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7 Contemporary Kitchen Ideas to Modernise Your Home

Fitting a new kitchen is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your home, so it’s important to choose something that’s not only stylish and functional, but will also stand the test of the time. These contemporary kitchen ideas will help you to modernise your space and add some trend-inspired touches without needing a full renovation.

1. Mix and Match

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Who says your kitchen cabinets all have to be the same? Design your own unique kitchen with one shade of cabinet doors on the top and another on the bottom. This bold orange-red shade adds an amazing contrast to an otherwise white kitchen, with dining chairs to match perfectly. (Photo: IKEA)

2. Have open shelving

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Rather than hiding all of your crockery or ingredients away in cupboards, open shelving can be a stylish alternative. Add potted plants or greenery and avoid over-filling the shelves to stop it from looking cluttered. (Photo: George Home)

3. Rethink the dining table

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Utilise the space in a small kitchen by ditching the dining table and instead fitting a floating shelf along the wall. Not only can it serve as extra storage space, but it will also double up as a breakfast bar. (Photo: Wilko)

4. Paint wooden cabinets

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Breathe a new lease of life into rustic wooden cabinets with a lick of paint. Whether you opt for a muted neutral tone or go all out with bold fuchsia, it’s a low-cost way to modernise your kitchen. (Photo: English Blinds)

5. Go for an industrial look

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Give your kitchen a cool and contemporary makeover with nods to the industrial trend; you can easily recreate the distressed bare brick wall look with wallpapers from stores like B&Q and Wayfair. (Photo: TK Maxx)

6. Make windows a focal point

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For a budget-friendly way to instantly update your kitchen, you could experiment with colourful or patterned window blinds. These work perfectly with an otherwise neutral kitchen, and are a low-commitment, contemporary touch. (Photo: English Blinds)

7. Upgrade your appliances

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Sleek stainless steel appliances look stylish and modern with wooden cabinets. Keep the room bright with spotlights and additional low-hanging pendant lights over your dining space.

10 Cost-effective Interior Design Tricks to Transform Your Home

We all want to have our homes look like that of high end professionally decorated mansions, but often lack the funds to achieve it.  Living in a space that looks expensive and is easy on the budget does not have to be out of reach. Anyone can have dapper dwellings with a few careful considerations.

1. Crown Molding

A space that lacks crown molding tends to look average.  The lack of detailing tying the walls and ceiling together gives a space an unfinished cheapened look.  For very little money, crown molding applied to the walls provides richness to the space. When picking out molding opt for a wide trim for more impact. In fact the wider the trim the more expensive the room can look.

2. Paint

The toughest decision anytime you decorate can be what color to paint a space.  Opting for either a crisp white or high pigment paint in a neutral hue will lend an air of sophistication and affluence to the room.  Neutral walls allow for the rotation of accent colors seasonally if desired.  Another easy trick that really adds that lux finish to a home is to paint interior doors black. It will instantly give the space an expensive vibe; just be sure to tie the doors to the rest of the décor with other uses of black accessories.

3. Pillows

Throw pillows are always a fabulous accessory for your sofa, loveseat or oversized chair. A collection of small store bought pillows appears to be trying too hard and shouts unoriginal and cheap. First, they are not quite big enough to be impactful and are too small to be of any real benefit.  Secondly, if the goal is to look luxurious, pillows that any home can have defeats that idea.  So ignore the small pillows that you can pick up at the local home store. Opt instead for the larger 55 cm pillow covers and stuff them with 60 cm inserts.  The overstuffed pillows offer that luxurious feel you desire.

4. Window Treatments

The options for window treatments are endless and cross many price points.  It is best to spend moderately on the best quality you can afford.  Avoid flimsy curtains and ones that are unlined, these are two telltale signs of poor quality.  Sure, the price might be nice, but you want your room to look elegant and expensive, right?  Instead of buying them right off the rack at the local home store, find a selection at a specialty fabric store. Their experts can help you create window treatments with in your budget that will look like you spent a lot more for them.  Once you have picked out your curtains, hang them as close to the ceiling as you can to draw your eye up and project the illusion of fullness. Curtains hung just above the window tend to look sparse.

