With all the stresses of our world today, it’s now more important than ever to find ways to relax and unwind. Our many simultaneous demands coupled with the need to stay close to home make a peaceful retreat seem like an impossible dream. Spa trips, vacations, girls’ nights out, movie theaters, bookstore browsing are no longer the accessible options as they once were for many of us. Being in nature and on local beaches has been the answer this summer, but with the cooler temperatures coming, where will we escape to for a bit of solace in the chaos? Finding spaces within our own homes to steal away for quiet moments is more attainable than you may think. Below are some examples of ways we’ve helped our clients create opportunities for retreat; we hope they help spark your imagination:
Even the simplicity of a comfortable chair near a window can provide the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and some time for reflection. It’s a great place to leave your book so it draws you in for some quiet time.
A peaceful and clean bathroom is the perfect opportunity to pamper yourself at the end of a long day. Some of our favorite at-home spa treatments are a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, a charcoal facemask (plus it can help fight that dreaded “maskne”), and a lavender body scrub (Trader Joe’s makes a really great one that’s inexpensive!).
A Living Room Lounge
Maybe binge-watching that new (or standby favorite) show is your ideal way to unwind. Having a comfy spot to put your feet up can make all the difference. We love a deep sectional with a great spring down cushion. Trust me, you want a spring down cushion!!
Spending time relaxing in the cool air can provide the refreshment you’re craving When the weather cools down, its time for a fire and some cozy clothes or blanket. .I still try to find at least 30 minutes a day to get outside even when the snow starts to fly. The fresh air and a bit of sunshine do wonders for our mental health.
Perhaps your favorite way to recharge is to get creative in the kitchen. Take the time to try out a new recipe, learn a new kitchen skill or make a food you love. When I get bored with the same old recipes and am having trouble finding inspiration, I like to order a meal-delivery kit like Blue Apron or Hellow Fresh to give me some new ideas.
A breakfast room isn’t a common space in today’s homes, but it can certainly be the perfect in-house getaway if you have space for it. I love to have my coffee on my sunporch where I can enjoy the morning light – its not a traditional “breakfast room”, but the change of pace from eating in the kitchen is nice.
Of course, climbing into a freshly made bed is the ultimate in relaxation, though these days I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Investing in high-quality comfortable sheets and bedding with the weight you like will go a long way in creating your oasis.
- Deters mold and mildew growth by their ability to allow air flow underneath
- Easier to wash and dry than wall-to-wall making them a much better choice for people with dust allergies.
- Helps define a space and connect large pieces of furniture, especially in an open concept home
- Easier to change as your style, and taste changes
- A great way to introduce color, pattern and texture
- Movable so can come with you if you move
- The edges are a place that people may trip so not a great option for the elderly who may be severely injured by a fall
- People who like to walk around barefoot may find the space between area rugs cold
We find people often undersize their area rugs which can make your home feel small and your furniture feel disconnected.
In the bedroom, you want to make sure your rug is proportionate the size of your bed. You can read more about properly sizing a rug in our blog post “Who said “Size Doesn’t Matter?”
- Carpet is secured to the floor with glue or tacking making it slip and trip resistent
- A good pad underneath makes wall-to-wall carpeting extremely plush and cushioning so a great choice for a playroom or other space you will spend time on the floor
- Keeps the floor entirely covered which means no cold feet
- Difficult to fully clean
- Gets worn in high traffic areas such as hallways
- Moisture can get trapped underneath which can lead to mold and mildew
- Poor choice for families with allergies especially to dust
- Can damage hardwood underneath due to the glue
- Can not come with you if you move
This home was in need of a bit of a refresh. After years of use, the furniture was tired and needed to be replaced. In the living room, we slightly tweaked the layout of the room, but for the most part, just replaced what was there.
A new rug set the base for the new furniture.
We love the abstract blending of blue, orange, and cream in this rug. The colors were then repeated in the upholstery and pillows.
The sun porch furniture was also feeling tired and in need of a refresh. Reupholstering the cushions and replacing the foam gave new life to these pieces.
We updated this space with a new palette that was pulled out of the client’s art. The blues and greens work well with the art and also look lovely with the water view. Did we mention their gorgeous view of the Connecticut River?
This cute console was painted by our client! How fun is that? We wanted to refresh this space with better proportions and a new paint color making the console shine. Notice how much larger our mirror and lamp are in the after than they were in the before.
