Tips for Makeover Your Home

Being an interiors journalist has given Claire Bingham insider access to many incredible homes, and she’s learned a thing or two about great design along the way. In her new book, Modern Living: How to Decorate with Style (TeNeues, $55), she reveals how to think like the top interior designers whose work she’s witnessed. “Yes, you can devise a scheme based around a gorgeous new cushion, but it is best to think less about colors or details. Focus more on the mood and emotion, instead. Homes should make you happy,” Bingham writes. She walks us through the decorating process room by room, with tips and tricks for overhauling a space or just making a few quick upgrades. Here, we share some of her most memorable pieces of advice.

Once you’ve come up with an overall idea for your living room and determined your furniture needs (and where those pieces will go), it’s all about adding character, says Bingham. Here, an old sofa was reupholstered in a funky floral fabric that matches the wallpaper.

“Comfort comes first in the bedroom, so make your bed the priority,” writes Bingham. “Go for extra wide and get the best mattress you can afford. To make your bed extra inviting, introduce an extra set of satin pillows to crisp white cotton linen and layer with velvet and wool throws.”

Give your work space just as much attention as the rest of your home, Bingham says. And while an aesthetically pleasing spot is important, the real must-haves are a tidy surface, good task lighting, and a comfortable chair.

The Gorgeous Kitchen Trends

We kick off each year at the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, exploring the latest introductions from top brands and designers that will refresh your home. From innovative materials to color and hardware trends, there is no shortage of new ideas to take away and apply to your own kitchen or bath. Whether you’re ready for a renovation or just craving a quick fix for an old room, find inspiration in the most exciting trends that caught our eye at the show.

Matte Black Trade in typical chrome, bronze, or stainless-steel finishes for sleek matte black, seen on everything from faucets to outdoor kitchens and window finishes. Clockwise from top: Free-standing outdoor kitchen made with Dekton by Cosentino for Brown Jordan, brownjordanoutdoorkitchens.com; Vettis closed-spout single-handle sink faucet by Brizo, brizo.com; contemporary casement with matte black hardware, and detail of hardware by Marvin,

Industrial Touches Textured knurling details give a modern, craftsman-like quality to faucets and hardware. Knurled lever industrial lever handle by Brizo, brizo.com, and Italian Campo U-spout lavatory faucet by ROHL,

Color While gray dominated color schemes last year, bright hues are in for 2017, as seen in appliances, cabinets, and tile. Clockwise from top left: 6th Avenue tiles by Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com; Amora vanity in navy by Ronbow, ronbow.com; Crown vent hood by Best, bestrangehoods.com; Quartz Luxe sink in Maraschino by Elkay, elkay.com; outdoor grill in prince by Hestan,

Innovative home devices from Amazon

With the popularity of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home on the rise comes an influx of other products designed to make your home a little smarter. Whether you want some extra help in the kitchen or a way to monitor your pets when you aren’t home, there is a smart home product for all of your needs. From a refrigerator equipped with a touchscreen for looking up recipes to a sleep machine that analyzes your bedroom to create a “sound blanket,” these seven devices will take your home to the next level in 2017.

With features like two-way talk and one-way video, smart visitor detection, and notifications right to your phone, Vivint’s doorbell camera makes knowing who’s at your front door easy, whether you’re upstairs or out of town. Monthly plans start at $40.

Master the sous vide method with the Anova Precision Cooker. Easily attachable to any pot, the device allows for flavorful, expertly cooked meals every time by using temperature control.

Designed for light sleepers, Nightingale works with the acoustics of your room and your existing sleeping conditions (like snoring) to diffuse sound and create white noise for better slumber. Available in February; preorder for $249.

Attach GeniCan to your trash bin and as you throw food items away, it automatically scans their barcodes to keep track of what you need to buy on your next trip to the grocery store. Or you can have your food delivered from Amazon right to your doorstep. Available in early 2017; preorder for $125.

