Go Luxe for a Little: Replicating High-End Interior Design for Pennies
Jan15

Go Luxe for a Little: Replicating High-End Interior Design for Pennies

The proliferation of “real estate porn” on television and on the Internet has created a whole new subculture of amateur interior designers and house flippers. Watching some of these programs can make people feel like anyone can march into a run-down old house and turn it into the coolest space on the block armed with just a credit card and some moxie. Oh, and a few design ideas, of course. But many folks find out the hard way that their credit cards have limits, and sometimes trying to create a luxurious space in your home that feels as rich and comfortable as the professionally-done designs you see in magazines and web sites seems impossible, simply because the art, furniture, and other design elements used are so expensive. Don’t despair though. One of the dirty little secrets of the design world is that you can almost always duplicate a look using much more affordable pieces. It just takes a good eye and some patience. Cautionary Note That said, here’s a note of caution: Replacing a couch that costs $5,000 with one that costs $500 may get you the look you want if they’re similar in colour, texture, and design. But the extra costs of luxe items is not always just in their design and rarity: Often it reflects craftsmanship. Don’t be surprised if your cheaper couch simply doesn’t wear well, or isn’t as comfortable. We’re discussing here the superficial look of your space, not necessarily getting equal quality. Which isn’t to say that you can’t get great looks and quality for a good price – you can. Just keep in mind that sometimes you get what you pay for! Mimic Luxury The key thing to keep in mind when trying to create a luxury look for pennies on the dollar is that design, like fashion, trickles down. What this means in practice is that if you spot an amazing dining room table in a showroom at a fancy store that costs big bucks and just came out, you’re likely not going to find something like it in a cheaper store right away. It takes a little time for the lower-end stores to, well, copy it. You’re always going to have to be six months to a year behind the trends – but unless you plan to redecorate your home twice a year, that dining room table will serve you and your family for years to come, so a slight delay on trends shouldn’t be a concern. Line up your resources. You need two lists: High end stores, web sites, and designers where you can see the spectacular and expensive goodies the...

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7 Ways to Get Most Out of Your Dining Room
Jan06

7 Ways to Get Most Out of Your Dining Room

A dining room can be one of the most difficult places to decorate in a house. The same old formula applies with little to no room for improvement. But being innovative and shaking things up to maximize the benefits of that formula is a trick only few have mastered. There are a couple ways you can get the most out of your dining room and make it look good as well. Room appropriate furniture: The most important thing to remember is that the size of your room determines your furniture. If your room is small you need to make it so it appears larger and cozy. If it is big then you can utilize more space and design it accordingly. The size of the furniture should be in respect to your room so that your room doesn’t appear too congested or empty etc. Cabinets and shelves: Depending on the size of the room, you should utilize it. Even if it is a small room, only having a dining table and chairs is madness. You need to be able to decorate your fancy silver ware and collection of books etc. having a corner cabinet or two will utilize the corners for a good cause and not take up much space either. In a larger room, you could have a book shelf set up on one side of the room and display all your literary interests etc. Angle in extra chairs: As you know most people just stack their extra chairs on one side. You can utilize the room and maximize the benefits by placing them at strategic angles that don’t take up much space and are not a bother either. For example, a corner of the room etc. this will be a great way to avoid shortening the walking space and being out of the way until needed. Storage space and contemporary bar: Get drawers made directly underneath the table. That way you can store the necessary things needed there and not have to search for them at the time when they are needed. You could also set up a secretary desk at the corner of room and store all necessary things, dining or otherwise, in the drawers as well deck up your fancy silverware and crockery etc. You could also set up a contemporary bar so that you don’t have to keep revisiting the kitchen for refills etc. Buffet and cumbersome cabinets: Buffet and cumbersome cabinets are a real important part of a dining room. You can store all the dining things required there and decorate the top with fancy décor pieces etc. If a party ensues you can...

