Author Archives: Jeff Rice

About Jeff Rice

Jeff is a Certified Interior Decorator & Redesigner, Real Estate Stager and Color Specifier. His award-winning work has been featured in numerous publications including From House to Home™ & Home Improvement™ as well as other local and online media sources. He is a three time recipient of the Houzz.com 'Best in Service' Award. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL and has been serving the greater Chicago area since 2004.

COVID-19 UPDATE

Valued Clients & Friends,

Sadly, we are all dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 and what that means for our professional and personal lives.

As I’m sure you are, I’m doing what I can to safeguard the well-being of my own family as well as my team, suppliers and you.  I wanted to summarize where we are right now and what things look like going forward.

First and foremost, I want to thank you for your patience & support.  Now more than ever, both are crucial, especially for small businesses like my own and I am forever grateful.

Already and especially with the Governor’s order to “shelter in place” effective tomorrow, many of the resources I need and use to complete decorating or staging projects are no longer options.  Through both necessity and obligation, stores are closed, supply & production resources have slowed or stopped and orders aren’t being delivered as expected for the time being.

Sheltering in place means I will have to postpone all ON-SITE consultations & installations.  However, I will be available to answer questions via phone, text or email and I am also happy to consult via Facetime, Skype or other video conferencing as needed.

Also, I’ve resorted to shopping online exclusively for the time being.  Obviously this isn’t my usual or preferred business model and comes with limitations.  But where possible and safe, I will continue to source items for individual projects and have those sent directly to clients unless instructed otherwise.

And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.  Please know that, for whatever period of time I work with them, my clients feel more like friends than just customers.  As we all embrace the steps necessary to ride out this storm, I want you to know how much I appreciate you all.  And as you might suspect, I’m not one to sit idly by.  You can be sure I’ll be looking for every opportunity to fulfill my obligations to you as quickly and safely as possible.

Thank you for everything and please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.  In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy.  We will get through this together!

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DECORATING TO PASS THE TIME

A few months ago, COVID-19 was just a bleep on the radar.  Just another novel virus that might make a few people sick and then disappear into the annals of history.  Fast forward to today with millions around the world self-quarantined and social distancing to prevent the spread.  No doubt, COVID-19 is changing our world.

Let’s face it, any kind of change is hard.  We tend to avoid change out of fear of the unknown.  Change is scary because we do not know whether change will make things better, or rather, worse.  But if we’ve ever learned anything, we should’ve learned the only constant is change!

They say, “When life gives you lemons you make lemonade.”  Since you’re, no doubt, social distancing as you read this post, why don’t we borrow from that life lesson and make some lemonade?

Here are a few ideas which will help you pass some time and also create some good changes in your decor as we wait for this “storm” to blow over:

CLEAN:  Ok…. So this one is a win-win, right?  You’ve heard me say before that beauty and cleanliness go hand in hand.  Of course, disinfecting right now is an added bonus!  I’m talking spring cleaning like you’ve never spring cleaned before.  Yea, it might be a challenge to deep clean when your house is full of kids with a knack of undoing as fast as you do.  But give it a whirl.  Channel your inner Cinderella. Tackle those grimey winter windows so you can watch Mother Nature wake up from her slumber and wipe down those baseboards baby!

PAINT:  Nothing, and I mean nothing, can change the look and feel of a space faster than a fresh coat of paint.  A quick in & out at the hardware store, or better yet, a home delivery of paint and supplies will give you something to do for HOURS if not DAYS!  Maybe it’s just a single room, even a small one like your powder room or hall bath.  Or maybe you tackle the baseboards, doors and door trim with a fresh coat.  The change will lift your spirit and the sense of accomplishment will do you good.  If my 76 year old mother can do it (and she has been) so can you!

RE-ARRANGE FURNITURE:  A quick and easy way to get a fresh, new look is to simply rearrange the furniture in a room or two.  What the heck!  If you’ve got the time, do ’em all!  Just don’t overdo it and have to go to the hospital.  That’s the last place any of us need to be right now.  Remember to use your furniture slides so you don’t have to lift.  (TIP:  In a pinch an old pair of thick socks can work as slides on hardwood floors.  Thick, flat plastic lids will work as slides on carpet.)  At least rearrange the furniture in the rooms you use the most.  And consider repurposing furniture from one space to another.  It’ll give you something new to look at while you’re spending more time at home and give you that much needed attitude boost!  If you can’t see your space any differently, try emptying the room and rebuilding it from scratch.  And if you’d like even more ideas, download our E-book “7 Quick & Easy Steps for Arranging Furniture” for tips & inspiration.

RE-ACCESSORIZE:  I’ll admit moving furniture can be a chore.  So if you just can’t bring yourself to do a major overhaul, why not simply re-accessorize?  It’s Spring after all!  Drag out your tulips & forsythia, bunnies & baskets and give your home a makeover with cheerful seasonal decor.  Some are even putting up their Christmas decorations now to spread some cheer.  (Let’s Not Go Crazy!)  Or you can re-accessorize using what you already have.  Go around every room and gather all your accessories in one spot, say the dining room table.  Now force yourself to redistribute them in different ways and in different rooms in your home.  Create vignettes using odd numbers of different sizes & shapes and remember to leave empty space around your groupings.  The change of scenery will give you something to do and might be just what the Doctor ordered.

