Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and ends while finishing up a design project or while preparing a project for our final photo session day. A few wine glasses or a few accessories perhaps and then I head toward the register so I can head back to work. While doing so, I usually pass through the pillow department.

Guess what? I see you there. You’re standing next to me in the pillow aisle. You’re agonizing over the vast selection of pillows. You’re viewing all the colors, styles, textures, and each one more beautiful than the next. You might have 4 different unrelated throw pillows in the cart, then you take them all out and start over again and often walk away with no pillows or one random pillow. I often wish I could stop for a few moments to help, but of course, I must head back to work.

So, instead, I thought I might write this blog post and provide a few tips for adding throw pillows to your space.

 1.

Plan your pillow arrangement just like you might plan the rest of your space, with a specific strategy. Consider what other fabrics you are using in your room and think about colors and fabrics that might look nice with the other fabrics. Then search out only those colors or fabrics that will fit into your decor. If you plan this out you will resist the temptation of adding an unrelated pillow. If you know exactly what you are looking for a pre-made throw pillow can certainly be worked into a look, even if the other pillows are custom, but you do need to know exactly what you are looking for before you start shopping.

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2.

Consider the size of the pillows that might look proportioned to the space. If you have a large bulky sofa then a delicate small pillow will not look proportioned no matter how much you like that small pillow. So, if you are buying pillows of any sort, take a look at the size before you look at the color, fabric, or details. If it is not a good size for your sofa, pass it by.

3.

Mixing patterns can be difficult. If you find yourself struggling to mix patterned fabrics together, try choosing a few solid pillows in different textures. Use colors that you already have in your room for a cohesive look.

4.

If you are the kind of person that likes to switch out your throw pillows occasionally or seasonally, consider purchasing zippered pillow covers, these can be placed over your existing pillows and you won’t have to store all those pillows, the covers can be folded and stored until you use it again. You can find these pre-made or they can be custom made in just the right fabrics to coordinate with your room.

5.

For most of my design projects, I design custom pillows. This allows me to be able to create the exact look that I want for the space with the exact fabric, color and trim to coordinate with the space. This also allows me to customize the filling of the pillows. Pillows can be filled with down, down-alternative, or different types of fiberfill. All of these different types of filling give you a totally different feel and look to the pillow. If you have allergies this is a great choice as you can be sure to use a filling that doesn’t aggravate your allergies.

Throw pillows can be a great way to add a pop of color into your home, so if you are choosing an inexpensive throw pillow, experiment a little for a small investment, knowing that you can make changes if you don’t like the results.

Until next time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

Redesigning and Renovating a Vacation Home

Redesigning and Renovating a Vacation Home

Are you thinking about redesigning and renovating a vacation home? Well, summertime is here and many people look forward to spending the season visiting their vacation home. Whether that be a lakeside cabin, an oceanfront home, or mountain retreat, a vacation home can be a place that greets you with all the comforts of home in a location that you love, where you can relax and spend time with family.  Or it can become a place that provides you with a burden of unfinished projects, maintenance issues and endless wish lists. 

A vacation home could be a property that’s been handed down for generations. If that’s the case, trying to design the space for modern living but keep the charm and history of this cherished property should be considered in the new design. Many times these properties have evolved over time with numerous additions or temporary design elements, a professional designer will be able to create a cohesive look knowing what to keep and what to change in the new design. 

Unlike renovating a main residence, with a vacation home, you have the freedom to plan the timing so that your vacation home is ready for you during the season that you want to use it. This involves careful planning. Timing is everything! For instance, if you’re planning on renovating a beach home it would be great if those renovations could be done in the winter. However, if the home is not a four-season home this could be problematic especially since proper temperatures are needed in order to work in the home or on his plumbing systems.

This is the case of one of our current projects located on the Northern coast of Massachusetts. Some vacation home properties require certain specific zoning requirements, conservation boards, or specialized code requirements, especially some waterfront locations, so extra planning time is needed to get specific approvals or permits.

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For this reason, it’s always best to involve a professional when renovating these types of properties as a professional can best advise you based on your set of circumstances and needs as to the best time of year to renovate your property.

Resources and Implementation

A professional also can bring in a team of tradespeople, as sometimes your vacation home is located outside of an area where you normally live. This can also be problematic as far as overseeing your renovation and finding local reliable tradespeople. Hiring a team that can take the project from design right through to completion overseeing all of the details will provide you with the best results, a professionally finished look, and planned with the most optimized timeline for the scope of your type of project. Transportation and deliveries to a vacation property could also have some challenges, these are things that pros deal with on a daily basis and will anticipate before they cause problems with your project.

Design

There are many things to consider as far as the design of a vacation property as your needs for the space might be very different from a home that is being used year-round. This might be a place where numerous family members gather or share the property, you might need to provide additional sleeping quarters for the family. You might entertain a lot more at this property so in some cases your kitchen might work harder in this home.

