Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I adore the glorious colors of fall foilage and the cooler temeratures bringing on increased energy. Perhaps it is the association of the new school year that I associate fall with a fresh start. Or it might be that kick of temperature change along with seeing nature let go of summer with such a graceful transition that autumn inspires taking on new adventures in our lives.
Image via Pexel 33109
“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.” –Stanley Horowitz
There are so many ways to celebrate the season. The cooler weather encourages us to clean out our homes, taken on challenging chores, visit orchards, perhaps even start something new that is good for us like a hobby or carving out some time for ourselves. Give yourself plenty of time to plan for and enjoy Halloween.
Image via Pexel 1371178
A thousand flowers baked by the sun
Their scent dampened by dew now that night has begun
A distant church bell’s toll is eerie tonight
Young children notice all take takes flight
Close friends and neighbors we don’t recognize
Until small friendly voices dispel their disguise
A pumpkin, a candle, a sheet becomes ghost
Our path is so marked by our spooky host
With mild trepidation we approach the next door
Each house has become a free candy store
The night fills with quick footsteps, the shouts that we utter
A spring in our step, inside us a flutter
The beauty of autumn, the mystery of lore
A witch on the wing, a bat hangs from a door
Countless enchantments to be heard, felt and seen
On its once a year visit, once again — Halloween
Poem by Adrian Jennings
Image via Pexel 33577
Autumn is such a fun time for crafts or and adding fall decor. You can let your personality shine, such as with this adorable porcupine set in a nest of warm color –shown above.
Image & Design by Lauren Richardson
Head to your local craft store and grab a grapevine wreath, some colorful leaf stems, berry stems (anything to add interest and texture), your favorite ribbon (with wire) and a bow maker (it’s easy after a few practices), wreath hangers and make yourself a dazzling wreath. I love to have one for the outside of the front door and one for the inside of the front door.
Image & Design by Lauren Richardson
Crate and Barrel’s Suki Collection offers a modern and fresh take on autumn and Thanksgiving table decor. The Suki Collection hosts runners, tablecloths, and napkins in a fresh, stylized floral in two colorways.
Planning a kitchen renovation can be daunting in terms of scope and budget. The good news is that realtors estimate that 80% of the investment you make in your kitchen upgrade will be recouped when you sell your house. Whether you are ready to take the plunge for your own benefit or for resale value, below are some guidelines to help save you time and money with designers, make the process smoother and get you the end results you desire.
Before getting to far along, go through all your kitchen appliances, dishes, tools and cookbooks and give away or toss anything you don’t need. Does your waffle maker just sit there 364 days a year? Do you really need four sets of measuring cups? Do you have mismatched dishes and cups that just sit on the shelf? Once you know exactly what you need to store, finding storage solutions will be more targeted.
The most expensive part of a kitchen upgrade is in appliance reorientation and custom cabinetry. Depending on the extent of your renovation, it can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 (or higher). Consumer Reports offers a monthly membership for $7.95 per month or you can purchase magazines that will get you up to speed on costs.
Do some research. Visit kitchen showrooms and gather materials. Learn what’s possible. Until you do some exploring, you won’t know that you can’t live without that certain something. Even Home Depot and Lowes have great catalogs that help you understand some of the organizational tools available with cabinetry upgrades.
Create a list of “must haves” and “would like to haves.” If you are a couple, try to have individual lists as well as a shared list to help designers hone in on those items that are paramount to your happiness.
Consider amenities such as a wine cooler, a gas fireplace to keep you cozy in the wintertime, and storage solutions that will save you from sitting on the floor and digging through cabinets for that certain appliance. Corner cabinets with lazy susans are wonderful. Maybe you’re an avid baker, and over the fridge vertical storage will make it easy access to large, flat pans. Perhaps having a pull out spice cabinet would make life sunnier. It may be that a pegged dish drawer would make the daily chore of setting the table and putting the dishes away a breeze. Consider your height, back issues, arthritis and any disabilities when putting together your wish list.
Will the family eat in the kitchen or dining room?
How often do you entertain?
How do kids and dogs impact your layout and amenities selection?
Will there typically one cook or more?
Where do you prefer to do prep, cooking and clean up? (Your designer will plan your kitchen triangle of refrigerator, sink, and stove and overall layout with these preferences in mind.)
Do you need extra counter space? A bar counter?