5. Hardware Finishes

Most tract homes built come with very standard hardware finishes.  They are generally cheap, in both cost and appearance.  Builders use these bulk items, as they are more cost effective to use, but not always the best for a homeowner desiring a more custom look.  Oddly enough, hardware is also not that expensive to replace with more personalized options.  Change out the drawer pulls in the kitchen and replace them with more unique pieces. You can find them at any hardware store, specialty shop or even at a flea market.  The goal is to locate ones you love and not mirror your next-door neighbors.  You can change out the builder’s basic faucet for something more interesting as well. Any good plumbing shop can work with in your budget too.

6. Lighting

Just as with hardware, lighting is another one of those builder’s standard accessories that lack personality, character and style.  Toss out nondescript chandeliers and ceiling fans; replace them with a unique designer look.   There is no need to shop the high-end lighting stores, try scouring a flea market or second hand store for a budget friendly piece.  A bargain found on a chandelier goes a long way toward creating that expensive designer inspired look.  The right one may even have your friends talking.  Add table lamps and floor lamps in each room, too. Lighting of any kind will also create an expensive look and feel.

7. Hardwood

While wall-to-wall carpet is soft and warm under foot, it is does not lend itself to a lavish look. Hardwood on the other hand provides that classic visual appeal.  It seem like a budget buster, but it will last for years making the investment well worth it, especially if you compare it to replacing carpeting every few years.  Hard wood comes in many types of wood and some are more luxurious than others are. Opt for a dark wood that will add richness to the space, similar to the idea of painting your interior doors black.  You can layer a beautiful area rug on top of the wood flooring to anchor the room and tie design elements together.

8. Accessories

Gold often considered synonymous with wealth can actually appear rather tawdry.  Gilded frames, gold baubles and brass lighting can be tacky when all used together.  The color can be hard on the eyes while trying too hard to provide a luxurious look. Silver, chrome and brushed nickel are easier on the eyes and offer a truly polished look.  Trade out those old gold frames for some new silver ones; replace that brass table lamp with a brushed nickel lamp and sell the gold at your next yard sale.  Silver will also help to reflect light better than gold will, adding to the look you want to achieve.

9. Furniture

Furniture is usually the single largest investment made in a room, but not always an area that one can invest in heavily.   Yet, spending on cheap poorly made furniture will cost more in the end. Instead, try shopping secondhand stores, consignment shops and estate sales for well-constructed pieces to be reupholstered.  This will give you the opportunity to customize your look for a fraction of what a high-end designer piece would run you without sacrificing any desired quality.

10. Housekeeping

As Albert Hadley once said,” There’s no point in creating something beautiful for someone who is a slob….” He is right. The easiest and least expensive way to make a home look posh is to keep it cleaned. Dust and vacuum weekly, avoid clutter and your home will shine.  All of the other touches will stand out and be noticeable.  Isn’t that the whole point of a designer like home?

So you can see it does not take a lot to achieve an expensive look. Just follow these tips and tricks and you too can have a great looking home on reasonable budget.  How do you give your home a designer look on a dime store budget?

How to Select the Right Exterior Finishes for Your Modern House

Creating a home of lasting value is top of mind for those building a new house. For most of us, our home is our largest investment, so of course we want to see our hard-earned money protected. Homeowners building a modern house want an innovative design, but not at the cost of it looking dated in a few years.

Aesthetics and initial cost must be balanced with maintenance. When researching the materials and finishes for your new home, understand the level of maintenance that different materials require, and the time and expense entailed. Choose materials that don’t require more upkeep than you can undertake. Here are examples from new homes and iconic vintage homes that get the exterior finish right.

Be climate- and region-specific. Find homes in your area with the exterior finishes you are considering, and see if you are comfortable with how they have stood the test of time. Renowned architect Walter Gropius did exactly this when he designed a home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1938 — one of the first modern houses in New England. Now almost 80 years old, the house is a great laboratory for how materials age.

