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Simple ways to make your home look expensive

Want your home to look like a million bucks? This week we spill on how to make your home look expensive without breaking your budget. These instant updates and simple solutions will give your home a high end look.

via house beautiful
via house beautiful

Simple Shelves

Those who know me, know how much I detest clutter. It makes me crazy. But today clutter isn’t on the list…simple shelves are though. This means if you have open shelving, it has to be thought of as art and not storage. If it’s storage you need, then do cabinets. Open shelving HAS TO BE PRETTY – otherwise it looks messy and cheap.

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 Bold Art

Don’t be afraid to have very large art, no matter how small the space. Going oversize is sophisticated and looks expensive. If you can afford an original, then go for it. If the budget is smaller, then consider painting your own or even having photos blown up large scale. Another trick is to hang frames in a grid pattern, as then it reads as one large piece.

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Fresh Arrangements

Adding fresh florals to a room will really take it to another level. Having a large floral budget isn’t necessary. We love using branches snipped from the yard ( or a kind neighbour’s yard) to add drama to a space. A single floral placed in individual vases also makes a statement for a fraction of the cost. Try forcing your own bulbs…even little potted plants will add a fresh appeal.

via elle decor
via elle decor

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Design Simply

We all want our space to exude comfort, luxury and sophistication and the best way to do this is to keep it simple. Don’t overdo it, don’t try too hard and don’t go all matchy matchy. Keep it clean, fresh and not cluttered. Design for function first and eliminate things that aren’t useful or beautiful.

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Camouflage TVs

Nothing sucks the life out of a room like a big black tv. It is so ugly that if I was designing just for beauty, tv’s wouldn’t be in a room or they would all be the kind that pop out of a cabinet. However…we have tv’s and most of us want tv’s in a room. I refuse to let the tv be the centre of attention. We like to camouflage it on the wall with art all around. Another favourite trick is to paint the wall behind the tv black. It looks dramatic and the television blends right in.

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Include Some Antique and Vintage Items

Adding an antique piece gives a space instant history and soul. One piece in a room can elevate everything around it. If you aren’t  in line to inherit any antique furnishings, then start visiting flea markets, auction halls and antique markets to collect your own. Don’t go overboard – follow the 80/20 rule. A room should be approximately 80 percent contemporary with 20 percent vintage or antique. This way it will look current and not old and mouldy.

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Christine Mack NYC Home
Christine Mack NYC Home

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Textiles

Every room needs a variety of textiles for that luxurious look. When putting a room together think about the texture of the fabric as well as the pattern. And always have a high quality fabric somewhere in the room even if it’s only one cushion. That’s okay…as long as there’s quality textiles somewhere. Consider shopping vintage. For a high end look, the quality of the textiles are important.

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Area Rugs

Any room will benefit from an area rug and layering rugs has been a trick that top designers have used for years. Billy Baldwin (1903-1984) was known for layering smaller rugs on top of wall-to-wall carpeting. He liked the warmth and deep comfort level it provided. With clients like Truman Capote and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, he was all about luxury and sophistication. For a high end look, try layering carpets or even adding a runner in the kitchen.

via elle decor
via elle decor
via elle decor
via elle decor

We hope we’ve inspired you with our simple ways to make your home look luxurious. If you have any inexpensive ways to make your home look high-end, drop me a note and share your secrets.

Until next week, happy decorating

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty. Subscribe1

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The Secret to Getting Organized

lifeinorder

January is the month of organizing. It’s the time to clean out drawers, go through cupboards and get everything nice and tidy. We’d like to share with you our secret for getting organized.  There really is one big secret…here it is…drum roll…HAVE LESS STUFF. Yup, that’s it. Really. Have less.

And that perfectly leads into the next bit of wisdom -

modernindustry.com
modernindustry.com

When my boys were little, it seemed everywhere they went they were getting inexpensive little toys. The dentist, the doctor, restaurants, birthday loot bags…they were loaded up with cheap toys that would catch their attention for a bit and then usually break before too long. And they didn’t care if it broke, because they came to know these toys were disposable. I didn’t like the lesson that was being taught and mean mommy that I am, we stopped accepting these toys.

