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    What To Know Before Hiring An Interior Designer

    Here are 4 tips on what to know before hiring an Interior Designer or how to avoid costly mistakes when working as your own Designer. Tips to make the process super easy and get the best out of your design experience. 

    4 Things to know before you hire an Interior Designer

    As more and more people work remotely and spend large amounts of time inside their homes, certain things begin to take on more importance. Things such as the layout of their interior spaces, creating a balance and harmony through the proper and optimum use of color, patterns, textures, and lighting is becoming more important in everyday lives. To that end, the functionality of design elements is just as essential as aesthetics.

    Interior Architecture Vs Interior Design

     Interior design focuses on the hard and soft furnishings for the home – Fittings, Fixtures, and Equipment. Elements such as wall colors, flooring, tiles, cabinets, window treatments, furniture accessories are added by the homeowner and are easy to change – some more than others. 

    Interior architecture, on the other hand, usually pertains to structural aspects of the home. It defines what each space is for and how the different spaces work together. Interior architecture may or may not be permanent. For an existing home, this tends to involve remodels or structural alterations, such as walls, door and window openings, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure, etc., etc. 

    Architecture and Interior Design are two disciplines that are complementary to each other. The best design projects result from the successful collaboration of Designer and Architect – each super-specialized in their own field.

    TIP #1 – Floor Plans

    One of the key things to know before hiring an Interior Designer is that a set of Floor Plans are essential. Architectural plans and prints are what builders use as a roadmap on how to build. However, they are not always built 100% exact. Architectural prints are a conceptual drawing of a space. Most of the time, the dimensions on the print differ from physical job site measurements. 

    The prints are a great guide, but If they are the drawings that the GC (General Contractor) built off and not the revised plans of what was actually built there may be discrepancies from the plans vs what was built on site. There is no way of knowing if there are any discrepancies until the designer takes actual measurements of the room.

    As-built drawings, on the other hand, are actual measurements of the space. When designing a space, Designers prefer to be provided with as-builts, or take their own measurements. Otherwise it becomes difficult to design an accurate furniture layout or guarantee a fit with respect to the furniture and traffic pathways in a room. 

    TIP #2 – When it comes to color 

    Wall color is the easiest and quickest fix when refreshing or redesigning a room. However, the thing to keep in mind is that wall paint usually ends up a shade or two darker on the wall than what you see on the paint chip when looking at the fan deck in your home improvement store. 

    A good designer will choose the color you love – then go down the paint deck to the next shade lighter. That is your correct wall color. Wall colors have the ability to make us feel calm and relaxed OR anxious ad stressed out. Choosing a color that is easier to live with is a wiser decision than opting for a trendy “it” shade. 

    TIP #3 – When it comes to Lighting

    Lighting can make or break a room’s design. Walking in the room at different times of the day and noting where the light comes in will help you or your designer decide where the sofa – the largest design element in a living room – or the bed – the largest element in a bedroom – is placed.  

    For nighttime lighting – each room must have ambient, mood, and task lighting – scattered throughout the room. Rooms with inadequate lighting tend to be low on functionality. Poorly lit rooms are not suitable gathering places for family and friends. 

    TIP #4 – The trick to shopping for furniture

    Shopping for furniture online is tricky. Similar to shopping in a furniture showroom. Items look very different in a furniture store or designer showroom than they would look after bringing them home. The lighting in a furniture showroom is commercial-grade lighting. 

    Similarly, photos of furniture and accessories, such as pillows throws and window treatments seen online are usually lit differently than they would be at home. Hence they tend to look different when they are delivered. 

    What to know before hiring an Interior Designer is that designers are great at visualizing an “after” look for your space. If you are working as your own designer, it helps to be able to visualize the particular shopping item in your home alongside your existing furniture and fittings. Does the piece work with the style of what you currently own?

    There are times when it is ok to mix different styles and periods but it is crucial to know the rules first, in order to break them. Next, visualize the level of light in the room. The furniture sales representative is there to help answer questions about the item and offer suggestions. However they do not know your choices or your room as well as you or your designer does, so order only when you are absolutely sure that you have made the right choice. 

    Designer as Guide

    Whether you decide to hire an Interior Designer or decide to go DIY – to transform your home to fit your and your family’s needs and preferences, whether you are a maximalist at heart or a minimalist, keep in mind your home is about you. 

    Let your designer guide you – because he/she is the professional with the training and experience. Having said that, your home is not about your designer’s favorite style. Neither is it about trends that are here today, gone tomorrow.  Insist on the best value for the time and resources that you spend. 

