Subway tile: Trend or Classic

Do you think subway tile is too trendy? I hear this a lot. It’s not a particularly difficult question to answer, but I always feel like I want to expand on the answer a little.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s not a classic. There are styles that are acceptable long after their popularity fades. They transcend the contemporaneous constraints that typically define trendiness. Chanel suits. Louis Vuitton handbags. Chippendale chairs. And yes, subway tile.

NYC Subway Ceiling

The reason I say this is that 3″ x 6″ white tile arranged in a running bond or straight bond pattern has been used for almost as long as subways have been around. They’ve been used in kitchens of the industrial type for nearly as long. So, needless to say, classic white subway tiles give a space a specific feeling. Vintage. Rustic. Industrial.

Subway style tiles in a commercial setting

That being said, white subway tile used in a residential kitchen can be used in many different interior styles. However, with the rise in popularity of subway tile, many variations on the classic have started showing up. There are glass versions. Elongated versions. Colorful versions. Each iteration taking the classic subway a little further away from classic.

Glass subway tile in a smoky tan

I’ve had clients worry that their backsplash selection will go out of style. Thereby leaving them with an outdated kitchen and feeling like they wasted money. The thing you have to keep in mind about a backsplash is that you can easily change it down the road. A beautiful backsplash is like a beautiful piece of jewelry, it can really add a lot of style, but it can always be changed!

As for not wasting your money, tile backsplash is a style investment, and like any other investment, the money can be big or small. A simple white ceramic tile backsplash can be as little as $2.00/square foot. Glass tile can be quite a bit more expensive with designer brands costing upwards of $100/square foot. An average kitchen has about 15-30 square feet of backsplash, so it’s easy to see how material costs can quickly add up. However, compared to counter surfaces and cabinets, the backsplash is going to be a smaller investment. Either way, you can switch out a tile backsplash if you want to freshen the look of your kitchen.

Transitional bathroom backsplash with mixed material mosaic and 4×4 white ceramic in a straight lay pattern photo credit: Hannah Glogower

My advice for making your selection: Let your style be your guide. If the style of your kitchen is classic and traditional, you will probably want to stick with more traditional shapes and applications – subway, 4″ square, ceramic, natural stone, neutral colors. However, if your aiming for a transitional, retro, or eclectic look, bring on the color and shape! You can really experiment with mixed surfaces, glass, metals, and handmade tiles! Ultra-contemporary or minimal? You might consider using the counter surface for your backsplash.

Contemporary kitchen with marble counters and backsplash

The Verdict: To make a long story short, subway tile is a classic! Subway tile may come in and out of popularity, but it’s a classic look that can work in many kitchen styles. However, if you feel like being brave, shake things up a little and get creative! You can always update your backsplash later!

Make sure you sign up for my newsletter here. And if you want to set up your complimentary Design Style phone consultation, you can do that here.

Project Share: Boho and Bright Girl’s Room

Boho and Bright Girl’s Bedroom

This girl’s bedroom was such a fun project. The little girl for whom the room was designed is a girly girl, but is she is also artsy, active, outgoing, and makes plenty of messes. She loves the color pink, animals, and the Beatles. Her inspiration room was the bedroom of the Julie Albright American Girl doll, whose storyline takes place in the 1960’s.

Boho & Bright; photo credit- Hannah Glogower

Challenges

I wanted to incorporate as much pink in her room as possible, but mom wanted to keep the walls neutral. They also wanted to repurpose a few pieces of furniture that were vintage pieces. I used Sherwin Williams “Blush” to paint the vintage nightstand and desk the same color. The mid-century style headboard is upholstered in a bright pink that coordinates with the textiles. She also needed a lot of storage for her toys. We used a cube storage system with brightly colored bins, some with ric-rac detailing.

Storage cubes with ric-rac detail; photo credit – Hannah Glogower

Mom also wanted flooring that was easy to clean and that could be covered or easily removed later. I selected glue-down cork tiles, which can also be used as a sub-flooring. Cork is a great product that helps with acoustics, is always warm underfoot, and helps control dust. It’s easy to keep clean, especially for a kid that does a lot of art projects in her room.

