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Don’t Crowd My Corners! (One ‘quantifiable’ component of “bad” interior design)

A lot about interior design is subjective. It is often a matter of personal opinion, style preferences, budget constraints and taste level. It is also one of the hardest aspects of being an interior designer- how to separate good design from bad design. I personally appreciate all different taste levels, styles, and budgets (big and little). And I think good design can reside in many, many forms. In fact, I was rather aghast in reading a fellow interior designer say that it is a BIG “No, No” to have fake flowers, poly-fill pillows, and low thread-count linens. And that is just absurd. Although I understand where she must have been coming from… some things are better than others… but they certainly do not separate good design from bad design. It is silly for designers or “decorators” to come up with rules like this. It suggests that interior design is trivial. And I can surely tell you as an interior design major, that design is anything but trivial. If all I had to worry about were thread-counts, then I wasted a lot of money to get a 4 year education on this subject. But enough said about that.

To classify something as “bad” is really, really hard. Because most things that are actually ‘designed’ have had a lot of thought put into them,  and therefore probably are not bad at all. It is the things that are not considered, and where little or no thought has been made, where some of the cardinal rules of design are broken (dun dun dun). So, I guess the best course of action in eradicating “bad design”, is informing people on some of the actual “No, No’s”.

how to measure good design

Scale separates good design from bad design.

Today I am going to address “Crowded Corners” which falls under knowledge of space planningSpace Planning refers to floor plan drawings that create spatial arrangements for interior spaces. These arrangements take into consideration window placement, door placement, architectural and structural details and furniture placement. Often space planning begins when the exterior of a building is being designed in architectural form. Because, where a window is placed on the exterior of the building is also where it is placed on the inside of a room. (A window that is centered/symmetric/thoughtfully placed on the exterior, may just so happen to be in the most awkward position in an interior space).

Now on to those crowded corners. Arranging furniture in a room can be tricky; especially when  the given dimensions, window and door placement, and other obtrusive architectural details (from columns to fireplaces) are prohibiting. And more often than not, homeowners seek symmetry in their furniture arrangements, despite the unsymmetrical room. So, what often ends up happening is crowding furniture, and “overlapping” furniture corners. The following diagrams will illustrate some possible scenarios much better than my words could ever do.

Example 1:

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Here is a simplified situation. You can see that the chairs are overlapping the corners of the sofa, and if the room were only a foot or so wider, there would be enough room to achieve this very symmetrical furniture layout. But there’s NOT. The overall idea was a good one, leave the area around the entry open, center the entertainment center and furniture for easy viewing. But, the restraints of the room (width) can not be altered. Thus, the best option, is to ditch the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” idea and find a better one.

good 1

Here we have the same room and same furniture (with the addition of a side table and lamp). The layout is no longer considered symmetrical. But it accomplishes the same goal (conversational seating and easy viewing of the tv). What is better about this option, is that the furniture is not being over crowded in the corners. It may not be bothersome to some, but it is in fact a MAJOR space planning faux pas, and easily spotted by the trained eye.

Example 2: Bedrooms

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Bedrooms are often culprits of crowding corners. Simply because, they often have a need for many pieces of big, bulky furniture- and no space to put it. In the above example, seeking symmetry, the bed and nightstands are along the back wall, and then a dresser is left to overlap one of the bedside tables.

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The Solution in the scenario is to forgo centering the bed on the back wall. Rather, shifting the bed and nightstands to the right, gives enough space for the dresser to now go one the left wall. And in order not to crowd the door, the edge of the dresser aligns with the foot of the bed, creating an uninterrupted path in front of the door and closet.

Example 3: 

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This is room is illustrated as a nursery, but imagine it as you may, I have seen these situations too many times to count, and it is such a simple fix. Basically, the arrangement above is trying to achieve the crib centered on the back wall, the changing table centered on the left wall and the bookcase centered on the right wall. Centering things is not always the answer! In fact, centering is often the destroyer… of a good space plan.

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These crowded corners, are the easiest fix of all! You can still achieve the “centered” look by keeping the crib centered on the back wall. Drawing the changing table and book cases closer to the door, and aligning with the edge of the rug, makes all the sense in the world!

Example 4: The dual focal point debacle 

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When your family room has a focal feature, like a bay window or a fireplace, it is often a blessing and a curse. The feature should rightfully be the focal point of the room, but it begs the questions – “where to put the tv?” This example is striving to accommodate both the bay window and the tv area and it is doing a fairly good job. The sectional sofa allows both sides of the room to be viewed, and the chairs set back in the window offer a cozy and conversation worthy spot. But this arrangement falls short in the disconnect between the 2 seating areas (1.the couch, 2.the chairs). The sofa is essentially cutting the chair on the right out of the group. (Have you ever been standing just outside a circle of people talking, not sure if you should wiggle your way back in or just walk away- Awkward.)

good 5

Here the arrangement is essentially the same, but a few minor tweaks make all the difference. The couch was shifted to the right to allow that poor “loner” chair to join the conversation. A slight angling inward of the chairs, and pulling them a little farther into the room, makes it much more inclusive and intimate. Lastly, re-positioning the rug so that all the furniture pieces can slightly overlap it and centering the coffee table among the lot, does the trick!