This spot is not a dramatic before and after, but we love how this simple vignette turned out.
Not all projects start with an empty room. A home that feels dated but has good bones and few loved pieces just needs a home refresh. At the beginning of the project, we sit down with the client, and talk about goals and desired aesthetics to determine what elements in the home should stay and what should be replaced. Take a look at this home refresh we recently completed. Nearly every room in the home was updated in one way or another, but not a single room design started from an empty space.
When a complete overhaul would be wasteful and unnecessary, but you are ready to feel like your kitchen is modern and bright, its time for a refresh! Some kitchens just need a facelift after years of wear and tear.
This kitchen already has a good flow, nice cabinetry, and updated appliances, but the lighting was sparse, and the room itself felt dark. We added more lighting including island pendants to brighten up the room overall.
A new backsplash introduced color to an otherwise neutral space that we then reintroduced in the new paint color.
These simple changes were much less expensive than a whole new kitchen but make a huge difference in the room.
The Family Room Refresh
Like the kitchen in this home, this family room needed a facelift. The goal was to brighten up the room and make it more modern while still celebrating the traditional feel of the home’s architecture. We updated the recessed lighting, adding a rich wall color, and then introduced new pillows, a new sofa, a new rug, and new tables while keeping the original leather pieces. The new pillows on the leather pieces make them feel completely new in the refreshed space.
All of the art in this room was the client’s pieces curated through a lifetime of travel. We selected locations for these pieces to bring them to life in the home.
This family room has another little wing off the main space where the client has a comfy sofa and the TV. We also refreshed this space with a new sofa, and curated accessories – some new and some repurposed from the client’s home.
The Master Bedroom Refresh
The master bedroom refresh was minimal but made a HUGE impact. We took the four-poster bed and eliminated the posts making it feel much more modern and allowing the bedding to shine as the focal point. New bedding, lamps, and a bench at the foot of the bed make this feel like a whole new room.
The Bathroom Refresh
This bathroom “refresh” was a bit more construction than the rest of the home, but the only chance in the space was the shower. We transformed the small stall shower and tub to an expansive walk-in shower while keeping the vanity and other original components of the bathroom. This beautiful shower transforms this room and really makes it much more functional of a bathroom.
We see the magazine designs, they are immaculately staged. Joanna Gaines designs another room with a white sofa on a white rug with white walls. If you’re like me you laugh and think, Unless no one lives there, it won’t be long until that thing is dingy grey and spotted with stains?”!?
But we get it! When you find a white sofa you love or a one-of-a-kind piece, you want to go for it and enjoy the aesthetic you love, but when you’re investing in the home you live your life in – the home your kids eat snacks in, the one your pet enjoys, and that you and your husband enjoy a glass of red wine in the living room in – you want to invest in pieces that are more than stylish! You want to invest in a design that is beautiful but also livable and functional.
So here are our top tips to life-proofing your home design.
Choose your fabrics carefully. Buying furniture for your home is an investment. You want to choose pieces that will be durable and last for years. Leather or vegan leather is a great option because you can wipe it down easily. But fabric technology has come a long way too. We carry lines of highly durable, often bleach washable fabrics that make a great base for your sofa or dining seats because they will resist stains and clean up like a breeze. Don’t believe me? Head over to our blog post showing us cleaning stains off a beige sofa fabric.
Pattern is your friend. If you have some crumbs or pet hairs lingering around, we would rather not notice them and point out that it has been a couple of days since we pulled out the vacuum. because let’s be honest, no one is vacuuming their house every day! I even own a Roomba, and my house doesn’t get a daily sweep. A pattern on the floor, whether on a rug, or some texture in your hard floor surfaces will help minimize that mess until you have time to clean.
Rethink a cocktail table for an ottoman. This is especially important if you’re in the babyproofing era of your life. Sharp corners and edges are not ideal when kiddos are running around. One of our favorite designs that we customize for each room is this hybrid ottoman table with a removable tray for easy cleanup!
Baskets, Bins, and Hidden Storage. You want a clutter-free home? You need a place to stash the clutter. Toys, remotes, blankets, mail, life is cluttered, but baskets, bins, and hidden storage like a storage ottoman, mail bin, junk drawer, are easy places to move the clutter out of sight so your home feels more put together with minimal effort.
