Kitchen Cabinets: Reface or Replace?

If you are in the market for a kitchen remodel, you may be wondering what to do with your kitchen cabinets. There are so many options out there: you can completely replace your kitchen cabinets, re-face them, or re-surface them. What do those terms mean? What is the difference between each? How much do they cost?

Knowing which is the best option for your kitchen is the tricky part.

When I work with clients this is a common predicament. Mostly, clients are trying to mind their budget, but often they are genuinely confused about how to move forward. To clear up the confusion these are the three things I usually bring to table.

#1 Cabinet Anatomy

I like to start with a little bit of education. Starting with the structures that make up a cabinet is usually a good first step. The first myth I usually dispel is that cabinets are rarely made entirely of solid wood. The second myth is that you don’t want them to be made of solid wood! Lets take a look at the drawing below:

Anatomy of a Cabinet


The image on the left is the “box”. Think of the box as the skeleton or bones of your cabinets. Cabinet boxes are typically made of plywood, particle board, or MDF. This is a good thing! These composite wood materials withstand minor moisture changes better than solid wood, which will keep the box from warping. This is even more important in places with high humidity. The inside of the box is wrapped in a veneer or thin covering. Depending on the quality of the cabinet, that veneer can be a laminate or plastic veneer or it can be made of wood. Veneers also vary in thickness based on the quality of the cabinets. They can be a thin “sticker” type veneer or a several millimeters thick.

The image in the middle is the “face” of the cabinet. Cabinet faces are made of veneers. If you have wood cabinets, then your veneers will be made of the same wood and stained or painted to match. The veneers are the really important part of a re-facing job. I say that because the veneers that are part of your original cabinets were applied in a factory. The conditions in the factory are quite different than the conditions in your kitchen. Factories have a lot of environmental and quality control processes in place that ensure that the cabinets are free from defects. So, if you are thinking of refacing your cabinets, you have to consider that the veneers on the face of your cabinet may not adhere as well or may degrade more quickly over time because it wasn’t applied in a less controlled environment.

The image on the right illustrates the doors and the drawer. These are the most expensive parts of a cabinet. When refacing a cabinet, the doors will not be the doors fit to your cabinet in the factory. This may mean that the doors won’t fit as well or may not hang as well as the factory fit cabinets. Again, there are a lot of quality control measures in place in a factory that will not be in place when a local cabinet company comes into your home to do a re-face.

#2 What are your goals?

To really decide if you should re-face or replace your kitchen cabinets, ask yourself these questions:

Do I simply want to freshen up the look of my kitchen and make it look updated?

Are my cabinets giving me the storage I need?

Do I love the layout of my kitchen? Or do I need a more functional layout?

Do I want to move a wall to “open up the space”?

Contemporary Kitchen

If you find that you want or need a more open and functional kitchen or if you plan to move or remove any structure, you may be facing a major remodel. In that case replacing cabinets will be your best, and possibly only, option. However, if you are just looking for a shorter term cosmetic update, re-facing your kitchen cabinets might be the right option for you.

#3 The “B” Word: Budget

Obviously, budget plays a big role in what you can do with your cabinets and kitchen. If you have a small budget of $15,000 or less, unless you have a very small kitchen  you may not have the budget for a complete kitchen remodel. For a small kitchen you may also find that a major remodel isn’t even an option. You may want to focus on improving the cosmetics of the kitchen from the start. Re-facing cabinets costs around $90-125/linear foot of cabinets and new semi-custom cabinets start around $125/linear foot and go upwards of $300/linear foot depending on the finish, door style, and cabinet type. If you want painted or glazed wood cabinets with roll-out trays and deep drawers, you’re going to pay a premium price.


…And don’t forget to multiply that linear foot number by 2 if you want wall cabinets. So if you have 20 linear feet of wall space that you want to fill with base and wall cabinets, that include a pantry with roll out trays, deep drawers, a beautiful range hood, and a few wall cabinets with glass doors, you can expect to spend $12,000 to $20,000 on cabinets alone at most retailers.

Now, that you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, it’s time to start planning your kitchen remodel and budget! Make sure to check out my post on counter surfaces here and you can grab a great guide for sampling paint here.

Or if you’re still struggling with your ideal style or planning your next project you can schedule your Design Plan Consultation here.


How Much Should I Spend: Counter Surfaces

If you’ve been thinking about remodeling or updating your kitchen you’ve probably been wondering about counter tops…

What’s in? What’s too trendy?

What’s best?

How much will it cost? And how much should I spend?

Yeah, that last one kind of hangs heavy. You’ve probably worried that you’ll spend too much. Or that the style you want is too trendy and won’t last for years to come. Everyone worries they’ll make a mistake, choosing a surface they’ll later regret. Clients bring these concerns to me all the time.

