Monday, March 25, 2013

How To Decorate A Mantel

Fireplace Mantels are usually the focal point of any room, which for a lot of folks presents a big challenge with decorating them. As a designer, I have gone into many homes and have seen that people have just given up when it comes to decorating their mantels. They are aware that it is a place reserved for items that have special meaning or sentimental value - like family photos and awards etc. What they don't seem to know is that it doesn't have to be every special item they own. Choose a few items that are absolutely special, and are conversation pieces to display - editing  will be your best friend. There are some simple ways to get your mantel looking fabulous and still display the most special pieces you want to showcase. These examples also apply to decorating your mantel seasonally. Depending on your decorating style, you may like clean and simple (contemporary or transitional) or you may like a layered look (traditional). See the examples below and see which would work best in your home.

This sketch simply shows how best to hang art above a mantel. Keep in mind that scale, balance, proportion and symmetry is key to an uncluttered look, so choose the size of your artwork carefully.

In this sketch, we are going for a layered effect. This is great for a more traditional look.
Here are a few tips to follow if you like this look

1. Start with one big piece that is centered- example above is the large mirror in the background
2. Create movement - example above would be the candlesticks. They are similar objects but varied heights
3. Add visual weight - example above would be the ginger jar. It is large and visually heavier than the other pieces
4. Layer art and photos - Vary the sizes and heights
5. Add accessories of varying heights - example above are the wooden boxes behind the ginger jar

In this sketch we are going for a grid layout of the art on the wall. this look is appropriate in contemporary or transitional decor. If you like this look, keep in mind that you will need to keep the objects on the mantle fairly clean and simple. Don't add too many layers. Here we just added a couple of ginger jars. Varying the sizes is very important to add movement. We also added a wooden box in the center to anchor the art work, otherwise they will seem to visually float on the wall. And finally we added a floral arrangement - faux orchids work very well for this purpose. They are clean and simple and a good quality faux arrangement looks very real.

In this sketch, we are going for a cleaner look as well....not alot of layering. Here we added a mirror, hung horizontally and a smaller round mirror for visual appeal. Then we added a small box and a faux floral arrangement.

In this sketch, we are going for a salon style of hanging art and photos. This is a great look for an eclectic, traditional or shabby chic decor. Salon style should have a "collected" feel and very casual. There should be various heights, sizes, frames and finishes to make this look authentic. It should still have order and symmetry. Not much else is needed on the mantel with this look.

A lot of folks like to use family pictures on their mantels, which is great, as long as you vary the sizes and add other objects. Limit the pictures to just a few. Pictures can be framed and hung above the mantel if you must display them all

Sketches done using Dream Draper

Here are a few examples taken from various sources on the internet

The decorating of your mantel should represent your style, so go with what you love and things you enjoy looking at all the time.

Here are some fun accessories that are definitely mantel worthy.

Hope you have been inspired to take on this challenge. If all else fails, then contact us and we can help you get your mantel model home ready at Casa Vilora Interiors
Be inspired,
Veronica Solomon, IDS, CID

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sample Board - My New Best Friend!

I've gotta tell ya, I've been having so much fun with my new Sample Board digital mood board software. I have been creating some really funky designs to test it out! (Like the one above). When I meet with clients for a design presentation, I find that it always helps to be as descriptive as possible and provide as many visual clues to help them see the finished room as you see it - before it's finished. Before Sample Board, I would make physical presentation boards - cutting and glueing onto foam core board, but now with a few clicks, I am done! it has cut my design time in half...I love it!
Sample Board is not just for designers. As a client, you can create and save your own boards using product photos from the vast library or you can upload your own photos. You can even share your boards with friends through email and social media, and showoff your inner designer :-). Hope you have as much fun with it as I am!

Be Inspired,


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why are we so afraid of dark wall colors?

