Tag Archives: Interior Decorating

WAKING FROM A KIDDY COMA

I read somewhere “home is where life happens” or something to that effect.  I totally agree! While it’s certainly nice to have a perfectly decorated, neat & tidy home, let’s be honest.  It’s almost impossible to live like that 24/7, 365 days of the year.  The daily coma of family life can take a toll on your paint, furniture and accessories making decorating perfection a fleeting, if not impossible, goal.

As much as we love them, kids (BOTH the two & four legged kind) can make having the perfect decor even more of challenge.  Since beautiful decor goes hand in hand with neatness and cleanliness, it’s an almost impossible feat with kids or animals around.

I consulted with a client recently who apologized for her lack of decorating.  Her excuse was that she and her husband had been in a “kiddy coma” for over 10 years.  I know that’s the way a lot of parents feel.  It’s a very real condition in many households and no reason to be ashamed.

Kids will be kids.  As they should be.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have pretty things or a reasonable expectation of everything looking nice.  Here are a few of the best tips I’ve shared with young families over the years to help wake up quickly from the dreaded kiddy coma:

1-  Set boundaries.  Children learn quickly.  Teach them the difference between adult spaces and kid-friendly ones.  Start early, making sure the kids understand which spaces are meant for child’s play and those for adult “play”.  That doesn’t mean the two can’t or won’t overlap from time to time.  But, if the kids have a space that is all their own, they’ll be less inclined to trash the ones you would prefer to keep neat and pretty.

2-  Storage.  Provide plenty of it!  It’s easier to keep things looking neat and tidy with lots of storage.  Cabinets, trunks and storage ottomans are great accent pieces in your decor.  And they offer perfect places to tuck things away.  If possible, toy boxes should have lids and should be tucked behind a sofa or chair.  And don’t forget decorative boxes.  They’re both a beautiful addition to your decor and very useful to keep life organized.

3-  Paint.  No matter how hard you try, expect your walls to take a beating, especially with younger kids and animals in the home.  Save yourself time and money by using the right paint for the lifestyle in your home.  Most paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams now boast products specifically designed for durability and washability.  And while it’s better at hiding blemishes and touch ups, flat paint tends to show rubbing and burnishing.  So, consider using a satin or eg-shel finish instead.  Finally, I find an ample supply of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers™ is a must-have in any active household.  (Just be careful… they can remove paint as easily as finger prints.)

4-  Area rugs.  Inexpensive, cleanable area rugs are much cheaper and more easily replaced than other wall to wall floorings.  Protecting high traffic areas with inexpensive rugs will help protect the finish of hardwood and make carpet last longer.  

5-  Upholstery.  Your gut may tell you to go a cheaper route with furniture.  Unfortunately, all furniture has a “life expectancy” based on its quality of construction.  Kids can be rough on furniture.  Cheaply made furniture will need to be replaced more frequently and may cost more, in the long run, than more well-made pieces.

The key to buying furniture that will stand the kid-test is to pick fabrics that are both durable and cleanable.  Check the cleaning code of the fabric.  “W” is the code used for the most forgiving and durable fabrics because it can be cleaned with Water.  “WS” refers to fabrics that can be cleaned using Water and/or a mild Solvent.

Depending on the price and coverage, fabric protection insurance from furniture retailers is a good idea with young kids and pets.  Many cover accidental spills and bodily fluids (both human and animal).  DIY fabric protectors from Scotchgard™ and others can also add a layer of protection.

A home with 2 young children

Home is definitely where life happens.  And life can be messy sometimes, especially living with kids.  Using these ideas and making smart choices as you decorate your home for an active family lifestyle will help you wake up from the “kiddy coma” much sooner than you might have expected.

 

BEDROOM MEETS STUDIO

Progress comes in many forms, sometimes bringing us full circle back to places we’ve already been.  That can happen, for example, when your adult child needs to move back home for a while.  The challenge, of course, is creating a space that feels like part of the childhood home and yet adult and independent at the same time.  Progress here means it’s probably time to revamp a teenager’s bedroom to serve as a new, adult pied-a-terre which is exactly what we recently finished doing for a client in Deer Park, Illinois.