It’s so easy to get sucked in to the idea of disposable things. It shouldn’t be that way. We don’t need a lot, but we do need quality pieces that we treasure.

So this January as you go through your home, think about how much you really need. Start the downsizing process.

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Go through your closet and keep only what you love and wear often. Treat these clothes with respect. Use good hangers, let them have room to breath. Bag up the extras and let them have a second life with someone who will wear them. From now on, carefully consider what clothes you buy and what type of quality you’re buying.

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Since we’re being honest with each other here, I’ll let you in on my pet peeve. It’s when people don’t take care of what they have. When clothes are tossed on the floor, shelves are overflowing with stuff,  the kids have toys all over their bedroom – clearly there’s too much. And that leads to confusion in the home which is never good.

Life can be stressful enough. Homes need to be calm and orderly.  If having all this stuff is keeping you from doing stuff…then there’s a problem. Studies show that mess causes stress. Some stresses aren’t easy to control but mess stress is something that can be tackled. Below are some pictures of organizing ideas for the stuff we do need and want to have.

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So take some time this January to carefully consider what you really need and tidy it up. And remember the motto, buy less but buy better. When you really love something, it never goes out of style. So enjoy what you have, use it, love it and keep it for a long time.

Have a productive week! Drop me a line with your best organizing tips. I’d love to hear from you.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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9 Fun Ways to Use Wallpaper

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If you’re afraid  that wallpaper is just too trendy, don’t be. Since the middle ages people have been covering their walls. Originally tapestries were hung to help keep in heat. That set off a trend for decorated walls that hasn’t stopped.

There are so many great designs available that it’s hard to choose only one pattern. That’s okay – there’s lots of interesting places that can be papered. We’re going to show you some great wallpaper patterns along with some creative ways to use wallpaper in your home.

1. Do a Feature Wall

One wall in a room will really make a statement. And if you’re doing only one wall, go really bold and strong. For added interest, do one wall in a room and then one small wall of an adjoining room in the same paper.

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2. Use Wallpaper to bring in a Texture

Sometimes you need to touch the wall to know if it’s paper or the real deal. That’s how good today’s wallpapers are. Always wanted a concrete wall, or reclaimed wood or raw silk? You can have the look with wallpaper.

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3. Powder Rooms are Crying out to be Papered

A little shy to try out some paper? Start with the powder room. These small rooms can pack a big look when done in a fun paper. And just because it’s a small room doesn’t mean you can’t go big. Actually, the room will look better with a larger scale paper. Go wild, after all, nobody stays in this room too long.

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4. Wallpaper the Fireplace

Not sure what to finish the fireplace in? Consider wallpaper! There are times when stone or brick just isn’t the right choice. Wallpaper let’s you go for a one-of-a-kind look.

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5. Use Wallpaper in Place of a Headboard

A bed just can’t float in a room, so we automatically think headboard. Be a little different and use a fab wallpaper. If the space is large, try a mural wallpaper – it’s a showstopper. If you are a headboard person, pick a paper that co-ordinates.

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6. Don’t forget to Paper the Ceiling

So often the ceiling of our homes is overlooked. Think of it as the fifth wall. Look up – surprise – there’s wallpaper on the ceiling. It’s a beautiful way to add interest and tie a room together. Subtle or bold, it really warms up a space.

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7. Paint over Textured Wallpaper

Feel a room needs a little something but not a whole lot? Paintable textured wallpaper is a great alternative. It adds pattern and texture which can do so much for a room.

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8. Use it to Brighten up Furniture

Why limit wallpaper to just the walls. Using it on furniture makes a lovely statement. Inside or out, it’s a great way to use up left over bits.

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9. Frame Wallpaper and Use it as Art

Today’s wallpapers are like art – so go ahead and frame it! A cheap and cheerful touch that looks really high end.

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We love wallpaper – and if you haven’t checked it out since the days of ducks wearing heart-shaped wreaths, you’re in for a surprise. January is a great month to add some wallpaper pizzaz. Happy papering!!

