11 Ways To Create Spaces That Spark Joy

One of the questions that I ask when designing a space, after reviewing my client’s list of wants and needs for their new space, is “how do you want this new space to feel?” The answers vary between peaceful, restful, a place that the whole family can gather, and an exciting space to entertain. What most people want is a home that brings them joy.  A space that is intentionally designed to make its homeowner feel joyful. This requires getting to know our client’s likes, dislikes, and lifestyles so that we can personalize their spaces to bring them a feeling of joy when they spend time in these spaces.

Here are some general ideas that will help you create a joyful environment in your home.

1. Bring Some Color into Your Space
First, color has an enormous emotional impact on individuals. Using colors that you love can be a great way to make your space feel joyful. Even using small splashes of color can have a dramatic impact on the “feel” of the space. Using a color that you love will make an even greater impact on the way you feel when you enter this space.

2. Make sure your space plan works
The way that your space is planned will have an impact on the way you feel when you are in your room. If you stub your toe every time you try to maneuver around that over-sized coffee table, you might want to take another look at the furniture and traffic patterns in this room and create a space plan that works. Most people underestimate the amount of space needed for function.

3. Choose Textures That You Love
Textures have a huge role in making spaces feel cozy and comforting. Use items and finishes that use textures that you love. Whether it’s a velvet pillow or a sleek glass sculpture, if you love it, seeing these items when you enter a space will create a feeling of joy and comfort.

4. Get Your Space as Organized as Possible
Organize your space. This starts with eliminating anything in the space that you do not need. Then creating an intentional place for all of the necessary items included in your room. Getting organized creates a great sense of peace, allowing you to feel like you are in control of your environment.

5. Choose Lighting that Brightens Your Mood
Lighting can influence your mood and can make us feel either inspired and joyful, or sad and lethargic. The right lighting for the use of space is what is important. Dim lighting in the bedroom can be relaxing, but dim lighting in the kitchen or family space can be uninspiring.

6. Less can be more
Crowding a room with furniture that you do not necessarily love doesn’t create a great feeling in your space. If you really don’t love that end table, remove it and make room for something that you really love. This might take some time but start with pieces that you know you could do without for a while. This will allow your mind to imagine the possibilities instead of focusing on that table that you don’t like.

7. Create a Technology-Free Zone
We love our technology as it’s now helping us manage almost every area of our lives. But it’s important to allow our minds to re-charge and retreat from information overload and overwhelm. If we are intentional about creating a technology free area in our homes this will allow us to experience joy, as we retreat from the compulsion to jump into action every time we hear a notification on our phones or computers.

8. Have Only Items You Love
Surround yourself with items that you love. For everyone this is different. What items in your home are important to you? Are there items that you love that remind you of people that you love or happy times? Are there items in your home that bring back bad memories or bring up negative feelings? Keep what you love, and use it so you will see it daily. Get rid of anything with negative memories, or share it with someone who might look at it differently.

9. Find Art that Inspires You
Art plays a large role in the way a room feels. Artwork should be a very personal choice. A piece of fine art purchased on your last trip to Europe or last weekend’s flea market find, it doesn’t matter, if you love it, use it, it will create a great emotional impact on you as you enjoy your space. My grandson’s first finger painting makes me smile every time I see his framed artwork on my kitchen wall. The artwork is a great way to pull color into a room.

10. Harness the Emotional Impact of Your Favorite Scents
Introduce your favorite scents into your home. All of our senses absorb information that helps us experience a feeling of joy. Seek out a scent or two that fills you with a feeling of bliss. This is a small thing that will help to create a joyful atmosphere.

11. Use Greenery to Liven Up Your Space
Live greenery used in your home creates a life-giving effect. A small arrangement of fresh flowers or a live plant, My arrangement of fresh lilacs is currently bringing me lots of joy and the scent is heavenly.

Just a few small changes in your home or space can bring you lasting joy. We are will benefit if our spaces and homes fill us with joy. Try implementing a few of these steps to create a joyful feeling indoor home.

For more advice and design inspiration, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list!

Happy Decorating!
Gia

Making Design Decisions With A Spouse Or Partner

Designs By Gia Interior Design.

Have you ever found yourself at odds with your spouse over a certain recliner?  You know, the one that you have been trying to eliminate from your living room for years. That chair with the lived-in look that your partner cannot seem to part with.  Or have you ever come home to find that your spouse has painted a room a particular shade of pink that you absolutely do not share the same enthusiasm for?  How could you possibly not love this color?  One of you might share a love of practical design and function The other might want to totally re-create something they’ve seen in a magazine or on television, but might not be able to articulate the design details needed to create this look.