    Last but not least – make 2 crucial decisions before you pick up the phone to make that call to the designer –

    • Know your budget before hiring a Designer.
    • Set a timeline for your project.

    Happy decorating….!!

    Pics Credit – Art Deco Living Room pic courtesy Villa Tika Marrakesh -Orange and white wall color Image courtesy Elle Decor – Mood Lighting image courtesy Tori Black Homes and Home Designing – Modern Dining Room in Traditional home pic image courtesy Ikoab – Designer inspired Kitchen pic courtesy HGTV

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    6 Houseplants To Help You De-stress….!

    When your indoors are ready for a refresh, here are 6 houseplants to help you de-stress. Stuck at home during a pandemic, we all need less stress and anxiety in our lives these days!

    As a Designer, one could suggest a dozen different ways to achieve the same, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve a lot of time and resources – two things that we’re all trying to preserve in these unnatural times – well then, turn to nature….! 

    Indoor plants not only add esthetics to a space, they also make your home feel more cozy and welcoming. Additionally, they’re good for our mental and physical health. According to a NASA study report houseplants can reduce indoor air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde. Some plants can remove high concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and possibly radon. Moreover, recent research shows that plants have the ability to boost mood and creativity, as well as reduce stress. However, how to decide which houseplants are worth the care and investment and which to stay away from. Read on….!

    Gone are the times when having an indoor garden while living in a small apartment was not a possibility. We are all have been familiar with a room that was either too dark, or too damp, or an overly dry environment that is not exactly a suitable plant habitat. These days, a wide array of plant species are available that have been known to thrive in the care of apartment dwellers time and time again.

    However, before you rush out the door or off to your computer to start checking off your own list of top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, sit down in the room where they are going to go and take some mental notes. Notice the way daylight enters the room. Indoor plants that prefer bright light generally need south-facing windows, where the most concentrated light is available. East or west-facing windows are also fine and here is where you put plants that don’t need a lot of direct sunlight. if you don’t have windows or sufficient natural light, nevertheless you can still own houseplants. Just get an LED grow light!

    Many different types of plant lights are available, including floor lights and lights you can clip to an end table or bookshelf. The good news is that plenty of plants tolerate low light conditions. Also, if your pets are nibblers, buy non-toxic plants.  So without further ado, here is my list of the top 6 houseplants to help you de-stress.

    Dragon Trees or Dracaenas

    These are very easy to grow tall indoor plants. If you are a plant newbie or a very busy person, this is the plant for you. These plants enjoy moderate to low light conditions. Do not place in full sun as it will burn the leaves. 

    Dracaenas are drought tolerant, so you don’t have to water them very often. Overwatering is one of the main causes of death for the plant. Depending on how much light this plant receives, you can water it every two to three weeks. 

    Dragon Trees are sensitive to fluoride – which as it turns out, happens to be a form of industrial waste product that humas are sensitive to, as well – so when it comes to your plants, it is always best to water them with distilled water if your tap water has high fluoride levels. This plant is an excellent air purifier helping remove formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.

    Areca Palms

    These are different from palms such as the Parlor Palm, so try not to confuse the two because the level of care for each is quite different than the other.  Areca Palms thrive in well bright areas but with indirect sunlight. The leaves will turn yellow if exposed to too much direct sun. These plants don’t do well in low light rooms either.

    This is not your plant if you are a casual gardener with nary a green thumb because this one does do not do okay if neglected. It needs to be watered often enough to keep the soil moist in between waterings. Do not let its soil dry through.

    These palms look great as indoor tall plants adding a slightly exotic slightly tropical wow factor to your space at their full height of 6 to 7 feet. However, because of that, these can be expensive to buy but since they grow relatively fast – roughly 6″ to 10″ per year – you can probably purchase a table top plant and let it grow. 

    Birds of Paradise

    Aka Strelitzias are comparably easy to grow and maintain among all the indoor tall plants. They grow fast and is a gorgeous plant to display – with leaves that unfold as they grow.  It is a surprisingly adaptable plant that grows well in low light and direct bright light conditions.

    Bird of Paradise thrive in moist soil conditions but make sure the soil is not too soggy. It is okay to water once a week from spring to fall then let the top dry out just a tad in winter before you water it again. It is better not to soak it in too much water.

    Having said that, since this is a tropical plant, it will enjoy regular misting to increase the level of humidity required for this one to thrive.

    The African Milk Tree

    This is a low maintenance indoor tall plant. The only thing this one needs to survive is bright light. This is your plant if you have full time work or babies – or both!!