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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2015 Un-Trendy List…10 ways to have classic decor

Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping
Every year at the end of December, all the magazines come out with the style lists for the new year. The lists of all the things that we need to have in order to fit in – the must have clothes, shoes, paint colours, furniture and hairstyles. It’s the ultimate list of what’s going to be hot for 2015. We prefer to stay away from fads and trendy items. These are the items that can be too easily dated – you know the saying…’that’s so 2014!’
At Karen Fron Interior Design, we LIKE to be stylish. We WANT the homes that we do be unique and interesting, but they need to stand the test of time. We like the quote by Coco Chanel,
 ‘Fashion changes but style endures’.
We have found that there are certain things that make a home beautiful, cozy and happy. And basically it has little to do with the latest fad colour or newest style of chair. It’s more about the feel of a space, and how it makes us feel. After all,  Good Design is not just what looks good, it also needs to perform, convert, astonish and fulfill its purpose.
So we present to you our 2015 Un-Trendy List…how to decorate so it lasts.

#1. Function and Comfort are Most Important 

Set up your space for the way you use it now. Make it as comfortable as possible. Ensure that there are lights where they are needed, little tables to hold drinks, footstools for tired feet. No matter how stylish a home, it will never feel good if it isn’t cozy and comfortable. We all know that older neighbour or aunt who hasn’t redecorated in 30 years, yet hers is the home you can stay in for hours. It’s welcoming, comfortable and pleasing. So lovely in fact, that the avocado coloured appliances don’t even make you blink.

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 #2. Style of Home Must Suit the Locale

If you live in the mountains, then a lodge look is appropriate. Just like if you live near the ocean, then your home can look beachy. Decorating in a theme that is not relevant is never a good idea. It always looks out of place and contrived. Timeless design always looks easy and doesn’t have that “I-tried-too-hard” look.

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#3. Natural Light is important – have lots of windows

It’s so important to have natural light in a home. There’s nothing worse then having to keep lights on during the day because rooms are so dark. If you are building, make sure you have as many windows as possible. When buying, take note of the amount of natural light, or you’ll forever be decorating to overcome the lack of light. Like moths, human beings are drawn to light. Ours just needs to be natural.

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#4. Hardwood Flooring – A Timeless Choice

Wooden flooring has been used throughout history, first appearing as rough hewn planks and then graduating to elegant polished floors, often inlaid with handcrafted designs. Today there are so many types of wooden floors to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong with any wood you choose. For the Un-Trendy list, we recommend staying in the 3-5 inch size and staying away from trendy stain colours. 

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#5. Marble – A Classic Stone

For thousands of years, marble has been used in architecture. From the richly coloured red floor of the Basilica of Saint Peter’s in Rome, to the walls of the Palace of Versailles, to the elaborately designed nave of England’s Salisbury Cathedral, marble can still take our breath away. And because of it’s ability for refinement, marble has been the favoured medium of choice for some of the world’s best sculptors. Having marble counters, backsplash or floor tile in your home is an affordable luxury that is steeped in history. Any material that’s been around for thousands of years can be called a true classic and makes our Un-Trendy List.

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#6.  Fireplace – The Allure of Fire

Historically fireplaces were used for the practical purposes of heating, cooking, and warming water for laundry and domestic uses. Today we love everything about fireplaces: the warmth, the beauty of its flames, and the cozy feeling it brings. It’s a visible and tangible source of comfort to us. A sitting room with a fireplace offers comfort and creates an inviting experience. We recommend having a fireplace in your living room. From wood burning, to gas, to electric and now gel-fuel fireplaces, there’s an option for every room. 

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#7. Original Art – Personalize your Space

Original art personalizes and humanizes the buildings that we live and work in. There’s a certain energy that a piece of art gives off.  When viewing a work of art, we are able to share with the artist their deep emotion that allowed them to create their piece.

All art is powerful

Whether it’s a master’s painting hanging in the Louvre, or a simple drawing done by a child, it’s a one-of-a-kind piece and that makes it special. Number 7 on our Un-Trend List is to surround yourself with original works of art. Photographs, painting, woodworking, weaving, pottery…any type of art that speaks to you.

