Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Beauty of Photoshop

As a designer I have come to love all the tools that are available to me, tools that make designing easier.  The tool I am referring to today is Adobe Photoshop.  This is a computer program that allows you to retouch photographs and images.  It allows me to take a photo of an existing room and retouch ideas. This new image can give the client a visual preview of how their new room could look.  I also use this program when creating catalogs for my company to create unique sell sheets, or to just take reflections out of items we shoot for an ad.  The changes you make and the images you create, can be saved in files to open at a later date and edit or use for print ads, or reference when shopping to finalize a room.  Photoshop allows you to save and reopen your ideas.

Today, as I was preparing for work, putting on my makeup, applying concealer, foundation, shadow, going through my typical morning routine, I felt like I was "photoshopping" my face.  How I go through this same routine every morning.  I then thought how nice it would be if I could "reopen and apply" an already created file titled "Morning Makeup" and it would be done - a saved image.    Then I thought about if you work so hard on a room you love in your home, then move, and want to recreate the same look and feeling in your new home, how nice it would be to open the file and reapply - 

Design; just a click away ....  the ease of application!  Wouldn't that be nice?
Your very own easy button; as quoted by Staples  " that was easy ".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The excitement of new projects!

I recently had the pleasure of receiving a call to inquire about design. A past client shared my name with a realtor whom in turn passed it to her client. I was very excited at the idea of a new project. This family just moved into their dream home and it is a blank canvas, a clean palette for them to do with as they want. The best part is that they have a vision, and I was asked to help validate their ideas and add knowledge to the design questions that came up; color, placement of furniture, removal of existing built in units, flooring, etc.

I have a hard time deciding the best part of working on interior design, the fun and challenge of the project, or the wonderful people I meet!

This day led me to call and reconnect to the original client to thank them for sharing my name and to go back and look again at the work we accomplished together in their home. One thing that I am really lax in, is that once I finish a project, I am so glad that the clients are happy, and so happy myself with how it all came out, I forget to take the after shots! So here I will share with you some shots from this project that I love, and feel added to the flow and feel of this home.

We worked in the kitchen, all the cabinets are new - glazed white cabinets, with a beautiful granite in a rich rust palette. The clients wanted a Tuscany feel to the room. They had purchased brightly colored hanging glass lighting they loved, a little more contemporary than rustic. To tie in the look of old world and the newness of the bright colors I designed a motif for over the stove and back splash incorporating tumbled marble and glass tile. The tumbled marble added texture and interest in a monotone palette without taking away from the granite or the glass tile design.

Here I have shots that show from a distance the cabinets with the tile, center design over the stove, under the hooded range. You can see the smaller motif of the glass tiles in diamond clusters strategically placed around the tile for accents. The next image is a closer shot and the last the close up of the primary design, the 'piece de resistance'. I mixed the glass in a bright rust, to highlight the coloring of the granite and tie into the colors of the bright glass fixtures. The metal tile in the center and frame go back to the hardware on the cabinets and add that rustic feel... a real eclectic mix!

Another fun design detail we used in her home was in putting in a marble foyer, we added a great point of interest; a large marble motif. This is a pre-made tile and is available in many designs. The biggest question for the home owner was placement. The foyer is large, but the entry door is not in the center of the room. This same question arose when addressing the lighting fixture. We carefully chose a chandelier that worked well with the colors and curlicue/swirl design in the marble tile. The placement came naturally - center of the doorway - this is the first thing people would see when they entered the room. We had the contractor place the tile on a diagonal to create flow into the house. The fixture we chose had a dark metal finish, was about the same diameter of the tile on the floor and the size, the height of the fixture filled the window above the doorway, so it could be seem from outside as a real centerpiece.

Just a note for all who love this color... you know I love the Benjamin Moore colors. This one is Waterbury Cream HC-31 - a soft buttercup color. The trim is Atrium White. This combination is great for a soft, elegant atmosphere. It is a great combination and carried nicely into the kitchen, creating a consistent look throughout the downstairs, working with all the colors in in each room.

I love design - it is all in the details, as they come together so perfectly, you can take such pleasure in the little things in life - and in the smiles on the faces of the people in whose homes I have made a difference. Thanks!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What you need to paint your room, yourself!

When writing the last entry, I felt there was so much more to say about the supplies you need before you start to paint a room yourself. So many little tricks I have learned about being "ready". I wanted to share these with you. Some may seem like common sense to most, especially if you have painted before. To others, I think these notes, these TIPS, can save you a lot of heartache.

