Archive | November 2010

5 Steps for a Great Interior Design Consultation

You don’t have to be rich to hire a great designer. Design Consultation is a way to work with a designer on a limited scope. I have many clients I work with who like working like this because they can control their costs and also save money by hiring an expert to begin with.  They just need a designer’s advice for a couple of hours here and there.

And then I have wealthier clients  who know what they want and know they need to hire a designer for a large project. My best advice for these clients is hire me first for a design consultation. By hiring me for a designer consultation before signing a contract we were able to discuss the weaknesses and strengths of a home and how to play on both to make it the best–for their custom project. I’m able to go through the entire house and point out what needs to be renovated or should be, what rooms need more lighting, what fireplace needs work, and look at the house from what I would do it were my home, with this new clients likes and dislikes. When I leave the client has better idea of how to proceed or who they want to hire.

Either way the client wins because they get excellent advice, a quick summation of who I am as a designer, and a great service for a fair price. I also don’t feel like my time has been a waste, and the client got something of value in return. Even if the client decided to go with another designer, they will be able to weigh my comments and advice against their own contractors or designers.

After you’ve chosen a design professional that you feel comfortable working with, the next step is to focus on planning out your decorating consultation.  Here is what I like to see when I come to a clients home or potential future home:

The answers to the following questions should serve as an outline for your consultation planning.

1. Decide Your Budget It’s always important to think ahead about how much money you would like to spend on your decorating project. Narrowing down a budget will prove to be very valuable when deciding on expenditures.

2. What Is Your Design Preference? What’s the look you’d like to create? Are you going for something cool and contemporary or do your digs need to be a bit more on the traditional side? A great way to capture your style is by living in clip. Cut out magazine scraps of furnishings and accessories that appeal to you.

3. Functions For Your New Space Knowing how your new space will be utilized and by who is a very key piece of information for your designer. With this information in hand, he or she will be able to better discern what needs to go where.

4. What Direction Does The Room Face? Contrary to popular belief, whether your home faces the north or south really does actually make a difference! As such, your decorator will make important recommendations based on the orientation of your room.

5. How Long Do You Plan On Living In Your Home? Whether or not you plan on living in the home for a while affects a huge aspect of how the designer will approach their work with it. For example, if you plan on being there for an extended period of time, your designer will more than likely choose materials and furnishings that will improve the quality of your life and will be an investment in your home. If you plan on remaining there for only a few years, he or she will most likely choose design materials that will have wide appeal for home sale profitability.

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about scheduling a design consultationone for your space!

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Upgrade Your Front Door’s Hardware and Instantly Add Elegance

Which category of people do you fall into? The one that views the front door as simply a way to get in and out of the house? Or the one that realizes that the front door is part of a home’s identity? The former pays little attention to things like hardware, theme or style, and maybe just slaps on a new coat of paint every now and again. The latter tries to make the front door as welcoming as possible and realizes that it’s a reflection of the home’s interior. If you’re interested in really in giving your home a lift and setting it apart from the rest of the doors in the neighborhood, CMR Interiors suggests that you upgrade to the front door’s hardware–it’s the simplest way to do the trick!

Take a look below at some of our favorite hinges, door knockers, and door knobs.

Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain Hardware

Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain Hardware

Photo Credit: Baldwin Georgian Front Door Set
Photo Credit: Baldwin “Boston” Front Door Set

Photo Credit: Baldwin Midtown Front Door Set

Photo Credit: Rocky Baldwin Houston Door Set

Photo Credit: Creamy Life

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

7 Tips for Hanging Wall Art

Finding that perfect piece of artwork for your home is no easy feat. But once you’ve gone through the trouble of selecting it, the work’s not over—the daunting task of deciding where you’d like to display it still lies ahead. Placing a beautiful piece of art in the correct spot makes a huge difference in how it is received. Placing an over-sized canvas in a too-small room just doesn’t do its aesthetics justice. And placing a delicately small piece in a cavernous room can cause it to loose its luster.

Use painters paper and painters tape to hang up templates of finished framed pieces for layout

The recommendation is to consult a professional interior designer to help with this job, but for those of you who want to go it alone, consider the answer to these questions first: Are you filling a large or small space? What tone are you hoping to achieve in that space? Are you looking for a formal or casual feel? Once you have a clear vision of what you want, follow these tips from Stellars Gallery and you’re sure to get the hang of hanging wall art in no time.

