Well, I have to say suffering through the anxiety and chaos of yet another move (my 22nd in lifetime and I’m only 43!), it is surprising how useful panic can be. You see I have figured out that next to panic is action and that is critical for galvanizing my energies into a positive direction. Panic forces me to look at the situation, realize that inertia is lethal, and action is the only solution. It is also tough to remain in panic if you are active. Truly give it a try sometime. The choice is clear, you can let panic overwhelm you and you can curl up in a ball like an armadillo or a rolly polly bug like the ad says, or you can swallow deep and hard, and ACT. Do it.
Know your options! Explore all the different styles and looks. Find what you like. Don’t get caught up in affordability at this stage. This is just the idea stage.
Create a wish file! Go through design magazines, catalogues, online and more, pull out pictures (don’t save the magazines). Keep in an accordion file or a notebook by room or by idea if only one room.
Research Contractors! Get at least 2-3 contractors for each type of work. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, get both written and telephone references on each. Many will have fellow contractors they recommend; this can shorten your search for qualified installers significantly.
Get Quotes! Schedule time to have several contractors out at once to quote the various phases of the job. For example, just today, I had a dozen contractors out between 9-noon to quote at least 6 different phases of work I plan to have done. This method saved me time and still made it possible during the day. While I don’t generally have two from the same field in at the same time, it can happen. I find that it usually makes them more negotiable, knowing there is active competition.
Establish Your Investment! Once you have all the quotes in, you can decide what you are comfortable moving forward with now, in 3 months, in 6 months, and next year. Saying you can’t afford something before you know actual expense is a futile and ridiculous statement! Don’t second guess, get the facts and make an informed decision. Be sure to consider the big picture and long haul, and don’t cut corners in the short term that will come back and bite you in the long haul.
Schedule! Knowing the contractors’ lead times and materials delivery times will help you to schedule the work in the proper order (you can hire a general contractor to do this, or go for it yourself.) If in doubt, ask the contractor whether he/she wants to go before or after another contractor (flooring before or after paint, that is the question!?). Create a calendar with start dates and deadlines. Be sure any agreements signed include a clause for penalty to the contractor for delays and missed completion dates.
Follow Up! Go through and do a punch list for every contractor completed before paying the balance in full. It is infinitely more difficult to have them come back out once paid in full! Get smart and keep at least 10% of the job until you are satisfied.
Celebrate! Plan a remodeling party! Celebrate even small successes, a new floor, an incredible paint color, added crown moulding, new light fixtures. It all makes for a more beautiful life!
With life as busy and overloaded as it can be these days, more and more often people are making their homes the center of entertainment. They are forsaking going out to places in favor of staying in. Media rooms are an important component in this decision. While frequently this is created in a windowless room in the basement, I have also had a client consider transforming a dining room, used virtually never, into this most sought after space. Whatever your vision consider these points before embarking on your own media place.
Family Style or Theatre Style? The trend seems somewhat split on this, and the choice is yours. There is a wealth of well designed theatre style seating for the home on the market. These can come complete with full reclining, tilt front concealed cup holders, leather or fabric upholstery, and even massage motion. Or you can create another great room with sofas and chairs instead. To gain a true theatre like experience and allow everyone their own space, the individual chairs are typically the best way to go. They can be independent or ganged (attached in rows). What mood do you want?
Drape it or Open? It isn’t often I come across a client wanting a traditional theatrical drapery covering the screen, but depending on the size of the screen and the drama desired it can be a really elegant effect. If the room is used at all for any other functions (seating must be flexible in this case), it does a good job of concealing the large black hole of a screen.
Storage Open or Concealed? When you are designing your home theatre (do get a professional involved early if possible), don’t forget storage. You are bound to have a growing collection of DVD’s and likely videos still and these need to be kept convenient and preferably concealed. Often in locating the screen it is a good idea to consider building a cabinet around it to house not only the electronic components but also your tapes and disks.
Electronic Componentry. This is usually the reason a media room is created to start with, it is a fascination with technology! Whether you install a top end custom system, a mid-range Bose, or a Best Buys consider all the options. Establish important critical dimensions such as how many feet is optimal viewing from the size screen you are considering. Know how many and the best placement of speakers (wall or ceiling). Determine if additional insulation will be needed to avoid the rooms upstairs shaking and rolling from an intense action sequence! Don’t necessarily get the latest and alleged greatest, get the most appropriate for your space and best for your investment.