Your counter is the workhorse of your kitchen and you’re likely going to spend thousands on a kitchen counter surface. You want something that will stand the test of time, but selecting counter surfaces is difficult and there’s no magic formula to getting it right. Here are my best tips on how to make the best selection for you and how to know what to spend.

Tip #1: Understand your needs 

All counter surfaces are priced by the square foot (sf). So, you can usually expect to spend more for your kitchen than your bathroom. Typically, natural stone surfaces are sold by the slab and are usually deep enough to cover two kitchen counter depths and most island depths. When you buy your stone surface from a stone dealer, you will usually have to pay for the full cost of the slab, including the part you don’t use. Depending on the stone you select, you might be able to cover 20-22 linear feet of counter space, which is probably just enough to cover the counter space of a 10′ x 10′ kitchen with no island. By today’s standards that is a small kitchen. If you have a large kitchen, particularly one with a large island, you will need multiple slabs of stone.

On the flip side, bathrooms require much less counter surface than a kitchen. A double vanity will usually take about 1/2 slab of stone. Bathrooms are great rooms to use remnants. Remember the part of that slab you didn’t use? Well, the stone vendors resell those as remnants. The advantage of a remnant is that they are sold at a bargain. The disadvantage is that your selection is limited to someone else’s leftovers. However, I have purchased some really nice pieces of quartz about $45/sf including install. It’s always worth a look!

Holes, edges, radius, and corners are the other two factors to consider when budgeting for your countertops. The more holes you put in the countertop, the more the fabrication will cost. The same goes for softer corners and more corners, the number and type of sinks, and the detail in the edge profile. If you want two undermount farmhouse sinks with 5 holes for the faucet, sprayer, and a soap well, your fabrication costs just went up by several hundred dollars. If you have a u-shaped kitchen with a batwing island, all those corners will cost you. Right now “eased” edges are popular, but ogee and bullnose variations edges can add several dollars per linear foot to the cost of a counter surface. It takes the fabricators and installers extra time to create all of these details.

Not a cheap counter fabrication! It has 4 holes, it’s undermounted, and it has rounded curves in the back!


It’s important to keep these “extra” costs in mind as you are pricing counter surfaces. The dollar-per-square-foot price is only for the slab. When you take into account the style of the room and the overall look you want to achieve in the space, you have to consider the dollar mount the little details that add up to big style will cost you.

Tip #2: Know the Products

Right now the hottest tickets in town are marble and quartz. Unfortunately, they’re also the priciest tickets. At the lower end marble can be as inexpensive as $50/sf and on the upper end $100-$250/sf. However, the $50/sf isn’t going to be the beautiful Carrara and Calacatta marble your seeing in the magazines and on sites like Houzz.

Quartz is roughly the same price with the upper end around $115-$120/sf, but dollar for dollar, quartz is probably one of the highest quality counter surfaces on the market. So much bang for your buck. It’s strong, it’s durable, and it holds it’s finish for many years, so it’s also low maintenance.

Less fashionable these days is granite. Granite is the reason people hesitate when selecting counter surface these days. Ten to twenty years ago, granite was the thing. People chose colorful, high-movement, bold granite and paid a pretty penny for it! Now they’re ready for something different and left feeling like they made a bad choice, but the math on that feeling doesn’t necessarily work out. If you have a large kitchen, you may have spent $5000 on a counter 20 years ago; that’s $250/year and less than $1/day! Not too shabby for the workhorse of the kitchen.

Still popular with builders and homeowners this gray and white granite is pretty classic.


This type of high movement, high color contrast granite is not as popular in today’s market.


The good news for people who still love granite is that granite is less expensive. And really, what’s not to love, it’s strong and it’s beautiful. I’ve seen number up to $200/sf for granite, but for the most common patterns, you’re going to see prices ranging from $45-80/sf for just the slab.

Solid surface counters, like Corian and Staron, have also faded in popularity since they first came to popularity over 30 years ago, but they are durable and budget friendly. I personally prefer solid surface in the bathroom or laundry room area, but they work well in the kitchen. On average, they range in price from $40-80/sf for materials only.

Solid surface: affordable, durable, versatile


Good old Formica, it’s still around… as are other brands of laminate, like Wilson Art. Used less in residential settings, laminate is a very affordable option, particularly if you want a homogenous, sleek, contemporary look. Laminate counters are usually a wood composite, such as particle board or MDF, with a thin piece of plastic on top. It’s not as durable as other options, but it also costs a fraction of what the other options do. Laminate costs about $40/sf for materials and installation.

Tip #3: Don’t Lose Your Marbles

Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself, “If quartz and marble have a similar cost, why would anyone ever get faux-marble quartz when real marble is far superior?”