Matroishka dolls and a vintage porcelain lamp with butterflies remind us that a little girl lives here; photo credit – Hannah Glogower

Inspiration & Details

She’s also a big fan of the Beatles so I wanted to incorporate some hippie elements. The wicker hanging chair, peacock paisley fabric, lava lamp, and faux fur accents give the room a boho-psychedelic vibe, but the cool calming colors, vintage bookends, matroishka dolls, and ric-rac details on the storage bins remind you that a little girl lives here.

Another girly vintage find; photo credit – Hannah Glogower

My favorite detail is the pom pom trim on the custom window treatments and the peek-a-boo contrast fabric in the pleats. What’s your favorite detail? Let me know in the comments below!

If you’re thinking about redecorating or re-styling a space in your home, call Paradigm Interiors! You can schedule your Design Style phone consultation here. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Trend or Classic: Mixed Cabinet Colors

One of the top questions when I work with clients on kitchen remodels: Is mixing cabinet colors too trendy?

It’s such a great look, that’s why you’ve seen it everywhere for the past 7 or 8 years. Most frequently, you’ve probably seen it in a transitional-farmhouse style. Usually, it’s a gray and white kitchen. However, the look has also been popular in other color combinations and in contemporary style kitchens as well. Popular combinations of this trend are the top-bottom combo, where the bottom cabinets are one color and the upper cabinets are another color. The accent furniture combination, where a china display or accent area area is a different color than the rest of the kitchen. The other combination, and probably the most popular, is the island-as-furniture combination. Images of these looks are below with photo credits hyperlinked.

The top-bottom combination: This kitchen has dark gray base cabinets and white lower cabinets. The darker color on the bottom helps ground the cabinets.

 

 

The “Accent Piece” Look: This kitchen divides the two-tone look by using white for the majority of the kitchen and gray for the plate racks and espresso station.

 

Island-as-furniture option: This island is stained a deep walnut color and looks like a piece of furniture compared to the cream colored kitchen.

 

Of these three looks the island-as-furniture look probably has the most staying power. Historically speaking, the island got its humble and practical start as a work table in 19th century Victorian kitchens. Thus, an island that is a different color and looks like a separate piece of furniture is nod to history.

My verdict on mixing cabinet colors: Classic, but it depends on how you do it!

Because I believe in creating timeless spaces, I think of “trendy” as something that looks outdated fairly quickly. Just because something is popular doesn’t always make it trendy. A lot of things can make a kitchen look dated: color scheme, counter surfaces, backsplashes. However, a true classic is something that speaks to the past in a timeless way. Kitchen islands with a furniture look are classic because they have they do just that.

If you’re ready to create a timeless classic look in your kitchen or bath, you can schedule your Design Style Consultation here.

 

Should I Re-Upholster or Buy New?

Should I re-upholster or buy new?

It is decided. You’re going to remodel your downstairs. You’ve been living in the 90’s for way too long. You want a whole new look: new kitchen, new window treatments, new powder room, new color scheme, new furniture…

On second thought, wait… I really love that sofa and those chairs are classic and if I just re-upholstered them then it might shave a few bucks from the project…

Maybe. Maybe not. Re-upholstering a piece of furniture can be a great idea if you are doing it for the right reasons. I am always for anything that keeps old sofas out of our ever expanding landfills. However, re-upholstering your favorite sofa isn’t always the best move. First of all, your beloved sofa may not be a great candidate for re-upholstery. Secondly, it may not save you a lot of money. Upholstery work and upholstery fabric can be quite expensive. If, your sofa or chair isn’t of sufficient quality, then no amount of fabric will extend its life. It can be hard to assess the quality of a piece of furniture when it’s covered in textiles. Determining if re-upholstery is a good option (or not) can be quite the design dilemma.

So, how do designers decide which pieces are fit for re-upholstery?  These are a couple of the things that help me decide if re-upholstering a piece is a sound option.

