Friday, April 24, 2009

You big faker!

I have an instant dislike of all things fake – fake people, fake tans, fake boobs. And while I agree that most things sound better in the beautiful French language, I’ll continue the list with faux finishes, faux leather and yes, even the “fauxmance”.

I will choose, 99.9% of the time, real plants over fake ones. Plants add life to a space both literally (they add oxygen to the air and act as a natural air purifier) and figuratively in the context of staging and design. But I will acknowledge that once in a while, a real plant just won’t work in a space that is practically screaming for some life.

So, for today, let’s consider the fake plant.

If you must explore this direction, look carefully and be creative before buying. There are lots of options that don’t make me shudder – natural wood sticks, palm leaves, life-like flowers, and even plastic grasses can add life to a room and work well within a design. But beware: there are many, many more options that look truly terrible (where you’d be better off having nothing at all)…and you’ll have to search for the right solution.

Like real plants, there are a number of things to consider to help ensure you make a good decision. Here are a few tips:

1. location – where will it be located? At eye level? On the floor? Consider how far from eye level this plant will be in your space. Be sure you look at it that closely with a discerning eye…and if you think it looks too fake, or if you can’t decide, then it is probably not a good choice.

2. lighting – what will the lighting be like in this location? Bright lights will only highlight the plastic or unreal look of it. Darker and dimmer areas are much more forgiving. Remember: adding beautiful little white lights to a fake plant is ALWAYS a bad idea.

3. potting – most fake plant options seem to come in horrible looking pots (why is this??). If you see an option where you like the plant part, but don’t like the pot, make sure you can take it apart when you get home. If not, give it a pass. There are lots of fake plant options that come without containers. I like these better because you can make them look much appropriate for your space. Plan to put your faker in a nice pot or container. One that fits your existing décor. Be creative, but keep it simple.

4. rocks and soil – I recommend “planting” your fake plant in something more natural to balance it out and increase the style quotient. Choose natural colored sand (white, tan, light grey-ish), rocks or real soil.

5. dusting – just as your real plants should never be dusty, neither should your fake plants! Take a minute to do this very small task and keep your fakers looking as “fresh” as you possible can.

6. price – don’t be fooled. More expensive is NOT always better or more real-looking. I have found some lovely options and have paid anywhere from $1 upwards, but am always happiest with the ones I’ve pulled together myself.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a one-of-a-kind solution that fits within your décor and your style. Used sparingly, the fake plant option can effectively add life to your troubled space.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for oxygen…

{Editor’s note: I realize I am writing about fake plants on the heels of Earth Day. Understand that I’m not advocating the consumption of more plastic products here. Please know that I try to treat every day like Earth Day…and know there is always more each and every one of us need to be doing to be kinder to the great Mother Earth.}

Friday, April 17, 2009

China cabinet makeover

I was in desperate need for drawer space in my little walk-in closet, so I hit my favorite second-hand stores in search of an old, tall and skinny chest of drawers to refinish. But, I wasn’t having much luck finding something that wasn’t too wide or too long for the space.

Finally, this 1950’s (ish), art deco (ish) piece caught my eye. While not at all what I was originally looking for, I fell in love with the curvy shape and determined it would fit in the space. After blowing off many layers of dust, I saw the $50.00 price tag and loved it just a little bit more. So, I stuffed it in the Honda civic hatchback and headed home.

Here are the steps to this makeover project:

1. thorough clean with a damp cloth, wipe dry
2. lightly sand all surfaces
3. another good cleaning to remove all dust from sanding (tip: slightly damp cheese cloth is great for this!)
4. take off all the doors, knobs and shelves
5. prime all surfaces (wait to dry)
6. three coats of paint on all surfaces (wait to dry between all coats)
7. reattach all doors and shelves
8. replace knobs

I chose a bright and fun blue, because I really liked the idea of mixing an old piece of furniture with a new and vibrant color. Here, I also painted the inside back panel a light grey to add some contrast and lighten up the inside of the cabinet.

