Like most websites, ever since we launched our Center Stage Interior Designs (CSID) website way back in 2001 we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are, where they’re located and what they read. Recently we’ve had a few people ask who reads our site – so we thought that we would share some of our statistics from 2020 with all of you.
In 2020 we had readers from 58 different Countries around the world - with 89% or our readers coming from the United States and with the largest concentrations outside the US being in the following 10 Countries:
In the United States we have readers from all 50 States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 10 States:
Since our interior design services are located in Sudbury Massachusetts, our readers in the Boston metro area are of acute interest to us. These readers constitute 17% of all our readers – but actually account for 37% or our website’s page views – looking at more pages and staying on the pages longer. They are primarily located in Sudbury, Boston, Concord, Acton, Concordia, Maynard, Wellesley, Dedham, Newton and Waltham; which is great for us since all of these towns are close enough for us to actually be able to visit to help convert these readers into happy clients.
The 25 pages and blog posts that have people read the most over the past year are:
The majority of our users look at our site between the hours of 9:00 AM and 12:00 AM (midnight).
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (69%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (14%). A much smaller percentage (9%) find our website through Pinterest photos that our readers post in their online accounts.
The majority of our users view our website from their desktop computer (49%) or their mobile device (46%) using either Safari (44%) or Chrome (39%) browsers.
Hopefully this data shows you that you’re in good company as you view our Interior Design portfolio photos, or read through our Interior Decorating blog posts. Our wish is that they give you some information that will inspire your design vision and interior decorating activities. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our CSID website!
If you're located in the Boston Metro area - give us a call!
Lately I've been busy shopping for new furniture for several of my clients. Consequently I have been to many of the furniture showrooms and specialty stores in the Boston area, and during my travels I've run across several clever furniture ideas that I thought I would share.
1. Furniture that fits our digital world and our need for electrical power. Does the following scenario sound familiar? You haven’t updated your family room furniture in years, and there’s no way to power your electronic devices when sitting on the sofa or relaxing in your chair, short of unsightly extension cords.
If this strikes a nerve, you might want to take a look at some new low-cost end tables, like the one shown below that has a handy (and hidden) electrical port at the back. I found this end table at LazyBoy furniture when I was searching for a “power” footrest sofa for some elderly clients. This is a simple solution for your family room to keep everyone happy and well-charged. If you look around these clever “powered” tables are everywhere these days.
2. Nesting Coffee Tables. Although this isn’t a new concept, there are now many options for space-efficient and versatile coffee tables, like the round nested tables shown below, on the market. Some even come with marble or stone tops that add lots of versatility - the children can play and do writing projects, and your friends can safely set down a cup of coffee or drink. Yes, after Covid, we will eventually have guests in our homes again! Plus, introducing a stone top provides interest and dimension to your family room in addition to beautiful functionality.
3. Expandable Bench. I came across this clever bench at my local Jordan’s Furniture in Natick, MA, and thought that the idea was just ingenious. They show it at the base of a bed, but I can also envision it in a mudroom or entryway, neatly compacted down like in the last photo. The wood top would be perfect for you and your children to take off winter boots after playing in the snow. Then, when you have company and need to expand your dining room seating to accommodate more people, you can expand this bench to seat at 3 or 4 people. And look at the price Jordan’s is charging, amazingly low for such a versatile bench.
4. Space-saving console table with stools for back of the sofa. A year ago I blogged about the clever “Gathering Island” concept: “Furniture for Gathering in the Family Room”. Below is a photo of a similar concept, that I recently found at Jordan’s, where a flip top panel at the front is a terrific additional feature. You can put this piece behind a sofa that might be floating in the room, and then be able to work on your laptop while sitting higher than your family members who have scored the comfy sofa seats. Convertible furniture is really nothing new, of course, and college students and city-dwellers face this kind of challenge all the time when trying to determine how to live in an ultra-small space. For homeowners, however, we seldom think or look for adding space saving ideas to enhance our existing spaces. Additionally, if we are lucky enough to live in a moderate or large size house, we might not even contemplate googling “space-saving” furniture. (But then that’s what you hire me for - helping you envision the possibilities.)