Custom Sofa by Lee Industries

 

The 3 C’s of Re-upholstery:

 

Coils (& cushions). The first thing I do is attempt to assess the quality of the piece. I start by sitting on it. Seems like a no-brainer, but if there’s too much movement in the piece, then it’s probably not structurally stable and should not be re-upholstered. I walk around the piece and wiggle it. Does it move from side to side? Do all the legs sit evenly on the floor? If there’s too much lateral movement or if the legs are loose and don’t sit evenly, it’s probably not a good candidate. I remove any unattached cushions and rub my hand across the back and seat to feel the spring system. If the springs seem high and tight and aren’t sunken, then re-upholstery might be possible. I l will try to lift the piece to see underneath. I also check the quality of the decking, which is usually a neutral or plain piece of canvas or other sturdy material that covers the spring system. This can give an idea of the overall quality and condition of the structures that support the seat.

Then, I will attempt to examine the underside of the seat. This should be covered in a thin neutral colored cloth called a dust cover. If the client is ok with me taking a peek, using a staple remover, I will pull away part of the dust cover and try to get a look at the springs (coils) from the underside. It can be stapled back in place when I am done. If I see eight way hand-tied springs, this is a great sign. If the eight-way hand tied system is in good shape, then re-upholstering is an option. Sinuous springs, not so much, but a lot depends on the age of the sofa and the condition of the springs, though most seating with sinuous springs won’t be a good candidate for re-upholstery.

The last thing I do is look at the quality of the cushions. This can be accomplished by unzipping the cushions and taking a peek. If The cushions can be re-filled, but high quality sofas will often have an inner coil cushion that is kind of like a little mattress. If the cushions are in good shape and can be re-used, then re-upholstering is a safer bet.

Eight-way Hand Tied Springs

 

CustomizationThe question here is can you find the sofa you love in the fabric you want. If you want a fabric that doesn’t come on a sofa you can buy in a store, then re-upholstering is probably a good idea, if you meet the quality criteria. Also, if you had a custom sofa with a shape you loved or that specifically fit an area in your home, like a curved sofa, then re-upholstery might be a good option. This is especially true if the custom sofa is still in great condition.

So what should you do if you want a specific fabric and love the shape and size of your current sofa, but the sofa you want isn’t in great condition? Have a custom replica made. A designer who has access to custom upholstery furniture manufacturers can help you place an order for a high quality sofa that meets your needs.

With Re-upholstery, fabric choices are nearly endless!

 

Cost. If you’re primary reason for re-upholstering a sofa is to save money, you might want to reconsider. It’s not always less expensive to re-upholster. The cost of labor to re-upholster can vary, but it’s pretty consistent among most upholsterers. You can usually expect to spend between $700-1500 for basic re-upholstery labor of a full sized sofa.

If you are re-upholstering a custom sofa that cost $3000+ upon purchase or a cherished heirloom, then re-upholstery will likely be less than buying a new sofa of the same quality and customization. However, a lot depends on the quality, condition, and size of the sofa, and the fabric you select. If any foam needs to be replaced or anything needs to be repaired, the cost will increase. Upholstery fabric can range in cost from $40-50/yard up to $400-500+ per yard. Most sofas require 18-25 yards of fabric, depending on whether the pattern has a print and how large the print is. You could spend thousands of dollars on the print alone. It’s easy to see how those costs can add up, making re-upholstery more a labor of love than a budget friendly option.

In the end, the decision to re-upholster requires a lot of information and careful decision making. What has your experience been with re-upholstering?

If you’re ready to re-decorate a space and want to include re-upholstering a cherished piece of furniture, contact Paradigm Interiors for your complementary Design Plan Consultation (click here).

 

Good Design Takes Time

The design process is tedious. Well, up front it’s exciting. It goes something like this:

  1. You hire your designer. It’s so exciting. He/she has fantastic ideas.
  2. You get your drawings and boards and you can just see the magazine perfect home of your dreams taking shape.
  3. You get the proposal and after your done choking a little bit at the price tag, you decide it’s totally worth it and you press the “go” button
  4. Then… it’s a lot…of…waiting…
  5. ..and..more waiting…
  6. You feel abandoned, but you’re still getting bills from the designer!!
  7. You start wondering, “Why is this taking so long!!”

I’m not sure if anyone has ever used the exact words, “Why is this taking so long,” but heaven knows it’s been written on the face of every single client with whom I have worked, even when I think I’ve set pretty good expectations of how the process works. Nonetheless, the process is slow and there is a period of time where it feels like it will never end.