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Considering both mom and adult daughter’s input,  we wanted to update this large bedroom to give it the more adult feel of a studio apartment.  We also wanted to make changes which would help the space serve as a guest bedroom in the future.

We began by having the room repainted.  Straying a little from our “go-to” grays, we chose Sherwin Williams “Skyline Steel” SW 1015 as our backdrop.  It turned out to be the perfect choice.

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In true redesign fashion, we also wanted to incorporate as much of the existing furniture as possible.  Building around the existing espresso-finished modular desk, bookcase and dresser, we replaced a few key pieces and added a few new ones to freshen the look of the space.

Since the bed is obviously the focal point in any bedroom, we decided that was the best place to begin our update.  We started by adding new reclaimed wood & wrought iron nightstands which were a nice tie-in with the darker case goods.  With the matching headboard on backorder for months, we created the illusion of one with a piece of scrolled metal art in the meantime.

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We also needed more accent furniture to help fill the large 15′ x 20′ bedroom.  So, we added a beautiful tufted, gray & teal pinstripe chair to create a corner reading nook.  And we added a tufted gray ottoman at the foot of the bed for extra storage and seating.  New, bright white bedding and window panels added a layer of softness and elegance to the space.  Finally, we layered in a large area rug and some colorful pillows.  Chicago & Illinois themed art, updated string lighting and accessories helped personalize the space for the returning adult.

With plenty of privacy and most of the amenities of a studio apartment, this transformed bedroom now feels like a home within a home.  And our client’s couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

 

 

 

VERTICAL DECORATING

For most suburbanites, we are used to living in our sprawling two-story or ranch style homes.  In the BIG city however, more people and less available space requires homes to be built up, rather than out, to maximize use of the land.  This results in what I often refer to as “vertical living” at it’s best!

EXTERIOR

Cut to a job we just finished for a young couple in Chicago.  Their industrial, loft-style home encompasses 3,000 sq. feet on FOUR floors.  Visitors enter the home from a courtyard into a first floor living space with 30 foot ceilings complete with a fireplace and coat closet.  After climbing 26 steps you arrive at the second floor living area featuring a spacious living room, dining area, galley kitchen with island and powder room.  Another 26 steps and you arrive at the third floor Master & Guest Bedrooms both with full en suite baths.  After a final 20 steps, you reach the fourth floor bonus room featuring laundry and roof top deck access.

Needless to say a home gym or even a gym membership is probably unnecessary in this living arrangement.  As my team and I can attest, a “Buns of Steel” workout dims in comparison to styling 4 floors of living space all in one day!  (One of our phones fitness trackers recorded climbing 47 flights of stairs as we completed the transformation.)

While the couple had already purchased the majority of big ticket items for their home, our job was to add a new dining table and chairs along with a few pieces of accent furniture and more finishing touches like artwork, accessories and greenery.

Likely to be an unused or under-used space on the first floor, the man of the home used the space as his virtual golfing studio.  Complete with tv monitors, putting green and cage, we decided to up the anti in this man-cave space.  To his setup, we added a beer fridge, pub table and three, gray leather bar stools to complete his man cave.

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Upstairs, in the main living, the couple already had a large charcoal gray sectional for plenty of seating, a rug and a beautiful hammered metal coffee table.  To those, we added a leather recliner, aluminum side table, a distressed console table, and stacked trunks for another side table along with lighting, greenery and accessories.  We took our inspiration from the couple’s Chicago themed artwork including a fantastic replica of the Chicago flag crafted from reclaimed wood.

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On this floor, it was also time to add a new dining table and chairs to replace the repurposed family set.  We chose the dramatic butcher block sheesham wood Edmund table from Home Depot (of all places).

DINING ROOM

We paired the table with set of six dark gray upholstered contemporary wing back chairs we found at the local HomeGoods.

