Archive for the ‘About Interior Design’ Category

4 Ways to Decorate with Antiques and Heirlooms

Though antiques may carry special emotional relevance, randomly throwing them up on the wall risks making a home look outdated — or worse, trashy. But there are several ways to decorate with antiques to keep your house looking timeless.

Below, we’ll cover how to tastefully decorate with family heirlooms in a way that doesn’t make your home look haphazard. Learn how to construct a retro look, how to choose the most timeless antiques and how to place old items to accent a room instead of detract from it.

Create a retro look with antiques

Antiques are a natural design element in retro styles. Image: Sarah Greenman

The most direct approach for decorating with antiques is an overall retro design. The photo above shows some creative ways to place old retro pieces.  The worn luggage in the corner adds a traditional travel theme; old centerpieces highlight the coffee table; classic art adorns the walls; retro floor lamps add to the vibe.

Also, remember fabric styles and opt for retro patterns like large, ornate flowers. Throw pillows with vintage designs can work as well.

Decorate with antiques with the most timeless appeal

Old photos are a timeless addition to any room. Image: Anna Spiro Design

An alternative is to choose just a few select antiques that have the most timeless look and insert them into a more modern or transitional design. A popular option is hanging old photos on the wall or placing them on a shelf. Putting them in a modern frame can keep family history alive or celebrate a past era without overwhelming the overall room design.

Antiques with a timeless cultural feel to them, like oriental ceramics or Victorian teacups, are best served in a modern-looking curio so that they are on display in an updated way.

Placement of old items is key

Using an old photo as large wall art is a bold and stylish choice. Image: Laura U

The placement of old items is one of the most critical aspects of decorating with antiques. There are a few potential directions when placing antiques. One option is to make an antique the focal point, as in the photo above: The room shows how a classic photo can look like a piece of chic art if it’s large enough.

You can also place antiques in an inconspicuous area, like on a floating shelf. There they accent the design of the room rather than dominate and potentially clash with it. Placing an antique on a bookshelf can also work. By placing it next to a row of books, it doesn’t stick out as much but still reminds you of an era you may be fond of.

Make use of a rustic or vintage craft project

A rustic windowsill goes well with old photos. Image: The Virginia House

Another way to decorate with antiques is to go for a deliberately rustic piece. The photo above shows how a designer creatively combined cowboy photos with a rustic windowsill.

You might also find some rustic shelving to house antiques and combine them with distressed furniture. Old heirloom furniture could also receive a distressed paint job.

It’s also possible to arrange some of your old items into a shadowbox, which can then be placed on a table or on the wall. A shadowbox contains all of your antiques into one intentional vintage display that can fit in with just about any room design.

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7 Questions to Ask Your Builder Before Ever Signing a Contract

The idea of building your own home probably has you dreaming of cabinetry details and window treatments at night. But the stuff of dreams can become a total nightmare when your homebuilder can’t execute on their promises. What’s more, a lack of customization might leave you wanting more.

A builder’s prerogative is to woo you with model homes, glowing reviews, and even upgrades. But, before you sign any contract, make sure you ask these crucial questions. Outlining your expectations ahead of time can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

How much can I customize?

Understand the materials your builder plans to use to achieve the look you desire. Image: Norris Architecture

One of the appeals of building versus buying is getting exactly what you want. But some builders keep costs in line by offering a set number of floorplans and finishes, allowing for just a few cosmetic tweaks along the way. If you’re planning on a custom job, ask the builder if customization is limited to cosmetic choices alone. Some builders allow more extensive customization, like changing floorplans, upgrading finishes, or even designing a home from scratch.

Is your model home upgraded (and what comes standard)?

The model home may be full of upgrades so make sure you know how far your budget will go. Image source: Arthur Ruttenburg Homes

It’s easy to fall in love with that perfectly-staged model home. Don’t sign on the dotted line until you get a clear answer of which features in the model home have been upgraded. Builders want to show off their best work, so some model homes might have upgraded cabinetry, appliances, and even lighting packages that aren’t included in the base price of the floorplan.

Can I have a few references?

