Light Up Your Home to Light Up Your Life

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By Barbara Kaplan –

“What to do about lighting?” is the question every client asks me. They want to know: “Do I buy lamps, install track lighting, have recessed cans put in the ceiling, use up-lights, indirect lights or cable lights? What’s the difference between halogen bulbs and incandescent bulbs and now LED?”

Lighting, magically, makes everything in a room come alive, so it’s important to place lights strategically. Proper lighting makes the difference! Because all color is affected by light, the kind of lighting, will make a huge difference in the feel of your rooms. Lighting affects mood and brings style and personality to any environment. You can have tranquility or excitement with a flick of a switch.

There is no one answer. Decide on the effect you want to create in your home. Builders understand the importance of lighting and provide recessed canned lights, flush with the ceiling; however, they don’t provide very many. Add more cans in strategic areas where lighting is beneficial and to create the effect you want to achieve.

Bulbs: LED is replacing incandescent and halogen. Incandescent bulbs give off a yellow light. Halogen bulbs throw off a white light. The new LED lighting now comes in a variety light that resembles these traditional bulbs. They have to be chosen carefully for the affect you want to achieve. “Lumen” is a measurement of the light output. The color temperature of the light source is measured in Kelvins. White light doesn’t change the true color of fabrics, wall coverings and flooring. Yellow light adds warmth. It is very important to question the differences based on your preference. Lenses can also be changed to control the spread of the light.

LED is now widely used for chandeliers and pendant fixtures. The decorative covering will change the lighting color based on its design and color.

Switches: I’m a great believer in using as many as possible and practical — it’s a great way to save money in the long run. Particularly if you have installed several ceiling lights over different areas in the room. Switching lights individually gives versatility and is energy efficient. The more you separate the lights and give them their own switches, the greater the choice you have in putting light where it is needed or wanted.

Lighting can be glaring so you might want to include dimmer switches. They control the amount of light you want in a room and often add a wonderful mood.

Lamps: When choosing a lamp, consider design, size and proportion, as well as color and material. Shades come in many colors and with trims such as beads or glass. Ask yourself: Is the lamp making a fashion statement or is it an art object? Of course, whatever you choose has to accent the style of the room.

Up-lights: Up-lights on timers can be used to highlight plants and artwork. The drama of up-lights is also a surprise feature. Because people don’t customarily expect lighting on the floor, it adds a new dimension to the room. It also creates designs on your ceiling. I have up-lights on timers in every room of my home, so I always have subtle illumination until bedtime.

Create lighting for your lifestyle and to highlight the beauty in your home.

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do! So light up your life!


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA, Allied ASID is a Phoenix-based interior design consultant, specializing in designed environments to create healing energy while living beautifully.


Photo by tanakawho on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

His-and-Her Rooms Make a Comeback — Man Cave & She Shed?!

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Q:  I’ve been reading about new homes where husbands and wives have separate rooms built for many purposes. What is this all about?

A:  Everything cycles. At the end of the 19th century, husbands and wives had separate bedrooms. Men had libraries or smoking rooms they retired to after dinner, and the women had their own drawing rooms. Women had sewing rooms and hobby rooms, and men later had their garages and workshops. Separating the sexes was common.

During the 20th century, men and women joined together in their activities and interests. So, sharing space became comfortable. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Today, spouses are looking for self-expression. It is not a means of isolation as much as a way to get in touch with how they would like to live and not have to compromise.

No longer is it his-and-her sinks; now it’s his-and-her bathrooms, dressing rooms, bedrooms, project rooms, kitchens and garages. This is happening so that everyone can express their personal needs and wants. You really can have it all — just the way you want it.
You no longer have to argue.  You can have what you want and enjoy it in peace. This is helpful when people have different habits and ways of doing things. Of course, these homes and rooms will cost more and take longer to build. They also require more decisions, research and self-exploration. But the rewards may be worth it.
Give it some thought and answer the following questions. With your tastes formed, how would you create your own personal living spaces? How would you change what you have?  What would you keep the same and do all over again? Consider the activities you enjoy and how you like to enjoy them. Are you outgoing or a loner?

