Ingenious Designer Decorating Secrets that Won’t Break the Bank

If we would try to define interior design, we would say that is the profession that deals with coordination and design of decorative elements in interior space. In reality, interior design is much more than that. It is the art of putting together millions of puzzle pieces to make everything look just perfect. People who are familiar with this profession only via magazines and home improvement TV shows tend to think that decorating some space requires a lot of money, when in fact, the creativity is what’s more important. Here are a few decorating secrets that will convince you in the veracity of this claim.

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Three Is the Magic Number

Here is a simple trick you don’t have to spend a dime on. All you need to do is to rearrange furniture or accessory items so in groups of three items in different heights. Take, for example, one pouf and two side tables or chairs. Group them together and you will create enough dynamic to draw the eye and provide a sense of movement.

Play with the Light

Understanding the principles of layering lighting can help you design a perfect room. The three main types of light you should introduce are ambient, accent and task. Ambient (usually wall-mount or chandelier) is the canvas on which you will draw the entire picture. Task serves a practical purpose (desk lamps, countertop lamps, etc.). Accent can enhance an architectural feature, artwork or some similar parts of the room.

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Extra tip: If you want to make the room seem bigger, introduce mirrors opposite to light sources.

Look Up!

White is the most conventional choice for ceiling paint, but who says that you have to do everything like everyone else? The ceiling can be just as visually appealing as any other part of the room if you dare to experiment with other shades. Make sure you don’t go overboard and stick to gentler shades like lavender, gray-blue, and buttery yellow. Another interesting way to draw the eye up is by adding ceiling molding.

Spruce Up Your Kitchen

Kitchen remodeling is one of the top home improvement projects you can tackle, but if you are not careful, it can be one of the most expensive too. Focus on minor tasks, such as refacing the cabinets, changing the cabinet hardware, painting the walls and replacing the fixtures.

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Create a Focal Wall

Creating an accent wall is simple, and what’s more important, affordable. Choose one empty wall where you can create an uninterrupted theme. You can accentuate it by painting it a different shade, displaying artwork, showing off family photos, arranging travel souvenirs, wallpapering, etc. If you are going with souvenirs or framed photos/paintings, make sure to have a unifying element (e.g. same size, frame colors, theme).

Follow the Right Trends

There are dozens of interior trends. Some come and go like a comet, other stick around for a couple of years and become a classic. Some require huge investments, while others can be done on a shoestring budget. Be careful, though, implementing a certain style you’re not familiar with (e.g. Scandinavian, Japandi, etc.) asking for pro help can actually save you more money, in the long run.

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Salvage and Reclaim

We are witnessing a movement that includes finding old items (usually on flea markets and antique shops) and breathing in new life into them, while preserving their classic finishes. This is great news for your wallet, since you’ll spend the minimal amount of money and get a trendy and classy addition to your décor. These pieces will create that unique back-to-home feel and introduce more warmth into every space.

Give Your Artwork a Twist

Displaying art in a home has always been a way to elevate a room and make it more refined. However, not all of us can afford expensive gallery-worthy pieces that make great conversation starters, but don’t give up on art just yet. You can frame inexpensive prints of classic portraits (e.g. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mona Lisa) and paint the portion just below the eyes with dark paint to produce an avant-garde feel.

You see, money isn’t the most important ingredient of a successful interior design project. On the contrary, when seasoned with creativity, every decorating endeavor is bound to succeed.

**Lana Hawkins is an architecture student from Sydney. She enjoys writing about interior decoration and renovation, which she does regularly for Smooth Decorator. Lana is interested in sustainability and green building, as well as landscaping.

 

Creating a Cozy Fireplace Scene

By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

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The modern fireplace is more than just a place that provides warmth in the winter—it’s a natural focal point for any room. Whether it’s in the bedroom, dining room or living room, a fireplace is prime real estate for introducing more style and comfort to your home. From simple additions like accessories and bold artwork, to more complex alterations like new facing, there’s a way to create a cozy fireplace scene within every budget. Grab some cocoa and a snuggly blanket—let’s take a look at a few favorite ways you can create a cozy fireplace scene.

Fix Up the Facing

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A new facing can completely change the look and feel of a space. It is a more complex option, but a new facing can go a long way. This is also a fantastic option for those wishing to truly overhaul the style of a room or the entire home—swap that outdated granite for a classic marble, or get the contemporary feel you’ve always wanted by introducing some funky tile. As a focal point, it can instantly elevate a room to its new potential. Cheaper alternatives are also an option for those looking for noticeable alterations without the major price tag. Simply painting brick a crisp neutral can add airiness to a dreary room, so don’t underestimate the magic of a can of paint for creating your new vision.

