Living Spacious in Small Spaces – Step 2

Many of us, by choice or by fate, are living in smaller spaces.  My clients are scaling down or staying put and revamping to maximize their lives within a smaller foot print. As the owner of a very small first home and as an architect for many years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can work for you too! Let’s bring in the incredible power of natural light.

“Also marvelous in a room is the light that comes through the windows of a room and that belongs to the room. The sun does not realize how beautiful it is until after a room is made. A man’s creation, the making of a room, is nothing short of a miracle. Just think, that a man can claim a slice of the sun.”  Louis Kahn

A genius at using light as a key element in his designs, Kahn recognized our dependence on “…the touch of a finger to a switch.”  I invite you to join me in enlisting “the endlessly changing qualities of natural light, in which a room is a different room every second of the day” to enhance and enlarge our spaces.

white space

If you have the means to bring in light by cleverly replacing a slice of your roof with glass or adding new windows, please do so. Here I’ll show you how to maximize the natural light in your space through less intrusive and still highly effective methods.

All of the movable furnishings in this reclaimed barn are lifted off the ground on delicate frames. This allows precious day light to easily dance through the room. Even the stair to the loft above is formed of seemingly floating wooden treads that enhance and contribute to the bright atmosphere, instead of weighing it down. Tip: choose furnishings that are light on their feet.

white space

funky glamour new york city

Lighten up by saying buh bye to the age-old tradition of lining your furniture up against the windows and walls of every room. Even in a smallish space such as this, you can create an interesting and perfectly-suited-to-relaxing-and-entertaining seating area in the middle of a room. This trick lightens rooms by creating space for the light to roam and breathe. If space is an issue then move your furniture even a few inches from the walls for a smaller scale effect. Trust me, try it!  If privacy isn’t an issue then ditch the heavy draperies or replace them with sheer billowy drapes that keep your secrets, but not you, in the dark. Tip: create a light and airy atmosphere by moving furniture and heavy draperies away from the windows and walls.

white space

dining

Fortunately for all of us, day light has an incredible support team, of which my favorites are glass, mirrors, and metals. They all bring out the best in natural light, just in different ways. Glass, as in the shelves above, is day light’s brutally honest best friend. She lets her bestie shine through with only the slightest alteration.

STELLAR Console and Mirror designed by Jake PhippsMirrors are natural light’s press rep. They double her sparkle and always make her look good, even when she may be fading.

Architectural Digest mirrored table

Metals are like day light’s adoring mother. Always subtly promoting their brilliant off-spring, metals, dazzlingly paired with mirrors here, put light in, well, her best light. Tip: use glass, mirrors, and metals to enhance natural light.

white space

Parisienne charmer (8)

At last, this brilliant bath brings all the tricks together for a bright escape that glows. The floating angled tub is featured by the light splashing around it. A burnished metal vanity is light on its feet. A copper horn pendant’s glossy center glows without power. Brass lamps and chrome faucets show that a variety of metals is the spice of life.

Love to hear your tricks to lighten up your spaces.  Then share this on so your friends aren’t in the dark. Don’t miss Step 1 to Live Spacious.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Top 10 Outside Tips for a Fresh Spring Home

Spring officially arrives today, and most of us have been eagerly awaiting her. It may or may not feel like spring, yet let’s get ready for warm breezes and sunshine using my Top 10 Tips. Then you can enjoy the spring weather with your family and friends, when she really emerges.

