Friday, May 29, 2009

rouge loves ‘em!

Here are a few of my latest favorite things…

great stools – Despite all the rage for garden stools these days, I must admit I’m not so sure. I think they can add a touch of whimsy into a very specific design style. But more often than not, I think they might look a bit off when added to many existing styles. However, I spotted this gem of a stool in HomeSense the other day, and it really appealed to me. Recycled sand-cast aluminum embracing simple and clean design, it’s hand-formed, hand-poured and hand-finished. It comes in two finishes: as seen here in a silvery-aluminum and in a dark brown–bronze. These will easily complement many more design styles. It can be used as a stool tucked under a small desk or writing table, or perhaps placed near the door to sit on while taking shoes on/off, as a side or end table, as a foot stool, as a bedside table, placed near a soaker tub to hold a glass of wine and a book, pulled out for a little extra seating, or…

hot fans – if you are looking for that splash of bright color, why not try one of these? Finally, someone has a made a fan that is not hideous looking. With retro styling these fans are not only functional, but fun and would be a welcome addition to any hot space. Featured in stainless steel, black, yellow, orange, lime green and white.

candlesticks – I love a big grouping of random candlesticks like this one. Look around…they are fun to shop for and versatile because they can be found in all shapes and sizes and at all price points. Move ‘em around your house in different groupings when you want a change and you will never get tired of them! Pictured here are two from Canadian Tire, two from HomeSense and two from the Dollar Store.

“upcycling” – rouge loves this “new” term. It’s different from recycling because in decorating and design lingo, it means finding a great old flea market piece and making it better than new. Another way to say “make-over” really. More often than not, it means spending more $$ fixing it up than what it cost to buy, but you end up with a beautiful and unique piece. We’ve all been doing this for ages of course, but with today’s focus on the economy, I love that it’s now trendy and makes more people think twice about what we buy, what we add to landfills, the lifespan of things, and how to re-love our stuff. Check out the July issue of Style at Home for more on this.

“glamping” – I just had to add this in here. “Glamping” is a term coined for “glamorous camping” and luxury camping companies have been popping up all over the world in incredible outdoor locations. Described as "treehouse meets penthouse", among the top ten are companies located in The Maldives, Chilie, California, Tanzania, Australia, Switzerland, Arizona, Montana, Jordan, and yes, even in British Columbia, Canada. Google it…you’ll be amazed!

Friday, May 22, 2009

got photos?

Like many of us, a redesign & redecorating client of mine had many wonderful photos throughout his home. Each one carries a special story – all are personal. In addition, this particular client has a great eye and is very talented with his camera, so the pictures are simply beautiful.

I was struck by an idea that was inspired by a page in the Ikea catalogue. Why not dedicate a specific place in the house to bring all of these images together? An awkward space at the bottom of the stairs was crying out for a bit of help. It was the perfect spot.

Instead of separate photos getting lost throughout the house, this photo wall has big impact. From a design perspective, it makes for unique and interesting art and reads like one big piece. From a personal perspective, it begs you to spend some time, stand in front if it, and get a strong sense of the lives lived by those who call this home.

The strength of this particular photo wall is the black & white element. The frames are all different shapes and sizes, but they are all black frames with (mostly) all white mats. All the photos are black and white as well, so there are no strong colors to compete or detract from the overall effect. There are a couple that vary slightly from this, just to add in an extra touch of interest.

Pulling together a wall like this one takes time – in particular, special attention must be paid to hanging each and every frame. Don’t be fooled by this arrangement – it’s “loosey – goosey” look makes it more casual than formal, but it is carefully planned.

Here are a few tips: start with one frame placed at eye level and build out from there. It’s very helpful to lay the framed photos out on the floor and rearrange them until you are satisfied with the layout. Another option is to save the paper that’s the same size of the frame (usually comes as part of the packaging when buying new) or make paper cutouts, and tape them to the wall until you find a layout you like. Much easier to do it this way then to later fill extra holes you made in the wall!

Make sure you have your measuring tape, a level, and a healthy dose of patience on hand.

I’m very happy with how this photo wall turned out. It's my favorite, so far. In fact, it tells quite a story…and of course, it leaves lots of room for growth, ensuring that many new wonderful memories will have a special place of honor.

Friday, May 15, 2009

mirror, mirror…

{Note: from time to time I will have special guests contribute to “just a little rouge…”. This week’s blog is written by my very good friend, Tracy Bennett. Tracy and her husband, Julian, run a successful home-based business called Firefly Digital Media. Smart, creative, wonderful, and leading the busiest lifestyles of anyone I know – not to mention raising two amazing kids – their home is my favorite “training ground & test kitchen” when it comes to trying out new rouge ideas. Always willing to give me free reign of their space, Tracy shares her thoughts on what that’s like from her perspective.}

By Tracy Bennett

I’ve had the good fortune of being on the receiving end of many wonderful things in this life, the lucky gal that I am. It must be said however, that one of the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had was working with a stager to de-clutter my home.

Okay, so this might sound like a gross exaggeration. I assure you, it is not. Please allow me to explain.

I am the kind of person who can become completely overwhelmed by the state of my home. I try to pick one room at a time to sort out but I panic and don’t know where to start. I find myself thinking that there must be too much wrong in the room. Is it shelves I need? A closet? More places to hide the mess? And where the hell does all this paper come from? Ack! Then, that’s it. I’m out. Can’t do it. Give up and exit the messy room in question.

Decorating magazines don’t help me at all. Am I the only one out there in this situation? They just make me feel even more inadequate about my inability to create a soothing, comfortable home. Looks so easy, I just don’t know where to start.

