Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Outdoor Living

Last week I attended a wonderful and educational two day conference on Outdoor Living at SOFA which was filled with a plethora of valuable information.  The venue was filled with designers, decorators, landscape and gardening professionals all interested in learning more about the ever growing area of Outdoor Design.    Outdoor spaces have come a long way from some folding chairs, a picnic table and hibachi.  We want to extend our time enjoying the outdoors and do it in the same comfort at our indoor spaces.  Many of the outdoor ‘rooms’ rival our indoor rooms.  Not only do these outdoor rooms add to our enjoyment but, if done well,  they add to the time we can spend outdoors.  We are so lucky to have so many options available nowadays and so many professionals who focus on this valuable added space to our homes.

Why create an outdoor space?  It can extend the time we have outdoors; it can increase the value of our homes and, add to our general wellbeing by offering a place for relaxation without the usual distractions found indoors; such as promoting communication when sitting around a fire.  We live in such a fast paced world it is just nice to venture outside and spend time doing nothing.  It becomes a retreat.

Where do we start to create this space?  To build a successful outdoor space many factors must be considered.  The very first thing to consider is how you want to use the space.  What is essential to your needs and wants? Is it for relaxing or entertaining?  How much time do you want to be outside? You then need to have a ‘space plan’ just as you would when designing your indoor space.  This helps with dividing the different outdoor rooms you will create.  Think about how you will enclose the space – fences or shrubs and how you will create privacy.   

Let’s consider the following elements -

Heating - There are many heat sources available and of course checking with your individual municipality by-laws is crucial before thinking of any type of fire.  Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning; fire pits or fire tables, electric heaters are all available.  Do you have a safe area on your property to have a live fire?

Cooking – Barbeque grills, wood-fired pizza ovens, bars, a complete outdoor kitchen which could include a refrigerator, sink, grill, storage cabinet, etc.

Seating – Do you want a place to eat and have dinner parties?  Then a table and chairs will be on your list. Do you like to relax and read outside or sunbathe? Lounge chairs and sectional seating have become very popular.  In fact some of the outdoor furniture seating arrangements are very similar to those we find inside.

Flooring – Will you have a deck or porch? Perhaps brick, stone, slate, stamped concrete. There are so many options available and depending on your property size and grade a professional will help you in making the best selection.

Landscape Materials and Plant Materials – this is where it is in your best interest to consult with the professionals on how to best add soft and hard surfaces to your property
Water – will you want a swimming pool, hot tub, pond or waterfall?

AV – Many of us want to listen to our music outside.  There are a full range of speaker options available which can actually be hidden within your plant material for a clean look. Some people desire an outdoor television which is available but, be sure to purchase one that is waterproof and has an anti-glare surface.

Shelter – will you want a covered porch, a sunshade, gazebo, sunroom or will an awning or umbrella be sufficient?

Lighting & Accessories – as is the practice for indoor decorating, the same principles hold for outdoors.  Lighting is one of the most important features for your space.  We see many types of pathway lighting and of course you can hire a landscape designer who will assist in offering you many other options.  Lighting can highlight certain features in your garden – deck, path, shrubs, fountain, pool, steps and so on.  Accessories are the fun stuff – garden sculptures, tabletop décor items, area rugs within the seating area.

By working with the professionals you can achieve a completely wonderful and useful outdoor living space.


                      Stay in touch for more information and images on outdoor living.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let’s go “shopping”….. at home!


You have decided it is time to give your home a new look but your budget just isn’t up for a complete makeover.  In times of tight budgets, not to mention all the attention to the four “R’s” – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Re-invent - it can be fun to “shop in your own home”.  You probably have many good pieces that can be re-purposed. Home Re-styling without Spending Money is a great way to redecorate a room.

Pick the room that needs a makeover.  Look at the space carefully; decide what you like about the room the way it is now, and what you would like to change.

The next step is to take pictures of your room and you will see it in a totally different way.  Any flaws will stand out right away and this will assist you in your makeover. Be objective.

Now remove everything from the room including pictures and wall art.  If painting is on the agenda go ahead.. You have a blank slate to work with.

When you have a general idea of how you want the room to look, decide what stays and what goes.  Remove any pieces of furniture that will not fit in with your new design. For example, if you’ve decided on a more sophisticated look, the country style pine pieces will not work in the new design. Make a list of what needs to be done to make the room look the way you have visualized it.

You are now ready to go “shopping.”  From the list you made, walk through the other rooms of your home and go through stored items to see what will be useful to you. To save yourself time and effort, measure any potential furniture pieces to see if they will fit in the intended space in the room you are redoing.

