How to properly light your kitchen

So how do you properly light a kitchen? I was asked this question recently in my Facebook group – Empty Nesters – Reclaim your Space (click to join). Here’s how to light your kitchen so you aren’t squinting when you are trying to create your gourmet meal.

There are three types of lighting:

  1. Ambient or  General Lighting
  2. Task Lighting
  3. Accent or decorative lighting

You really want to layer all three types of lighting so that you don’t get a spotlight effect in your room. And I always recommend dimmers for most lighting, even in a kitchen, especially if you will be entertaining.

For a kitchen, an example of all three types of lighting would be:

  1. Ambient or General lighting – This is typically potlights (and yes, put them on a dimmer), one or more large overhead lights or track lighting. This is the overall light for the room. If you are using potlights your designer, electrician and/or contractor will have recommendations for you on their spacing. This is dependant on the size of the room, placement of fixtures, work areas and the size and light beam of the potlight you are installing.
  2. Task lighting – this is lighting that directly lights your work area, think of a reading lamp. This would be your under cabinet lighting in a kitchen, or pendant lights over a sink, island or peninsula.
  3. Accent or decorative lighting – this can be wall sconces, glass cabinets with interior lights or a decorative lamp placed on the island.

Here’s a visual showing all three types of lighting.

how to properly light a kitchen

So in this example, the ambient or general lighting is the potlights. The task lighting is the under cabinet lighting, the pendant lights over the peninsula and the fan light over the stove. The accent lighting is the in cabinet lighting.

To see more of this kitchen renovation click here.

Proper lighting in a kitchen is essential and should be one of the first steps when planning your renovation.

 

 

How to furnish and love a long narrow living room in 5 easy steps

Do you have a long narrow living room? Are you a little puzzled on how to go about using it to it’s full potential or at the least making it appear less long and narrow? These quick tips will definitely help you.

1.  First off, do not make the shorts walls a featured area. That is, don’t paint it a different colour than the other walls or put wallpaper on just this one wall. That will draw your eye right to the other end of the room and emphasize it’s narrowness.  So, no accent walls of paint or wallpaper, and if possible, do not put the television or fireplace there.

2.  Do try and place the television/fireplace or other focal pieces, on one of the long walls. This will redirect your focus there.

3. Place furniture away from the short walls wherever possible. So that they will be drawn more into the center of the room.  Creating two seating areas works well in a long narrow living room and enables it to be used to it’s full potential.

4. Built ins or shelving units are your friend.  They can be used on the short walls to create some additional storage and they will inevitably cause the room to be shortened in length. Especially if one of the longer walls has a focal point, as in the image below, the window wall will draw your attention before the shelving unit does.

5. Don’t be afraid of larger pieces of furniture, like sectionals, they work especially well for long narrow living rooms. They take up less space than a sofa and love seat and give you just as much seating, if not more, and allow you to stretch out to watch your favourite shows….hello, Netflix.

Recently, I did up a floor plan for a client with a long narrow living room and here are the two options I gave her.  There is an interesting closet like space at the end of the room that we needed to work with, you know….. old homes and all their character. The challenge in this long narrow living room was accommodating the two entrances and windows and the traffic flow. Also, keep in mind drawings are for design layout purposes only and not necessarily suggestions for colour or specific pieces.

Long narrow Living room Option 1 –  long narrow living room - layout

The alcove at the end of the room is brought forward by using it as another seating area. Placing a console with a piece of art above and two matching chairs in front make this space functional.  Having the television in the middle of one of the long walls allows it to become a feature.
long narrow living room - design option long narrow living room - design option

Long narrow Living room Option 2 – 

The left side of the room remains the same, with the right side accommodating a built in bookcases and storage.
long narrow living room - layout
long narrow living room - design option
So what’s your favourite Option for a long narrow living room?
Lisa

9 easy steps to go all the way with design

9 easy steps to go all the way with your design

Are you struggling with finishing or even starting to design a room. It’s something we have all experienced, even us decorators and designers. Life is so distracting sometimes and it can be hard to move forward. However, the key is to keep making decisions and to focus on ONE ROOM AT A TIME!!!

