Emerald

That’s right emerald and I’m not referring to the semi-precious stone either.  In case you haven’t heard, the colour of the year is emerald according to Pantone.  You would almost have to be blind to have not seen it by now.  It is everywhere!  Emerald sheets, draperies, area carpets, and assorted accessories.

Every year Pantone comes out with a new colour that is to be the big colour for the year and yes we have seen this colour before.  In the 1990’s it was darker and muddier then this year’s version.  Emerald this year is bright and vibrant, much like the jewel itself.  Just like all other colours however it may not be to everyone’s taste and it may not be a colour you want in your home forever.  There are ways to use it in smaller doses to look current but not be married to it for 30 years.

Try purchasing smaller accessory items like toss cushions or a lap throw.  Even vases, candles and the like can be used to introduce just enough emerald into a room to look current but not over the top.  Just remember the colour next year may not even closely resemble the emerald of this year and inexpensive items are easier to replace when next year’s colour is announced.

And next year’s colour is…..any guesses anyone?

 

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Colours Have Feelings Too!

That’s right, they do.  Colours affect how we feel.  You don’t believe me?…just think about how you react to different colours.

RED is a strong, powerful colour.  It is the colour of fire, heat & passion.   It is strong, assertive & exciting.  It can cause tempers to flare & will elevate your heartrate.

ORANGE is the sociable colour.  It stands for warmth & happiness.   It is joyful, cheerful, dynamic & assertive.  It has been shown to decrease hostility & irritability & as such is a geat colour that hold large numbers of people, such as classrooms.

YELLOW is the sunshine colour.  It evokes happiness & is cheerful & welcoming.  A positive colour it stimulates circulation & appetite, although too much can cause irritability & hostility.

GREEN is a neutral colour…really!  It is restful, calming & cool.  It represents security, harmony & compassion, balance & moderation.  Green is also the colour of envy & jealousy!

BLUE is a primary colour & masculine.  It is cool, restful & refreshing & will lower your blood pressure.  Blue is serene, conservative & responsible.  It represents peace, healing & clarity.

PURPLE is the regal colour.  Well balanced, restful & serene it can also be elegant & dignified.  Purple is the spiritual colour promoting peace & calm.

BLACK not a colour but a neutral.  It signifies bereavement, death & drama.  However it can also feel elegant, sophisticated & expensive when used the right way.  Black is powerful & sometimes aloof & cold.

WHITE also not a colour but a neutral, white feels clean, hygenic, stark & sometimes sterile.  It is also feels safe, pure & innocent.  It is the colour of simplicity & can signify enlightenment, reflection & optimism.  It fels cool & refreshing.

GREY  again not a colour but a neutral.  Grey is steady & stable, dignified, deliberate & possibly indecisive.  Grey is cool, neutral & safe.

BROWN is the warm earthy colour.  It is safe, restful, rich & yet casual.  It is dull & reliable yet sturdy & tranquil.  It is warm & cosy, the ultra conservative colour.

So how do colours make you feel?  What rooms would you use red, or green, or blue in?  What emotions do you want to invoke in a given space.  Think about it the next time you play with colour

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Colour Shares Some Traits with Mathematics

Did that get your attention?  Does that statement have you scratching your head in confusion?  in fear?  I thought it might.  Think about it though.  In mathematics there are ten basic numbers – 0 through 9.  (For you mathematicians out there I’m not talking prime numbers so don’t get all excited on me.)  These basic numbers when used in varying combinations form other numbers from two digits on up, ad infinitum.

Colour is comprised of 3 primary colours -red, yellow & blue.  When you combine these colours -different combinations & ratios -you get different colours.  White is actually the absence of all colour & black the presence of all colours.  See the similarity now?  Colour is a lot more fun however…at least in my mind.

The first colour wheel was actually created in 1766 by a man by the name of Moses Harris.  He classified red, yellow & blue as the primary colours.  In theory all colours can be mixed from these three.  From there he derived secondary colours -orange, purple & green -& by combining these with primaries he developed 2 more intermediate stages.  Now we have 18 colours in all.  By adding varying amounts of black to each one we create shades of each colour.  By adding varying amounts of white we create tints (lighter values) of each colour.

moses harris color wheel

The first colour wheel by Moses Harris.