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#8.  Personal Items – Tell Your Story

It’s important to surround yourself with items that have meaning. It’s also important to display these items in a way that is pleasing and aesthetically beautiful. Each item should be placed with care and with attention to detail. The styling of room is not always easy. It takes time to collect items that are meaningful and it takes a flair to display them properly. Sometimes it is wise to hire a professional to attend to these details. I like to follow the words of William Morris,

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’

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#9. Balance – The Most Important Principle of Design

There are seven principles of interior design and while all of them are important, I would place balance as the most important. If a room doesn’t feel balanced, it just doesn’t feel good. Balance is the equal distribution of weight in a room. There are three types of balance, symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial. Symmetrical balance is usually found in traditional interiors and one side mirrors the other,  asymmetrical is often employed today in interiors and relates very strongly to the visual weight of objects, radial is when all elements of design are arrayed around a central point, like a spiral staircase. Whichever form you employ, it’s important to have balance to make a space feel right.

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#10. The Wow Factor – What Makes your Space Unique

Whenever we do a room, we think about all the items in numbers 1-9. Then comes number 10 – the WOW Factor. That something extra that makes a room unique and special. And it can’t just be anything, it has to be something that is authentic for the people that live in the space. Think about your wow factor and what you can do to a room to make it just a little bit special. Maybe it’s as simple as painting the garden doors black when all window trims are white. Or maybe it’s layering rugs, or using wallpaper or hanging an oversize piece of art. Always ask yourself…what can be done to make this room unique.

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So now you have our Un-Trend List – and it’s good for years to come. If you follow these interior design principles and apply some basic human psychology, you will have a recipe for creating a home that has timeless appeal.

Wishing you a wonderful 2015 and a home full of love and laughter.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Red & Green…not only for Christmas

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I know I know…say red and green and immediately Christmas comes to mind. Green branches with red berries and bows – it’s all about that time of the year. Holly, mistletoe, stockings hung by the fire…

elle decor
elle decor

Yet red and green together can be quite spectacular. To come up with a colour scheme, we often get our inspiration from a piece of fabric, a photo or  a memory of a colour palette we saw somewhere. I’m always noticing interesting colour combinations and textures. Just ask my boys…or maybe don’t, because I’m sure they’ll have some stories to tell. But like I always tell them, there’s inspiration everywhere…you just have to look.

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via British Life
via British Life

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traditional plaid
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vintage motorcycle

As the inspiration photos show, don’t be afraid of this colour combination. Red and green works so well together. And if you like these colours, then go ahead and use them for interiors. There’s a long history of red and green used in traditional British interiors, yet they also work well for modern applications. Sure it takes a little more effort to work with unorthodox palettes, but in the end it’s worth it.

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elle decor – elaine griffin
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elle decor – visions-smyth
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via ralph lauren
via house beautiful
via house beautiful
elle decor suzani fabric
elle decor suzani fabric
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ralph lauren study
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bill huber
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elle decor

There are so many different shades of red and green to choose from. We’ve put together a sampler of some of our favourite paint colours. Lately we’ve been favouring dark green walls. Great for those rooms that you want to be moody and mysterious. We did a gentleman’s office in a dark hunter green and also a guest room/dressing room in PPG Armoury. And just like every room can use a hit of black, we love throwing in a pop of red.

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house beautiful

So when it’s time to pack away the holiday decor, don’t pack away your love for red and green. It’s a combination  that has year round appeal.

Debbie and Taegan join me in wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyful 2015. Thank you to all our fabulous clients this year. We love what we do and it’s a privilege working for you.

Next week, we give you our 2015 Un-Trend List. That’s right – let the others tell you the trends, we tell you how to be timeless!


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Decorating for Christmas

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I am sure every child knows exactly how many days (maybe even hours) are left until Christmas. Me, I just know that it’s coming quickly and there doesn’t seem to be enough time. We’ve had a busy few days with Christmas activities and our middle son’s birthday. Throw in a Christmas concert, a basketball tournament and the normal getting ready for Christmas preparations and life gets fast. Plus, the weather was so lovely that we couldn’t resist going down to historic Inglewood to see the stores all done up for Christmas.

Today we hauled out a few little ornaments and found the Christmas stockings that still need to be hung. Some years I follow the Polish tradition of my father and we decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. Actually, it is rather nice because by then things have quieted down and we all gather and enjoy the day together.

Other years, I have grand decorating plans. Sometimes these come to fruition and other years they remain a beautiful vision known only to me. Those are the years I remind myself that the most important thing is that our family is together laughing, playing and feasting.