Is this the real thing?


Or is it this one?


It’s an excellent question, especially for people who want marble in the kitchen.

One that I usually counter with another question: “Do you plan on using your kitchen to cook?” Quite often, the answer is yes. This is where the education begins.

Marble is a very delicate, very porous stone. You know how they ask you not to touch the marble statues in a museum because the oils and acids in our skin will erode the marble? Yeah, the same goes for kitchen counter tops. Except, it’s not just our hands that touch the marble in the kitchen, it’s food acids, like citrus and vinegar. These foods will actually degrade the surface of the marble.

So, think of marble as a high maintenance diva. You’ll pay a lot up front and it will require more upkeep to keep it happy.

Quartz, on the other hand, is very strong and holds its polish. You can almost commit no sins when it comes to quartz. The faux-marble quartz options are really beautiful and really long lasting. If you want the look of marble in a kitchen, you really can’t go wrong with quartz.

But if you absolutely must have marble, and I can’t say I blame you for that, try it in the bathroom. It’s a much more forgiving environment.

Bonus Tip:

In the end, make sure you get something you like! You want the easiest way to predict if you’ll make a mistake or have any regrets? If you find yourself making too many compromises, then you’re probably heading in a bad direction. Don’t compromise what you like for something you think might be a safer bet, save money on the extras – the holes, curves, and edges. If you’re going to spend thousands, at least in the end you will have had something beautiful that you really loved!


Take the Pain Out of Painting

You’ve been thinking about painting.

I see you there, standing in front of a wall with at least a half-dozen paint samples painted in 12″ squares. Completely confused. This one’s too dark. This one’s too blue. The last batch looked too yellow. You’re wondering how anyone ever picks the right color. Eventually, you pick one, it might even be a paint you never sampled; maybe it’s just the least offensive of the bunch. On a wing and a prayer you paint the room. Hopefully, it looks close to the color you had hoped for, but quite frequently, it doesn’t. It’s too bright or it looks like a completely different color once it’s on all four walls.

One of my client’s calls it the “color crazies”.

Why is the painting process so painful? For so many people, thinking about painting a room or two brings a level of anxiety that induces sheer panic. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge, selecting paint colors for your next project will be easy!

Step One: Read the chips

The first step in learning how to select paint colors like a pro is understanding how to “read” paint chips. 

The most tinted colors are at the top of the paint chip and the most shaded colors are at the bottom. You can add black to any paint color (or hue) to make it a shade darker or white to any color to make it a tint lighter. Paint manufacturers, like Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore already offer you multiple shades and tints of a particular color, that’s why they have about 7 shades or tints for each hue. Typically, the paint you purchase at stores like Home Depot or Lowes, won’t have as many tints and shades for each hue, but you can ask them to add white or black to tint or shade the color to your liking. You can also tone down a bright color by adding gray.

Undertones are the hints of color you can see “under” the color itself. So, gray isn’t just black + white = gray and pink isn’t just red + white = pink. When you compare the various paint chips to each other you will see these undertones appear. This will also be most obvious in the darker colors on the chip. However, don’t be fooled! Those undertones will definitely show up when the color is on the wall, even in the lighter hues. I’ve had clients that are particularly sensitive to blue undertones in colors and if a color has even a hint of blue undertone, they’ll only see blue. If you know you prefer warmer neutrals steer clear of anything with a black, purple, or blue undertones and of you prefer cooler neutrals steer clear of anything with red, yellow, or tan undertones. Consider the undertone when selecting neutral paint colors. Look to the darker colors on the chip to more easily see the undertone. 

Standard chips have multiple tints and shades.

Step Two: Flip your chip

Aside from the various tints and shades of your chosen hue, the back of the paint chip will also have some useful information. The most important information is the Light Reflective Value (LRV). Light Reflective Value is a scale that tells you how much light will reflect from the surface. The whitest white colors have the highest scores and the darkest black colors have the lowest scores. You will use this number to tell you how light or dark a color is when you compare it to white or any other color. The LRV will also give you a clue  how dark or light the color will appear when it is on all four walls. You can use the LRV to help you with the next step.


Step Three: Prime first

You’ll want to put primer on your wall prior to painting samples on it. This helps reduce interference from the original wall color. You don’t need to prime the entire wall, a large section will do. This will eliminate any interference from the color your wall is already painted. For example, if your wall is a deep red color and you are want a light gray with blue undertones, the blue undertones will be exaggerated and the paint will look pale in comparison.

Primer will have an LRV of >/=90. When you put any color on top of the white primer it will look dark. Remember the LRV of the lightest color on the chip is around 75. So, that little patch of LRV 75 will be sitting there absorbing more light, while the primer will be reflecting almost all of the light. So, by comparison, the sample will look dark, but it’s not! An LRV of 60 or more is still quite light and once it is on all 4 walls it will reflect a lot of light. Conversely, if it’s a darker color it will absorb a lot of light and darken your room. 