Although the house offers a startling contrast to its neighbors, Gropius took his cues from the materials on the surrounding Colonial homes, covering his house with wood siding painted white and adding a brick chimney. The building is set on a foundation of local fieldstone that extends into the landscape to form terraces and site retaining walls. The painted surfaces are readily freshened up, and the fieldstone can be left natural to develop a beautiful patina of moss and lichen over the years.

While using traditional materials, Gropius didn’t hesitate to innovate with them. He chose to run the wood siding vertically instead of in the traditional horizontal pattern, and paint the brick a dark gray, creating a dramatic composition of light and dark. To this simple palette, Gropius added his modern design touches of steel sash “ribbon” windows, exterior spiral stairs and glass block, all of which are easy to maintain and still look great today.

sThe house is climatically smart as well. Whereas the north-facing front facade has limited areas of glass, the rear of the home opens with more glass to take advantage of wint sun.

The second-floor sun porch makes good use of painted wood for the trellis and the wood privacy wall. The floor decking is left unfinished to age over time.

Photo by Lauren Manning

The Case Study House No. 8, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1949, is carefully tuned to a much different climate. The structural frame of the house is painted steel, which wears well in the desertlike climate of Southern California. The striking blue and white solid panels, made of durable painted stucco and wood, also hold up well under the California sun.

Alternating with the solid panels are large industrial windows with painted sashes. The large glass areas of the Eames house are designed for the temperate winters of Southern California, and they’re quite a contrast from the smaller windows and more solid appearance of Gropius’ house.

Use clear-finished natural wood sparingly. Many of my clients start the design process with the idea of having a clear-finished natural wood exterior that will sparkle like a polished hardwood floor. Keeping an exterior like this looking fresh is challenging to even the most maintenance-savvy homeowner. Think of wood with a clear finish as precious millwork that needs to be maintained regularly.

A smarter approach is to use such wood for focal points, like the front door and related trim. In this house by Suyama Peterson Deguchi, natural wood clads the front doors and immediate vicinity. The wood focal point draws the eye to the front door and creates a dramatic sense of entrance. The wood is a warm contrast to the rugged concrete and metal panel materials that clad most of the exterior.

Protect natural wood finishes from weather and direct sun. Another practical approach to naturally finished wood was taken by Richard Neutra, who emigrated from his native Austria in 1923. Whereas Gropius settled in New England, Neutra headed for Southern California and went on to become one of the leaders of West Coast midcentury modernism. Neutra understood that natural wood finishes can deteriorate quickly with exposure to the powerful SoCal sun.

In his 1956 Troxell residence, beautifully renovated by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects, Neutra fitted the house with expansive overhangs for protection from the sun. The natural wood of the interior ceiling extends to the underside of the overhangs, creating a continuity from indoors to out. Located on the underside of a soffit, the wood maintains its fresh appearance because it’s never exposed to direct sun.

Paint exposed wood. In the same home by Neutra, the structural beams also extend from inside to out. Instead of having a clear finish, they are painted a sharp gray. This not only contrasts nicely with the natural wood, but it also protects the beams where they are exposed to weathering beyond the overhang.

Unfinished wood: A more carefree approach than trying to maintain a natural wood finish is to leave the wood completely unfinished, allowing it to turn a silver-gray with age. Start with a rot-resistant wood like redwood or cedar, and let it “go gray.” This approach is best in coastal zones, where the cedar turns a beautiful gray — think the classic gray shingled houses of Nantucket or the Hamptons. Bates Masi + Architects adapted this tried-and-true approach to the strikingly modern Elizabeth II house, clad with unfinished natural cedar.

It’s important that the unfinished wood ages evenly. In the same home, the boards are placed vertically, with each board held in place by separate spring clips. The boards are held away from the house, with gaps left between each. This approach is referred to as a “rain screen” and is the optimal way for the board siding to weather evenly on all sides while allowing each board to expand and contract with rain and humidity.