5. Having it all in a coffee table. Upholstered ottomans in front of a sofa are very popular nowadays. Really, who doesn’t want to put their feet up at the end of a day? But relying on a tray set upon the coffee table to hold drinks and snacks seems like an unstable proposition for everyday use. Here are two coffee tables which combine the ottoman idea with the hard-surface idea. The first is from LazyBoy, with a pull-out table top, and I spotted the second, with a hard shelf, at Boston Interiors.
6. Another versatile coffee table. By now, you can tell I’ve been shopping for coffee tables, right? Here’s a coffee table I found at LazyBoy which beautifully combines the need for drawer storage of TV remotes and such, but still has a glass top for functionality and durability. It doesn’t dominate, but is a happy “supporting player” in a family room.
7. Storage ottoman that converts to a chair. This is a clever piece that I thought would be perfect in a family room or basement play room; found at Jordan’s. I can envision storing throws (or Legos and action figures or dolls) in the piece which would be easy to move around a basement.
I hope that seeing some of these clever furniture ideas energizes you to examine your own spaces, particularly your family room. Let’s face it – we are all spending lots of time at home as we get through the Covid morass, and this is the time to at least identify where you could be more comfortable and productive in your home.
You might not know it, but the furniture industry is booming during Covid - all the manufacturers are working, and interior designers (such as myself) are happy to help you make your home more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing while we ride this all out.
So call me, and let’s do a virtual walk through of your home, or a socially-distanced in-person visit.
If you want to add window treatments that are cordless to your home, for either their clean aesthetic or for enhanced child safety, now’s the time because from 30 September to 7 December 2019 Lafayette Interior Fashions (www.lafayetteinteriorfashions.com) is offering free cordless upgrades. Here are the details:
Give me a call at 978-440-7264 so that we can get started.
As we’ve all recently seen, one of the latest trends in interior decorating is the use of technology to allow you to automate your home. Consistent with that trend is the latest lighting trend that doesn’t just allow you to turn your lights on and off remotely – but also allows you to change the brightness and color of your lights using LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights that are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected. The product line with the leading edge technology in this area is the Philips “Hue” line of bulbs. We installed Hue bulbs in my Daughter’s room last year and added them to our Guest Bedroom when we recently redecorated it.
To use the Hue bulbs you just need to replace your current standard bulbs with the Hue bulbs. No special light fixtures or electrical connections are required. You can immediately begin using them by downloading the IOS or Android app and leveraging their Bluetooth connection. To get even more flexibility and control over the Hue bulb’s brightness and colors (16 million colors to be exact), you just need to add a Hue “Bridge” to your home’s internet network (~$50).
Here are some screen shots of the IOS app and photos of the lights (two night stand lamps and an overhead light) in our Guest Bedroom with varying brightness and warmth of white light.
Here are some photos of the lights in the Guest Bedroom with different overall colors (e.g. all the lights in the room are set to the same color).
Here are some screen shots of the IOS app and photos of the lights in the Guest Bedroom with different presets where each light bulb is a different color.
Here are some photos of the lights in my Daughter’s room with different overall colors and presets where each light bulb is a different color.
Although the Hue bulbs are significantly more expensive than standard light bulbs (~$40 each - because of the connectivity electronics and wide range of light colors from the LEDs), they are worth it if you really want to customize and control your lighting.
If you want to find out more about Hue light bulbs and how they work here are the links to the Philips Hue website:
Want to look into how this new technology can enhance your home? Just give me a call and I’ll walk you through it.
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….).
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.
Yes, your closet can bring you joy! Organizing and figuring out how to stash your belongings is a common challenge to all my residential clients, so this week I want to tell you about the Elfa Closet System - which is a fantastic place to start.
Here is a photo of the Elfa System I just designed and installed this week (with the help of the closet design experts at the Container Store, the local retailer for Elfa) in a walk-in closet in a new apartment that one of my clients is moving into. Don’t you just love the look of a fresh well-designed and efficient closet? I can’t say enough good things about the Elfa system…but read on, I’ll surely try.
