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Los Angeles Interior Designer

    How to Create a Design Budget

    Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a design budget – whether you’re hiring a designer or DIY.

    What’s in a budget?

    Designing around a budget (regardless of its size and scope), is a fine art. At times we feel the impulse to splurge in what caught our eye in the designer furniture showroom. Then there are times when sticking to a bottom line comes with the cost of being dissatisfied because the finished project doesn’t quite look like the inspiration photos.

    In between these two extremes is a happy medium. It involves a bit of both of the two above scenarios. In reality, it is possible to shop with your heart and your brain. A designer may help because there isn’t an emotional attachment to your home or to the individual items they purchase on your behalf. They will also build in some flexibility spending-wise just in case you come across that “must-have” piece.

    While figuring out how to create a design budget start by asking yourself how are you going to use the purchased item. Is it a functional piece? Or is it an antique or an artwork? If it’s one of the latter two, is it something that fits style-wise as well as color and size into your master plan? Or is it that you just love the piece for itself and don’t quite know whether it might fit in the house? If it’s the latter, think again.

    FYI artwork is tricky. Anything that’s under $200,000 is not technically an “investment ” in the art world. However, there are art investment funds that you can get into with a minimum of $2000. Aside from that, just because you like the piece may not be a sound enough reason to bring it home. Not if you’re unsure whether it will work with the style, colors, and mood of your home. Art is subjective. Nevertheless, it’s worth getting the input of a trained interior designer about which pieces might work or otherwise.

    To splurge or not to splurge?

    When it comes to allocating your design dollars where should you let loose and where should you tighten? A rule of thumb is – movable vs permanent items. For example, it is a good idea to splurge on a really gorgeous flooring in your foyer. It’s a small space so you can keep the cost of materials and labor down. Create a customized pattern with dark wood and inlaid marble tile. Or lay light wood flooring in a Herringbone or Chevron pattern. Since it’s a small area you won’t break the bank when it comes to installation and it will make for a luxe entrance thus adding value to the home.

    Kitchens and bathrooms are also spaces you might want to put in the extras. Start with the flooring and work your way up to cabinets, countertops and backsplash. Use the same flooring materials that are in your foyer – for your kitchen and bathroom – it helps maintain continuity throughout the home and makes the space look well finished and opulent.

    Whether a trendsetter or a follower be?

    When decorating – with the help of a designer or without – the question is whether to follow what is trending or set a new trend of your own by following your gut. You could be just re-decorating with furniture and accessories. Or you could be planning a remodel by stripping down to the studs. The thing to remember is that trends are useful only as a guide. Also, all trends are not created equal.

    how to create an interior design budget

    Your designer should be helpful in advising which trends are worth the ROI (return on investment) and which ones are not. A good designer may – and should – open your eyes to fresh ideas, new styles, unusual patterns, interesting textures, colors, and materials that different and unique however at the end of the day, all of those must be distilled into creating a home that reflects a style that is you. Your travels, your personality, and your culture – your peeps – just in a new way that layers all of the above harmoniously.

    How to create an Interior design budget

    Now that you understand some of the basics of how to create a design budget you can get the help of a designer to help you to pull your style together, but be sure to hire someone you understands and believes that your space should reflect you – through a celebration of things, people, and moments that are valuable and meaningful – but a more put together, efficient, distinctive you!

    How to create an interior design budget

    Image credits – Artwork photo credit Neiman Marcus – Monopoly artwork image credit Etsy – White and Gold Modern Kitchen with Obsidian Phillip Jeffries Wallpaper – pic courtesy Verandah – Trends – Multi-functional space photo courtesy Lonny – Image of designer-created home courtesy Harper’s Bazaar

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    3 Most Popular European Styles

    The 3 most popular European styles by far are Haussmann, Modern Neo-Classical and Scandinavian, not necessarily in that order. Modern European interior design is a mix of traditional and contemporary design. Contemporary European interiors are understated, with a focus on tactile and natural materials such as wicker, wood, metal, and natural stone.

    The Haussmann Style

    One of the 3 Most Popular European Styles is Haussmann. Between 1853 and 1870, the private Paris townhouses, the last remains of the 18th century, were starting to make way for rental investment properties, giving rise to a more diverse Paris. To redesign the 175 kilometres of roads that run through the heart of Paris, Baron Haussmann was called in for a project which established an architectural style that is distinctively Parisian. 

    3 most popular European styles - Haussmann, Modern Neo-Classical and Scandinavian

    By the time Haussmann completed his project, narrow, dark residences were a thing of the past. Haussmannian buildings had courtyards or small yards, and they often had bright, dual-aspect apartments with large windows.