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Upstairs, between the bedrooms we added a console table and created a gallery wall for family photos.

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And in the Master Bedroom, all we needed were a few more accessories, lamps, and 108″ window panels to soften the edges of the large windows.  (We hope to style the Guest Room as a nursery at a later date!)

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Upstairs, to the fourth floor laundry, we added additional storage and a folding area for clothes along with a retractable clothes line for delicates.

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On the landings between floors, we added large statement artwork to have something beautiful and inspirational to look at as you climbed or descended each set of stairs.

 

As you can see, the key word to this redesign is “upstairs”.  I am so thankful that my crew didn’t rebel when seeing how many flights of stairs were involved in restyling this city home.

While the homeowners would never make as many trips as we did loaded with tubs and furniture, they no doubt get in a good workout each day with their built-in gym.

Whether your living space is spread out in the suburbs or stacked in the city, make use of every single space.  Happy vertical Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

 

DECORATING FOR FAMILY

Beautiful spaces are a dime a dozen.  Fill a space with the trendiest, most expensive decor you can find.  And while it’s pretty to look at, it still isn’t home.  So, what makes a house a home?  It’s family.

Creating common spaces that suit the needs of a family is probably the single most important task any decorator will tackle.  Of course, you want it to be beautiful.  But, it also has to function well for every member of the household, no matter how young or old.

Consider a home to three young adults and their parents.  The home is a hub of activity for friends and family almost every day of the week.  All are coming and going either from college or work.  Whether just for family or casual entertaining, updating and enhancing the primary living space in this home needed to fit their busy lifestyles.

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That pretty much describes this project we’ve just finished in Hoffman Estates, IL.  The project focused on restyling a large combo family & living room in this beautiful home.  While we wanted to create two distinctive spaces with their own function and personality, both needed to play together when needed as one unit.

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Working with a generous budget, we were able to replace dated and worn furniture with all new seating.  Two durably upholstered sofas provide comfortable seating or lounging in the t.v. space.  Nearby, we grouped four new leather club chairs around the fireplace as more of a conversation space.   New reclaimed wood and metal nesting tables were separated to give plenty of spots to set a drink.  New Santa Fe storage trunks double as coffee and end tables.  New lamps, artwork, accessories and area rugs complete the spaces.

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While each area serves it’s own purpose, with a few simple moves, the leather chairs can be repositioned nearer the television for movie night or game day parties.

As we suggested, the homeowners repositioned one and refinished both built-in bookcases.  Darkening the wood work and mantel with gel stain and painting the brass fireplace surround with heat resistant bronze metallic paint gave the fireplace an updated and much stronger presence in the rooms.

The end result is a space that has already wowed family and friends.  It’s sure to get thorough use in the months and years ahead.

Decorating a room for family is more than just adding trendy furniture and accessories.  It’s about creating a space that blends form with function and provides a hub for friends and family to make a home

Happy Family Decorating from Decor Designs.   815-245-2433.

 

DECORATING FOR ALL AGES

Every decorating project is different.  While most spaces and their contents are similar, a client’s age and personality always make every job unique.  Most of the spaces we style are more “adult” in nature.  But, every once in a while, we get the chance to work with the youngest members of the family on their rooms.  Adding the finishing touches to a child’s bedroom makes him/her feel special and “grown up”.  For us, it’s a chance to channel our own inner child with more whimsical & playful decor.

Earlier this year, we were invited back by a family we worked with a year ago styling their main living spaces.  This time, we were being asked to work with what mom and dad had already started and put the finishing touches on the kid’s rooms.  Three children at least three years apart offered a variety of personalities and interests to bring to life.

Our youngest was the self-proclaimed royalty of the family.  Anything little princess was right up her alley.  Having outgrown her infant space, she needed a new bed frame and night stand plus most of the finishing touches.  To personalize her enchanted bedroom, we kept the light gray walls and geometric panels adding bright white and pink bedding, accessories and artwork.