It does end and when the final reveal happens its always well worth the wait, but let’s look at the top three reasons interior design projects take so darn long…

Great Room Project by Paradigm Interiors

Reason #1: People, people who need people are the slo-oh-west people in the world…

Isn’t that how the song goes? No? Well, it should be. Most interior design projects involve multiple trades and craftsmen. The more human hands that need to touch your project, the longer it’s going to take because there is a lot of coordination involved. Let’s take a great room (kitchen, family room, breakfast nook) remodel for example. If we were to do a full kitchen remodel, wall coverings, window treatments, lighting, furnishings, and accessories, then there will be no less than 10 different groups of professionals and no less than 10-15 vendors involved in the project. For example, the designer (pro #1) will work with the following trade pros:

  1. Contractor/carpenter to install the cabinets, backsplash, and any flooring
  2. Plumber
  3. Counter surface installer
  4. Electrician
  5. Painter
  6. Wall covering installer
  7. Window treatment work room (at least one)
  8. Window treatment installer
  9. Receiving and delivery warehouse
  10. Her design assistant or a handyman

For every trade, there is usually a vendor to work with who will supply equipment. In this case, those would be:

  1. Cabinet vendor
  2. Appliance vendor
  3. Tile vendor
  4. Counter vendor
  5. Paint vendor
  6. Lighting vendor
  7. Art Vendor(s)
  8. Accessories vendor(s)
  9. Fabric Vendor(s)
  10. Furniture Vendor(s)

With me those last three are likely to be numerous because I pull from many sources for my designs, which gives every room a rich, curated look.

Accent wall covering and custom cabinet give some texture to an otherwise boring wall

Reason #2: Follow my lead

Lead times are the amount of time between ordering a product and delivery. Lead times vary depending on how high-end and custom the products are. Typically, cabinets and custom furniture have the longest lead times, which is usually 4-8 weeks. Other furniture can take a week or two, but when purchased wholesale, as most designer do, the furniture makes a pit stop at a receiving warehouse. Delivery of all of the furniture will be scheduled for one day. Therefore, if you have a mix of custom and non-custom furniture, all of your furniture will be delivered after everything arrives. And forget it if something comes damaged! That extends your lead time by at least 2 weeks. 

Then, there is a systematic order to completing the project. It begins with the design process, the exciting part, and goes into the demolition and construction phases. The demolition happens first, which can’t happen until the cabinets have arrived and been inspected. Then, the rebuild of the kitchen, which will include the electrical and plumbing work. The final pieces of the kitchen remodel are the installation of the counter and then the backsplash. After the remodeling portion is complete, the painters will paint the entire great room area and the wall coverings can be installed. Finally, the furniture, rugs, art and accessories can be installed.

If any one of these pieces is delayed, the whole project goes off course.

This gorgeous fully custom sofa took about 8 weeks from order date to delivery.

Reason #3: Stuff Happens

Murphy’s law, right? When you have this many humans working on a project together, stuff is just going to happen. And I know you know what “stuff” I mean…

I have yet to work on a project where everything was perfect. I listen to the podcasts of top notch multi-million dollar a year designers who’ve been in business for 30 years and you know what they say? Stuff happens. Stuff happens on every project. Even with a sound design process, stuff happens.

Sometimes trade pros have conflicts so they can’t show up on schedule. Sometimes they have to back out of the job. Items show up damaged. Colors don’t turn out right. Vendors don’t put the correct information on an item. Warehouses lose things. Stuff happens, but in the end everything gets done, maybe not on the anticipated timeline, but they’re done and the end result is beautiful.

The best I can do is hold my clients’ hands through the process, reassure them, and try to give them the best experience even with all the “stuff” that can happen.

Let me know when you want to set up your Style Discovery Phone Consultation or In-Home Consultation and see what kind of wonderful stuff we can make happen!

Is That a Trend or a Classic? Matte Brass/Gold

My Client: “Wow! I just saw the most amazing kitchen! It had navy blue cabinets, marble countertops, white subway tile and gorgeous matte brass accents… I love those gold toned accents, but do you think that’s too trendy?”