SWAP WINDOW TREATMENTS, AREA RUGS & ARTWORK:  If you want to take re-accessorizing a step farther, why not swap out window treatments in your rooms?   As long as your color palette is consistent and it all works (size, length, number etc…), why not swap window panels between rooms for a new-to-you look?  The same goes for area rugs and even artwork.  Swapping artwork is probably the easiest and most sure-fire way of creating “newness” in a space.  And you don’t have to leave the house or buy anything new.  Give it a try!  What have you got to lose but a few more minutes of social distancing?

Or course, I’m not making light of the situation we’re all facing right now.  But, rather than focusing on what we CAN’T do at the moment, I find it helpful to focus on what we CAN.  Since you’re spending a lot more time at home (or should be!), why not spend the time creating a clean & fresh new look reusing what you already own?  It’ll help pass the time and you can enjoy the results right away and for however long this thing lasts.

Here’s to your continued healthy & happiness as we all adapt to the changes around us!   I hope these ideas will inspire you to control what you can and embrace the possibilities all around you.

Happy & Healthy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

 

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BED MAKING FOR BONEHEADS

Let’s face it.  Making the bed is probably not your favorite thing to do every day.  After all, you’re just going to mess it up again in less than 24 hours.  Why bother, right?   It’s so easy to want to pass on bed making and yet, it should be an every day priority!  More than perhaps any other messy space in your home, a sad, unmade bed just screams ugly.  Sure, most people won’t see it.  But, you will!  And who wants to climb back into an ugly, unmade bed after a long, hard day?

When choosing a hotel, most people are almost as picky about the beds as they are about the price and location.  Why?  Because who doesn’t love getting into a beautifully-made bed complete with freshly laundered and crinkle-free sheets.  More than any other element in a hotel room, the bed is critically important.  So, any respectable hotel or Airbnb worth its salt will make sure the beds are amazing even if the rest of the room could use some love.

Of course, bed making isn’t rocket science.  But you’d be amazed how few people really seem to know how to make a bed properly.  With that in mind and so you don’t have to be embarrassed by your own bed making skills (or lack thereof), here is a Step-By-Step guide to help you create a bed fit for royalty.

What You’ll Need:

  • A bed!  (vitally important)
  • Mattress pad
  • Sheet set (flat & fitted)
  • Regular pillow shams (usually sold with or to match sheets)
  • Blanket
  • Duvet (& cover), Comforter or Quilt
  • Decorative pillow shams
  • Pillows (for sleeping)
  • Decorative Pillows (Euro, throw, lumbar, accent etc… optional but important)
  • Bed scarf or throw (optional)

First… Do yourself a favor. Don’t skimp on bedding!  Your sheets don’t have to cost a fortune or be 1000 thread count.  But, they do need to be as nice as you can afford even if you have to stretch the budget a little.  You spend about 1/3rd of your life in bed (some more than others)!  That’s a lot of time to be lying on cheap sheets.  So, it’s worth the investment.  Cheap sheets don’t last as long and only really soften up after a few hundred washes.  That’s about the time you push your foot through and it’s time to replace them anyway!

More than just thread count (the higher the better), look for bedding made from 100% cotton.  Natural fibers breathe better.  Egyptian, Pima & Supima cotton are preferable.  As strange as it sounds, bedding made from bamboo fiber is also surprisingly soft, luxurious and extremely durable.  The key is to find some that feel good to you.  Don’t just use your hands to feel them.  Give ’em the old “cheeks” test (and not the ones in your pants unless you’re curious about the sheets in jail.)

Now to the good stuff.  Hotel beds always look (or should look) amazing because they are well-dressed.  And a well-dressed bed is all about the layers.  Just like you dress yourself by putting on layers of clothing, “dress” your bed the exact same way… in layers!

Step 1-  The Mattress Pad

Not only will a mattress pad protect your bed, it will also add a layer of ‘cush’ even if you don’t have the most expensive mattress.  As with carpet, a good pad can make even the cheapest mattress feel better and last longer.  Make sure it’s tucked in well and nice and taught all around.

Step 2-  Fitted Sheet

While you might hate folding them, fitted sheets are the surface that can make or break your sleep experience.  If you don’t want to iron them (and who the heck does), try drying them til they’re 95% done.  Take them out of the dryer and put them on the bed warm & slightly damp.  They’ll dry in time for bed and be wrinkle free.  Make sure your sheets are deep enough to fit your mattress and tuck them tightly all around.

Step 3-  Flat Sheet

Repeat as with the fitted sheet.  Leave enough of the sheet untucked at the foot of the bed that you can fold it over a minimum of 4-6 inches or as much as possible at the top.  If your sheets have a pattern or decorative edge, put the fitted sheet on upside down so when you turn back the top, the decorative bits will show!