This 3-day project was done on a shoe-string budget that breaks out like this:

cabinet - a steal at $50
primer - left over from past painting projects, $0
paint – mixed for another project and wasn’t used, $0
(tip: always a good idea to hang on to paint for a while because what was a mistake on one project may have a fantastic use later on!)
new knobs – three used from a value pack of 6, approx $4

Fitting perfectly in my closet, this cabinet offers tons of space to house my socks, tights, underwear, pj’s and other dainties. The bottom of the cabinet stores long and short-sleeved tees, all my yoga wear and a couple of hoodies.

The result is a truly unique and functional storage solution that I am proud of because it’s an unexpected new use for something old (go gorgeously green!)…and because I did it myself for $54 bucks!

Friday, April 10, 2009

“The Unsellables” – best staging stat, ever.

Sofie Allsopp, host of HGTV’s fantastic show “The Unsellables”, gave an incredible stat in a recent episode. Here it is:

“Every box of clutter removed from your home during staging is equal to $800 - $1000.”

Read that again.

Consider that the reverse is also true…every box of clutter you don’t remove before staging / selling your home will cost you.

Remember that “clutter” means personal items, collections, extra furniture…etc.

Here’s another gem from the show:

“Having your home professionally staged can increase your selling price by up to 30%.”

Enough said.

(oh…and if you really want to learn more about staging, this is a great show. One of my absolute favorites. In a short ½ hour episode you get a real picture of how & why staging works. And always some good how-to’s for simple DIY projects.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

color trends for 2010

Last week, I went to the Benjamin Moore Color Trends Forecast for 2010. Designed for “Color Professionals & Architects”, it was presented by their Color & Design Manager and detailed their projections in terms of color, design and trends for 2010.

Hard to say what I liked best.

There was a bit of talk about how the entire industry is changing so that it’s much more green. A combination of things like new technologies and VOC regulations are driving this. That’s not a bad thing in my books.

There was also some interesting information on two of Benjamin Moore’s new products including “Aura”, which you’ve probably already seen commercials for. It’s a new 100% acrylic resin paint that promises some great features: dries in 1 hour, 2 coat maximum, contains self-primer and self sealer (read: you don’t have to use primer and it still promises that you’ll never need any more than 2 coats!), is durable & washable, and has exceptional hiding power.

The second product is called “Natura” and is their greenest product. Actually, it’s the first of its kind in the industry. It promises to be odor-free, fast drying (also 1 hour), and VOC free. This one does recommend the use of a primer (they also make a “Natura” primer) and colors will be available in flat, eggshell and semi gloss. This product will be in stores in May. Sounds good to me…I hate the smell of paint and really try hard not to think about what I’ve been breathing in.

Now to the sexy stuff. This part of the presentation was a combination of music and tons of photos from around the world that included the very latest in fashion trends, new design influences and, of course, colors.

It was such a visual feast, my brain was buzzing for the rest of the afternoon. I’d show you pictures, but the color chips aren’t available just yet…

Here are the three color themes that Benjamin Moore is predicting for 2010:

One – “genesis” which is all about real colors found in the natural world. From green to yellow, the greyscale continues. Carbon color footprints. New beige and white. Monochromes in colored and earthen neutrals. Beautiful hues of browns, creams, greens, reds…think sand, flowers, grasses, root vegetables. Colors include: wild mushroom, forest moss, yellow finch, frostline, granite.

Two – “the new luxury” which is more about values and less about wealth. Sophisticated deep and rich tones. Bold translucency and art-inspired brights contrast against beige grounds. Gold, bronze, copper. Sustainable color choices accented with luxurious chromas of organic brights….think eco-chic. Colors include: sandlot gray, granite, wild orchid, caponata, summer plum, gold.

Three – “ingenuity” which is considered more out of the box and fun. Unexpected and free. Sporty hues and glimmers of metallics. Playful color tones. Prismatic color, ombre effects. Bold and vibrant yellows, blues, oranges…think freedom of expression and right-brain thinking. Colors include: seaweed, midnight navy, salsa, fairview taupe, bronze.

I'm excited and have lots to think about in terms of new color combinations. But the two biggest burning questions for me are:

Who’s job is it to aptly name each and every one of the new colors & write the prose that describes these color trends?


How do I become part of the “North American Creative Forecasting Team” that travels the globe to identify color, design influences and themes of new fashion trends?

Give me a call, Benjamin Moore. I’m available.