Next, talk with your partner and see how he or she would answer the same questions. Through your answers, you can determine where your tastes can be joined and blended. It’s also an opportunity to decide if creating separate spaces could work for you.

Last, it’s a question of family living. It’s a matter of how you want to relate and share with one another. These decisions take family discussion and exploration.

Here are some things to think about when deciding on the global look of your home. If both of you have definite ideas of how you want to live and what you like, it works well to consider the following:

How You Want to Live

  • What activities are most important to you at home?
  • Are they activities you enjoy doing by yourself or would you rather share the experience?
  • How important is self-expression to you?
  • How important is sharing your interests with your significant other?

What You Like

  • What types of wood do you prefer? (Dark or light color, heavy or light grain?)
  • Do you like harder surfaces like metal? (Chrome or brass, shiny or brushed?)
  • Colors are important.  What colors do you want to see every day? (Bright or subdued?)
  • What do you want in the way of textures? (Subtle or heavy?)
  • Do you like patterns? (Bold or subtle, geometric or floral?)

These questions are just a beginning — a way to explore the preferences of you and your partner.   For parents this may be an important, even self-esteem-building exercise for your children.

No matter what questions you ask or answers you give, make sure they are your heart’s desire. You can do anything you want in your own home, so don’t miss the opportunity.

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU DO!

For fun and awareness, go to my website, bajaromethod.com, for a free color and design quiz to help you discover your true design taste and feelings.


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA, Allied ASID is a Phoenix-based interior design consultant, specializing in designed environments to create healing energy while living beautifully.


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Kitchen Design Begins with the All-Important Countertop

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By Barbara Kaplan –

We’re surrounded by counters — particularly in the kitchen, home office and bathroom. We take them for granted and don’t realize the impact they have on us. Their colors, patterns and textures affect our feelings daily. Choosing the material is a decision based on style, function and cost, whereas the design decision is based on your preferences.

Taking this a step further, we coordinate our cabinets with our countertops. We might even match the walls and accessories with the color of the countertops. When I work with a client, we generally begin the design of the room by choosing the countertop. Your counters can be the most dramatic feature, as well as the choice that affects you the most.

For example, in the kitchen, while working you are constantly looking down and seeing the counter. You’re surrounded by the mood-altering energy of the color and pattern. When choosing countertops, consider how they will be used and who will use them. Are there children at home? Do you want to use a cutting board? Do you want to put hot pots on the counters? Do uneven surfaces bother you?

Today you have a variety of choices:

  • Granite is one of the more durable and still the most popular countertop choice today. Plus, there are a multitude of colors and textures to choose from. Check out the leather finish, too.
  • Marble is beautiful but more porous, so it’s more apt to stain or etch more than granite.
  • Engineered quartz such as CeasarStone, Cambria or Silestone, to mention just a few, are man-made materials using 90 percent ground quartz and add resin to be more durable than granite and are similar in price to the mid-range price of granite.
  • Tile comes in many colors, is durable and can take heat, but the grout is porous, needs to be sealed and is difficult to keep looking good. The surface may be more uneven. Vertically, hand-painted tiles can create beautiful and interesting designs as backsplashes.
  • Cement is smooth and heat resistant; however, it is porous, and can stain or crack as it cures.
  • Natural stone, which is honed until smooth, must be sealed. This creates a rustic and earthy look.
  • Stainless steel and/or stainless combined with copper are more sensitive to scratches, yet resistant to heat and stain. This look is often used in more contemporary-looking kitchens and can emphasize a theme with stainless appliances.
  • Solid wood is warm, rich and elegant, and when sealed properly has a long life.

Once you determine your material, you have to decide how the backsplash will look and how much of a backsplash you want. They can continue to the upper cabinets or they can be the standard four inches. You can use the same material as the countertop or introduce a new material such as tiles or mosaics. Combining materials creates your signature look.