Step 4-  Blankets

Depending on your climate or time of year, this step is optional.   But a nice, cozy blanket can come in handy for a little extra warmth on a chilly winter night.  Or, it might be all you need during the summer.  As with the flat sheet, folding back a portion at the top adds another visible layer for an opulent, inviting bed.

With both blankets and fitted sheets, try your hand at “hospital corners”.  Think of wrapping your mattress like you would a present.  And if you’re still confused, YouTube it!

Step 5-  Comforter, Duvet or Quilt

Which do you choose?  Obviously this is a matter of personal preference & the look you want.  Patterned comforters are an all-in-one bedding solution.   Some can be a little too “bed-in-a-bag” unless you invest in a nice one.  Duvets (aka down comforters) & their covers offer more flexibility, are more easily washed and generally look the nicest.  Quilts (patterned or otherwise) are quite trendy especially if you want a crisper, cleaner look to your bed.  Sometimes it’s nice to go one size larger for this element.  Turned sideways, it will cover more of the sides of the bed and frame.

Any of these options, fresh out of the packaging, is usually a wrinkled mess.  Spritz them lightly with water, steam or spray with wrinkle releaser.  Worse case scenario, you might have to drag out the iron.  Don’t skip this step.

Step 6-  Pillows

This is where we lose a lot of people, especially the guys!  Who wants to take 100 pillows off and put them back on every day?  As in life, moderation is key.  Layering pillows on the bed gives it the inviting, cozy and soft feeling you want for your bed.  The sheets & bedding are really the time consuming part.   Adding the pillows is the icing on the cake and you’re worth a little icing!

Starting against he headboard and working your way toward the foot of the bed, layer pillows in this order:

  1. Sleeping pillow(s) to fit your bed with shams that match your sheet set
  2. Euro (large square) pillows (2 for Queen bed/ 3 for King bed) in front to hide “regular” pillows
  3. Decorative pillows with shams to match your comforter/duvet cover or quilt
    (some prefer to reverse layer 2 & 3)
  4. Square pillows (2 for Queen bed/ 3 for King bed)
  5. Decorative pillows (lumbar, roll or accent pillows)
  6. Decorative blanket or throw folded in thirds near the foot of the bed

Speaking of “bed-in-a-bag”,  you get a much more custom, professional look by mixing and matching your bedding rather than buying a “set”.  So, why not try your hand at pulling together everything you need off the shelf rather than in a big plastic bag?  Coordinate colors and textures varying between dark and light colors!  You might surprise yourself.

Again, the key to a beautifully made bed isn’t the expense or the number of pillows, it’s the layering and attention to detail.  By rolling back the same bedding you already own to create layers at the top rather than just pulling it flat will make a noticeable difference.

There aren’t many; but here are a couple of bed making DON’TS in our book:

Don’t “cock” the pillows on a 45-degree angle.  It’s kind of like you standing on your head.  It just looks stupid!

Below looks so much better right?

And don’t pull the bedding up over the pillows.  What are you doing… covering a corpse?  It might’ve been good enough for grandma.  But we’re supposed to be evolving.  So, why not make our beds like we are and not like we’re trying to hide a murder.

So there you have it… bed making for boneheads!  So many things in life are out of our control.  Making our beds properly isn’t one of them.  The few extra minutes it takes to make your bed properly is just about breaking old habits and creating new ones.  And at the end of the day, when you walk in and see your beautiful “hotel” bed calling your name, you’ll remember why you’re worth it!  You’re not a bonehead after all!

Here’s to a great night’s sleep and to great bed making from Decor Designs. 815-245-2433

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SETTING THE STAGE FOR BUYERS

Like clock-work, the real estate market heats up well before the weather does.  So it’s no surprise we are seeing the usual uptick in staging calls we generally see this time of year.

First impressions are lasting ones.  And while we’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover, let’s be honest.  We often do.  Since it’s an uphill climb to overcome a bad first impression, why not avoid making one if you can?  That’s especially true when you list your house for sale.

The average homeowner (and even some realtors) might think of real estate staging as simply neutralizing, de-cluttering and de-personalizing.  However, truly effective staging is FAR MORE than just taking down a few family photos and painting every wall off-white.

Home staging is intentional decorating to highlight your home’s most impressive features and to set the stage for buyers to imagine themselves living there.