Reference Color: it’s difficult to see the undertones of your color when you paint directly over the old color because you are referencing the old color to the new color.
When you prime the wall first, your only reference color is white. These are all light colors, but compared to pure white, they appear darker.


Key Take-Aways:

Paint the wall with primer first. Don’t paint the new wall color options directly onto the old color.

The lightest color on the chip is actually pretty light, but not as light as “white” colors.

Be aware of undertones. They may be pronounced when compared to white primer.

Don’t just compare your color to the stark white primer. Use your knowledge of light Reflective Value (LRV) to help you gauge how dark or light the sample will actually look on your wall.

Hopefully, these tip will help you take the pain out of your next painting project! You can download this information in my design guide called “3 Steps to Easier Paint Sampling” here.

Still feel like you need some help with your color selections? Schedule your Design Style Consultation with Paradigm Interiors here.



Awkward Rooms: Finding Balance

Awkward rooms. Everybody has them. Even the most well designed custom homes. That one room where you just can’t figure out where to put the furniture to make the space work. I have one. In my house it’s my office and sometimes I’m still not sure if I’ve found the absolute best solution, but I have managed to find some balance and function.

So, what do you do with those awkward rooms? A few design “rules” can help you figure out your best approach for furnishing those spaces. The first step is using good space planning guidelines. If you like to entertain, like I do, you will want to make sure that there is enough room for everyone to move around in the space. The most common rooms for entertaining are the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen.

Earlier this week, I posted video and table that had furniture spacing information for these rooms. You can access them here.

The other problem with awkward rooms is finding a way to create visual balance. The easiest way to create a balanced look is by using symmetry. Symmetry is by far the preference of most people. However, if the awkward space your designing just isn’t conducive to symmetry, then you’re probably wondering how to achieve balance without symmetry.

It’s not as hard as you think!
It’s all about weight. Every single object in your home has visual weight. There are several elements that give something visual weight. The obvious elements are shape and size. A tall object has more visual weight than a short object. Squares and rectangles seem heavier to the eye than curved and rounded objects. However, texture and color can also effect the visual weight of an object. Think of a brown faux fur pillow versus a cream colored silk pillow.
A cream colored silk pillow with mother of pearl accent looks lighter than a brown faux fur pillow.

Or an organic live edge wood table versus a chrome and glass table.

A glass and metal table has a light, delicate look compared to the live edge style table.
Even though they may have similar dimensions, one appears heavier than the other.
So, lesson one in balancing your awkward rooms is to use items with a similar visual weight. An example would be to balance a light colored, smooth velvet sectional sofa with 2 side chairs in a coarser, darker fabric, like in the image below. Although the chairs don’t take up as much physical space as the sofa, the dark blue color makes them look heavier. This contemporary mediterranean room is a recent project where I used this this technique to create balance.
Contemporary Mediterranean Living Room
The other major factor in creating balance in awkward rooms is space. You can use the space around an object to help create balance. This one is a bit of a head scratcher, but think about a really great gallery wall, like the one below. The designer has used the framed art to create balance, but she has also used the space between the art to achieve a balanced look.
Here’s another example with a furniture layout.
What challenges have you faced in your awkward rooms? Will you be able to use balance and space to help you make your room less awkward? Still not sure? Give Paradigm Interiors a call or schedule your Design Style Consultation here!
You can shop the Contemporary Mediterranean look here.
Product board for the Contemporary Mediterranean look

How Much Should I Spend on a Sofa?

How much should I spend on …. a Sofa?

You know the old saying “you get what you pay for?” When it comes to selecting furniture, a truer statement has never been said. Well… to a point. Sure there are some brands in furniture for which you will be paying for the name (I see you Mrs. Hunt). Not that I wouldn’t absolutely advocate a client going all-in and buying a Baker Sofa if they could afford it and wanted it. What I’m saying is that there is a quality tipping point. You can get a well made sofa that will last for years without spending a small fortune.

Sofas, and other upholstered pieces, happen to be a piece of furniture where quality can be all over the map and where “you get what you pay for” really comes into play. Where upholstered furniture differs from case goods (dressers, tables, etc) is that you cannot see the guts of a piece of furniture that is covered in foam, down, and fabric. You have to ask about the quality indicators. So, what are these mysterious qualities?
1. The spring system.
2. The filling.
3. The frame.
4. Bonus: fabric

How do all these quality indicators shake out? This is a quick guide to the cost vs. quality debate.