Do you need a double oven?
Will one sink suffice?
Do you have a good-sized pantry? Do you need extra storage for pots, pans, spices, or wine?
Are you interested in switching from electric to gas? Extending a gas line can be expensive and electric cook tops have improved over time.
Do you need additional task lighting?
Do you need a home/office area?
Do you need a family calendar/scheduling area?
Would you like more natural light in your space? (skylilghts, additional windows, enlarged windows, sliding doors, etc)
Create a file, notebook (digital or paper) or Pinterest page of kitchen designs that you find appealing. Your designer won’t copy these, but they will provide insight to your taste. Strive for 7 to 10 images that represent your style. Try to understand why the images appeal to you. Isolate the components. Is it the light? Copper bowls? Stone tile? Dark wood floors contrasting with crisp white cabinetry? As a couple, strive for images that reflect a combined style. This may be difficult and could require the assistance of your designer, but the clearer you are on what you want, the less time you will spend with a designer.
Base finishes include flooring, cabinet finish, countertops, backsplash and paint. Appliances should be coordinated as well. They don’t have to all match but they should coordinate (i.e, black stove and dishwasher with stainless refrigerator).
Finish Upgrade versus Remodel
If you are merely changing finishes, you can do this own your own or hire an interior designer. If you are remodeling, be sure to hire a certified NKBA planner. Your kitchen planner might be able to offer you a highly coordinated finish scheme, but different types of designers have different specialties. so be sure to see some of their work. You might want an interior designer to work with your certified kitchen planner, particularly if you are coordinating open floor plans and want coherence between the kitchen and adjacent rooms. Consider, in particular, any flooring material that will be adjacent to the kitchen flooring material.
Are you keeping your existing flooring? Try to get a sample of it so that this can be viewed in the quartz showroom with your other finishes. You might be able to pull a chip from the corner of a pantry or closet. If you are making a change, you will likely either choose tile or hardwood. Tile is easy to clean but can be hard on your back. If you don’t spend a lot of time cooking, this could be a good choice for you. If you do select tile, ensure you specify narrow grout lines and a medium to dark grout. If you have a light-colored grout, you will spend an enormous amount of time cleaning the grout, even if you seal it. I prefer Carlisle wood flooring for its beauty, but if you are pressed for budget there are many other options.
Don’t purchase budget bamboo — a low price typically indicates bamboo that has not been allowed to harden and it will dent once installed. The article below details more choices and outlines pro’s and con’s.
Don’t select granite for your countertops. While it’s fine to use a granite offcut for a small vanity, granite can break upon installation for large pieces. Quartz, on the other hand, has binders that offer just enough give that their will not be a break upon instlalation. If you are looking for something subtle in a grey, white, or cream, Corian Quartz® (formerly Zodiaq®) offers regular specials on several colors.
However, if you would like more interest, visual “movement”, and something a bit more lively, Cambria® is your vendor of choice. You can see Cambria® designs on your own countertops and islands, and more with the Augmented Reality (AR) app. How it works it you use your device to scan your counter, then select the design you want, and you will see how it looks in your space.
Visit a quartz showroom to see quartz options in full slab size. Never, ever order your kitchen countertop(s) based on a small sample size. Quartz often has wide variation, visual movement, and multiple colors that will not be evident in a small sample. Consider two coordinating quartz colors if you have two or three countertops. Once measurements are taken for fabrication, have your designer check with the fabricator to see if there are any offcuts that can be made into a desktop, vanity, or occasional table. You will pay for the entire slab, so get your money’s worth.
If you want something custom, visit some local cabinet makers. They should have samples of their work and be able to show you the quality of construction as well as paint and stain choices. If you like more traditional designs, consider Enkebol architectural wood carving designs to enhance your cabinetry with carving, overlays, fluting, and molding. Hoods offer another ornametal option.
Kitchen showrooms will offer you many styles of cabinetry, palettes and details to suit your style. Consider some well-appointed glass cabinet fronts. Antique glass offers sparkle without a stark view into the contents behind them.
Image by hikesterson via Istock
While backsplashes are not required, and you can simply create a backsplash with your chosen quartz, a coordinating tile can add interest to your kitchen design. Don’t limit yourself to Home Depot! There are so many beautiful tile designs available through your designer. Have them take you to a showroom so that you can gather some ideas or ask them to bring you some selections.