Staging ensures your property is market-ready and stands out from other listings.  It also ensures you will enjoy the highest possible return on one of life’s largest investments.  If you’re one of the many folks getting ready to list your home this Spring, here are some tips & tricks every owner can use to help you put your home’s best foot forward:

  • PURGE
    You’re moving, right?  Now’s the perfect time to purge.  Getting rid of things you won’t be moving will save you both packing time and moving costs.  And it will help make you money by showcasing just how much space you’re selling.  Clutter takes up space.  And, at the end of the day, space is really what you’re selling.
  • CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN
    Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than a dirty, cluttered property.  Imagine touring a listing and walking into a bathroom only to find a cigarette butt floating in a stained, nasty toilet.  Now, imagine yourself turning around and running out.  It should go without saying:  CLEAN like you’ve never cleaned before!  Give every room a deep clean, especially the kitchen and baths.  Things that can’t be cleaned because they are severely damaged, rusted or stained should be replaced.
  • REPAIR & REPLACE
    No one wants to spend money they don’t have to spend!  But you can’t expect top dollar for your home if you expect the buyers to do your deferred maintenance for you.  No, you don’t have to renovate your entire house just to turn around and hand it to someone else.  But, prospective buyers (and their home inspector) will be paying attention to the smallest details.  So, you should too!  Here are a few key areas to check:
    Patch the walls & repaint as needed.
    Touch up or replace damaged trim.
    Repair & clean dirty and damaged grout.
    Re-caulk kitchen and bath sinks, baths & showers.
    Fix leaky faucets and toilets.
    Oil squeaky hinges.
    Repair or replace broken windows & torn screens.
    Replace old, yellowed smoke detectors.
    Replace extremely dated light fixtures.
    Basically, if you notice something that’s dated or damaged, you can bet buyers will too.  The more “to-dos” you take off their list, the more likely buyers are to make a higher offer (or even make an offer at all).
  • SELL THE DREAM
    You’re not just selling a ‘house’; you’re selling someone their new, dream ‘home’!  If buyers can’t envision themselves living in the space, you’re in trouble.  Family photos and overly religious items are obvious NO-NOs!  But you also need to remove or hide anything considered personal, even grooming & personal-care items.  As strange as it may feel while you’re still living there, you need to remove any items that might “offend” buyers and keep them from envisioning themselves calling your house their home!
  • GET THEM IN THE DOOR
    We said before, “You’ve got to get them in the door to get them in the door!”  Most buyers, especially women, decide whether they like a property within about 10 seconds of walking in the door.  That’s not much time to make a good, first impression.  So, focus on staging where it counts the most.  Living rooms, kitchens, baths and master bedrooms influence buyers most.  Focusing your efforts and extra dollars there will help you “get them” within the first few minutes they are in the home.  Buying a home is as much an emotional transaction as a business one.  Tug on your buyer’s heartstrings by giving them a reason to fall in love with your home the minute they walk in the door.
  • OPEN THE BLINDS & TURN ON THE LIGHTS
    Light and bright sells.  So it makes sense that opening window coverings and turning on lights will help make your spaces feel happier, larger and more inviting.  The last thing you want is for a potential buyer to have to fumble around in the dark looking for the right light switch.  Those fresh flowers and other bright, cheerful colors will really pop when all the lights are on (even in the closets) and the shades are open.  Just make sure you didn’t miss the windows while you were cleaning.
  • PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS
    Internet and online shopping play a huge part in today’s real estate market.  Professional photos of your well-staged home will definitely stand out from the competition enticing buyers to take a closer look.  Don’t showcase your hard staging work and additional investment with cell phone snapshots.

Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran has been quoted as saying, “Real Estate staging used to be optional. Today, it’s a necessity in selling a house.”  Nationwide, staged homes statistically generate higher offers and spend less time on the market.

By using the tips we’ve shared here, you’re going to be well on your way to attracting the most potential buyers and entertaining the best offers on your home.

Happy Staging from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

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WHY PEOPLE FEAR WORKING WITH A DECORATOR

When you start a decorating business, you’re ready to change the world!  You’ve taken the classes, studied the trends and mastered the skills.  And you can’t wait to go forth and help people transform their homes.  Your business cards are printed & your website is fabulous.  So, you put yourself out there and wait.  But, why isn’t the phone ringing off the hook?  Don’t people know you can help with all their decorating dilemmas?

Of course, it takes time to build any successful business.  Eventually, the jobs start coming in, mostly from friends and family.  But, as word gets out, people start to take you seriously and things pick up steam.  Referrals become your best source of new business.  And, over time, you gain experience working with all different types of clients, in many different styles of homes and with a wide range of budgets.  But still, those out-of-the-blue customers are elusive no matter how good you are or how much you spend on advertising.

At some point, it finally dawns on you!  It never crossed your mind that, no matter how genuinely interested you are in helping them, people might be afraid to let you into their homes.  It finally makes sense when a good friend says she’s never inviting you over because she doesn’t want to be embarrassed if you don’t like her decorating choices!  What the what???

The things we fear don’t always make sense.  And you can be sure it doesn’t make sense to most decorating professionals.  Their lives, livelihoods and passion are creating beautiful homes for others to enjoy.

Over the years, we’ve learned there are many different reasons why folks fear working with a decorator.  Here are the Top 12 most common excuses we’ve found:

  • Too Expensive/ Only for “rich” people

The common misconception that working with an interior designer or decorator is exclusively for the “rich” & “famous” is pure poppycock!  Every home, no matter how grand, is worthy of being as beautiful as it can be, no matter the size or decorating budget.

