Archive | October 2010

Design looks easy…but it takes skill, experience & education

Take a look at one of our favorite articles from House and Garden’s own Mayer Rus by clicking here.

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A Day in the Life of Ruthie and Charlie

This is my first group of ferals that I trapped to fix and am raising. What I find interesting is how instinctively stealth these feral cats are at killing birds, mice, snakes, and squirrels. These cats are fed plenty…so they don’t do it for hunger. I think the cats were outside from foreclosures and general animal irresponsibility which I don’t relate to at all. Some of the folks down here say I should not fix the cats….because then they will not hunt down the rats. This is so not true. Cats hunt just about anything smaller than them that moves.

Ruthie

One day Ruthie and Charlie’s mother Penny brought me a squirrel after I fed her a can of tuna. A Squirrel…that’s right. And when I got upset she ran off with him. After that I saw Charlie one day pounce on a robin while doing yard work. That freaked me out as well. Now it’s all old hat. I find their “gifts” all over in the back: dead birds, snakes, squirrel tails, you name it. It’s just the outdoor life of being a feral cat. I try to protect the gardener snakes from Ruthie. The other day I pulled up in the parking lot and found her “playing” with a teeny tiny baby gardener snake (who was adorable). Her version of playing with him is pawing him with her razor sharp claws and trying to eat him. Ugh!  His little tail had been removed. So I picked him up to put him back in the lawn so he had a chance to escape her and have a full life.

Charlie

I don’t know what Ruthie and Charlie do all day. I just hope they stay out of the road.  During the summer I would be out watering the lawn and would see them napping together up in this old train tracks embankment, together in the grass. Ruthie is very dependent on her brother Charlie. Because she is so shy. So I hope to get them adopted by someone who will appreciate them both.  I often see them coming down the trees from this embankment to eat around 5pm. They like the privacy this area gives them and probably the protection.

Charlie

The food bowls are always dirty and greasy from raccoons.  So I am having my carpenter build a feeding station that is elevated that I can put out for these cats. Raccoons can’t jump so it will work out great. I’m doing something similar with the cat condos which I am also building for some of the neighborhood strays which will have shelter. When it’s really cold out I heard that solar pool blankets work to warm these houses well.

Patterned Carpeting for Kids Rooms

For most people, the first inclination for kids room carpeting is to go neutral. Aside from the fact that neutral is absolutely boring for a kid’s room, nothing exposes dirt and grime faster than a light, neutral-colored carpet. Kids puke. Kids spill. Kids trek dirt in from outside. It’s for this very reason that I suggest patterned carpeting in kids’ rooms if the client’s budget allows. Why, you ask?  Because it successfully hides minor stains and infractions and also, if stained, the stain becomes less important in comparison to the overall pattern of the carpeting.

Besides, nearly everything comes out with a little elbow grease from Stanley Steamer. Stains, in general, should never be a problem if the carpeting is maintained correctly.

I once had a project in Lincoln Park with clients that had already paid a faux artist a year earlier to do little runner murals at the top of the walls. The clients’ children absolutely loved the murals and were attached to them; obviously, I wasn’t going to mess with them. I did, however, touch up a few small things which included changing the carpeting and padding, repainting old furniture and lastly, adding a fresh coat of paint to the walls (under the untouchable murals, of course) so they would look crisp and clean.

Later, after these pictures were taken, I added pictures of the kids above their beds and on walls. These small changes completely transformed the rooms. Take a look at the pizzazz and fun the patterned carpeting adds to the space. No beige, cream or tan pattern-less carpeting could achieve this look.

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Photo Credit: Canadian House & Home/Kelly Wearstler Design

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about how we can help update your kids’ rooms.

Reduce Noise Pollution in Your Home

I have so many clients that complain about not getting any peace and quiet in their own homes. They can’t escape the sounds of the kids, TV, video games, so that they can decompress at the end of the day.

Today, most houses with that “open feeling” that people tend to love, are very “noise-polluted” households. This is usually the result of poor insulation that has no sound-proofing properties. Additionally, it’s due to the design of having this big, open tunnel-like architecture everywhere. This tends to create echoes that reverberate off of walls as well as noise that travels up and down the stairs.

By making a few small changes in areas throughout the home including its flooring, staircases and walls, you can be on your way to finally enjoying the peace and quiet you deserve.

Stairs:

Nothing is louder than wood-tread stairs with no carpeting runners on them! If you want to block noise, then start here first. In rentals or condos that have only commercial-grade carpet, runners over wood treads or a fully carpeted staircase are both great ideas. It’s also the healthier choice as it holds fewer allergens than its poly-blend counterparts.  Be sure to pad hallways and stairs especially well in areas where there is no concrete between each floor to absorb sound and every footstep can be heard.