 

 

 

It wasn’t until the early 20th century when this basic colour wheel was refined further by Johanne Itten.  He reduced it to 12 colours.                                                   Primary – red, yellow & blue                                                                                                           Secondary – orange, green & violet
Tertiaryred/orange, yellow/orange, yellow/green, blue/green, blue/violet & red/violet.  He developed this into a 12-point star that shows colours graded from black to the pure colour to white in 7 steps. This is the colour wheel as we still use it to this day.

ittens star

Johanne Itten’s colour wheel, used today.

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Welcome to the World of Colour

Colour is all around us.  It is everywhere.   Take a walk in the country and you’ll be surrounded by a myriad of greens, browns, wildflowers in every colour of the rainbow.  In the fall the leaves turn a bright array of yellows, oranges and reds.  “Nature does it naturally.”  Even if you just go for a walk inyour own neighbourhood you will generally see gardens flush with colour.  So why is it that year after year the number one colour for in the home in North America seems to be beige?  Can we really be that afraid of colour in our homes?  Maybe we just don’t understand it – or how to choose it.

My first and really only rule is to look past the current colour trend.  I’m not saying it isn’t important but neither is it the only thing on which to base your colour choices.  Really, think about it.   If a bright azure blue is the “in colour” this year but it’s a colour you just can’t live with, you hate it, or you tire of it easily, then why would you use it in your home?  I often take a look at what my client is wearing (colourwise that is) or better yet get a sneak peak in their closet.  The colours a person wears can tell you a lot about what colours they are truly comfortable with.  We all have some beige or black in our closets, but we also wear other colours.  Stick with colours you love!  Oh and that azure blue?  If the client really feels they must have some…maybe a small dose, an accent somewhere.  Vases are easy inexpensive hits that can be replaced from year to year, or when you get tired of it.

My next trick is to take a good hard look at the room itself.  Is it a large or small space?   What direction does it face?  North? South?  Direction indicates different amounts and types of light over the course of the day.  This information will have a bearing on whether lighter or darker colours are more appropriate.  It also suggests whether warm or cool colours are needed (what they are we’ll discuss in the future).

Yes, the subject of colour is enormous and therefore impossible to really explore in just one blog.  There’s a great deal to look at from how to choose it, how to use it well, what’s a warm vs cool colour – well you get the picture.  So stay tuned as we take an indepth look at colour.  Let me bring colour into your world!

 

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Winterizing your home

Winter Is coming

Yes it is that time of year again As much as we may hate to admit it, winter will soon be upon us.  So here are 10 tips for getting your home ready for the winter.

1.  Clean out your gutters.  Scoop out any dead leaves or debris & then rinse down with a hose.  The rinsing gives you the opportunity to check for leaks & get them fixed now.

2.  Block air leaks in your home.  Pick a windy day & light a stick of incense.  Walk around your interior paying close attention to around doors & windows.  Find any, fix them.  Apply caulking where appropriate & use outlet gaskets for any electrical outlets on exterior walls.

3.  Insulate.  Check your attic.  Insulation should cover any ceiling joists.  If it doesn’t, add insulation.

4.  Check your furnace, make sure it is working properly.  Schedule a furnace cleaning & change filters every 3 months at least.

5.  Check ductwork.  Make sure all joins are properly sealed.  Maybe even schedule a duct cleaning if it’s never been done.  If they are blocked, they won’t move the heat efficiently throughout your home.

6.  Windows.  In older homes this may mean putting up storm windows.  Check for cracks, broken seals, etc. & get them fixed.  If you have older less efficient windows it might be time to start replacing with newer more energy efficient ones.  You can also purchase plastic window kits to cover them for the winter.  Did you know bubble wrap would even add  insulation to your windows?  Think air pockets.