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For our middle child, we were inspired by travel.  Everything trains, planes and automobiles was his thing.  Starting with dark mahogany furniture, Kermit-green walls and dark blue draperies (complete with airplane finial hardware), we added an airplane shelf, art and accessories to transform his bedroom into transportation central.

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Rounding out the trio, the oldest wanted her own sense of magic.  Too old for the full princess treatment yet not old enough for all things teen, we needed to find the perfect blend of fun and sophistication.  Inspired by her love of purple, pink and butterflies, we added a pre-lit tree, lanterns, art and accessories to give her a slightly older but whimsical finished look.

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Making the most of what mom and dad had started, we added the unique, finishing touches that really reflected each child’s personality.  The end result, three very happy kids.

Have fun channeling your own inner child as your decorate with your kids.  Need help?  We’d love to play along.  Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

PERFECT PARTNERSHIP

Every now and then, a client like Stacey comes along.  Several years ago, we met when she hired us for a redesign in the family’s former home.  Since then, our professional relationship has turned into the perfect partnership on numerous decorating projects.

As the saying goes, two heads really are better than one!  That couldn’t be more true when we’ve worked with Stacey.  While most clients prefer sharing their ideas and then leaving us to bring their vision to life, Stacey enjoys being more involved in the process.  By being open to direction and willing to do some of the work, her sweat equity lets us stretch the budget even further than we might have been able to otherwise.  And when it’s all said and done, she can honestly say the beautiful results are as much her doing as our own.

These days, we’ve been working with Stacey on her family’s new home in Huntley.  Decorating room by room as budget allowed, we’ve transformed their blank, new-construction house into a beautiful home.  Most recently, after finishing the living areas, we’ve turned our attention to the family’s bedrooms, giving each its own personality and style .

SON’S BEDROOM

Over the years, we’ve fine tuned our process to perfection!  First, we meet to brainstorm ideas.  We discuss her vision, make adjustments as needed, and come up with a plan.  Next, we outline a time frame and desired budget.  Finally, we assign tasks for one another to accomplish prior to “the day” when it all comes together.  While Stacey goes shopping for the key elements we know we’ll need, we’ve moved on to our own list which usually involves finding the perfect, little details we know will bring it all together.

Not to be forgotten, her husband is always a good sport.  We know he dreads when we get together.  It usually means he has his own ‘honey-do’ list when we’re done!  Whether hanging window panels or painting walls, he always helps things along saving us time and money.

DAUGHTER’S BEDROOM

On the day of install, or what Stacey says feels like ‘Christmas Day’, she reveals what’s been accomplished and bought since our initial consult.  We, in turn, bring in all the goodies we’ve found.  Then we go to work weaving her purchases in with our own to put it all together.  You’d think it might be difficult for different people to work independently and arrive at the same goal.  But, that’s where Stacey really rocks!

Most things work perfectly and our collective efforts are usually spot on.  Anything that is duplicated, doesn’t work or isn’t needed is returned.  The final result is always a beautifully styled space that has Stacey’s personal taste and vision throughout.  Our job was simply to make sense of it all and guide everything into place so that everything works together.

MASTER BEDROOM

Decorator-client partnerships come in all forms.   Each client is unique and approaches the process differently.  Every now and again, you find that unique client who is open to the process but also capable of hands-on involvement to put his/her own spin on pulling together the perfect look!

If you like the idea of a hands-on partnership with a decorator who can work with you to create the space of your dreams, give us a call @ 815-245-2433.  Here’s to many future decorating partnerships with Decor Designs!

 

 

DECORATE BY NUMBER

Who hasn’t tried at least one paint-by-number?  I remember trying this classic moose masterpiece when I was a kid.  Sadly, I don’t think mine looked much better than this one.  In fact, I’ve never been very good at painting even by the numbers.  Thank goodness, when it comes to decorating, the numbers work in my favor.  In fact, here are some of my favorites. From ONE to SEVEN, these tips take the guesswork out of and might help fill in your own decorating blanks.