Make Sure You Grab Treats For The Upcoming Business Meeting

Conferences usually occur early in the morning or even before lunch time when everyone is famished. However, if a boss desires to make sure the employees are pleased or perhaps an employee wants to bring something everybody will enjoy, they may need to stop and get a couple of snacks from the best bakery in Singapore.

At a business meeting, having something to munch on may help anyone completely focus far more on the meeting instead of how hungry they are. Business owners may desire to drop by a bakery to be able to pick up several goodies for the employees to relish through the meeting so they will be able to pay attention to the complete conference. An employee could decide to provide treats at an early morning conference since they know they’ll be hungry as well as might want to be sure everyone has a treat they’re able to enjoy.

If you happen to be going to a meeting, be sure to drop by the Cedele Bakery Cafe to discover just what snacks can be obtained. Ensure you buy plenty for every person and, as required, you are able to even order in advance so you’re going to know everything will be prepared. Visit right now to be able to notice what they have to supply and to test a handful of their own snacks.

Home to Make Home Virtual Decorator

Over the last few years, the rise of online decorating services has made a once-rarefied world much more accessible. Companies that offer personalized, virtual interior design ideas—Laurel & Wolf, Home Polish, Decorist, and Havenly, to name a few—have made hiring a decorator as easy as shopping for shoes online. It no longer requires deep pockets, a lengthy research process, or even an in-person meeting. But is online decorating right for everyone—or every room? We turned to a couple of experts to find out how to get the most out of the experience, and get the (real life) space of your dreams.

DO the groundwork
The more information you can provide from the outset, the better. Complete the online quizzes and style assessments to hone in on the look you’re going for. And when it comes to describing your current space, go overboard. “More is more when it comes to working virtually,” says Kimberly Winthrop, a designer with Laurel & Wolf. “The more communication, photos, measurements, and inspiration references, the better your designer will know you and the better your project will flow.” In addition to taking full-room shots, “take photos of details that make your space unique, like moldings, so that your designer can factor them into the design,” says Emily Motayed, co-founder of Havenly.

DON’T be a stickler
The decorators working with these services are vetted—a great reassurance that you’re working with a pro. Look through online portfolios to get a feel for a designer’s work before you hire him or her, but keep in mind it’s better to see that they can work within a range of aesthetics rather than deliver a highly specific look. “Their style may not be exactly your style, but any good designer should be able to deliver what you like,” explains Winthrop.

DO be brutally honest
This process is one of give and take. If your decorator floats an idea that you hate, say so. “A common mistake that people make is not expressing their true opinion on a design or item out of fear of hurting a designer’s feelings,” says Motayed. “Don’t be afraid to be honest.”

DON’T overreach
Virtual decorating services are best for spaces that have fairly straightforward needs and don’t require a renovation, such as living rooms and bedrooms. “When you get into kitchens and baths, where the main elements of the space are built-in or custom, it can be a more challenging project,” says Winthrop.

 

Change your opinion of soft hues

Easter eggs aren’t the only things that look good in pastels—your interiors are a natural place to experiment with springtime shades and pale hues. Once confined to nurseries and tropical spaces, pastel colors can be surprisingly versatile: Pink goes from baby-doll to boho-chic thanks to woven textures and grounding neutrals; paired with clean lines and tailored upholstery, a plum room feels contemporary without being intimidating. What’s more, the understated color profile of pastels creates an adaptable backdrop that holds up against bold prints and patterns in a more interesting way than plain-old white, and a more subtle manner than statement-making jewel tones. Perhaps that’s why softer palettes have made a comeback in recent years. With spring just around the corner, Architectural Digest has rounded up 30 pastel rooms to lighten your mood and get you ready for the season.