While you can purchase refrigerator doors with wood fronts, most of us will select white, black or stainless. The best selection will be based on your other finishes but keep in mind that stainless will show smudges, so if you have little ones under your roof, be prepared to be wiping appliances down often should you choose stainless.
Plumbing and Cabinet Hardware
Sinks and faucets might be on your renovation list. These should be coordinated with your cabinet hardware. Sherle Wagner and Carpe Diem are worth investigating for outstanding hardware selections.
In addition to offering a planned and coordinated design, another advantage of hiring an interior designer for your kitchen upgrade is to coordinate lighting that will showcase your new space. Recessed lights in the ceiling, undercabinet lights, lights to showcase displays behind glass, and new fixtures over your kitchen table or island will be important components of a complete and pleasing design.
While this is an easy finish to change, paint color is still one of the items that should be chosen in concert with your other base finishes.
Final Selection of Base Finishes
Before signing on to any of your base finishes, have your designer meet you at the quartz showroom with the following samples: cabinet door, flooring sample, backsplash and paint. Ease of cleaning is of utmost importance in considering all of your finish selections.
Adding In Your Personality
Image by Svetl via Istock
Image by Svetl via Istock
Most of your base finishes will be neutral. If you are selling your home, ensure you select classic, neutral finishes. If this is your forever home, you can suit your own taste. Have you dreamed of having a Mexican kitchen since you were 15? Go for it.
Create another file of images that captures your personality. Do you love Italian ceramics? Mixed colors of dishes? Ceramics can brighten up your space. Think of a kitchen with soft creams, whites, or greys and a bright blue vase with yellow flowers. Or lavender orchids on a black countertop. Kitchen mixers come in fun colors like aqua, red, and copper. You can bring fabric, pattern and color into your space through upholstered seating areas, window treatments, chair covers, table cloths, runners, napkins, placemats, and artwork. These items will add texture, color and personality. The more information you provide to your designer at the outset, the more successful he or she will be at giving you your dream kitchen. Good design has so much to do with planning all the components together.
To recap: visit some kitchen showrooms to think outside the box and see what’s possible, create your wish list of functional and style preferences, create a folder of images for overall kitchen design, base finish ideas, and personality ideas. Hire your NKBA kitchen planner and interior designer. The links below will connect you to organizations that can assist you in finding your designers.
Once your new kitchen is installed, be sur eyou have warranties on hand and understand the care and maintenance of your new finishes so that you can enjoy them for some time to come. In particular, understand proper care of your quartz countertops and islands. Quartz is non-porous and hard to stain but you should avoid abrasive cleansers and cleansers that contain bleach. Although quartz is very scratch resistant, you should always use a cutting board and never put a hot pot or pan direclty on the surface as this can cause discoloration.
You have likely noticed the oh-so-soft mauves appearing in apparel and design. Check out Michael’s Simply Cozy Collection. It’s a mixture of whisper whites, dreamy blushes, and greys that make you want to snuggle up with a book.
This collection would be perfect for a guest bedroom (you can strive for gender neutral by leaning toward the creams and greys or for a ladies’ getaway corner — feel free to lay on the florals — you have no one to answer to!
Image by Lauren Richardson
Here are a few Sherwin Williams colors tha twould make great accents to coordinate with these soft mauves.
(are you blushing yet?)
Consider SW 0071 Orchid for an accent if you want to emphasize the masculine components of this collection. Opt for a grey rather than an offwhite or cream as the main wall color to further enhance the masculine feel.
Check out the creative accessories in this line:
Image by Lauren Richardson
Sherwin Williams Ibis White SW 7000 is a dreamy, creamy white that would make a great primary wall color. It’s the perfect backdrop for these subtle, scruptious tones.
Image by Lauren Richardson
Sherwin Williams’ Misty straddles both the soft and deep greys in this collection.
Image by Lauren Richardson
Here is a link to Michael’s snuggly collection — offering rest and comfort for both ladies and lads:
French Country and Country French are terms that get tossed around with abandon these days. Have you ever wondered what the difference is?
Rococo, a style that was popular from 1730-60, has had a tremendous impact on interiors. This period produced intricately carved wood panels, ormolu mounts, extravagant marquetry inlays, and the trumeau (wood framed mirror). It was fanciful, lavish, based on nature, and all about curves.