Update the Mantle

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Similar to facing, changing up the fireplace mantle can help create a cohesive, updated look. Play around with materials and styles to make your fireplace your own. A simple, floating beam adds just the right amount of warmth for a rustic vibe, while a sleek and minimal mantle is perfect for a contemporary room. Add detailing to a bathroom or lush transitional living room with an intricate mantle—you’ll be sure to turn heads with your show-stopping focal point. For an easy yet significant change, consider painting your mantle a different color. An updated neutral is a wonderful go-to for a clean look, while an unexpected color adds depth and pizazz that is stunning all year round.

Play Around with Accessories

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Adding just a few accessories can make all the difference when it comes to elevating the fireplace area into a cozy yet functional scene. Fireplace screens not only keep your surrounding area clean and safe, they’re an easy way to add another interesting pattern and/or material to the room. Firewood racks filled with logs add instant warmth and charm, and they aren’t just for rustic interiors—mid-century admirers will love a modern rack filled with decorative birch logs, while a more transitional interior is a great candidate for a simple yet elegant rack. Top off your cozy space with an antique fireplace tool set and you’re ready for winter entertaining around the fire.  

Add Some Dashing Decor

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Take your cozy fireplace scene to a whole new level with some dynamic decor. The jewelry of the space, fireplace decor is all about adding a bow on the finished project and making your statement. Plush floor cushions or snuggly flokati rugs are fantastic for winter huddles by the fire. A welcoming fireplace scene wouldn’t be complete without fun decor on the mantle or hearth—from apothecary jars to glittering vases to branches or fresh flowers, decor options are endless with a wide range of color palettes and styles. Top off your fireplace scene with a bold art piece or a favorite mirror above the mantel and you’ve got yourself a warm and welcoming area.

What are your favorite elements of your cozy fireplace?

** Home design specialist Kerrie Kelly shares her decor tips online for The Home Depot. Kerrie’s interior design firm Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, regularly advises clients on decor solutions for all parts of their homes. For various fireplace options, visit the Home Depot website.

Happy Homeowners: The Morlan Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features The Morlan Family, who recently built their new home in Orlando.  Read below to hear about Morlan’s homebuilding journey with M/I Homes!

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M/I Homes:  Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Angelia Morlan: This is our second M/I home.  Our first home was an M/I Home.  It was about a year old when we bought it and we lived in it for 13 years.  We knew when we were ready for a new home, we wanted M/I Homes to build it again.  We never had any problems with our first home and knew that M/I Homes built a good, solid home.  We did not even consider another builder.

 

M/I: Are you happy with how your home turned out?

AM: Yes!  This is absolutely our dream home.  We decided to build from the ground up so we could get everything we wanted.  We have been in our new home for almost 2 months now and still can’t believe it is really ours.  You will hear the words “I love our house” several times a week as we arrive home from work or eating out.  We are taking our time decorating each room and enjoying every minute!

M/I: What is the name of your floorplan and what features of your home do you especially love?

AM: The floorplan we chose is called the Essex.  It has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a bonus room on the second level.  We love the layout of the home and the great use of space utilized in this floorplan.  As far as features go, there are so many.  The one great thing we found with building with M/I Homes is that so many features that one may consider an upgrade are already included in the base model of any of the floorplans in our community.  We loved the brick pavers on the driveway and back patio, granite counter tops in the kitchen and master bath, the covered lanai, and the stone accent on the exterior.  These were not upgrades but came standard on the house.  Other features that we love include the master suite which is the size of a small apartment with a huge walk in closet and master bath.  We also love the large open living room, kitchen, and dining area with so many windows and a panoramic view of the golf course and tree line behind us.

 

M/I: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes? Did you get to pick out your home site and the floorplan you wanted to build, or had the home already been started?

AM: This was not our first experience living in an M/I Home, but it was our first experience building from the ground up.  It really was one of the best experiences we have ever had when it comes to building and buying a home.  We loved that we got to pick out the floorplan and the home site.  We actually looked at several M/I Home communities in our area but we kept coming back to Serenity at Redtail because the views were amazing.  Honestly, every home in the community has no one behind them and a lovely view of either a common area filled with beautiful trees, a lake, or the golf course.  We picked a lot with a view of Redtail golf course.  The best part is we get to see the sunrise to our left and the sunset to our right from our back lanai.  I am addicted to sunset pictures and have already taken quite a few.