Below we have some beautiful pictures of Christmas decorating ideas. They may inspire you and you may want to use some of these ideas in your own home. Or maybe you’ll just pour a yourself a glass of wine to enjoy while looking over these holiday ideas.

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Hope you have a lovely week and enjoy your Christmas decorating.

If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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It’s Holiday Season and Company’s Coming…tips for a mini-makeover

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There’s nothing like knowing that company is coming over to inspire a mini-makeover. Now that holiday visiting is starting, it’s like, OMG – where did the Fall go? All those little jobs that were suppose to get done and didn’t because living got in the way. Now it’s time to entertain and the house looks drab, the furniture looks old and it’s just not feeling comfortable.

The good news is  that there’s time for a re-fresh. In a few hours your place can look new and revitalized.  First order of business, give your place a good clean and a decluttering. Depending on how busy you’ve been, this might need to be done on day 1, and maybe day 2! Clean, sort and toss. Get 2 big black garbage bags, one for the Goodwill and the other for trash, and go to it. Now comes the fun part.

Rearrange Furniture

Moving the furniture around makes such a difference. Dare to be different. Go through your home and take furniture from every room and really think outside the box.

 

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Pile on the Cushions

I know I’ve said it before, nothing elevates a room like cushions. Pile them on sofas, chairs and benches. Toss some on the floor and put them in baskets. They bring colour and life to a room. Many times we’ve told clients to keep their existing sofas and cushion it up. Suddenly the furniture looks new!
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Layer Rug on Rug

We love to add pizzaz to a room by layering rugs. If you have ho hum wall to wall carpeting, pick up one or two great area rugs and lay them on top of each other.  They instantly add colour and texture and can make a space really cozy.

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Pop in a Few Accent Tables

If you have a super large square or rectangular coffee table, take it away. It makes a room look crowded, heavy and small. Instead, try using accent tables. We’re particularly fond of two or three tables grouped together as a coffee table. The nice part is that when entertaining they can be easily moved around as needed. Tables can be layered too. In my own living room, I have tables sitting in front of tables and it looks great because it adds depth.
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Have One Big Accent Piece

Sometimes going big really works. Don’t think because it’s a small space that everything has to be small. One oversized piece in a room can ground it all and really look spectacular.
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Hang Art Creatively

People often think that painting a feature wall is the way to add drama to a home. I think that moving around art and hanging it creatively is the easiest and most stylish way to change up a space. Go through the house and find all the art and pictures you can. Don’t be timid, just start grouping it and you’ll get that eclectic look. If you keep it balanced by weight,  it doesn’t have to be symmetrical. Although a few pieces stacked is a nice compliment in a room with a gallery wall. And did I mention that I love all original art – anything. Grandma’s watercolours, children’s finger painting, even framed leaves and rocks. It all looks great.
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Always Keep Fresh Florals Around

It’s important to always have some fresh in your home. Potted plants, floral bouquets, and even snips from an evergreen in your yard, all add that organic touch. A little bouquet of snipped evergreen in the powder room is an inexpensive way to bring holiday cheer.
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Lighting Sets the Mood

Dimmer switches are your best friend. And lamps…lots of lamps. Soft lighting can really set the mood. Lamps can also add great architectural structure. Plus we like that everything looks a little better with soft lighting.
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Sometimes it’s not about getting everything new, but more about using what we have in a new way. As you start to freshen up your home for the Christmas season, look with new eyes at your space. Cozy up the furniture, rehang your art, add some seasonal florals and suddenly your place looks new and pretty again. Now it’s time to start decorating for the season.

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Enjoy your ‘new’ home!


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Easy Ideas for a Handmade Christmas

Christmaspost
What is it about Christmas that brings out the Martha Stewart in us all? It’s the time of the year when we want to make handmade gifts, festive recipes and beautiful decorations. In October, while still in the midst of pumpkins and leaves, it’s so easy to have all these great ideas for Christmas. By the time December comes, the reality is that life has gotten busy and all that glorious time has been gobbled up.

Worry not, because there are some easy ways to create a lovely handmade Christmas. Best part is, there’s still time.