Less is more. Keeping your home design simple means less to maintain. Skip the 12 pillows on your bed and opt for two shams and a pretty decorative pillow. Reduce the clutter in your bathroom by keeping the accessories to a minimum. Use the kid’s toys as decor in their rooms rather than introducing additional items. Buy a dining table with a pretty top so you don’t feel as if it needs an accessory.
Embrace the perfectly imperfect. Furnishings with texture, patina, or a rustic finishes will age well because the wear over time looks purposeful. This allows you to stress less about dings and scratches that will inevitably come from your family over time.
We will remember 2020 for a lot of reasons, and that is not an exaggeration, but one of the other things we’ve noticed about this year is that everyone wants to remodel their bathrooms! We can’t blame you, being stuck at home and not able to spend money on travel has us thinking about how we can update our homes too!
So while bathrooms are on our minds, we thought we’d give you some insight into planning a bathroom remodel. Our philosophy with a big remodel like a bathroom or a kitchen is do it once and do it right so that it will last you for years to come. From the floor plan to the individual selections, each piece is important to the bathroom in design and flow. So let’s dive into the process.
The Floor Plan
Some master bathrooms have ample space to fit in everything we want, in others, its a puzzle to maximize storage while staying within code. We usually try to keep the toilet in the same location if we can help it. Not having to relocate the waste pipe will help your construction budget. From there, we think about the shower and the vanity. Sometimes its a decision between an expansive shower and double sinks. Personally, I will choose two sinks over a larger shower. Mama needs space for her skincare products!
When drawing the shower, it’s important to consider the shower enclosure. Do you want a half wall to let in more light? Are you going to do a glass door or a shower curtain? Will you have a niche for your shampoo bottles or a shelf?
If you have the room, adding a large soaking bathtub will make the room so luxurious. There nothing quite like a hot bath with a glass of wine to wash away a stressful day.
Pick Your Tile
Once we know what our floor plan will look like, its time to head into the design. In a bathroom, you need a floor tile, a shower floor tile, a shower wall tile, a shower ceiling tile, and a backsplash tile. One of the designs we do often is to keep our floor and shower tiles somewhat coordinating and monochromatic but vary the size and scale of the tiles to create an interesting look. This makes the room feel larger because your eye sees a continuation in the colors. That’s not to say that is always the way to go. There are so many options when it comes to tile!
The backsplash is a great place to make an impact in the room. Here is where you can splurge a little because you don’t need a ton of it, and you can add in some color or something fun! This is where we find a lot of people want to use subway tile, and if we’re totally honest, we’re so bored with subway tile. That will be a trend that people look back on in a decade or so and say “wow that is so early 2000s!” If you really love it, go for it, but don’t hop on that trend just because its a trend. There are so many fun things you can do with tile!
So now you have your tiles picked out – you choose those first because there is a finite amount of tile to choose from, but your cabinet finish can be tweaked in any direction to coordinate with them – now its time to draw your cabinetry. Cabinet elevations determine the amount of storage, how it will be distributed – doors vs. drawers – the door style, and the cabinet finish. You can make your cabinets more interesting with a unique door front or a fun cabinet finish.
You’ve heard us mention that we think lighting is the jewelry of a room, and the bathroom is no exception. Lighting is especially important in the bathroom where you will be getting dressed, shaving, putting on makeup, and so on. It’s important to put a lot of lighting near the mirrors in the form of wall sconces and recessed lighting. But the other place we LOVE to put a decorative fixture is over a bathtub. This is the place for a gorgeous chandelier.
Please, please, please don’t just use a plain mirror or the one that comes with your vanity. This is a place to add personality with a gorgeous frame. There are so many unique mirrors to choose from that still give you plenty of functional space (the actual mirror), while being a unique shape or featuring a funky frame. Show off your personality here!
Let’s talk about plumbing fixtures. We know you can buy a lot of the brands we sell at big box stores, and clients often fight us on “why is it more expensive from you?” So here is why and we will let you do with this what you will. The insides of the fixtures you buy from a big box store are not the same as the insides of a fixture you buy from a specialty plumbing store. Often they look exactly the same, but the insides are plastic instead of metal which will not last as long. We aren’t saying you should never buy anything from the big box store, but you should know that manufacturers often produce less expensive items for them by cutting corners, and you get what you pay for.