  • My ‘stuff’ isn’t good enough

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The vast majority of homes are filled with things, old & new, which have been accumulated over time.  Some might be hand-me-downs and others have sentimental value.  The entire collection is a visual representation of you.  And while some might be tired and worn, that doesn’t mean they can’t still work in a newly-designed space.

  • Fear of being judged, mocked or made to feel “less-than”

If you are brave enough to meet with a designer/decorator and they make you feel “less than” then kick their snooty butt to the curb.  While it’s natural to feel like you’re being judged when you open yourself and your home to professional critique, a good decorator should be your ally and not your enemy.

  • Fear of change

No matter how adventurous, it’s human nature to fear change.  We are, after all, creatures of habit.  We become comfortable in our surroundings, no matter how dated.  So our default is “it’s good enough” rather than risking change which may or may not be a good thing.

  • Fear of being taken advantage of or losing control

We’ve all been screwed over by a contractor, repairman or other service provider at some point.  It’s easy to be jaded and skeptical.  As with all relationships, communication is key.  A good decorator will listen to you and really hear your wants/needs.  Then he or she will help guide you through all the choices that fit your style and budget.  Of course, communication is a two-way street.  You need to open your mind as well so you can benefit from the experience and vision of your designer.  If you’re hiring a professional just to “agree” with you, then you’re really just wasting your money.

  • Too fancy

Any good decorator knows it’s not really what you spend but how you use it that makes the difference in a space.  Even if you have a limited budget, the talented and trained eye of a decorating professional can help you see the hidden potential in the “stuff” you already own.  A designer-look should still be functional and livable no matter the cost.

 

  • Too overwhelming

As with fear of change, the idea of tackling a major decorating project can be overwhelming.  If you’re redoing an entire room or multiple rooms, it’s easier to work with a decorator who helps you prioritize and tackle one thing at time rather than being overwhelmed and never starting at all.

  • Finished design won’t be livable

Who hasn’t looked at the beautifully finished rooms in magazines and thought, “Who lives like that?”  We all have!  While magazine-worthy rooms are certainly inspiring, they don’t always look livable.  Good design is finding balance between form and function and a talented decorator will do both.  How you use a space should be one of the first discussions you have with your designer.

  • My ‘other-half’ and I can’t agree

Similar to helping you with self-worth, your decorator isn’t in the marriage-counseling business.  However, good ones are adept at negotiations and compromise.  Whether it’s figuring the budget or picking a style or making the space livable, every member of the household should feel heard and a part of the process.  A neutral third party (in this case your designer) can help make that happen.

  • Decorators are “weird” & “pushy”

Newsflash… All creative types are “weird” and that’s what makes them invaluable!  If everyone saw the things exactly the same way, the world would be stale & boring.  As for “pushy”, a good designer should push you.  But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t listen as well.  If you could do what a designer does, you’d have already done it.  Again… communication is key.  Opinions are just opinions.  That doesn’t mean you need to settle for black ceilings or feathered walls if that’s not your cup of tea.

  • I don’t deserve it

While a decorator isn’t a responsible for your feelings of self-worth, there is a lot of psychology in good design.  Working with a professional actually shows just how well you know yourself and your personal strengths.  Asking for professional help is never a sign of weakness.

  • Decorator won’t waste their time on my little project

Home renovation TV shows are fun to watch.  And the perfectly styled and photographed rooms in magazines are awe inspiring.  But they can leave you with the impression that interior decorators only work on major projects.  The truth is, decorators also like small jobs.  Helping clients work on one room at a time isn’t only easier on you and your budget, it’s easier on the design professional.

 

After years of helping create beautiful spaces in their homes, designers learn how to help first-time clients work through these fears.  Of course, they can only do that if given the opportunity.  So, if you’ve always wanted a designer look but have used one or more of these twelve excuses to talk yourself out of asking for help, think again.  You do deserve it!  Your stuff is good enough!  You can have a “fancy” and livable space!  And you might actually save money in the process.

Happy Fear-Free Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

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DECORATING FOR GROWN-UPS

Growing up, you can hardly wait to be an adult.  After all, no one tells grown-ups what to do or how to do it, right?  Of course, once you get there, the reality is “adulting” isn’t everything you dreamed it would be.  And you realize, there are still plenty of people telling you what to do!  But, sometimes being told what to do, even as an adult, is a good thing.  Take decorating for grown-ups, for example.

FAMILY ROOM

We’ve been working with a younger couple who recently purchased a beautiful, new-construction home in the far-north Chicago, Sauganash neighborhood.  Essentially starting from scratch, these young professionals had moved from their downtown apartment into a much larger home to raise their growing family.  Decorating an entire 3,500 sq. ft., 3 bedroom-2.5 bath house while caring for twin, two-year-olds and a newborn and working full time would be enough to overwhelm anyone.  So, we were asked to come to the rescue and “tell them what to do” in order to create a home that was warm, inviting and, of course, family-friendly.