 

M/I: Do you have any fun memories from the buying / building process?

AM: We loved visiting the construction site every week.  We could really see the quality of the work going into the house from the inside out.  Several times my husband and I brought our lawn chairs and sat on the back patio, watched the sunset, and talked about how we would decorate our new home.  We also loved visiting with Linda, our M/I Homes Sales Associate.  It was also a lot of fun working with Julie at the Design Center.  She had great ideas in interior design and really helped to make our vision of our dream home a reality.

 

M/I: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

AM: The views are stunning.  A sense of peace fills you as soon as you drive in the neighborhood.  There is always a breeze and it just feels good to be there whether we are inside of our home or walking around the neighborhood.  We love seeing the wildlife almost on a daily basis.  We love that we can walk out of our back door and are steps away from the golf course.  We love that we feel like we are on vacation. We are away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city, but still close enough to entertainment and shopping.

 

M/I: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

AM: Really look at the community you are considering to buy a home in.  M/I Homes does a great job with not just the quality of the construction of the home, but also with what is around your new home. We have beautiful trees, a golf course, and beautiful common areas for everyone in the community to enjoy.

M/I: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

AM: We moved in the day before Thanksgiving.  Our neighbor, next door, invited us to spend the day with them since they knew we would be moving. It was great to enjoy a wonderful meal with them and to get to know them.  We feel very lucky that they are our neighbors.  We also will never forget spending our first Christmas in our new home.

 

M/I:  What is your favorite space in your new home? Do you have any pictures of that space you would like to share?

AM: My husband and son would say the man cave, AKA bonus room, it’s their favorite room in the house.  My favorite space is the back patio because of the amazing view.  I sit out there every evening.  I also really love our master suite.

 

M/I: What was something that surprised you the most with building/moving into a new home?

AM: I was surprised at how involved M/I Homes and our building superintendent allowed us to be.  We could come by and walk through the house anytime we wanted to and could ask questions and give input along the way.

M/I: Any suggestions you would give to someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

AM: Take a lot of pictures during the building process.  It is so neat to go back and look through them once you are in your home.  It was also helpful to have the pictures as a resource when making decorating decisions.

 

M/I: Any additional items / stories you would like to share about your new home?

AM: Our English Bulldog Yeti, loves his new home too.  When we first moved in, he ran laps up and down the long foyer and hallway.  His favorite space is our living room.  He sits in the same spot each night and watches TV with us.  He also enjoys sitting on the patio and watching the golfers and the Sandhill Cranes walk by.

 

Top 2017 Home Improvement Projects and How to Afford Them

By: Elizabeth Trach

When you own your own home, it seems like there’s always a list of projects to complete to keep it both beautiful and functional. Sometimes a broken air conditioner or garage door will force your hand and you’ll have to make a repair, but usually the decisions about which projects to tackle are all yours. Choose wisely, and you’ll reap the benefits when you sell your home for top dollar in the future.

So how’s a cost-conscious homeowner supposed to know which home improvement projects will bring the great return on investment for 2017? Each year, Remodeling magazine conducts a study about the cost of the most popular home improvement projects, and they calculate how much of the costs homeowners make back when they sell those properties. The 2016 results are the best way to plan your 2017 home improvement spending to get the most for your money.

Top 5 Home Projects for 2017

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It’s not surprising that some of the best investments you can make in your home are ones that add to its efficiency and curb appeal. Making your home more energy-efficient by adding insulation and blocking drafts will lower your heating and cooling costs so much that these projects almost pay for themselves. Additionally, making your house look great from the street will attract future buyers. Each of Remodeling’s top five projects will bring back some of the money you invest:

  • Adding Insulation: This is the only home improvement project that consistently pays for itself — and then some. You can’t see the results, but you’ll feel them every time you turn on the heat or open your electricity bill.
  • Adding Stone Veneer: Sprucing up your home’s exterior with luxury materials really pays off. If stone veneer would be out of place with your home’s architectural style, replacing the siding also provides an excellent return on investment.
  • Replacing Garage Doors: Upgrading garage doors provides an instant facelift and can boost your quality of life when you don’t have to worry about them getting stuck in inclement weather anymore.
  • Replacing Exterior Doors: Replacing exterior doors with steel or fiberglass models is a one-two punch that lets you improve the look of your entryway while stopping drafts in their tracks.
  • Remodeling the Kitchen: A minor kitchen remodel that includes cabinet refacing, efficient appliances, new fixtures and a clean color scheme will really pay off. You’ll enjoy cooking much more in a room you love, and future buyers will appreciate your good taste in this all-important room.