    Haussmann Buildings

    The buildings contained independent apartments spread out over five to six floors. Each floor represented a different social class. The ground floor was occupied by shops. On the first floor — often referred to as the mezzanine, lived the merchants who owned the shops below. 

    The second (“piano nobile”) floor was reserved for the wealthy at the time. The prestigiousness decreases from bottom to top. The third and fourth floors are identical, and were usually reserved for the middle classes. The fifth floors were set back, usually housing the more modest social classes. A little balcony running along the length of the apartment makes up for having to climb to the top of the stairs, besides embellishing the façade. The sixth or top floor is where the “chambres de bonnes” were, for the servants. With lower ceilings and built under the eaves, the only access was by the back stairs.

    Paris Atelier Haussmann style

    When lifts were introduced in the early 20th century however, the hierarchy of the floors was reversed. Now, the 5th and 6th floors are the most sought-after as they have an unobstructed view of the rooftops of Paris and a clear view of the horizon that doesn’t have a price.

    Haussmann Characteristics

    Bright rooms, wooden floors, fireplaces and fine mouldings are just some of the attractive features of Haussmann apartments. With the exception of the kitchen and WCs, the flooring is almost always wood. The patterns most favored are herringbone, the brick pattern or “parquet de Versailles” motifs. 

    Parisian Haussmann Style

    These gorgeous wooden floors have been the defining characteristic of Parisian interior design through the ages. Additionally these are sometimes complemented by moldings, cornices, and simple or elaborate ceiling medallions. Wider baseboards, wainscoting or chair rail, and/or paneling on the walls adds a distinctive touch.  

    Decorating the Hausmann Home

    The typical Haussmannian style Parisian apartment is decorated in a blend of bold modern accompanied by an old-world refinement nevertheless with an easy flow between the two. Even while maintaining balance, the interior spaces follow the golden rule of – contrast and juxtapose styles, but do not erase them or blur the lines. 

    Modern Neo-Classical Style

    Another one of our 3 Most Popular European Styles is Modern Neo-Classical. The color scheme for Modern Neoclassical interiors is mostly white, cream, gray, pale yellow, blue, green, and other muted hues. However, Black, red, silver and gold are often used as accent colors. Most patterns feature low-contrast palettes. 

    3 most popular European styles - Haussmann, Modern Neo-Classical and Scandinavian
    Decorating the Modern Neoclassical home

    Modern Neoclassical Furniture has clean lines and simple symmetry. The style is marked by elegance and timelessness. Having said that, it is more modest compared to Traditional Neoclassical style. Nonetheless, there is an element of luxury in the elegant moldings, metal staircases, carved wood, antiques, and statues – both old and new.  Modern Neoclassical homes inspire visions of gathering and family in a more casual, unfussy way while still drawing on the understated opulence of its forbears. A mix of the old and new creates modern zen luxury with traditional roots. 

     Modern Neo-Classical style
    Scandinavian Style

    Last but not least of our 3 Most Popular European Styles is the Scandinavian Style. The primary characteristic – whether inspired by an Ikea catalog, or more high-end interiors, is that the style feels clean, crisp, yet calming.

    • The not-so-secret ingredient is Minimalism.
    • Scandinavian design emphasizes bright, light, and open spaces, with room to breathe within the space.
    • Choosing quality over quantity is a major trait of this style.
    • The other important trait is bringing nature inside.
    • The color scheme is usually neutral – often white with a pop or two of color that draws from nature – mostly soft blues and greens
    • Last but not least – clever use of contrast.
    Popular European styles - Haussmann, Modern Neo-Classical and Scandinavian style
    What is Hygge?

    Some people go for a version of Scandinavian style that is minimal almost to the point of monastic. But keep in mind this is not an invitation to live a Spartan life by any means. The success of this style is in being able to juxtapose the coolness of the white and what may be seen as uninviting clean lines need to be softened to a degree by introducing warmer textures and colors, and what may be defined as hygge. Hygge is a Danish word that roughly translates to cozy togetherness. How do you do Hygge?

    Popular European styles - Scandinavian

    Because Scandinavian design doesn’t involve a whole lot of color, a quick way to soften up a space is to introduce plants. One big plant with ample foliage in a minimalist concrete or wood container will do the trick. Another way to introduce coziness is to install a white area rug with a plush pile and add just a couple of pillows in a textured fabric. Add a set of minimalist Roman Shades at the window and you’re all set to hygge away in style.