1. Inspect your roof for damage. Clean your gutters and down spouts, make necessary repairs to insure water is moved away from your home.

gutter cleaning

2. Inspect your siding for cracks, breaks, buckling, and rot. Repair as necessary and perhaps give it a wash.

buckled siding

3. Inspect your home’s foundation for cracks and repair to prevent water from entering your home. Ensure that the grading around the home slopes away to move the water away.

cracked foundation

4. Sweep porches, patios, side walks, and drive way.  Inspect these for cracks or breaks and repair to avoid falls. This is extreme though even small cracks can be hazardous.

sidewalk.cracked2

5. Inspect and replace any failing or missing caulk around windows, doors, and where different materials meet.

Caulk_Exterior_Windows

6. If you had ice dams this winter, now is the time to take these five steps to avoid them and their damage and costly repairs next winter.

ice dams

7. Wash window exteriors and their screens. Time for new windows? Read my Window Selection Guide first.

wash window interiors

8. Check your wood decks for wear and exposed wood. Repair and refinish if necessary using my Top 3 Exterior Wood Coatings.

earth friendly deck finishes

9. Call a professional to inspect and service your air conditioner.

air-conditioning

10. Bring out your patio furniture, give it a wash, relax.

Loll Designs

Take some time to implement these tips to get your home fresh and worry free for spring.  Read my Top 10 Insider Tips for a Fresh Spring Home. Then be sure to share these with your friends.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Top 10 Inside Tips for a Fresh Spring Home

Spring officially arrives tomorrow, and most of us have been eagerly awaiting her. It may or may not feel like she’ll appear tomorrow, but let’s get ready for warm breezes and sunshine using my Top 10 Tips. Then you can enjoy the spring weather with your family and friends, when she really emerges.

1. Keep your home’s air and water clean by changing or cleaning these filters: furnace, air conditioner, water faucets, frig water dispenser, vacuum, range hood.
3M furnace filter change
2. Turn off the furnace humidifier when you’re no longer heating your home.
ImaginEco furnace humidifier

3. Maximize the day light by giving your windows a wash on the inside if the weather’s still chilly. Then wash the outside when the weather warms up. Download my natural and healthy DIY cleaners here.
wash window interiors

4. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, change their batteries if necessary.
replacebatteries photo from fema.gov

5. Clean your dryer exhaust duct and remove lint from under and around the dryer. Click here to learn how.prettyhandygirl.com dryer duct cleaning

6. Clean your heat and air conditioner registers with a vacuum.  It’s an easy way to keep the air in your home, whether heated or cooled, clean, and it helps reduce allergens. Do this on a regular basis, or at a minimum when you change from heating to cooling your home.

clean register with vacuum

7. Steam clean your carpets or use a healthy method recommended for your carpet type. I have a home carpet cleaner and use Earth Friendly Products carpet shampoo. Set up shoe storage stations at each door and kick off your shoes when you get home to keep bacteria out.

How-to-steam-clean-carpets

8. Turn off the power to exhaust fans, remove their covers, vacuum the interior housing or carefully clean them with a soft cloth. You’ll be surprised at the amount of dust and debris that hides there. Remove it to keep your home’s air clean and keep your family breathing easy.

exhaust fan from family handyman.com

9. Check the seals on all of your doors to keep your conditioned air inside, and tiny pests outside. Repair or replace them as required.

check door seals

10. Change your ceiling fan direction to spin counter clockwise when your air conditioner is on or clockwise if you’re heating your home.  There is a switch on the fan housing to change the blade direction.

Modern-Fan-Eclipse

Take a few minutes to implement these tips to get  your home fresh for spring. Then be sure to share these with your friends.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Living Spacious in Small Spaces – Step 1

Many of us, by choice or by fate, are living in smaller spaces.  My clients are scaling down or staying put and revamping to maximize their lives within a smaller foot print. As the owner of a very small first home and as an architect for many years, I’ve learned a few tricks that can work for you too!

Alaska summerI like to mimic nature’s exquisite balance in a room because she’s an expert at expanse.  Think of the strong foundation of the earth’s bedrock, soil, and mountains.  Above that the forests begin to open and lighten in to vast endless skies. You can create this graceful comforting balance in your rooms with a solid base of color, texture, and density. Furnishings and accessories above your solid groundwork are lighter, more open, less dense and heavy. Finalize your interior with a ceiling color or treatment that creates a complete volume.

John Lum ArchitectureThis San Francisco home, remodeled by John Lum Architecture, perfectly illustrates a strong foundation in texture, color, and scale.  Notice the grounding effect of the high base boards. The window lined alcove’s arch is outlined by delicate plaster moldings.