    Watering should be limited to once a month indoors but keep in mind this plant will die if watered too much.

    This is an ideal indoor tall plant for people who do not have green thumbs, or has a busy life with very little time to care for plants.

    Philodendron

    These trendy plants are not just favored because of their photogenic look but because they’re pretty easy to maintain. Expect to see a new leaf weekly in the warmer season. Moreover, you can propagate them – split off a leaf with a node and re-pot or gift to a friend to grow in their own home.

    Large-leafed philodendron plants, including the monstera – which is the most photographed one of them all – need water every one to two weeks, allowing for the soil to dry out between waterings. This is your plant if your place doesn’t get direct sunlight. This one just needs a spot that receives bright to medium indirect light.

    Monstera was among the most effective at reducing air pollutants, like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, in the Nasa study.

    The Fiddle Leaf Fig

    Last but not the least, of all the 6 houseplants to help you de-stress, this is my personal favorite and at Tori Black Homes we use it often in clients’ homes – either in groups with other plants or singly. They blend in subtly with most modern and/or traditional décor without making your living room look tropical or majestic. These may be sold as small plants or as tall indoor plants. 

    While the smaller size plants are widely available for purchase, the tall trees are a bit harder to find and perhaps because of it’s recent popularity, tend to be more expensive than Palms, Birds of Paradise or other tall plants.

    Fiddle Leaf Figs are easy to grow and care for but it works better if you find the perfect spot for it in your home and get the hang of the watering schedule. These plants need a lot of bright light so put it near a south-facing window and let it catch the morning light. Water it once a week.

    Place your plants in a cluster to highlight a corner of your living room room or place one graceful tall plant in a pot or basket strategically placed near a large window. Decorate with a raffia coffee table or an indoor swing if you are going for the Boho Chic look.  Alternately, furnish the room with a deep cushioned velvet sofa and camel leather armchair with hints of aged brass if you want a glam Hollywood Regency look. Or instead, add one single tall plant to a room with streamlined Scandinavian furniture, linen or burlap curtains and soft fluffy cotton pillows for a minimal Modern European look.

    If you would like to learn about growing edible plants such as salad greens, cherry tomatoes, and microgreens in your indoor kitchen and herb garden, see my tips on How to Create an Indoor Edible Winter Garden.

    Happy decorating….and healthy eating!  

    Photo credits – Scandinavian sofa and plant image courtesy Toris Design Box – 7 Paths to Serenity in Your Home. Dragon Tree in window image courtesy – Trees.com. Bohemian bedroom with Palm image courtesy – My Domain. Blue dining room with pair of giant Birds of Paradise and African Milk Tree images courtesy – Balcony Garden Web. Living room with black & white striped rug and Fiddle Leaf Fig image courtesy – Decor Aid. Music Room with Eames chair photo credit Tori Black Homes.

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    10 Hallmarks of Maximalist Design

    More is more…and MORE is in…!! If the words Maximalist Design conjures up visions of over-the-top, stuffy rooms cluttered with tchotchkes and keepsakes gathered over the years, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. This is not your grandmother’s maximalism….!

    I have put together 10 easy tips on how to create a joyous oasis of maximalist luxury in your home, without it looking cluttered or busy. Maximalism is not so much a style as it is an escape from a world and culture that at times seems bleak and boring since it was born out of a reaction to the minimalist movement.

    A Maximalist space can be in any period, style, or trend. It can be applied to a small room, making it look like a luxurious little jewel box or a large room where it makes a statement. The basic elements of a maximalist home are pretty much the polar opposite of a minimalist interior. The minimalist preference for white walls and quiet color palettes are a no-no for maximalism. The bolder, brighter, and more color-splashed it is, the better.

    In the words of Jonathan Adler, “minimalism is a bummer. When you’re about to kick the bucket, you don’t want to look back and see an endless haze of beige.” I have worshipped at the altar of both. I have lived through my minimalist period and celebrated my unabashedly maximalist phase and reveled in the joy of each, at different phases of my life. Here are some quick tips on how to create a maximalist oasis. Let your soul spread its wings and have its own maximalist moment.

    COLORS – Take a look in your wardrobe for cues on what colors make you happy. Painting your walls the same color as your favourite skirt or summer jacket or pantsuit will make you feel empowered and confident working in this Home Office and walking through that stylish Indigo hued Art Deco style Hallway, every day. Against this rich backdrop, the white and occasional black of the furniture in the foreground is what makes the walls pop but yet does not overpower the room.