  1. There are several  ways of hanging than just getting to “eye level”.  Most people like to use their judgment on where they would like the art to be placed, as far as the height off of a mantle, above a couch, in a stairwell, etc.
  2. As long as you have an idea of where you’d like the artwork to be placed, it is just a matter of finding the height you would like it placed above something else (chest, bench, credenza, piano, etc.).
  3. Equally important is finding a center for your placement—keep in mind that the size of the artwork should be proportionate to the room.
  4. Often there are many factors of how to “center” your art. You may have your couch situated against a wall with a side table to its side and the couch may not be centered. You will need to decide if you must have the art centered on the wall regardless of the couch, or use the couch as a centering tool. It may be tricky because you may have beams in your ceiling that throw the placement off, but that is once again a judgment call.
  5. Make sure you do not hang your art too high. You and your guests will be craning your necks to see it and it will not be as enjoyable as closer to eye level is.
  6. When you hang on wallpaper, be sure you take all the necessary steps to avoid making holes that cannot be removed once hammered.
  7. Another great tip is to  use painters paper  and painters tape to hang up templates of finished framed pieces for layout (see above).
  8. When in doubt, create a template of the size of your artwork and place it where you think you might like to hang your picture. This will give you sense of space, centering, distance and height that will allow you to avoid holding up large heavy artwork. To hold up your template, you can use artist’s masking tape, which is less sticky than standard masking tape and most likely will not remove wallpaper or paint.

We hope these tips and techniques have been helpful. If you prefer to have someone help in your installation, please feel free to CMR Interiors.

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Fall Recipes For Parties and Holidays

Balsamic Green Beans:

There are a few tried and true recipes of mine that I love and will keep making for years. This one is from a cooking light recipe where it called for Apple cider which I did not want in my beans and instead substituted cider for balsamic vinegar. My version tastes way better. Take these beans with you to the next family function or Thanksgiving/Christmas or a Superbowl party–and most of the women will be clamoring for the recipe. Men LOVE  this recipe too.

For this recipe—don’t try to use politically correct bacon. Turkey bacon is not going to work for this recipe. Most of the bacon for sale at places like Whole Foods do not crisp. You need the crisp with the soft beans for texture. And the turkey bacon actually has more salt than regular bacon and doesn’t have the full body taste of pork fat.

Ingredients:

1 lb. of green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 package of center-cut Oscar Meyer -bacon cooked till crispy
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 level spoonful of powdered thyme
1/4-1/2 cup (depends on the amount of beans) of FINI brand balsamic vinegar—this is the best balsamic vinegar I have used with this recipe

Cut and cook green beans until al dente and rinse with cold water and put aside.

Cook all bacon on the stove until crispy—keep a bottle or bowl where you can pour hot grease into as you are putting new batches in. When all is cooked, dice up bacon and put aside.

Use about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease to cook the onions in. Cook until translucent. Then put in the green beans which have been drained with the chopped bacon, toss all, and then pour in 1/4 cup of FINI balsamic vinegar, 1 spoonful of powdered thyme and toss again. Put in sugar, pepper and a tiny bit of salt. Don’t forget not to salt more than I specify. You already have enough sodium from the bacon. Another reason not to overdo the salt is because it will mask the flavor of everything else.

Stir all and check for some caramelization. I cook mine low and long and add more balsamic and sugar and olive oil and I see fit. But keep it light with the oil. And turn heat down to low simmer.

Cook and stir for about 30-45 more minutes and then turn off the stove and let cool. You don’t want your beans so overcooked that they are shredded and limp. You can taste it as you are making it….it gets better with time.

Harvest Stuffed Sweets: Have made twice. It’s amazing.  Took some time but was the best  potato that I have ever tried. Also from cooking light

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=printerFriendly&recipe_id=10000000358672

Penne -Wise Pumpkin Pasta: (from Rachel Ray): this is amazing and easy to make and pumpkin puree is in season. I put in lots of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and if you really want to make it great, add Amy’s Sausage to it or your own preferred sausage brand. Also I like about a tablespoon of maple syrup to make it better. Cutting up the sage and tossing it in is important.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/penne-wise-pumpkin-pasta-recipe/index.html