Paint or Wallpaper
The last thing we pick in any room is paint. There are infinite paint colors to choose from. If we’re thinking wallpaper, it will happen a little earlier in the design process since there are far fewer papers to choose from. In a bathroom, we would probably choose wallpaper back when we were selecting tiles. When it comes to the paint in the bathroom, we are very picky about which paint we use. Our number one choice is Benjamin Moore Aura paint – it is mildew resistant which is so important in the bathroom. For Sherwin Williams, the Emerald paint line is the go-to equivalent.
We always at least recommend radiant floor heating. This is a luxury, we know, but can we just tell you how wonderful it is to walk out of your shower and step onto a warm tile. Not to mention because warm air rises, radiant floor heating is incredibly efficient. Another luxury that our clients often splurge for is a towel warmer. This can both warm your room and keep those towels with the fresh out of the dryer feeling.
The very last thing we pick in a bathroom renovation is the accessories. These details are chosen last, but that does not mean they are unimportant. Cabinet hardware, towel bars, robe hooks, towel rings, towels, art – the finally 10% that make a huge impact on the space. This is where you can go a little trendier without being afraid because you can always swap out these details in the future when you tire of them. We love bold cabinet hardware and fun bathroom art!
Our design energy is usually targeted at the adults of the family, whether we’re creating gathering spaces for the whole family to enjoy or a relaxing master suite. But once in a while, we get to focus some energy on the kids of the family which gives us a chance to work with bolder colors, fun patterns, and creative themes.
All About Accents
Often children’s room design for us is limited to custom window treatments or some fun bedding. These are items that are out of reach, so less likely to be damaged or lower budget in the scheme of design but make a large impact in the space. This navy and orange valance was designed for a little boy’s room with the thought that it could grow with him.
Along the same lines, in this little girl’s room, we created a custom cornice and accent bed pillow to give her a bit of flare. The bright pink is fun for a young girl, but the use of a geometric ensures it can grow with her as her tastes evolve.
Other times we are given the chance to take the designs a bit further in a child’s room; it’s especially fun to design a nursery with a theme. This room’s inspiration started with the rug, and the theme ran from there. We knew we needed to work with the existing dresser and crib, but adding beach glass walls, navy accents, and even a rope covered lamp brings this theme to life. Anchors show up on the valances and in the details of the dresser pulls that we swapped out form the existing silver knobs.
What little boy doesn’t like a truck? This towering crane decal creates a bold accent wall pulling together a transportation-themed boy’s room. Decals are great because they’re easy to pull down as the kids grow and taste changes. A custom valance gives us a bit of pattern and a fun pop of lime green. We’re loving the combination of navy, grey, and lime carried throughout the art, accessories, and small details.
Shared spaces can create a design dilemma when thinking about floor plans. Here are two different ways to fit two kiddos into one room. In the first room, we featured two twin beds with a desk in place of nightstands. This room was expansive, so two beds fit well.
The second room has the classic bunk bed which works well here because it takes up a smaller footprint.
Both spaces feature a classic red, white, and blue color palette, though the difference between the navy in the first room and the brighter royal blue in the second really changes the feel of the space.
Little Girl’s Dream
This teal and pink nursery is a little girl’s dream. From the floral accent wall to the rosebud dresser pulls, no detail was left out. The design started with the color palette. From there, a few accent walls were proposed depending on if the baby was a boy or a girl, but once we knew it was a girl, the floral fun won! Even the animals in the prints are wearing flower crowns in this girly retreat.
Grandma’s Guest Room
This little guest room is the perfect spot for the grandkids. We didn’t have a lot of room to make an impact, so we used a fun wallpaper, bold window seat fabric, and beach-themed rug. Right now, this room has a twin bed, a crib and some storage in the window seat, and under the bed, but as the kids get older, the crib can be swapped out for a second twin bed or a dresser.
If you’re like me, your stress levels have been at an all-time high these last few months. Between the state of the world, working from home with kids, trying to stay healthy, feeling isolated, it has been a lot! But being home has really shown me how important my surroundings are for my own mental health. Enjoying the space that I’m in and keeping it somewhat clean and organized goes a long way in creating a home sanctuary.
Now more than ever, it is important to have a home that makes us feel at peace and rested. Our nervous system is greatly affected by our surrounding environment. When our environment triggers anxiety, we respond, whether we know it or not, with the production of stress hormones, and these hormones can make us sick.
As we think about what can make our homes feel more like a retreat and contribute to positive mental health, here are some ideas.