Lighting changes the way your countertops look. Not only functional, under-cabinet lighting, be it fluorescent, halogen or LED, will highlight the countertop material and emphasize the theme for the room. In the evening your counter tops could be the only glow in the room.

How do you make this difficult choice? Cost is a factor: Each material has a different price. Durability is your next consideration: How hard a surface, do you need? And finally, consider what you want to look at every day.

Counters are there to serve you. And remember, rooms have no feelings, you do!


Photo by Decorative Concrete Kingdom on Foter.com / CC BY

Workspaces Need Personal Touches, Too

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Q: Should people be allowed to personalize their offices? If so, how do you “monitor” or “keep control” of the overall appearance?

A: This question, of course, touches my heart because my answer is based on the philosophy of the Bajaro Method, which holds that everyone needs to live in their own personal expression. It is helpful when everyone has a personalized space in which to function and be productive, since this is where so many of us spend most of our waking hours. Whether we are in an office, showroom, store or vehicle, we need to be comfortable and feel supported in our workspace.

Keeping control of this has its challenges; however, it is well worth the exercise because people react differently to colors and styles.  Giving people choices, such as the colors they want to work in, will empower and help them be productive and reach their maximum potential.

Start the process by determining how open the employer is to this concept rather than how much personal expression you want. Next consider if the public is entering your space.

For instance, if you have a private office it is easy to make a statement with color and style. If you have an open, modular office space you must modify your personal statement to be less conspicuous in your decoration choices, keeping them more subtle.

In a retail business you might work from an open desk — this is where you might have a picture, personal desk blotter and chair that are meaningful to you. Additionally, a nice vase of flowers or interesting bookends may be your only private statement.

If you are in your vehicle all day, you have lots of opportunity to bring things into your car such as pictures, pillows, blankets, refreshments in special containers, music, motivational tapes or writing materials.

It isn’t necessary for others to notice the items you have chosen to have around you. Try keeping your choices generic enough so as not to offend anyone else who is working with in the same space. Keep things that make you smile tucked away in drawers.

If there are no guidelines in place for items brought from home, you may want to create a company standard. (This can be detailed by size, color and subject. I recommend that if anyone objects to a particular item, this is enough not to have it there.)

 

Q: Why is it that no one pays attention to workplace decorating after the initial move in?

A: This isn’t always true because we react to the layout or decorations we inherit from the previous tenant. In many situations we tend to overlook things we see every day, not realizing their impact.

Often the need to move in may be urgent, giving us little time to “fix it up” before. Then we either get used to seeing the same thing or we are so busy with other things that we forget to pay attention to what bothers us.

Here’s a question for you: What do you look at when you are on the telephone? Most often we stare in a certain direction and spend hours of the day looking at things that may not please us yet not even realize this is happening.

It is important to be aware of your surroundings and the effect it has on you.

No matter what space we are in, we are consciously or unconsciously reacting to where we are. Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


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Bring Personality into a Room with Eye-Catching Collectible Displays

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Q: My home décor is eclectic. I like the feeling and would like to keep all the fun accents I’ve collected. However, I would like to redecorate so my collections make more of a statement. Should I do it with color, new furniture or lighting? What will give me the quickest, most cost-effective change?

Also, is it possible to blend ethnic art and collectibles?

A: The list of what humans collect is endless. We collect whatever turns us on or what we want to put our energy into collecting.

Perhaps they are inherited pieces that have memories attached.

Or, they might be items we purchased on our travels. Even though some might not understand why we collect particular things, they have meaning and sentiment to us.

Some collections also have value from a financial standpoint, such as art glass, porcelain birds, music boxes and so many more.

Anything you might decide to collect has either a visual, monetary, conceptual or sentimental appeal.

I often get asked, “How do I display my collection so that it blends with my décor?” Now is the time to use your creativity.

First, consider the display space you have in your home or office. Next, decide how you want your collection displayed, and then on the color for the background. Your background can make a big difference as to the impact of how your collection will be seen.