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Australian Designer Natasha Dumais on Keeping Kids’ Spaces Stylish
Dec16

Australian Designer Natasha Dumais on Keeping Kids’ Spaces Stylish

Australian furniture designer Natasha Dumais gives exclusive tips on how to keep a kid’s room stylish and organised. Only on Best Home Ideas! When I fell pregnant with my first bub some eight years ago, I scoured baby furniture shops and was incredibly disappointed. Everything looked mass produced; cots were all a variation of the same theme. As a designer my passion is making my world, and my home, look stylish. So after the birth of our first baby, my husband and I set about making our own modern furniture brand – now known as Ubabub. Over our years of creating furniture and designing our own daughters’ rooms, we have collected some useful tips for preparing your nursery space and kids’ rooms. Begin by collecting some room inspiration. Luckily with the Internet and the magic of Pinterest there are plenty of resources online for this: Find a hero piece – a product or furniture piece you love. Like a cot, a beautiful pendant or bunting, a chair or a piece of art and build your room around this one item. What this will do is define a beginning for your interior colour palette and sometimes it may even set the tone for a theme –‘earthly colours’, for example, with bright pops of colour. In our older girls’ room our colour scheme was inspired by a decorative garland we’d bought from Confetti System. And for our little one’s nursery we took our colour palette from the Sundae Wall Art that is a huge feature in the room. Think practical and don’t let aesthetics stand in the way of coming up with a functional room design. For example will the nursing chair be comfortable to sit upright in and feed your baby? A soft rug or carpet under foot could be ideal for baby to lie on the floor and play perhaps? Are the material surfaces you’re using able to be wiped clean or washable? In our older girls’ room we use the Booksee book shelves which hold our girls’ favourite books whilst doubling as a beautiful and bright wall feature; and we have a wire and peg system for hanging up the girls’ own artwork. Storage is vital when bubs and kids are involved! They trap a lot of parents fall into is not having enough dedicated places to store various kids’ items. If you’ve ever walked into someone’s home and seen Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder merchandise as far as the eye can see, you know what I am talking about. Define storage areas and let your children know these are the specific homes for their dress ups,...

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Go Big or Go Small: Small Space Design Tips
Dec14

Go Big or Go Small: Small Space Design Tips

The housing world is in flux as the decades-old trend towards larger and larger homes worldwide begins a slow, majestic adjustment back towards smaller and more manageable homes. This is combined with a return to urban areas after decades of movement to the suburbs, and has resulted in people rediscovering the charm – and affordability – of smaller spaces. This has also led to the rediscovery of the challenge of decorating and furnishing a small space. Going from a huge swath of real estate complete with ill-defined ‘bonus room’ in which to store all your junk to a place that has about 100 square feet per person can be difficult – but there are some simple concepts to keep in mind. Go Vertical Space becomes very literal: Every square inch of three-dimensional space has to be used if you want to make a small space really work. Instead of concentrating on floor space, look up and think of ways to use wall space and ceiling space. In a small space, stuff on the floors tends to clutter up walk ways and make rooms feel crowded. By getting things up off the floor, you make the room feel lighter and larger. Some ideas for going up: In the kitchen, pots and pans can be hung from hooks in the ceiling, and knives and other implements can be stuck to a magnetic holder mounted on the wall. In the bedrooms, wall shelves can wrap all the way around to supply a tremendous amount of storage without cluttering the floors. In the closets, multi-hangers that hang two or even three things in the same vertical space are a must, because they transform your barely-a-walk-in into more space than you need. Expose Everything We have a tendency to close a space. We like putting doors on our cabinets and other storage because they hide a multitude of sins, but when you have a small space closed-off storage chokes a space and makes it feel even smaller. This is because the eye moves about and all it sees is closed-off spaces, accentuating the tininess of the overall home. Instead, take the doors off. It requires a bit more discipline because you have to keep the shelves and cabinets neat and tidy at all times, but it conveys an open feel that can combat the closed-in sensation that a lot of small rooms and wall scan leave you with. In the kitchen, cabinets become shelving units, with colourful plates and glassware providing the decorative touches. In the office, book spines create a mosaic of texture that livens up the room without the addition of anything...