How to Cover the Costs of Your Remodeling Projects

Once you’ve chosen which home improvement project you’re ready to invest in this year, you’ll need to plan how to finance it. Depending on the total cost and your credit score, one of these popular payment methods should work for these mid-range projects:

  • Cash Savings: If a quick kitchen update is under $1,000, or if your state provides rebates for energy efficient projects, as some do according to Energy.gov, paying in cash can be easier than you think. Avoiding interest charges will save you money in the long run, so it’s a good option if you can afford it.
  • Credit Cards: Financing your home improvement project with a new credit card is a good way to take advantage of an interest-free period and/or bonus points. If you’ve received a pre-approved credit card offer recently, you could get a good deal if you do your research before signing up.
  • HELOC: A Home Equity Line of Credit typically offers low interest rates and a long payback period for homeowners, but you need to have paid off a certain percentage of your mortgage to qualify. If you’ve lived in your home for several years, it’s worth talking to a mortgage specialist to see if you should apply.
  • Mortgage Refinance: If you’re currently paying a high interest rate on your mortgage, you might be able to refinance your loan at a lower rate and cash out some home improvement money without raising your monthly payment. Talk to a specialist to weigh your options.

**Elizabeth Trach is a professional writer and editor living in Newburyport, MA. In addition to scrupulously saving her pennies, she also sings in a band, grows almost all her own food, and occasionally even cooks it. You can catch up on all her adventures in extreme gardening at Port Potager.

The Overlooked Entryway Elements Your Space is Missing

Whether you love entertaining, have kids who always have friends over, or simply want a welcoming space to step into every day, revamping your entryway is the perfect way to start 2017. The entryway is where the interior of your home makes its first impression, so creating a livable and welcoming space is key. Here we’re discussing the five must-have—but often overlooked—details of creating a stellar entryway space.

 

  1. An Area Rug

Area rugs in any part of the home lay down the foundation for good design, but this is especially true in your entryway. This space is the first glimpse of your personal style that guests see when they step into your home, so laying a fabulous foundation underfoot is essential! If you have a narrow entryway, a stunning runner in a fun pattern or interesting weave is sure to please. Have more room to play? Consider layering a hide over a jute or sisal rug for an instant dose of style.

  1. Lots of Lighting

Lighting is essential in every room, but the entryway is where you can add in the awe factor. Yes, layers of fabulous lighting can get a little pricey, but it is so worth it. To start, find a chandelier or pendant fixture that sets the scene as your focal point. Next, add in a pair of table lamps perched on a nearby console. Lastly, if your entryway has room, consider installing recessed lighting leading to the next space in your home. The different layers of lighting create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

  1. A Unique Piece

Now that you have coziness underfoot and lots of lighting above, it’s time to sprinkle in a little more of your personality. Entryways are generally dull areas because people don’t linger there as often as they do the living area or kitchen. However, adding in a bright and beautiful focal point, like a unique piece of art, a wall tapestry or a mirror, will have your guests admiring your beautiful entryway. Place the piece at eye level tucked between the two table lamps on a nearby console, and voila—a stylish statement in no time at all.

  1. Some Seating

While most people don’t perch themselves in the entryway for the duration of their stay, having seating available is a good idea. Though it might be for fashion instead of function, having a stylish seating option near the front door lets your guests know there is ample room to kick up their feet should they need it. In the meantime, style your seating by placing a tray filled with books, accessories, candles and other items of interest atop its cushion and use it as a vignette until it’s needed again. Our favorite options include upholstered benches and ottomans featuring hidden storage.

  1. A Drop Zone

While “drop zone” may not be a term you’re familiar with, the concept is something that we all need. Whether you’re entering or exiting your space, you will most likely reach for your phone (or the charger), your keys, your wallet and other knick-knacks that could come in handy throughout the day. For these miscellaneous, yet very important items, you’ll need a drop zone. On top of the nearby console table with the two table lamps and stunning statement art, add a set of trays, key holder, jar or stylish box to act as your drop zone, holding your nearest and dearest treasures until they need to be picked up or used again.

Are these five pieces in your entryway already? Which other essentials would you recommend for a stylish, welcoming space?

 
***Interior design specialist Kerrie Kelly shares her decor tips online for The Home Depot. Kerrie’s firm Kerrie Kelly Design Lab regularly advises clients on decor solutions for all parts of the home. For rugs and flooring options that can augment an entryway, visit the Home Depot website.

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