There may be some truth to the seemingly popular belief that if you paint a small room in really dark colors it will make the room feel smaller. But the opposite is true in most cases. Dark colors on walls with lighter color furniture and furnishings can actually cause the room to feel bigger. The reason is that dark colors on the wall with the contrast of lighter furniture in the foreground, tends to cause the walls to visually recede and give the illusion of more space. On the other hand, dark colors on walls with dark furniture and furnishings does create a more cozy feel. Cozy can have a negative connotation, especially in the real estate world, but cozy is sometimes the perfect choice in certain spaces. In rooms such as a master bedroom or a den or library, a cozier, more intimate feel works best. It is also a great way to make a larger room feel more intimate and in-scale with the users of the space.  There are many sought after designers who have made this "dark on dark" way of decorating their signature style. There are some key elements that if followed carefully will create a beautiful, cozy and even a romantic space. You will find that there is no need to be afraid of dark colors on walls.

Use various finishes with wall colors, ceiling colors and trim colors. Basically what this means is to choose different sheens for different surfaces. For example the walls can be painted in an "eggshell" finish, while the trim and built-ins painted in a semi-gloss, while the ceiling painted in a  high gloss. If black is the color choice, then it is sometimes better to go with as little sheen as possible.

Use various textures throughout the room. The same is true for any room, but in a dark on dark color scheme, using various textures is key to adding interest and preventing the room from looking flat and bland. Using textured wallpaper such as grasscloth is a great way to add texture in large doses. Fabrics are also going to be your best friend with adding various textures to a room.

Use large scale and bold furniture pieces as your key pieces. Of course your furniture should be appropriately scaled for the room size, but this is not the time to be a wimp. A bunch of small pieces, may physically fit the room, but will end up looking cluttered in the finished space. Not all pieces have to be large scale, but your key pieces should balance the dark walls.

Use less matchy matchy pieces for a more dynamic, eclectic space. If you had the guts to pick a dark wall color, then follow through and mix it up. Matchy matchy in any room looks boring and predictable anyway, so you want to avoid doing that all around. But mixing different furniture styles and periods in a dark on dark room is definitely a yes.

It doesn't all have to be neutral or monochromatic. While you want to be confident with your color choices, this doesn't mean you have to go monochromatic, where all the colors are various shades and tones of one color and neither does it have to be all neutral and earth tones. Whatever your color choice is for the walls, care should be taken to balance the rest of the room so you don't end up with a clown house.

Lighting will be your best friend. One of the key elements to decorating with dark colors is lighting. Too much lighting is just as bad as not enough so choose carefully. Different types of lighting sources must be used to complete the room: Task lighting, ambient lighting, accent lighting.

In conclusion, you shouldn't be afraid of using the colors you love in your home, even if they are very dark. Design rules are great, but sometimes you can break the rules and still have a beautiful result. It does take a skilled eye to put some of the elements together, so I am including some of my favorite rooms for your inspiration. They are from various sources. Please leave a comment and let me know if this post has helped you overcome your fear of going to the dark side. Have fun decorating!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hiring An Interior Designer

As an Interior Designer, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely a time and money saver to hire a professional such as myself for your home improvement project.

First, you need to understand that with all the expertise and ideas a well-trained professional designer can offer, you have to ask yourself these two questions: What do I want, and how much do I want to spend. Once you have that figured out, you are well on your way to finiding the right designer.

Finding the right designer for you is not always easy, but the best place to start is to ask for referrals. Talk to friends and neighbors, and even real estate agents. Once you have your list of potential designers, check out their websites to get an idea of their work through images of past projects. Consider hiring a designer whose services fit your needs. Some designers have areas of specialty like renovations, kitchen and bath designs, window treatments or model home merchandising. Some have a signature style that they like to focus on, which is great if that style matches what you're looking for. But in general, a good designer is able to take your ideas and vision for your home...whatever style...and bring it to life.