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4 Tips for Furnishing Your First Home
Dec12

4 Tips for Furnishing Your First Home

Congratulations if you’ve just bought your first home, or if you’re moving out for the first time! Now here comes the fun part; thinking about furniture. This is your chance to make your brand new space your own. You’ll most likely have a small budget at the moment so here are some top ideas to get the most bang out of your buck. Invest In Your Bed Your bed is one of the most important pieces of furniture you’ll own, you’re practically spend a third of your life sleeping in it. Never simply settle for the cheapest pick in the store or waste money on a used mattress. You’ll simply wind up shopping for another when it falls apart after a relatively short amount of time. The mattress is the most important thing here so skip on the frame if your budget doesn’t allow it. If you can’t afford a good quality bed right off the bat, consider sleeping on an air mattress for a few months while you save some money toward a better investment. It’s worth it in the long run! Prioritise Your Sofa After your bed, your sofa is going to represent not only your biggest investment in your new home’s furnishings, but also the most important one. Make sure that the couch you choose is well-made and capable of standing the test of time. Choose durable, wear-resistant upholstery and definitely make sure it’s comfortable. There’s a million different things to consider when choosing a sofa but focus on comfort, construction and style. You’ll be using your sofa to entertain and to relax so make sure it’s made well. Scope Out Bargains on Storage Wardrobes, dressers, and chests of drawers are excellent and affordable ways to not only fill space and add to the look of your new place, but to expand storage as well. IKEA offers some great affordable storage options that will last you until you need something a little more permanent. Don’t Forget the Lighting While it’s true that most homes have built-in lighting options, it’s not uncommon for these to be too bright or harsh for everyday use. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to invest in some lamps to place throughout your new home. Watch the sales and specials at your favourite furniture outlets for chances to score some great finds. It’s also more than possible to find some terrific, affordable lighting options online or even at garage sales. Focus on the most important furniture items first – your bed and sofa and don’t skimp out on these pieces. You’ll be spending most of your time in bed or on...

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Small Apartment – Big Design Statement
Dec06

Small Apartment – Big Design Statement

What’s the biggest impulse purchase you have ever made? A TV, a car? New York shopping expert and owner of Fab – online retail store, Bradford Shellhammer has surpassed even his own biggest expectations by purchasing an entire apartment on a whim. Having honed his eye to instantly recognise objects of value, he is rightfully considered a true shopping guru but buying a property just like that? Does this border with madness? “We walked in and I had this very emotional reaction. I felt something.” explains Shellhammer So he submitted a bid for the small New York apartment. Surprisingly, it got accepted and Bradford and his husband acquired the property. However, this impulse purchase of a small apartment turned out to be one of the best investments the couple has made. Since the property was recently renovated by the previous owners, Shellhammer got to just swoop in and start decorating. Do the “fun stuff” as the shopping expert said. By the looks of it, the couple had a great time picking out wall colours, the art and home accessories. While the apartment is obviously small and the guys have quite a lot of belongings on display, everything just fits in. From the grocery shopping bags to the drag-queen portraits by Andy Warhol each single object manifests its own character. What’s So Unusual About This Small Apartment Decoration? It’s simple, unlike most small living spaces this one is decorated in bold dark tones. The myth that tiny areas should be painted in whites and neutrals has been debunked. The living room walls are in Pigeon Gray by Benjamin Moore whereas the predominant cool yet vibrant colours on the furniture jazz up the room décor. The word moderation certainly doesn’t describe Shellhammer’s personality as there is barely a free undecorated inch in the entire space. Still, it looks just fabulous! The small bathroom, the bedroom and the dining area are just as extraordinary as the living space. With intricate portraits and objets d’art, geometrical elements and lots of open shelving, every room in the dazzling apartment has its unique surprise element. Compared to the rest of the appartment, the bedroom seems rather modestly decorated but the mood certainly resonates with the design scheme of the property.  ...

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