Well, you are not alone.  After 20 years of negotiating design and renovation decisions with couples on a daily basis, I will assure you that even the most loving couples usually don’t share the same ideas, design aesthetic and expectations when it comes to designing their homes.  Normally couples will notice these differences of opinions occasionally….. when choosing paint colors, furniture decisions, or window treatments. Small discussions about all those beautiful accent pillows on the sofa and bed.  But once a couple decides to embark on a major renovation project, these differences can make it difficult to make decisions, putting couples at odds before they even begin the renovation.  When designing and making design decisions for a renovation, there are suddenly hundreds of design decisions to make and depending on how well you planned, sometimes you must make these decisions very quickly.

With the added pressures that come with an impending renovation, some couples can become very passionate about their ideas about what their new space should look like.  Some couples work really well together and are able to come to agreements easily. Bless you!

Others take much longer or might not ever see eye to eye on their project. We understand, Renovation is scary, there are big decisions to be made, decisions that you will be living with for a long time.  Both parties are usually out of their area of expertise and might not know anything about design or construction, or even worse, a little knowledge can be dangerous, one person takes the lead after a few hours on google or watching a few seasons of HGTV and suddenly the couples normal dynamic is flipped on its side. None of this helps to move their visions closer together.  some try to negotiate their different choices.” You get your granite countertops if I get that tile floor” but the end result might not be a cohesive finished design that anyone likes.

One of the things that really helps to navigate through all of these design decisions is to have help from a professional.
A professional designer with experience in your type of project can listen to the couples ideas and can create an entire design that reflects the needs, tastes and desires of both parties.  For instance, I can take the ideas that my clients have, combine them with what is right for their space, lifestyle, and add some ideas that they might not have considered then come up with a beautifully designed cohesive plan that makes both parties happy. Sometimes a fresh set of ideas from a Pro is all that is necessary.

If you are renovating on your own and can’t come to an agreement with your spouse, consider some totally new design ideas that you both might like. This is much more productive than holding onto ideas that might not even be right for your space, goals, budget, or desired outcome.  With a designer leading the ways, ideas can easily be sifted through, leaving only ideas that really work well for the overall goals of your project.  Just having a professional there to lead the way allows everyone to feel as though their ideas are being heard and allows the designer to really dig deep into the ideas and feelings that both parties have about their home and the environment that they wish to create.  The overall goal is always to create a space that the homeowners love and will enjoy together for many years.

 

6 Benefits of Custom Window Treatments

Although pre-made, off the shelf, window treatments are plentiful, there are numerous reasons why we use and suggest custom window treatments in most of our design projects.

Choosing custom window treatments allows you to have so many options and benefits that you don’t have when choosing pre-made window treatments.

Here are a few of the benefits:

1. Create the perfect size.
Custom window treatments can be made exactly to your specifications as far as size. That means you don’t have to work within the sizes offered in regular pre-made draperies. We can customize the size right down to the exact measurements needed for your windows, creating the best look for your windows. This is a huge benefit as it allows us to design exactly what is right for your space.

2. Choose the perfect fabric.
Next, custom window treatments are exactly that, totally custom, so we can design window treatments with fabric that is exactly right for your space. Designers have access the thousands of decorative fabrics and can suggest only fabrics that are exactly right for your space. Choosing colors and patterns that are perfect for your room design is one of the elements that create a truly beautiful finished space in any room design project.

Designs By Gia Interior Design3. Adding specific decorative details.
The options are limitless, with custom window treatments we can incorporate very specific custom designed details like specific trim, decorative details, and placement of trim that are specific to your window treatment. As a designer, this gives us the ability to create something unique for each space that we design.

4. Superior workmanship and quality.
Window treatments require a substantial investment. This is another reason to go with custom window treatments, Custom is without a doubt a higher quality product. These window treatments will last you for many years, long past the time when you would be replacing a pre-made window treatment. There’s no contest when it comes to quality custom draperies and window treatments are far superior in workmanship and quality.

5. Energy efficient.
Custom window treatments can be designed with insulating linings or black-out, light blocking linings, providing an extra level of energy efficiency for your home, and prolonging the life of your window treatment fabrics when it comes to sun damage and fading.

