Style is more than a look, more than contemporary or traditional. Style is personal and is defined and interpreted differently by everyone.
You know it when you see it. It might be in the architecture and the architectural details or in the choice of furniture pieces. Style is often expressed in the details. A room without the proper details will never look or feel finished. Fabrics bring color and texture and can easily change the mood of the room. Adding objects that we love makes a room our own.
Our homes have taken on new meaning and we are spending more time at home. We are listening to our own inner voices in determining what makes us feel comfortable in our homes. We are working out of home offices, entertaining at home and planting our gardens. And in the process, we are developing our own sense of style.
We are more at ease in taking design risks and expressing our own tastes. We are not following fashion’s dictates. We are mixing and matching and using principles of composition. We are considering balance and proportion. Elsie de Wolfe (1870-1950), the self proclaimed first interior decorator said, “How can we develop taste?...We must first learn to recognize suitability, simplicity and proportion, and apply our knowledge to our needs.”
Now more than ever we are selecting, gathering and arranging things that we like in a way that suits our lifestyle. Style and lifestyle have now become synonymous.
In the last few years there has been an increase in the number of people wanting to simplify their lives and their lifestyles. Books about how to live a simpler life have become very popular. As our lives become more complex and demanding, simplicity has become more important. Because we are bombarded by so much stimuli each day, there is a great deal of appeal in coming home to a visually calm and serene environment.
Simplicity means clearing away clutter and getting rid of things you do not use. Display objects and shapes in a simple, repetitive way and repeat colors and shapes. Select objects that are pleasing to the senses and do not distract the eye. Repeating colors and shapes gives a sense of order and continuity to a room and a sense of tranquility.
Imagine a Japanese home and then translate the quality of simplicity into a Western home. The furnishings and the elements that are used are Western in flavor, but the placement and composition is Eastern. Order and discipline are words that come to mind, but not to the extreme of being austere or severe. There is still room for warmth and comfort and most of all a sense of peace and well being.
It is important to select materials and appliances that will enhance the look and feeling you are trying to achieve. There are so many great kitchen appliances to select from that I recommend spending some time getting familiar with what is out there.
The cabinets are probably the largest single element in the kitchen so select the wood and cabinet style that appeals to you - possibly one with a raised panel door. There are many stain colors to choose from or you can also opt for a painted finish for a fresh look.
For the countertops, there are many great choices in granites and stones in either a polished or honed finish. It is important to select a countertop that will stand up to use and it is equally important to see that the surface is well sealed. Periodic resealing is important and different stones top have different requirements.
Interest can be added in the backsplash detail by creating a design using decorative tiles and possibly a tumbled stone in either the same material as the countertop or a complimentary stone. The possibilities are unlimited.
Lighting is very important in the kitchen: look for warmth and control of the light level to create a variety of moods. Bring color in to the kitchen with brightly painted walls and colorful dishes. Select a color that works well with the things you want to display. Choose a warm color for walls. Add some of your favorite personal possessions — things you have collected and that have character and meaning: a wonderful old wall clock, interesting framed art, a collection of colorful Fiesta Ware, a wall of cookbooks.
Try to create a seating space within the kitchen that encourages you to use it as a gathering space as well as an eating space. This is the area where family and friends gather, where everyone feels the most relaxed and comfortable. An old farmhouse table and chairs with soft cushions create an inviting, lived-in feeling. A pair of candle sticks with large beeswax candles provide a soft light for an intimate dinner.
Have an arrangement of fresh flowers on the table and a special, hand-made pottery bowl with fresh fruit on the counter. You might like to have herbs and paper whites growing in colorful containers by the windows.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so fill it with all the things you love.
Hiring a Designer
It all started when…
There are a number of criteria to consider in hiring an interior designer. Before selecting one, it is a good idea to interview a few. You will first want to set up an appointment to meet. It is usually a good idea to have the designer meet you at your home to get an understanding of what the project is about, or in the case of building a new home, to see how you are now living.
You will want to ask what professional memberships the designer has: ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and/or IIDA (International Society of Interior Designers). Membership in these organizations assures a high degree of professionalism.
Ask the designer to show you their portfolio of completed work. This will give you a good indication of the approach the designer has to a project. Don’t expect to see the exact photo of what you are envisioning for your home. Remember, that all the homes were designed to meet the tastes and needs of a specific client. Each client and each home is unique. A truly talented designer is able to facilitate many different styles to meet each client’s requirements.
It is important for you to explain what your expectations are from the designer and from the project. You will want to ask the designer to give you some feed back about the design process and the work involved. How long will the project take? What services will the designer be providing? How does the designer charge for the services? The designer should provide you with a clearly written contract. This agreement will outline the services the designer will be providing, the fees to be paid, and an explanation of what both client and designer should expect from their working relationship.
Look for someone you feel comfortable with. You will be working closely for the term of the project. You need someone that listens to you, someone you feel confident in and can trust, and is committed to providing excellent service. The role of the interior designer is much greater than to create a beautiful interior. Today’s interior designer should be very knowledgeable about all aspects of a project and is essential to it’s success.