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Interior Design & Furnishings

Interior Design & Furnishings

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A Practical Approach to Interior Design

One room at a time

One room at a time

One practical approach to interior design and home furnishing is to start with the room where you spend the most time. For some that’s the kitchen, for others it’s the family room. Wherever you start, stay within your budget, define your theme, select your colors and have some fun. View our Gallery for Ideas, visit new home models and check out Pinterest. Make your home special – one room at a time.

Work within your Space

Work within your Space

Measure each room and determine the optimal layout. Find furnishings that fit easily within your space. If the room is small, search for those special small pieces that complement the room. You want each room in your home to feel spacious and to feel comfortable, regardless of size. Paint selection, millwork & trim, lighting and décor – each facet of your design should welcome and charm guests.

Plan ahead from ceiling to floor

Plan ahead from ceiling to floor

Remember, your draperies, furnishings, artwork and family heirlooms will be diminished if your flooring selection or wall colors are lacking. View our Gallery for ideas on color selections and flooring options. As you work each room, texture & paint ceilings & walls first, then install trim and flooring and then furnish the room. Plan ahead so everything comes together perfectly, from ceiling to floor.

Room layout and color trends

Room layout and color trends

You want each room in your home to display some character and charm, but it’s wise to select colors that transition easily from room to room. An easy flow of similar colors, with a supporting trend in decor works well. While your home theatre room or man-cave nook may be more defined, the overall theme of your home should be consistent. Loud colors and random furniture selections should be avoided.

Tell a story

Tell a story

We’ve all been there – to that home – the one with all the stories. Some homes tell of a family’s heritage, or speak through interesting antiques, or items collected from a foreign land, and others have framed pictures on the walls that record the growth of the family business over 50 years. These homes are remembered, and they’re unique. Do you have any stories to tell? Share them with your guests.

Reflect your community

Reflect your community

Do you love where you live? Design and furnish your home to reflect the culture and essence of your surroundings. Showcase your wonderful community through furniture designs, art or pictures of your community – cityscape, mountain vista, or views of historic downtown – whatever introduces your guests to the community you call home.


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Emerging Products: Big Chill

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The past & future come together on kitchen products

by Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

Combine vintage styling with progressive thinking such as sustainability and energy efficiency and you have Big Chill, the Boulder, Colorado-based kitchen products firm Orion Creamer founded in 2003.

The idea for it came about by happenstance. Creamer, who had studied product design in college, was asked by his aunt and uncle in 2001 to help them find period-appropriate appliances for their vintage-style beach house in California. He found there were none that would fit the look. "They wanted appliances that looked old in their shape and color range, but were new inside and would defrost well, for example," he recalls.

And then the proverbial light bulb went on. Today, Big Chill offers more than 30 different products—from refrigerators to ranges, cooktops, dishwashers, microwaves, hoods, and more—in three period styles: turn of the century classic, mid-century retro, and a modern professional line. The two vintage lines reflect their time period’s shapes, stamped metal bodies, and dazzling palette of colors such as French blue, buttercup yellow, cherry red, and basil green. At the same time, they share a lot with the more modern line—and many other manufacturers’ hip models. All are highly energy efficient and their finishes have almost zero VOCs due to the powder-coated paint process Creamer uses which lasts longer than many traditional paint finishes do, he says.

Because the company is based in Boulder, one of the country’s most progressive cities for sustainability, Creamer has also been adamant about recycling any materials he can. One example is the Styrofoam in which the appliances are packed. It’s done through a program called CHaRM, which stands for Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials and is among the largest nonprofit recyclers in the country. "We’re one of the few that do this. What happens is that the Styrofoam is churned up and compacted into blocks that can be used again," he says.

Along these lines, Creamer keeps his eyes on ways to develop new products that fit his green approach and what’s happening in architecture and design. He now manufactures a highly energy efficient induction range and cooktop, the cooking method that’s considered more energy efficient than electric or gas. He’s also come up with a slim product grouping that fits smaller homes and apartments, as well as garages and basements.