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The most important thing I’ve learned about creating a handmade Christmas, is that it doesn’t have to be to Martha’s standards. There will be no grades assigned, and effort is everything. My kids have taught me that a little goes a long way. For them, it’s more about the process, the fun and the memories. When the kids were young, I used to put a little 4′ tree up in the kitchen. The kids would make all the decorations for this tree. We’d have everything from beaded ornaments to scrapes of paper hanging from paper clips, depending on the age of the child. They were always so proud of their handiwork.

little kids Christmas ornaments ideas

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We love making little handmade evergreen pots. It begins with a trip into the yard to clip a few branches off our big spruce and cedar trees. These are brought in and then we assemble our little clay pots that have been filled with oasis foam that was soaked thoroughly the night before.

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For colour, sometimes we’ll add a few pinecones, berries and ribbon. When the kids were little, this craft was foolproof. Stick in evergreen, put in red berries. Mom tied a big bow and they looked great. So good in fact that we made many for gifts.

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Making crafts from natural found objects is not only inexpensive, but it gives that organic feel that’s so nice at Christmas. It’s surprising what pretty things can be made with twigs, snips of greenery and garden twine.

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Another stress-free, fail-proof craft for all ages is rubber-stamping. As long as the little hand can clutch a rubber stamp and press, they are old enough to create cards, wrapping paper and gift tags. I used to buy card stock paper (my favourite was black), have the kids randomly stamp in silver or gold and then paste a small photo of them in the middle. Older kids can sign the back with a metallic pen and add a ribbon, and the card really turns out gorgeous. As kids get older, the designs get more and more creative.

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Sometimes it’s important to think about the end goal and figure out a way to time save without sacrificing that. I had my ah ha moment a few years ago when we wanted to make a gingerbread house and decorate gingerbread men. There was only so much time, and since the real fun is the decorating, I bought the kits. Yes I did – does anyone eat the gingerbread anyways? I think it’s more about the candy.

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My sister has always been the baker of the family. From her I learned that presentation of baked goods makes a huge difference. It doesn’t take any more time to wrap a handmade loaf in cellophane than tinfoil, but it looks a whole lot nicer. Add a bow (garden twine works well in a pinch) and suddenly it all looks gourmet.

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There’s nothing that says handmade has to be made from your hands. With all the craft fairs and Christmas Markets every weekend in November and December, it’s easy to pick up some gorgeous one-of-a-kind items.
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We love the Spruce Meadow Christmas Market and make that a yearly tradition. Not only are there pretty things to buy, there’s music, food and lots of Christmas lights.

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Sometimes it’s not an item that’s handcrafted, but a moment. Debbie decided a long time ago that she wanted to enjoy Christmas Eve with her family, but cooking for that day and cooking for Christmas was just a bit too much. Smart woman that she is, she started the tradition of Christmas Eve Chinese take-out. Every year they set the table, plate the food when it arrives, and all enjoy a relaxing time. Adding to this special evening, was her son Daniel. He decided that a great table decoration would be a blow up turkey…to go with the Chinese food, of course! And that’s how a sweet Christmas tradition gets even better, year after year.

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Happy December to everyone. Next Sunday, we’ll talk about some quick decorating ideas for Christmas. Some things that we think every home should have at this time of the year.

 


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Mixing High & Low…we share our secrets

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Somehow we’ve been program to think that something nice has to cost a lot of money. While it’s true that quality does cost money, not everything in a beautiful room has to be best quality. We like to mix it up and combine quality new items with vintage pieces along with our favourite budget finds. The trick is to have a mix of items. We’re certainly not above shopping at Target, Bouclair Home or Ikea. They all have some great pieces. Our rule of thumb is, it’s important to have quality for pieces that get used all the time…for the others, maybe this is where you can save a little.

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One area where I never scrimp is cushions. Having a few luxurious cushions in a room sets the tone. When doing a grouping, there’s always the one or two cushions that are the stars and the others that are the worker cushions. For one client, we had two custom cushions made and the cost was just under four hundred dollars. Since we blew the budget on those, the rest came from Target and Ikea for twenty dollars each. Now we were back on budget and the entire grouping looked fab. Those two cushions made the room and tied it all together. Moral of the design story – look at your budget as a whole. Don’t get too caught up on the price of one or two items as long as the entire project stays on budget.