Wall Insulation:

When I renovate, I suggest to clients to use higher-quality insulation like Roxul. This is a fantastic product. It has sound-deadening properties, is fire-retardant, very thick and easy to install. My clients love it and it definitely quiets their homes. It’s also great for builders who are building condo units and want to give more privacy between each unit as well as provide additional fire protection. Roxul can even be easily cut with a knife or scissors. I have used it in my walls between my neighbor and our condo unit and in our master bedroom behind our Quiet Rock. I am not a fan, however, of Blown-in insulation which is a cheap standard, and has very little noise pollution blockage. If your builder wants to use the miserable and messy product, I highly suggest an upgrade. Batted insulation with fireproof and soundproof benefits is super easy and mess free to install.

Carpet Padding:

While most people don’t pay any attention to the carpet padding and eventually sustain identifiable pathways, this is one flooring area that matters. The only brand of carpet padding I use in homes is Healthier Choice. Carpet sales people always try to sell me on a “similar” product but none of those have the same properties as this one so I insist on it. Click here to find out why.  If you have a house where kids will be upstairs playing, then definitely use the Roxul underneath their floors for the insulation and don’t use wood floors—kids need carpeting and you need peace and quiet.

Extra Details: Fabrics, Upholstered Walls, Wallcoverings

The  more fabrics, rugs, and wall treatments like grasscloth, certain types of wallcoverings, or upholstered walls you install the more cozy and quiet you rooms will be. Sure that cost more than paint but is worth it for the peace and quiet, character and sound absorption.  Upholstery fabrics with texture and weight, or a nap so that kids and dogs can be on them are practical but also provide more cushion for sound absorption around the room.

Photo Credit: WhatGirl.Net

Stair Runners Add Tailored Elegance

A recent survey by the good folks over at PaperPepe Magazine revealed the 75 percent of individuals think wooden stairs – with or a without runners – are 100 times better than carpeted ones. Additionally, it’s more expensive to do the stair tread in wood and then run a stair runner all the way up several flights but this decor speaks volumes of the home’s tailored elegance & quality. What I also like about this finish is that it can be changed out over and over again as the house or home changes owners over the years.

I think one of the more practical materials to use on stairs is sisal with cotton, linen, or high quality vinyl binding down the side to simulate leather. If your budget is higher, a border can be made out of a contrasting carpet color and sewn so that it lines up on the stairs. Depending on the material used for the runner, a great bit of soundproofing throughout your living space can be achieved.

Stay tuned for a series of tips from CMR Interiors on how to reduce noise in your home. In the meantime, take a look at some of our favorite stair runners.

Photo Credit: Francesco Lagnese via House Beautiful

Photo Credit: Francesco Lagnese via House Beautiful

Photo Credit: Tria Giovan via Suzanne Kasler Design, Traditional Home Magazine

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Holiday Event Planning Tips

Whether you’re planning to hold an intimate dinner in your chic loft for a handful or your closest friends or a massive soiree in your more traditional, polished manor, holiday entertaining can present more than a few complications if the proper preparative precautions aren’t taken.

Design by CMR Interiors + Photo Credit: Jorge Simes



Photo Credit: Canadian House & Home
Photo Credit: Canadian House & Home

Take a look below at a few of our holiday planning tips to ensure your event going off without a hitch.

  • Keep it personal and avoid the cold e-vites altogether. If you can’t send out hand-written invitations, make a phone call.
  • Use Runners or linen place settings instead of table cloths.
  • Easy-to-eat hors d’oeuvres, like tooth picked mixed olives and caper-studded ham cubes are great. Be sure to circulate them around the house to prevent guests from congregating in one area.
  • Avoid any stark overhead lighting and opt for soft candles, votives work beautifully!
  • Play an eclectic mix of music throughout the night, perhaps a little jazz, a little samba and maybe even some down-tempo dance music. But be sure to start slow, crescendo to the faster stuff and then come back down at the end of the night to some relaxing tunes.
  • Simple, family-style potlucks usually do the trick when it comes to creating a menu that everyone can enjoy.
  • If you opt to cater your event, choose a catering company that specializes in the cuisine you intend on featuring for the evening. Nothing is worse than planning a pasta dinner only to find out that the catering company you’ve selected specialized in chintz Mediterranean fare

One of our favorite local catering companies is My Chef Catering based out of Naperville. Founded by Bill and Karen Garlough, the business began as a 4,500 sq. ft. gourmet deli and kitchen, catering simple social events. Today, My Chef Catering is a multi-million dollar catering operation that works with more than 850 corporate clients and thousands of social customers, many of whom were referrals from other clients.