Weathering steel: As with wood, once metal has been painted, it needs to be maintained to avoid deterioration and rust. Another approach is to use weathering steel, a special alloy often referred to by its copyrighted name, Cor-Ten steel. This material allows the steel to form an even rust, creating a protective layer on the steel. Eero Saarinen first used the material on a building in 1964 when he designed the headquarters for John Deere. The architecture firm of Stern McCafferty chose weathering steel for the addition to this traditional New England house.

Save PhotoAlthough the modern cube addition offers a striking contrast to the original house, the warmth of the rusted steel is visually simpatico with the red brick, and both materials age gracefully.

Office Interior Design Considerations

Is there an office interior design project in your near future? If you are opening a new office, expanding or renovating your existing space, we would like to share some important considerations that will help to make your project a success.

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First and foremost, when considering interior design for any business type, there are a few points that should be taken into account in combination with what we are about to share today. These include functionality, brand identity, creativity and uniqueness, budget and schedule

Open vs. Private Workspace

There has been a huge movement over the past 5-10 years towards collaborative workspaces where team members can effectively and easily work together on their projects in an organic and fluid way, and in a relatively small footprint.

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Studies have shown that providing this type of workplace without the proper support spaces is killing productivity. Some people thrive in that busy, noisy environment. Others, introverts especially, are having a really hard time completing their day-to-day tasks as they just cannot concentrate over colleague’s conversations, phones ringing, people moving through the space; the distractions are endless.

Variety of Working Environments

There is also a trend toward unassigned workspaces with a variety of furniture types to support a variety of activities. Lounge areas with smartboards for collaborative work, small breakout rooms for more private tasks or those requiring absolute concentration, desks for the head-down-get-work-done moments, etc.

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Allowing your team to work in an environment that best supports the task at hand is being encouraged throughout the office interior design world. Furniture manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and are offering amazing and innovative systems to back this trend that we expect will become the norm in office design.

Ergonomics

Do you and your team members have the proper tools they needed to negate suffering from eye strain, carpal tunnel or back pain after hours of desk work? It is surprising to us how many office workers claim that either they do not need them or that their company will not provide them.

There are varying levels that you can take ergonomics in the office. Ideally we would like to see everyone working a desk job to be set up with an adjustable task chair, sit/stand desk, keyboard tray, monitor arm and task light. If R5,000+ a workstation scares you, start small.

At a minimum, each workstation should be equipped with a good quality chair with a number of adjustment options, keyboard tray and monitor arm.

Storage and Organisation

Providing sufficient storage within your office will give your employees ample opportunity to keep their space neat and tidy. We’ve all experienced those offices with stacks of files all over the place, various office supplies here and there… a bit of a mess.

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Show your clients that you are organized and capable of handling their business (without misplacing important information!) by first ensuring the you have worked with your interior designer to plan in enough storage, and by ensuring your team uses it correctly.

Need more inspiration or help with planning your office interior design? Contact our friendly team today at 084 406 3637 or carlize@earledesign.co.za.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Upholstery for Your Furniture

Are you struggling to find the right upholstery for your home? The main problem that comes to the fore during the decision-making process is the availability of a large variety of stuff. But there’s no need to worry.

All you need is some tips and a discerning eye to select the right upholstery for your apartment. These 6 tips given below will help you with your choice:

1. Make Sure the Fabric is Durable

The upholstery you choose might have an amazing design, but if it is not durable, then you’ll barely get enough out of it. Cotton might seem like an obvious choice, but it is a weaker fabric when compared to polyester, and will wear out easily. Save the cotton for the pillowcases and covers and choose a stronger fabric for the upholstery itself.

2. Use Innovative Colour Schemes

The colour of your upholstery should match your overall living room décor. Try modern hues on vintage, classical furniture pieces to get an urban and edgy vibe. Also, instead of following a trend, choose a colour that will remain in fashion for the years to come.

3. Select the Right Pattern

The pattern you choose for your furniture will enhance its geometry. The size of the room also comes into play when you’re choosing a pattern. Bold patterns work best for large rooms whereas mini patterns are more suitable for smaller rooms. The patterns should not be cut off here and there, otherwise, the entire symmetry of the upholstery will be ruined.