Designs By Gia Interior Design6. Longevity.
The sky is the limit when it comes to window treatment creation, so we can create a timeless option for your windows, that can outlive any trendy pre-made window treatment option. When it comes to draperies shades, Roman shades, basically any type of window treatment, if you plan on keeping it in your space for at least five years, custom will probably be even more cost-effective as pre-made options are never quite right and I see most people replace them frequently. When you’re doing custom drapery, you have the option of having a designer’s assistance, when this is part of a large renovation project fabric and drapery are discussed and worked into the entire design scheme. This isn’t usually the case when a homeowner purchases their own drapery, as homeowners often purchase them randomly without the strategy of a well thought out design plan. A short time later, this homeowner realizes that they have purchased something that they are really not too excited about, and are once again purchasing window treatments, hoping to get it right.

So for the client that realizes the benefits of custom drapery, working with a designer to design custom window treatments for your home can be a great choice.

 

Preparing Your Pets For Your Renovation

We all love our pets and we know our client’s want to be sure that their pets are safe and comfortable during their upcoming renovation.

All of us at Designs by Gia Interior Design and Renovation and our team of contractors and tradesmen love interacting with your pets. But we know that it can be startling for pets to have everyone converging on their home at once. We find that it helps to take the time to introduce ourselves slowly to our client’s animals to help them get familiar with us. Construction can be dangerous for animals and workers if pets are underfoot all the time. So as much as we love having them around, our first concern is always for their safety. Most pets actually do quite well with the renovation going on in their homes. Dogs especially seem to like all of the action and most of them quickly except their new construction friends. Cats usually aren’t quite as excited about their owner’s projects but are very good at removing themselves from the daily activity, and reappearing at the end of the workday.

Designs by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior DesignerWe want to share a few tips to help prepare your pet for your upcoming renovation.

1. Provide a safe area for your pets. Construction involves a lot of loud noises, strange power tool sounds, banging of hammers, and unfamiliar voices. This can cause some pets a lot of anxiety.  Always provide a safe area out of the construction zone for your pets to retreat. This can help your pets adjust to a house full of unfamiliar people and noises.

2. Notify your contractors if you have anyone other than yourself coming into the house during the day to feed or walk your animals. If you are not home during the days when construction is taking place, it is helpful to know who else is allowed into your home to interact with your animals.

3. A few days before the renovation starts you might want to relocate your pets food and water bowl if it’s in the area of the renovation. This might help them to adjust to their things being moved on the day of demolition. This is especially important during a kitchen renovation, as their meals might be disrupted.Designs by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior Designer

4. Also, let your contractors know if your animal is an indoor pet or is prone to a quick escape. This will help whoever is working on your home know what is normal for your animal and we will take extra care while entering and exiting the home.

5. During construction always leave a contact phone number where you can be reached if you are not home during the renovation hours. This is important for numerous reasons while renovating, but this also allows us to contact you if there are any issues regarding your pet.

6. Doggie Day Care. Many homeowners worry about their pets during the renovation. But I will say most pets adjust after a few days and actually welcome all of the activity. If you feel as though your pet might not welcome all of the action and it might cause them too much stress, make arrangements in advance for doggy daycare or boarding of some sort during the times of construction that you feel might be the most stressful for your animal.

7. Also, think about your pets needs as far as any accommodations needed in your new design. For instance, maybe a designated area in your new kitchen renovation just for dog food or your dog bowls might be easily worked into the kitchen design. If you have large dogs you might want to make a designated doggy wash station in your new mudroom renovation plan. I once designed a special sunroom for my client’s cats, because cats enjoy a newly designDesigns by Gia Interior Design. New England Interior Designered  and renovated space too.

Usually, after renovation, when everything calms down we often hear that our client’s pets miss all of the activity and construction friends that they’ve gotten used to being in their home all day.  So we know they enjoy it when we stop back in for a quick visit, to finalize details or to discuss the next design project. We remember fondly several of the numerous beautiful pets that we’ve gotten to know over the years, a few of them are not around anymore but all are remembered by us for their love of great design and construction….Gus, Diesel Dog, Sammy, Poncho, Ginger, Henri, Huck, Sig, Oliver, Prada, Willie, and Maggie. Of course, we can’t forget our feline friends including “best team player” Pebbles the cat who endured an entire house renovation, cleared the entire construction space of mice, and was still happy to pose patiently during the final photo session.