Walnut & Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie:   (this has a video and is from CNN accenthealth.com as well as ingredients)

http://www.accenthealth.com/Physician-Practices/Recipes-Detail/161/

Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcakes: I make these without the icing or topping. The muffins are to die for and very moist. Everyone loves these. I put in about 3/4 of the can instead of 1/2 and that makes them more moist. Only cook in 20 minutes if you have a wolf range. 25 minutes would suck the moisture out of them.

http://www.housebeautiful.com/kitchens/recipes/ina-garten-pumpkin-cupcakes-1010

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Southern Hospitality Needed Up North

Definition of Southern Hospitality

The other day I heard this tragic story from my aunt who has this neighbor that she has lived next to for over 30 years. His granddaughter had just had a baby and she learned that her pesky sinus problem was actually a rare form of sinus cancer and they gave her two weeks to live. Could you even imagine?  I could not imagine going through this. The young woman is in her twenties.  Understandably the Grandparents quickly arranged to drive down there to see her and spend time with her.  While they were down there, they were surprised and touched by the amazing output of love, caring and major devotion of the local community.

A community of neighbors, friends, family who at various times of the  day, brought over home cooked meals to their Granddaughters home at:   Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and in between.  Not one day or two days but try every single day. Folks, this takes major effort and devotion.

Though a tragic story, it is inspiring to hear how people can pull together for a family.  I knew I wanted to do something like this for someone. Then the opportunity came a few weeks later. My neighbor recently had a baby by ceasarian. The day after returning home, she didn’t feel so great and thought it was something small and easily treatable like a bladder infection. As a nurse, she thought she would be out in 24 hours and back home with her family. She has now been in the hospital for about 7 days. She has a newborn at home, and a 2 year old who misses her mother and doesn’t understand what is going on. The husband is exhausted because he has to work all day and then the new baby is up all night. Her parents are trying to help.

Saturday chicken fryers were on sale at whole foods. You use Fryers to make incredible rich chicken stock. My plan was to make French Lentil soup from “The Best Recipe” book. This is the best recipe book EVER in my opinion. But when I got started, I changed my mind and decided to make a chicken soup for this family  and barefoot contessa muffins to take downstairs to my neighbors.  Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcakes for the little girl without the icing which I tried and found to be too much. The Dad was asleep that afternoon (exhausted)  and grandmother answered the door with the two year old Sophie–who is a adorable.  I just said they must be exhausted and too tired to cook daily, so I wanted to bring something over to make them feel better. It felt so good to do this. They were happy and seemed relieved to have someone think of them and I would too if I were in their position.

I hope everyone gets a chance this winter to show some Southern Hospitality for a family in need. If you can’t cook or don’t have the time, then you could give a donation to the Chicago Food Depository!  Thank you -Candice

Color, Wallpaper or High Gloss Chic on Ceilings?

So many people ignore their ceilings. It’s often a blank canvas so why not add more dimension to the home, more luxury, and more detail? That is what makes a space hot. Here are a few examples I love where the ceilings are not boring and hopefully it will give you some inspiration! Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about how we can help with your next Project.


Photo Credit: Steven Gambrel by Eric Piasecki

blue lacquered ceiling

Photo Credit: Jay Michael

wallpapered ceiling

wallpapered ceiling

Fall Entertaining Do’s and Don’ts

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being the first guest to arrive at a party and catching the host off guard before he or she has even had the chance to put the finishing touches on the tablescape, or worse, freshen up. To avoid awkward situations like these, and many more, pay close attention to our list of holiday DOs and DONTs from a myriad of today’s top designers and planners via House Beautiful. We We also picked up some tips from Suite101.com . So whether you’re a guest or a host, follow these tips and you’re in for a fabulous time this holiday season.

DO

  1. “Have a stiff drink before anyone arrives. If you are having fun, everyone will have fun.”—Miles Redd, designer
  2. “Crispy ironed linens! There is nothing so luxurious as to sit at a table with a lovely ironed tablecloth and spread an ironed napkin over your lap.” —Barbara Barry, Designer
  3. “Send out a proper invite. A handwritten one is preferable, but the online versions at PaperlessPost are quite wonderful.” —Ken Fulk, designer
  4. “The perfect number for a dinner party is six to eight. You want festive conversation, but not so many people that the conversations are always split up.” —Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, The Kitchn by Apartment Therapy
  5. “Keep hors d’oeuvres to one bite. No one wants to talk or kiss with a mouthful.” —Larry Laslo, designer
  6. Plan for the right amounts of appetizers. About 10 appetizers per person is a reasonable number. For a dinner party 3-5 appetizers will suffice.
  7. Do hire servers and bartenders if you are having a larger party so you can spend time with your guests.
  8. DO make sure that your guests know exactly who is invited. You don’t want them bringing their kids if children are not welcome because its for adults only.
  9. Please don’t plan a party around an expected due date for your house that is being built or major renovation. These things often run over schedule.
  10. Change your house to make it party friendly and not like a designer showcase home so that your guests will be more comfortable.