Super Budget. The lifecycle on this category is very short. You can expect these soft upholster pieces of furniture to look good no more than five years with very light use. Pieces of furniture in this category use lower quality materials including the fabric, filling, and spring systems. In this category you will find retailers such as IKEA, Rooms to Go, Ashley Home Furniture, American Signature. Most families with children will find that these super budget upholstered goods will look worn with six months to one year of heavy repeated use. The frames in these pieces are also made of inferior woods, such as MDF and plywood. Sometimes they even use cardboard to shape the arms. They also are stapled and glued and may not have any other joinery beyond that. This may be an option if you do have young children and you want something inexpensive to get you through the early years. However, if you can afford a high-quality sofa, you can use stain resistant fabric and/or have it recovered when your children are older. You cannot recover a super budget or budget sofa.

Expected investment: sofa: $400-800, sectional- $800-$1500

Ikea Söderhamn Sectional Sofa, $1200 Retail

Budget. Technically, this is where furniture stores like West Elm, Pier One, and even sometimes Pottery Barn would fall. The cost of their upholstered goods is a little bit higher, but the structural quality is not much better than the “super budget” category. You may find better joinery in the frame and the frame may be made of pine, instead of plywood, but overall these have a short life. The spring systems are usually lower gage sinuous springs, meaning that the couch will sink after a short period of time and the foam used in the back and seat cushions will also lose their loft in a year or two. In this category, you may also find some ability to customize the sofa, but it will be fairly limited. You can expect these pieces to last 3 to 5 years, but with heavy use they may look very worn after six months to a year. Expected investment: sofa- $800-2000, sectional- $1500-4000.

Pier 1 Ecru Rolled Arm Sofa, $900


Pottery Barn Comfort Slip Covered Sofa, $3000-$4300

Mid-grade. In the mid-grade upholstery you will find a combination of quality.  Most sofas in this category will be semi-custom, though there are some mid-grade manufacturers, like Universal, who offer little to no custom options. You will probably see that these pieces will have better joinery but may have lower quality fillers and lower gauge sinuous spring systems. However, you also may find eight way hand tied spring systems in this category. For instance, The sofa sold at places retailers like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel are made by companies like Lee Industries. They may have eight way hand tied spring systems and higher quality filling in the cushions. This means that this couch can be reupholstered. They may even have a warranty on the cushions and frames. Sofas in the mid-range price point can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. However, because of the higher-quality spring systems they can be reupholstered and the cushions re-stuffed, and thus, their life can be extended. Expected Investment: sofa- $3000-$5000, sectional- $3500-$8000 depending on fabric selection.

Eight-Way Hand-Tied Springs
Lee Industries 1303-03, retails around $4000 depending on fabric selected


Restoration Hardware Maxwell Sectional, $2400-$3800 depending on depth and fabric


High-end. How are you and is a category where the highest level of craftsmanship is employed and these are “heirloom” quality pieces. This means that they will last a very, very long time. The foam and batting used in the seat cushions is of the highest quality. They often have a down/feather blend top layer and a spring inner core, like a mattress. They always have eight way hand tied springs, if they are not sleeper style sofas. The frames are crafted with high quality, kiln dried lumber and joinery. They can be fully customizable or “designer”. The prices can vary widely, but typically the expected investment is >$7500.

Holly Hunt Waterloo Sofa

My personal mantra on sofas is invest. I’ve heard people say “…but, my taste might change! Then I’ll be stuck with a sofa that doesn’t work for my new style.” I would invite you to think back to all the previous sofas you’ve owned. Aside from the fabric, were they really all that different? Mine haven’t been. My advice is, if you can afford it, get something with a classic shape that will work with many styles. It’s an item worth saving for. You’ll be able to re-upholster it down the road if it’s of excellent quality.

If  you’re in the market for a new sofa and need some help or looking to redo your living room, schedule your Design Style Consultation with  Paradigm Interiors here!

3 Tips: Styling a Nightstand

You have seen them again in your favorite home decor magazine: beautifully styled nightstands and bedside tables. Have you ever wanted to try that look? Let me guess, you’ve poured over a million Pinterest boards and think you’ve got the formula figured out and then #pinterestfail #sadfaceemoji.
Whether done in traditional or minimalist style, a beautifully styled nightstand can make a real impact on the look of your bedroom. You might be surprised to know the ‘why’ of styling is much more important than the ‘what’. A traditional bedside table or nightstand has a lamp, books, small accessories, maybe a small floral arrangement, and perhaps a piece of art hung on the wall or placed on the surface. A minimalist nightstand may only have a simple lamp and a clock, but they all have a few things in common…
Lighting: You need some type of task lighting at your bedside. We perform variety of activities in our beds and most of them require some lighting.  Colorful, uniquely shaped lighting can really pack a punch when it comes to style. If you’re on a budget, a table lamp would be the least expensive. Another option, if you want something more permanent,  is a wall sconce. A hard wired sconce is less budget friendly because it will require the work of an electrician, but the look can be beautiful and frees up space on your bedside table! You’ll want to make sure you place the lamp within arms reach of the bed. I usually make it the closest item to the bed. If you put it too far away you will have to reach over other items and you will risk pushing items, including the lamp, into the floor.