Me: “uuuuuummmmm…” head scratch, reads clients face carefully, “maaaaaaybe…”

 

A gorgeous blue and gold kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, TX

 

Seriously, I walk a very fine tightrope between not offending my clients and telling them the truth. That usually means that I have to suppress my inner Julia Sugarbaker and stop myself from railing about the virtues of timeless, classic design. That is my design philosophy. Build the design with a foundation of timeless classic pieces and add bits of color and trend like sprinkles and the cherry on top of a sundae. I work to help my clients identify on a deep level what their personal aesthetic is. We work together to identify their core style, which trends are resonating with them, and how we can create a unique look using this information.

When I get a request that is filled to the brim with trend, I hit my internal pause button.

To set the record straight, I don’t think marble counters are ultra trendy. Nor do I think subway tiles are trendy. In fact, history tells us that they are very classic looks. Also, don’t misunderstand, I also LOVE the look I’m describing. However, navy blue cabinets and brass fixtures are BOLD choices. Most people would get tired of looking at them day after day. Then, they go into “I HATE this mode”. If you have money to spend re-vamping your kitchen every time you become overwhelmed or bored, then go for it! If you live in a different demographic, my advice is choose one trend that is inexpensive and easy to reverse.

In this case, that item would be the brass fixtures. Although drawer pulls, lighting, and plumbing fixtures are not inexpensive, especially not the new gold toned finishes, they are less expensive and easier to replace than cabinets.

Looking to the past always gives us an idea of what has staying power and what is trendy. In that case silver tones rule, particularly for plumbing fixtures. As we look back in time, the gold tones come and go, but the silver tones seem to be a constant. As hardware for doors and lighting, brass finishes have some staying power, typically the flat or brushed finishes have had a little more staying power. We’ve seen gold tones come and go throughout the American Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods. The last time brass and gold tones were popular was in the 1980’s and that time around nearly ruined the Baby Boomer and Gen Xers taste for gold metals because that round of brass was somehow extra brass-y… and extra offensive. Alas, 80’s nostalgia is back – music, movies, fashion, television – and with it come the gold tones!

 

The 1980’s brass we all love to hate!

 

So, my verdict? TREND

…But, its a good trend, a fun trend that you can implement in small doses and enjoy until it fades. I’m going to give you three tips for incorporating it into your kitchen or bath.

Tip #1: Mix It Up

Right now it’s totally cool to mix metals, so you can add some lovely brass accent lighting to your chrome and stainless kitchen metals. The key is keeping everything balanced. If you add just one gold toned piece, like a matte brass faucet you’ll want to add some accessories in the same tone. You can use a brass toned basket or possibly a multi- brass tiered tray on your counter for a fruit display. Ideally, you’d want to repeat the color a minimum of three times to create harmony.

Gold mixes well with stainless in this beautiful kitchen by Elizabeth Laws Design in Baltimore.

 

Tip #2: Light Up the Night

Use your lighting fixtures as your brass accent. In the picture below the designer has only used the brass color in the lighting, but the lighting fixtures are large enough to make a substantial contribution to the room. You can also use the above tip to round out the distribution of the color into your accessories if you like. However, the lighting alone is enough to make sense.

Gold lighting provides a delightful accent in this kitchen remodeled by Advanced Renovations in Charlotte, NC and photographed by Jim Schmid.

 

Tip #3: Get a Handle on It

Do just your door hardware – knobs, handles, and pulls – in a gold tone metal. This will be enough repetition to give a cohesive look, and again, it makes sense to just do these items as a stand alone metal. You can see that the designer only used the gold color in the hardware and used traditional stainless and chrome where they are appropriate. It looks fantastic. Hardware is relatively inexpensive, it can be easily switched out when you get tired of the gold, but they make a big overall impact.

 

Matte Brass drawer pulls really add some zing to these navy blue drawers.

 

Do you think you’ll try the matte brass/gold tone metal trend? You can shop the look here and here.

Are you still confused about how to add the look into your next project? Schedule your Design Style Discovery Consultation here.

By the way, none of these GORGEOUS kitchens are work that I have done. I am providing links to the source for each of these under the image. The boards are mine though and feel free to shop the look!

 

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.

 

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!