Sometimes reading is a better way of learning than from experiencing it yourself, learning the hard way is over-rated! What I mean is just knowing to have paper towels and a damp rag in the room can save a lot of trouble. Imagine you are painting a room, you have taken all the steps to tape the ceiling seam and base moldings. You have painted the trim, the area at the corner where the wall meets the ceiling. You are ready to get the roller and do the wall. As you roll, you are humming along to the music you put on (another tip) and the roller touches the ceiling beyond the tape. Now there is a mark of the wall color on your nice white (or whatever color) ceiling. If you didn't have that damp rag, you would be running around, looking frantically for something to use, and by the time you get it, that small amount of paint is dry. Now you will have to re-paint the ceiling! With a damp rag right there, there is no issue! Get off your ladder, take the rag, wipe the paint and viola, it comes off. No one is the wiser.

So, take a look at this list of tools/ supplies that I recommend you have when you start painting a room - who knows, it may save you more time than you think, and make the process more enjoyable!

Blue tape - as I have said before, blue tape is your friend. You should use this on all moldings, around windows and door frames, and base or ceiling moldings. You will need to press down the edge so that paint will not seep underneath the tape.

Trim brush - there are many sold in the paint and large hardware stores. I like to use a 1" or 2" angled brush for trim - it allows me to get into the corner without a mess and allows me a nice clean edge when I dare to cut in with color and not use tape ( you should not try this if you haven't done it before, or you do not have a steady hand.... it is very difficult!) You do not need the most expensive brush on the wall - but the least expensive is not good either, as the cheapest brushes tend to shed bristles and not last very long. Be sure to clean up your brush as soon as you have completed the painting. If you take a break for an hour or less, you can wrap the brush in plastic, but I would recommend cleaning the brush if the break is longer. When using latex, simple soap and water will do. Be sure to get all the paint out of the brush, squeezing it until the water runs clear. This will add to the longevity of the brush.

Drop cloths - most people cannot completely empty a room of furniture to paint - like they do on those great shows on HGTV and TLC - (I love those shows!) It is best to try to get all you can out of the room. The rest, try to get into the center, and be sure to cover with a drop cloth, just for protection of spattering paint. Better safe than sorry here! For the floor, you will want to use a drop cloth that has a plastic side, or thick canvas, so that any drips or spills will not soak thru the cloth to the flooring below. Many people do not think of this until it is too late, and use a simple sheet. This may be ok for the furniture, for spatters from a roller, but not for spills. And don't think they can't happen to you, that would be your first mistake.

Paper towels and damp rag - these are great to have, hopefully not needed, but if you need them, you will be soooo happy you had them handy! These are great to wipe up errors (as dramatized above) or to wipe the paint can after pouring into the roller tray, or to place the brush down in case you need a place, or for wiping each others faces when the paint gets on you!

Brush holder/cup - this is a great tool for when you are painting the trim. It is best to have a handled cup to put paint in for your brush so that you do not have to keep getting up and down the step ladder to re-load your brush. It is also great so that when working with a partner, one can do the trim, and the other can follow behind with the roller - this always makes for a quicker painting experience! This tool can be a used plastic container you once got from the Chinese take-out food, or you can purchase this tool, made especially for this purpose that has a place for the brush built in right next to the cup with a handle.

Step ladder - one with two steps works best for one story rooms - if you are painting a vaulted ceiling or a room with higher than 8' ceilings, you will need a regular ladder. It is best to use a ladder and be right at the area you are painting, than trying to reach. Most times the reaching will be a sure way to make a mistake or get hurt ( by falling off the ladder). Safety is most important when painting or doing any home projects.

Roller handle - when painting walls in the room, the easiest tool to use is the roller. Longer poles are available to attach ( screw into the end of the handle) to the roller handle and many people prefer to use this than get on a ladder. Beware of the end of the long pole when re-loading the roller with paint, as it may knock over some things in the room, or knock into your partner! This is tool you will have, to be able to use again and again, if taken care of.

Roller pads - these are the pads that cover the metal roller on the handle, that hold the paint. There are many types to use. Be sure to buy the one that best matches your circumstances. For example, if you are painting a stucco wall or popcorn ceiling, you need a thick padded roller. The roller pads are identified by the thickness of the pile. If you are unsure, ask the salesperson, whom in most stores is very well educated in the supplies you will need. This is a tool that you will most likely want to replace each time you paint. Cleaning a roller pad is a messy job, and for the cost, I always feel it is best to start new for each job and paint color. Like with the paint brush, you can cover the roller AND tray with the paint if you need to take a break. I would not however, ever take a break in the middle of a wall- get to a corner! When doing 2 or more coats of the same color, you can cover the tray and roller in plastic bags, and return to them later in the day, when the first coat of paint has dried. You can even come back to it the next day, IF it is well covered with plastic to keep the air out.