LIVING ROOM

Fortunately, with new construction, we didn’t need to waste a lot of time fixing other people’s problems.  However, we did want to upgrade a few of the “builder-quality” choices.  Over the course of numerous consultations and a joint shopping excursion, we selected new lighting, bathroom hardware & mirrors and enough furniture to finish filling every room in the home.  After that, we took over the rest sourcing every single detail down to the coasters for the family room table.

As with so many projects, after months of planning ordering and waiting, we were finally ready to put it all together.  Over the course of several days, our team gradually did what we do.  We tweaked the placement of furniture that had been delivered, installed soft window treatments where needed, hung artwork, added lighting, placed rugs and accessorized every room.

DINING & LIVING ROOM BEFORE

DINING & LIVING ROOM AFTER

LIVING & DINING ROOM BEFORE

LIVING & DINING ROOM AFTER

FAMILY ROOM BEFORE

FAMILY ROOM AFTER

BASEMENT BEFORE

BASEMENT AFTER

BASEMENT BEFORE

BASEMENT AFTER

MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE

MASTER BEDROOM AFTER

MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE

MASTER BEDROOM AFTER

GUEST BEDROOM BEFORE

GUEST BEDROOM AFTER

Obviously starting with very little, the Before & After transformations are nothing short of spectacular!  And, with most of the items delivered and work finished just before Christmas, our clients were able to show off & share their beautifully-decorated home for the first time with family and friends.

Working with this family, we helped expedite the decorating process and create spaces which might have taken months or years for them to complete on their own.  The end result is a home no longer needing attention.  Instead, our parents have more time to spend with their own kids who are ‘growing up’ very quickly too.

Of course, adulting certainly has its benefits.  And while you’re old enough to make your own decisions; in our crazy, busy lives, sometimes it’s just nice to have someone make them for you. So, if you’re a grown-up who might like being “told what to do” (in a good way) with your own home decor, give us a call.  You’ll be glad you did!

Happy Grown-Up Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433.

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REDECORATING, THE NATURAL ANTI-DEPRESSANT

I don’t know about you; it’s only January and I’m already done with the depressing Winter weather here in the Midwest.  As anyone who lives this far north knows, this time of year is particularly challenging.  It seems our brief glimpses of sunshine are all too fleeting and the fluctuating temperatures have everyone sick or sickly.

On top of  the usual colds & flu, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are as bad this time of year as the weather.  You know what I mean.  The holidays are over.  The glitzy, glittery decorations are all down and packed away.  Instead of “Ho-Ho-Ho”, we’re back to “Ho-Ho-Hum”!

According to the Mayo Clinic, a key contributor to seasonal depression and SAD is living too far from the Equator (either north or south).  Folks who live in these locations endure decreased sunlight and shorter days especially during Winter months.  (No leap of logic there!)  So, la-de-da; let’s all move to Key West and watch our troubles vanish!  If only it were that simple, right?

Also, according to Mayo, the signs and symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

So, other than moving toward the Equator, what is a person to do?  All joking aside, there are several therapies and clinical fixes for helping cope with depression.  Checking with a trained medical professional is crucial if you suffer from severe depression of any sort.

But there are some home remedies for those with mild cases of SAD.  From light therapy to aromatherapy, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption and proper eating, all can help with mild cases of SAD and seasonal depression during these  gloomy winter months.

Perhaps a little unconventional but equally as effective in my book is re-decorating!  What better time of year to focus on all things indoors than Winter?  Yeah, you’ve take down your holiday decor and your house looks like a tired, old doily.  So, what better time to avoid the dreary weather and make some changes in your home to help fight off the winter-time blues?

I don’t know why people wait til Spring for “spring-cleaning”.  The last place I wanna be when the weather breaks is inside, cleaning.  I’d rather use snow days to purge and clean so I’m ready to enjoy warmth and sunshine when they finally return.   While they can be a pain in the butt; cleaning, purging and organizing are very therapeutic.  A neat, clean home is a beautiful home.  So even if you can’t afford to buy new things while you’re paying off those Christmas bills, you can “redecorate” with nothing more than a DEEP clean.  You’ll be amazed how good it makes you feel.

After you have everything clean and neat, why not change a few things?  Simply rearranging your furniture, art and accessories can give new life to your old stuff and give you a new-to-you look for the Winter.  Stores rearrange their same, old merchandise displays all the time.  Why?  Well, they want to showcase different products .  But they also want to create excitement  and make you think their offerings are always new and changing, even when they aren’t!  You can do the same thing in your house.  Why do you think your house looks so beautiful during the holidays?  Duh!  You have shiny new things to look at.

Finally, if your budget allows, go for a deeper refresh.  Maybe paint a room or two, buy a new area rug for your family room, replace some of your tired & dated window treatments, throw in some new pillows or change your art work using bright pops of color where you can.  Any or all of these things give you “something new to look at” and help release “happy” hormones in your body.  And who couldn’t use some of those, especially this time of year?

So maybe, rather than popping another pill or spending hours on a therapist couch, try redecorating.   It’ll give you something to do to keep your mind off your winter woes.  And the end result is something you can enjoy well into Spring and beyond.