For example, if most of the pieces are light, the wall behind the collection can be dark. I once placed shelves on a dark fuchsia background for a client who had an extensive Iladro collection.

Conversely, if most of the pieces are dark, use a light or bright color for your background.

Another consideration is whether your collection has to be protected from the elements. If so, choose a display cabinet to go with your furnishings. Be sure the shelves are sized to accommodate your pieces. You don’t want to put small pieces on large shelves, because they will get lost. Don’t forget the background color of the cabinet.

Lighting is important, no matter where or how the collection is displayed. In a display cabinet, things are harder to see, so lighting inside the cabinet is essential. If the pieces are exposed, lighting can be directed right on the pieces from track, cable or recess cans.

To make the greatest impact, create an unexpected arrangement or shelf. An unusual arrangement is always intriguing.

The way to accomplish this is in how you group your collection. When the pieces are grouped appropriately or unusually, they appear more important and impressive.

If your grouping is to be hung on the wall, begin by laying it out on the floor. Move the pieces around so they relate to each other in size, color or shape. If there is a particular theme, such as pictures of boats, you can hang the pictures using little anchors to hold the wire to enhance the theme.

Optional: Nothing in your home can say more about you than your collection of chosen objects. You made a decision how you want to devote time and space.

You are making a statement about your personal preferences. So be sure that when you decide how you want your collection displayed, your decisions come from your heart, because rooms have no feelings, you do!


Photo by docoverachiever on Foter.com / CC BY

Trends For 2019

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Interior design trends for 2019 are all over the map. It’s no surprise when you look around the world, at what is going on politically, economically and socially. Design is always a reflection of people’s attitudes. It has become a global experience.

After 2008, when our economy was suffering, colors were muted, dull and somber. Many manufacturers went out of business and new designs were not created. The DIY craze grew, and people started decorating for themselves. Due to the internet and the abundance of information and resources available, people can make purchases with confidence.

Today we have done a 180. Colors are alive and vibrant. Several colors and patterns are combined for interest and dramatic effects. Pantone just named the color of the year as ultra violet, which is a bright purple. People have become less fearful to add color to express their personal taste and style both at home and in their lives.

Here are a few of the trends I see reflecting in the new year:

  • Because of the expanded opportunities for design, the interior designer’s role has expanded. The designer often becomes a consultant to guide and empower people through their projects, giving the consumer creative ideas that they can complete themselves.
  • Because the internet has endless amounts of DIY opportunities for consumers, it can be overwhelming. It is important to remember that less is more. You can always add later.
  • The trend is to express your personal taste. The days of keeping up with the Joneses is over. Now individuality shines. Surround yourself with what you love!
  • The “undesigned and undecorated” look is in. A casual and comfortable lifestyle appearance says somehow the décor just came together organically and effortlessly. Living is easy and just happened.
  • Accessories complete a room. Accessories tell the story of the people who live there. They fill a room with life and personality. They add color, texture shape and interest.
  • Pillows are the rage too. The power of a pillow can change an entire room. Mixing and matching colors, patterns and sizes create fun, interest and individuality.
  • Cabinetry throughout the house does not have to be the same. Each area has its own function, style, color and personality. This includes changing the countertops too.
  • Hardware for cabinetry is the same as jewelry for a person. Your choices of styles and finishes give you the opportunity to change and coordinate metals and style in each room.
  • Carpet comes in many styles, heights and yarns. Patterns are often raised in same or contrasting colors. Shag is back and carpet squares are used for residential applications. The variety is endless.
  • Metal fibers are threaded into carpet fibers to give a glow of glitter and glitz. They could be gold or silver, subtle or pronounced giving carpet elegance and drama.
  • Wood is still a rich, elegant and beautiful choice and now ceramic tile that looks like wood is the rage. This low maintenance twin comes in endless choices of color and types of wood.
  • Area rugs are being used on hard flooring surfaces as well as on carpeted areas. They can define a grouping of furniture and define any space with color and interest.
  • Furniture is less heavy and lighter in color. The look is sleeker and more contemporary. Woods are stained or painted in lighter colors. The finishes are more organic and rustic.
  • Fabrics are blended with mixed fibers. They have a lot more texture and come in matte and shiny finishes. Faux leather and suede are extremely popular and available in endless colors.