To back up a bit…three of my current clients are working with new-build construction, and they all have the “golden opportunity” to start fresh with a closet system like Elfa. One project is a gut renovation and expansion, one is a two-bedroom luxury apartment, and the third is a whole-home new build.
Thinking through how they wanted to use their closets was the first step in my design process with them. We then progressed to detailed planning sessions to refine their storage needs, pinpoint critical design factors like who would be using the closets and their physical height and reach, and of course measuring the closets in detail to get every last inch of space working in an efficient manner.
Because of my client’s needs I’ve recently looked at several of the closet organization options on the market, and for my apartment clients recommended the Elfa system. Now that the Elfa system has been installed in the apartment, I can happily report I am even more impressed for the following 5 reasons:
You can check out the Elfa system on-line at:
If you have a Container Store near you, I suggest you visit them to check out the displays in the store. You can get a better sense by seeing the system in person, and you can get an idea of the cost for what you need from the sample displays. And for your shoe lovers, check out these cool shoe trays…I love it! Now couldn’t your master bedroom or mudroom closet benefit from a makeover?
Please note: I am not affiliated in any way with Elfa or The Container Store, so this is NOT advertising—I am just a happy designer/consumer. This blogpost is a product review. But I can help you figure out a closet system like Elfa for your particular storage needs.
Recently I’ve delivered a number of large projects. Coincidentally I also took a photography seminar with Boston Interior Designer and professional photographer Linda Holt; a fellow interior designer who showcases her fabulous, fresh and vibrant portfolio on her website (https://www.lindaholtcreative.com/). A perfect storm of events for this week’s blog post!
First, a little bit about Linda’s iPhone class and tips, or what she calls “iPhone-ography.” Cute! Linda gave a photography seminar to the Eastern Massachusetts Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) Chapter, a professional group I belong to that is dedicated to education and networking in the window coverings and soft furnishings field. https://www.wcaa.org/AF_MemberCommittee.asp?committeeid=8
Linda’s seminar was held at the Duralee showroom at the Boston Design Center (BDC), a lovely place to shop for sumptuous fabrics in a bright and cheerful atmosphere in the Boston Seaport area. Here’s a link to the BDC (http://bostondesign.com/showrooms), which is open to the public for browsing, but if you want to purchase something you need to be with a designer that’s registered with them. So if you are interested in seeing lots of professional interior design products in one place, call me and we can go together!
In the photo above Linda is instructing our group (with our past Chapter President Gabe Fitzgerald on her right). Linda described that there are two parts to better iPhone photography: taking better photos in the first place, and then doing post-processing with easily downloaded and free/dirt-cheap apps on your phone. Linda’s first bit of advice was to take better photos in the first place, making sure to get your vertical lines actually vertical, with helpful gridlines turned on in your iPhone camera.…and do you notice how straight my (unretouched) photo looks? We had a great time setting up our iPhone cameras properly and testing things out. Check out Linda’s advice on iPhone photography on her website…you will be able to wow your teenager with your iPhone prowess (well, at least for a minute or two).
So what have I done to practice my new photography skills? When I delivered three projects last week, I decided to shoot the “after” shots with my iPhone instead of my larger Nikon camera.
Below is a family room in Lynnfield, MA for a lovely couple who wanted a relaxing, put-together and textural family room. The only thing they started with was the griege sectional. I suggested Navy walls to give some punch to them since they have incredibly large windows. I then fabricated cornices made out of Lafayette Manh Truc woven wood material (Kaliko Smoke) http://www.lafvb.com/woven-wood-shades and put those cornices over extra wide Sheerweave roller shades from Lafayette.
The couple was glad to have some privacy instead of their initial “fishbowl” setup, and the cornices on top added some textural interest without taking over with too much pattern. I also fabricated some new pillows to punch up the sofa, and the couple found a rug they liked to round out the seating area. Finally, my client accessorized the table behind the sofa himself—well done! All in all, a nice room, and a wonderful collaborative effort with some amazing and fun clients.
