Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: Design project spending patterns

The spending habits of our clients have changed recently.  While spending freely on decor and questioning the costs related to construction had been the way things were, there is now a noticeable swing in the opposite direction.  People are understanding the importance of the "invisible stuff" (i.e.: electrical, insulation, etc...) and are looking for ways to make their spaces "look like a million dollars" for a fraction of that cost after the big stuff is done.

The best way to save on decor, and many of my clients are doing this, is to involve yourself in some DIY projects.  Whether you are all thumbs, don't have a creative bone in your body, or just think you don't know how to make things, there are projects you can tackle that will cost you only 10% of what you would pay for a similar item in a store. The tricks to a successful DIY project?

  • Choose your projects carefully. Consider your experience & the complexity, your comfort level with the tools required, the amount of time required & the amount of time you have...
  • Read all tutorials, instructions, and materials lists before you begin.
  • Be organized and have everything on hand before you start.
  • Don't try improvising when you really shouldn't. If the instructions call for carpenter's glue, you should not have a Crayola glue stick in your hand.
In the upcoming weeks I will be writing about some easy, inexpensive, no-special-skills-required, do-it-yourself decor projects that will save you money, make you proud, and motivate you for your next projects!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My articles in print in a real estate magazine

The local real estate magazine Homes & Land (Demeures et Domaines in French), which encompasses Montreal, the Eastern Townships, and the Laurentians, is publishing some of my articles. A couple of articles will be those previously published in their magazine, but most will be new content.

The current issue (Volume 4, Issue 7) is available in various locations around the city if you would prefer a print copy rather than flipping through on-line. "Planning the Ideal Kitchen Layout" appears on page 16.

Upcoming all new articles to appear in the magazine will include one about designing sun rooms and solariums, and how to properly develop a colour scheme that will work throughout your whole home, to name a couple.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: Managing Time

A little bit of irony: We are all often worrying about using time efficiently and having enough time to do everything that must be done.  Most people have said "if only there were another 2 hours in each day!" at least a few times in their lives.  Finding ways to be more efficient just makes sense.

I wonder how many hours most people have lost to reading about time management habits and methods?  I got hooked by a fantastic write-up about an article on just this topic; after 15 minutes of reading I realized that:

  • The author was saying nothing that I didn't already know, plus he repeated everything in at least 3 different ways - he certainly didn't use his time wisely either, as it takes longer to do the same thing multiple times but with variation.
  • Reading about managing time is about as effective as reading about exercising is to losing weight.
  • The 15 minutes I gave to this article could have accomplished something.
But I shouldn't complain... I did gain something: a topic for today's Thursday's Thoughts!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts: Inspirations

Maybe they are in fact inspirations, but sometimes it seems like they are fixations, fascinations, or even random things that just have to somehow work their way out of our systems... We all have them -these little things that get into our minds and we feel that we absolutely must feed them one way or another.

Glass countertop in the kitchen
There are two materials that I have been desperately wanting to incorporate into designs recently (but certainly not together!): burlap and glass counter tops. Glass countertops have always appealed to me, as long as I am not responsible to keep them smudge-free, but recently I find that I have to hold back from suggesting them to clients who I know won't ever be persuaded in that direction.

Burlap from Designer Fabrics Online
Burlap??? It's a texture thing; I've done the leather, the silk, the faux-fur... (All make great contrasts with burlap, by the way.) Burlap makes for great accents and can be worked into any style, not just rustic.

Bold and dramatic for a dining room
There are also a couple of very specific projects I have been itching to do: a plum-purple-coloured dining room and a mechanic's place. Yup, the usually neglected place where you have to sit to wait while your car is being serviced. And I don't mean a nice fancy car dealership, I really do mean a typical little mechanic's shop.

   What ideas are stuck in your head at the moment?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts (running really late)

Well, I'm getting my "Thursday Thoughts" out there in time for the weekend at least...

If you are like most people, you have one area in your home (or in your workplace) that is a work in progress. Either you never really decided on a specific decor or even colour scheme, or it is just lacking something to have that finished feeling. For these spaces, we tend to make purchases on impulse and often end up owning something that either isn't quite the right shade of red (or green, or beige, or...), doesn't fill a certain space quite like we had imagined, or is otherwise not quite perfect. And of course we don't return these things because we figure that for now having something is better than having nothing. A very wrong attitude, by the way.

Avoid poor purchase decisions by keeping photos and even samples from this room or area in your purse or car, or even on your iPad or other similar device that is usually with you. Paint swatches, a little piece of fabric, a couple of photos, and you've got enough to make sure you're looking at the right colours, and you have enough visuals with you for sales staff to be able to guide you in your shopping.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts

Many furniture stores have a "no photos" policy because they don't want shoppers snapping pics then looking for better prices from their competitors.  That's somewhat understandable, sort of.  But lots of us need pictures - either we want to show the photo to our significant other before making the purchase, or we want to see a picture of the item while standing in our own home looking at the things the new item will coexist with before committing to it.

So what do you do?

Ask for a brochure or pamphlet depicting the item.  If one isn't available, find out which company manufactures the item and then find their website and you will have access to photos and most often detailed information including dimensions, colour choices, and more.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday's Thoughts

Thursday's Thoughts is a new feature I decided to add. Thursday's Thoughts will appear, you guessed it, every Thursday; the topic will always be somehow design-related, and it will literally just be a thought, not a full-length article. A point to ponder. A couple of words of wisdom. Maybe a photo with a sentence or two sometimes...

And here's today's thought:

Planning to renovate? Or even just dreaming about a specific project? It's never too early to start a "style file" - collect photos of things you love from brochures, magazines, websites, etc. Even start keeping a list of names of designers, contractors and other industry professionals who have been recommended by friends or family. This will start you (or your designer or contractor) off with an organized visual idea of the direction your project will take when the time comes.