping In-Person for Wallcoverings
Definitely THE BEST place to shop for wallpaper and wallcoverings here in the Boston area is in-person at the Boston Design Center with me as your guide. The showrooms at the BDC for Phillip Jeffries, Thibaut, Cole and Son, Schumacher, and Lee Jofa/Brunschwig and Fils will give you the absolute best selection and largest portrayal of the pattern and colors for your most time-efficient selection process. Wading through on-line photos of wallpaper is not the best use of your time (believe me!) and I can help you streamline the process to pinpoint the very best options for your interior project. Plus, the helpful designers at the BDC will give us samples right there, and we can coordinate the papers with the multitude of fabric vendors also at the Boston Design Center.
So, if you still think wallpaper offerings are “so yesterday,” I invite you to join me on a shopping expedition to the Boston Design Center in 2019. Send me a note and let’s schedule an excursion today. The BDC has recently undergone a total renovation and I would love to show you around.
To help you with a starting place for your wallpaper search, here are the websites of my five favorite wallpaper and wallcovering manufacturers and vendors:
My very best wishes to you for a Happy New Year! May 2019 delight your senses, bring you peace, and bestow on your family blessings and joy.
I can’t believe this is my 60th blog post since starting this endeavor in June of 2017. 60 posts in 18 months! So much fun for me, and a nice collection of tips in my archives for you (especially since it’s all searchable). This week I’m taking a look at the decorating trends of 2018 and making some crystal ball predictions about which trends will last through 2019 and beyond. I’ve got my decorating compass and GPS strapped on - are you ready?
Fabrics for Décor Items—What were the 2018 trends?
Let’s first discuss fabrics, soft goods and décor items which are short-term, usually inexpensive and can afford to be trendy. Items such as pillows, throws and table runners are easily replaced after 2-3 years of use and enjoyment as the styles change. Plus, you shouldn’t really mind if your family actually uses the pillows on the sofa for comfort and back support - that’s what they’re there for. You all know I am a total fabric hound, so it’s natural that I would start my trends discussion with fabrics. All the rage for trendy pillows now are geometrics, textures, metallics, and even some with jute and macramé accents. But if you are looking for pillow, bedding, and drapery fabrics which will endure a bit longer, here are some of my favorite fabrics that were introduced in 2018 and will surely endure in 2019 and beyond.
I love these fabrics because they all have a sense of organic movement to them, and with the exception of the fun red paisley, have a sense of harmony too. Velvet and textural chenilles have also been popular for upholstery and pillows in the last few years, and I believe they will always be a stylish and luxurious choice if your climate and usage is compatible. Plus, many of my vendors carry Crypton upholstery fabrics in tweeds, chenille, and velvets. Crypton is a finish which makes liquids (especially those that stain like red wine, tomato sauce, and juice) bead up when in contact with the fabric. With the wide choice of Crypton fabrics which came out in 2018, you can enjoy the soft and lush feel of an upholstery fabric (very different than the stiffer and flatter Sunbrella) and have easy care with kids and pets. Ask me to order you some samples if you want to do some testing on your own.
As far as fabric trends that have run their course, I believe animal prints and Suzanis fall into this category. Maybe small plaids too, but there will always be a need for small plaids. Animal prints have been all the rage for 10+ years now, and I think it’s time to let them go (a little bit) in adult spaces. Kids and animal prints are a natural pairing, so do keep them in the mix for youthful spaces. Large scale Suzanis like the fabric below in the middle still popular, and I still like them for pillows. But Suzanis have been used frequently in upholstery in the last few years, and they will date your interior as such. The Frankie chair on the right is currently available from Pier 1, and it is indeed quite handsome - but you would need a lot of neutral elsewhere in the room to have it happily coexist. If you love the ethnic and organic feel of a Suzani, I believe that it’s better to use it in a pillow or throw from now on.
As for other prominent 2018 design items besides fabrics, here is my somewhat random wrap-up of 2018 trends and whether they will endure in the foreseeable future. This is my version of the “Love it or Lose it” exercise I did in Post #2 of my blog way back in June 2017. Just for fun, you might want to review that blog to see where we were 18 months ago.