The next thing to consider before making that phone call is researching project costs.
If you've never done an interior design project before, you'll need to do a little homework to determine a reasonable budget. Friends and neighbors who have done makeovers similar to what you have in mind -- and are willing to discuss what they spent -- can provide a good basis for a ballpark number. Another helpful resource is Remodeling Magazine's annual "Cost vs. Value" report on some of the most popular remodeling projects.

Once you have chosen your designer and determined your budget, you will have some homework to do: Think about what your top priorities are. It is not uncommon to have several projects or rooms to be done, but not all the money at once to get them done. Your should determine which rooms you would like to have finished first and consider doing things in phases instead of putting the entire project on hold. A great designer can help you figure out what projects to do first that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Another homework item is to consider the time frame in which you would like to have things completed. It is very common for people to wait too long to call in a designer. Keep in mind that custom pieces - like upholstery pieces can take up to 12 weeks in some cases, (usually an average of 4-6 weeks). Issues like back ordered items, or shipping delays can hold up a project.
It also helps to have any magazine clippings or interior design images that you have been collecting handy for your designer. That helps to give his/her a good direction and definitely helps to identify your style.
Talk about your expectations throughout the design you want to be the main point of contact or your spouse, do you like weekly updates or every couple of days, do you prefer email contact or phone calls, how involved do you want to be throughout the process. I cannot stress enough how important it is to set expectations from the very beginning. That eliminates alot of miscommunication and misunderstandings.

One of the main things you will want to discuss upfront with your designer is their billing method. Interior designers frequently charge an hourly fee, plus a markup for handling the purchase of furnishings and materials. Some provide access to a discount on retail purchases.  A few designers simply bill by the hour with no purchasing services offered. There also are designers who charge a flat project fee or a percentage of the budget.
Be aware that if the interior designer does the purchasing on your behalf, you will be expected to pay 100 percent of the costs upfront. Many designers also require the payment of a retainer, ranging from $500 to $25,000, when you sign the contract.
Make certain the designer you hire is selling the services you want to buy. For instance, if you are thinking about a do-it-yourself room makeover, some designers will offer consultation for an hourly fee to provide a few ideas or some planning assistance. Many will only take on full projects from concept to excecution.

One of the biggest ways an interior designer can save you time and money is by helping you find good construction and remodeling contractors. This is what we do all day, and very often than not we have contractors that we work with everyday that will be respectful of our clients homes and personal possessions. They are going to have integrity and do what they promised.

All in all, it is a great investment to make in your home. If you are going to spend the money anyway, a designer can help you spend it the right way. At Casa Vilora Interiors we are committed to helping our clients through the design process, making it easy and fun with outstanding results.

Please feel free to comment on this blog if you have any questions about how to hire an Interior Designer.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taking Your Dorm Room From Drab to Fab

It can be a proud but scarey moment when you leave the comforts of your parents' home - most likely the only home you've known all your life, and go off to college. You finally have that independence that you've been craving for so long.....until you see your new accommodations for the first time.
A cold sterile room with two beds, boring furniture, plain walls and cold floors will probably come as a shock. Adjusting to new surroundings and challenging class schedules will be hard enough, so here are a few tips to get you started on making your dorm room a warm, cozy and inviting space where you'll want to hang out and study.

Parents take note. Making a small investment in helping your freshman create a beautiful, functional amd livable space, may be the best thing you can do to help them adjust to life away from home.