I know, I know, I always say that your home should be cohesive and it does, but trying to design a whole home can be hugely overwhelming. So tackle one room at a time and I think you’ll see that one room leads to another.

Here’s the way I design:

1.  Make a plan. Decide on how you will be using the room, who will be using the room and what you need to do that properly.  If it’s a family room and you will be using it to watch television and do crafts. You’ll need to have comfy seating for the tv and a large table with appropriate flooring and lighting for craft time.

2.  Plan your lighting. Lighting is so important to a room.  Just think how annoyed you are when you don’t have the proper lighting when you are trying to do something.  Make sure there is ambient lighting (the general lighting for a room) and the appropriate task lighting (such as table lamps for reading or pot lights set over the craft table).  Decorative lighting can be added for mood and ambience in the form of sconces, candles or a decorative floor or table lamp.

3.  Style and colour. This goes along with #1 in that you need to have an idea of what style you would like.  The best way to do this is with magazines – pull out pictures and keep a file or make a pinterest board. I’m eventually going to post some tips on keeping your pinterest boards on point.  After you have a bunch in the file or pins on your pinterest board, a clearer picture of your style will emerge. Tada you have your inspiration. Colour will also show up in these photos. The colour of the walls will be determined at a later stage once you have the bigger pieces decided upon.

4.  Large pieces. Now is the time to invest in the larger more expensive pieces for the room.  Such as a sofa, area rug, draperies and case goods.  These are the items that you will be keeping for the long term and they form the base of your design.  This is where you usually spend the bulk of your budget and because of this I usually stick with classics and neutrals for these items.  You can however diverge from this tract, if for example you love red and fall in love with a red sofa.  GO FOR IT!  This is what will make your room, you!

A note here about pattern, if the larger items that you have decided upon are all solids you may want to add some pattern either in the area rug or in a smaller upholstered chair or ottoman. This gives the room some pizzazz.  Otherwise I would consider adding some wallpaper to the walls instead of a solid paint colour.  The key with pattern is to ensure that the pattern sizes are not all the same. For example, if you have a large pattern on the area rug then have a smaller pattern on the ottoman, so vary the scale of your patterns.

5.  Shopping. Okay now that you’ve decided on the larger items and their cost, you can form a budget.  This will guide you as to where you can splurge and where you can save.  A great room always has some of each in it – that is what makes it interesting.  Remember to keep some money for paint and accessories (usually about 15-20% of the budget).

6.  Paint colour.  I look at all the major items purchased and the rest of the home and then decide what would be the best colour choice.  Paint is one of the most inexpensive parts of the design process and with so many colours, this works the best. Once I know the main colour of the walls, I can then go on to the next step, accessory shopping.

7. Accessories. I do up a list of what I think I’ll need. For example, small round end table, gold framed rectangular mirror approximately 24”x12”.  This is also when I check to see if there is an abundance of one shape in the room.  If there are lots of square items, I balant with some round smaller items and accessories.  Most decorators and designers will pick up way more accessories while shopping. Gives us a great bunch of choices when doing the final placement.  Just return the items that you don’t need. So be sure the store you are shopping at has a great return policy.

8.  Keep on track.  Now is when you’ll usually get distracted and start looking for items for another room in your home.  Try and keep focused and only purchase for the one room. Your budget will thank you and you’ll have one room done instead of all of them in progress.

9.  Put everything in place. If you have managed to hold off now is the time to put everything in place.  Of course, first off the room should be painted and then the larger items positioned in place. Then the smaller furniture pieces and accessories, such as artwork, mirrors and decorative pieces are added.  And Voila!! a perfectly finished design!!

