Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Natural Light and Interior Design

~ This is a featured post. ~

There is no true right and wrong when it comes to interior design. Like fashion, it is entirely personal (it is, after all, your home). If you absolutely love a certain type of quirky design that others don’t understand, then that’s their problem. You love it, it works. Not everything you love, however, will translate well. This is because every single one of us needs a healthy environment in order to thrive. You therefore must adhere to a few design rules, like letting in as much natural light as possible.

The Power of Natural Light 
There are so many benefits to natural light. For one, it can help regulate your circadian cycle. What this cycle does is it helps you be alert and awake during the day time and then get your body ready for sleep by bedtime. Plenty of light is also great for improving mental health, helping you stay calm, and of course can that finishing touch to any room’s interior design. 

How to Control Natural Light in Your Home 
Knowing how to control natural light in your home is necessary if you want to improve your interior design. Your bedroom needs light, yes, but it also needs privacy. Then there are ways to dress windows to add beautiful shadow play. Other ways to add sharp lines and a modern touch. There are many ways to take control of the natural light in your home, and here are the top four:  

1. Add Custom Window Dressings 
It is a mistake to assume you always want to let in as much light as possible. Perhaps a window gets direct sunlight in the summer, and you want to keep your home as cool as possible, or perhaps you want more privacy. By getting custom window dressings like the best plantation shutters Charleston can offer, you can be in full control of how much light you want to let in and can customize it to match your interior design. 

2. Use Mirrors 
If a room gets little natural light or sunlight, then you can brighten the room by using reflective surfaces. Mirrors, glass, and even wax finished furniture can all help reflect the natural light, brightening the whole room even if the original source is minimal. 

3. Use Light Coloured Walls or Textiles 
If you have a room full of windows, you can use darker colors to your hearts content. If you only have a small window or one window to deal with it is often better to use lighter toned elements to again reflect the light and make the room appear brighter. 

4. Don’t Block the Windows with Furniture
Furniture should never be backed right up against a window. Instead, pull furniture away. A metre is a good approach, but it will depend on the size of your room and what you can get away with. Similarly, if using drapes, you don’t want to block the windows, and instead use a larger curtain rod so you can rest the drapes on the side of the wall next to the window. 

Natural light must always be part of your interior design consideration. How to increase the amount of light you get, how to control it, how to make more use of it – always consider how your design is impacted by the lighting conditions and work with what you have.  

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Kitchen Diner Makeover

Do you have a corner or two in your home you purposely avoid every time you take an interior photo? My kitchen and kitchen diner was one of them. I know one day I am going to need to gut our kitchen. But I also know a kitchen project is extremely disruptive to our routine and daily life, and I am still yet to work up that courage to pull the trigger. Before that, I thought I would do a mini makeover to modernize this space. Below is the design plan I put together. I called it modern rustic, nature-inspired but also refined. 

The MCM style Andresen console table from All Modern was the jumping-off point for the room. Now I have a perfect window spot to sip a cup of tea while catching up on some quick reading. The drawers provide extra storage which makes this stylish console table not just a pretty face. 

The most satisfying addition in our kitchen diner had to be the Ikea Fjalkinge shelving unit. The mid-century turned leg standing planter to the left in the picture below is from West Elm. It was my birthday present from my brother and sister-in-law. They surely knew what to get their crazy plant lady sista. 

Below was the Before of the same corner. The brown display case was from EQ3 from our old house. I always told myself I needed to replace that every time I walked by (which means a few times every day), but my procrastination kept it there for almost 10 years! 

I've been eyeing Ikea Fjalkinge shelving unit for a long time. I was going to use it for our cottage loft, but it was out of stock for the longest time, and a tad too tall. I finally found a perfect spot at home for it. Installing it wasn't difficult - Mr. was able to complete it all by himself within an hour. 

It looks amazing once assembled, not to say it's super functional. But the quality was a bit inconsistent, see the picture below. It still puzzled me why there was sharpie marking on this post. Fortunately we were able to face this side towards the wall so the flaw was completely concealed. 

The two drawers are super roomy. Did you see the two cake stands on the left in the picture below? Yes, cake stands fit in there! This shelving unit now holds most of my hosting supplies. 

Of late I am a bit fan of open shelves. Not only do they provide storage, they also inspire (or dare I say discipline) you to be clutter-free. After all, who would want to display their mess, right? I was very motivated to style it pretty. Nature-inspired was my decor theme for 2019, so I picked up this "Plant Style: How to Greenify Your Space" book by by Alana Langan and Jacqui Vidal.

First order was to add a few plants of different shapes and forms to the shelves. This "Strings of Banana" succulent plant looks so chic on the top shelf. To me, plants bring warmth and texture to a space. They give an otherwise utilitarian and mundane nook its heart beat. 

My beloved Pilea is sitting pretty on the middle shelf. I also used dish holder rack to hold cheese boards and display books. 

So this was my kitchen diner makeover. It's functional, grounded, modern and happy. It's very me

3-light chandelier: West Elm Bolete Chander. 
Shelving unit: Ikea Fjalkinge. 
Vintage basket with handle on top shelf: JKC Vintage via Instagram. 
Woven baskets, black/white stoneware canisters: HM Home. 
MCM standing planter: West Elm. 
Black and white cowhide rug: Decor Hut. 
"Strings of Banana" succulent plant: Sheridan Nurseries.
Andresen mid-century console table: All Modern. 
Matte black ceramic French press: Neocasa via Amazon. 
Blue grey vase: EQ3. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Project Recap

2018 was undoubtedly another busy yet very satisfying year for me. Besides three out-of-the-country trips (Portugal in March, Switzerland in July and Hawaii in November), I managed to complete decorating three rooms, and eight refresh projects at home and cottage. Time passed by so quickly that I often felt déjà vu moments. Didn't we just pack away Christmas tree not long ago? Weren't we at this restaurant this time last year? These were the questions we kept asking ourselves throughout the year. As we age, each year becomes a smaller percentage of our life hence time tends to leap forward at a faster pace. As time seems to move at an accelerating rate for me, I learnt to slow down and enjoyed some nothingness from time to time. For someone as tightly wound as me, I would call that a huge accomplishment. 