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Selecting Appliances For Your Renovation

Choosing appliances for your renovation.Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions.

One of the issues that often gets a renovation started, is when older appliances start to fade or stop working completely. At that point it’s a good time to consider the entire kitchen and whether or not it’s time for a full renovation, before trying to just replace that old appliance.

Older appliances that are built into an existing kitchen are sometimes hard to replace with appliances of the same dimensions, years or decades later. So replacing an appliance might not be as easy as just replacing a refrigerator or a built-in oven into an existing spot in your current cabinetry. So before purchasing a new appliance, check those measurements, trying to retrofit a new appliance but making changes to existing cabinetry often is costly and usually never looks quite right. Also, if the flooring was installed in front of and not under your dishwasher, removing that dishwasher might require opening up that flooring.

If you decide that you are going to take a look at doing a full-scale renovation of your kitchen, then looking at the age of the remaining appliances. That brand new freestanding refrigerator might be able to be incorporated into the new kitchen design, but I would hesitate to re-install a 20-year-old wall oven with its older dimensions, into a new custom sized cabinet, only for that appliance to reach its lifespan a few years after the renovation. If you are ready to do a full renovation with new appliances, the selection of those appliances is done very early in the kitchen design process as appliance selections dictate the placement of the appliances in the new layout.  There are so many options to choose from when it comes to new appliances for your kitchen.

For cooking, there’s gas, electric, and induction, the selection of what system to go with should be done first and will be determined by many factors.

Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions. Do you currently have natural gas or propane in your home? Or are you willing to bring in propane if you really desire a gas range Induction is a newer magnetic technology and performs a lot like gas in that it gives instant heat, this technology might be worth exploring if you like the control of a gas range. We use it often for projects and I enjoy using it in my own home.

Wall ovens, steam or speed ovens, convection ovens, warming drawers, grills, griddles… these are just a few cooking elements that could be purchased as separate units or could be features included in a range.  Also, the size of the range should be determined early on in the design process as it dictates the cabinetry layout and the ventilation needed for the range hood as requirements are determined by the range.

There are so many options for refrigeration as well, There is a French door refrigerator with refrigeration on top and a freezer on the bottom, allowing these units to be placed wherever needed in the kitchen. A traditional side-by-side refrigeration and freezer. Also, these elements can be purchased in separate columns freezer and refrigeration and added wherever desired in the layout. There are also drawers that can be integrated for refrigeration and freezer. The size of the space and the configuration of the space will help you determine what appliances look proportioned to your space. Determine what features you are looking for, then depending on the size and layout of the space, keep your mind open to some items that might make better sense for your kitchen design based on suggestions from your kitchen designer.

Appliance styles range from a very industrial commercial look to a super-contemporary sleek look, to a retro looking appliance with today’s modern features. Stainless steel is still the most popular finish in today’s kitchen, experts predict that this will continue.  But we are seeing some stainless finished with a brushed look or a tinted look, as fingerprints are a little less visible on these newer stainless finishes.

We are also seeing some manufacturers introduce colored appliances, which visuallyDesigns by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions. is a nice change from all the stainless, but is very taste specific.  Its impossible to predict what we are actually going to be seeing in appliance 10 years from now, so I advise clients to go with the look that they really love, unless they are getting ready to sell their home, in which case you might want to update a little more generically when it comes to appliance choices.  Choosing your appliance is one of the many steps involved in completing a kitchen design and renovation. Be sure to involve a design professional from the beginning of the process to ensure that you are creating a kitchen space that you will enjoy for many years to come.

Adding luxury to any bathroom

Designs By Gia Interior Designs. Award Winning Interior Designer. Web Design by inConcert Web Solutions.If you’ve ever imagined a luxurious master bathroom in your home, you might enjoy this classic master bathroom that we recently designed for one of our lovely clients.  This bathroom was part of a large design project involving a kitchen, butlers pantry, mud room, several bathrooms, and of course this beautiful master bathroom. This long narrow space designated for the new master bathroom created several design challenges, but it also allowed us to use the length to create a dramatic focal point in the back of the bathroom featuring a freestanding tub with classic lines.

We designed a custom shower with dreamy white tile, seating, rain head, and a custom glass enclosure.  We also included 2 separate vanity areas which we topped with beautiful gray and white stone. The homeowner’s beautiful chandelier was the starting point for this elegant bathroom.  The black and white color scheme really gives this bathroom a timeless feeling, with the drama of an old classic black and white movie.