Most importantly, be true to yourself and have fun, when decorating your personal environments, because, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Photo by H is for Home on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Undesign: Big Redesign Jobs Start Simply — Just Move Something

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Question: I am contemplating redecorating my home. I have some furnishings I still like, and other pieces I know I no longer want to live with. I have looked at magazines to figure out what I like now, but I’m confused. The thought of everything I have to consider overwhelms me. Would you please help me understand how to begin the process?

All beginnings are difficult, particularly when you are uncertain or attempting something you don’t have the experience to do. Add your emotions about the pieces you are making decisions about, and it can become paralyzing. This happens with many of my clients, so they ask me to help them. The first thing I do is reassure them that they really do have the answers. The answers are inside each of us and that’s why I call it Interior Design.

There are times my clients ask me to help rearrange their furnishings, de-clutter their homes or begin a complete design project — and they don’t know where to begin. Albert Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves,” so I suggest moving an object to another place in the room or house. Immediately, change has occurred. Space has been made and the balance of the room has been affected.

This concept is often addressed specifically with the philosophy of Feng Shui. Once I’ve addressed the issues of Feng Shui, which is the placement of pieces, I then use my method, The Bajaro Method to address how the person or persons feel in the room. The two philosophies work well together.

Now you have a decision to make as to how to proceed:

  • Shall the space remain empty?
  • Should it be filled again?
  • Does more need to be taken away?
  • How has the room changed?
  • How does it feel to you?
  • What more do you want to accomplish?

Think about it. Feel it. I like to call this “undesign” because until we move, make a space or clear a space, we cannot fill it. Artists call this negative space. Take away the current design, be it good or bad, and see the difference — feel the difference. Once you see what happens, you can proceed to the next step.

We take for granted the design around us. We don’t think about it. Everything in our environment has been designed. Have you ever looked at a room (or even an individual piece) and thought, “It is too much.”? It may be someone else’s design or someone else’s taste. The most difficult part is in the beginning. It’s when we have to decide what we like, what we want to live with, and what we don’t want to live with. This might mean having to release pieces we have either purchased or been given.

So, as we go through this process, we need some tools. You can go through magazines, visit furniture stores and showrooms. Becoming aware of all the things that are available and discover what your taste is by being exposed to new ideas and styles.

Another difficult thing is to stay open to design possibilities. Try a new color or style. Do the opposite. Mix some of the pieces you have with new pieces that don’t match but might look good together. If you’ve been eclectic in the past, now it might be time to match some things.

Step out of your box and see where those steps might lead you. You may be considering décor you never thought of before or you may even be back to the things you originally liked. If you are led back to your original ideas, you’ll know and not wonder if you are doing the right thing. Either way you’ll understand yourself and why you have chosen the things you have. This will become your signature design.

Your designs are yours — remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Thanks for all your questions. If I use your question in this column, I will send you a free, autographed copy of my book The Bajaro Method: Rooms Have No Feelings, YOU Do!


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A New School Year Means It’s Time to Revamp Study Areas

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Now that the kids are back in school, what changes do you need to make to your home to accommodate the new academic year? Your children have grown in size, and their maturity level has grown as well. This increase it may require a shift in the space for everyone, because they have new educational needs.

This is an opportunity to talk with your children about their goals for the coming academic year and what they would like to achieve. This can lead to an interesting and fun discussion of what environment they need to succeed. (What do they need to work comfortably and how does that look and feel for them?)

Since this may be the first time they have ever reflected on this, it can be a learning experience for them to create a setting that works for them and helps them to achieve. It could lay the foundation for them to create awareness about their living space, and they can realize they have control over it.