Another CMR fav is Blue Plate Events. This Chicago-based company will tantalize your guests with dishes of roasted pistachios in rice wine apricot vinaigrette, seared baby rack of lamb with espresso-spiked demi-glace, and bartlett pear, clementine and green mango sorbet in a spun sugar nest.

And remember, if you’re planning on doing the cooking yourself, now is the time to start planning a holiday menu. Stay tuned for some of our favorite holiday recipes.

Plasma TV Display Ideas

Here at CMR Interiors, I’ve had my fair share of particular client requests. For example, sometimes clients want a bookcase, shelf, armoire or some other focal point in the room above the fireplace—anything but a television. They think it’s unattractive or unsophisticated. I, personally, happen to disagree with this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a television above a fireplace as long as it’s pulled off in a tasteful way. What is unattractive, however, is having some oddball cabinetry just to hide (or display) a television that is outdated. Having two focal points is also unattractive but the television itself is fine. After all, there’s no shame in admitting you use television for entertainment.

Take a look at a few of our favorite above-the-mantel television displays.

Photo Credit: Elysian Hotel

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Photo Credit: Francesco Lagnese via House Beautiful

Photo Credit: Victoria Pearson via House Beautiful

Photo Credit: Lisa Cregan via House Beautiful

Fabulous Fall Flower Containers

One of the prettiest ways to make a statement and add visual impact to a home façade is with flower boxes. These foliage containers can be places in a number of spots including hanging from deck and window ledges, lining porch stairs, bordering concrete-patio walkways or hanging from doorway awnings.

With the crisp bite of fall in the air, plants like the warm-colored Mums and Asters can look great and are ideal for brightening up otherwise drab spaces. Coral Bells, also known as Heuchera, are also great as they come in an assortment of colors and leaf textures and they are near impossible to kill. As a mounding plant, look great on their own or paired with either contrasting plants or in shades of the same color. Oxtails are another beautiful fall variety—they come in an array of colors including a really dark, almost black, ‘Charmed Velvet,’ and a burgundy color called ‘Charmed Wine.”

Take a look below at some of our favorite fall planters and arrangements.




Photo Credit: Daniel Gerdes of Christy Weber

4 Ways to Improve Odds of Selling in a Buyers Market

So many homeowners & investors—are now married to their property—whether they like the neighborhood, the home, or not!

If you’re stuck in your home or condo because your equity is under–you could be waiting for a long time for it to go back up. Unfortunately, it’s possible due to lending practices which have gone old school–that condo and home prices will never go up to previous pricing because people just don’t save enough and are not going to have 20% down in all neighborhoods, depending on price points.

Nationwide, 26 percent of the homes for sale are being offered with cut-rate asking prices, according to a recent article form Forbes–and in my opinion some neighborhoods are not selling despite the cut rate prices. That’s up from 24 percent in July and 20 percent in March, when hopes were highest that the housing correction was over and the economy was on the mend.

So what do with your home if you have lost money and you need to stay put for a while?

If you’re like me and so many others…..you have to be happy where you are in the meantime.  The truth is, spending money on your home to make it market-strong will be well worth it in the end. And let’s face it, when you finally can sell, so many others will be trying to sell at the same time, that this will create an extremely competitive market. Being able to contend in a market when there are multiple listings means your place should be fabulous and stand out distinctly from the rest of the crowd.

A few simple things you can do:

1. Replace old carpeting–there is nothing worse than dirty, stale outdated carpeting. Use Stanley Steamer if your carpet is dirty before listing later. It should be perfect. Use a superior padding that doesn’t collapse like Healthier Choice premium carpet cushion so you can’t see a very identifiable “path” which is caused by cheap carpet padding that collapses and then the carpet stretches over time in that area…when you use a padding that doesn’t collapse and is thicker….carpeting looks better for much longer.
2. Paint — There are tons of quality painters out there right now. Nothing freshens up a house like simple paint and it’s not that costly.
3.  Renovate the kitchen–there is never a bad investment if the kitchen is outdated. People like open and airy kitchens with lots of natural light. This is your main selling point of the house.
4. Renovate the bathrooms and spend less than you would have 3 years ago but do quality work. It doesn’t have to be over the top but rather meticulous construction and waterproofing, and good lighting goes a long way.

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about how we can help with your next home renovation or redesign.

Photo Credit: UpsideDownBee