Bring in nature. Flowers and plants are not only beautiful, they are soothing and enhance the serenity of your environment. We are a big fan of bringing the outdoors in. Something about fresh greenery makes you feel more serene – and studies show they have an indirect effect on psychological health. If you don’t have a green thumb, cut flowers also bring freshness and vibrancy to your home.
De-clutter. This clears your space and your mind. Reduce or eliminate piles of things to read, sort, work on, and donate. When I am on my game, I tackle one project like this a day for ten minutes. Creating a peaceful home sanctuary begins with eliminating the clutter. How can your mind relax with toys thrown across the floor and several weeks’ worth of mail piled on the table? Go through the room and put away anything that isn’t a part of the décor. Consider the KonMari method and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” You’ll probably find you don’t really need so many things.
Put things in their place. Continuing off de-cluttering, home feels more zen when things are put away and are easy to find when needed. Its easy to not want to do this – I especially find at the end of the day I look at the kids’ toys and think “but they’re just going to pull them all out again tomorrow.” But taking a few minutes to put things “back to zero” goes a long way in making your home feel restful – especially in those evening hours when you get a chance to sit down with a glass of wine and finally relax.
Choose soothing colors. For some people, soothing colors are soft pastels, blues, and greens, for others, it is bold bright, and vibrant. Choose a color palette for your home that makes you feel at peace. For me, that color palette involves a lot of teals and primarily soft tones. Those colors remind me of the ocean, and the ocean is my happy place.
Choose one room to be your escape. In an ideal world, our whole house would feel like paradise, but that is not always a possibility. Sometimes, all we can do is focus on one room to be our sanctuary. Start by removing potential distractions. Don’t plan for your peaceful home sanctuary to be in a room where you normally do work or where the kids play. Think about what you would like to do in your oasis. Do want a place to read or do a craft? Do you simply want a place to sit in silence? What does recharging look like for you?
While it feels like March 903rd, somehow this weekend is 4th of July! The holiday approaching has us reminiscing about some past projects featuring the classic Americana look of Red, White, and Blue, Blue and White, and Bold Red.
The All American Boys’ Room
This boy’s room is as American as apple pie! Featuring a “denim” headboard, pop of red in the accessories, and a United States map for some wall decor. We love this space. The design can adapt with the boys as they grow which is important when designing a kids’ room.
Americana By The Shore
This beach house guest room has 4th of July written all over it! From the red, white, and blue color scheme to the coastal bedding, we can feel Cape Cod through the pictures.
Red and Gold Dining Room
This classic colonial dining room in a classic red color palette is quintessential New England.
Blue and White Bold Powder Room
This bathroom has a coastal feel with the deep blue paper, the sandy floor tile and the “sea glass” backsplash. And there’s nothing quite like the coast this time of year!
Boating Blue Family Room
From the peaked ceiling to the blue palette, we love this family room. The soft blues mixed with deep navy come together to create a relaxing space to kick your feet up and enjoy the holiday.
Boys’ Blue Bathroom
Now that is a navy we love! This bold wall color, beautiful glass tiles, and taupe shower tile create an oceanic inspired bathroom with a lot of impact.
Blue and Gold Family Room
Our last blue inspired room is this gorgeous family room. The blue is paired beautifully with golds and browns to create a warm and inviting space.
You’re getting dressed and you add big earrings and a chunky bracelet – that little detail takes your outfit to the next level. Similar to a bold necklace on a solid dress, hardware such as knobs and pulls are the pieces of jewelry on your furniture that add a pop of personality and style. Whether you’re looking for a pop of glam or a touch of rustic charm, don’t underestimate the impact that your “furniture jewelry” can have on your space. Lighting has the same effect in a room, but that is for another day’s post.
We love using hardware in a room to make an impact. From this bold sunburst detail to small knobs introducing a bit of color, no detail is too small. One of the places to start when thinking about what will make the best impact is the finish. Of course there are metal finishes like polished nickel, chrome, brass, gold, etc., but you can also choose from other materials that make for a unique pop. Below you can see a leather pull we used in a playroom. There is glass, wood, ceramic and so much more.
Beyond the color and finish, the scale of the hardware also makes an impact. Those leather pulls are huge which makes the pop of orange even more dramatic. Or look at this kitchen where the cabinet drawer pulls cover the full width of the drawer. Think of this as the difference between an outfit that calls for a small gold chain with a little hanging diamond versus a large, bold, bib necklace. Don’t be afraid of using large hardware to make a big impact in the room.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with selecting the right details to make an impact in your space, we would love to help.