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Every home needs original artwork. It adds class and keeps a space original. I encourage clients to slowly build a collection and only have original pieces on the wall. Before you start thinking that it’s just out of the budget, consider some of these options. Check out yard sales and goodwill stores. You’d be surprised at the amount of original art you can pick up for a good price. Go to smaller art shows and support hobby painters and artists just starting out. Frame your children’s artwork – it really does look great. If custom framing is not an option, then use frames from Ikea. They’re simple and have lots of white matting that shows the art off beautifully.

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Sometimes a room really does need an entire redo, but it’s just not an option at the time. One way to elevate the entire look is with wallpaper. It adds texture, colour, movement and instantly brings a sophistication. It takes the eye right away from a not so new carpet, makes an older sofa look stylish and will help blend some mismatched pieces.

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Accent pieces make a room. They tell the story of the people that live there. But it’s important they have a curated look. These pieces need to look like they were collected over time. This is where splurge/save is most important. In every room there’s a spot where the eye is automatically drawn too – a large coffee table, the end of an island, a fireplace mantle. Put your best items there. Something unique, handcrafted or an heirloom piece. And we’re not saying it has to be your heirloom either – that’s what antique and thrift stores are for. Just make sure that it’s quality. Then all your accent pieces look good.

One last piece of advice for mixing high and low. Certain stores have signature pieces – those Ikea pieces that we all know are from Ikea, and likewise Bouclair and Target…don’t get those pieces. They’re too easily identifiable. The fun with mixing high and low is that it shouldn’t be easily recognizable.

I leave you with some of our projects where we’ve mixed it up. As you can see from these rooms, scale, proportion, balance, colour, texture and harmony are what make them beautiful.

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If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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Before & After…Personalizing a New Home

New homes are lovely. They’re modern, clean, and everything works. The downside is that new homes don’t have a lot of personality. We think it’s a good idea to move in, live in the space for a while, and then figure out how to make it your own. That however, can be the tricky part. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what we want and what we really like.

We received a call from a lovely young couple who wanted some help with their space. They are a couple that appreciates quality and likes traditional elegance. That’s where they stalled out. They knew that they wanted it to be more on the formal side, yet it had to be youthful.

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An important part of the design process is to evaluate how space in a home is used. It was determined that the main space was mostly used for cooking, eating and small group entertaining. They have a wonderfully relaxing space on the upper level and a great casual entertaining space in the basement, which is bright and airy. We suggested the piano be moved to the main level so that it would be easily accessible.

Tony + Sharon 2The upper living space was made into a cozy reading and television watching area. The grey area rug was  originally on the main floor, but we thought it would be better laid on top of the beige wall to wall carpeting. Having layers creates visual interest and gives a space coziness.

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Every space needs that mix of pretty and rough. Formal draperies add elegance, and we added in some organic and whimsical pieces. The eating area seemed to call out for a sparkly light fixture. We felt  the tear drop fixture kept it airy and glitzy, yet in a very modern way. The pewter finish of the bird lamp is classic, but the little bird is that unexpected treat. An organic element is brought in with the rough wood table and the faux fur throw.

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The basement area will be mostly used for gatherings of friends or quiet at home weekends. To give this space a focal point, we suggested hanging some Ikea cabinets. The wall was painted a brown colour to match and the result is stunning. It looks like built-ins and gives the room some strength and purpose. There’s nothing worse then a tv just floating in a space. The two sofas were older ones from a before-marriage apartment, but they look great down here all dressed up with cushions and throws. We have saved many sofas by loading it up with cushions. Again we threw down an area rug on top of the wall to wall carpet, as this takes the eye away from the not-so-new furniture. Now the space functions as a cozy sitting/tv area and the back half for games and food serving.

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Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the function and design of your own space. You know what you want, but it is difficult to bring it all together and create a home that really reflects how you live. That’s when it’s important to call in a designer. A good designer will asses how you use the space, listen to what you want, read between the lines, and create a look that functions for the way you live, while making it look beautiful.

Have a nice week. As evening settles in early now,  dim the lights, light some candles, and enjoy the warmth and coziness of your home.


If you would like to make good design a part of your life, email me.

Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about using what you have to create beauty.

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