Scale & Proportion: When selecting a bedside table and the items to be placed on it, make sure to choose a nightstand or table that is in proportion to your bed. Then select Items that are scaled to the size of the nightstand. For instance, if you have a king sized bed that has a tall headboard, you will want to select a nightstand substantial enough to hold a taller, more substantial lamp. Then, the art and accessories should be scaled to the nightstand and lamp.

If you’re scratching your head a little and wondering “how do I know it’s the right scale?” You’re in luck, I was just getting to that! There’s an ancient design “rule”. Seriously. We’re talking Ancient Rome. Roman architects found there were naturally occurring proportions. This number translates to somewhere around 2/3 or 3/5. So, a lamp would ideally take up about 1/3 the width of your nightstand and maybe be 2/3 it’s height. Then, your art might take up about 2/3 the space left and could be Placed on the wall so that it was 30% higher on the wall than the lamp. Each accessory could then be scaled from there.

The Golden Ratio

This leads me to the final tip…

Shape: I’m going to talk about shape in two ways -the overall shape of the arrangement and the shapes of the objects used in the design. You want the overall shape of the vignette to lead the eye over the arrangement in a way that makes sense. The most popular and easiest shape to manage is a pyramid shape. This would include any art over the bed, the headboard of the bed, and the objects on the nightstand. The art over the bed being the highest point and each subsequent object leading the eye lower. This gives the overall vignette a more visually dynamic look. Another popular shape is a rectangle. This works well if you want the eye to rest at a particular height. In this shape, you would hang the art level with top of the bed and lamp. You can see in. The pictures below how the two shapes create a different feeling.

An Example of pyramid shape.
An example of rectangular shape.

The second part of shape. If you’re going for a minimalist look, select a lamp that has an interesting shape to add some visual interest. The shape of the base or the shade can provide this. For a maximalist look, using a several shapes for the selected accessories will create variety and help move the eye across the arrangement.

Minimalist nightstand with furniture by Moe’s and lamp by Kenroy Home
The nightstand in this vignette has a variety of shapes and textures.

What are some ways that you can use lighting, scale, and shape to make a beautiful bedside vignette?

If you think you still need help with styling or just want to freshen up your look, give Paradigm Interiors a call!

Autumn Decor Refresh

Fall is in the air! Well, not here in sunny Florida, but we like to pretend we have fall anyway! Everything is pumpkin and pumpkin spice and caramel apple. Have you ever thought about refreshing your home decor for a fall color palette? But you’re thinking, “I don’t my house to look like David S. Pumpkins decorated it?” Or maybe orange and brown just aren’t your favorite colors? Or maybe you think your current color palette won’t work with fall colors?

Just say no to the pumpkins!

I want to show you how fall doesn’t have to be all about the pumpkin! Here are some color ideas to work into almost any palette to give your home a fall feel without all the pumpkin spice.

Before Refresh

Deepen a color you already use. In this example, I took the light yellow color in the art and textiles and switched it for a deeper mustard yellow color. In the art, I combined selected a piece that brought has bright blue, rusty red, and the yellows. The white lamps were replaced with an apricot color lamp and the rug brings in several of the rich fall hues. This a more understated look.

Harvest Gold Refresh

Or you can trade summery aqua for a deep teal as I did in this image. I selected deep teal textiles and rug with a bold organic print in teal and gold. I used deep goldenrod yellow and metallic gold as accent colors. This look has a lot of drama and a little glitz from the gold.

Fall Refresh Deep Teal

Accent pillows are a great way to switch up your palette, but you can also change out your lamps, accessories, art, and even your window treatments to add some fall colors. Below, I found three different pillow combinations at Home Goods in just a few minutes, each in different styles and colors, but all three creating a great fall look!

Deep teal with mustard colored accents in exotic/Middle Eastern patterns.
These pillows have a bold geometric print with rusty reds, goldenrod, and navy blue, giving the sofa a classic American West look.
These pillows have rich apricot and teal colors giving the sofa a traditional look with geometrics and paisley.

Whatever your current palette or color scheme a few small changes will have you fall-ing for in love with Autumn! If you want to schedule a style refresh service, book a consultation with Paradigm Interiors here!

Lighten Up!