Lisa

 

How decluttering can help you redecorate your home for free

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

Photo credit: Melissa Kew Photography

So what do you do if your budget is tight but you’d love to give your home a fresh update for Spring? You may not realize it, but there is a way to revive and refresh all the rooms in your house – without spending a cent. Do you think it’s impossible to redecorate for free? Well, just keep reading and I’ll tell you how.

Take a look around the house for all of the accessories and artwork you own – including art work, sculptures, vases, candles, picture frames, even plants. Gather them all up and place them all on your kitchen table, this is now your own little decor shop.

Look at everything on your table with new eyes, as if you are seeing it for the first time. Just because that piece of art has always hung over the fireplace does not mean it wouldn’t look even better in the foyer. Or maybe the frame just needs a quick spray paint to be perfect over your bed. Perhaps that red vase that faded into the background in the family room will make your powder room pop.

Keep going, item by item and room by room, until you have redone your entire house. This is the perfect job for a weekend so take your time and it’ll definitely be worthwhile in the end.

Keep in mind that when it comes to decorating, less really is more. That means you don’t have to find a home for all the pieces. Inevitably, there will be leftovers that just don’t seem to ‘fit’ anywhere – at least for now. If you love some of the unused items, store them until you redecorate again, and if you don’t, then it’s time to say goodbye. You can give find them a new home or donate them, just don’t keep them around taking up your precious space.

Now with less items around you’ll definitely spend less time vacuuming and dusting and just think you did it all without spending a cent plus you’ll feel great giving some much appreciated things away for someone else to enjoy.

Lisa

The 7 essential steps to decluttering and what you should not do.

Organization and decluttering Clutter…it’s our society’s nemesis. Everyone has their horror stories, relatives or friends’ relatives that hoarded until it was a health hazard. And we’ve all seen at least one episode of Hoarders on HGTV. Scary stuff.  But realistically, most of us have at least one area of our home that could do with a good decluttering session. Spring is the perfect time of year to tackle one or more decluttering projects.

So, let’s take it step by step so it’s not so frightening.

  1. First of all, don’t do your entire home, just do one small area to start. Then once you see how great it functions and looks you’ll be all in to tackle a bigger space. I’d suggest an entry, closet or even a medicine cabinet**. If you are feeling totally overwhelmed then just set a time limit, like 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes will give you enough time to tackle a junk drawer, medicine cabinet or cupboard. Once you see how great it feels, you can move on to spaces that require more time, perhaps an hour to do a closet. For this exercise, I’m going to use an entry closet as an example.
  2. Gather all your supplies first. You’ll need 4-5 boxes, one each for Keep, Relocation (for those items that have a home somewhere else), Donation, Trash and Recycle. Then grab the vacuum and any other cleaning supplies that you may need.
  3. Remove everything out of the closet and give it a good cleaning while its empty. You may want to even paint it, while you’re at it or perhaps not.
  4. So now you sort. Look at each item and decide where it’s going or if it’s going back in the closet. When I’m doing this I like to think about the last time I used or wore the item. If it’s been forever, then let it go. It may help you to think of all the people that could use this item, so go ahead and donate it. One key to remember is once the boxes are filled and ready to go, bring them immediately to where they need to go. DO NOT let them linger in your home, that just defeats the purpose of the decluttering session. I put the garbage and recycling out immediately. Donation or giveaway items get put in my car right away, so that I drop them off the next time I’m out and about.
  5. Once you’ve got done to the small keep pile, decide how you want to put it back into the closet. This is where you may need to purchase a few baskets or bins. But waiting till now, will make sure you only buy what you need. Pairs of gloves, hats and other small items stay organized in a basket.  If you have many pairs of shoes and boots, perhaps a boot/shoe rack will be necessary and this often helps to decide exactly how many pairs are needed versus what we can store. Out of season clothing and footwear can potentially be stored in a guest room or basement closet.
  6. Hooks or over the door racks are also great for adding usable space to a closet. Purses, scarves, shopping bags, leashes, etc. can be hung here for a quick getaway.
  7. Keep it up.  So now that it’s all organized, remember that you may need to spend a few minutes each day putting things away. Don’t let all that hard work decluttering go to waste.