If you want to know everything about a builder’s process, get a few references from homeowners who have recently purchased their houses. With fresh memories, past clients can give you a better idea of how well the builder stuck to timelines, any frustrations, and even a list of dos and don’ts with a particular builder. If a builder is reluctant to give references, it might be a red flag that homeowners aren’t always happy with the finished product.

What’s your usual timeline?

Coastal Home

Are you in a time crunch? Building from scratch takes some patience. Image: Flagg Coastal Homes

Building isn’t an exact science. Weather delays, issues getting materials, and dealing with contractors can all throw a wrench into even the best-laid plans. Still, a reputable builder should have a general idea of how long your home would take to build and what the general timeline would look like. From foundation to framing and walls to paint, you should know what’s happening every step of the way. A good builder will be able to give you a fairly solid move-in date.

How do you handle complications?

You don’t know what you don’t know until you do. That’s a great mantra to repeat when building a new home. There will be complications. Image: Costa Homebuilders

Getting an example of how a builder handled a recent delay or complication tells you a lot about the builder’s processes and ability to deal with potential issues. Construction requires a lot of scheduling and moving parts, and, as a homeowner, you want to be assured of crystal-clear communication and conflict management to get you into your home with as little stress as possible.

Do your homes have warranties?

Sometimes just don’t work the way they are supposed to. Make sure your home comes with warranties and be sure to know how long those warranties are good. Image : Stephanie Gamble Interiors

New construction homes—especially those built by companies rather than a single general contractor—typically come with warranties for a specific amount of time. Some warranties cover more time and more areas of your home, so shop around and don’t be afraid to negotiate. A good warranty usually covers major systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, for two years, and cosmetic issues, such as paint and siding, for one year.

What if I decide to cancel?

If your builder falls short, or your situation changes, make sure you have a way out. In most cases, you’ll put down a deposit to start, which may or may not be refundable after a certain number of days. As long as your builder has a cancelation policy you’re comfortable with, you can feel good about getting started.

Making the decision to build your own home is making a decision to put your heart and soul into its walls. The building process can either be completely frustrating or totally gratifying, and most of the experience will come down to the builder you choose. Do your homework and you’ll find that your builder becomes less of a contractor and more of a partner in building the home of your dreams.

Have any must-ask homebuilder questions of your own? Leave a comment and let us know!

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One Home’s Transition To Tribal Decor

We have covered this gloriously ethereal loft designed Paulina Arcklin once earlier, however, the unique space seems to have undergone some standout decor changes. Beautiful modern tribal decor pieces have popped up throughout the home, as well as a freestanding bathtub in the centre of the living room. The Milan apartment is an old small photo studio space of 90+15 square metres. It has a compact mezzanine area and one former darkroom, which is now utilised for the relocated bedroom. Almost every item of furniture in this eclectic home has been acquired second hand, bar a few of the very latest intriguing additions to the scene.

Two Ay Illuminate Z1 cotton covered hanging lamps still dominate the ceiling space of a white living room. New tribal chic additions have been made in the form of Rock the Kasbah palm fibre lamps, which tie in perfectly with the raw rustic wood elements in the room.

Two more Rock the Kasbah palm fibre lampshades hang at the far end of the open plan room.

There is a cornucopia of interesting objects everywhere you look in this compact space. The pared back colour scheme means that the eye can meander peacefully without a jarring chaos of colour.

Two white chaise lounges have been pushed together to form one simple couch in the centre of the white painted floor. The floor planks are reclaimed wooden train car floor pieces (140 x 55 x 5cm), which were delivered to their new Milan home all the way from Holland. A repurposed pallet coffee table has also reached its final destination, having had its wheels removed in favour of four static positioned legs.

Behind the sofa was once the home of a large Belfast style sink unit but this has been replaced by a rustic console table and rattan storage baskets, which warmly add to the new tribal style.

Black and white photography clipped up behind the tribal lamp features a zebra as its subject matter, giving an extra nod to the African inspired room theme.

A more elegant display cabinet has taken the place of an industrial stacked lumber sideboard that once stood in the same spot. Its shelves have been filled with found items and even a couple of pairs of favourite shoes. Each of the many home accessories appear to have arrived here completely organically, as though they have reached the final destination to their story.