There are many ways that you can add luxurious, classic touches to any bathroom.  If you are ready to undertake a renovation or new build project, it’s best to work with a design professional as the bathroom is one of the most difficult rooms to plan and design, issues involving space planning, safety, and comfort as well as aesthetics must be addressed when designing any bathroom.  There are a few easy ways that you can add a bit of luxury to your existing bathroom if you are not quite ready for a renovation.

Designs By Gia Interior Designs. Award Winning Interior Designer. Web Design by inConcert Web Solutions.

1 – Add Artwork

Black and white artwork can look great in a bathroom. With a few complimentary pieces of inexpensive art, you can create a classic or modern look in your existing bathroom. Expensive art should be placed strategically to avoid moisture damage.

2 – Add Plush Cotton Towels

Plush towels create a filing of luxury. Choose solid black and white and mix stacks of towels together. This gives a clean look without adding more patterns to the room.

3 – Add Unexpected Storage to the Vanity

Use a mirrored or glass tray or collection of small vases to store makeup and organize other small items. This looks better than plastic make-up organizers.

4 – Storage

Store larger necessary items in baskets, vases or cabinets. If an item is going to be visible and necessary, be sure it looks nice and is stored in a way that complements the space.

5 – Add Candles and Fresh Flowers

These small touches can bring a touch of luxury to any space especially the bathroom.

The Perfect Paint Color

Designs By Gia Interior DesignNot a day goes by without receiving an email from someone who’s seen photos of my work, inquiring about a specific paint color used on one of my completed projects. Although I am flattered at their interest, I know for sure that seeing a paint color in another space, on a computer screen, or in print, and then trying it in your space is in fact, the worst way to choose a paint color.

Could you get “ok” results? You could get lucky. But I’m sure most times, people are surprised at how the color looks when it goes up.

Why is this? There are a number of reasons.

First, when you see a paint color in a magazine or on a computer screen, it looks different than the color looks in person.  Also, in a photo, it’s very hard to see what the color actually looks like because of the angle that the photo is taken, and the lighting used for the photos.  Also, no real strategy is being used when selecting a random paint color. The reason you are drawn to the paint color that you are seeing in a professionally designed finished space is that the paint color you are seeing is being used in context with numerous other elements in the room in a purposeful way.

Most people believe that choosing paint colors is something they should be able to do easily. This process certainly looks easy, but in reality, this process involves a lot more than just trying to find a color that you like.

As designers, we look at natural lighting, the direction a room might be facing, how large the room is, undertones, color intensity, and numerous other things that are going in in the room and adjacent spaces, before deciding on a paint color.  Other colors that you are using in the room might slightly alter the way a paint color looks. Knowing how to compensate for this is important. 

The real magic happens when color is chosen carefully as part of a plan, marrying colors, undertones, and intensity throughout the space.  Designers can often do this quickly because they have many years of experience and an eye trained to see the slightest intricacies of color. Just like anything else that looks easy at first glance choosing the perfect paint color is a lot more complicated than it looks.

So next time you find yourself with 6 different paint test spots on the wall and you are ready to head back to the paint store for more samples, or trying to figure out what color your friend painted her walls, call in the help of a designer who can help you select the perfect paint colors for your project.

 

Featured Project-Voted Most Popular!!

Designs By Gia Interior DesignThis space saving, classic kitchen, that we completed 2 years ago, is loaded with traditional charm. It has recently captured the attention of Houzz viewers making it the 6th most popular kitchen on Houzz in 2019.  This kitchen has now been published four times, twice as a featured project on Houzz, and it has also been featured on Bob Vila.com as part of a recent article, and again yesterday as a featured article. Since this kitchen seems to be a viewer favorite right now, so I thought I might take you behind the scenes a bit to tell you a little more about this project and the design of this kitchen.

This kitchen lives in a beautiful classic 1800’s home.Designs By Gia Interior Design. The current owners, my clients, were not in love with the 1980s remodel that was done by the previous owners of this home as it stripped the kitchen of any of its traditional architecture. It really didn’t blend well with the rest of this beautiful home. So after working with them on numerous other projects throughout the home, these long-time clients turned to me to design and build their new kitchen space.