Curious about what the “before” arrangement looked like? Here you go:
The second project that I delivered last week was a new window seat in the same client’s kitchen. Here I made a tufted bench seat in a Crypton (spill-friendly) fabric with a faux roman valance over Comfortex Shangri-La horizontal shade. Think that it needs some pillows? You are so right!
To try out my new photography skills and “TouchRetouch “ app I edited this photo directly on my phone using Linda’s tips. It was easy to get things straight, balance out the color, and do some magic with removing objects on the shelf with the app. Below is a straight-on shot of the bench:
The last project that I delivered last week was a set of woven wood cornices to a wonderful family in Weston, MA. My client and I searched for a cool “statement” chandelier over the round table in her eating area that is in the same space as her large gray/taupe kitchen. This “Sputnik” chandelier was just the thing to fill the space, and we decided on the cornices to visually raise the windows in the room with 9’ ceilings. Here’s the after shot, “straightened” just a bit by me on my iPhone:
I just love that floral arrangement….makes me think of ….SPRING. Just what we need this week, since there is still snow on the ground here in Massachusetts and it will be April this weekend.
Hope your week is a good one! Tomorrow I’m off to the 2018 International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) in Tampa. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos with my iPhone and update you next week on all the new interior design products and looks!
The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are urging parents and caregivers during October to check their window coverings for exposed or dangling cords that can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children, and to retrofit or replace them with today’s safer products. These organizations recommend that only cordless window coverings, or those with inaccessible cords be used in homes with young children.
For more information, here’s a link to the Consumer Product Safety Commission “Kids and Cords Don’t Mix” page:
Center Stage has many cordless options for cellular, roller, and sheer shades, wood blinds, and roman shades, including MOTORIZED control, and my vendors are offering significant sales in October and through the 4th quarter for cordless products.
You will be amazed at all the new products out there and the low prices for motorization. It’s now mainstream, just like most consumer electronics. And you can even recharge the batteries with a USB connector, which need to be done only about once a year, …how cool is that?
Call Barbara to get more info on all the promotions! Imagine the convenience of motorization and the peace of mind for your kids’ safety too.
Last week I was invited to a special open house and production facility tour at one of my favorite vendors, Comfortex, at their main plant in Watervliet, NY. I am a big fan of Comfortex for their quality, innovation, customer service, and their “made in USA” production. Plus, with their plant so close to Sudbury, they are practically local, with fast shipping times and turnaround.
The tour of the production floor was terrific! As an engineer, I just love seeing how things are made, and the Comfortex plant was a technical marvel. The thing to remember about this plant is that every item (very shade and blind) is CUSTOM MADE, with its own specifications, material, dimensions, and destination. So, it was fascinating to see how a factory (where you typically think of mass production runs turning out identical units) produces unique custom pieces in a timely manner and gets everything right and shipped out the door.
Here are some photos that show the Comfortex plant’s production line in action.
In addition to the tour, the Comfortex management personnel and their teams gave us an incredible showcase of their new products and fabrics - and their latest innovations in motorization. Below you see Nobina Preston, Senior Product Manager at Comfortex, demonstrate their new “wand” operated roller shade. It has a bit of a “Harry Potter” touch in addition to a cordless, child-safe operation. Touch the telescoping wand to the headrail, and you can control up, down, and stop. Combined with Comfortex’s ability to put any photo you like on a roller shade, I can see lots of possibilities for custom window solutions for the younger crowd! I was very impressed with the Comfortex custom photo printing capability, one that we typically see used to display company logos at coffee shops and other retail vendors. But how about shades for your child’s room with photos of your favorite vacation beach?
Although I really enjoyed seeing their new products, I was most impressed with the Comfortex production facility, their whole management, sales, and production team, and their dedication to producing a top-quality product made in the USA. Thanks, Comfortex, for inviting me (and lots of other professionals in the interior design business) to see your operations in action.
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.