*No worries that the sofa is “too close” to the windows. A valuable lesson I was taught in school, was that good design draws people into and through the space, rather than suggesting visitors should walk around the edges.

Always consider your “crowded corners” and think out of the box to configure your furniture in the space (and with the restraints) that you have. These examples, are just a small sampling of this very common mistake that is made in even the most stylish of spaces.

Interior design dont do diagram

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Ikea HACK Gold Utility Cart

Let me begin by saying I can not take credit for this amazing and cheap Ikea hack! I saw it elsewhere and had to take advantage of it: Simple and so so inexpensive it’s a must for everyone!

I have never paid any attention to this little nugget at ikea. Never even blinked an eye at it. Never even checked the price tag- nor would I have cared that it was $29.99 (and we live in Oregon ie. ZERO tax).

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But after I saw what it could become with a little but of gold spray paint I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I made it my mission, dragged my 1 year old and 2 year old to Ikea, ALONE. And it was honestly a pretty hassle free/ tantrum free trip. Once we returned home, the girls took a nap and I embarked on the simplest spray paint project of my life. Obviously it came disassembled so I layed the metal frame pieces out on a drop cloth, sprayed them gold, let them dry, turned them over and sprayed the other side, let them dry and finished with very simple assembly!

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Did that stark “utility cart” change to glamorous stunner in a matter of minutes?! Why yes, Yes it did!

Now, I spruced it up for fall and added some orange accessories. Being September still, I didn’t want to go full on Halloween yet, but these cute baby pumpkins are doing a good job for now! Making it fall festive has excited me to keep this cart decorated for all the seasons! Already can’t wait to decorate it for Christmas!

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On the top shelf I placed an orange potted flower from Ikea with a fresh white pot that I can use all year long. The “Key” plate is a knock off of a Kate Spade dish (retail $60) that I made myself with a $1.99 plate from Target and some paint pens. Note: you have to bake the dish at 175 degrees for 30 minutes to set the paint).
The vase has orange potpourri sticks, also from ikea, and the paper wreath was a fall craft project that my toddler and I did together- the leaves were cut from pages of a book I didn’t care to tear apart and glued to a paper plate with the middle cut out. The fun spotted orange napkins are also an Ikea find.
Last, the gold tray is actually a wood letter sized tray from Target (not a serving tray) It had nice metal brackets on the corners and I sprayed it gold as well to better coordinate with the cart.

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On the middle shelf I set my black and white striped mugs and bowls, also from ikea, atop a silver charger. Then there is another Kate spade knock off tray for mail. Practical and cute. I made this one the same way as the key tray.

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The bottom shelf needed to be kid friendly- so in reality I put little plastic cups down there for them to play with. It also helps them from touching the breakables on the other shelf! I put this adorable boot candle from Target and of course a gold charger and black and white striped place mat to pull it all together.

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But, for the sake of “prettier pictures” I staged the bottom shelf with this awesome “pumpkin shaped” Nate Berkus pot from Target. It was on clearance from $20 down to $5! It typically resides on my coffee table ottoman. And of course the cute tiny pumpkins are just adorable on the shelf as well as kid friendly!

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Keepin it Glamorous a little at a time!

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Dresser Makeover

For quite some time I have been looking for a cabinet or dresser to use as a tv console table in our living room. We had been using a Queen Ann style table that I painted a soft teal blue. But it wasn’t ideal because you could see all the cords from the tv running down the wall. Gross! My quick fix for the cord was to put some canvases that I painted years ago, down under the table to cover the cords.

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I was happy to live with this until I found a piece of furniture that I liked enough and was cheap enough for me to buy as a project. And then I found this…

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Isn’t she a beauty?! Haha! But she only cost $20! And truly I was drawn in by the bowed front drawers. She had potential.
A couple years ago I picked up a couple pints of donated paint in colors I thought would someday be useful. One of those little pints of paint was a light grey, perfect for the dresser! The pint only cost $1 way back when I purchased it.
Note: most hardware stores have little cans of sample paint that people have returned and are sold for a couple of dollars each. I think I found mine at a local Ace Hardware.
After lightly sanding and rolling on gray paint with a foam roller I was left with this:

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So for a good $21 I had a solid piece of furniture with a new finish. Not bad! And for that very reason I decided to splurge on some new hardware to really give this old dresser a new life.