Shown: In the master bedroom of designer and architect Dmitry Velikovsky’s Moscow duplex, the ornate piece atop the headboard was originally the back of a 19th-century Burmese monk’s chair; the lamp is by IKEA. The Indonesian mask on the side table is surmounted by a small landscape painting by Nikolay Dubovskoy and a photograph by Nikolai Kulebiakin; the walls are sheathed in faux suede.

Interior designer May Daouk’s late-19th-century villa in Beirut is oriented around an expansive antiques-filled living room painted a striking lilac. The table at left displays ceramics found at John Rosselli Antiques. The purple armchairs are from Ann-Morris Antiques, and the large Oushak carpet is 19th century.

A Walton Ford painting spans one wall of the living room in a Dutchess County, New York, farmhouse designed by G. P. Schafer Architect; the lamps are by Vaughan, the Gustavian chairs are from Evergreen Antiques, and the circa-1880s Sultanabad rug is from Beauvais Carpets.

Redd Loves to Break

In the world of interior design, decorating rules often become so embedded they are second nature—but not for everyone. We’re looking to those boundary-pushing talents to find out the popular design ideas they’re ready to move on from, and what they are trying out instead. First up: Miles Redd, who defies easy labels, bringing his own special blend of glamour and wit to every project. Whether he’s decorating a tropical vacation home or a Texas mansion, the New York designer can always be counted on to defy conventions. We turned to Redd, the former creative director of Oscar de la Renta and author of The Big Book of Chic, to learn which design rules he thinks were made to be broken.

“Often when I flip through a catalogue, it would appear we live in a world of beige, a great big bowl of coffee ice cream,” says Redd. The designer prefers to embrace rich hues, as in this windowless entryway “where it appears glittering rather than dull like dishwater.”

“I think people see tiny rooms and they think they need tiny furniture, but often one large thing kissing the ceiling will expand the room,” he says.

“Good decoration can be so correct, it can be a little boring,” says Redd. The mega metal mosquito on the ceiling of an otherwise formal living room in Houston “takes the edge off things and shows you have a sense of humor.”

Minimalism Home is The Great One

Do you believe less is more or more is more? Do you like to stick with the essentials, or do you bring home something new from every excursion? Do you prefer a foundation of serene neutral hues, or are you drawn to no-holds-barred color? Basically, are you a minimalist or a maximalist? Ultimately, there is no wrong answer—there is beauty in both the thoughtful simplicity of a minimalist space and the eye-catching mix of tones and textures in a maximalist one—but many designers (and design lovers) have a preference. So we asked a few top designers to weigh in on why they love one or the other. Here’s what they had to say.

“Though not necessarily minimalist, we define our style as ‘layered modernism’—a refined aesthetic that combines clean lines with luxurious materials and finishes, creating warm, sophisticated, and comfortable spaces. We do appreciate minimalism’s long unbroken expanses, simple details, and soft color palette—these act as a visual palate cleanser. As a society, we are assaulted every day by a barrage of visual stimuli—it’s overwhelming. A reductive environment allows the eye, the mind, and the soul to rest and rejuvenate. A successful minimalist setting, highlighting form and line and free of superfluous detailing, can be utterly sublime. What I don’t think people appreciate about minimalist design is that it’s not as easy as it looks—in fact, it requires rigorous precision in planning and execution. With traditional detailing, errors in measuring can be masked with thick moldings and flounces of fabric. With minimalism, everything has to be ‘perfect’; adjoining materials, walls, and floors, have to be exactly straight—any deviation shows terribly.” —Russell Groves of Groves & Co.