    Photo Credits –

    Haussmann Style – Home Office photo courtesy Booking.com | Living Room with Black Velvet Club Chairs and leopard print rug photo courtesy Architectural Digest | Haussmann style Atelier photo Courtesy Financial Times |  Modern Neo Classical Style – Living Room with pair of tangerine velvet armchairs photo courtesy designbooks.com | Living Room with pair of white chairs and powder blue coffee table photo courtesy Elle Decor | Scandinavian style – Living Room photo courtesy departures.com | Scandinavian Dining Room photo courtesy – YLighting.com

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    A Global Eclectic Home in 5 Easy Steps

    Join us as we break down how to create a well-traveled global eclectic home in 5 steps without having to leave the house. 

    One interior design trend which has been gaining in popularity in recent months and years is Eclectic or Global style. This is the home of a jet-setting world traveler. It is created with curated furnishings and accessories from around the world based on travels. It creates warm vibes via memories brought on by a personality-packed yet carefully chosen plethora of artifacts from places the homeowner has visited. This is a good feeling at a time when travel is restricted. 

    Eclectic Global Home Design

    However, you do not need to break the bank and buy an around the world ticket to achieve this style in your home. Don’t hop on a flight to Paris or Bali just yet. Even if you are not quite the globe trotter or don’t pursue a jet-set lifestyle you can still create an eclectic space with plenty of personality. 

    Eclectic Global Home Design

    Region – 

    First, pick a place on the globe that you are curious about then add a couple more places to your list. Don’t stick to one specific country.

    However, don’t create individual theme rooms based on specific regions for each space within your house. Be consistent in keeping each room eclectic. 

    Eclectic Global Home Design

    The most lively exciting rooms boast of assortment of pieces from multiple places that have an almost similar feel. Certain items from India, Morocco, the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as Mexico have similar colors and textures that can mix nicely together for a layered look. 

    Objects – 

    Choose items that look like souvenirs from travels around the world but stay away from cliches. For instance try to avoid prints of the Eiffel Tower above your sofa or wooden plaques with the word Paris carved on them, propped up on hall tables. Spend some time sourcing unique objects from specific regions of the world. Items that will bring a smile to your lips every time you enter the room and prompt lively discussions among dinner guests and visitors. 

    Global Chic

    Collections – 

    Next, loosely group items together that are visually similar. Keep it small. Don’t showcase your entire collection. One of the key elements to remember when creating an eclectic well-travelled home in 5 easy steps is to  edit carefully. The eclectic style is marked by a gathering of similar objects rather than a structured look. 

    This global inspired style is more cozy and invites friends and family to relax, reminisce and put their feet up. Nevertheless it takes some clever planning and editing so as to avoid having a busy room full of vacation tchotchkes. 

    Global Chic

    Mix it up. That’s pretty much the definition of eclectic. For instance a Viennese crystal pitcher looks good next to Japanese stoneware Sake set and an Irish pewter jug. A colorful miniature Piñata horse from Mexico and a stone crafted llama from Peru looks right at home next to a Dhokra metal folk bull sculpture from India. Arrange Chinese dragon masks on a wall with African ceremonial masks just like we did at the home of Ruth, a Tori Black Homes client. Gather items of different sizes small and large. Keep it to groups of two, three or five. Stagger pieces of varying heights in a collection. 

    Global Eclectic

    Textures and patterns –

    Combine fabrics with different and patterns. A plush Moroccan rug on the floor, next to an African straw basket filled with pillows in a French Provençal pattern or Balinese Ikat printed cushions, with a shiny Chinoiserie bamboo mirror on the wall above and Indian cotton or burlap curtains on the windows. All of these make for a well designed eclectic room. 

    Global Eclectic design

    Materials – 

    Mix materials such as wood, tile rugs etc., when designing a kitchen or bathroom. Combine different materials from different parts of the world which are nevertheless available to order from your local home improvement store. Do some research for local sources in your community but think global. Spanish slate or terra cotta tiled kitchen floors work well with black and white Moroccan tiles on the backsplash for a Tuscan inspired kitchen. Moreover, adding texture such as cement flooring in the bathroom looks stylish alongside patterned smooth glazed Encaustic tiles in bathrooms. Needless to say it adds interest and functionality as well as high style in an otherwise utilitarian space while creating movement,. 

    Eclectic Interior Design

    A patterned floor with a carefully chosen pattern will therefore draw the eye outward, making the space appear spacious. Moreover, the choice of pattern will add a design element while allowing it to flow seamlessly with the rest of the home as it may have wood floors or carpeting. 

    While creating a global eclectic home in 5 steps keep in mind it can be a minimalist monochromatic earth toned interior or on the other hand it can be a maximalist color-infused space with subtle drama, depending on your style and preference. Just remember to reflect your personality and to have fun. Happy decorating…! 