ONE:  Arranging any space is easier if you narrow down to ONE focal point.  Whether it’s a fireplace, picture window, piano or tv, picking a focal point to arrange around makes it easier to group furniture and helps a room make sense.

FIREPLACE FOCAL POINT

TWO:   Even numbers, especially pairs of things appear more formal.  Whether it’s a pair of matching wingback chairs, lamps, end tables or even TWO companion art pieces, duos work well symmetrically feeling balanced and more formal.

FORMAL TWOS

THREE:  When deciding the color story for your space, think in THREEs.  A trio of colors, even shades of the same color, add dimension and interest to any space.  Start with a canvas or background color (usually walls).  Enhance your background with a color that compliments it.  That could be another example of the same color or a neutral.  Finally, add a pop of color that is unexpected and seems to fight or clash with the first two.  Following the rule of THREE when picking colors will create a dynamic color palette for your space.

Color Trio

FOUR:  Most rooms have at least 4 corners.  And your room is going to look and feel differently when seen & appreciated from each one.  When you’re decorating, make sure you take a look at your space from as many vantage points as possible… preferably all FOUR corners of the room.  The balance and layout of a room can look great from one side, but might look off from another corner.  As you place furniture, add artwork and accessories always take a look at your composition from each corner making adjustments as you go.

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

FIVE:  Even in formal spaces, most accessories look best when grouped in odd numbers.  While pairs of accessories can be dramatic, odd numbers of accessories in varying sizes and shapes add visual interest and layers to your design.  Grouping a tall, short, flat, round and an oddly shaped items is a great formula for accessorizing.

HIGH FIVE ACCESSORIES

SIX:  Great lighting is one of the most important and yet overlooked aspects of decorating.  In order to showcase your decor and eliminate dark corners in your space, ensure at least SIX sources of evenly distributed light in your space.  Natural light from windows in addition to overhead lighting and lamps all count toward your six.

SIX POINTS OF LIGHT

SEVEN:  Artwork makes a strong statement in any space.  If hanging above a sofa, console table or other furniture, it should be ‘mated’ with the object it hangs above.  The rule of thumb is to hang artwork with the bottom roughly 6-8″ above the back of the furniture piece.  If your artwork is hung an average of seven inches above, you’ll insure perfectly hung artwork every time.

ARTWORK OVER SOFA

In many ways, the art of decorating is as straight forward and fool-proof as paint by number.  Incorporating ONE through SEVEN , rest assured your space will look as good or even better than your favorite fool-proof art masterpiece.

Happy Decorating by the Numbers.

SUPER BOWL SUPER BASEMENT

Necessity is the mother of invention.  What could be more necessary than having a super basement to host your buddies in for the Super Bowl?  With the boys coming home from school on the eve of one of the biggest tv watching days of the year, any good mother would want to make sure everything was perfect for the Big Game!

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This particular good mom and I met about three weeks ago to figure out what could be done to spruce up the basement in time for the big game!  No matter how much we tried to repurpose and move things around, it just didn’t feel right.  It quickly became clear what we really needed was some new furniture to bring everything together.  But with only three weeks to pull it off, how were we going to get it done?  Pressed for time and with my full schedule, we decided for mom to do the shopping.  We weren’t sure we could get absolutely everything in time.  But, with a head full of ideas and a big shopping list, mom was off!

Friday before game day, it was time to put it all together.  Miraculously, she had been able to have a new sectional, sofa table and card table delivered.  On top of furniture, she had gone shopping for a new rug, artwork and all the accessories to fit our new “game cave” theme.

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CLOSE UP

After several hours placing furniture, hanging artwork and accessorizing, the space was game ready!

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We were even able to reuse the previous leather sofa and loveseat in another part of the basement creating a cozy gaming area for the guys.

GAMING AREA

Just in time to kick off the fun!

COUPLES DECORATING

Decorating for couples is always a complex dance of giving one what s/he wants without alienating the other.  Invariably, you often find yourself caught between two distinctly different sets of likes and wants.