I created a design plan creating a beautiful large kitchen, expanding the space into the adjacent rooms and opening up to the backyard. My clients loved this design plan, but other projects took precedence, so after a few additional years, my clients were now ready to proceed with the kitchen project. Their overall goals for the property did change since we first looked at this project, and my clients decided that they did not want to enlarge or expand the small kitchen by opening it up to the adjacent rooms, as this would mean losing an adjacent study and bathroom. So, I went back to the drawing board to create a kitchen in the existing kitchen space that fulfilled their new goals and created a beautiful functional space within the existing kitchen area.

Designs By Gia Interior DesignThis kitchen design consisted of additional storage and cabinetry, additional countertop space, and a small space to sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning. We added new cabinetry, which now extends to the ceiling removing the old soffits. We worked around 3 existing doorways which were to remain in place, old radiator piping which remained, and we replaced the 2 existing windows with larger windows which were more proportioned to the space and took full advantage of the natural light. Careful planning allowed for additional cabinetry adjacent to the peninsula, which added more storage. A metal pegboard in cobalt blue created a small pot rack on the side of the refrigerator panel, creating more storage.

This new design, like my former design, honored this home’s traditional architecture but added light, and a fresh feel to the space using updated colors and material selections. A custom mix of glass tile created the backsplash, white quartz with the look of classic marble, created a classic but user-friendly countertop. A white porcelain farmer’s sink is a focal point in this kitchen, custom window treatments, maple flooring, and gleaming hardware added to the milky white cabinetry allowed this kitchen to now blend with the classic architecture in the rest of the home. New stainless steel appliances were also added, and really update the way this kitchen looks and functions.

The adjacent pantry area was also renovated, just off the main kitchen, we removed old dark pine cabinetry, added a doorway to the adjacent dining room which created a better traffic flow through the home. We designed and installed beautiful custom navy blue cabinetry with lots of storage and counter top space, which the owner uses for entertaining.

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My clients are now loving this newly renovated kitchen space. This new kitchen contains many of the elements of a much larger kitchen and melds beautifully with the rest of the house which we have also designed renovated over the last few years.  Finally, my client’s get to enjoy their new kitchen space as much as they enjoy the rest of this beautiful home.

Gia

 

So, You’ve Purchased A Fixer-Upper, Now What?

Designs by Gia Interior DesignYou’ve spent the last few months searching for a new home. You’ve re-calibrated your wish list several times before finally deciding that in order to get into the neighborhood that you like and stay within your budget, you had better consider a fixer-upper. It looks easy enough, so how hard could it be? Besides, it looks like fun. You know that you would like to add or change some of the features in your new home, so how hard could it be?  Well, if you are a first-time homeowner or a first-time renovator, stay tuned, this article is for you!

Fixing up an old or run down home has been a way of life for me and my family for as long as I could remember because I grew up with my parents being fixer-upper renovators.  As a child coming home from school and walking through the front door, I was sure of one thing, somewhere in my path, there would be wet paint or freshly poured cement with piles of stone ready for stacking, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and of course, the furniture would always be in a different place. The perfect environment for this designer in the making.

Years later, I took it to a whole different level.  As my children grew up amidst a full-scale major renovation in what was their childhood home, a 200-year-old historical beauty, and a thriving Interior Design and Renovation business operating at full force by their mother, whose first office was in that home. Now that they are adults, I wonder if this must somehow be in the genes as I see my 3-year-old grandson building “staging” as he climbs carefully with his hammer in hand and my 1 1/2-year-old granddaughter standing in her pink tool belt, smiling as I teach her how to retract her tape measure as they help with the next family project. Future renovators in the making, for sure.  Needless to say, after 20 years of renovating clients houses and many more years of living in numerous fixer-upper projects, I do have some advice for anyone who has found themselves head over heels for their vision of what this is going to be like.

1 – Be patient and Listen to the house
I know you want to get into the exciting stuff right away. The kitchen, the bathrooms, taking down walls. But allow yourself a little time to access the property close up. Take your time, go through the details of the house slowly. Allow the house to show you what needs your attention first. Believe me, it will! Sometimes new renovators go right at it tearing into everything on their wish list, only to find, a few days or weeks into the project, that house had other more pressing issues that really should be addressed first. Usually, these are the less exciting projects, like the roof, the furnace, electrical, or plumbing issues. And my personal favorite from past experience in 2 of my own homes, water well or main water line issues. Many issues can be brewing that you are unaware of even when you’ve had a thorough home inspection. So be prepared with your budget to address some of these issues, should they come up sooner than anticipated in your renovation project.