The home environment is always a learning place, but to formalize it as an extension of the classroom requires thought and a personalization of space to help your child reach (their) peak performance. So here are some sample questions to either be asked or answered: (As the parent you might already know all the answers, however it’s always good to get the input from your children.)

  • Where do you prefer doing your homework? Would you rather be in your own room, at the kitchen table/counter, or in the family room?
  • Would you rather sit on the floor or at a desk?
  • Do you like to sit up or recline?
  • Do you like to sit in a chair, sofa, or bed?
  • Do you like to work outside on the patio in nature?
  • Do you need the phone close by?  (Maybe the question should be…do you want a phone close by?)
  • Do you need a computer?
  • What is the best lighting for you? (And how much lighting do you require?)
  • Do you need quiet, or do you like to have the radio or TV on?
  • Would you like to work in solitude or do you like having people around?
  • Does music or a burning candle soothe you?
  • What are your storage needs? (And do you have room for your supplies?)

Even though you may not agree with your child’s answers, it is important to listen and be open to the different ways they may like to work. Together you can come to an understanding that will work for you both.

This is also the time to note if your children have grown to the point of redecorating their room.  Do they need a bigger bed, (more) clothes storage, book cases or areas to house their growing interests, such as computers, electronic equipment, etc.?  Rooms can be designed to grow with your children. Consider the permanent pieces of furniture and make them more neutral.  Then you can be more creative and personal with the less-expensive pieces such as bedding, window treatment, paint and accessories. Most often these items can change as children grow. Our environment influences us even when we don’t realize it. Here’s your opportunity to create an environment that is conducive to learning and having happier children.

As I always say, “Rooms have no feelings, YOU do!” and that’s true for your children’s rooms as well.


Barbara Kaplan, Allied ASID, IFDA, a Scottsdale based interior designer, creator and author of The Bajaro Method, Rooms Have No Feelings, You Do! and founder and influencer of Barbara’s Picks, a design and lifestyle online resource directory.


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What is Feng Shui & Bajaro?

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Combining Feng Shui with Bajaro is believed to create the perfect combination of harmonizing the environment in which we live and work. For many people today, home and work, is the same which makes it even more important to understand these two philosophies. Together, they are the most powerful method of creating harmony in personal environments for happiness, good health, productivity and success. Actually, this is true for anywhere you are!

These two techniques used together are believed to bring about personal connection and healing of the mind, body and spirit. This happens because we are all reacting to our surroundings whether we are aware of it or not. We are all either healing or hurting all day long. This is influenced by what we see, hear, feel, smell, touch, taste and of course the energy around us.

What is Feng Shui? This Chinese philosophy simply means “wind” and “water,” which as nature addresses is natural to any environment.  Whether the energy is clear or blocked will affect the flow of Chi, which is the word used for the healthy or unhealthy energy flow in a space. For example, changing the position of a desk in relation to the door can promote a better flow of energy, which can result in being less distracted or stressed. Feng Shui also focuses on all kinds of materials in the room such as rubber, synthetic fabrics, wood, stone, brick, earth and so on as they either obstruct or assist free flow of good energy around your home and workplace. It is important to know is that there are remedies for all situations to create better Chi.

Bajaro has three elements: Understanding, Acceptance, and Allowing, which create an awareness to the distractions and discomforts as well as the things in our environment that make us feel good. With this awareness we are then able to adjust what is necessary to what feels good to us individually. Most of all by turning inward, which I call the ultimate “interior” design, we can ask ourselves what it is that we need to feel good thus heal in our harmonized environment.

As individuals we must consider the complete experience we have every day. What is the first thing you see in the morning? How does it make you feel? Or the last thing you see at night. How well do you sleep? What is the energy when you walk into your work space?

It becomes more difficult when you are out in public spaces but learning the cues that affect you becomes critical. For instance, when in a restaurant do you carefully select the seat where you will be eating so that you are comfortable, looking in the direction that pleases you, not hearing loud conversation from a nearby table or other distractions.