    Affordable Eclectic Interior Design

    Pic credits- 

    Region- pic of Eclectic global Room with an assortment of items image courtesy https://www.quercusliving.co.uk/knowledge/how-to-create-global-style-in-your-home – Pic of living room with Moorish design living room with global influence courtesy https://bellevivir.com/2019/07/global-chic-eclectic-style-sophisticated.html

    objects – Pic of sitting area with closet courtesy Elle decor – https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/g3368/worldy-eclectic-style/ – Image of living room with baskets courtesy Willow & Hall UK https://www.willowandhall.co.uk/blog/english-country-style-2/

    Collections- pic of tabletop collection image courtesy https://www.quercusliving.co.uk/knowledge/how-to-create-global-style-in-your-home – Pic of bedroom with curated art on wall courtesy https://bellevivir.com/2019/07/global-chic-eclectic-style-sophisticated.html

    Textures and patterns – pic of white living room with blue and black fabric throws courtesy Quercus Living UK https://www.quercusliving.co.uk/knowledge/how-to-create-global-style-in-your-home – Pic of Global Chic sitting room with rust walls courtesy Architectural Digest – https://bellevivir.com/2019/07/global-chic-eclectic-style-sophisticated.html

    Materials- pic of kitchen with slate floor pic courtesy Pinterest – https://pin.it/1gzHY6k – Pic of Bedroom with graphic patterned floors courtesy – http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ab8_Aq7ko5w/T2HLxizuzFI/AAAAAAAAOhQ/pTAi6NJQsqA/s1600/Screen+shot+2011-03-24+at+8.37.58+AM.png

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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.

    6 Houseplants To Help You De-stress....!

    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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    How To Steal a Paris Apartment

    ….In 8 Easy Steps

    Before we get started on how to steal a Paris Apartment look for your own home, one thing to keep in mind is that most Parisian apartments start with more than we can hope for in a standard American apartment building – quite a bit more. Most American apartments start with a white box, whereas Parisian apartments already have great bones. Herringbone parquet floors and double windows down to the floor – with French doors –  that let in lots of light. Some apartments also have what is know as Trumeau. These are old original mirrors above the fireplace which are found in French châteaux as well as apartments.

    So that means we need to pay attention not only to what you put into your room but also what the frame of your room looks like.

    1) Walls

    ….In a Paris apartment – or home – are never plain. If you are in an apartment where you are allowed to re-paint, go for a layered look with a subtle tonal textured paint on the walls. However, avoid the sponge-painted look of the seventies as that may end up looking inauthentic and not Parisian.  If you are an expert – try rag glazing. On the other hand, if you are like most of my clients who are not – read on.

    For this, you will need:
    • Two 1/2 gallon cans of paint in two colors
    • A one-gallon paint can – empty
    • Paint thinner
    • Roller
    • Brush
    • Painter’s tape
    • Dropcloth
    • Step ladder if needed
    • Latex gloves

    Buy water-based or latex paint – not oil-based – in two very similar – as in next to each other on the paint deck – shades.  Get half a gallon of each – most standard-sized rooms need 1 gallon of paint.  I like the look of a flat finish so I would use flat finish for this.  Open the can of paint that is a slightly darker color – darker than the other. Using a roller – paint your walls covering them well.  Allow to dry.  Next, open the can of paint in a lighter color. Thin this down with paint thinner in a half and half ratio – half paint and half thinner.  Using a brush, paint over the wall using vertical and horizontal strokes. Do not worry about total coverage and do not worry about brush strokes. Let dry. Cover the entire wall with a top coat of clear acrylic – to make the walls somewhat consistent making it more resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Especially if there are young ones around. This particular paint treatment will give you a bold layered look. That is one way to steal a Paris Apartment style for your own home

    Milk Paint or Chalk paint produces a more subtly textured wall. Both paints give amazing rich and complex paint finishes. It comes in powder form and only needs to be mixed in with water so you can monitor how thick or thin you want the mix to be. Thinner coats produce the best results. Chalk paint finishes are thicker and more consistent, whereas milk paint is often less predictable. Milk paint ages beautifully, looking more polished with different levels of sheen.

    I like Milk Paint because there are no fumes during use, and is safe enough to go down the kitchen sink. If you want to learn more about using Milk Paint and all it’s advantages – I am going to do a tutorial on it soon, so stay tuned. For now, just know that mixed milk paint goes bad quickly so use it on the day it is mixed, or leave it overnight in the refrigerator and use it the following day. Milk paint soaks into the surface instead of forming a coat as regular latex wall paint does. If you have trouble with the paint not adhering to your previously painted walls, get a bonding agent like Milk Paint Ultra Bond for non-porous surfaces. 