Here is a recap of my decor projects from 2018:

At Cottage

Kitchen: we had counter-to-ceiling subway tiles installed at our cottage kitchen. You can read about it here

Loft: we turned a supposedly storage loft into a multi-purpose room, link here

Living room floating cabinet: I highly recommend a floating cabinet for smaller space. 

Bathrooms: for our master ensuite, we got rid of the impractical pedestal sink and had a vanity with storage installed. 

For the main bathroom, we replaced lighting fixtures, mirror and faucet for a more modern look. 

At Home

Master bathroom: I finally bid farewell to our two-handle faucets and opted for an easy to operate single-handle ones. As a result, I had to replace the counter, of course then mirrors then vanity lights. You can read all about it here

Dining room: our dining room gets the least amount of natural light all year round, so I brightened it up by painting it white (BM's Chantilly Lace is my go-to white paint. No yellow undertone whatsoever and very livable). I also replaced the dining chairs. It never ceased to amaze me for something that I once vowed I'd love forever (like those solid mahogany dining chairs), I could easily get rid of in a heartbeat when they outstayed their welcome. Link here

Kitchen diner: I refreshed this room on a whim but it turned out to be my favourite project of 2018. 

This shelf has all my heart. 

I will be back to write about my 2019 projects. Happy New Year to you and yours! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Nature-Inspired Holiday Decorating with Brian Gluckstein

Can you believe Christmas is one week away? I for one can't! It's like I blinked, pressed the fast-forward button, and we are already there. I've been feeling equally excited and panicky about this year's holiday decorating. Time is a scarce commodity for busy people like us. Besides the usual hectic work schedules, we've been busy searching for a winter home south of the border in a warmer and dryer climate (more on that later). It's been harder and harder to find days when I could get myself in the zone where my creative juices could run free. It's also the self-imposed pressure that this year's holiday decor needs to be more unique than the last year's. All that unnecessary obsessing aside, at the end I went with whatever my heart desired: a more simplistic, cozy and nature-inspired holiday decorating theme for 2018. 

Picture above features a few of my favourite things this year: faux fur pom-pom stockings by Glucksteinhome, wooden bead garland, antique brass candlesticks with black taper candles, and wispy long-needle pine garland. 

My 2018 holiday mantel. 

Now onto the dining room. Besides kitchen, dining room is where all the holiday fun and memories were made from holiday gatherings with family and friends. After a recent makeover, this space feels more current and more us

This is my 2018 holiday dining table setting based on the Darius Silver collection from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox. Its neutral colour palette and striking geometric patterns create a calm and cozy ambience without looking boring. 

I actually created two versions, one with a blue dessert plate for a pop of colour; and the other with the Brian Gluckstein by Lenox Darius bread/appetizer plate

Blue above, Darius silver below. 

At the end I went with the Darius silver. The tablescape looks so much more put-together this way. 

I also used Leyland Cypress boughs, and Glucksteinhome LED mercury glass tree candle, together with a few glass Paz trees from CB2, to create a simple centrepiece. 

I am really loving how this year's holiday table setting turned out. I went through a few iterations to get to this point, so here are a few tips I would like to share:
  • Start early, so you have time to make adjustments and acquire missing pieces. 
  • Pick a theme, or not. Either way, don't go overboard with accessories, so you can create a more calm and cohesive appeal. 
  • Use natural materials as much as possible, for a more sophisticated yet not over-the-top look, for example, fresh greenery and organic linen tablecloth and napkins. 
  • Serve your guests with the best quality dinnerware possible, like this bone china set from Brian Gluckstein by Lenox

I will be back in a bit to show you the rest of my 2018 holiday home tour. A 2018 project recap list is also long past due so that's coming your way too. Stay tuned and festive! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas 2018 Home Tour

After a few weeks on the road, we are finally back to the comfort of our own home and ready to celebrate holidays with family and friends. And of course, all the halls were finally decked, with only one short week to spare before Christmas. Without further ado, let's start my 2018 holiday home tour. 

First stop has to be the living room. Unlike last year, we moved the tree to the opposite side of the room for a change. I am used to having my first coffee while catching up on morning news in that chair to the right, so standing up the tree on the other side would mean I didn't have to compromise my daily routine during holidays. 

Picture below: my 2018 Christmas holiday living room.

My 2018 Christmas tree, unlit. 

My 2018 Christmas tree, all lit up. 

Mantel, wispy long needle pine garland, antique brass candlesticks with a simple DIY eucalyptus collar. 

Picture below: the only new baubles I added this year were these amber glass ball ornaments from H&M Home. 

Gifts wrapped in craft paper. 

Next step is foyer. Ever since we moved the tree from our usual spot (by the staircase) in the foyer to the living room, this space felt a bit lonely during holidays. There's no wow factor for our guests when they first came through the door. So this year I added a small but fresh Balsam Fir here to add a touch of festivity. The same long needle pine garlands draped over the staircase handrail. 

Along the wall on the opposite side of the staircase is this new Article BIOS sideboard which is now my favourite piece of furniture at home. 

I kept this wall simple. The reflection of the garlands in the mirror was a nice touch. 

So there you have it, my 2018 Christmas home tour. Dining room and holiday table settings are up next. 

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