Rococo in the Country: French Country/French Provincial
What has become French Provincial style is basically a simplified version of French Rococo. In the countryside, simplification was a result of smaller budgets as well as fewer skilled craftsmen to produce furniture pieces and wood paneling. It developed when the woodworkers attempted to imitate the style of decoration that originated in the provinces of France in the 18th century. The imitations were less ornate than the styles that were the rage in Paris. Furniture was more simply carved as were decorative moldings. Printed cottons called toile de Jouy were very popular then as they are today. Iron was used in 18th century decorative interiors and still finds a place in today’s French interiors, especially for light fixtures.
French Country or French provincial offers a French manor type of look. Decorative moldings create the perfect backdrop. You will often see antiques with a French flair, even gilded furniture, lush traperies, rich textiles. In short, this look is elegant and even opulent, but never glitzy. French country incorporates details but they are never overdone. Colors are subdued. Soft creams are abundant, and soft green, soft gold and soft persimmon pair beautifully with the creamy base. Accessories are simple but there is a place for gilded touches, a few ruffles, or anything that offers a touch of romance. You can mix French country with transitional and even contemporary pieces. In particular, the soft curves of Rococo and light, delicate Neoclassic furniture pieces sit perfectly in this setting.
Image by Tempura via Istock
Always romantic, ever elegant, but never glitzy — as seen in this room above.
Image by vicnt via Istock
You can have it all — a reminder of the past and contemporary furniture styling. Modern furniture in subdued neutrals against a backdrop of soft green decorative wall moldings. The creamy parquet floor offers visual movement. Windows are unadorned by fussy blinds and framed by elegant draperies.
Country French is easy to remember because the emphasis is on the first word — country. It is more of a feel rather than a specific stye and incorporates a mix of pieces from various periods of French history. This is more of a farmhouse look, a rustic safe haven. However, this style is enormously popular for good reason — it’s incredily homey and welcoming. Oversized furniture invites people to sit and relax. Rich, warm colors such as sunflower yellow and soft reds soothe while violets, soft greens and blues balance the palette. Accessories are more rustic — hanging pot racks, earthenware, and hand crafted pottery give a personal touch. Open shelving invites objects of personal affection to be displayed. Copper fits in nicely.
bImage by de-kay via Istockphoto
The rustic charm of this kitchen is apparent. It is inviting and unassuming.
Image byIPGGutenbergUKLtd. via Istock
A generous use of white is one way to ramp up the charm and comfort level of a Country French interior and keeps the interior from feeling too confining.
Definitions aside, if you are interested in having an interior designer create either a French country or country French look for your home, use a wide variety of images to convey your sytle preference as these two styles are often used interchangeably in practice.
When I am looking for color that offers a special richness, I grab my Benjamin Moore Color Stories fan deck first.
This special paint formulation blends about five to seven pigments in each color. Each color in the series has no black or grey.
Paper Lantern CSP-1150 is a true, clear red. It contrasts beautifully with black, white or cream as an accent wall for a dramatic bit of pop.
Tandoori CSP-1005 evokes an Eastern flair, and works beatifully along with teals and greys.
Mystic Lake CSP-745 is a hue that has enough teal to make it interesting yet is grounded with a softness that evokes calm and tranquility.
Green Hydrangea CSP-850 is a fresh, clean green. If you want a range of monochromatics, combine Green Hydrangea with Lime Sherbert CSP-845 and Lillana CSP -855 . These greens pair well with white, off-white, or cream.
My favorite Color Stories soft neutrals are below.
Cappucino Froth CSP-1055 (a warm cream)
Crumb Cake CSP-1010 (offers lovely golden undertones)
Crisp Linen CSP-305 (as the name indicates)
Cake Batter CSP-215 (a hint of grey — soft, lovely)
Pressed Violet CSP-520 (falls somewhere between violet and grey)
For popping art in gold or silver frames, consider a burnt umber for a backdrop such as:
Kentucky Birch CSP-265 or
Dark Chocolate CSP-270
For trim, doors, or a dramatic accent wall consider :
Espresso Bean CSP-30 (hovers between black and deep brown and never disappoints).
These are just some of the exquisite colors in the wheel of 240 colors. Order your Benjamin Moore Color Stories fan deck from Amazon or other retailers. You will be delighted.