    Hemp oil is a great top coat for milk paint. The oil gives your walls a darker, rich color and luster.  Top coats are optional but they protect paint from moisture and wear and are best for bathroom and kitchens.

    Chalk paint can also be mixed to create custom colors. You can uses Annie Sloan, or Websters Chalk Paint. Similar to Milk Paint you can apply this paint with a brush or roller. Brush strokes crate interest and add texture. Chalk paint distresses well.

    If you are doing a large room, the price of store-bought chalk paint like Annie Sloan may be prohibitive. However, you can follow my recipe below to create our own home-made substitute for great results.

    Home-made Chalk Paint Recipe:
    • One Cup Latex Paint (flat)
    • A 1/4 Cup Calcium Carbonate
    • An eight of a Cup Water  

    Depending on the size of your room, a gallon of paint could be more than enough. Do not worry about getting every lump out of your mixture, because that is what will give you the streaky look of a Haussman interior – that is my tip number one on how to steal a Paris Apartment style. Annie Sloan has tutorials on Chalk Paint but you do not need them for what we are trying to get done.

    If you’re really in the mood for that one-of-a-kind dreamy finish for the walls in your home (time and budget permitting), opt for a lime wash. That is the real thing, but that is a story for another day.

    If glazing or lime washing your walls like a Parisian is a no-no – you can think about adding statement-making wainscoting. For a modern take on the wainscoting concept, you can paint one wall of the room in a contrasting color from the rest of the room. Then install a grid pattern batten molding from baseboard to ceiling. It should be painted the same color as the wall where it is going. This is a nice way to create a feature wall – and one of my top tips on how to steal a Paris Apartment. Alternately, you can have batten or wainscoting only half-way up the walls from the baseboard to a chair rail going all around the room. Batten must be the color of the wall. Wainscoting looks best painted white.

    However, avoid shiplap – as that will not give you a Parisian or European look.  If you are in a home of your own and time and budget allow a remodel, spring for a wider baseboard. Most spec home builders go for the skinniest stock baseboards to avoid ramping up the cost of your home. So if and when you have a chance to add value to your home – as a Designer, one would suggest, go for it,

    2) Flooring

    ….Of original herringbone Parquet floors found in most Parisian apartments – cannot be found in most American homes and never in American apartments. However, the look can be substituted with wide plank engineered wood floors, to achieve a similar result. Having said that, if you bought a home and have the time and resources for a new floor, that is awesome. If not, most American landlords will perhaps not give permission to re-do their apartment floor. Nevertheless, we have a fix.

    The next thing would be to find out from the landlord if he might allow us to put down stick-on adhesive decorative tiles. Tiles that appropriate the look of French Limestone and slate tiled rooms. Octagon white tiles with smaller corner “cabochon” black tiles in between. That is what all the best Parisian foyers are wearing. Add a black border all around the edge of the room and viola…you’re there….!

    Lowes has a peel and stick parquet-look floor as well as Peel and stick versions of tiled limestone and marble floors. You can either go crazy, or restrained, according to your taste and sale. And that is one more way to steal a Paris Apartment. Peel and stick tiles adhere to most vinyl concrete and wood floors. Check the retailer/manufacturer’s instructions. 

    3) Crown molding

    …is a decorative element used for capping cabinets, columns, and, most often, interior walls at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Often, crown molding is created of wood, but in recent years, plastic and foam options have become more readily available. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) versions are popular as well.  The latter are more flexible, they paint nicer and they react better to fluctuations in temperature.

    Usually, apartments and some newer homes come with a standard 2 ¼-inch casing around windows and doors and a 3 ½-inch baseboard which runs along the bottom of walls and no crown molding.

    A modern selection of crown moldings currently available to consumers make it easier than ever to take a room from blah to beautiful. There’s an immediate impact that crown molding brings to a room. For homeowners, it adds value to the home – which is a selling feature. If there are two identical houses next to each other and one has crown molding and the other one doesn’t, the home with the crown molding will be worth more.

    Crown molding in both traditional and modern styles are available. Prices for moldings are reasonable and installation time is minimal. A seasoned DIYer should not have a problem installing their own crown moldings using a miter saw. If not, you can always go to Angie’s List and get a guy. 

    4) Curtains

    ….in Parisian apartments are opulent – both the material and yardage. To get the same look in your home, make sure you measure the windows. When ordering fabric yardage make sure it covers two and a half to three times the width of the window. Also make sure the curtain rod is wider than the window opening. There needs to be space to the left and right of the window opening to stack the curtains when they are open so as to let in light. This is the right way to get that true Parisian feel.