At the opposite side of the living room, a freestanding bathtub has been given prominent placement. The Virtualbazar bathtub goes somewhat undetected at first glance within its equally white surroundings. It stands as part of a bizarre three piece suite with the living room sofa and a large Grevasoni Ghost pouf. This truly is open plan living.

A wood burning stove has been installed by the central column.

By Cocoon water spouts in a black finish punctuate the bathtub and washbasin areas. A rustic wooden stool acts as a shelf for soap dispensers.

A new kitchen has been created at the far end of the open plan living room, plus a well sized dining area.

A gas hob and a unique kitchen sink occupy a central island of white kitchen cabinets with a white worktop.

The dining room pendants add bags of texture to the all white kitchen diner, as do a couple of shaggy faux fur covers over the wonderfully eclectic dining table chair combination.

Two authentic metal lockers provide concealed storage in the dining room.

Kitchen crockery is casually stacked on display upon deep window sill.

Cutlery is cupped right on the dining table itself. Kitchen supplies are held on open shelving propped against the back wall.

The central kitchen bench doubles as a computer workstation.

Aged panels make a non-permanent backsplash to protect the walls of the white kitchen.

A retro fridge is under the spotlight of a black swing arm wall lamp. Two industrial style dustbins assist with recycling.

A rustic cutting board and a cookbook holder shelf straddle the line of useful and beautiful.

The deep distressed kitchen sink is accompanied by a modern faucet with a pull-out spray.

Gnarled branches make a dramatic silhouette against ice white walls.

A vintage vespa moped makes for unusual dining room decor.

Tailors dummies provide ideal hanging places for bags, accessories and coats by the front door.

The front doors have been uniquely decorated by inserting black and white photography into the square glass panels. Not only does it look more interesting but it provides complete privacy too.

The shelved washbasin can be accessed from the other side of the dividing wall where the old darkroom once resided.

Inside the old darkroom there is no more darkness to be found. Bright white decor covers the new bedroom space.

A casual closet and dressing area is accessible from the bedroom.

The original mezzanine bedroom has been transformed into another sitting area.

View from the mezzanine.

Light flows into the bedroom through its open sides.

The mezzanine sitting room is littered with collections.

Pallet coffee tables sit between a white sofa and another Grevasoni Ghost pouf.

The coffee tables serve as a reading and research spot, lit by a final Rock the Kasbah palm fibre lamp.

A small mountain of books and magazine stuff an architectural archway.

1. Resin carved bull skull
2. Distressed coffee table
3. Hyacinth wicker basket
4. Tribal masks
5. Wicker pendant
6. Live edge organic wooden stool
7. Patterned rug
8. Faux zebra hide area rug
9. Seagrass basket wall decor

Recommended Reading: Modern Monochrome Tribal Decor

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5 Affordable Ways to Make your Home Feel More Luxurious

afforable luxury

Let us show you how to add affordable luxury into your home. Image: Polo MA Inc. Interior Design

Creating a luxury retreat in your own home may seem like an expensive and overwhelming task. Opulent furniture and upscale décor come to mind when we think of the term “luxury,” but, it doesn’t have to be that way. By simply making a few small changes, you can make your home feel luxurious without spending an arm and a leg.

Don’t believe us? Here’s five of our favorite ways to welcome a touch of affordable luxury into your home.


Always start by decluttering. Image: Allen Construction

Eliminate clutter and simplify

First things first: if you want to make your home feel luxurious, you have to simplify. It’s easy to overdo it with accessories, so be purposeful with your space. Taking a minimalist approach to each room in your home may seem counterintuitive when attempting to update your space, but, in reality, less is truly more when creating a luxury home.

Consider getting rid of unnecessary furniture. Bulky footrests or extra side tables add to the clutter. If it doesn’t have a real function, let it go, and let your statement pieces have the space to make a statement. After that, tackle your accessories. A  good place to start: group accent pieces in threes.  Try three colored glass bottles on your entryway table, or use only three pillows on your living room sofa.