Movie Theme? Have some fun in this room with posters from favorite films. Don’t frame in traditional glass; the glare will make them unviewable. Instead opt for board mount and sealed, akin to a plaque. These are readily available online in a wide variety. Let everyone in the house pick a favorite film or two and commemorate them.
Food or Not? Half the fun in going to the movies is getting popcorn, obscenely sized sodas, and ridiculously expensive candy. Are you going to allow eating and drinking in the theatre room? If so, what about adding a corner popcorn cart, or ensuring there is room in the built-in for a small refrigerator. Make it easy, make it convenient.
Lights! Lights! Lights! Yes, you do want complete darkness (that pitch black, inky kind for viewing), but you also need flexible and dramatic lighting for the room in general. Definitely use dimmers for everything and likely a remote to enable you to control it all from the comfort of your recliner. Consider sconces for the perimeter walls, a few recessed lights, and possibly cabinet lighting flanking the screen. Don’t forget for drama you may want to add a row in front of the screen particularly if you do a drapery with your family crest, logo, or name of your home theatre!
Have fun! Invite friends over for special viewings. Plan the kid’s parties around the latest DVD release they have been clamoring for. If you have a home office, consider using the room for a presentation to clients.
Melissa Galt is the great-granddaughter of acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, daughter of Academy Award-winning actress Anne Baxter and goddaughter to famed costume designer Edith Head. These special people from her past inspire Melissa because they earned respect for their creative genius and for doing what they loved.
I got the interior design bug early. My Mom had a well-traveled sense of style often incorporating such disparate elements as antique Persian rugs with exotic Chinese opium beds as sofas and a hand painted chest from Mexico converted into a bar. Surrounded by art and treasures from the world over, it is small wonder that I believe in interiors based in art – including rugs as “artwork for the floor” – and personal mementos from far and near. While living for today, it is by understanding the past that today’s inspirations are found and tomorrow’s dreams delivered. And so I would like to share with you my story and how my past helped me find my inspiration for today and tomorrow.
I have made the South my home for the last 15 years, but was born and raised on the West Coast and have fond memories of being a sun worshipper and occasional surfer. I still smile at memories of the lime green room with sky blue ceiling and white shag from my junior high school years. It was very cool for the day! We moved often growing up, giving me a ready sense of adaptability and a head start on my philosophy of moveable furnishings.
By sixth grade I had moved within Los Angeles four times and spent fifth grade in a Manhattan brownstone while my Mom graced the stage in Applause, Applause. Summers and holidays were divided between trips to visit Dad and his extended family in Hawaii, and Mother’s folks in Arizona. Thanksgivings were typically spent at Taliesin, the Western Home base that great-grandfather Frank Lloyd Wright had designed. And there were the annual pilgrimages for a month in the summer with Mom driving to national parks, after the requisite month at a sleep over camp. Adventures like the white water rafting trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for a week were the norm.
The big European adventure was between fifth grade and sixth, the three of us kids with Mom, and a dear family friend headed off the France, Italy and Denmark aboard the SS France. Beyond breathtaking chateaus, driving through Tuscany, and all manner of new taste sensations, the trip will likely be remembered most for the Venice fiasco. Landing in the airport, the family was immediately taken to a water shuttle, necessary transport to their hotel. Halfway there, motoring at a good clip they hit something in the water. Suddenly water started pouring into the bottom of the boat, Mother yelled “aqua” in Spanish with Italian pronunciation, and the driver took one look back, turned ash white and gunned the boat to the nearest ramp. Waist deep in water he got us all out and tossed all our soggy belongings with us. Turns out later that we had encountered sabotage meant for the President who had arrived a day early. Never a dull moment with Mom!
