Redecorating & Redesign Archive - Max Design's Interior Design Blog
A few of my recent projects have involved arched windows. One project was a residential condominium and the other two were custom homes. Arched windows are wonderful architectural features, but they can present challenges when it comes to light control and privacy.
Solutions should be based upon how much room there is for outside mount or inside mount treatments, whether the desired look is tailored or soft, whether total blackout or simple light filtering is required, and whether complete window coverage or partial window coverage is desired.
One option is to not add any window treatments. Let the light shine in! However, if you're in search of some privacy or need to block some of the light entering the room, there are several options. Here are just some of them:
Solar Shades - these unobtrusive and streamlined shades filter the light with different grades of filtering available. Generally installed as outside mount, solar shades can be fully raised to expose arched windows or lowered to provide partial or total coverage. Solar shades do not provide blackout or total privacy, and basically serve as a screen.
Inside Mount Privacy Sheers - for a look that is both tailored and soft at the same time, sheer fabric shirred on a rod (at top, or at top and bottom) is a nice solution. A bit more traditional in appearance than shades, privacy sheers can be installed inside mount in order to preserve the integrity and lines of the arched window, and can be installed at the highest point possible before the arch begins, or at a lower point if desired. This type of treatment can create privacy and coverage while still allowing an open area at the arch.
Cellular Shades - probably one of the more flexible and cost effective options, cellular shades can be installed outside mount for a simple solution. Installed above the window opening, an outside mount cellular shade can be dropped fully or partially for adjustable light control. Cellular shades can be translucent or opaque, depending upon the lining. Inside mount cellular shades are also popular, and can feature top-down / bottom-up controls that enable the shade to be raised up partially or fully from the window sill. Cellular arch infills are also available enabling the arched section of the window to be filled in. These infills can be stationary or can be opened as needed.
Shutters - for a substantial and architecturally interesting solution, shutters provide privacy, light control and flexibility. Depending on dimensions and customization, shutters could potentially cost quite a bit more than shades or fabric treatments. Plantation style shutters with large blades and rails, installed inside mount, provide a clean, and tailored solution. Shutters are generally installed to fill in partial height rather than full height, but full height shutter treatments are possible.
Drapery Panels - whether sheer or lined for privacy and light control, traversing panels that are mounted above and outside the arched window provide a warm, decorative look that is also fairly simple and very functional. When open, panels create a soft framework for arched windows that can help tie a room together. When closed, panels provide privacy and light control of varying degrees, depending upon the fabric and lining used.
With today's tough housing market, many designers are receiving home staging requests from sellers who hope to gain an edge by presenting their homes in the best possible light to prospective buyers. Many designers are instinctively able to help sellers stage their homes, often with dramatic improvements even on a tight budget.
Clients should determine a budget up front that the designer can work with, both in terms of long-term, more permanent design touch-ups such as new paint colors or floor refinishing, and in terms of short-term, decorative accents such as house plants, floral arrangements, candles, artwork, pillows and throws, rugs and the like. Home stagers should evaluate the seller’s furnishings and other belongings to determine what can be used versus what needs to be purchased or borrowed for successful staging.
When it comes to how much is enough or even too much, there are generally two schools of thought here. Many feel that simplicity is the best approach so that buyers can easily envision their own belongings in the space being showcased. Others believe that the seller should offer some “wow factor” by showcasing a well-appointed, beautifully decorated home that may be hard to resist.
I've helped clients stage homes on a shoestring budget with inexpensive additions such as small kitchen and bath accessories, a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore, and some nice houseplants. And I've also undertaken complete kitchen and bath renovations for my clients. I'd have to say that I generally find home staging for clients who are on a tight budget to be very rewarding, since the homeowners are frequently stunned that such significant improvements can be made for so little money spent. "Why didn't we call you long ago!?"
Although consulting time can be charged by the hour, many home stagers charge a flat fee for staging. Either way, the client generally provides the designer with a budget for purchases and pays directly for the items brought in for staging. There should be no financial risk to the designer.