2 – Really access your goals for the house.
Are you hoping to be living in the home for a while? Or are you going to be fixing it up and selling in a few years? Both of these scenarios should be approached very differently with regards to how to approach your plan, renovation, and budget. Be clear on your goals before you start. This will keep you from over-investing in design elements that only you think are great and might hinder the sale of your home if that is your intention. If you are here to stay, then you can create a plan of action based on your goal for you and your family.

3 – Have a detailed plan.
After accessing the house thoroughly addressing any immediate issues, now it’s time to develop a detailed plan. This is a great time to involve a design professional who knows the ins and outs of transforming your home with a renovation. An experienced designer will be able to review your plan and assist with creating a phased plan of action. This is important because you don’t want to find out later when you finally get to do your bathroom renovation, that the adjacent rooms, which you renovated first, will now be affected in order to run plumbing and electrical for your new bathroom project. You certainly don’t want to spend time and money backtracking because you didn’t do things in a logical order.

4 – Life during a renovation.
If you have the opportunity to do some or all of the work on your fixer-upper before you move in, then great. Plan those projects strategically. It’s much easier to address any floor work before you have a house full of furniture unless this doesn’t make sense for your timeline or project goals. If you are going to be living in your home and fixing it up as you go, really think about ways that you can make our life easier by progressing through the house and thinking out the logistics. This is something that I review with every client before a renovation. Even in the best of circumstances, your projects will cause some stress and logistical issues when your lifestyle is disrupted with a renovation.

5 – Don’t try to be your own contractor
Don’t try to be your own contractor unless you have the additional time and money needed to correct expensive errors that you might make by learning as you go. Pick and choose the projects that you know you can compete and that are within your skill set, if you want the hands-on experience. Remember that a poorly done renovation can cost just as much money as a professional renovation, usually takes much more time, and can actually decrease the value of your home if it doesn’t look great in the end. Hiring the pros will ensure you get the desired results without all the stress, guesswork, and endless hours trying to figure it all out.

Setting The Table For Easter

Step 1- Choose China or Dishware
Creating a beautiful Easter table starts with choosing dishware. You can mix a few china or dishware patterns together or use just one pattern. If you are starting from scratch, white plates are a great choice because they are so versatile. You can use white plates and dishware with so many different tablecloths and flower options to create different looks for every holiday throughout the year.

Step 2- Choose a Tablecloth
Use a solid color or a boldly patterned fabric that will complement your dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you don’t want to use a tablecloth, look for some inexpensive placemats. You could also add color and texture with a table runner. Choose something that pulls together your color scheme.

Step 3- Create a Centerpiece
Arrangements of spring flowers make a great centerpiece. Individual blossoms of spring color and also be grouped in individual vases to create a great Spring table arrangement. Choose one color or use a mix of 2-3 colors. Use something unusual to hold your flowers, an old antique pitcher, a clear canister filled with jellybeans can add lots of colors and create a fresh springtime look. Also, remember to create a centerpiece that allows you to see everyone at the table.

Step 4- Choosing Glassware
When creating an Easter table design, we can’t forget about the glassware. I believe that glassware one of the most important details of your whole table design. Whether you are doing a simple table setting for a casual gathering with just one piece of glassware per table setting, or a formal dinner with numerous pieces, this adds sparkle and dimension to your table design. If numerous pieces of glassware are being used, I like to vary the heights as much as possible, but be sure to keep all glassware pieces proportioned to each other, this creates movement and balance across your table. Choose clear glassware or a color that complements your table, I like to mix colors to create a nice balanced yet interesting look. Glassware doesn’t have to be expensive, there are so many options to choose from when purchasing, think about your china colors coordinate your selections with items that you already own. Sometimes I use different items at each place setting, don’t be afraid to mix and match. You might only have 3 glasses of one style and 3 of another but if you alternate each place setting, it will look cohesive.

Step 5- Decorative Details
Add personality to your table by adding decorative details. With the addition of 2 young grandchildren in my family, numerous types of bunnies, both chocolate and gilded, have once again appeared on my Easter table. Use what you have, heirloom salt and pepper shakers, napkin rings, unique items that pull together the entire look of your table. It can be fun to incorporate meaningful items from family members, like great grandma’s crystal bowl, filled with candy or flowers. Just be sure it all ties in together in theme, color and proportion. Too many different things together will look cluttered and messy. Layer your table carefully, and just like putting on jewelry, if you are not sure, remove a piece. A little decorative detail goes a long way when mixed with the other elements of your table.

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