If accessories are like jewelry, and backsplashes are necklaces, then lighting fixtures are the earrings. In general a good lighting plan can make a big difference in your space.
Aside from the more pragmatic purposes, like reading, cooking, getting ready, lighting itself can be used to highlight features in a space. Beyond providing light, lighting fixtures, such as pendants and chandeliers, can enhance the design of a space by continuing the theme or extending the design concept. A great example of this is the use of the “Sputnik” chandelier in a mid-century themed space or the use of agricultural-style industrial lighting in a “farmhouse Chic” themed space.
The metals and glass in lighting fixtures always add some sparkle and help reflect light.
Heracleum Endless LED Linear Suspension by Bertjan Pot for Mooi Retailer:Lumens


Lighting can be pricey, but compared to other accessories, like framed art and backsplashes, they are very affordable. Great lighting gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
What ways are you using lighting in your space? Can you think of a space that a simple lighting changeout could get you some “style mileage”?
Willamette Chandelier by Rejuvenation

Making a (back)Splash!

This week I had lunch with my friend Tracey Gulli. Lunches with her are a mix between a mom support group, a design workshop, and a gossip session rolled into one. She has worked in the tile industry for years, so she’s a wealth of knowledge on tile. She also is the boss at designing tile applications. I’d been planning to do a tile blog and while I didn’t plan on interviewing her at lunch when I tole her about my planned post a quasi-interview commenced. So, I decided to incorporate her thoughts and our discussion into the blog. Without further ado… Making a (back)Splash!

Julie: So what is your approach to designing a backsplash?

Tracey: Well, you know backsplashes are like jewelry. They can really pull a kitchen or bathroom together, but they can also be overkill. Especially when they’re the last finish selected in the kitchen. Which is often the case with [backsplashes]. They’re an afterthought. The tile can compete with the other elements in the kitchen. Especially in really big kitchens with a lot of specialty cabinets and decorative appliances.

Bathroom Backsplash

Me: Yeah, especially when the counter surface has a lot of movement or a strong pattern.

Tracey: Right. In cases like that, you really want a backsplash that just blend in and is a workhorse. People will spend $1500-2000 on high end, decorative tiles that just make cleaning more difficult.

Beautiful kitchen backsplash with glass mosaic. Hides splashes and stains well.

Me: Right, uneven surfaces behind the sink and range can be really hard to clean. Particularly when the colors are very light or very uneven.

Tracey: Like with stacked stone backsplashes. Sometimes I think people meet with the builder and just want to et everything selected and see something like stacked stone, which is popular and looks nice, but it doesn’t perform well. Especially when you plan to cook a lot. Sometimes you just need something that is in the background and is a workhorse.

Modern kitchen with a marble backsplash. This one is a “workhorse”. Understated and serving a purpose, yet easy to wipe down.

Me: Yeah, I think of red sauce caught all in the little crevices. I think if you want a great backsplash, you almost have to design to it, rather than the other way around. If a client really wants a gorgeous backsplash, if that’s their priority, then I am starting the design with it because the client wants to invest there.

Tracey: Or, I always tell people to live in the space for a little bit. Figure out what’s going to work for you. If you keep a ton of stuff on your counter, you probably shouldn’t have a design that runs along the bottom or through the middle of the tile. Also, electrical outlets can be an issue. Since code requires an outlet every 4 feet in a kitchen, they can interfere with the lines and any decorative design that goes through the middle of the tile.

Me: Right, kitchen backsplash design can get dicey that way.

Tracey: The good thing is you’re not limited to the positioning of the outlet. So it can be turned horizontally, moved closer to the counter or even higher, closer to the cabinets to keep the tile design continuous. I always tell people, if your working with a builder, leave the backsplash alone until you’ve lived in the space a while. Figure out how much stuff you keep on the counter or how much you’re going to cook, know your space before you make the investment.

Me: Speaking of investment… Backsplashes can be pricey.

Tracey: Compared to counter surfaces and cabinets, they aren’t as expensive and add a lot of personality to the space, even when they’re simple. The tile can be a cheap as $1.25/square foot. Cheap, white field tile can be turned on an angle or made into a pattern and look like a million bucks. I did this for my sister. [shows me the image of a tub surround] The least expensive off-white field tile and a glass mosaic from Home Cheap-oh.

Tracey’s shower surround with the “Home Cheap-oh” tiles. Such a simple design and practical materials, but a really great look.

Me: Wow! That looks amazing!

Tracey: It can be a big investment, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that installation is going to cost at least as much as the tile. Mosaics and small pieces can be hard to position correctly and are time intensive for installers. Glass tiles have to be applied using a certain method or you’ll see trowel marks.

Me: And it’s so easy to take it off the wall and switch it out later.  So, any pet peeves? Mine is the little 4″ counter surface backsplash with a random mosaic stacked on top. It really shortens the are between the cabinets and counter surface and a lot of times it’s too busy.