    LAYERS – This is a little tricky to pull off – but not if you follow the simple rule that I have followed a hundred times with clients and am sharing with you now. Select an item of clothing in a bold color from your closet. At the paint shop, match the color of the wardrobe item to a shade on the paint deck (or what’s closes to it) and note down the name. Now, on the same paint chip go to a shade that is 1 or 2 or 3 steps up or down from your original selection to start building your color scheme. Note down the names of each shade. These will be the colors for your wall paint and the dominant color for wallpaper, rug, sofa, and curtains but, remember not to stick to solids. For instance, layer a solid color sofa on a self-patterned rug and curtains in bold patterns against the backdrop of small-patterned wallpaper on one wall or two. This will give you a wonderfully layered look that is luxurious and comforting at the same time, like this Traditional style green-on-green Drawing Room, steeped in eye-catching opulence.

    DRAMA – Add red in measured doses and you can never go wrong. However, an entire bedroom with red-painted walls may not be the ultimate relaxing space. In the bedroom below, the bold red Art Deco style headboard against the dark blue walls are softened by a lavender lamp shade. Clever blending of all the different colors together stirs in excitement into the space without making one feel anxious or irritating. Bear in mind, lavender is red and blue mixed together but in inequal ratios. As I always say, it’s all in the details.

    BOLD CONTRASTS – To create this effect, pull colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel in a split-complementary or tetradic color scheme. The blue, watermelon, orange, green, pale yellow, and brown contrast with as well as complement each other well in the living room below. As do the patterns (stripes with large scale prints) and textures (plush with shiny finishes), to create a sophisticated, eclectic interior space that you will not easily tire of, no matter how long the stay-at-home lockdown lasts.

    LARGE SCALE – The oversized scale of the artwork, the floor to ceiling bookshelves and the plush overstuffed sofas against the floor to ceiling window coverings in the room below, joyfully plays up the maximalism in this Eclectic style home.

    PATTERN PLAY – The prints on the wallpaper, the fabric canopy, the bedspread complement each other and work well in this pattern-on-pattern blush themed English Country style bedroom below. By varying the scale of the prints on the furnishings, as well as by contrasting dark and light wood finishes, It feels calming and serene despite the use of multiple patterns.

    GLAMMED UP – Walls clad in luxe wallpaper and velvet-upholstered chairs with brushed nickel finish detail gathered around the burnished wood dining table with a rich, dark sheen topped with a stylish chandelier, ups the glam factor of this Modern style maximalist dining room below.

    BLACK IS A BEAUTIFUL BACKDROP – A rich glossy black finish instantly dresses up this jewel-like kitched with mirrored backsplash – like wearing a string of black pearls paired with a white silk blouse to a posh but fun gala.

    ANIMAL PRINTS IN SMALL DOSES – Animal prints are a great way to add pattern and instant glamour to a space – but in small doses, such as an ottoman, a pillow cushion or…. if you dare…an area rug.

    A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN IT’S PLACE – Maximalism is not about rooms packed wall to wall with furniture and accessories. Rather, it is about curated collections carefully edited with a keen eye and a disciplined approach. The Transitional style Family Room showcases the homeowners’ collected treasures from travels around the world separately on the built-in bookshelves and in an antique chinoiserie armoire so it still manages to look neat and orderly by following the rule of – a place for everything and everything in its place.

    Photo credits – Maximalist Interior photo courtesy Daunenspiel. Jonathan Adler flagship store NYC photo courtesy Jonathan Adler. COLORS – Electric Blue Home Office and Art Deco style Hallway photo courtesy 1st Dibs, design by Sasha Bikoff. LAYERS – Green-on-green layered Traditional style Drawing Room photo courtesy One Kings Lane. DRAMA – Hollywood Regency style Red headboard in bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. BOLD CONTRAST – Blue, orange, brown and pale yellow Mid-Century Living Room photo courtesy Architectural Digest. LARGE SCALE – Eclectic Living room with oversized artwork photo courtesy Architectural Digest. PATTERN PLAY – English Country Cottage style blush bedroom photo courtesy Country Life magazine. GLAMMED UP – Dining Room photo courtesy Ellie Koleen photography, Design by Erin Melkonian Designs, Light fixture courtesy Corbett Lighting. BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL – Bathroom photo courtesy The Tile Shop blog. ANIMAL PRINTS – Leopard Print rug in Mid-Century style bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING – Transitional Style Family room photo courtesy Tori Black Homes Interior Design.

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