Here’s to happier living and decorating from your friends at Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

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MAKING A NEW HOUSE FEEL LIKE HOME

Having the opportunity to work with clients over a period of years gives a sense of continuity to what we do.  No only do we get to see how lives and homes evolve over time.  But we also get to know the family better.  That helps us fine tune a look that is even more reflective of who they are and what is important to them.

We had that opportunity last Fall when a family we’d helped with a redesign 6 years ago told us they were moving to a new, larger property.  Since we’d done such a great job helping them create a fresh new, look in their previous home, they knew we’d be able to help them settle in and make their new house feel like home as quickly as possible.  Our goal was to repurpose as much as we could from their previous home.  Then, we’d blend in the new things we needed to tie it all together.

Move-ins offer a unique opportunity to help clients see their “old” decor in a fresh, new way.  Obviously, some things from the previous home will work and some things won’t.  But, by using cherished furniture, art and accessories, a new house can feel like home much more quickly than starting from scratch.

We knew this larger house would need more to furnish and fill.  So, the buyers negotiated to purchase some of the like-new, custom furniture that was already in the home from the previous owner.  That saved a ton of money over buying new.  And it expedited the entire process since we didn’t have to wait for custom orders to be delivered.

BEFORE

AFTER

We met with out clients a few times to come up with a game plan and shopping list.  A few of the rooms needed to be repainted.  So we selected colors more to the new family’s taste.  We also needed some new area rugs, a few new pieces of artwork, window treatments, throw pillows and accessories to make everything flow.  And while we were shopping, the new owners worked feverishly to get unpacked and settled so that we had everything unboxed and ready to place on the day of styling.

BEFORE

AFTER

DECORATING TIP:  No matter how well you’ve planned, it’s important to take time and live in your new home for a period of weeks or even months.  Learning how you and your family live in and use the spaces will help make better decorating choices when the time comes.

Anyway, after a few more weeks, our team arrived on site to fine tune furniture placement and finally layer in all the family’s cherished artwork and accessories which always help a house feel more like home.

BEFORE

AFTER

Even though it was a new house for the family, once we were done, it felt familiar.  Repurposing, and restyling with many of their things, helped their new space feel like they’d lived there for years.

If you’re moving and starting fresh, that’s great.  But, by using cherished furniture, art and accessories, a new house can feel like home much more quickly than starting from scratch.

BEFORE

AFTER

Happy Fresh Start Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

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20 DATED DECOR TRENDS TO RESOLVE IN 2020

Keeping up with home decor trends is hard.  It seems like every time you turn around, something in your home is no longer the latest & best.  Who has the money or time to change everything just because?  On the other hand, holding on to dated decor for too long will make your home looked tired and has a definite impact on its value.  So, as you’re setting goals for 2020, take a look around your home and see if there are any bygone trends that you can resolve in the New Year.

From large to small, here are a few of the worst offenders still lurking out there.  Some are more involved fixes.  But, some of them can be changed almost instantly for a fresh, more updated look.

Furniture Against the Walls

Ok… this is a pet peeve of ours and has been for years.  Pushing your furniture up against the wall doesn’t always make a room look bigger.  Angling furniture off the walls creates a more cozy atmosphere and can actually make a room look larger.

Heavy Fabrics and Tassels as Window Treatments

We don’t care how much you paid for your swags and tassels.  Heavy, over-done window fashions are a no no!  Removing swagged fabrics in favor of simple, vertical panels is an instant improvement.  Swagged panels, bishop sleeves, and tassels as tie backs are also dead on arrival.  Get rid of them!

Patterned Sofas or Loveseats

Pattern is always a welcome addition in a room, just not on your large seating pieces like sofas and loveseats.  If you must have a pattern on furniture, use it sparingly (think accent chair).  Nothing is more distracting and dated than a large pattern.

French Country or Farmhouse

Yea, we know, “But, Joanna Gaines said….”.  STOP THE INSANITY!  Unless you live on a farm, you don’t need farmhouse decor everywhere in your home.  While up-cycled and shabby chic still have some appeal, using them sparingly is key.  And for goodness sake, get rid of those roosters!

China & Curio Cabinets

Having a nice set of china and crystal might have been a status symbol which needed to be shown off and admired back in the day.   (Not so much anymore!)  With the decline in formal dining and dining rooms, china cabinets have gone the way of the Dodo.  Curio cabinets are a close second.

Antiques & Collectibles

See Above!  As much as you might hate it, all that money you “invested” in your Beanie Baby, Precious Moments or Lladro et al collections hasn’t quite panned out.  Visual clutter is out and that includes large collections of bric-a-brac!   Consider using just a couple of your favs as accessories and rotate them out.

Tile Countertops

A staple of DIY home improvers, the dreaded tile countertop is OUT!  Solid surface countertops are a must-have for the majority of home buyers.  Do yourself a favor.  Save your pennies and upgrade your countertops if you still have tiled ones.

Doilies

Ah…. those dainty, darling doilies!  Burn them!