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I can’t bring myself to love solid brass even though it’s making a comback. But I fell in love with these “champagne gold” u-turn handles! And I love the compliment of grey and gold or silver and gold. Mmmmm- mmmmmm Good!

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We lived with the dresser like this for awhile, while I collected my funds to buy 6 handles and 4 knobs for a total that I’m not totally proud of admitting on a $21 project dresser. Alright, alright I’ll tell you. The handles were $9 a piece an the knobs were $5. Bringing the hardware total in at about $80 plus shipping. 😁
But it was worth it!!!

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I had to drill new holes and fill the old drill holes in order to accommodate my new, slightly longer handles. And then patch, sand and repaint the drawer fronts. But I LOVE how it turned out and feel the piece will work great In a living space or bedroom alike!

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Lastly I leave you with the before and after comparison image!

Keepin’ it glamorous!
Lexie

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Little Girls In their Little World’s

I’m just so excited about a mini design project I have been working on that I MUST share! I loved designing my daughter’s room (actual pictures coming soon) and making a magical and fun space for them, and today I got to do it again! This room design is for a sweet 2 yer old from our church who is always dressed to impress and needs a room as fashion forward as she is! Her mom wanted to use the color scheme of pink and gold with touches of black, and I am All About That!

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The room is basically a great canvas and therefore in a perfect place to start!

Here is my fun, pink and gold and glittery space:

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I lie animal prints, and even more I love the idea of mixing animal prints!So, I am going to make some black and white prints with Leopard heart-shaped spots to be framed. Then mix in the black and white zebra rug on the pinkish carpet for an awesome accent!
The walls would be painted 6′ tall with a pink/coral color, leaving the top stripe white. It helps make the room feel more intimate and more scaled to a toddler. On the wall with the window I proposed doing some gold polka dot wall decals in a random pattern, floating up and over the top of the window, and the adding a little table and chairs (for tea parties of course) right in front of all the polka dots. Custom canvases are a must, and can be bought from B.Art Studios (my favorite) or made yourself.
Other details in the room include black painted letters spelling out her name, a pennant banner with a cute phrase that repeats the gold polkadot pattern, a gold lamp (something found at goodwill and spray-painted), black and white stripe curtains (sewing project) and painting the existing dresser a darker coral color than the wall.

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The Striped Wing-back Chair

For a very long time I’ve been in love with black and white striped wing-back chairs. Although they are a bit of a “unicorn” (mythical creature), being that they are either always a. Ridiculously expensive or b.)custom made/one of a kind. I have found a couple some-what tangible ones on etsy in either a chevron stripe or with the stripes running vertical. But I had my heart and eyes set on these horizontal striped beauties:

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Actually there is not a single thing about this image that I wasn’t drooling over, so I set out to recreate it on a low, LOW budget.
I have to have a real good reason to come home with a new “project” (especially a mammouth one) or my husband might die of stress, induced by my over ambitious spirit. But guess what, I had a great reason to bring home these 2 giant wing-back chairs…

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FREE! That’s right, I got these torn apart beauties for free off of craigslist. This picture is after i got at that old fabric, but the before really wasn’t that much better. They were torn and worn!
I have never reupholstered anything legit like this before, so in taking off the old fabric I was “dissecting” it to see how to go about “putting it back together” #madscientistatwork. Here are a couple pics I took along the way as a roadmap for myself.

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Taking off the fabric and removing all the staples was seriously the hardest part and a lot more work that I ever dreamed. But once it was complete the fun began!

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The above were in chronological order, just so you know if you ever want to attempt this yourself. And once I got to this point I was feeling rather successful. But I wasn’t mentally prepared for the next battle. The battle of the sewing machine!!

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I am not a seamstress. I repeat. I AM NOT A SEAMSTRESS!!! The process of sewing the cushions was 1 step forward 9000000 steps back!!! So don’t judge my skill level on that detail please!

Ok… Now here comes the fun part… We just moved into our new place and I got to put together my dream dining arrangement per my inspiration picture… I will address my budget after the pictures.

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^during the move

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The wall was looking a little bare and I had to track down the perfect print. So I made some mock-ups of possible prints I found online:

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I decided on creating my own “Less is more” poster to get printed at Costco for $8. But then I remembered my moms large print of a photo she took during her years working as a photo journalist and asked her if I could have it.

And I know you are all just DYING to see the finished look…

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BUDGET:
Now, I’m not sure how much my inspiration room cost but I’m guessing a 4-5 grand. Mine cost a total of $190!!!

Table- $0 from my mom’s old antique furniture collection- painted black with a can of paint sitting around.

Stools- $30 from target, on clearance and used remaining balance on a gift card.

Chairs- free

Fabric and coffee mugs- $100 – Ikea

Tools, thread, a new upholstery staple gun and nail head tacking strips – $60.