    In a room with regular height ceilings, the curtains must hang close to the ceiling – 2-4 inches from crown molding if you have it. Measure to the floor then deduct 1 inch to make sure your curtains wont drag each time you open and close them. If you want your curtains to puddle on the floor in true Parisian style, add 3 to 4 inches to the length. Make a simple diagram of your window and write down inches right and inches left. Measure the window – with trim – and note this number. Next, measure the inches above the window and inches below your window – skip the latter when measuring for French doors or patio doors. Now you are ready to order a window covering that shows off your sense of style – and establishes you as the new master on the subject of how to steal a Paris Apartment…!

    5) All that glitters

     ….isn’t always gold but it does always spell Parisian glamour ….and a little je ne sais quoi. A touch of gold makes the room glisten in the evening light when entertaining with friends and lifts your spirits on quiet nights while enjoying a glass of Prosecco as you mull your next move on how to steal a Paris Apartment.

    6) Antiques

    …especially one or two carefully chosen ones are a Parisian apartment must haves. Traditional antiques in the form of vintage accessory items or place settings, in a modern interior. Alternately have modern antiques such as a pair of chairs, an iconic sofa or a single case-good item or an accessory piece in an otherwise traditional setting. The trick is to mix in the old with the new or vice versa. A few vintage pieces add another layer to your re-created Paris flat.

    The trick is to make your antiques look as though they were in the family for centuries instead of being staged. The most important lesson on how to steal a Paris Apartment would be to shop for antique items that are functional and then use them everyday.

    7) Art

    ….is an important part of the Paris apartment decor. Parisians tend not to shy away from color. Think big bold pops – especially if your walls are neutral tones. Plan out color, size and theme. When it comes to size – here’s where you won’t go wrong with up-sizing.

    As for theme – this is where you get to infuse your own personality. Choose art that aligns with your hobbies, your travels your favorite color.  Trust your gut and trust your taste.  Avoid family portraits or your wedding photos on the walls of your living room or family room – those do have a valuable place in your home – elsewhere.

    Avoid generic prints that are this season’s favorites on Pinterest. When choosing a color – remember to mix but you do not necessarily have to match.  Shop for unique pieces with personality in eye-catching frames.

    8) Chandeliers

    ….are a homeowner’s – or renter’s – best friend. Statement chandeliers are a great idea when you feel you only have the strength to go for a big impact piece and call it a day. Shop for chandeliers that work with your style – whether it’s a traditional French number dripping with crystal,

    …..or a modern chandelier – unique and distinctive. Sometimes a single stylish ceiling pendant can spell the difference between a half- finished room and a well-designed one. If you chose the right one it can say a lot about your style by not saying too much. And that is how to steal a Paris Apartment. You can also check out some of my favorite recipes here. Let me know how they turn out. I love hearing from you guys. As always, if you have any questions about my E-design packages (the basic e-design package is currently 40% OFF during the pandemic) or want to chat about anything else design, you can always contact me at toriblackhomes.com

    Photos courtesy : 

    Walls – Paris apartment living room with sofa and black leather chair – from Curbed.com – photo courtesy https://archive.curbed.com/2017/12/13/16772948/paris-apartment-renovation-diego-delgado-elias Living Room with lime washed grey and white color-blocked walls from dwell.com -– photo courtesy https://www.dwell.com/home/drab-lancaster-city-row-home-gets-a-pear-colored-facelift-b1c4fdab/6511315640289697792 Dining Room with woodland mural from – Architecturaldigest.com – photo courtesy https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/parisian-apartment-french-decorating-ideas Lime washed gray bedroom walls – Photo courtesy Emily Henderson – https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/limewash-paint-mountain-house-ask-the-audience White dining room from Curbed.com – photo courtesy https://archive.curbed.com/2017/12/13/16772948/paris-apartment-renovation-diego-delgado-elias Photo of Board and Batten wall courtesy Pinterest. Living Room with mustard yellow sofa photo courtesy Living Room with mustard yellow sofa from Apartmenttherapy.com – photo Courtesy https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/minimal-and-modern-decor-apartment-photos-266003

    Flooring – Paris Interior with parquet flooring from onekingslane.com – photo courtesy https://www.onekingslane.com/p/4722965-tufa-wall-mirror-gold.do Photo of black and white marble floor at YSL new Headquarters courtesy of wsj.comhttps://www.wsj.com/articles/exclusive-step-inside-ysls-new-parisian-headquarters-11550238900 Peel & Stick tile flooring photo courtesy lowes.comhttps://www.lowes.com/pd/Achim-Retro-20-Piece-12-in-x-12-in-Geometric-Peel-and-stick-Stone-look-Commercial-Residential-Vinyl-Tile/1001824298