Once you’re done rearranging what you have on hand, take a step back, and use your sense of perception to suss out how the room feels. Make tweaks as you go: add or take away items as necessary, until you feel you’ve struck an ideal balance.

window treatments

Choose elegant window treatments. Image: Mary Cook

Update windows with elegant drapery

Pamper your windows and let your home feel luxurious with an easy update. Switch out your window treatments with high-end fabrics and textures for an instant lift. When you replace cheap-looking blinds with unique, stylish drapes, you’ll see the room transform. Try silk, linen, or textured curtains to revitalize an entire room.

Dreary window decor makes rooms feel dark and dreary. Opt for lighter shades and stylish curtain rods. If you have high ceilings, your drapes should be long enough to avoid cutting off the room. If you have the means to hire a seamstress for truly individualized style, purchase the fabric on your own, in accordance to your budget.

Luxury living is all about extravagance and detail, so keep this in mind when choosing window treatments. Think of your drapery as artwork, not just as a purely functional piece. Finding patterns with golden hues and other metallic shades gives the entire room a truly high-end vibe.

light fixture

Pick an eye-catching light fixture. Image: Rebecca James Studio

Include lavish lighting features

Nothing makes a home feel luxurious quite like stunning lighting features. Begin with large overhead pieces for your living and dining areas. It’s a great way to make a statement and bring your rooms to the next level. But don’t forget about chic, decorative table lamps to enhance your space. Adding new lighting fixtures are a great way to add style without sacrificing functionality.

Don’t be afraid to add statement lighting in unexpected areas, too. A crystal chandelier in your master bathroom practically cements a glamorous design. A row of metallic pendant lighting above your kitchen island transforms the whole room. Be bold with your design.

More than just beautiful décor, lighting sets the mood of your space. Avoiding harsh fluorescent lights in your home will instantly change how you feel. Choose light fixtures that produce soft light, and you’ll notice a difference immediately: it’s more flattering, and it gives off luxurious ambiance.


Add in flowers for some color. Image: Anna Standish Interiors

Add some flowers and greenery

Decorative vases filled with beautiful flowers and greenery adds elegance and color, giving your home a luxurious feel. When you walk into any high-end property, one of the first things you’ll notice is the natural décor. It creates a true essence of upscale living. Various freshly cut flowers in every room is a must if you want your home to feel opulent and expensive. But more than just visual appeal, the aroma of your lush floral additions makes a huge difference as soon as you walk through the door.

Since it’s important to make your home feel luxurious in an affordable way, adding fresh-cut bouquets every week may be out of your budget. Instead, try plants that don’t take much upkeep, such as orchids that bloom in cycles or succulents that last for years.


Be sure to give your design plenty of layers. Image: Eldorado Stone

Layer your décor

Once you eliminate the clutter, your home can seem empty and boring instead of a lush, relaxing paradise. To solve this problem, layering your furniture and décor creates comfort and luxury to a room without added chaos.

Your polished hardwood floors can easily be dressed up with a stylish area rug. Layer sofas and chairs with opulent throw pillows. Top off your dining room table with elegant runners to tie the room together. Layering ensures that nothing looks bare, and it’s a great way to add value and charm without unnecessary accessorizing.

affordable luxury

Follow these tips to give your home a luxe touch. Image: Martha O’Hara Interiors

When we hear the word “luxury”, it’s easy to assume that it’s out of reach for us, but that doesn’t have to be the case. When it comes to interior design, luxury is found in the small details, most of which can be achieved on even the most modest budget. Don’t believe us? Try out a few these five tips for bringing afordable luxury into your home and prepare to be plesently surprised.

Did these tips help make your home feel luxurious? We’d love to hear how you’re enjoying your glamorous additions. Leave a comment below.

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The 4 Most Common Contingencies Every Home Buyer Needs To Know About


When you’re ready to buy a home, these are the contingencies you need to know about. Image: Thomas de Cruz Architects & Designers

If you’ve thought about buying a home, odds are you’ve seen the phrase “contingencies” pop up once or twice in your research. While the term can be a little intimidating at first glance, contingencies are there to protect you. These clauses indicate that certain events need to occur in order for the sale to move forward. If they don’t, you’ll be able to walk away from the sale unscathed—and with your escrow deposit securely in hand.