Price wise his products fall into a middle, affordable range versus some of the best known high-end name brands. All are available through his network of about 20 to 30 dealers nationwide, or by placing orders through the company’s website. Big Chill is a direct-to-consumer company. There’s no wholesale network – which allows the company to maintain competitive pricing. Creamer has placed his company among the growing group of direct-to-consumer businesses such as Casper, Warby Parker, and Everlane.

Founder: Orion Creamer
Company: Big Chill
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Website: Bigchill.com
Phone: 1-877-842-3269, or contact the company at Big Chill, P.O. Box 892, Boulder, CO 80306.


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Expert Advice

Interior Design and Furnishings

by Barbara Ballinger & Margaret Crane

Expert Advice

Style a home to be livable and lovely

Combining function and aesthetics will turn your house into a home.

Each room in your home is like a puzzle that you piece together to create a cohesive attractive whole. The color palette, pattern, and furniture style don't have to be the same, though there should be some commonality so rooms flow together aesthetically.

Functionality is also important. For example, your living room should incorporate a comfortable seating arrangement rather than be a place to walk through past the fancy furnishings you reserve for guests, says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman-Segal Design. For a living room, seating should be more upright to facilitate conversation, while softer furnishings are better for a family room to encourage lounging and relaxing in front of a TV. But if the TV is at one end and a fireplace at the other, you'll have a tough time arranging seating for intimate conversations, he says.

If you are starting with a dearth of furnishings, how fun. It can be an adventure to study design resource sites such as Remodelista, Houzz, and Pinterest, and magazine website such as Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Dwell. Print out what resonates, and you’re likely to see a pattern to your choices. Perhaps a certain blue shade keeps popping up, your eye keeps gravitating toward stripes, or those mid-century designs become a must-have.

Beware, too. When making choices yourself, it’s easy to make costly buying mistakes. If you’re a busy homeowner, you might want a live person with design credentials to do it for you and relieve you of having to make all the decisions and do all the leg work. Consider hiring an independent designer who may charge by the project, hour, or furniture piece with a mark up. That design pro will help you get the right size, proportions, and finish, and may help you avoid costly mistakes or regretful purchases. Segal and business partner David Kaufman have been called in to "fix" homeowners' efforts. From the get-go, they know to measure and eyeball your room to make sure what you want fits and will fit in.

You have another option. Many design stores such as Pottery Barn have trained staff on hand who can design an entire room or offer one finishing touch or clever idea with no obligation to buy.

Whatever route you take, avoid buying without a vision of the whole. Set a budget, list the furnishings you think you need, get estimates, total all, scale back, and then begin. The less important items like that chaise lounge you’ve always wanted in your guest room may have to wait. Think about durability and a long--rather than short-term fix, buy good stuff that lasts. It will end up costing less over time. One tactic is to combine “high” and “low” priced items—perhaps an antique table with great provenance and a flea market find such as early 20th-century pottery. The juxtaposition allows your personality to come through so the room doesn't look staid or staged, Segal says.

And don’t think you have to complete a room fast. Leave some “holes” for objects you may find on vacation, or heirlooms a family member shares or bequeaths to you at some point. The process should feel creative rather than exasperating.

Here's one key caveat: The first purchase you make for any room may be the toughest. Segal has found a good way to start is to build a room from the ground up with an area rug, which helps anchor the room and becomes a major focal point. "We like to use the largest rugs a seating area can handle to add drama and interest, too," he says.

Regardless of how you proceed with your decor, your level of involvement in your project is up to you. But why miss out?

Share your decorating ideas with us.

Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a professional writer, author, blogger and speaker who has long focused on real estate, design, and personal finance. She has co-authored many books, including Successful Homebuilding and Remodeling, The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space, and The Garden Bible: Designing the perfect outdoor space. She regularly contributes to the National Association of Realtors® Website and magazine.

Margaret Crane

Margaret Crane is a nationally known freelance writer, blogger and journalist who has co-authored with Barbara Ballinger several books and articles on real estate, design and family business. Her byline has appeared in Realtor® magazine. With more than a half-dozen titles to her credit, Margaret’s latest design book is The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space.

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