Quite a bit of the design consultation and services that I now provide involve use of the internet and email. I regularly email product description links to clients, send project specifications to clients and builders rather than personally presenting or delivering them, and scan and email drafted floor plans. I probably do at least half of my shopping for furniture, art, and accessories online nowadays. And my clients can often view products online just as easily as I am able to.
Retail stores and "to the trade" sources have made ever increasingly useful product views and specifications available on their websites, creating a convenient way to shop for or to preview products.
Of course, there are pros and cons to the online approach. The advantages are fairly obvious:
- Saves on driving trips to preview furniture, art, accessories, and fabrics, thereby saving time and money, while helping the environment.
- Email is much faster than the postal service, saving on paper, postage and travel.
- Many communications that used to require face-to-face meetings with clients, builders, and architects can now be done online.
Some of the disadvantages include:
- Lack of one-to-one contact, less personal.
- Email can potentially convey an unintended tone or can be misinterpreted more easily than a face-to-face conversation or presentation.
- The lapses between sent emails and replies can sometimes be less productive than a phone call or meeting.
I find myself frequently phoning clients to be sure they've received my emails and to follow up on information that I've sent and which might require a timely response.
There's even a trend to offer complete design consulting packages online. Based entirely upon the exchange of photos, specs and ideas via email and phone conversations, designers assist clients without ever physically viewing the client's home or office. A Washington Post article
suggests that eDecorating seems to be working for a certain sector of the design community.
Although I may email links to illustrate options or selections, I always arrange for clients to view items in person before making purchases, and I always present fabric choices in person for custom furniture and window treatments. If a client is asking for advice on a retail product, I encourage him or her to obtain fabric or finish samples to confirm quality, color, etc.
Online services can work for designers as purchasers, too. I'm very accustomed to shopping for and ordering samples of fabrics and wallcoverings online. Sometimes, it seems like a new package from Kravet Fabrics arrives every other day! I frequently "pre-shop" online for furniture styles, plumbing fixtures, and appliances before I visit a showroom or make actual recommendations to clients.
And I nearly always verify availability for marble, granite and stone, ceramic tile, special lighting, and similar products by checking the manufacturer's or distributor's website. Doing so not only saves me time and travel, but it also helps me avoid recommending an item that may not be readily available to my client or a builder I may be working with.
While the internet has helped to add efficiencies to the interior design business, designers still must be adequately compensated for projects based upon the designers' time and resources used. Typically, it makes sense to work off a flat fee to avoid having to keep track of every minute spent shopping online, emailing the client, and the like. If billing hourly, an up-front budget target should be agreed upon, and designers should be sure to keep meticulous accounting of their time spent on projects.
The personal touch that's achieved by face-to-face meetings may not be possible through "e-design," but enthusiastic clients and designers can still allow their personalities to shine through and can still achieve fine results together, provided of course that project expectations are well defined from the very beginning.
Although it's not my primary line of work, I recently staged a home for a client who was planning to put her home on the market. The plan was long-term; there was no need for an immediate move, and the client had plenty of time for renovations.
In this particular case, the staging and preparation for showing her home included two bathroom renovations, a complete interior paint job, an evaluation and placement of the client’s existing furnishings and accessories, and selection of new furniture pieces and accessories to create an appealing look that would not come across as either too fussy or too crowded.
The house was open and contemporary, with a kitchen that needed only some minor carpentry work and repairs, but with a master bathroom and guest bathroom that were very dark and dated. The client was amenable to gutting the bathrooms, and I selected tile, granite, vanities and plumbing fixtures that created a neutral, light and airy feeling in each bath. I also redesigned the master bathroom to allow for a good size walk-in closet off the master bedroom, which I felt would excite prospective home buyers.
For paint specs, we went with warm neutrals that would appeal to just about any potential buyer, providing some color while not overwhelming with color. Working within the client’s budget, I selected furniture, area rugs, lamps, bedding and accessories to pull everything together. We were able to use most of the client’s furniture but removed some older, darker pieces and numerous extras that were hanging around such as baskets, old lamps, old rugs, and the like.