  • If you are lucky enough to be in a dorm where it's ok to paint the walls, then go for it! Avoid usig the school colors - that's cliche. Go for a cool neutral to give a more airy and fresh feel. Cool colors tend to make a small room look bigger unlike warm colors that advance in a space. If painting is not an option, go with the color scheme already defined for you and take it to the next level with your bedding and accessories. You may also consider using removable wallpaper or wall decals for a unique look. Deco Mates sells peel and stick wallpaper and wall decals inexpensively.
  • Use modular furniture instead of fixed pieces. Modular furniture are designed to be moved around and used in various configurations, so you are not locked in to any one layout. Always keep scale in mind when purchasing furniture. Most likely you will not have room for a sofa, but a small chair may be ideal to give you additional seating
  • Build a loft to basically double your space. Adding a sleeping loft using inexpensive materials like plywood, frees up floor space that you can use for a desk area or seating area. You may want to call a professional in for this one, because it has to be fully secured to the walls
  • Lighting will be your best friend in a small dorm room. Most don't come with an over head fixture, and even if they do, they are not the best looking. You can pick up an inexpensive chandelier and replace the ceiling fixture or buy a plug-in pendant and ’swag’ the cord into the wall. Attach the chain or wire to a hook in the ceiling, swag it into a corner and use the outlet. This overhead lighting will make the space a lot more inviting and add more task lighting for study time.
  • Plastic crates are a staple item in dorm rooms when it comes to storage, but not the most attractive. Cube ottomans look better and can be just as spacious. They look more like furniture than storage space, but serve as a good place to hold video games, books and other smaller items. Great idea for functional storage
  • Say goodbye to cold floors. There are wonderful products available that are inexpensive and will add warmth to the floors. Flor is an innovative system of carpet squares that you assemble to create area rugs or wall to wall designs of any size. . Allure Stainmaster Vinyl Flooring is a thin laminate that adheres to itself, rather than the floor. That makes it easy to put down. It’s about $25 a box, and an average dorm space might use about five-and-half boxes. All you need is a blade knife to cut the ends to size and then snap each flat vinyl piece to the others.
  • Decorate with pictures of your family and friends. For one, it helps to have your family around you even if they are just photographs. If you have a free wall, why not create a collage or a salon style design with framed pictures in various sizes or take your favorite picture and have it blown up to larger than poster size. It makes a bigger statement than just taping pictures to wall.
  • Don’t skimp on your bedding. You’ll have to sleep under it every night, so make sure it’s something that feels good to you. Choosing a solid pattern will give you more decorating options than bedding with bold patterns.
  •  Use throw pillows to accent your room and provide comfort, as well. Plus, you can get quality ones without spending a great deal of money
  • Outfit your closet with items that will make life easier, like plastic hooks for hanging towels and shoe organizers that hang on the back of the door.

Here are some pictures of dorm rooms that anyone would want to hang out in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Our New Design Studio Coming Soon

Alot has been happening in the world of Casa Vilora Interiors lately! We are in the process of developing the space for our new design studio and design center.

It has always been my dream to branch out into being a store owner, and with a lot of prayer and perseverance, we are well on our way. The store is due to officially open for business the first week of August, but there is still alot of work left to be done.

Although we have been focused in the Katy and surrounding areas since we opened for business in February of 2008, we decided that moving into the Museum District will expand our clientele and reach a new demographic. It is a very exciting time for us and we cannot wait for everyone to see the finished product.

The space is about 1100 square feet and was formerly a waxing and facial studio, with a lot of tiny little rooms. We have blown out all the walls and we are now preparing it for an open concept space that will feature separate room vignettes, a custom drapery idea area and a design center where we will showcase flooring, cabinets, countertops and tile accents. We can now cater to remodelers, custom home builders and consumers who need help selecting finishes for their projects. We will also have some light retail featuring products like pillows, throws, candles and other accents available for sale. We are in talks with some of the finest suppliers and installers in Houston to be a part of our team.

Our clients who are renovating can now enjoy a one stop shopping experience from start to finish and everthing in between. They can now come into our studio and see finished room vignettes to inspire them, and have all our resources available to them on the spot. We will of course continue our "shop at home" for clients who prefer to make selections in the comfort of their own homes.

Some of the things you can expect once we open will be art events. My goal is to try to help up-and-coming local artists feature their work either through displaying them in the store, or holding events where clients can meet the artists and purchase their pieces. 
We would also like to expand the reach of our free design workshops to community groups and students through internships, and other community outreach.