DON’T

  1. “Don’t be afraid to use your finest china, silverware, and crystal pieces outdoors. It can make a casual event a bit more special.” —Ty Burks, designer
  2. “Don’t impose a dress code on people. What is dressy attire anymore? Forget it — leave them to their own devices and just see what turns up.” —Larry Laslo, designer
  3. “Don’t cancel a dinner invitation the day of the dinner unless you are on an IV drip in a hospital.” —Harry Slatkin, fragrance guru
  4. “Don’t rearrange the chairs all against the wall just because you are having a large party. People like to see a beautiful interior.” —Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Designer.
  5. “Don’t be afraid to set up a dinner table in an unconventional or 
not-the-usual spot for a more interesting dinner or lunch — in the library 
among the books, out on a porch.” —Gil Schafer, architect/designer
  6. Don’t let your animals get in the way. Please make sure that all animals are put in a room where noone will open the door for and if your kids are not invited, make sure they are with a sitter or have plans.
  7. Don’t get upset if someone doesn’t like every dish. Some people will be vegans, or vegetarians and you can’t cater to them exclusively.
  8. Don’t hover around your guests as a waiter. Let your staff do this job for you.
  9. Don’t use a new recipe on your guests without trying it out first.
  10. Don’t use appetizers that are messy, black or brown. Use colorful fruits, veggies, cheeses, etc so that there is visual appeal.
  11. Don’t over serve someone alcohol. Make sure you take their keys or arrange for their way to get home if they are too drunk. There is liability these days and you have to be protective of them and yourself.

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Points to Consider When Buying a Sofa

First off it’s referred to as a sofa, NOT a couch—I learned this in design school. Couch was too bourgeois for my teacher.

My Grandmother Ingrid was from Copenhagen and always referred to the sofa as a “Davenport.” She had one of those long, low, very square Danish-style sofas that we only sat on once a year: during Christmas when we were all sitting around unwrapping Christmas gifts.

No matter what you call it, the sofa is the basic fundamental to many a living room,  and choosing one that fits just right can be tough. In fact, this decision is very hard for most people to pull the trigger on.

Here are the points to consider when shopping sofas:

  • Scale: what is right for the room
  • Size: Width, height, depth
  • Style: What is right for your home, and is consistent with the look you are working with
  • Fabric: Sleek and modern, traditional and cozy, pet friendly, kid friendly, green, etc.
  • Cushion Insides: down, spring, fill for the seats and then how you want the back cushions to be: down or wrapped foam. Down requires more maintenance and fluffing up.
  • Construction of the piece, quality of the work you are seeking : I’m picky about the welting being totally straight and the cushions being square if they are supposed to be, wrinkles, etc.
  • Pricing: What is the price you are willing to pay for something you love and must have vs. something you like that will simply “work”.

When it comes to the sofa, I say buy one that’s not too trendy or “of the moment”. Also this piece MUST be comfortable. So much so that you will want to reupholster it, over replacing in 10 years.

And lastly you should really, really love it.

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about transforming your interior space into something you absolutely love. In the meantime, take a look below at some of our favorite sofas.

Photo Credit: Darryl Carter via House Beautiful

Photo Credit: RUE CAMBON SOFA via Edward Ferrell

Photo Credit: Atkins Sofa via Edward Ferrell


Photo Credit: David Easton for Lee Jofa –the Hyde Park sofa

Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma Home

Photo Credit: Antique Edward Wormley sofa from 50’s , 1st dibs

Photo Credit: Bedford Sofa via Wiliams Sonoma Home

Photo Credit: Amelia Sofa

Photo Credit: Minima Sofa by Richard Shapiro/Studiolo

Photo Credit: Summer Hill Ltd.