** If you are decluttering a medicine cabinet, keep in mind that most drug stores will take back expired medications so that they don’t end up in the landfill or water system.

Lisa

The 6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space

6 questions you need to answer before you start designing your space.

When I’m starting a client’s decorating or renovation project, function always comes before form. What I mean by that, is the function of the space has to be determined before we get to the layout or furnishings. The foundation has to be solid so that we can move ahead with the pretty. You wouldn’t spend money on having fabulous wallpaper installed when the wall is crumbling…right? Even the prettiest room has to function properly.

So on my first client visit I ask these 6 questions:

1. What do you use the room for?

All rooms have a purpose, perhaps even many purposes. If you need a room to function as a family room and as a home office, then that will determine how the layout gets decided and what furnishings are needed.

2. How many people will be using the room?

A dining room that sits 12 will be set up differently than one that sits 4. So think about the number of people using the room on a daily basis and perhaps those special occasions when you’ll need to accommodate a larger group.

3. Are there young children and pets that will be using the room?

Of course, if you have pets and young children that live or visit your home  you’ll need some adjustments for them and likely for your piece of mind. In this case, think easy care fabrics, hard floors (like hardwood and tile) and washable throw pillows.

4. Are there any allergies to be aware of?

This is something that is often missed but critical if you or a family member has environmental allergies. Those goose down feather pillows may cause needless suffering and that paint should be low VOC.

5. What is the feeling or mood you want the room to convey?

The answer to this question, shows me the direction to go in design wise. If you say you want it to feel like a hug, then I’m thinking mid-tone warm colours, lots of soft textiles and larger “sink-in” sofas and chairs.  If you want it to feel like a fresh breeze, then light toned cooler colours and clean minimal furnishings are what I’d be suggesting.

6. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

This is the big budget question. If you are in your forever home then you can decorate to your tastes exactly and also you will likely feel comfortable with a larger budget. If you are thinking you’ll move within 10 years than perhaps temper the design to appeal to a larger audience and the budget will likely be a little stricter.

Answer these questions and it’ll lead you in the right direction to set up your floor plan, the style and type of furniture you need and what your budget range should be.

Lisa

A new phase – What do you want your home to be?

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

A new phase begins. What do you want your home to be?

So now that the kids have left or about to, how do you want or need your home to function? This is the key to making your home work for you and your partner. Think about how you want to live. 

What are your goals? 

For example, do you want to entertain or travel more, start or continue a hobby, or just get out from under the clutter?

What path would you like to go down? 

More entertaining?

If entertaining is key to you, then perhaps an open concept kitchen/dining/living area will allow you to host those larger groups more easily.  Perhaps removing some walls (once an expert has determined this is doable), will make this a reality. 

Maybe you need a guest room or bathroom for out of town family and friends, then it is time to redo a few rooms to suit grown ups.

Want to travel more?

Than how about making your home more maintenance friendly. Easy care and durable finishes are a must. Declutter spaces for easy cleaning and installing internet capable thermostats and alarm systems will give you peace of mind travels. Perhaps you want to travel so much that a condo may be the ideal move for you. No yard or exterior to maintain may just be the ticket….pun intended.

Planning on playing?

Perhaps continuing with or starting a new hobby is exactly what you want to do in the next phase. Think about changing up that extra room or space into an art studio, music, craft, sewing or even a theatre room, so you can indulge your inner movie critic. Rooms DO NOT have to stay as they are advertised on your floorplan.

Or do you just need a refresh? 

Something to make your home feel shiny, fresh and new! 

Decluttering of course, is almost always necessary. First, check with the kids about everything they may want or need. Than be pretty ruthless about this, you DO NOT want six storage units full of stuff that no one wants and that you are paying monthly fees on.  Those units should be for temporary use only. Such as if you’re moving and want to store some furniture while you are staging your home or you are keeping items for a university student to use when they get their own home (hopefully sooner than later).