Let It Go (unless YOU love it – since that’s what really matters):
Well, that’s the wrap-up on my opinions on which 2018 trends will endure and which may (and should) fall away. I would love to hear your opinions and questions on these design trends and others - please contact me here.
My very best wishes to you for a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Wonderful Holiday Season!
‘Tis the season for getting our homes and hearts ready for the holidays! To that end I attended a lovely holiday party for designers yesterday at Darby Road Home in Waltham, MA. (http://www.darbyroad.com/)
What fun, and an opportunity to see owner Michelle Coppolo’s new offerings of counter stools, as she showed us in the photo below.
For some reason, counter stools are super hard to source for designers and the buying public alike. I know this because recently I’ve helped several clients finish up their spectacular kitchen renovations by selecting stools, paint, lighting, wallpaper, and accessories – and finding the right stools was as hard as picking the right paint (and that just seems wrong). The discussion yesterday on this very subject among my designer colleagues was unanimous - there are too few places in the Boston area where you can actually see and test out a counter stool before you purchase it. Look in any design magazine featuring a kitchen and the counter stools are always featured prominently in rounding out the décor. Michelle and Darby Road Home to the rescue! And look at these beautiful offerings, all customizable in finish and fabric. Thank you, Michelle, for giving us a local store, a real treasure at that, to bring our clients to do the all important “sit test” on furniture and chairs.
And doubly thank you for a beautiful and elegant luncheon featuring a demonstration and workshop on holiday arrangements from Carol Hudson, Master Gardner from Wellesley, MA. (https://carolhudsondesigns.com/)
During her demonstration Carol described how at the holidays, you very likely have some suitable greenery right outside your window to form the backdrop for small arrangements—Japanese Pieris Andromeda (yes, right outside my dining room window as a matter of fact), juniper, spruce, and holly. She interspersed these greens with some roses for delicate detail, and the resulting arrangements were so lovely. We each had the opportunity to make our own (thank you Carol and Michelle!), and you see my friend Linda Woodard (of Linda’s Decors, http://www.lindasdecors.com/) with instructor Carol and her arrangement.
Thank you, Darby Road Home. Can’t wait to see all the new stock you are bringing in for 2019!
It’s getting to that time of year when words like “cozy and intimate” come to mind. We think about the perfect small gathering of family and friends, the ideal getaway, and the quiet nook in our home to nestle into. But how about our upcoming holiday shopping experiences? It might just be me, but thoughts of big-box stores, mall parking lots, long lines and Black Friday make me run for the hot cocoa in front of our glowing fireplace.
So…for your upcoming shopping, you might want to consider the concept of “Small Business Saturday” which is Nov 24th, the day AFTER Black Friday. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and our local community. Where else can you get personalized service in today’s shopping landscape - and hope to actually see the same business owner years down the road?
In Sudbury, we have so many terrific small businesses! For my interior design clients, I personally love to do business with Carpet Carousel, Cavicchio Greenhouses, Hamill for Hire (Handyman) and Upholstery on Broadway (Kevin Kennedy). To see all the great small businesses in town take a look at the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce’s website:
Are you in a panic on what to give your sister, mother, or mother-in-law for the holidays? Consider giving them a “VIP Design Day” with me. It includes an in-home design consultation, shopping at the Boston Design Center, delicious lunch, and a follow-up plan. What could be more perfect?
Whatever you do, shop locally this weekend, and if you need holiday decorating help call Barbara at 978-440-7264. You know you want to! Make today the day you decide your home décor can be as exciting and vibrant as you are.
In September I came upon this sight at Home Depot - what a shocking reminder that the seasons are a-changin’ (if you don’t get this reference, you must be young). Witnessing how retailers switch in the blink of an eye from barbeques to snow blowers, I thought this week’s blog should address the similar changeover in our mental philosophy from Summer to Fall. Specifically, what 4 things you must absolutely do when Fall undeniably signals the change of seasons, at least from the home decorating perspective.