Backsplash with the 4″ counter surface backsplash below the tile. This is a very busy look and the horizontal lines are very strong. The height of the backsplash is also visibly reduced from 18″ to 14″ inches.

Tracey: Oh my gosh that the worst! I hate that. People think its cheaper, but it’s not. Really its about the same price. A lot of builder don’t want to do tile from the top of the counter because they have to cut the counter so that it’s flush with the wall.

Me: And tile is cheaper that counter surface anyway. Counters can be upwards of $75/sf.

We rambled on about tile a little longer and some projects that we’re working on. But those are the most salient points:

  1. Plan ahead OR live in the space a while. If you know you want a beautiful backsplash, own it and make it your centerpiece.  Or, live in your home and then figure out what you need and want from a backsplash.
  2. You don’t have to spend a ton of money for tile, but you can. If you’re very budget conscious, you can create a great design with white field tile by using pattern instead of color.
  3. Don’t have your counter dealer or your builder install the 4″ counter backsplash. It breaks up the line of the tile and shortens the area between your cabinets and counter surface.
  4. If you select a counter surface that is busy, let your tile rest in the background or use the counter surface on the walls. If you want a beautiful, colorful, highly patterned backsplash, select a counter surface that is more homogenous in its coloration, like solid surface, recycled lass, or quartz.

Hope you all enjoyed this installation. Let me know if you like the interview. I’m thinking of doing a few more of these with some of my designer friends. If you want a fantastic backsplash and need a designer to help you, Tracey “the tile guru” Gulli is the master! Contact me or leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch!


Too Much Free Lunch to Digest? 

I’ll admit it. My last post was really long. So I’m going to break this one down a little bit, to make it easier to digest.
Coincidentally, I want to talk about remodeling the place where you eat: the kitchen! Kitchen remodels come in all shapes and sizes. Even when you’re not planning on doing much, you can still spend a lot of money.
I recently worked with a client who wanted to add a simple island. They were the DIY-type that just wanted some “intial ides”. I ended up making a few purchases for them, but because they live in another city, they made some of the big purchases themselves.
But an island… That seems pretty innocuous, right? Adding an island can be tricky and pricey. Two of the most expensive items in a kitchen remodel are part of an island- cabinets and counter surface. In some cases, residential building codes may require you to have an electrical outlet in the island. If you have a slab foundation you’ll have to pull up your flooring and dig a trench. And if your floor is tiled or glued wood, forget it. You’ll be replacing the flooring too. There’s very little chance you’ll be able to salvage and reuse it. You will be adding thousands in materials and labor costs.
As it turned out, they didn’t need to add electrical outlets on the island, so that helped the budget tremendously.
The full project cost around $3100. Here’s the breakdown:
Cabinets: – $1106.20
Cup style drawer pulls: $20
Counter surface: $1000 (includes labor and clients bought on their own)
Cabinet installation labor: $100
Chairs: $184.32
Lighting:  $235.47 (2 pendants)
Electrical: $150.00
Design services: $225.00 (concept board, renderings, project coordination)
Designer cost plus: $119.60
I also specified fabric for cushions and window treatments and paint, which you will see on the board. These will be added at a later time.
Kitchen Island Concept Board
The island turned out really nice. It’s a nice sized island at 48″ x 48″. The clients have a wood tile throughout the common areas of their house that has a slight red undertone, so we selected a counter surface that would pick up the ruddy brown tones. This client wanted to add seating and food prep space in the kitchen, but wasn’t quite ready to a full kitchen remodel. This meant planning ahead and coordinating with the existing finishes.
Cambria “Tenby Cream” Counter surface

The client likes the “farmhouse modern” style made popular by a certain “fixer-upper” couple and plans to use that style when she completes the final remodel. We selected a simple white shaker cabinet door and oil rubbed bronze finishes. The counter surface was a neutral quartz with a “low movement” pattern. It has some reddish brown color variation to tie in the color of the floor. The “low movement” pattern was selected so that we will be able to easily find a coordinating pattern when the full remodel is completed.

Completed Kitchen Island

A small project like this can have a big impact on the functionality and beauty of a kitchen. The $3100 price tag might seem steep, but when you breakdown the various costs and skills needed to pull it together, you can see how the costs can add up. At a “big box” store a project like this would have been at least $500-750 more because of increased pricing on the cabinets and lighting.

Next week I’m going to talk about tile backsplashes. A beautiful, creative backsplash is like jewelry for your kitchen. For the materials and labor, they can range in price from a little as $25/square foot to over $100/square foot, but they can also be a great way to update and personalizing the look of your kitchen without spending a fortune.