I know grandparents stuff can be sentimental or valuable, if so keep the best pieces that you love and can incorporate into your home, but not the entire dining room set that you don’t care for or have the room for. That chandelier that is priceless and unique can be the focal point in a contemporary room. A mix of design styles makes your home personal and interesting so don’t be afraid to challenge the norm. Breaking rules can be just the thing. That chandelier could be a showstopper in your master bedroom or bath. It doesn’t have to be in the dining room.

Paint or new flooring can also go along way to revamp a home. If you have worn and stained carpet, install hardwood. It is timeless, especially a mid-toned brown one with medium sized planks. Think of a french chateau with those beautiful hardwood floors, they never date. A stunning herringbone pattern will be cherished forever. Just choose what you love and not what you see everywhere, because that is likely a trend.

If hardwood is not your style, then a stone such as marble, slate or granite is another classic choice. If these are too pricey, then a great faux stone tile can also work. Typically porcelain tile is more durable than ceramic, but always ask your tile supplier about the durability of your selection and make sure you tell him/her where it is going. What is durable for a busy hallway versus a hardly used powder room can be vastly different.

Keep grout in mind as well for ease of maintenance, ideally it should be mid toned as well and now there are many stain and water resistant versions on the market. They are costly but well worth the investment.

Paint should always be chosen last on a project, yes dead last. There are millions of paint colours available but not millions of sofa or drapery fabric or tile choices. And also keep in mind paint should always complement your fixtures so DO NOT ignore the pinky beige carpet or tile (if you are keeping it) or you may end up highlighting it instead of working with it.

So think about what your goals are for your home and then you can start making your Reclaim your Home plan. 

I’ll be posting more in depth information on all of these options in the next few weeks so keep checking back. 

Lisa

White, clean and serene master bath

Do you need a bathroom renovation that will make your house more serene, more practically organized and more like you? Well, keep reading to find out how the process works and just what can be achieved in your home.

This bathroom transformation went from dark, cluttered and drab to white, clean and serene. Isn’t she pretty and practical now?

Calm and serene master bath

These clients had a wish list that included:

  • two sinks,
  • lots more storage,
  • larger shower,
  • removing the tub,
  • better lighting,
  • proper venting, and
  • white and serene bath.

This master bath had no personality and obviously was dismal at even providing proper storage. It had only one sink in a crowded vanity, a window and tub where my client had envisioned the shower going, an awkward semi-circular shower enclosure and virtually no ventilation or proper lighting. It is definitely not possible to get ready to take on the day here or for that matter relax at the end of the day?

Before – master bath

You can see the semi-circular shower in the mirror opposite the vanity and behind the door. And the built in tub that was never used.

Before – master bath

I did up three different plans and after consulting with me and their contractor, the clients decided on this plan.

burnsopt3layout

burnsopt3

 

Originally we were going to move the toilet and the door but moving a toilet is an expensive option, so in the end we left both the toilet and the door where it was.

Then I did up two mood boards which shows tile, lighting and fixture selections. They went with Option 1. burns-master-bath-001

Here’s a closer look at the tile selections.

 

Master bath tile selection

The large scale shower wall tile looks like glass but it is actually porcelain and it is a breeze to clean. As per the norm, some items were changed from the moldboard to creation. The vanity was a great find and you’ll see why as you keep reading. The lighting was also changed to discreet pot lights where needed. We felt there was enough going on in the vanity area so this kept the area cleaner.

Where there was cramped, dark and non functioning, there is now this clean, serene, spa like space.

Calm and serene master bath So, what did we do exactly? We moved the vanity from it’s existing place at the right of the door to where the built in tub was. That way we got enough room to put two sinks and that enabled us to place the shower where the vanity had been. Originally, the clients wanted to swap the tub for the shower, but then the window was going to be partially in the shower enclosure. It could have been done, but this was a more cost effective and worry free solution. Moving the shower where the vanity was allowed for a much larger area and since it is all glass it feels very open when you are entering into the bathroom.