“Minimalism in architecture is a movement. Maximalism is a lifestyle of living in an unimprovable space that can’t be altered structurally so one must overwhelm the senses with objects, pillows, and color. True minimalism uses the refinement of materials and the poetry of intersecting planes with the relationship of objects and their proximity to each other. Maximalism is hedonistic and bohemian in its message. If you can’t hide it, paint it red.” —Simon Townsend Jacobsen of Jacobsen Architecture

“Abhorring my parents’ modernist taste in furnishings and decoration happened very early in my childhood—1935! Very much like today’s younger generation, everything was quick delivery and off the shelf. There was no regard for the past or Granny’s best. My take for the past was immediate. My yearning to collect went along with that, as my mother was to nickname me Collyer (after the famous Collyer brothers) by the time I was eight years old. I loved the romance of being a collector.” —Mario Buatta

“There is a joy in designing a space without limitations and restrictions, where excess is encouraged and unlikely pairings create beautiful and unexpected harmonies.” —Kelly Wearstler

“A layered, maximal interior is hard to photograph. The camera cannot always take in all the detail, and they can look garish. However, in life the good ones are wonderful and always make things a bit more piquant. One gets to play with so much: color, texture, scale, juxtaposition, and multitude of objects through the centuries. Minimalism is the thing that takes discipline.” —Miles Redd

 

House with Degree Virtual Reality

Today marks the launch of The People’s House: Inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama, the first-ever Facebook 360 project filmed inside the world’s most famous home. The piece, produced by Emmy-winning cinematic virtual reality creators Félix & Paul Studios alongside the Oculus team at Facebook, takes viewers to nine famous areas within the iconic building—from sitting with the President in the Oval Office to walking around the Situation Room to stopping into the Old Family Dining Room with Mrs. Obama.

“Michelle and I always joke, ‘We’re just renters here. ’ . . . The owners are the American people and all those invested in creating this amazing place with so much history,” President Obama says in the VR experience. “What we wanted to do is make sure that everybody felt they had access to the White House, . . . that as many people as possible could come in and appreciate the place where Lincoln, FDR, or Reagan made the decisions that helped to shape America.”

Color While gray dominated color schemes last year, bright hues are in for 2017, as seen in appliances, cabinets, and tile. Clockwise from top left: 6th Avenue tiles by Walker Zanger, walkerzanger.com; Amora vanity in navy by Ronbow, ronbow.com; Crown vent hood by Best, bestrangehoods.com; Quartz Luxe sink in Maraschino by Elkay, elkay.com; outdoor grill in prince by Hestan,

Tips to Make A Contemporary Kitchen

When Mass Design Group cofounder Alan Ricks decided to remodel his Boston apartment, he had a lucky head start: Ricks’s unit, on the top floor a charming 1850s brownstone, came chock-full of original architectural features. But there was still plenty of work to do, specifically in the kitchen; the dark exposed brick wall and wood trusses, previously stained a deep brown, didn’t jibe with Ricks’s dream of an airy gathering area where friends could mingle while a meal bubbled on the stove. Ricks promptly whitewashed those moody elements and stuck to a limited color and material palette, instantly brightening up the room and creating a simple backdrop for special elements to shine. “The idea that design affects behavior is true for the home as well,” he says. “Creating this open kitchen layout, for example, shapes the social dynamic and creates a bright, welcoming space that is great for entertaining.”

Mass Design Group has a “LoFab”—locally fabricated—approach to design, and Ricks applied the same philosophy to his personal project. “Design decisions were developed collaboratively with the craftsmen who would do the building, sourcing materials regionally wherever possible and taking opportunities to highlight the craft of construction.” Case in point: the kitchen’s custom stairwell. Another advantage of the apartment’s elevated perch—and what convinced Ricks to buy the home in the first place—was access to the rooftop. However, to appreciate the valuable outdoor space, you had to climb up a perilous folding ladder. No longer. Ricks worked with expert carpenters and metalworkers to create wood steps that rise from the floor to blend directly into the kitchen island, then curve up into a matte-white spiral stairway. “To achieve this in one piece, the stair had to be craned into place,” he says.

After three years of meticulous renovations, many mementos from Ricks’s trips to Africa, including masks from Sierra Leone and Liberia and a painting from Rwanda, became the finishing touches in the kitchen. There are surely many dinner parties in Ricks’s future, and we’re hoping for a citrus-yellow seat at the table.