Walls Are An Important Part of Design

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Walls – we take them for granted. They protect us, create cozy spaces and serve as the skin of a room. Yet we often overlook their treatment.

Wall covering has changed a lot over the years. The days of Navajo white are long over. People want color on the walls. My clients are now asking me, “What color should we paint the walls?” Before, I would have had to suggest it to them.

Regardless, whether the colors are bright or bold, subdued or muted they add mood and interest to a room and define the space. They pull all the color elements together and give a more complete look. With color on the walls, rooms have greater personality and style and make a statement about the occupants. You can create a new design style with just a change in wall color and not spend a lot of money.

Don’t be afraid to paint each room a different color – particularly bedrooms where there is a door and a natural stopping point. Open areas generally need to be unified; however, an accent wall or two in a contrasting color can be dramatic and easily achieved. Highlighting architectural details with paint in contrasting colors creates interest that might have gone unnoticed otherwise.

Wallpaper is making a comeback competing with faux finishes and Venetian plasters. Wallpaper can add patterns and shapes in addition to color to bland rooms. Faux finishing is used to create color and texture. It can resemble marble, natural materials or stone effects. Also add wonderful texture such as glazing and combing.

One of my favorite wall coverings is fabric. In addition to fabrics having the largest variety of colors, patterns and textures, they add an acoustical element to the room. Soothing the sound with fabric walls changes the energy of any room. Padding made of foam or Dacron is applied to the walls and then fabric is attached over it. Any fabric can be used, and in most cases it is less expensive than wallpaper – it depends on the cost of the fabric, of course. Another advantage is that it doesn’t damage the walls when it is removed.

Fabric can also be applied directly to the wall with glue. If you choose, you can add wood or metal as accents in a design. You might cut wood into shapes such as squares or diamonds, or buy ready-made metal shapes and glue them onto the fabric covered wall.

If you are handy, make your own wallpaper by cutting out pictures from a magazine or use personal pictures. You can also paint a faux finish on heavy paper and tear it into large pieces and glue them onto the walls overlapping the pieces. With these techniques you never have any seams.

Another of my favorites is to carry ceramic tile up the walls to the ceiling. This is best done in bathrooms and kitchens or highlighting fireplaces and niches. It is a rich look and usually a surprise. It’s washable and the colors and textures are endless. You can create pictures or designs in the wall using different tiles and turning and cutting them into different shapes.

Vinyl tile can be used in the same way. Vinyl tile can resemble many natural elements such as cork or wood adding warmth. It’s practical in a child’s room because it’s washable and relatively indestructible.

Design your walls to be a focal point as well as bringing your rooms together and have fun doing it.

Remember, that walls have no feelings, YOU do!

The Times They Are A-Changin’

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By Barbara Kaplan –

This Bob Dylan song title came to mind, probably because it’s been 2013 for a little while and changes have already occurred. In my book, The Bajaro Method: Rooms Have No Feelings, YOU Do!, change is always a good thing. I enlighten, encourage and empower people to move out of their stuck places and challenge them to embrace new decorating ideas, design thoughts and lifestyle opportunities. I also find the newness of change exciting! To quote one of my favorites, Wayne Dyer, “You are only a thought away from changing your life.” Now that’s exciting!

As an interior designer who starts every project with people first, then their rooms, I direct my thoughts and attention to personal change first, then to the inside of a home, which of course has to express our heart and soul. I always say, “I can tell you everything you need to decorate your home, but only you can put your heart in your home.” Your home is your most personal space and expresses you in the most honest form. I am always asking myself, “How do I want to live? Am I living that way now? If so, great! If not, what can I change that will serve me better?” I know my environment needs to inspire many different feelings. I know that about myself. Yet, many people aren’t aware of how they react to their environment, even though we are constantly reacting. Each one of us has to answer that question for ourselves. Then that awareness brings about action.

Since the New Year is time for reflection and anticipation it also becomes evidence of how the past year has brought changes.

This is a perfect time to look around and determine how the pieces you have brought into your personal spaces over the past year make you feel. Do they make you happy, put a smile on your face and bring peace and comfort to you? Are you living with things that you no longer like or need? Ask yourself some personal questions that only you can answer and answer them honestly.

Ask yourself why you chose to decorate your living and work spaces the way you have and if something held you back from doing what you really may have wanted to do at that time. Consider the choices that may have been made with different needs and goals in mind and now that change has occurred, you may be seeing (or overlooking) them differently.

Considerations may have been:

  • Budget
  • What will others think
  • What is appropriate?
  • What is the image you want to project?

As the main consideration…where you spend most of your time, the most important questions that should be asked are:

  • How does your environment make you feel?
  • Does it function for you?
  • Is your space comfortable?
  • Does it give you tranquility?
  • Does is give you the energy you are looking for?

Finally, the truth about money and budget is, whenever possible, spend less because what you love today may no longer be what you want to live with tomorrow. Change is constantly happening!

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

I welcome you to submit questions to me to help you with YOUR changes and I will personally answer them.

Interior Design For Mindful Living

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Your home – your preferences

By Barbara Kaplan –

How do you prefer to live? Is it the way you are living?

Creating health and wellness in your home is really about understanding YOU! Your home feels good and is personalized when you express more of your own “signature” in your environment. When you understand your lifestyle needs and wants, you gain self-confidence to create your vision of your personal style.

I like calling needs and wants, personal preferences. Personal preferences guide, encourage and comfort you when making decorating decisions. The awareness of these preferences help you learn about yourself so you can express them in your environment.

It also helps to become aware of your reaction to all of your senses. Then you will have a clearer picture of what it is you like and don’t like. As you become comfortable and identify with your preferences you will feel happier in your own home.

Your preferences are heightened as you enjoy your surroundings. Your enjoyment is in living with what you love.

The habits and preferences you practice in your space is what makes it personal. What you do can be peaceful and serene and other times can be fun and exciting. You decide what your preferences are to give you the feeling you want. As example:

  • Your kitchen can be a quiet place in the early hours before anyone else is up and you have a cup of coffee in your special cup, sit facing in your favorite direction and reading the paper. It could be taking your vitamins in a crystal or “funky” wine glass. How have you designed a preference to start the day?
  • Your bathroom can have candles around the tub in the evening for relaxation and meditation. Select your tooth brush in your favorite color and place it in a special glass. Your pajamas can be hanging waiting for you on a pretty hook. My glass only matches my bedroom color (and doesn’t match anything else in the house) which I take to bed for my evening vitamins that are in unique containers by my bedside.
  • All your areas can surround you with your favorite things. Like pictures in beautiful frames, your private collections, flowers in a special vase, personal mementos and sayings placed in different areas of the house.

When creating personal spaces, it’s your senses that most come into play. Surround yourself with your favorite fragrances, colors, textures, sounds and flavors. When you feel special and nurtured you are creating healing. When this healing is experienced and repeated it becomes a healthy habit.

As you make changes in your environment remember this is your sacred space and refuge from the world. Be open to the possibilities. Look inside yourself to see what you need in your surroundings and then go about bringing them together once your vision is clear. Trust yourself and your choices. It takes a great deal of honesty to get what you need and want. Interior design is a creative process where there is no right or wrong. “If it feels right, it is right!”

Design from the heart and enjoy the outcome. Remember, rooms have no feelings, you do!

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