I’ve got clutter, chaos, children, pets, more neighborhood children and to top it all off I run a business with my husband and our office is in our house. There is an awful lot going on in one little dwelling.

They say what we see in our lives is a mirror of what we see in our minds. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way, but when my brain is overloaded with life, my life gets overloaded with stuff. Then of course, all the stuff everywhere makes me feel worse. This mirror thing seems to be working against me.

I think you’ve got the messy, unorganized picture that is my home. So imagine with me (because I like to revisit the happy memory of this day) that one day, into my house walks a stager full of ideas, energy and a keen eye.

For some amazing reason, she seems to know exactly what to do with all the crap in my house that has been driving me crazy. She knows how to make all my stuff, some of it that I don’t even like, look much better. She took all my things, moved them around and made it feel brand new. It still looked like my house and my stuff but all the negative feelings towards my space were gone. I don’t think I’ve ever liked my house quite so much as that day. As she went from room to room I felt like I’d had lost weight, had a makeover and a new wardrobe all in one day. Now that’s saying something.

The only sad part is that old habits are hard to break. I’m still messy and when I buy something new I’m still not sure if I got the right thing and put it in the right place or not. Good thing I know a stager who loves tackling my design challenges. I think people like me require some kind of frequent flyer program.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

take it outside!

Whether preparing your home for sale or just looking for ways to spruce up your home this spring, here are 20 (ish) staging and design tips that will greatly increase your curb appeal.
 Leaves and debris – they constantly accumulate, so clean them up and be diligent about maintaining a tidy look
 Replace all dead plants and flowers
 Remove all decorations from the front yard, porch and door
 Remove all kids toys from the front yard (and the backyard, if selling)
 Garbage and recycling days – don’t miss them! Put out your cans and bins just before garbage day and commit to putting the cans/bins away again as soon as you can after it’s picked up.
 Check garbage cans to make sure they are neatly stored and not overflowing or smelly between scheduled pick up days. If possible, store out of view from the main approach to your home.
 Hose down or power wash driveway and all pathways to the house
 Hose down or power wash patios and decks
 Power wash house (if applicable)
 Repair any crumbling stone, brick, or concrete
 Replace any rotting wood on stairs, railings, and porches
 Clean the bbq and any outdoor furniture & accessories
 Paint front door (see painting tips below)
 Embellish the door further with a new knocker and/or a polished-metal kickplate
 Add new matching house numbers – place them somewhere near the front door & make sure they are easily visible from the street, even at night.
 Make a small entryway more inviting with a pair of urns or planter boxes flanking the entrance, or display a hurricane lamp on a small side table next to the door
 To create drama, install lighting along a walkway, between shrubbery, or in trees
 Consider what indoor lighting looks like when viewed from outside. A light in a small round attic window lends character to a home's exterior

A few tips on painting:

 Historical paint colors with grey undertones always work best for exteriors
Warning: the sun makes strong colors appear bolder and vibrant colors appear brighter. Save bright & vibrant colors for accessories like sun umbrellas, side tables or porch chairs
 Paint your front door with a strong color so that it stands out from the rest of the house
 The color of house trim should complement the color of the roof

These easy tips can dramatically increase your overall curb appeal and make your home look well taken care of, much more inviting and welcoming. This is your one and only chance to make a first impression…and you know what they say about first impressions!

Friday, May 1, 2009

news at rouge.

There’s been lots of exciting things happening at rouge, so I thought I’d share a few highlights with you…

rouge staged a home that sold in one day – to the first person who saw it. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Next up, was helping the same client move into his new home…a 500 square foot condo with an incredible waterfront view. Downsizing to the ultimate in downtown living, this was a design challenge where every single piece brought into the new space had to be highly functional. Creating a new design in a different space by choosing from the existing pieces in the old space was great fun!

rouge was also hired to refresh an existing living space – a lovely old home built in the late 1800’s located in Lunenburg, NS. From top to bottom, this is home offered lots of living space that was practically bursting with fine, old character features. The homeowner is a collector of many eclectic and wonderful things – artwork, furniture, handicrafts, family heirlooms and more. Unfortunately, these treasures were simply taking over the home and interfering with the ability to actually live comfortably in the space. Lots of elbow grease in sorting was required here…deciding what to keep, what to store, what to give away or sell. And more than a few tough decisions about what would best fit a whole new lifestyle. This home “makeover” was an emotional journey that was well worth the effort. Pictured below are just two of the rooms that saw big transformations – a space room turned guest room/dressing room and the master bedroom.

As a member of Home Stagers Atlantic (HSA), rouge is proud to be the chair of this year’s community project. Each year, the members of HSA choose a deserving organization and redecorates their space. This year, a community resource centre located in a low income housing neighbourhood will get a new look. The folks here do incredible work with very, very few resources and we are thrilled to be able to make their space more welcoming and comfortable. The project planning is moving forward nicely, and we are on track to take over the center during the last week of June. The entire project will be done in one week, so we can give the newly revived centre back to the staff and community. More to come on that one!

Behind the scenes, rouge has been a beehive of internal activity from late winter to early spring, too – everything from getting the website designed and launched, designing and printing business cards and all other marketing materials, to building a portfolio and writing the weekly blog. Not to mention making some great new contacts in the industry and exploring a few intriguing opportunities. Phew…

Thanks to all rouge clients and supporters – you know who you are.

Looking forward to what the spring and summer may hold…bring it on!

xx Suzanne.