It was in eighth grade that my sister and I went on tour with Mom through Baltimore, Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, and Ft. Lauderdale. She was on stage with Hume Cronyn and Jessie Tandy with shows nightly and twice on Sunday. We saw her an hour a day and the rest of the time was spent with a tutor on our school work and exploring local cultural spots. Longwood Gardens and Dupont’s Winterthur were lasting highlights, as was the private tour of a Detroit car manufacturer. Appropriately, I also seem to have a strong memory of the hotel rooms, the most unforgettable being in Fort Lauderdale with lots of crushed red velvet (I promise it was a respectable place, albeit the 1970s!)
I relocated to the East Coast for boarding school in Massachusetts. The culture shock and even language differences, East to West, were startling, but I survived the three years and graduated with honors. Taking a year off after high school, I explored the retail world, only to find too quickly school was more fun! My initial pursuit was a degree in costume design, following in the illustrious footsteps of my godmother Edith Head. Realizing I wanted a broader education, Mom suggested focusing on a business path. So I pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel administration from Cornell University and enjoyed the camaraderie as a sister of Pi Beta Phi.
Following the frozen years in beautiful upstate New York, I began a career in hospitality purchasing. A path that proved fortuitous in providing critical buying skills because essentially, if you ate it, drank it, slept on it, or wrote with it in a hotel, I bought it! This experience provided me with invaluable resourcing (a.k.a. shopping) abilities, and broad business capabilities. It also kept me moving.
Launching my career in Ryetown, New York, I moved quickly to Philadelphia and with a summer stint at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan before heading South to Charlotte, North Carolina. Moving every eight months in hotel work, I skipped from Charlotte to Birmingham, then to the Opryland Hotel, Nashville and from there to a final hospitality position at Callaway Gardens in Columbus, Georgia. I enjoyed the newness of each position and locale, but was frustrated by the lack of creativity. One can only do so much with storerooms and freezers!
And so it was at Callaway Gardens that I decided to reevaluate my options and return to school for a degree in interior design, pursuing a long simmering creative passion. Owning a town home in Birmingham, I moved back to Alabama for a design degree from Southern Institute, and worked full time for an architectural firm and Steelcase Dealership before segueing to a management position with a local fabric retailer. With a genuine talent in space planning and materials selections, I often freelanced with retail clients. The groundwork was laid for hanging out my own shingle.
Feeling limited in Birmingham, I set my sites on a larger venue…Atlanta beckoned. Starting work with a prominent furniture retailer, I soon realized that I could be of greater service and deliver a broader range of design options as an independent designer. Headstrong and determined, I was spurred on to launch my own company, Linea Interior Design, Inc in March 1994.
Kitchens today are the family rooms of yesterday. Many have keeping rooms with fireplaces, and cozy nooks for reading, television viewing, and sharing a cup of coffee. Make the most of the heart of your home with some of the tips and suggestions here.
Brighten the backsplash! Tile is the most often selected material for durability and maintenance, but you can also use mirror, stainless steel, and even just paint. If you have old unattractive tile, you can even paint over it.
Tidy the clutter! Consider using baskets as easy storage solutions for those piles of mail, bills, and coupons. Be sure to get a bulletin board for trading family notes and posting the latest pictures.
Expand your space! Hang a pot rack. Most kitchens never seem to have quite enough storage. Expand yours by adding a pot rack over the stove. Yes, you will have to be more vigilant in cleaning both the insides and outsides of pans, but it is also a great excuse to invest in some new cookware.
Accessorize with function! Towels, pot holders, mitts, even canister sets now all come in such a myriad of patterns and colors, they are a wonderful and fast way to add interest and flavor to your kitchen. Be sure to keep extras on hand for display. There is nothing less appealing than grungy towels on the oven door handle, or a crusty mitt on that hook on the refrigerator.
Be bold with appliances! No longer are we stuck with white or stainless, but instead a rainbow of options is now available. Make a statement with color, bold or subdued, trendy, or classic.
Dress the cabinets! If you’ve got that typical 12″-18″ gap above your upper cabinets, dress it with a collection and some silk greenery. Make it practical, think of plates and pitcher, glass bottles, colorful ceramics, and such. Be sure to add rope lighting as a cost-effective way to make it all glow.
Add some glass! Is your kitchen feeling too dark, a bit heavy with so much wood? Consider adding some glass insets to selected cabinets, removing the wood panels. If you don’t want to showcase the contents, make it frosted or patterned. There are a host of options available today adding interest and lightening it up.