The result is well organized and nicely contemporary, but with plenty of warm colors and welcoming touches. The client and realtor were each very pleased with the renovations and staging.
With the few clients that I've worked with to prepare their homes for sale, my experience has been that homeowners can accomplish quite a lot with a small investment in design consulting services, paint, and accessorizing.
I’d love to hear from other designers who may have branched into staging, or who even focus primarily on staging, and what their typical staging jobs entail.
It's hard to believe that it's been over 10 years since The Not So Big House
by Sarah Susanka first arrived on the scene. On the closing side of a decade filled with oversized homes, oversized rooms and oversized furniture, The Not So Big House
created a breath of fresh air for the building, architecture and design industry.
Susanka's newest not so big book is Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live. Based on the reviews, the book asks homeowners to consider how they live, what they need in terms of space, and teaches them how to renovate their existing spaces in an efficient, sustainable, and meaningful manner, paring down to the basics but not giving up on quality or good design practices. I'm looking forward to reading it in detail.
More and more of my clients are embracing sensible, scaled-down approaches to renovation and design.
On the same note, I always enjoy Renovation Style
magazine. The features consistently include reasonably scaled projects, straightforward design solutions, interesting materials, and well written articles.
When looking through magazines with clients to help them realize their design, style and color preferences, I'd have to say that Renovation Style is probably the one magazine that elicits the most responses from my clients. Renovation seems to embrace the same "build better, not bigger" philosophy that Sarah Susanka shared with us over a decade ago.
In this sluggish economy, some people are still moving ahead with full kitchen and bath renovations that they'd planned on and for which they'd allocated funds. I've recently worked on some great kitchen and bath projects, both new construction and renovations. I've also worked with a couple of kitchen design clients that are quite budget conscious, but which have included new tile, lighting, paint and wallpaper, counter tops and cabinet hardware - not full blown renovations, but the results were beautiful nonetheless!
Tile can be one of the most cost effective materials that a client can purchase since tile can dramatically improve a kitchen's appearance. Basic tiles can be combined with accent squares in metal or glass for a great new look at affordable prices. I've had terrific results with Panaria Tile - lots of great colors and flexible sizes to allow for creative designs on a minimal budget.
New lighting can freshen up a dated kitchen or bath. Pendant lighting and rail systems add a lot of personality and color. There are so many great systems out there. Some of my favorites are Alfa Lighting, Tech Lighting and Besa Lighting, as they feature wonderful metal finishes, plus gorgeous glass selections for the pendants or directional lighting.
It's important to set aside room in the budget for key items, and lighting is one of them. I've seen clients with fairly restricted budgets fall in love with great lighting such as Hubbarton Forge, and they realize that high quality elements can make all of the dfference between modest and spectacular results.
Bathroom renovations often allow the use of stone remnants that can be purchased for very reasonable prices. At large stone yards, remnant choices and options are usually quite numerous.
Even new cabinet hardware can freshen up a kitchen or bath, especially when combined with new tile or a new paint color.
Here are links to some of the aforementioned products and vendors:
A recent article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel touches upon issues associated with getting LEED certified. According to the article's author, Doreen Hemlock, the current 'green' certification process can take about a year and can cost up to 5 percent of the value of a project, just for the required paperwork and verification tests. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recognizes the problem and is expecting that LEED v3
will help streamline the process.
The USGBC will launch version 3 on April 27, 2009. New projects will be required to register for LEED v3 rather than v2 after June 27th. And December 31, 2009 will be the last day of the free migration period, during which currently registered projects can transition to LEED 2009 and LEED Online without paying a new registration fee.
With LEED v3, the project certification process will move to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), an independent non-profit that was established in 2007 with the support of USGBC. The goal will be to improve the speed with which projects can move through the certification process. I guess time will tell just how much more streamlined the certification processes and Online v3 tool will be. The LEED v3 rollout plans are described below.