It is always best to start out with a thorough discussion as to a client’s needs for any property that we design and renovate. However, when beginning a vacation home project we discuss even further the unique needs with the homeowner while using this property and how we can design the space to meet those needs. 

When designing a vacation home (from a design perspective), I love to consider the outdoor environment’s influence on the design of the interior spaces. For instance, a color scheme of a beachfront property might be very different than that of a mountain cabin, and for good reason. I am a firm believer that the view of a property should influence, not compete, with the view. This is especially true for properties with prominent views.

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I love working with clients on vacation homes! It’s especially exciting when we have already designed another property for the client and now we can explore additional design projects with this client or a family that we have enjoyed working with during their previous project. 

I’ll be anxious to show you the final results of our current vacation home project! 

Remember that the design of any home can give you all the comforts of a vacation! Especially if it’s designed to do so! 

Until next time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

How To Survive A Kitchen Renovation

How to Survive a Kitchen Renovation

Everyone has heard the Horror stories from homeowners that have undertaken a kitchen renovation. This is especially true of homeowners that hire a contractor to renovate with no concrete design plan but especially from homeowners that decide to tackle renovations on their own unaware of what they do not know about the process. In the case of the homeowner going on their own, the time that the project is actually under construction is usually double perhaps triple the duration of a professionally designed, planned, and implemented project. 

However, with any type of renovation, there is the inconvenience of being without a kitchen for the duration of the project and the inconvenience of having craftsmen in your home on a daily basis until the project is complete.

When I am working with a client to prepare them for their kitchen renovation there is a series of steps that I take them through to prepare for the entire project. There are also a series of recommendations and preparation tips that I provide clients on how to prepare for the length of time that they will be without a kitchen. When I am working with a client, I keep them informed as to the best time to execute some of the recommendations based on our project start date. This helps the client to know exactly what steps they can take to be better prepared for the first day of their project, “Demo Day” and how we can help them with this process of getting prepared.

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Here are a few of these recommendations:

PREPARE A TEMPORARY KITCHEN AREA

Make preparations for a temporary cooking area or meal preparation area. Although many clients frequent a variety of takeout options, it really is necessary to prepare for preparing simple meals while awaiting the completion of that dream kitchen. This might involve a simple table out of the construction area for a microwave, coffee maker, and an electric skillet. Or perhaps making preparations to temporarily hook up your old range and refrigerator. A small dorm refrigerator can work well in a temporary kitchen area also.

PACK, PURGE, & LABEL

Pack all of the items in your current kitchen. This involves some sorting and purging so I always recommend clients give themselves plenty of time for this. Select a few items that need to be included in your temporary kitchen space, dishes, utensils, a few pieces of cookware, a crock-pot, glasses, and coffee cups. The rest of the items, if they are going to be coming into your new kitchen, should be packed, labeled, and removed from the construction area. Marking these boxes will help you to locate items should you need them before the unpacking begins. Part of this process is purging any unwanted items before packing that way you know that everything that you are packing is coming back into your new kitchen. Many people enjoy updating some of their kitchen items after they renovate their kitchen so think about this before you pack everything.

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DECIDE ON OLD APPLIANCES

If new appliances are part of your new kitchen renovation, many times older appliances are disposed of or donated. We usually remove existing appliances during the demolition of the kitchen and dispose of them but if you are looking to donate your old appliances or give them to a friend or relative, arrange for them to be picked up so they will be out of your way during construction if you are not using them for your temporary kitchen area. Also, remember to remove any dishes or items from inside these appliances before demo day.

EXPECT SOME DUST

When starting construction on a new renovation project, my contractors will do their best to contain the construction area and block off adjacent areas, however, even with the best situation, there will be some dust in your home during a major renovation. Be sure that if you are renovating on your own that you take steps to control and contain the construction areas and that work areas are left as neat and orderly as possible at the end of the day.

COMMUNICATE YOUR QUESTIONS

I find that communication with my clients is important before,  during, and throughout the process of a kitchen renovation. This helps my clients know what to expect during the duration of the project. What time will construction begin in the morning? What time will the construction end for the day? How will inspections building inspections work? If you are doing your own project or working with other contractors don’t be afraid to ask questions. Although construction is not an exact science and sometimes unexpected circumstances come up, you should feel comfortable asking questions and communicating with your contractors throughout the process. If you are hiring a company like mine to design and oversee every aspect of the project be sure that you are comfortable with the communication that you are receiving regarding your project, before, during and throughout the process

Until Next Time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

Choosing Fabrics For Outdoor Use

Choosing Fabrics For Outdoor Use

Summer is a great time to be entertaining outdoors and with so many people working on the preparation of their backyard spaces, it’s so important to learn a little bit more about fabrics that are appropriate for outdoor use. 