4. Pick a Trendy Style

The style of upholstery you choose can speak volumes about the living space. Silks exude elegance and provide for a more formally luxurious setting. On the other hand, linen works best for urban decor and creates a more upbeat and casual setting. If you’re not confident about experimenting, you can take the easiest way out by matching classic upholstery with traditional pieces of furniture.

5. Keep Up the Maintenance

The upholstery may look like a million bucks, but if it’s not easy to maintain, it’s going to cost you a lot of time and energy to keep the cleanliness issue in check. Before purchasing the fabric, ask for a sample piece to check if the material is prone to duress or not. If you suffer from dust allergies, opt for microfiber materials- they do not attract any dust at all. If you live in exceptionally humid conditions, choose a fabric that will not attract mildew.

6. Comfort is Key

After all, you will be using the piece of furniture quite often, so it is important to ensure that the upholstery is comfortable. You will not enjoy curling up on the couch with a book or a bunch of movies if it’s not comfortable to sit on. The piece of furniture and the upholstery you use should compliment your lifestyle and the way you use it.

When it comes to choosing the right upholstery, the possibilities are endless. There is a whole new world of colours, patterns, and textiles waiting for you! If you keep these simple tips in mind while making your choice, we guarantee that you will be able to enhance the look of your home with the right upholstery all by yourself.

Exterior Space Planning – Tips from Experts

Beautiful outdoor living spaces can be designed yourself if you know a few basics. Exterior design expert Justine Blanda-Wengrod explains how homeowners can plan their own landscaping features as well as some tips on saving money with your landscape.

Planning Outdoor Living Spaces

Here are some tips and considerations for homeowners to ponder as they begin creating an outdoor space:

Assess Your Budget and Needs

Decide what you have room for and how you plan to utilize the space. Creating an elaborate outdoor kitchen, a simple dining room or sitting area by the fireplace all require enough space to accommodate the necessary amenities.How many do you want to seat at one given time? Is there enough space for an eight-foot sofa or will upholstered chairs with ottomans work better? Is there room for an outdoor sink? Where will you cook? Where will you be dining with guests?

Patio

This is an area to sit and enjoy, not just a concrete slab floor but an area that flows with the style of the home it surrounds. Tile, flagstone and stained concrete to cover the ground provide texture, character and color while enhancing the organic flavor of being with nature.

Focal Point

This is what you prefer to view while enjoying your space. Many want to create a focal point. Should it be a fountain, How to Build an Outdoor Fireplace|fireplace]], the rear view of the home, the pool, the ocean or lush gardens?

Once you know the focal point, measure, create it and build the rest of the room around it. Remember to be leaving space for plenty of plants, trees and vines to surround your space.

Plants

Leave plenty of room for plants, trees and hedges to surround your space. Planting a five-gallon plant will require more space than a one-gallon plant.

Leave enough room for sprinklers and drainage pipes so water can drain away from the home. It’s a good idea to create a six to eight inch drainage trench filled with sand and covered with pebbles to go around the perimeter of your home for water run-off.

Charming But Cheap Bedroom Decorating Ideas

When you decorate your home, start with your bedroom. Why? Because it’s your most personal space, and the one you spend your downtime in. Make it important! When you’re looking for ways to decorate your bedroom easily and cheaply, you might feel at a loss of where to start.

It’s easy to do though, and here are some charming but cheap bedroom decorating ideas and DIY bedroom decor that won’t break your budget!

Couples Retreats

It’s quite extraordinary how easy it can be to adopt a sense of style without breaking the bank.

As a couple the focus is often on nurturing your relationship, so keep things simple in the bedroom by accessorising with items that have a big cuddle factor – like pillows. You can never have too many pillows. Layer them and use styles that suit your shared personalities – modern, minimalist, nautical, romantic chic, rustic chic and even super classy.