Roller tray - this is the metal or heavy duty plastic tray that holds the paint. There are different sizes and depths available. Be sure to match up the tray with the roller handle you have purchased. This is tool you will have, to be able to use again and again, if taken care of.

Roller tray liner - you can use these inexpensive liners to eliminate messy clean up. They are not the 'greenest' idea, as you toss them out when you are done, but can save you the mess. Be sure when purchasing the liner the size is the same as the roller tray your purchased.

Paint - this is a given - you have learned all about how to choose your color palette, the types of paint available - now you need to figure out the square footage of the room to determine the amount of paint you need to purchase. The easy way to do this is measure the room - multiply each wall width by it's height, then add all walls together - subtract out the measurements of the doors and windows ( I don't do this step, as I do not think it amount to much for a basic room, and do not want to be caught short on paint, so I leave those numbers in)- this will give you the square footage of the room. Most gallons of paint cover approximately 400 square feet. Be sure to check the labels, they will advise what each brand will cover. Also keep in mind that you may need more than once coat of paint - this was reviewed in an earlier post. The darker the color, the more likely you will need two or more coats; or if you are going over a difficult color with a lighter color... you will definitely need 2 or more coats - keep this in mind when figuring out the amount of paint to purchase.

and last but not least...
Music! You may want to have music to listen to - it can make it a much more enjoyable project!

If you have gotten this far, the rewards are just around the corner - you have invested a lot of time in choosing the color palette, purchased the supplies you need, the music to play and in no time you will have a new and rejuvenated room!

Paint Finishes and Types

OK, so you have decided the look you want, whether you are going to do it yourself or hire a painter - now you have to consider the look you want and the type of paint you want to use. If you decided to hire a professional, they will help you make this decision based on what finish you expressed you want. If you are a do-it- yourself person, then this guide may help you.

The choices have grown in the past few years - not only do you have the basic flat, eggshell or semi gloss; you are now offered a variety of types of paints along with additional finishes of satin, matte, and now you can choose low VOC paints. These are paints that are more environmentally friendly, with lower VOC than "regular" paint.
VOC = Volatile Organic Compounds.

I am going to give you a general list of the paint finishes that are most popular. Most people use flat or eggshell paint, as it is the best known. Take a look to at the brief descriptions to help you decide the best option for your space.

Types of base coat paints

flat- no shine - you can re-touch this paint in the spot that gets dirty without painting the entire wall - so many people like to use flat in high traffic areas. Great for example on a stairway where little hands ( dirty hands) may hold onto the wall on their way up and down. A place that would need touching up on a regular basis. Flat paint finish has come a long way, at one point it was not as scrubbable as eggshell finish and therefore people shy-ed away from using is where it might get dirty, as you could not scrub off the dirt without taking the paint with it. Now most companies offer a scrubbable flat paint.

eggshell- this offers a slight shine, and is the most used finish among my clients. A bit of shine, but not too much. I like to use this paint for most faux finishes.

satin- slightly more shine than eggshell - still used on walls, but also a good choice for furniture or re-finishing cabinets

semi gloss- I always use this on moldings, door frames and doors - easily cleaned, and gives a great look, shiny and polished looking.

gloss- used many times on moldings indoors, and outdoors it is great on entry doors - this is also a great look when doing faux finish striping, as you can use this finish in the same color as an alternate stripe for a classic contemporary look. Great too for painting older bathroom or kitchen cabinets. If taking on a project like that, be sure to clean up the cabinets with TSP and then prime prior to painting.

glaze - used alone or mixed in with paint to extend the working time of latex paint. Glaze adds dimension to specialty faux finishes, will not change the color of the paint when added and, the best benefit is that like latex paint, cleans up with soap and water.

oil based paints - often used by some faux finishing artists as it has a longer working time, allowing the artist to work with the paint, blending for a longer period of time. I find it is the most annoying to clean up, as you need to use mineral spirits ( turpentine) which smells bad and is messy. I prefer glaze over oil anytime!

Whichever finish you choose, be sure to have all the right materials prior to starting any painting job yourself. This would include drop cloths, paint brushes for trim areas and rollers and roller pads for the large wall areas.

Have fun and happy painting!