My clients also wanted a large inset shower shelf but since the main, long wall was an exterior wall, we couldn’t put a shelf there. So, instead we placed two smaller inset shower shelves, one on each side of the shower tower and it worked perfectly.

Custom shower with two inset shelves

Inset shower shelf

The inset shelf tile is the same as the shower floor and it was also used as a vanity backsplash, for continuity.

Custom shower with two inset shelves

Closeup of vanity area

 

Clean and serene master bath

The cool thing about this vanity is that the bottom toe kick is actually a secret drawer. Therefore, it has even more storage than you expect.

Clean and serene master bath

And those upper mirrored cabinets, well they cantilever up for easy access to even more storage.

Clean and serene master bath

My client, picked up this adorable teak stool that she uses in the shower, when needed.

Clean and serene master bath

How much nicer is it to get ready in this dream of a bath? If you need the answer to that question, give me a call and we can start working on your dream bath.

Lisa

 

How not to overpack on your next holiday

Do you need an intervention when it come to overpacking? I know I did! And over the years and through quite a few trips, I’ve read tons of articles and tips on how to pack properly.

When a trip was on the horizon, I would make a list. As I’ve always been a girl who loved a list. Then, after a few trips, to save some time, I made those lists into templates. And now, I use them every time, even for a weekend getaway. Just because, you know….I don’t want to forget anything.

Cancun mexico beach Packing inspiration above

First up, is my checklist of essential items to bring, of course, this will vary depending on the location (sunny, cold, wet) and the duration of the trip. But most of the items are a constant. I’ve even left room for you to add any other personal items you may want to bring.

Travel checklist template Then I use a weekly template to fill in the days I will be gone with room to add clothing for both day and evening, in case you will be changing for dinner/evening. I make sure to include shoes, outerwear and jewelry on this list. I find doing this day by day schedule really eliminates bringing a ton of extra clothes and shoes…HELLO…. as it gives you a visual of actually how many pieces/shoes you really need. Also, seeing the outfits listed out day by day helps you decide what pieces of jewelry and footwear you’ll need to bring and what can do double duty.

The list below the day by day template is for you to list the clothing/footwear pieces separately and then check off the items as you pack.

travel-day-by-day If you want to take it up a notch, you can assign each piece of clothing a number and see how many times you are wearing that particular item. And if you are only wearing it once, perhaps it shouldn’t make the final cut.

If you have any packing tips, I’d love to hear about them. I’m always looking for ways to streamline the packing process.

Lisa

The main accessory at IDS18

So what was the main accessory that you saw everywhere at IDS18?

It was plants, plants and more plants!  Take a look at just a few of them and get your gardening gloves out.

IDS18

Somehow, I missed the name of this booth, if you know it, please let me know and I’ll add it in.

Seedlip

The Seedlip booth had the most beautiful botanicals and they received lots of attention.

Seedlip

Mobilia’s booth was divided up into different rooms with different themes and it was a stunner. Here’s just a few pics from a couple of the rooms, with lots of green!

Mobilia

And how about these interesting globe lights on stands. Perfect to light up a dark corner.

Mobilia

A little nod back to the 70’s in this vignette, with those hanging plants and a shaggy throw pillow.

And my favourite booth, Benjamin Moore’s living space, had lots of greenery and an especially cute little clementine tree. Now I want one. I wonder how long it takes to actually get fruit that you can eat, assuming of course, it survives.

Benjamin Moore ids18

Homebody Collective had the cutest little cactuses and airplants displayed. The bottom containers are actually moulded from avocado skins.

Decimal

I couldn’t resist and came home with these two. They can be placed on their sides and used as a ring holder as well. I love a multi-purpose!

Homebody Collective

 

Lisa