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!