The sun is shining and you are preparing those outdoor spaces, but what you don’t realize is how much those outdoor furnishings really take a beating. The sun, heat, wear and tear, chlorine, rain, tree sap, really can shorten the lifetime of fabrics that are not specifically made for the outdoors. Those beautiful brightly colored fabric cushions might look great the first few weeks or months but their long-term use might be shortened by the choice of fabrics used.

Today there are so many types of fabrics that are specially made for outdoor use. These fabrics can be made of synthetic fibers, acrylic, or cotton blends. They are treated with a chemical during the manufacturing process that allows them to resist water which reduces rot and mildew. Sunbrella is one brand name that is popular. However, today most fabric companies do offer an all-weather outdoor fabric option that is specifically made for the outdoors. 

Gone are the days where there are only a few color selections and manufacturers of outdoor fabric. The early outdoor fabrics were stiff, uncomfortable, and hard to work with. Today’s outdoor fabric is really an outdoor/ indoor fabric. Soft to the touch, easy to work with, and the options are only limited by your imagination. The highest quality outdoor fabrics are available in almost any color or pattern imaginable.

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Most designers have access to superior quality outdoor fabric, as most “to the trade” fabric companies make outdoor fabric. This confuses consumers because they believe there is only one manufacturer of outdoor fabric and that if they ask for this they are seeing all the options.

Here are some facts:

  • Any fabric, cushion, or pillow that’s left in the outdoors will experience more wear and tear than a cushion that’s indoors.
  • Outdoor fabrics have built-in UV protection and water-repelling properties that make it easy to wipe off.
  • Most of the designer type fabrics that you are seeing on outdoor furniture are custom options. There are some retails that offer some custom options on outdoor pieces. You will choose from the fabrics that they offer.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore custom options for cushions and outdoor fabric work. The choices are endless.
  • The best way to lengthen the life of your outdoor cushions, bring them inside or cover them in rain or bad weather. I try to suggest pieces that have removable cushions. This makes it easy to bring the cushions inside. It also makes it easier to replace the cushions or re-cover the cushions when they wear out. Remember that a soaked cushion with eventually deteriorate quicker than one that only experiences a quick shower and then is dried off.

Until next time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

Filling Your Home With Fragrance

Filling Your Home With Fragrance

Truly great design is not just visually impactful. Yes, it must be visually appealing, but It must also be functional and appeal to the other senses. I believe that a truly great design must impact all of our senses.

The sense of touch can be impacted while wrapping yourself in a soft fluffy throw blanket in your living room. The sense of Fragrance is one of the final details that can complete the feel of a room and bring a sense of comfort to your home.

Recently my adult son walked into my home and commented on how the house smelled like he remembered his childhood home smelling. This is a different home than where we lived when he was a child, but the scented candle that I was burning in the living room was a familiar scent that I commonly used in that previous home. For him, it was the scent of home. The sense of smell can be very strong and it really is amazing how a familiar fragrance can bring up memories of space and give you a feeling of comfort.

I certainly believe that scents can be used in the design of a space to touch all of the senses. A few years ago while designing an oceanfront designer show house (click to read the blog), I enhanced the coastal ambiance of that coastal design that I created in that home with coastal scented candles. The scent was a mix of salty water air and fresh cotton which complemented the design for that space. This certainly enhanced the experience for those touring the newly designed home.
At last year’s local holiday house home tour, I decorated a beautiful home for the holidays (click to read the blog) that many people came to tour and enjoy the decorations, it was no coincidence that the home was filled with the scents of pine and gingerbread. I used scents to complement the decor once again. I placed the scent of pine in the main living room and gingerbread in the home’s kitchen, which was decorated with an assortment of Christmas confections.
This is an example of how, as a designer, I use scents to enhance the experience of a space.
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1. Choose a single fragrance that you love.

The fragrance that you choose for your home is a very personal choice.  You might have to experiment to find that fragrance. But when you do then you know you have a place to start. This main fragrance might be the fragrance that you use in your living room or the main spaces of your home.

2. Fragrances can come in many forms.

Scented candles in all varieties, including soy, beeswax, and coconut oil-based candles. You could also use diffusers that disperse essential oils in a mist, these work great, just remember to size the diffuser properly to the size of the space that you will be using it in. The diffuser should tell you the size of the room that it should cover. Reed diffusers, scented room sprays, even fresh mixtures of assorted fruits and spices can be used to scent a room. A pot of water simmering on the stove with a mixture of fresh fruits spices or essential oils can be very fragrant. Experiment to see which form of fragrance you prefer or layer them to experience the same scent in different forms.

