3 Design Takeaways For The Whole House
There’s no magic formula for creating a dream home. Some of the most effective lessons from the showcase home require more thought than money.
Here are some tips that can be applied to any home, with any budget, from designers involved in this year’s showcase.
Simplify and personalize
If a room is littered with knickknacks, it might be time to take stock of what’s necessary and what’s clutter.
“What people don’t realize is that they tend to buy the same things,” says Marc Thee, principal and co-founder of Marc-Michaels Interior Design, Boca Raton, Fla. The firm handled interior design for the New American Home. “They end up repetitively buying those things and before they know it, they’ve got clutter everywhere.”
Group beloved items that are similar, Thee recommends, and then showcase them as a collection. By organizing decorative items this way, they can become part of the room’s décor and lend a personal touch, especially after superfluous items have been cleared out.
“Continue to buy things that you love, but don’t buy useless stuff,” Thee cautions.
Sheree Vincent, founder of Fusion Designed, Wyoming, Minn., is also a strong advocate of keeping things personal and simple.
For those who feel cramped, crowded, or ill at ease in their home, she suggests taking pictures of the home and then walking out to a coffee shop or park to examine them with fresh eyes.
“What we want to make sure is that our space mirrors our lives,” she says.
Bring the outdoors in
Kathryn Dunagan and Tara Kaufmann of Marc Michaels, who worked on the interior of the New American Home 2014, drew heavily from the Chinese principles of Feng Shui, which calls living in harmony with the natural world.
Dunagan and Kaufmann paid specific attention to the five elements – air, fire, metal, water and wood – and incorporated them throughout the house, from scrap wood on the walls to elegant fireplaces.
Those who want to use the elements in their home do not need to take them literally.
Cool blue color on a wall or a mirror might represent water, for example. But throughout the house, the show home designers paid attention to presenting a balance of nature.
Vincent, also a Feng Shui practitioner, says that understanding nature can lead to a more harmonious home, aesthetically and metaphysically.
She advises homeowners to “use nature as your model,” the third of four principles she follows, and not merely in the sense of the great outdoors.
Keep focused on what is appropriate and natural for your environment. For example, a contemporary interior design is probably not the best choice for a traditionally built house, she points out. “It’s counterintuitive to what nature is saying about that area.”
Pamela O’Brien, of Pamela Hope Designs in Houston, says that incorporating Feng Shui elements provides balance between a home’s interior and its location.
“People like to feel more in contact with the outdoors,” she says.
Not every homeowner can afford a mansion in the desert, of course. O’Brien suggests bringing nature inside by updating the fireplace. Remove the mantel and change the wall around the fireplace to stone or natural-looking tile that evokes nature in a sophisticated manner that’s cheaper than a full-scale renovation.
Utility is key
Those who don’t want to knock down walls can consider dressing up their home with some new hues of paint.
Thee suggests using one wall for what he calls “grounding.” Paint it a deep color to unify the background of a room. Alternatively, stick to a neutral palette of gray or white on the wall, and punch up the room with brightly colored furniture or cushions.
In the kitchen, surfaces are getting bigger and better. Islands are growing in size as homeowners use kitchens more broadly as a space to gather, entertain and even work.
Quartz is rising in popularity as a countertop material; O’Brien has seen three consecutive clients choose it for their countertops.
“Quartz is even harder and more durable than granite,” she says. “Also, it can be designed and mixed to have a consistent look. It’s a really easy-to-live with product, and I think that’s one of its benefits.”