7.  Check your chimney.  If you didn’t do it in the spring, do it now, have it inspected & cleaned.  Creosote buildup, cracks, are fire hazards.  If your chimney doesn’t already have one, invest in a protective chimney cap.  it will keep the animals out.

8.  Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan.  For winter it should rotate in a clockwise direction.

9. Wrap pipes & shut off exterior taps.  Look for uninsulated pipes running through uninsulated areas of your home (such as crawlspaces & garages) & wrap them with foam rubber sleeves.

10.  Check alarms & replace batteries in smoke & carbon monoxide detectors.  Any smoke detectors older then 10 years, replace.

Last of all don’t seal your home completely tight, it still needs to breathe.  You might want to consider a heat recovery ventilator to improve air quality.  You still need to bring some fresh air into your home.  Even if it is winter.

 

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Window Coverings…There’s an app for that! Really!

In a past blog I have discussed motorized window blinds.  We know they are convenient, perfect for hard to reach windows, enhance home security, etc., etc.  There are even accessories you can purchase  like timers & solar energy sensors which assist in raising & lowering blinds at different times whether you are home or not.

Well the newest thing comes from Hunter Douglas, an innovator in window coverings.  Wait for it!  Drum roll please! 
It is called the “Platinum App”That’s right, there really is an app for that.  I couldn’t resist.  Currently only available for IPads & IPhones (they’re working on Android versions), you can operate your blinds from your IPhone or IPad.  There’s a kit you purchase (called a bridge kit) that connects to your router.  It comes with 1 “repeater” as they are called but you can purchase as many of them as you require-one per room with powered blinds is recommended.    The actual app is a free download from the App Store.

For now you have to be at home to raise or lower the blinds using the app but at some point, a future edition will have the capability of operating the blinds from elsewhere.  What you can do with it at the moment however is program your window blinds to go up or down as many times as you want in a day, different blinds at different times, set bedtime programs for the baby’s room…you get the picture.

The wireless age is upon us.  No more hard-wiring your blinds, an expensive & messy job when it’s a retrofit on an older home.  Some batteries, a motor & a smart phone app & away we go!  It’s all we really need!

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I’ve Thought of Hiring a Designer…BUT…

 

I was reading a blog the other week by a decorator friend of mine.  It seems while working on a project for her children’s school, she shared the fact she was a decorator with another mother.  It seems this mom had a friend who’d had a bad experience with a decorator.  When the decorator was  done the woman’s home looked lovely but didn’t really look like it was hers.

Yes I too have heard that BUT.  All it takes is one person to have that bad experience and tell their friends and my profession takes a hit.  The other comment I hear is “Hiring a designer is expensive.  It’s only for people with lots of money.”  In actual fact, neither comment is really valid.  Yes there are designers who impose their taste or style on their clients.  Yes there are designers who charge “fat fees” and work mostly with “high end clients”.  Neither of these however are the norm.  Over time I have learned not to take either comment personally.  I’ve also learned how to explain just how my profession really works.

We are trained professionals and most of what we do is work with regular everyday people.  A big part of what I do consists of listening to my clients.  I ask lots of questions and listen carefully to understand what it is my client really wants and needs.  That’s not to say it’s always easy to get to the heart of the matter, but it is a necessary skill.  Yes I can give you a room worthy of a magazine photo shoot but the reality is most of what I do is functional, comfortable, lived in rooms.  My own home doesn’t look like it came out of a magazine.  It looks lovely, but it’s also comfy, lived in.  Real people live in my house.  I live with someone else and whereas I may be somewhat of an organizational freak (comes with the profession I think) my partner is less so.  We won’t even go into when the children lived at home.  I learned to close bedroom doors!

As to cost, a designer can actually save you money.  What costs more – buying furniture twice because you bought the wrong things the first time? –  Painting rooms more then once before finding the perfect colour for your walls? – or paying a designer for a few hours to help make the right choices the first time?  We work within budgets all the time, on our own personal projects as well!

I love what I do.  I get excited about helping people make their spaces work better for them and look great at the same time!  So bring on your questions, your dilemmas, your buts!  Give me a chance!  I promise you won’t be sorry!

 

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