As generalities go, ‘male’ energy in the home prefers function over form, neutral bests bold, and old (think broken in) wins over new.  Female energy, on the other hand, can be quite the opposite.  Form is equal to if not more important than function.  Trendy and colorful are more appealing.  New and neat wins out over worn and tired.  Again… generalities being what they are, it’s rare to find two people in any household (especially of the opposite sex) who can agree on all things decorating.

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This couldn’t have been more true of a project we just finished in Cary.  First, let me say that one couldn’t ask for better clients.  Even-tempered and polite, both were open to the process.  While the wife of this empty-nester duo was more than ready for the refresh, the husband agreed somewhat begrudgingly.  But, with a little reassurance that ‘his’ likes and wants would also be respected, he too embraced the changes.

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Once underway, we were almost given carte blanche in our choices. Furniture additions were suggested and approved of course.  But the rest was up to us to pull it all together. Working within the existing color palette of warmer tans and creams and incorporating both the older and newer furniture, our goal was simple…. update everything and tie it together!

Fortunately, with two distinct ‘styles’ in play, the primary seating areas in the home were on opposite ends of the house.  The living room was already more a statement to her likes while the family room was definitely more to his.  And while far apart in style, the separation made it easier to give both what they wanted while staying true to our goals.

In the living room, a new coffee table, window treatments, rug, lamps, artwork and accessories helped refresh and finish ‘her’ space reflecting her likes & sensibilities.

In the family room, a new leather ottoman, end tables, window treatments, rug, lamps, artwork and accessories brought ‘his’ old west inspired motif into the new millennium!

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The dining room and kitchen served as a nice bridge between the two living areas, reflecting elements from both spaces to tie it all together.

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Sharing her experience on Houzz.com, our client wrote:  “When we saw our outdated home brought to something that could be featured in a magazine, it brought tears to my eyes.   We could not be more thrilled with the outcome.”

Finding the happy medium between ‘male’ and ‘female’ is always a challenge for any decorator or designer.  In reality, as in life however, the perfect decor is a marriage of the two.

Happy His & Hers Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

FROM HOUSE TO HOME

Young parents have their hands full no doubt.  A toddler and three year old coupled with full time careers leaves little time for space planning and shopping for all the things that make a house a home.  We started off the New Year finishing a project started last fall for a young family in Barrington.  Giving couples more family time to do what they do best is an added bonus of our decorating projects.

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As with most projects, the family needed help making the best use of their living spaces.  But with young children, it was equally important to ensure they were as kid friendly as they were stylish.  Quite a bit of new furniture was needed to replace some older furniture that had outlived its usefulness while reusing a few pieces that still worked in our overall plan.  New kitchen and dining room tables and chairs along with new family room furniture were planned along with new counter stools in the kitchen and additional storage options for the home office.  And while we had inherited a nice color palette from the previous owners, a fresh coat of paint took care of any dings and blemishes.

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Updating the kitchen to better suit our clients more traditional taste meant replacing the more contemporary polished chrome hardware and lighting with warm bronze.

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The hardest part of any project is waiting for custom furniture to be manufactured and delivered.  So we took advantage of the time to find the perfect filler pieces including art, accessories, lighting and rugs.

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Over the course of several days, we were able to style all three floors of the home.  From a kid friendly play space and man cave in the basement to perfectly appointed bedrooms and baths, almost every part of the house came together to say “home” for this wonderful family.

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When it was all said and done, we received the following message from the owners:

Our home looks amazing and it has been the best two days in our house since we moved in! Over the past couple of days we’ve been able to look everything over and enjoy each of the spaces. Our house truly feels likes home because each space is well thought out, cozy, warm and peaceful. It feels amazing to have each room arranged, organized and beautiful. Again, we thank your for all of the time you have spent working with us and helping us along on this journey. We so appreciate you and your amazing ideas. I have literally been smiling all weekend as I walk from room to room. Your work is amazing and we appreciate your dedication to helping us.