We are located in the Chelsea Market at 4617 Montrose Blvd, Suite C145 Houston TX 77006. Our phone number remains 281-751-7552
Map and Directions

This is somewhat what the space looks like now. it really was a lot worse if you can believe that

This is a mock up of our signage

We are very excited about this new venture. We will keep you up-to-date on the progress, so please be on the lookout!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Does Your Style In Fashion Say About Your Interior Design Style?

I recently met with a young couple for an interior design consultation. I walked into an empty, unfurnished house because they just got married and literally had closed on the house the day before, and owned nothing but a jumbo bean bag - that's on its way out if I have anything to do with that decision. Walking into a furnished home usually gives me a clue as to what style or aesthetic my client is drawn to, but in this case there was nothing! Well the obvious thing to do was to ask what their design style is, which is just what I did, but asking that question doesn't always get you a straight answer, because clients simply don't know exactly what their style is. The next best thing was to find out a bit more about hobbies and interests, how they like to spend their free time and what type of fashion in clothing they are drawn to.

The way we dress our bodies often correlates with our taste in home fashion. After all, much of interior design trends is taken directly from the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and translated into home fashion. Whether it's the color trends or style trends, we can always look to fashion, especially when in doubt.

Let's Look at some examples of how taking cues from your closet can help you define your interior design style.

Casual Beach Chic

If you would rather wear a bathing suit than a cocktail dress, or if your closet is filled with board shorts and t-shirts, then you may appreciate an interior that is comfortable, casual, light, airy and beachy. You would naturally gravitate towards sandy neutrals and bright blues, yellows, greens and corals....colors that can be found by the ocean.

To apply this style to your interior environment go for natural materials like natural woven wood window coverings, reclaimed woods for furnishings, casual fabrics like linens and cottons, comfortable slip covered upholstery, jute and sisal area rugs, painted floors. Add accessories that hint at the beach witout going overboard. You want to create the feeling of the beach and not a thrift shop.

You don't always have to use "beachy" colors to give that feeling, just go for comfy and casual

Manhattan Chic

If a sleek, fashion forward "LBD" (Little Black Dress) is more your speed, then you may like a more contemporary, elegant, sophisticated and dressed up space, but still comfortable and liveable. Here are some examples.

To apply this style to your environment, look for really tailored and clean lined pieces, it's safe to use exquisite fabrics such as silks, mohair, velevets but balance them carefully with leather. Tufted upholstery is a great touch but keep it contemporary, adding original art is a great way to give the space a sophisticated cultured feel

Boho Chic

If you are more of a free spirit, and like to mix unexpected pieces, chunky jewelry and just have a vintage, collected feeling to your wardrobe then you may enjoy a boho chic interior. Strong colors and mixing vintage pieces in an unexpected way defines a boho chic space. Take a look

To apply this style to your environment, think eclectic, vintage, collected. Pieces have to have a feeling of having had a past life with an interesting story. It should feel like a personal expression of who you are and the stages of life you have gone through.

We'll cover one more style:

Updated Traditional

This style may appeal to someone who likes classic and timeless fashion, or possibly someone who is keen on having certain "staple" pieces in their closet and then are able to add an accent piece, whether a jacket or scarf or a piece of jewelry to update the look - Like a simple black dress that can be dressed up or down and can transition effortlessly from the office to an evening affair.

To apply this style to an interior environment, look for classic pieces that you won't get tired of easily. Furnishings that hint at the past but still have a timeless appeal. Look for prints like houndstooth, paisleys and damasks. Uphostery pieces like a wing back chair or a chesterfield sofa done in leather are a great addition to an updated traditional space. Alot of wood work and moldings is an integral part of a traditional room, along with an interesting wallcover. Wallpaper has come a long way and can be just the right touch in an updated traditional room.

So these are just a few examples of how your personal style can influence your interior design style. Of course, there are many variations to this. The key is to have fun dressing up (or down) and have fun decorating,..... and if you are still in doubt, call your local designer! We at Casa Vilora Interiors are always happy to anser your questions. Feel free to leave us a comment or question, and we'll be ready and waiting to reply.

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