    Crown Molding – Courtesy homedit.com  – https://www.homedit.com/paris-themed-room/ Crown Molding – Photo courtesy decoholic.comhttps://decoholic.org/gorgeous-modern-french-interiors-40-pics/?subscribe=success#507 Living room with fuchsia sofas and crown molding from 1stdibs.com – Photo courtesy –https://www.1stdibs.com/blogs/the-study/parisian-apartments/

    Curtains – Blue curtains photo courtesy – houseandhome.comhttps://houseandhome.com/gallery/hilary-swank-paris-apartment/attachment/2-hillary-swank-paris-apartment-living-room-blue-sofa/ Orange curtains from 1stdibs.com – photo courtesy – https://www.1stdibs.com/blogs/the-study/parisian-apartments/

    All that Glitters – Photo courtesy thecuratedinterior.com

    Antiques – Antique copper cookware Photo courtesy https://kasha.paris/architecture/the-collectors-eye/ Tulip chairs and gramophone photo courtesy decordemon.comhttps://decordemon.blogspot.com/2014/01/apartment-in-marais-paris.html

    Art – Living room with oversized art photo courtesy Decordemon – https://decordemon.blogspot.com/2014/07/muriel-reuss-eclectic-apartment-in-paris.html

    Chandelier – Traditional crystal chandelier from homedit.com – photo courtesy https://www.homedit.com/paris-themed-room/ Art Deco chandelier – photo of Jonathan Adler Nixon cocktail table courtesy jonathanadler.com

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    Summer’s Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    According to Pantone, the color experts, the hot new colors this summer range from Grape Compote, a muted purple tint – to Flame Scarlet, which is perhaps the brightest, boldest shade of fiery red, just like the name sounds. In between these two extremes, is dovetailed, the easier to live with shades of Denim Blue, Coral Pink and White White, all of which have remained ever popular summer go-to shades for Fashion as well as Home Decor through the years. Here is my take on Summer’s Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home,

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    As you work these trending colors into your everyday outfits this summer, here’s a cheat sheet on how to mix and match like a Pantone expert creating color-schemes tying together walls floor, furniture and accessories for each room in your home using this year’s trendiest tints.

    PURPLE –

    This year’s purple is a yummy hue called Grape Compote which when cleverly paired, will look as dreamy on you, as it will in your home.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    The trick is here to pick the exact Pantone prescribed shade on the paint deck or color wheel and then go upwards and outwards when selecting the paint for the walls or upholstery fabric or curtains.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home
    WHITE –

    Easy breezy white is a perennial summer favorite of one all. What’s not to love about a summery white dress in soft gauzy cotton?

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    To make a white on white room look easy-going and refreshing instead of bland and inconsequential, add a dash of texture and mix in a subtle pattern in a complementary hue or make a bold choice with contrasting black wood and metal finishes.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home
    CORAL PINK –

    When wearing pink be specific as to the exact shade – because all pinks are not created equal. Pink must always be worn in tandem with either a stronger color – for dramatic effect – or with a softer color for subtlety. Keep accessories to a minimum because less is more.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    Coral Pink is a beautifully soothing but tricky color to decorate with. It can end up looking too washed out and wimpy or too intense and fake looking. The trick is to let nature be the inspiration when choosing pink. Pick the variations of pink that are found in nature and you won’t go wrong.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home
    DENIM BLUE –

    Nothing says summer more than blue denim – be it dark stonewashed indigo- blue or a soft faded chambray blue.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    ….and nothing conveys summer decor better than baby blue walls and washed blue fabric upholstered furniture.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home
    SCARLET –

    It is the perfect choice for a statement-making summer dress. Alternately, pair a red-striped white top with a fun pair of red shoes. This is one of those times when you do not want to match the shoes with the bag.