Once you have prepped the room and chosen the furniture pieces that will stay and the ones that will be moved from the other rooms of your home, you are ready to place the furniture. View the room as you would like to use it, and keep in mind what worked in its former set up.  Before you start moving around furniture, draw up a floor plan on paper to decide where you want each piece to go. 

Take into account any pieces of furniture that need to be near a power source like the end tables or the TV stand. Also, take into account the room’s traffic flow, heating vents, etc.  Your room must not only look pleasant but it must be functional.

When everything has been placed in the room according to your plan, including decorative items rescued from other parts of the house, you are ready for the fun part – adding the finishing touches. You don’t want to spend very much, so prioritize the items you want to add. New accent pillows, decorative candles and picture frames don’t have to cost much if you get them on sale. Make a list and stick to it. The whole purpose of the exercise is to give your room a new look – you don’t want to end up spending a fortune.



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Accessories and Lighting…..

Accessories and lighting are two of the most important factors in good design.  A space can be completed with the best furniture, however without the correct lighting and some well-chosen accessories, it is flat and without personality. Think of the accessories as the jewellery we add to a nice outfit.  When pairing our ‘jewellery’ to our outfit we keep the proportion and theme consistent.  The same goes with accessorizing your home.  It is more than just adding tshotchkes and some wall décor at the end of a project.  It’s about well thought out design details that are put into the plan before completion.  After all, finishing details are what make a well dressed home.

Too often with decorating projects, available funds are allocated to large-scale furnishings.  Necessary to be sure, however, in my experience the ultimate satisfaction doesn’t arrive until the finishing touches are firmly in place.  I suggest that you save 20% of the total budget for styling and accessorizing.  If you do not allocate money to cover the cost of accessories, you will end up with a space that’s completed but devoid of character: lackluster and disappointing.

A room is boring and bland without the embellishments.  It’s the extras that bring a room to life and make it warm and welcoming.    Accessories transform a space and inject it with character.  They should also be representative of your own individual personality and perhaps reflect your interests and travels.

Lighting is the other important factor in creating the perfect atmosphere in your home.  It offers functionality as well as mood.   For the most effective lighting scheme, you need a combination of all three types of lighting, comprised of task, ambient and accent.  The ambient light will provide a general even balance of light throughout a space such as a chandelier.  Task lighting will focus on a specific area such as a lamp positioned for reading.  Accent lighting will draw attention to a particular area and add depth and drama, such as a picture light or a recessed pot light directed toward a piece of art.

When planning your overall lighting you need to consider the mood you want to create and the tasks to be performed in each specific room.  When selecting your fixtures, obviously you would want to compliment the style of your room’s décor.   The type of lampshade can also affect your lighting.   The shape, material and opacity of the shade will affect the direction and diffusion of the light by sending it up or down and reducing glare.  Using dimmers gives you more control over the brightness and mood. 

When planning your lighting, it is important to speak with expert lighting suppliers in order to be certain that your final plan will serve your needs.



Accessories complemented with lighting!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Colour - Go for it!

“Colour is like food for the spirit – plus it’s not addictive or fattening” says Isaac Muzrahi


2016 color trends bring an abundance of variety to suit everyone, even the diehard neutral lovers.  Our Colour of the Year is actually two colours - Rose Quartz and Serenity which are soft pink and blue.   In looking forward to spring we think in color, so it only makes sense to add some of that refreshing color to our homes.  Colour trends in interior décor tend to follow those of fashion runways and this spring/summer is no exception with both fashion and decor very colorful.
Colour is a fundamental and important design element.  When used properly, color provides cohesion of design, and, color themes can evoke different moods or a tone to a room.

Linking rooms enhances any space. If rooms have good color transition and correlation, they have a smooth & harmonious flow. It is essential to create a flow in a house with an open floor plan or one in which rooms connect through wide openings, by choosing colors that relate to each other in a pleasing way. The challenge is to give each space its own identity according to its function and still achieve a feeling of unity. The connection can be as subtle as a recurring color in the fabrics, accessories and furniture in each room, transitioned with wall colors that are closely related and similar in value and intensity. Using unrelated colours in adjoining rooms can make the house feel like a disjointed series of spaces, while colours that relate to each other draw the eye from one room to the next and create that pleasing flow.