While the exact clauses you decide to include in your offer will be up to you, there are a few common contingencies that nearly every buyer uses. We’ve listed them below to help you get started. Read them over to learn how they can help you on your path to home ownership.


Inspection contingencies are the most common. Image: National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Inspection contingencies

Of all the available contingencies, the inspection contingency is the one that most people know about. It allows you to bring in professionals to inspect various parts of the property, and provide you with reports on their functionality and safety.

Once you have these reports in hand, you have the ability to negotiate with the seller on how to handle any necessary repairs or remediation. That said, if you can’t reach an agreement with them—or if you feel that there’s just too much work for you to handle—you can choose to terminate the sale instead. Many buyers assume that this contingency only applies to the property inspection, which covers a visual inspection of the home’s overall condition, plus its major systems, such as HV/AC, plumbing, and electric. However, there are several more inspections that can fall under this umbrella, including:

  • Wood destroying insects
  • Mold
  • Lead-based paint
  • Structural damage
  • Wells

Keep in mind: you likely won’t need to elect all of the options listed. Use your best judgment and ask the agent writing up your offer for guidance. When in doubt, though, it’s better to elect more inspections than less. You can always choose not to do one, but you can’t ask for more once your offer has been accepted.


If you need a mortgage, you’ll need a financing contingency. Image: Krueger Architecture & Design

Financing contingency

If you’re planning on paying for the bulk of your new house with a mortgage, we highly suggest that you elect to use the financing contingency. This clause states that since your ability to purchase the home hinges on getting a mortgage, you have the ability to back out of the sale if your loan falls through.

The truth is, even if you’ve done the hard work of getting a pre-approval letter before submitting an offer, the mortgage process can still be tricky. After you apply for your loan, the lender will conduct a thorough approval process called underwriting. During this process, underwriters will take an in-depth look at your finances, as well as the home you intend to purchase, and may issue a list of their own contingencies that you need to meet in order to receive the loan.

If you’re unable to meet their requirements, or if something unexpected crops up in your financials, the mortgage company reserves the right to deny you the loan. At that point, you have the choice of finding alternative financing. However, since scrambling to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in time for settlement is a huge risk, including a financing contingency gives you a safety net.


The appraisal contingency determines the fair market value of the home. Image: Creative Architects

Appraisal contingency

If you need a loan, be aware that most mortgages are subject to an appraisal. This means that once an appraiser determines the fair market value of your home, the mortgage company will agree to issue you a loan up to that amount. However, especially in hot markets, the appraised value of a home can end up being much lower than the sale price you negotiated with the seller. If this happens, you are responsible for covering the difference.

Luckily, the appraisal contingency exists to give you an out. It says that if the appraised value of the home is different than the negotiated sale price, you have the option not to buy. Typically, both parties will try to renegotiate the price before this happens, however, in the event that you can’t reach an agreement, it’s a nice option to have.

home sale

Unfortunately, home sale contingencies aren’t as common as they used to be. Image: Hart’s Design

Home sale contingency

The home sale contingency is exactly what it sounds like. As the buyer, you elect a home sale contingency if you have to sell your current home in order to buy a new one. It gives you a specified amount of time to find a buyer for your own home and move forward with the sale. If you’re unable to do so, you can choose to walk away from the property.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, for the most part it is. This contingency isn’t used nearly as often as it used to be, for one main reason: it left sellers hanging. Essentially, you’re asking them to take their home off the market with little to no guarantee of your ability to buy (which, as you can imagine doesn’t go over very well.).

While you still have the option to include this contingency, be aware that it weakens your bargaining power. If given the option, most sellers will pass over offers with this contingency for one without it, especially in busy markets.


Keep these contingencies in mind when buying. Image: M House Development

Electing contingencies is an important part of negotiating an offer on a home. While these clauses can be unique to your transaction, there are a few common contingencies that nearly every buyer will use. Knowing your options helps you negotiate in your best interest.

Are you house hunting? Do you think you’ll need to use any of these common contingencies, or do you have any contingencies you feel are absolutely key? Tell us in the comments!

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