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    A bold red-walled room makes a unique statement. One that visitors and guests to your home will be hard put to forget and dying to re-create. The trick is if you’re going to go red, go bold and don’t drop the ball. Adding an equally bold contrasting color in the same tone will make it work. Another refreshing alternative is to bring in white to contrast with and play off the red in a fun, energizing combination which is at the same time very livable. And that is my Summer’s Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    Summer's Top 5 Color Trends in Fashion & Home

    Image credits: Purple Top courtesy Zara, White Dress courtesy Venus, White on white Living Room courtesy House Beautiful, Pink Pants courtesy Express, Coral Pink Bedroom courtesy Verandah, Blue Chambray Summer Dress courtesy Farfetch, Blue Bedroom courtesy Verandah, Red Dining Room with high gloss walls Courtesy Elle Decor,

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    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel

    Isolating at home in this time of Coronavirus has gotten some of us fighting cabin fever by now. Having said that, considering oneself to be among the lucky ones for not showing symptoms of anything worse than that, I decided to stay put for a bit longer and instead, make a list of how to make your home feel like a luxury hotel – and make the forced isolation feel just a teeny bit, like a holiday in one of those exotic locations far far away, that is on our bucket list.

    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel
    SOFT SHEETS – THESE DAYS MORNINGS ARE FOR LOUNGING IN BED

    …as we remind ourselves of 2 well-known facts. Firstly, that worry has no outcome, and secondly, that we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed. Replacing your bedsheets is the easiest, and most cost-effective way to upgrade your bed to a hotel bed. However, 800 thread count sheets – the kind you sleep on at the best luxury hotels, can be pricey! So catch a sale this summer and wake up with a smile in your home-hotel room, feeling like a million dollars.

    NOTE – while a higher thread count sheet stands for better quality, it’s the thread or fiber quality that matters most. A sheet of a better-quality fiber with a lower thread count will often feel softer and stand up to washing better than a sheet made from a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count. Make sense?

    BLACK-OUT CURTAINS

    One would be hard put to figure out how to make your home feel like a luxury hotel if your bedroom windows are so bare that the very first rays of the sun hit you straight in the eye even as you are trying to decode that happy early morning dream as you wake up. If you wouldn’t pay for a hotel room that robs you of precious sleep, why put up with it at home? Am I right?

    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel
    OH SO FLUFFY TOWELS!! FOR A HEAD-TO-TOE PAMPERED FEELING.

    One of the easiest tips on how to make your home feel like a luxury hotel is by switching to softer towels. Shopping for towels is best done by feeling and touching but when that does not seem possible in the short run. Nevertheless, let us talk about something called a ‘gram count’. The density of a bath towel is measured in grams per square meter (GSM). This number varies between 300-900. A 300-400 gram towel is thinner and lighter and is quick-drying – so this is best suited for a gym towel or a kitchen towel. A 400-600 GSM is a medium-weight towel – that works great as a beach towel or an everyday bath towel. A 600-900 GSM is dense and absorbent, making it score high on the “fluff” scale but it requires a bit more drying time. Be sure to pick one that strikes a good balance between thick and absorbent, yet light enough to be quick-drying.

    Egyptian and Turkish towels – Everyday towels are often made of standard cotton. Choose Turkish cotton if you prefer a thick, luxurious feel. They also become softer and fluffier with every wash. To keep your towels soft and fluffy, avoid using fabric softeners when washing. For a true Hotel look and feel, choose white towels, which look timeless and work with any style or color scheme. Stack your towels in an open-weave basket or tray for a spa-like bathroom experience.

    GOOD LIGHTING.

    Staring into that blue computer screen is murder on your eyes. Your home-hotel needs good task lighting (a) at your desk…

    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel

    …and (b) mood lighting for relaxing in the intimate areas of your home such as bedrooms. Keep in mind, for reading or working in bed the light source should be above and behind you for minimum eye strain.

    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel
    A STURDY AND COMFORTABLE DESK CHAIR

    Working from home on a regular basis as we are forced to, for some time now, you deserve more than a makeshift chair at the kitchen table. On top of everything else you are dealing with, you don’t have to be cramping from sitting on an uncomfortable chair for 12 hours every day. Pick one that looks as good as it feels nice and say goodbye to being a clock-watcher waiting for quitting time, even for a day!

    PLAIN WHITE OR BLUE-AND-WHITE CHINA.

    When it comes to lifting your mood, the aroma of a wholesome home-cooked meal served on a set of pristine white platters, bowls, and plates soothes one’s soul like little else. What about you?

    While blue and white dishes remind one of a very nice (but unpretentious) hotel in Bloomsbury where both the food they serve as well as the plates they serve it in, are simply ……Yummy! Stay safe, all!!

    How To Make Your Home Feel Like A Luxury Hotel

    Resource Guide – Hotel Room With a View pic courtesy Brisbane Marriott Hotel, White Towels pic courtesy The Turkish Towel Collection, Colorful Towels pic courtesy Designer Living, Task Lighting pic courtesy New York Times, Bedroom Wall Sconces pic courtesy YLighting, Home Office pic courtesy Wall Street Journal, White Dinnerware pic courtesy Costco

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