3. Don’t mix different scents in the same room.

This can be done, but it can be tricky and it takes some practice. Think of a bouquet of beautifully arranged fresh flowers. The mix of complementary fragrances can be fabulous. But when working with scented candles or scented oils the fragrance can be much more concentrated or it might already be mixed with several other scents so this takes some experimentation.

4. Use different but complementary scents throughout your home.

If you a using a scented candle in your living room, the diffuser in the kitchen can be using a different scent, just make sure it’s appealing when walking from one room into the other.

At the end of a long day when the world seems crazy, adding a little detail like fragrance might not seem important but it does help you to feel good about being in your home. It’s so nice to walk into a space that’s been well thought out for you and your lifestyle, adding the touch of a scent that you love will bring you comfort whenever you walk into your home.

Until next time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

How Covid19 Will Change The Design Of Our Homes

How Covid19 Will Begin to Change the Design of our Home Interiors

In the past few months, as we have watched the world change in many ways, we will also begin to see changes and evolutions in many industries. Those of us in the design industry has been busy preparing for and anticipating some of the many ways that Covid19 will eventually change the interiors of our homes. Why? Because the needs of homeowners have changed.

Many homeowners can already see how their home needs to be functioning differently than they were a few months ago. As an industry professional, our job is to stay ahead and anticipate not only design trends but the design needs of our clients as far as function. Think about it, what are you requiring from your home now that you weren’t two months ago? Well, most of us are requiring many new things from our homes and are seeing the limitations of our current home design.

Here are just a few that many of us in the design industry are anticipating and are ready to design as we see homeowners asking for these new features.

1. Workspace

Working from home has become a necessity right now but those of us in the design industry are anticipating that there might be many people that either continue to work from home, actually really enjoy working from home and will continue, and many new people starting businesses that do not require a brick and mortar location will be operating from home might be seen in the few next few months.

This is interesting because in the last decade, for those of us who have been around awhile, we’ve seen the designated home office disappear over previous years.  We’ve seen the development of technology which keeps us from being tied down to a desk being able to work from the kitchen or living room area for the little bit of time that you have to work from home. But now the appearance of the designated separate home office will be making a comeback. Those beautiful open floorplans don’t really function as well if you’re having a zoom meeting and your family is running through the background. So, Industry professionals agree we will definitely be seeing a return of the separate home office.

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2. Pantry Storage Space

This is something that’s been on everybody’s dream list when we design a new kitchen, but we anticipate the need for pantry storage to be a much more important requirement moving forward. Lessening those trips to the grocery store and stocking up on necessities or cleaning supplies might actually become the new normal when it comes to kitchen design. Designers will start to work even harder to carve out that additional storage space moving forward with in the area of kitchen design.

3. The Material Selection

The focus of cleanliness, hygiene, and additional worries about sanitizing surfaces makes us think that we might see some of the products that we use in our homes changing. Porous surfaces like marble which is quite popular right now might be taking a backseat to man-made products like quartz for countertops. Quartz has been gaining popularity for several years because of its durability and now designers, including myself, are convinced that this will steer homeowners towards quartz for their countertops when making decisions for their kitchens and bathrooms.

4. Touch-less

Faucets that are motion activated or touch-less might be the new norm in kitchen design. Many years ago I remember installing one of the very first touch-less faucets in one of my kitchen design projects. The technology was so new at the time the plumbing supply house was actually calling me to see how it worked and ask questions about it once it was installed. Since then, many companies have come out with this feature offering a variety of touch-less functions. It’s always been a nice little added function for some clients. But I anticipate that the touchless faucet is going to become an important necessity in kitchen and bathroom design and that we will be installing and incorporating a lot more of these features in kitchen and bathroom designs.

5. Outdoor Living & Dining

Already we are seeing that the uses of outdoor furniture are skyrocketing. Although, I believe, many people are ready to get back to their favorite restaurant and will be doing so shortly, outdoor living, dining, and entertaining at home is on the increase. I believe we are going to see an increase in building outdoor kitchens to defects these changes.

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6. The Entryway

Here in New England we always see a strong need for mudroom or entry space for coats, boots, and outwear, a transitional space from the outdoors. I think that entryway storage will become an important change in every home and we shed our shoes and outerwear, receive more online deliveries, and change our patterns to keep the germs of the outside world outside.

7. More Design and Renovation Projects

As in any other world event, it’s hard to know exactly how industries are going to be affected long term. What we are seeing already is an overall increase in the desire to improve our homes with interior design and renovation projects. Clients might not be taking that vacation this year but are ready to put their efforts into improving their lifestyle at home. Some future clients might take some time to re-coup but now have first-hand knowledge of the limitations of their home’s design. This is predicted to fuel the industry as homeowners start to take action on improving the design of their homes.

Until next time,

Gia

From The Blog

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

I often run into a local Home Goods or Home Sense store in whatever town I might be working in at the time. I might be looking for a few odds and...

read more

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