Colour affects our emotions and the effective balance of color will provide a harmonious setting, which in turn creates a pleasant “feeling” in the space. Decide on how you want to “feel” in the room - calm or energized, intimate or open, dramatic or playful; the use of different color will promote this “feeling or mood”.  It is also important to look at another factor when selecting colour.
                                                                                                                                    
Lighting is one of the most crucial elements when selecting color.  The room’s exposure; type of light – direct sunlight, indirect sunlight or artificial light; and time of day you will most likely use the room; play a part in your decisions.  Since colour changes when viewed under different light sources, paint and accessories should be viewed in the actual space and lighting where they will be used.

The use of color is the easiest way to transform a room.  This can be done with paint, wallpaper, tiles, fabric, flooring, art & accessories.  Paint is one of the least expensive ways to transform a space. Though more costly, wallpaper has made a large comeback this season, with contemporary, simple patters and graphics.  Colourful accessories can add impact and freshen up a room without breaking the bank. When a space requires a sprucing up, color, no matter where applied, can make the largest impact.

The use of color does not mean you cannot have a neutral pallet. Adding a dash of color to the already neutral palette gives the room a new look and this color dash can be removed at any time.   Keeping large items such as sofas, chairs and draperies neutral and enhancing with colored toss cushions, accessories, lamps, art, etc. adds style to your space.  These small items can be changed by season, or as you tire of them, without great expense.

One of the first things most interior designers will tell you when it comes to color is to determine the paint for your walls AFTER you have selected the more expensive pieces in the room. The reason is simple, always match the paint to the furniture. Paint is one of the least-expensive decorating elements in a room and can be easily altered and changed as needed.  There are more colors available in paint than any other medium available. 

The best way to establish a color palette for your home is to have a starting point or inspiration piece, a painting, carpet, pottery chair, from which to draw out the color. Look for a pattern that appeals to you. Use that inspirational piece and break it down in terms of color “priority" to create your scheme.  Ultimately, select in the color family that appeals the greatest to you, while keeping in mind all the other factors involved – mood, lighting, theme - when making this selection.  Most Important – Have Fun!






Friday, January 8, 2016

Fun in Niagara on the Lake

Cooking class with Jason Parsons

 Wine Tasting - Yum!
 Ice Room at Pellar Estates Winery

SOFA - Universal Design

  1. "Universal design makes things more accessible, safer, and convenient for everyone. Also called "Design for All" or "Inclusive Design," it is a philosophy that can be applied to policy, design and other practices to make products, environments and systems function better for a wider range of people. It developed in response to the diversity of human populations, their abilities and their needs." - The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access   www.universaaldesign.com
  2. "Universal Design ("UD") increases usability, safety and health of environments, products and systems in response to the diversity of people and abilities. With attention focused on the changing demographics, differences in functional ability and preferences are part of everyday life experience. UD represents a paradigm for design of the built environment and products to address this diversity and increase use by all by introducing flexibility, choice and accommodating features to the physical world and business practices." - ThUniversal Design is an evolving concept, and as such, different people have slightly different definitions. We gather here some definitions from leading Universal Design experts and organizations. e Global Universal Design Commission
The 7 Principles of Universal Design were developed in 1997 by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, led by the late Ronald Mace in the North Carolina State University.The purpose of the Principles is to guide the design of environments, products and communications. According to the Center for Universal Design in NCSU, the Principles "may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments."  
The seven principles of Universal Design are as follows:
  1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimum fatigue.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
Principle 1: Equitable Use
The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
Guidelines:
1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
1c. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
1d. Make the design appealing to all users.
Principle 2: Flexibility in Use
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Guidelines:
2a. Provide choice in methods of use.
2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.
Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use
Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Guidelines:
3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.
3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
Principle 4: Perceptible Information
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

Guidelines:
4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
4b. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
4d. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
4e. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.
Principle 5: Tolerance for Error
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Guidelines:
5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
5c. Provide fail safe features.
5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.
Principle 6: Low Physical Effort
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

Guidelines:
6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
6b. Use reasonable operating forces.
6c. Minimize repetitive actions.
6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.
Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

Guidelines:
7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.   http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/The-7-Principles/


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pantonne Colour of the Year 2016


It's that time of year again when the Pantonne Colour of the Year is introduced.  This year, a softer take on color for 2016: For the first time, the blending of two shades – Rose Quartz and Serenity are chosen as the PANTONE Color of the Year


Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate a balance - the warmer Rose Quartz and the cooler Serenity for a soothing look  I like these colours as they envoke a feeling of spring and are easier to live with than some of the previous Colours of the year..













Gracious Dining

Love this dining room by Barbara Westbrook