Celebrate your love by displaying a canvas photo print of your wedding day on your bedroom wall. Or step up the class factor by adding a second hand or ‘vintage’ bedside table. Do some DIY and paint it white for some French chic style.

Sassy Singles

One of the best things about being single is that you don’t have to consult with anyone else on the important stuff – like how to decorate your bedroom!

Whether you’re a bachelor or a bachelorette, take advantage of the freedom solo life affords and be as simple or as sassy as you like. The best thing about these ideas is that you will still have money aside for socializing and travel.

The key is keeping your space bright, happy, cool and positive so consider colors like crisp whites, grays and pastels plus plenty of textures and patterns.

Fun For Kids

That bow pillow. That smiley face pillow. That pallet laundry basket. So simple, so affordable but such high impact.

Create a magical world for your child that will stimulate their imagination, make them feel safe and give them a sense of belonging.

The key to creating the ideal kids bedroom is to combine function with flounce. Go vintage with dark timber and neutrals, go nautical with primary colors or glam with pastels. Then ensure plenty of storage and space to do homework and reading.

Need more inspiration? Get in touch with our creative team today!

Breathing New Life Into Your Living Room

If your living room doesn’t thrill you anymore, you can make it new and inviting with an inexpensive facelift rather than a major renovation. While new paint is a familiar fix for a dull and dowdy environment, we think you’ll find these 7 “fast fixes” a bit more creative, but just as doable with only a bit of work, a small budget and a weekend or less of your time.

Have a look:

Go graphic with words. Buy or make (if you’re handy with woodworking tools) some oversized letters to serve as wall art and display shelving for your books or collections. Spell out “LOVE,” your name or another word that has meaning to you, paint the letters and accessorize to your heart’s content.


Create an entry.
 If your front door opens directly into your living room, create the effect of an entry hall by adding a half wall. You can do this by purchasing cubby boxes, or by building an open divider that can serve as display space. If you find a glass-shelved étagère at an auction or estate sale, you won’t have any work involved: Simply set it at a right angle to your front door and enjoy the illusion of a separate room.

Replace an old light fixture or outdated ceiling fan. Look for a fan to echo your decor; perhaps one with clear acrylic blades or a slightly exotic flavor that complements your interior. New fan prices are totally reasonable if you shop smart – you’ll find bargains online! Be sure to buy one that is reversible so that you can use it to force warm air downward during the winter. It will not only look good but it will lower your energy bill as well.

Add a built-in bookcase wall. Bookcases don’t have to be filled with books. They can corral collections for a stunning effect, be a home for art and sculptures, hold an eclectic mix of personal memorabilia, and add interest to a plain vanilla setting. If an entire wall of shelving seems like overkill, collect paint grade 1×8 or 2×12 pine and build a 36- or 42-inch high bookcase. Attach it securely to the wall. Paint it the same color as the wall or keep it the same color as your room’s woodwork. This is a project you can easily accomplish in a weekend, and the skills needed to complete it are minimal.

Reface your fireplace. Redoing a fireplace doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Reface a brick fireplace with natural or synthetic stone, or face it with travertine tiles or slate. Be certain that the new material is suitable for use near heat and open flames. You can accomplish the work on a DIY basis, but you might want to consult with a knowledgeable home store before beginning your project.

Paint the ceiling dark. If you use your living room primarily for evening activities, paint the ceiling charcoal or stormy dark blue. You’ll have an intimate, warm setting for evening gatherings. Just be sure you have plenty of ambient lighting in the form of interesting lamps. An uplight or two hidden in the corners of the room will add drama and keep the darkness from feeling heavy and oppressive.

Rethink your art. Not all art needs to be dramatic, but it should be personal. Why not hang a bicycle on your living room wall? If you have a penchant for old cars and automobile artifacts, hang antique highway signs, old hubcaps, steering wheels and side mirrors. Or display classic hood ornaments and gear shifters. Recapture your childhood with old metal toys; then fashion a coffee table from a rusty old wagon by adding a glass top to it. Embrace whimsy and enjoy your refreshed surroundings. You’ll have as much fun shopping for your new living room as you will have putting it together.