But I’m not done… I still have to find a fantastic chandelier. Although I love the teal beaded one in my inspiration pick, they too are “unicorns”. But I’m sure I will have something awesomely glamorous to show you soon!

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Bedroom DreamzzZZ!

We are gearing up and getting ready to move! HOLLA! I am so excited and haven’t been able to contain my interior designer self.

Among many projects currently in the works, I have plans to update our bedroom into a serene and beautiful sanctuary- while still on a minimal budget of course…

Currently, Our bedroom furniture is dark chocolate brown, with sage and creme bedding. I loved the look of the furniture when it was in our loft bedroom before:

But it just seems like in an old and dank apartment it wont look fresh and crisp like it did here (new construction). The bed frame above is a double and a hand-me-down from my mom. It is high time that my husband and I UPsize to a Queen. All the more room for morning snuggles with our 2 little girls. The dressers are from Ikea. I really liked them when I bought them, but now I feel like they are too masculine. And let’s face it, I want my bedroom to be feminine, Feminine, FEMININE!!!

So, here are the inspiration pictures I collected for my new room.

<3 all about this

What I love:

The small zebra rug with the white and black trunk. And guess who has an old trunk just waiting for a coat of paint >This Girl<

The silver/stainless side tables. I have a rectangular mirror table that will suit the same look at a price of $0.

The modern white dresser and large white mirror.

Chic White Bedroom

What I love:

-The white furniture.

-The upholstered headboard

-The gold tassel throw blanket.

-The polka dot metallic pillows

-The neutral patterned drapes

My Design Plan

bedroom inspiration

With my MAX budget at $250, I have to be very thrifty in changing basically EVERYTHING about my current room.

To start, I am going to paint my IKEA dressers white, and add a stenciled pattern on the bluish colored frosted glass, in hopes to create a similar effect to these white, mirrored dressers from Zgallerie. I will be creating my own upholstered headboard, which I have done in the past and have confidence in. And I will also be making my own drapes in a neutral Ikat fabric.

For the longer dresser/console. I found and old, tacky dresser console that needs a little love. But a fresh coat of paint and some updated gold hardware should do the trick!

Then there is the large white mirror to hang above the console. I found someone selling a large rectangle mirror for only $20 (STEAL!) that I had my eyes on. But then, while window shopping at Home Goods, I saw an already white, large decorative mirror for about $60. This is where I want to splurge. Is it worth the extra work and time just to save

Sometime down the road I will look for that Oh So Beautiful tassely, sprakly blanket and some shiny lamps with black shades, but that doesn’t fit into the current budget.

Currently I’ll continue collecting, sewing and painting my way into my dream bedroom. Can’t wait to update you once we FINALLY move!

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High Low Challenge

One of my favorite ways to design is by giving myself my own little “High-Low Challenges”. Meaning, I look for a high end design that I L❤VE and I try to recreate it on a limited budget. Because, just like everyone else, I want a high end look without breaking the bank.

My “High-End” Design Inspiration:

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These White Chippendale style dining chairs from http://www.homedecoratorscollection.com are currently on sale for $161 each!

Let’s face it, I don’t have $600+ for dining chairs!

But a little scouring of the ole’ Craigslist ads and I found these beauties:

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4 Chippendale style chairs! And for a grand total of $25! Can you say “STEAL”! Time to give these gals a face lift:

Step 1: Prep
I always use a foam sanding block to rough up the surface of the wood so the paint will stick. Then I paint a base coat with a primer sealer. This was necessary because I was painting a dark stain with white paint. It ultimately saved me an extra coat.

Step 2: Paint
I always use a foam roller and foam brushes. They are cheap and the paint sticks to the wood easier than with a bristol brush. Make sure to catch all drips… while painting furniture you are bound to have a lot of them!

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Step 3: Upholstery
I found a beautiful and simple tan linen upholstery. After detaching the seats I simply used a staple gun, making sure to pull the fabric taut. Here are some example photos for newbies:

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Step 4: Admire

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Luckily, I finished these chairs just in time for Thanksgiving. We expanded our table and added to our previous DIY Silver X-back chairs with our new Chippendale chairs for a table set for 8! I love mixing vintage inspired items with classical pieces and modern aesthetics.

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With the chairs in place I began to set our Thanksgiving table. The stage was laid with some burlap fabric I had in storage, and then metallic $1chargers allowed me to mimic the metallic on my x-Back chairs. I mixed gold a silver so that neither metallic would dominate the setting. I pulled out our wedding china for the first time, pleased to find how perfectly it went with my new Chippendale chairs. I elongated the centerpiece down the table’s aisle complete with white candles, a hammered silver votive, pine cones, and a gold/silver metallic owl (found for $7). I found a spool of twine in the garage and tied it around the center of each napkin, giving a bowtie shape. The table was set. The result was simply stunning.

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High-Low Challenge Success!

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High- $600+. Low- $35