Matchy-Matchy

Sadly, matchy-matchy continues to make the list of once-was decorating trends.  Repeating colors, patterns and textures judiciously helps create continuity and flow between spaces.  But perfectly matched colors and patterns in rooms looks dated and contrived.  Let your creativity shine and embrace the perfection in mismatched decor.

Toilet Rugs and Covers

Ah… the infamous “piddle pad”.  Whoever thought putting a bib on their toilet was a good idea should have their head examined.  Along those lines… toilet cozies?  Really?  For the love of all that’s good and right in the world, lose those nasty funk traps!

Popcorn Ceilings

It should go without saying that popcorn ceilings are OUT!  And they have been out for years.  This one isn’t an easy fix.  You really need to have them removed and replaced with new drywall.  But this improvement is an investment that will benefit, not only the look, but value of your home.

Hanging Teacups

Ok… teacups aren’t the only offenders.  Hanging pots & pans, hanging baskets, hanging utensils and just about anything else that hangs from your kitchen cabinets or ceilings is OUT!  If you’re picking up on a theme here, good for you.  Less is More!  Visual clutter is out.  Clean and simple is in!

Sleigh Beds

Santa might disagree.  But sleigh beds aren’t the rage like they once were.  Can’t afford to replace your entire bedroom set?  Consider ditching the bed and replacing that big, bulky frame with a simple upholstered headboard.

Old Fashioned Fixtures

Fixtures are the jewelry in your home.  Light fixtures, faucets, cabinet hardware, door knobs & hinges might seem like small details.  And that’s exactly what they are.  Keeping them up-to-date a little at a time will pay in the long run (especially when you go to sell) and you won’t have to bite the bullet to replace everything all at once.

Pickle Jars

You know how to pickle, good for you!  But, chances are you just bought a jar of colorful, pickled goodies for a pop of color on the kitchen counter.  Pitch it!

Excessively Formal Living Rooms

If formal dining is out, it stands to reason that formal living is too.  New, open concept construction has removed formal living spaces from the equation.  But we still have a lot of homes out there built with the traditional living room/ family room combo.  Reimagine your formal living room with more casual furnishings arranged formally.  The room will feel more inviting and might actually get used for a change.

Framed Photos

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again.  No one loves your family more than you do.  Decorate accordingly.  And while it’s ok to be proud of your family, decorating with nothing but family photos is a decorating crutch for those who aren’t willing to commit to actual artwork.  Plus it comes off just a little narcissistic!  You don’t have to buy gallery quality artwork.  There are plenty of low-cost options out there to use.  And since they won’t cost a fortune, you won’t feel like you have to be buried with them.

Fake Plants Especially Above Kitchen Cabinets

 

Ok…. so we’ll buck the trend here a little.  Yes, live plants might be ideal.  But, with our ever-busy lives, real plants can be dead ones quickly without proper care.  If you don’t have a green thumb, it’s still ok to use fake ones.  Invest in the best looking ones you can and use them sparingly.  And if you have a jungle of dusty fake greens above your kitchen cabinets, you have our permission to prune those hedges too.

Oak Cabinets & Floors

If your home was built in the 80’s & 90’s, you probably have oak in abundance!  Oak is fine.  But golden oak is NOT.  Since oak has a tendency to yellow over time, the finish becomes more and more “orange”.  If you can’t afford to replace the oak, consider having it refinished with a slightly darker, more brown stain for an instant face-lift.  Products like gel stains are available for you DIY types.  And paint works.  Just keep in mind the oak grain will show through.

Staying on top of decorating trends is a never ending battle.  While it might be easier just to throw up your hands, updating a little every year will help keep your home looking fresh, up-to-date and on trend.  Your home is never “done”.  It and its decor are constantly evolving. So as you begin a new year and a new decade, resolve to change the things you can and step boldly forward.  You can do it!

HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at Decor Designs!  815-245-2433

 

 

 

 

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FIVE YEARS OF HOLIDAY DECOR

Another long day of decking the halls, this time for our favorite holiday clients in Lake Barrington.  This was our fifth year in a row helping bring holiday cheer to this home.  And while everything was familiar, it felt brand new since we were decorating around everyday decor we helped update earlier in the year.  With a different backdrop, the same holiday decor from previous years somehow felt fresh and new.

Our focus for change in holiday decor this year was the new ‘family’ tree in the renovated basement.  Building on the whimsical style and cranberry reds & bright chartreuse greens from previous years, we added new polka dot ribbon and ornaments to the miscellaneous collected ornaments. (TIP- Since collected ornaments are all over the board in style and color, filling in with solid ornaments complimenting your theme helps unify the tree and still showcase your treasured family ornaments!)  Topping it all off, we capped the tree with a pair of new glittery elves boots.  How Fun!

With our last holiday home behind us for the Season, there might be hope for finally washing off all the glitter til next November.  Well, one can hope anyway!

HAPPY HOLIDAY DECORATING FROM DECOR DESIGNS!  815-245-2433

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