Robert Nebolon ArchitectsA floating home in San Francisco, designed by Robert Nebolon Architects, is grounded by wood floors with character. Crisp and clean silvery blue cabinets ease up toward generous walls of windows. Black cabinet pulls and window frames stabilize the space.

Park Ave. Residence by Rafael de CardenasIn this luxurious New York City apartment, Rafael de Cadenas uses color and texture as the grounding elements. Curves, reflections, transparency, and nature prints and wallcovering travel delicately upward in the room. The translucent soft green light mimics a feathery limb over head.

Remember, you can’t go wrong when you follow nature’s lead. Share with your friends and stay tuned for more tips to live spacious in your small spaces.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Stop Improving!

I have a long list of home improvement wishes and dreams, and I bet that you do too.  In fact, we’re told daily to never stop improving.  We want what our neighbors have, or better yet, what our neighbors don’t have yet!  Of course, as an architect I’m limiting potential work by saying this, but I truly feel like we should take some time to appreciate the amazing building that we call home.

My home was built in the early 1970s.  It’s a walk-out ranch with ochre colored aluminum siding.  Nestled in to a woodland in a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the best feature is the site, which seems to go on forever in the nature preserve it joins.  I’m not thrilled that all you see from the street is the garage. Yet that’s a small price to pay for daily immersion in to the world of deer and bunnies and foxes and ducks…you get the idea.

ImaginEco deer

Inside our home we, my husband of over 20 years and I, have made many cosmetic improvements and added our personality where our budget would allow.  And we’ve even made improvements when spurred by fun events like a sanitary sewer back up. When we purchased the home nine years ago we painted virtually every wall and ceiling after removing wall covering.  We quickly eliminated carpet from a bathroom and replaced it with a luxurious heated tile floor. Over the years we’ve replaced all of the flooring, and have three types of Marmoleum linoleum, including the planks in my lower level shown here.  My endorsement of Marmoleum is unsolicited and unpaid.  It’s one of my favorite gorgeous and sustainable flooring materials, made from linseed oil, pine rosin, and wood flour.

ImaginEco Marmoleum plank 1

And I recently painted my bathroom a delicious hot pink that makes me feel giddy every time I walk in to the room. It’s Sherwin Williams Eros Pink Emerald paint in their velvety matte finish that intensifies the stunning color. So though we’ve significantly modified our home over the last nine years, we still have aesthetic goals, on top of the maintenance.

ImaginEco pink bath

Your house, the building, is a complex system designed to keep you warm and dry and sheltered from the weather.  The structure, walls, roof, insulation, floor slab, doors, windows, plumbing, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and electrical have all been carefully researched, tested, designed, built, and approved to provide for your health, welfare, and safety. All of these systems need to be maintained regularly, upgraded, or replaced to keep this house, this system, functioning properly.  These items are not optional.

Your home is you, your family, your dog, your cat, your fish, your kids doing home work at the dinner table, your friends dropping by unexpectedly, your favorite food in the oven. Your home is a symbol of you through the lime green walls in your kitchen, your grandmother’s wing chair, your kids’ drawings on the frig, your sunflower yellow front door, and your dog’s enormous bed in the corner.

So please take a moment today to stop improving.  Instead appreciate the immense group of talented individuals that have crafted and maintained our homes and who have created their contents for us to enjoy. Then pat yourself on the back for every single decision that you’ve made and every joyful and painful step you’ve taken to nurture yourself and your family and friends in your very own home. Well done, well done!

Tell me what you love about your home!

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Simply Hot Fireplaces

Baby, it is cold outside!  If you’re feeling it too I bet your fireplace is working overtime. The function and style of fireplaces has advanced far beyond their humble origins. No longer destined to wear just brick (not that there’s any thing wrong with brick!), cozy up and see what the hottest modern fireplaces are wearing.

concrete faced full view fireplaceConcrete offers a variety of low maintenance finishes from raw to burnished to polished.  The surface lustre of highly polished concrete can reflect and amplify day light. Add recycled glass aggregate and hone the finish to create a sparkle that rivals the fire.