The key difference of the two philosophies is that:

Feng Shui is about the space. Aligning spaces and objects to facilitate the free flow of positive energies and remove the negativity in the environment. Positive energies are those that move freely in your spaces to bring people good health, happiness, sound relationships and prosperity. Negative energy is stagnant, like from clutter and wrong placement or size of furniture. Once the space is clear there is room for people to live and thrive there.

Bajaro is about the people in the space. It addresses the individual and empowers them to create the spaces in a personal way to express their desires, be comfortable and enjoy living with what they feel is beautiful. Bajaro believes, “If it feels right, it is right.” Bajaro encourages people to have confidence in their taste and style and address the design through their eyes. Bajaro asks the right questions so each person is able to find the right answer for themselves for what they need and how they want to fulfill their lives. For example, what color feels soothing in a space meant for relaxation or what color inspires you in an area used for a creative process?

When you have both the positive energy and personal understanding working together, you have perfection!

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Barbara Kaplan, Allied ASID, IFDA, a Scottsdale based interior designer, creator and author of The Bajaro Method, Rooms Have No Feelings, You Do! and founder and influencer of Barbara’s Picks, a design and lifestyle online resource directory.


Photo by peffs on Trend Hype / CC BY-NC-ND

Designing For Couples

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Over the years, I have led many couples on their journey of “couple design discovery.” By connecting their individual vision for their home, they create a style that is unique for them.

For this to work, it is essential that both people be involved in the design process. It doesn’t mean that they both must like everything; however, they must be willing to accept the needs and desires of the other person as long as their own needs and desires are met, too.

Couples can begin by assessing what they enjoy together. These similarities play a key factor in developing their combined style. They can express together in ways that are creative and often unexpected, and the unexpected may be the most important. This is when new information about each other can be gathered, which then leads to better understanding of each other’s needs. This thoughtful creative process helps design a home that speaks of the couple and makes new memories in their shared environment. I like to say that 1 + 1 = 3. A new and unique style.

Acceptance of each other’s taste comes with understanding. It’s important that both people explain their reasons when making design choices. It’s not just about a particular style, color or pattern. These choices are about each person’s unique reaction to them. Once we understand why we feel a certain way, we are able to explain it to our partner. Then we are able to create something that contains our shared beliefs, goals, and dreams.

Here are some questions to discuss. Be sure to sit in a comfortable, quiet place to share your feelings:

  • What are the things you like doing together?
  • What are the things you like to do alone?
  • What is your favorite room in the house? Why?
  • Do you have or need a place to be alone?
  • What are the things you agree about in the home décor? Why.
  • What are the things you don’t agree about in the home décor? Why.
  • Are you expressing what is important to you or are you wanting to please the other person.

As you discuss these questions, others will come up. It is necessary to hear each other’s answers. Once you know the reasons for the feelings, both yours and theirs, you can come to a place of compromise and make mutual choices.

Recently, I worked with a couple who were redecorating their home. They anticipated being at odds with each other as they were when they initially decorated their home years earlier. I suggested they go through their house separately and make a list of all the things they absolutely wanted to keep and the pieces they no longer wanted. They were surprised and amazed that they had the same items on both lists. I wasn’t surprised, because after 10 years of marriage their tastes had blended, but they hadn’t realized it. They were overjoyed with the outcome. We proceeded with the project designing for their taste today and eliminated the rest.

Finding harmony between two people who live together may not be easy, but it is rewarding. Especially when you honor both yourself and your “room” mate.

Always remember that rooms have no feelings, YOU do.


Barbara Kaplan, Allied ASID, IFDA, an Arizona based interior designer, CEO of Design Dimensions, and Barbara’s Picks, a design and lifestyle influencer, and author of The Bajaro Method, Rooms Have No Feelings, You Do! Visit www.barbarakaplan.com or www.bajaromethod.com.


Photo by deborah is lola on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA
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