1) Get over it: Fall comes every year, and that’s a good thing. While you might want to preserve Summer forever (see my “Making Summer Last Longer Via Your Décor” from August of this year for helpful tips to make that exquisite summer feeling last longer than the calendar suggests), Fall inevitably comes, and that’s comforting and invigorating. Just look at how gorgeous the new landscaping in our backyard looks this Fall. We redesigned the plantings this Summer to be more like a Japanese garden after our spring trip to Japan. Watching the colors of the Japanese Maples and Red Maples come into their full glorious color in recent weeks has been uplifting.
2) Prepare Your Home Now for Holiday Guests: Today is Halloween, and you say you are having a Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hannukah get together? And your dining room doesn’t even have a table yet, your guest room is piled with your kids’ summer camp and school stuff from last school year, you need some kind of window treatments, and you need to have the painter fix last winter’s ice dam damage? Or perhaps your in-laws or college best friends are coming to celebrate with you in 4 weeks (oh my) or 8 weeks (better, but still panic city)? If that’s the case you might want to reread my blogpost from June titled “The Guest Room - 15 Tips for a Heavenly Stay”.
But let’s look on the bright side – this might also be a great opportunity for you to: (1) clearly define a project that you have been procrastinating on, (2) call me and (3) get it done before the holidays arrive. Now! In January, after everyone has gone home, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of the professional design from your family’s enjoyment…think of it as a holiday gift that you gave to yourself. So, if this is the situation you’re in make time to call me today (978-440-7264) or contact me if you’re serious about making some pre-holiday improvements that require getting on the painter or carpenter’s or my schedule.
3) Plan Ahead in Your Lighting For Winter’s Darker Days: The change of seasons reminds us that it’s prudent and emotionally calming to think, plan, and act ahead. Just like the squirrel that’s scampering in your yard right now gathering acorns and storing up for the colder months. What does this have to do with interior home design? One area you should always review this time of year is lighting. We get so used to the bright summer days that we forget our dependence on artificial lighting for much of the year, and just how much lighting impacts your home’s interior ambiance. If you haven’t shopped for chandeliers and lighting in the past few years, the options (as well as bulb technology) have really changed. There are beautiful fixtures out there, including this new one at Arhaus, where the bulbs are cleverly concealed so that it would be pleasant to have it hang over a dining room table, in the center of a room, or over your bed.
If you haven’t been to a lighting showroom lately, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the new options. Browse at stores other than Home Depot too, although Home Depot is a perfectly acceptable place to take a look too.
In that vein I have a new resource for lighting and kitchen hardware, Needham Decorative Hardware, a terrific to-the-trade showroom in Needham, MA (see the photo below). I enjoyed shopping there with a client of mine this week and both their product selection and their staff designers are terrific. So, if you’re in need of new lighting, let’s check things out together. I bet you didn’t even know I did lighting, did you? Some of my favorite vendors are Currey and Co, Visual Comfort, Jonathan Adler, Hinckley, Circa and Uttermost. I often think of lighting as an opportunity for jewelry on your décor - functional AND pretty, you can’t beat that.
4) Get Outside and Enjoy the outdoors: Enjoy the change of seasons because what’s happening out there this Fall is pretty spectacular. Every day this week while walking or driving in my hometown, I’ve marveled at just how gorgeous it is. The woods nearby our home change daily and it is so invigorating to take walks in this spectacular landscape. Comparing this exuberance of Nature’s daily changes in our surroundings with the world of interior design, I find they are very similar. When you come home and your new window treatments that you planned for a few weeks or months are actually up, it’s a nice feeling and a push forward. I have been doing lots of projects this Fall with folks who just wanted to finally do it, and I can see the happiness on their faces at the “reveal.”
Until next time, enjoy yourselves this Halloween! What a great day, when everyone can be a kid and dress up and embrace the wonder of stepping out of the everyday. After that, enjoy your change of seasons, wherever you live, because it reminds us of the refreshing cycle of nature. And don’t forget to prepare your home for the upcoming holidays - you will be glad you did.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.