Mendota Hearth full viewLet the fire do the talking.  This full view fireplace by Mendota Hearth allows you to bask in the fire’s glow without any distraction. The fire base can be natural river rock or even glass. I’ll show you the glass below. The tantalizing burnt orange wall color leapt right from the flames.

Town and Country FireplaceTile lets you make a purely personal design statement…colorful, subdued, or even a monochromatic scheme as shown here.  Tile can also be very economical, and the large format tiles (5′ x 10′) available now can provide a seamless face in many spaces.

ImaginEco fireplace with mica wallIn this artist’s studio I used a concave brushed stainless steel fireplace with a glass pebble fire base.  The surrounding wall covering is mica, a shiny crystalline mineral, that glimmers like the fire.

Mendota Hearth steelCor-Ten steel seems perfectly suited to frame a fire, the force that enabled its creation. Also known as weathering steel, its durability and personality make it one of my favorite materials.

Stay cozy and share the warmth with your friends.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Timeless Interior Design for Every Year

Happy New Year!  I wish you all a year filled with nature outside your window and shelter that inspires you.  I try to live in the present and avoid forecasting or living by trends.  So let’s start the new year with design elements that are timeless, nurturing, and always in style. Oh, and they’re gorgeous too!

Chic-Metal-Side-Table kateobriendsdotcom

Metallics reflect your personality and day light and add vibrancy to any space.  The movement as the light and shadows play around them is magical. Be fearless and mix them up to create a captivating balance of shiny and worn and gleaming and weathered.

Color Lovers Welcome

Color is always inspiring or nurturing or energizing or calming, whatever your heart desires! Close your eyes and visualize your favorite things and the colors within them.  Now transfer those colors to your walls or ease yourself in with colorful furnishings.

ImaginEco cork wall covering

Texture’s tactile qualities add depth and reality to rooms.  Here I used cork wall covering, with splashes of metallic copper running through it, creating soothing texture with a funky sparkle. Layer gossamer with ribbed and velvety with knotty, as nature does, to create a rich composition.

Bloch design glass fireplace 2

And there’s always glass – stunning and timeless in every incarnation. It’s one of light’s best friends as they enhance each other so well. Add clear glass tables and lamps to bring a bright airiness to any space.

Hudson_Furniture_“O”_BaseNo material touches each of us as wood does.  It affects us most in its living form while providing shade and shelter and year round beauty.  When crafted by artisans and gracing our home as an integral part of our lives, wood fills our innate need for nature. Bring it inside with reclaimed wood or with wood that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Always choose woods with natural finishes.

Share the info and the love with your friends…pass it on!

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Tis the season of giving!

Blog header December first postWheee!  This is my first blog post, and I hope you’ll enjoy this and many more to come.  I’ve decided to finally join this arena so that I can easily give you more in-depth info to use in your very own world of design. This first post is a salute to, and a request that you join me in my love and respect for, nature. I’m eager to learn your needs and answer your design questions, and I’ll focus on those design topics in future posts.

In this season of giving, I ask you to put Mother Nature on your gift list.  She’s been looking out for us our entire lives, so let’s show her how much we care by…

  • giving an experience instead of an item.  Take a friend to lunch, take your mom to a movie, take your sis to a play.
  • giving gift certificates or tickets to a movie, restaurant, massage, manicure or pedicure, facial, golf lesson, cooking class, yoga, museum, garden center…
  • giving to a charity that’s close to your friend’s heart, in your friend’s name.
  • giving a gift that keeps on giving –  bird bath, bird feeder, wind chimes, house plant, music…
  • spending an afternoon with friends making soup or cookies and sharing the goodies.
  • calling friends on your card list instead of sending a card in the mail.

Please share what meaningful gifts you’re giving this year. Thank you for reading and please sign-up to follow via email and share with your friends.  I wish you holiday joy every day.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise